On the heels of my previous post about hit point variation, there’s another thought about how hit points might vary from character to character. Indeed, it seems that variation is important, or even necessary, to differentiate one character, or type of character, from another. The most basic form of this is the idea that warriors who engage in physical activities have more hit points than spellcasters.

I suppose that would make sense if hit points were representative of Constitution, health, and general physical well-being. Unfortunately, the concept of “hit points” have evolved well beyond that. When a character sustains “psychic” damage, or “soul” damage, that comes out of hit points as well. Shouldn’t spellcasters like psychics, priests, and druids have adequate hit points to resist such attacks?

As mentioned before, Guild Wars gives characters of all professions equal numbers of hit points, with the primary variation between the “hit point” classes being whether they bear resistance to physical damage through use of armor, or elemental damage using powers like the ranger’s nature spirits or the mesmer’s mantras. There are additional damage types that break this model, but this is the basic division.

Looking at different racial options, different class options, what should inform how many hit points a given character receives? Why should one have more than another? Perhaps a character can have a resistance to some kinds of damage, and not to others? Should vulnerabilities be used? What makes the most sense, and what’s easiest to use? Do characters need to have different hit point totals?

It would seem to me that all characters should start with the same number of hit points, if hit points are to be used at all. Maybe then, players may choose to bargain away hit points for additional types of power, but that those powers be limited in such a fashion that they provide limited damage bonuses. Choose to trade away some hit points to gain a scissors attack option that does more damage against paper characters.

This would be more of a proactive use of damage types. There are no inherent vulnerabilities except what disadvantages you allow yourself. The only disadvantage you’re allowed to take then, is “fewer hit points.” That means you’re less able to do work, but better for specialized tasks. For instance, you may trade hit points to be more effective at the negotiating table, or when fighting demons or the undead.

I’m not sure how I feel about energy points, or “mana” points at the moment, since they tend to be a buffer that exists between the normal trade of hit points for experience — when you run out of mana points, you return to the normal hit point exchange. Maybe a class is defined as the kinds of things you’re willing to give up hit points for? “I give up hit points to be better at bow-hunting, or fighting the undead, or demons.”