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5th Edition - put Hit Point caps back in... please


D&D 4th Edition (and Beyond)

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Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Hit Points in 3e+ is perhaps one of the central 'mechanics' that caused silly power bloat. By bringing back a maximum number of 'rolled + CON bonus' hit dice, designers (and DM's) will then have once again limits on damage output required to make a challenge a challenge. The 3e+ system (actually made worse by PF) is just crazy. Monsters and characters with HP's numbers higher than I can count, to no real purpose that I can see. It is not too much of a problem to increase a PC's abilities without requiring massive amounts of HP's (and therefore damage output).

If not RAW than an option in 5th ed. would be appreciated.

Down with HP's...

[I like the simple concept of HP's just not the HP inflation that has plagued D&D since 3e]

S.


I agree with you. Limits and challenges need to return. I'd like to see the experience point chart return to something closer to the old days, instead of the "instant gratification" tendency we have now.

And don't forget that almost every feat or power in 3e+ is designed to increase a character's munchkin level without really adding any challenge, or, IMO, any substance.

Shadow Lodge

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Completely agree. The fact that you have 20 HD at 20th level makes you able to do completely ridiculous things. Hell, using strict RAW, you can wade across a pool of lava with a decent chance of survival as a 20th level character.

And why bother with ladders. Just jump! The worst that can happen is 10d6 damage...that's like a papercut!


What has always bothered me about high hit points--or maybe, just hit points in general--is the way a character can wade into battle, take enough damage to flat-out kill eight or nine normal people, and walk back out again without feeling anything; there's operationally no difference between 150 hps and 1 hp, just a meta-game awareness that the next shot might hurt real bad.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

I really doubt that the folks at Wizards are going to be using the Paizo boards for feedback.


No, but open playtests are coming up, and I imagine a large number of people who do use the Paizo boards for feedback are going to be involved. Let your voice be heard.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
LazarX wrote:
I really doubt that the folks at Wizards are going to be using the Paizo boards for feedback.

They should... ;)


Meh, make them optional as a definition of tiers of play. 3E and above allowed the PCs to develope into legendary heroes - ability to survive the impossible belongs to that and is simply represented by the buckets of hps. Optional caps that allow the game power progression to stop on certain level (like E6) is the way to go IMO.

Grand Lodge

They did a high level approach to E6 with the 3 tier approach - Heroic, Paragon etc.

I'd like to see low, standard and high magic but I don't think that belongs in the base rules as much as supplements.


Well, scalable hp bar would crtainly help to define the tiers more sharply.

The Exchange

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
Jerry Wright 307 wrote:
What has always bothered me about high hit points--or maybe, just hit points in general--is the way a character can wade into battle, take enough damage to flat-out kill eight or nine normal people, and walk back out again without feeling anything; there's operationally no difference between 150 hps and 1 hp, just a meta-game awareness that the next shot might hurt real bad.

There's an argument that hp are less about absorbing physical damage and more a "luck reserve" whereby a higher level character is just luckier than lower level characters, taking or rolling with attacks that become mere grazes rather than mortal blows for lesser individuals. That's fairly explicit in 4e, where "healing" can come from encouraging words from a warlord as well as clerical healing. When all is said and done, hp are not a very good way of representing certain corner cases like falling and wading through lava. Actually, they aren't really that good for most uses, but unless we want to go to more elaborate ways of measuring damage (and I bet we don't, since that has been the same in D&D sonce the beginning) there will always be some odd metagame discontinuities. You could argue that 4e also dealt with this by making challenges like these level appropriate, rather than giving, say, lava a flat amount of damage (20d6) irrespective of what level you are.


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In my game, lava doesn't do damage. It just destroys body parts, if you don't have some kind of magical protection. No Saving Throw.


Aubrey the Malformed wrote:
Jerry Wright 307 wrote:
What has always bothered me about high hit points--or maybe, just hit points in general--is the way a character can wade into battle, take enough damage to flat-out kill eight or nine normal people, and walk back out again without feeling anything; there's operationally no difference between 150 hps and 1 hp, just a meta-game awareness that the next shot might hurt real bad.
There's an argument that hp are less about absorbing physical damage and more a "luck reserve" whereby a higher level character is just luckier than lower level characters, taking or rolling with attacks that become mere grazes rather than mortal blows for lesser individuals. That's fairly explicit in 4e, where "healing" can come from encouraging words from a warlord as well as clerical healing. When all is said and done, hp are not a very good way of representing certain corner cases like falling and wading through lava. Actually, they aren't really that good for most uses, but unless we want to go to more elaborate ways of measuring damage (and I bet we don't, since that has been the same in D&D sonce the beginning) there will always be some odd metagame discontinuities. You could argue that 4e also dealt with this by making challenges like these level appropriate, rather than giving, say, lava a flat amount of damage (20d6) irrespective of what level you are.

