Rally, the Sixth Basic Power (May 25, 2012)
The Five-Power Chassis (May 2, 2012)

I’ve been playing a lot of Borderlands lately (the first one, not the second one) and I’ve been thinking about firearms, cover, and ranged combat (evidenced by a number of recent posts). It’s my intent to use the history and development of firearms as a basis for magic and its impact on society. I’m also working on basic character powers.

There are a handful of common triggers and effects among Borderlands classes:
Critical Hits, “Kill Skills,” Action Skills, and Second Wind

These I would refer to as “secondary” effects, to the primary sorts of powers and abilities of most basic character powers, such as picking up and equipping weapons and armor, keeping an inventory, switching between weapons during a fight, “running and gunning” as it were, shooting and moving (separate from strafing), and so forth.

Porting some of these basic concepts to D&D, I would include one additional trigger effect “First Strike,” which represents a body of effects that can only take place during the very first turn of combat (D&D is turn-based and not real-time, which gives us this design room to play around with and exploit).

Environment skills are also separate. I previously indicated that cover, crawling, and concealment were all movement- or position-based and my thinking is that while super-awesome and special in their own regard, they should be counted as separate and distinct from the general association of powers. Abstract tactical advantages.

Now look at this information organized differently:

Action Point – once per encounter, take an extra basic action
Critical Hit – maximize damage under special circumstances
Defeat Enemy – reduce creature to 0 hp to remove from combat
First Strike – only available during the first round of combat
Second Wind – only available while “downed” or “dying”

In a few cases, I’ve trimmed down or streamlined an existing concept. The idea of restricting use of an action point to “basic actions” is a pretty significant shift in power. It means the player can only use basic attacks, move or shift, or whatever. Combine these new concepts with the basic and tactical powers from before…

I think the answer I’ve been looking for with regard to hit points and combat is the “Defeat Enemy” power that players have access to which enables them to remove opponents from combat by reducing their health to zero. This is a really weird and abstract concept, and it’s inspired by the Fourth Edition “kill or knock out” option.

Whenever a creature is reduced to zero hit points, the player has the option to kill or “knock out” (render unconscious) the target. This is a quirk of Fourth Edition that replaces the “Nonlethal Damage” option of Third Edition. It’s simple and effective solution to a normally-complicated problem of differentiating levels of force.

Look for more stuff regarding this in future updates!