Jump to content

Improving d&d rules


ramza

Recommended Posts

I have been trying to make d&d more realistic for quite some time. Among many issues, the following three concern me the most:

 

- handling of HPs

- handling of armor

- handling of races

 

1) What does HP represent? How realistic is it? I don't like how some classes get enormous amounts of HPs which mean absolutely nothing to me except for being a number that tells me whether my character is still alive or not. I believe there shouldn't be such a high difference between classes for HPs Indeed, even though people can handle more or less well their injuries, they die exactly the same way if they receive a bullet on their forehead or in their heart. There is no "well, a bullet deals 1d4 - insert various modifiers + critical multipliers - damage but I have 80 HPs left"... This problem is even more flagrant when it comes to more damaging attacks like breath weapons. A dragon that spits acid should be equally fatal to a barbarian as to a wizard. I cannot understand why someone who doesn't have some innate resistance to acid should be able to withstand such type of damage more than anyone else... Just because he has more HPs? In the best case, he should lose an arm or a leg. This kind of damage should be taken into account.

 

This brings the question of whether there should be any consequences for being injured. I do have thought of a way to include penalties for being injured. If you get less than 50% of HPs, you should get a cumulative -1 penalty to all rolls per round.

 

I have always liked the way HPs and injury were handled in the Fallout games. Characters started with a relatively big amount of HPs (30 or so) and would gain few Hps with each level up. Moreover, if you got severely injured, you could get various conditions (see link below). The only problem is see is that we applied a similar health and damage system in d&d, we should as well reajust the HPs of all creatures and the damage range of most spells.

 

http://www.gamebanshee.com/fallouttactics/damageeffects.php

 

2) Armor just serves to raise your AC and sometimes grant you some resistances or immunities. How realistic is this? There was some discussion over RPGCodex on how armor should absorb damage instead of just helping the character evade it. There should be some kind of damage resistance "attached" to armor. For example, light armor reduces piercing damage, medium armor reduces piercing and slashing damage, and heavy armor should reduce all kinds of physical damage. The amount of damage absorbs increases with the type of armor: for example padded armor removes 2 points of piercing damage, while leather armor removes 4 points of piercing damage.

 

I have also noticed that some NWN persistent world servers gave HPs to armor and shields as well. Whenever you receive a critical, one HP is deduced from the remaining total. When the armor HPs reach zero, it is broken. Same goes for shields and weapons...

 

3) I already created a topic on this a few years ago. I am just trying to make races more balanced. Half-elves completely suck. I believe they should get some ability score bonus and penalty. I don't understand why Dwarves get -2 CHA. Should all races (except for humans) get +2 to 2 different ability scores and -2 to 2 other ability scores so as to better describe the characteristics of each race. For example, depending of their sub-race, some elves are agile and charismatic, while other elves are agile and wise, etc etc etc

 

 

 

I am open to all kinds of suggestions and ideas. Feel free to post them here.

 

Cheers.

"Ooo, squirrels, Boo! I know I saw them! Quick, throw nuts!" -Minsc

"I am a well-known racist in the Realms! Elves? Dwarves? Ha! Kill'em all! Humans rule! -Me

 

Volourn will never grow up, he's like the Black Peter Pan, here to tell you that it might be great to always be a child, but everybody around is gonna hate it. :p
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1. HPs are not realistic. Not because having a measure of damage represented in points is silly as such, but as you correctly points out because the way it scales in D&D is ludicrous. One of the better ways to represent damage that I've seen is, I believe, in Twilight 200, where you get a number of points for each body part based on your health/constitution value. Some would argue that having body parts be virtually separate is illogical, but actually it is not unreasonable to assume a person is able to run quite well, just because his arm is greatly injured.

 

The real problem in D&D is how HPs grow over the course of the game. This means a normal man can have 8 or less HPs, but a great warrior can have well over 100. The rationale is that the warrior is battlehardened and so can resist more damage, but once you begin throwing fireballs or the thief's backstab into the mix, the logic soon falls apart. I mean, why would the warrior better resist the assassin's knife in the back than the common man? The assumption is that the assassin goes unnoticed, or it would not be a backstab - that's why a backstab does multiple damage. However, at high levels and full health, the warrior can ignore the assassin's knife, because there is no way the backstab damage can add up to enough damage to kill him. It's sort of like, "Yeah, so he stabbed me in the back through my heart, so what? How much damage did I take?". Same goes for arrows shot to vital parts of the body - why are those fatal to a common man, but not to high-leveled warrior? Being shot by an arrow that pierces your body is actually very dangerous. Boromir should have played D&D - then he never would have been killed by a few measely arrows...

