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Hit Points? No. Let's Try "Miss Points."

GregStolze

Go Play REIGN!
Validated User
For my money the best scene in "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" is when the two ladies face off in the dojo.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9OxQ-2gR1DU

In many RPG mechanics, if played through, that would be the BORINGEST SCENE EVAR. It would be a repetition of "I dodge. I dodge. I dodge." If someone ever DID get a hit through, so what? Games specifically nerf most weapons' deadly potential because the game is no fun when your PC gets taken down in the second session when some nobody hits a natural 20.

One answer to this is "Massive Hit Points." Your character can keep going and going because with his many HP he can just soak it until he bludgeons through the enemy's many HP. At least that way, you've got a few rounds' warning before you snuff it, so you can start retreating or chug a healing potion. But a lot of people find this beggars credulity because, honestly, nobody should be doing anything after three hits with a broadsword other than dying.

Right. Now someone on this very board suggested that the rationale behind Gygax' original conception of hit points was that it would allow for big, drawn out, swashbuckling duels. But in those duels, people never get hit until the end. And hit points model exactly that: You run at top efficiency until suddenly, you're dead.

I think all that's really required here is a bit of a perceptual shift. Let's not call them hit points but rather, "miss points."

Someone attacks you with a fire axe. He rolls a success. Rather than turn it into 'dueling dodge rolls' let that hit cost you 'miss points,' which measure your ability to not get wounded by weapons. Instead of a dodge roll you make over and over, dodging becomes a limited resource you spend. Now, instead of chugging healing potions, you just regain all your miss points between fights because you've regained your composure, caught your breath, whatever.

Actually, I'd keep a few hit points at the bottom. That's what you're trying to dig through all those miss points to reach. So suppose you have 30 miss points on top of 4 hit points. Now someone swings and rolls successes with that 1d10 damage broadsword. It's not that the broadsword struck you and you just have redundant skin or something. It's that it would have struck you if you'd been a normal schmoe instead of a skilled adventurer with miss points who dodged it. Why do you get tougher to kill as you level? Not because a tenth level guy has ten times the hit points and could stand there unmoving getting bludgeoned, but because the tenth level guy is ten times as good at getting out of the way.

If it was me, I'd write it up that you can spend soak damage with miss points as long as you can narrate how you avoided the blow. As for armor and shields, they could give you a few extra MPs... and let you say "It hits my armor" as often as you like. (Or, okay, a set number of times per combat.)

This makes the ambush and the sniper REAL nasty though, because the whole point of that is to ignore miss points and go straight for the kill...

-G.

P.S. This all came to me half-asleep last night, along with how to fix democracy.
 

David Goodner

Observer
Validated User
You know that's more or less how D&D works now, don't you?

Your HP measure how much fighting you can take. Getting "hit" means some kind of setback - maybe an injury maybe not. "Healing" is as much about rest and inspiration as it is about any kind of medical treatment.

David G.
 

flyingmice

Avenging Aerial Rodent
Validated User
One answer to this is "Massive Hit Points." Your character can keep going and going because with his many HP he can just soak it until he bludgeons through the enemy's many HP. At least that way, you've got a few rounds' warning before you snuff it, so you can start retreating or chug a healing potion. But a lot of people find this beggars credulity because, honestly, nobody should be doing anything after three hits with a broadsword other than dying.[/URL]
Hi Greg!

This is actually how Hit Points were to be understood. Only the first die of HP was real flesh and bone. The rest was parrying, dodging, near misses, and luck. Gygax's mistake was calling them Hit Points. If he called them Luck or Miss Points, people would understand this better. Being in the hobby since 1977, I saw first hand how the concept that all HP were actual hits became first a misunderstanding of the concept, then a frequent reading, and finally enshrined in the rules. You are absolutely correct - this is a far, far better way to deal with HP.

-clash
 

David J Prokopetz

Social Justice Henchman
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Gygax's mistake was calling them Hit Points.
Well, and making big monsters whose hit points really do represent being big and meaty operate according to exactly the same rules as player characters whose hit points represent not getting hit. Among other niggling inconsistencies - you can't really expect an ad hoc system developed on the fly to evolve an internally consistent model, and most of the problems come out of trying to bludgeon that collection of ad hoc rulings into an internally consistent model instead of working from the ground up.

(Interestingly, 4E does re-design the hit point model from the ground up with consistency in mind - and is decried for being too "video-gamey". :p )
 
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Dorsai

The lazier of two evils
Validated User
This makes the ambush and the sniper REAL nasty though, because the whole point of that is to ignore miss points and go straight for the kill...
I find this rather intriguing. It has given me something to think about regarding a problem I have had with most RPG combat systems
 

synistar

Registered User
Validated User
You know that's more or less how D&D works now, don't you?
Except that none of the terminology used in D&D supports this interpretation of the rules. If it had then we would never have seen all these "Why/what are hit points" threads.
 

smathis

Retired User
Good points, Mr. Stolze.

And even though D&D's current incarnation plays lip service to this approach. I think it still boils down to a framing issue with simply the nomenclature of "hit points". No matter what Mearls, Schwalb, Noonan and Slavicek say... when any of the players I've seen playing 4e roll the dice it's always: "I hit! I do 13 damage!"

And that's a big perspective shift from "I swing, it's an attack of 13!" and "He soaks it by parrying your blade at the last second".

When 4e first came out, I narrated combats as if every hit that did not crit, bloody or drop a monster was parried, blocked, near missed or dodged. You would've thought I read Anton La Vey on Sunday morning in front of the Southern Baptist convention.

I agree with David G. that this is how hit points are "supposed" to work. But I disagree that WotC has done anything other than provide the rationalization. Simply renaming them to "Miss Points", "Soak Points" or "Protection" would go a lot farther than a sidebar in the DMG.
 

xenongames

Roleplayer
Validated User
In play, "I take 2 points. You take 3 points. I take 3 points." is JUST AS BORING as "I dodge. I dodge. I dodge." Plus, it has the added benefit of more bookkeeping! The benefit of "miss points" is that the nickel-and-dimeing will eventually end. But then again, the odds are that someone will eventually fail their dodge.

It negates the notion of having different damage for different weapons (and thus, we're back to the days when all weapons did 1d6). In fact, the larger, slower, and easier-to-dodge weapons would do less damage than faster weapons.

In addition, you have to retool area attacks (which aren't so much dodged as withstood), traps (whose damage tends to be very specific), poison (more more "lose 2d6 hp"), etc. have to be remodeled such that they don't affect hit points. It's all well and good to say you've recovered your composure after the sword fight and you have your hit points back, but it doesn't work so well when you have an explosive rune go off in your face.
 
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dr_mitch

Maths Sensei
Validated User
I've always interpreted "Hit Points" as someone's ability to take minor wounds, but nonetheless avoid taking major wounds. So someone who has gone from 100HP to 20HP (say) is potentially covered with small cuts, bruises, and perhaps burns, but has avoided serious injury.

This all makes sense of things for me personally. I don't expect everyone else to agree...
 
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