I have this weird idea that’s been bouncing around in my head most of the day about the difference between damage and hit points. I’m not really sure where this thought is headed, but it has something to do with how typically, one of them counts up, and the other counts down, and why. More damage is good, and more hit points are good. There’s a weird disconnect in my head that’s forcing a thought.

What if damage only counted up for characters, as it does in Smash Brothers? As damage climbs through attacks and such, a character can be “knocked out” of a fight, but they can mitigate this effect by sacrificing hit points? Healing, then, can be used to “remove damage” instead of restoring hit points, to help rein in its weirdness. This, in turn, makes it possible for an exhausted character to be easily KO’d by an enemy.

Hit points are representative of stamina already, so fatigue and exhaustion effects beyond conditions that otherwise effect hit points would be redundant (for example: Third Edition’s fatigued and exhausted conditions). Once damage exceeds hit points, the player needs to worry about getting taken out by a targeted strike. (Lucky shot?)

I’m not really sure about the exchange rate, though, of sacrificing hit points to remove damage. If the scale works out at one-to-one, you haven’t made any progress, and will be even easier to knock out than before, which would hardly be appealing to the player. Perhaps this is where the “second wind” comes into play? You get knocked out and remove damage by successful hits and kills while in a “critical state.”

Let’s say you have 30 hit points and you take a bunch of damage … let’s say you’ve taken 35 points of damage. Your damage exceeds your hit points, so you’re in that “danger mode” where another good shot (let’s say a successful hit) will take you out of combat (or more generically, the encounter). If you take down an enemy while in “danger mode,” you can spend a healing surge to remove all damage.

Actually, that doesn’t sound so terrible at all. I’ll have to think about this.