 

But HPs are an arbitration used for the sake of making the game easier to play. It does that, but only at the cost of logic and credibility to the game's basics, which does not serve to suspend disbelief, in which case I've always thought the costs outweigh the benefits.

 

2. It's the same rationale behind AC - it's simple can convenient to use in the game, but it makes no sense. Fallout has a much better system close to the GURPS system, where armor absorbs damage, but sometimes actually make the person wearing it easier to hit. You don't wear armor to avoid being hit. If that were the case, then no armor would be best of all. No, you wear armor because then it takes the damage instead of your body. In GURPS, armor provides a Damage Resistance (DR) depending on type measured by a value. When you're hit or struck on the part of the body that the armor covers, you subtract the DR from the damage inflicted, and the rest goes through as damage to the body. It's a far more elegant and realistic approach to the use of armor, which is not really that much more complicated to use.

 

3. Races are difficult to judge, since they are by their very nature unreaslistic, given that we don't have elves and dwarves or vulcans and klingons or whatever in the real world. Some games, like D&D, handle it by letting you generate stats and then force modifiers to various stats on that. The problem is that if you roll fairly average stats, that still makes all the resulting characters very, very similar - your dwarf is not going to have the fabled resilence of the dwarves if he rolls a Constitution of 12, nor is the elf going to have elven grace if the player a Dexterity of 11. I prefer the approach of some games, where all the initial stats are fixed but different depending on race and can then be modified from there during character generation.

 

But that also speaks to a personal preference regarding something I don't like in D&D, which is how you have to generate stats at random for your character. I hate that. I shouldn't get to play an average character just because of some bloody dice rolls. Dice rolls are fine, but I don't want to roll any until I've actually begun playing the game - I want none during character generation. I'll take GURPS' approach any day, where all stats begin at 10, and then you can modify them up or down to your heart's (and character points') content until you like the emerging character.

 

I used to think about making D&D more realistic, but frankly with 3.X and now 4.0 on the horizon, I've long since given up - D&D is now munchkin fanboy RPGs. It has nothing to do with any semblance of a roleplaying game that even approaches a realistically convincing approach to role-playing, and it never will.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for your reply! You raise some very interesting points. Here are my thoughts:

 

1) After giving it much thought, I think I will switch back to the way HPs were handled in 2nd edition. In other words, a character gains his base hitdie (I always give max HPs when I Dm) + his CON modifier for the first 10 levels. Afterwards, he only gains HPs equal to his CON modifier.

 

This way, PCs won't have the usual enormous amount of HPs. A fighter with 14 Con will have 140 HPs at level 20, which sounds ok to meI just ask myself if characters won't die too easily on the other hand. Maybe I should try this out to see if it works properly.

 

Do you have any idea about how injuries should be handled? Should I inspire myself from Fallout?

 

2) Concerning armor, I kinda like the idea I suggested in my first post. Moreover, it's kinda similar to the system used in Fallout.

 

3) Concerning races, let me just underline the fact that my players do not roll their primary stats during char generation. I use a system similar to NWN with a pool of points that can be used in any fashion the players like. Moreover, there's no point-buy rule in my games.

 

Therefore, the bonuses provided by all the races gain more importance to the eyes of the player. The thing is that I am trying to cover all the primary stats when creating my races.

 

For example, dwarves get+2 to CON, halflings +2 to DEX, gnomes +2 to INT. Half orcs are a special case because they get +2 to STR and CON but -2 to INT and CHA. IMHO, half-elves should get +2 WIS since they share the heritage of 2 different races, but also get a -2 to CHA because they are not easily accepted in the human and elven communities. Concerning elves, the only stat bonus remaining is CHA. However, elves are also known for being dexterous which brings me to the dilemma to give them +2 to DEX as well. What other penalty besides to CON should they get? I am really stuck here... Unless, I present them as good snipers only (a bonus to ranged attacks should do in that case).

