Posted by : David Guyll June 03, 2013

Another Legends & Lore about hit points?

The short of it is that for the "entry point" at least, hit points will largely represent physical trauma that you can recover with either magic or extensive periods of rest, the latter of which can only get you to the halfway mark unless you rest in a "comfortable" area. Dungeons & Dragons has an extensive history with plenty of takes on hit points both official and optional, so I am curious as to why they are settling on this as the default benchmark.

For starters, why does resting in a "dungeon" locale cap you at half? It makes no sense that you heal up to a certain point, after which there is just no benefit whatsoever. It reminds me of Final Fantasy, where tents restored a set amount of hit points, but houses and inns healed you to full.

"ZOMG, D&D Next is like a video game!"
The strangest part about this is that I always assumed that a good chunk of hit points were near misses, or minor scratches at worst. The real damage occurred the closer you got to zero, after which you were pretty badly wounded. So, what? You can heal enough to get back on your feet and fight without any penalties, just not enough to recover the last few cuts and bruises? If I rest in a dungeon for a couple of days, why do I still see absolutely no improvement?

Another issue is that it needlessly stresses the importance of magical healing, which itself operates needlessly on a largely per-day magic system. Short tangent: Dungeons & Dragons has plenty of magic systems to choose from or use as a foundation, so as with hit points I have to ask why we need to use basically the worst in terms of resource management and sense I have seen as the basis?

At any rate I think that both forcing people to rely on clerics and the like, and changing the rules to accommodate parties without one, are both terrible ideas. Why not just make the game work by default, and then add rules modules to tweak them after the fact? What if a group lacks a cleric, but then picks one up later? Do we change the rules again?

As strange as the first two bullet points are to me, I get it because that is pretty much how D&D operated pre-4th Edition (not that I think it is a sufficient reason to roll things back, mind you). The third point? I have no idea. I guess Mearls thinks that if you have to go back to town more often to get back the last half of your hit points that time apparently forgot, you might interact more with the population.

Personally if your group is the type that likes social interaction, they are going to do that anyway. Otherwise I think no matter how many times they sum up their trip to town, that they are suddenly going to start chatting it up with the blacksmith just to, I dunno, break up the repetition? If you want to get your players to interact with the population, there are more interesting and compelling ways to do so than making a pseudo-functional, passive-aggressive hit point system.

I know people used to claim that 4th Edition came across as a video game, but this system of half-way healing, potion-popping, cure-spamming hit point management screams video game to me more than healing surges and encounter powers ever did.

"Human Cleric (Lightbringer) 15 LFG!"
If anything good has come out of this article, is that it has inspired me to add some more to my ideal hit point system, namely a healing rate:

A character's healing rate would be determined by her level, Constitution, class, and/or situational modifiers like location or class features. For example as a baseline barbarians would heal faster than fighters, who heal faster than rogues, who heal faster than wizards. A particularly durable wizard might heal faster than a rogue, especially if that rogue has a low Constitution. You could make things more complex by giving classes a healing rate bonus, maybe even make it a talent, so that if you stick around in fighter long enough you could eventually heal faster than, say, a multiclass barbarian/sorcerer.

As for class features, clerics might have some kind of healing prayer ability that boost everyone's healing rate, druids could heal faster in the wilderness, and rangers might be able to boost the location-based healing effect in specific terrain. Since exploration turns are based on 10 minute/1 hour units, I could even give characters an hourly healing rate, or make it so that clerics have a healing aura that gives everyone a 10-minute/hour recovery time, which if coupled with rapidly-refreshing vitality points would make healing magic less necessary.

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