Lava in 4E does do a fixed aount of damage AFAIK - it just shows how much damage it does for level of submersion and level rating just shows at what level the lava like that is merely a chalelnge and not a deadly hazard (or a nuisance).


I've always wished that a video game designer, with a sense of humor, would put in a boss, early in a game, so that when the boss appears, at the top of the screen is a very long hp bar, something that truly terrifies the player, but then have it go down by one half the first time the boss is hit, and the second hit is a kill. that should educate people into the relevance of hit points.


LazarX wrote:
I really doubt that the folks at Wizards are going to be using the Paizo boards for feedback.

QFT. It's kinda funny how often these 5e topics pop up on the non-WotC boards.

Stefan Hill wrote:
Hit Points in 3e+ is perhaps one of the central 'mechanics' that caused silly power bloat. By bringing back a maximum number of 'rolled + CON bonus' hit dice, designers (and DM's) will then have once again limits on damage output required to make a challenge a challenge. The 3e+ system (actually made worse by PF) is just crazy. Monsters and characters with HP's numbers higher than I can count, to no real purpose that I can see. It is not too much of a problem to increase a PC's abilities without requiring massive amounts of HP's (and therefore damage output).

Not to rain on your parade, but how about just a reasonable number of hit points per level? Seems simpler than 'fast escalation until name level, then suddenly stomp on the brakes.'


How about HPs equal to Con score plus 2*BAB? Every step in size larger than Medium multiplies that BAB modifier by 2, every step in size smaller than Medium halves it.

You would also scale DOWN all the damage causing modifiers to match.

This required turning Power Attack back to -1/+1, Vital Strike became a lot more useful and a single feat. Fighter Weapon Training and Iterative Attacks became this:

Each iterative attack allows you to re-roll one to-hit die per combat, and allows you to re-roll one damage die when flanking or attacking a flat-footed target.

Fighters (and only fighters) get to roll their weapon damage dice twice on all attacks, and keep the best result at 6th level.

Armor got DR equal to 1/3 of its ACP, rounded up.

Critical hits only multiply the base damage die of the weapon in question.

Most 1d6/level damage causing spells became 1d8/2 levels damage causing spells.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
Zmar wrote:
Lava in 4E does do a fixed aount of damage AFAIK - it just shows how much damage it does for level of submersion and level rating just shows at what level the lava like that is merely a chalelnge and not a deadly hazard (or a nuisance).

Does it? It's not my recollection. If it has it listed as an example hazard for a certain level then that may be the case - that said, those levels are not hard and fast and can be shifted in accordance with the rules in the DMG2. That isn't really the case for 3e - obviously you can change it if you wish, but there isn't a pre-existing mechanism to do it.

Shadow Lodge

Terquem wrote:
I've always wished that a video game designer, with a sense of humor, would put in a boss, early in a game, so that when the boss appears, at the top of the screen is a very long hp bar, something that truly terrifies the player, but then have it go down by one half the first time the boss is hit, and the second hit is a kill. that should educate people into the relevance of hit points.

Every played the Spider-Man 2 video game? When you finally face Mysterio face-to-face (as he's robbing a convenience store), his hp bar fills up with a red bar, then a yellow bar, then a green bar. One single attack, no matter what type, will then cause all the green, all the yellow, and all the red to drain away. In other words, one punch and he's down.


Aubrey the Malformed wrote:
Zmar wrote:
Lava in 4E does do a fixed aount of damage AFAIK - it just shows how much damage it does for level of submersion and level rating just shows at what level the lava like that is merely a chalelnge and not a deadly hazard (or a nuisance).
Does it? It's not my recollection. If it has it listed as an example hazard for a certain level then that may be the case - that said, those levels are not hard and fast and can be shifted in accordance with the rules in the DMG2. That isn't really the case for 3e - obviously you can change it if you wish, but there isn't a pre-existing mechanism to do it.

