There are no perfect damage systems, and I prefer hit points, but I have some players who grouse about “going back” to hit points (even though I, the Judge, track all hit points!) The big advantage of non-hit point/damage save systems (potentially leaving d20 here) is less or no bookkeeping (depending on the system).
In general, ACKS is fast. However, the Mortal Wounds table is not always as fast as I would like. Note that I don’t think it needs to be changed, I am simply interested in improving my games.
A couple of points: 1) because of what I view as the system (cleave) expectations of ACKS, I use average hp rolls for “monsters” (PC opponents) as much as possible, “bosses” being the exception. IMO, this greatly speeds combat over my 1E, etc. experience. 2) there is less of a potential issue when the monsters are in fact monsters (and maybe the PCs lean toward the monstrous …). For example, 12-20 PCs/henchman/mercenaries versus 25ish brigands. This could be a bear to run in 3E, but can be quickly resolved in ACKS.
Until … the Priestess decides she can’t go back to town while human beings she could save are dying, or the PCs want to interrogate someone, etc. Then, the Judge (and Priestess, et. al.) get to make dozens of Mortal Wounds rolls while the rest of the group waits.
I saw this coming and began experimenting with shortcuts, hand-waving, etc. early on. Rather than have a two-tiered solution (quick and standard), it would be ideal if the existing Mortal Wounds process could be sped up.
What slows the process is having to maintain (or collect after combat) two data points for every “down” combatant: 1) how negative are the combatant’s hp (which requires starting hp be handy), and 2) how long ago did they go down? (After resolving a Mortal Wounds roll, a different time data point may need to be tracked: how long do they have to be further healed before dying?)
(As an aside, early on I somewhat shot myself in the foot speed-wise by interpolating the time modifiers between “+2 if treated within 1 round of injury” and “-3 if treated immediately after fight”, because I thought every round should count, i.e. +1 2 rounds, 0 3 rounds, -1 4 rounds, -2 5 rounds, -3 6+ rounds.)
Ideally, I think a preliminary status of some sort would be noted when the combatant goes down, based mostly on how negative the combatant’s hp are (Unconscious 0 hp, Bloody -1/4 to 1/2 max, Maimed -1/2 max+ or something). (Sometimes a PC faces more than one down comrade and can reasonably expect to ask “Who looks worse off?”). If an Unconscious character takes further collateral damage of some sort, maybe just note Bloody instead of continuing to track negative hp?
I like the drama of saving a character, so I would still delay final resolution until a healing attempt, which would be modified by the preliminary status noted above.
Using different color dice indicating Unconscious, Bloody, Maimed, with the number being the round since gaining the status comes to mind, but that’s not as “scalable” as I would like (requiring a supply and placement of dice).
So, still thinking … ideas welcome.