Friday, July 20, 2018

You got stones, kid

Here's an idea that you could translate to any system that uses hit points, whether it calls them hit points or stamina.
  1. Give the players a number of stones or chits or bennies or whatever (I'll call them stones right now) equal to their number of hit points.
  2. Instead of marking hits off the character sheet, they hand over stones.
  3. When you're out of stones, you're out of hit points.
If you need a different in-game explanation, they're luck. Every attack is fatal; you're just buying off the lethality of the attack. When your character runs out of luck, he or she dies.

In fact, if you call the stones "luck" then you open up different areas of resource management: they can succeed at the roll but at the risk of being less healthy, at least until they regain a bit of it through resting, healing, prayer, or whatever is appropriate to your game.

You can make it more complicated:
  • Maybe there's BODY and STUN or Wounds and Shock, so there are two different kinds of stones. When you're out of the non-lethal ones, you have to start spending the lethal ones.
  • Or maybe you have hit stones and bennies. You can spend bennies on anything, but hit stones can only be spent on surviving attacks.
  • Maybe you set up some stones that reflect armor, so you have, oh, three in front of you. If the attack does more than three, you spend the excess. If the attack does more than twice the number of stones you have as armor, you lose some armor. Or a critical means they ignore the armor. Or a critical means extra damage, whether you have armor or not.

Since the idea is that it makes things physical instead of abstract, you probably don't want to complicate it too much: it might be best for systems with a maximum number of hit points (less than, what, thirty?). Your seventeenth-level fighter might not be right for it. Or for systems where the amount of damage is constant, such as ICONS or CORPS: a Ruger Blackhawk always does the same amount of damage.

You may not wnat to use this idea for a system that tracks the stun for hit locations (like the afore-mentioned CORPS). The idea is to make this simpler not to make it more complicated by each hit location having 10 stun and 10 lethal stones.

Anyway, the idea of a pool of markers in front of you getting smaller and smaller seemed to me like an interesting visual way of representing declining hit points.

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