 

To balance things, I am also considering giving another stat bonus and stat penalty to the remaining races (to make them more diversified). These bonuses and penalties are pretty obvious for the short races. But what about half-elves? Here again, I am stuck...

"Ooo, squirrels, Boo! I know I saw them! Quick, throw nuts!" -Minsc

"I am a well-known racist in the Realms! Elves? Dwarves? Ha! Kill'em all! Humans rule! -Me

 

Volourn will never grow up, he's like the Black Peter Pan, here to tell you that it might be great to always be a child, but everybody around is gonna hate it. :p
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This way, PCs won't have the usual enormous amount of HPs. A fighter with 14 Con will have 140 HPs at level 20, which sounds ok to meI just ask myself if characters won't die too easily on the other hand. Maybe I should try this out to see if it works properly.

 

It'll reduce the problem, but it won't make it go away.

 

Do you have any idea about how injuries should be handled? Should I inspire myself from Fallout?

 

Since I hated 3e's muncking approach, my D&D experience lies mostly with AD&D 2e rules, where I used the Player Option rulebooks along with my own houserules. The Combat & Tactics book as a critical hits system that works fairly well with D&D rules. Essentially if you hit someone with a natural 18, 19 or 20 *AND* beat his AC by a margin of five or more, you score a critical hit, which means you inflict double damage. The target must then roll a save vs. death or suffer an additional effect, depending on where you hit him (which can be rolled randomly unless specificed beforehand by the player with a "called shot") and the size of the weapon used compared to the target's size. For instance, a critical hit will be more lethal if done with a two-handed sword (size Large) against a halfling (size Small) than if done with a Longsword (size Medium) against a hill giant (Size Huge). Basically the rules have a "weapon vs. creature size" table for how severe the effects can be, since the higher the weapon is compared to the creature size, the greater the chance will be of rolling a high value on the dice used. I modified that table in my own game to make things even more severe, so that a short sword will have very little chance of really injuring a large dragon, while a pixie may be devastated by being hit by a lance. I also included special rules for backstabs, so that any backstab would always be a critical hit and possibly fatal (save vs. death or die), if a critical hit was actually scored on the attempt. Never got to use it much, since the players preferred warriors and wizards, but I felt satisfied it make thieves and assassins a good deal more dangerous again.

 

 

Therefore, the bonuses provided by all the races gain more importance to the eyes of the player. The thing is that I am trying to cover all the primary stats when creating my races.

 

For example, dwarves get+2 to CON, halflings +2 to DEX, gnomes +2 to INT. Half orcs are a special case because they get +2 to STR and CON but -2 to INT and CHA. IMHO, half-elves should get +2 WIS since they share the heritage of 2 different races, but also get a -2 to CHA because they are not easily accepted in the human and elven communities. Concerning elves, the only stat bonus remaining is CHA. However, elves are also known for being dexterous which brings me to the dilemma to give them +2 to DEX as well. What other penalty besides to CON should they get? I am really stuck here... Unless, I present them as good snipers only (a bonus to ranged attacks should do in that case).

 

The problem is that those values were always assigned rather arbitrarily, and like so many things in D&D, the rules are now stuck with them. For example, are elves really in poorer health than most creatures? I don't get that impression reading Lord of the Rings... Are gnomes more intelligent in general than humans? Not really, but you've got to give them a bonus somewhere because, well, they're demihumans and so must have modifiers. And while you could argue a WIS bonus for half-elves on the basis of their status as outsiders in both societies, the classic elf has always been wiser than the average human and so can make an argument for the same bonus. And why should half-elves get a CHA penalty? They're outsiders, sure, but so are all demihumans in a human society. At least half-elves can often pass for humans, where elves, dwarves, gnomes and halflings cannot. Frankly, I think if elves should have a penalty, it would make more sense to STR than CON, though I'd limit it to -1 to show that they are just that but more limited in physical strength than humans and dwarves. I'd give elves a penaty not on CHA as such but on NPC Reactions when meeting non-elves, because elves tend to come off as rather arrogant or at least superior to other humanoid species (I prefer that term to 'race').

