Tracking negative hit points (continued from "Converting d20 Players")

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.

Now I feel bad lol. I just preferred the -10 rule as it is what we used in BECMI, AD&D and 3rd ed.

ACKs has around 80% of what I want from a D&D game and the speed thing and ease of running it are big attractions. We went into the ToEE using ACKs for example and had a room with 18 0 level warrior types and 3 3rd level fighters. Between sleep spells and cleave they cleared them out very quickly.

It is also because I only have a single printing of the ACKs PDF I bought so -10 is easier to use than handing around the 1 book we do have whenever someone hits negative hit points.

Paraphrase I’m lazy:)

In this case you need to borrow from those fancy modern “narrativist” RPGs and ask yourself what the significance of wounds suffered by NPC monsters is. For a PC or henchman, you care quite a bit about whether they lost their leg because they’ll now need to play around that. For enemies that you are attempting to revive, it really doesn’t matter exactly what injuries they suffered because even if you bring them back to life and carry them back to town, once they head on their way they cease to matter. In that case, I think DM fiat is called for to just declare “13 of them live with 2 severed legs, 4 cracked ribs, and 7 with some form of scarring”.

Of course, “each campaign is a law unto itself” and all that good stuff, I just don’t see what getting picture perfect representations of an entire enemy side adds to the game.

Not sure what fancy modern RPGs you are referring to lol. I’ve played D&D and Star Wars and barely tried other ones like Vampire and Paranoia.

I’d say instead of counting every round, consider this… +2 for the “next round”, +0 for “still in combat”, and -3 for after combat. For special cases like you are rushing, but couldn’t get to them before combat ended, the first one gets the +0, maybe. I think the -3 doesn’t mean the instant the combat ended, but “during the rest of the turn we count off for bookkeeping” I see the desire to track every round, but the bookkeeping is intense, and if you go there, you might as well make every transition scale, no?

You could always do it like you would for the -10 rule, and just tick every downed combatant each round, then count the ticks when the healer reaches them, I guess.

Obvious examples are things like Burning Wheel, Apocalypse World, and FATE. Games where the rules are explicitly meant to facilitate stories rather than (say) experiences. They tend to have a lot of dissociated and metagame mechanics, and the concept of playing a specific role takes a backseat to being an author in the overall narrative.

Well, you can eliminate the second data point if you backpedal and just make “After the fight” be after the fight. Then the only question becomes how to deal with the first data point- Their relative damagedness.

What I’d do is (I don’t know what tools you use when running your game) since I normally keep track of every monster’s HP in a notepad file, when each one went down I’d compare their current HP to their maximum HP and then leave a symbol to denote that status. IE: At any given round, I’d have something like this open.

Goblin1: 4/4
Goblin2: -1/4 +
Goblin3: -3/4 $

If you do paper and minis, you could keep similar symbols on slips of paper and put the paper under the defeated minis.

You don’t even REALLY have to keep track of their negatives, either- You could definitely get away with fudging it and rounding to the relevant modifier (More than halfway into the negatives? Let’s just make that… let’s just make that halfway into the negatives.) for completely unimportant NPCs.