Originally titled, “Fundamental Changes In The Way We Handle Damage.”
Recently I started making changes to the way damage is calculated in my game system, adopting a “damage threshold” system to replace the “hit point” system. Similar to “wound” systems, a damage threshold will count damage rather than hit points, and a character is incapacitated when damage exceeds the threshold.
You can find similar systems in most White Wolf/Storyteller system games, and in Airship Pirates, among others. The emphasis is less about asserting the current physical well-being of a character (that’s what hit points do), and more to do with logging changes that have the potential to alter a character’s capacity to act.
Simple version: addition is easier than subtraction. You add damage, or you subtract hit points. Honestly, it’s that simple.
This much I’ve covered in previous posts. But there’s more to the story. I’ve also discussed changes in the binary hit/miss mechanics of attack rolls, and actually modifying how characters receive attacks that target them, and any damage dealt.
You’ll note from the date that I haven’t posted any new information about the defensive tactics since August of last year – you’ll have to take my word I’ve been working on them in the interim. They’re better now, less reliant on the presence of “secondary effects.” The most significant change was to the “Negate” defense.
I think I’ve covered how “accuracy” is a big deal in Dungeons & Dragons, where if you miss with an attack, it might as well not deal damage at all. You’ve wasted your turn (your Standard action, anyway). Well, I aim to change that. Not all characters will evade damage the same way, some of them will actually try to “take” damage.
New versions of the defensive tactics make it so that only two options depend on a high defense score – “Dodge” for avoiding damage from attacks that miss, and “Reflect” for redirecting damage from attacks that miss. Ideally, most characters still want to avoid being hit, but for mitigation reasons. Most attacks want to hit.
A lot of the more radical changes have been shelved in favor of more familiar and easier-to-use options, but some interesting effects have remained. I think the ability to reliably and consistently pull out critical hits will be part of the game’s combat strategy, and the ability to “negate” the damage from a critical hit will be significant.
Two other defensive tactics – resist and deflect – don’t really care about getting hit or not, though obviously everyone still prefers to not be hit.