 

In general, I think a CHA penalty applies only to orcs and half-orcs. Dwarves are not uncharismatic, but they may appear so to non-dwarves because of their gruff nature. I'd replace a lot of those CHA penalties with disfavorable NPC reaction modifiers that reinforce the strained relationships between the various humanoid species. Sure that dwarf may seem less charismatic, but only to a human or elf, not to another dwarf, so why should he be penalized on a general level? Limit his beginning CHA to 16 or so if you must, sure, but don't give him a penalty.

 

Sorry, I'm probably not much help here. I've long since given up on making sense of D&D rules, and 3e and now 4e have scarcely made it better...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1) Like in any game, players play to win. They don't to be weak as in real life. That is why in ANY game out there, the main character has some kind of health bar. It's just to avoid that he gets killed too quickly. In any of these games, most injuries dealt to the main character would prove to be fatal in real life. All I want to do is to tone down what has been done to d&d. I have tried various combinations and the one presented in my last post seems to be the most balanced one. For example, I had thought another way of handling HPs: characters get a specific amount of HPs per level + their CON modifier. The range of the base HP gained goes from 1 (wizard) to 5 (barbarian). With 14 Con, a 20th level fighter would have 120 HPs. The problem is that players will be way too weak at the beginning of the game. My point is that there are always possibilities to reduce the vast amount of HPs provided by the current edition of d&d.

 

2) I really like your way of handling critical hits! This makes them even more dangerous. The truth is that if we reduce d&d to simple numbers and dice rolling, players won't have this feeling of being threatened whenever there is a sneak attack or a critical hit.

 

Do you have any of those tables you mentioned in Word or PDF format?

 

3) I really have to put more thought on how to handle races. It will be tough, I know... The only way to add variety to to simply give different stat bonuses and penalties depending on the subrace you choose.

"Ooo, squirrels, Boo! I know I saw them! Quick, throw nuts!" -Minsc

"I am a well-known racist in the Realms! Elves? Dwarves? Ha! Kill'em all! Humans rule! -Me

 

Volourn will never grow up, he's like the Black Peter Pan, here to tell you that it might be great to always be a child, but everybody around is gonna hate it. :p
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1) Like in any game, players play to win. They don't to be weak as in real life. That is why in ANY game out there, the main character has some kind of health bar. It's just to avoid that he gets killed too quickly. In any of these games, most injuries dealt to the main character would prove to be fatal in real life. All I want to do is to tone down what has been done to d&d. I have tried various combinations and the one presented in my last post seems to be the most balanced one. For example, I had thought another way of handling HPs: characters get a specific amount of HPs per level + their CON modifier. The range of the base HP gained goes from 1 (wizard) to 5 (barbarian). With 14 Con, a 20th level fighter would have 120 HPs. The problem is that players will be way too weak at the beginning of the game. My point is that there are always possibilities to reduce the vast amount of HPs provided by the current edition of d&d.

 

I also sometimes speculate about reducing the ridiculous amounts of hit points at high levels, but the PCs might become too weak if you reduce their hit point progression by so much. How about doing what Pathfinder is doing, but instead of getting rid of the d4 and pushing classes up to higher hit dice, let's get rid of the d10 and push classes down to lower hit dice. The problem of weakness at very low levels can be addressed by granting each character racial starting hit points, but these, of course, won't increase with level.

 

I would also recommend changing the rules for dying and disabled. For example, I am using the following house-rule:

 

Characters become disabled at 0 and remain disabled until they reach -(10 + Constitution bonus) hit points at which point they are unconscious and dying. Characters die when they reach -(20 + 2 x Constitution bonus) hit points. When disabled, characters taking a strenuous action lose 1d6 hit points. Upon reaching unconsciousness, a character loses 1d6 hit points per round until stabilized. A character can stabilize on his own (Fortitude save, DC 10 + current number of hit points below zero), or can be stabilized by somebody else using the heal skill (Heal check, DC 10 + current number of hit points below zero) or using healing magic (automatic stabilization).

 

My aims for this houserule were to:

 

1) Increase the disabled, the uncionscious range and the negative hit point buffer

2) Provide uncertainty in terms of the precise timing of death and thus increase the urgency of healing intervention

 

2) I really like your way of handling critical hits! This makes them even more dangerous. The truth is that if we reduce d&d to simple numbers and dice rolling, players won't have this feeling of being threatened whenever there is a sneak attack or a critical hit.

 

Do you have any of those tables you mentioned in Word or PDF format?

 

I also have the AD&D Combat & Tactics book. The critical hit system described therein is excellent and I have indeed even used the charts for 3.X edition critical hit effects. The tables are in the book itself, though, so no Word or PDF...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2) I really like your way of handling critical hits! This makes them even more dangerous. The truth is that if we reduce d&d to simple numbers and dice rolling, players won't have this feeling of being threatened whenever there is a sneak attack or a critical hit.

 

Do you have any of those tables you mentioned in Word or PDF format?

 

I also have the AD&D Combat & Tactics book. The critical hit system described therein is excellent and I have indeed even used the charts for 3.X edition critical hit effects. The tables are in the book itself, though, so no Word or PDF...

 

 

Here you go:

http://www.ews.uiuc.edu/~skempf/AD&D/downloads.html

 

Google is man's best friend... :shifty:

"Ooo, squirrels, Boo! I know I saw them! Quick, throw nuts!" -Minsc

"I am a well-known racist in the Realms! Elves? Dwarves? Ha! Kill'em all! Humans rule! -Me

 

Volourn will never grow up, he's like the Black Peter Pan, here to tell you that it might be great to always be a child, but everybody around is gonna hate it. :p
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here you go:

http://www.ews.uiuc.edu/~skempf/AD&D/downloads.html

 

Google is man's best friend... :lol:

 

Indeed. I wouldn't have thought it legal to have these online, but then I suppose 2e is now so old that WOTC doesn't care anymore.

 

Anyway, to see how it works, consult the Critical Hit section in Combat & Tactics. I used to follow that pretty closely in my campaign with the following house rules.

 

I had two notable rulechanges, though. For one, I revised the Weapon vs. Creature Size table that determines the severity of a critical. In my rules it looked like this:

 

Weapon vs. Target Size - Dice Roll

Weapon size is 4 or more sizes < target size - 1d4

Weapon size is 3 sizes < target size - 1d6

Weapon size is 2 sizes < target size - 2d4

Weapon size is 1 size < target size - 1d6+1d4

Weapon size is = target size - 2d6

Weapon size is 1 size > target size - 2d8

Weapon size is 2 sizes > target size - 2d10

Weapon size is 3 or more sizes > target size - 2d12

 

You'll rarely use the extremes of this list, since most will fall into the M vs. M, S vs. L or similar categories, but note that it means that a critical hit struck against a halfling (size S) from the claw of a huge dragon (size H) will be lethal, since it would fall into the 3+ sizes category and so have a severity of 2d12 (natural weapons are usually one size category lower than the creature, so since large dragons are usually size G, that will make their claws size H). And of course, even a human or elf would still face a 2d10 severity if critically hit by that dragon's claw. Keep your distance, folks! :p

 

Also, if the critical hit was scored on a natural 20, I added a +1 bonus to the above results to reflect the special status of a natural 20.

 

As mentioned before, I also made some additions to the thief's backstab ability, so that it became associated with critial hits:

 

The thief
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks a lot for your replies. The way of handling critical hits is a welcome addition to my house rules. :grin:

 

I will keep you informed if I have any further ideas concerning the other issues.

 

Cheers.

"Ooo, squirrels, Boo! I know I saw them! Quick, throw nuts!" -Minsc

"I am a well-known racist in the Realms! Elves? Dwarves? Ha! Kill'em all! Humans rule! -Me

 

Volourn will never grow up, he's like the Black Peter Pan, here to tell you that it might be great to always be a child, but everybody around is gonna hate it. :p
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

I used to be really into accuracy in handling damage. BUt the sad truth is you can't be accurate. Because getting shot/stabbed/beaten is highly random and always sucks. Even a minor injury carries risks of disease, infection, and so on. A chap near us recently got bitten once by his cat and nearly died three days later.

"It wasn't lies. It was just... bull****"."

             -Elwood Blues

 

tarna's dead; processing... complete. Disappointed by Universe. RIP Hades/Sand/etc. Here's hoping your next alt has a harp.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...