The thing is, that most of the things in 4E do have table damage per level, but the rules guide the GM to use the thing to represent different level of the effect. Lvl 5 hero walking around a pool of lava suffers X damage, lvl 12 hero walking around the same pool should suffer the same X, not Y. It's a way to show that lvl 12 guy is tougher. Is the pool suddenly exploded and showered the lvl 12 guy with lava drops it would be a an excuse to cause some Y damage, but otherwise it had better not. The same goes for DCs and other such stuff. The PCs are gaining levels for a reason and if the challenges change only numerically nad not visually as well the sense of accomplishment is lost. It's not entirely fixed, but not free either. Stepping into a pool of lava should be a deadly thing for PCs on certain level, as it should be a uncomfortable, but surviveable for really epic hero...

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Tequila Sunrise wrote:


Not to rain on your parade, but how about just a reasonable number of hit points per level? Seems simpler than 'fast escalation until name level, then suddenly stomp on the brakes.'

I prefer the top out. This means at high level things become more deadly. High level 'things' have a good Gygaxian reason not just to rule the planet.

Sovereign Court

To me, a 20th level character wading through lava is a feature not a detriment- you just need to realise that your into superhero territory from as early as 7th level in D&D/PF and suspend knee-jerk 'no one can do that' argument.


It isn't a knee-jerk argument. The rules might allow it if you're willing to ignore physics, but even in a rules-heavy system, common sense has a place. Without some kind of magical protection, characters should not be able to wade through lava.

Just because you can force the rules to do a ridiculous thing doesn't mean you should.


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I agree with Stefan. I like my PCs to remain "human" across all 20 or 30 levels of development. I suspend enough disbelief when a guy kills an ancient wyrm with a sword. I don't need Frodo wandering through the lava in Mt. Doom, thanks.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Jerry Wright 307 wrote:

It isn't a knee-jerk argument. The rules might allow it if you're willing to ignore physics, but even in a rules-heavy system, common sense has a place. Without some kind of magical protection, characters should not be able to wade through lava.

Just because you can force the rules to do a ridiculous thing doesn't mean you should.

This I agree with. I don't mind a 5e module that let's players be Manga style jumpy-leapy-gravity-defying-'megasword of ridiculous proportions wielding' low frame rate heroes, but I want my fantasy steeped in reality... (work that one out). What I mean is unless there is some magical effect I would like the rest of the world to behave as I would expect. Swimming in lava unless you are protected, spell/ability etc (as Jerry points out), would be a no-no in my games also. 1e & 2e did ok at this, so if the idea of 5e being able to recreate these type of games I would hope/imagine that some hit dice cap will occur.

S.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Alexander Kilcoyne wrote:

To me, a 20th level character wading through lava is a feature not a detriment- you just need to realise that your into superhero territory from as early as 7th level in D&D/PF and suspend knee-jerk 'no one can do that' argument.

More correct to say that in 3e+ you got into super-hero territory, in 1e/2e you just got into more trouble at 7th...


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If that's your stance, then the answer has to be that the 20th level character is magic. Not just so he can wade in lava or jump off cliffs, but because that's the only way those who aren't casting spells can keep up with those who are. If you limit those without magic to common sense and the laws of physics, then they can't compete with those who can defy both with spells or innate magic.

Either we have to force non-magic characters to suck or we have to admit all the characters are magic at high level.

Liberty's Edge

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thejeff wrote:

If that's your stance, then the answer has to be that the 20th level character is magic. Not just so he can wade in lava or jump off cliffs, but because that's the only way those who aren't casting spells can keep up with those who are. If you limit those without magic to common sense and the laws of physics, then they can't compete with those who can defy both with spells or innate magic.

Either we have to force non-magic characters to suck or we have to admit all the characters are magic at high level.

1e/2e didn't require this and in many ways was far more balanced than the attempts made in the d20 system. Magic was made too easy in 3e+. Then to counter this they had to make 'magic' non-magic PC's. 5e is a chance within a certain module to take a step back when John Woo didn't rule D&D.

S.


Why do you have to compete with magic-users? They don't have to compete with your weapons skill.

This whole player-vs.-player thing is a very unhealthy way to approach gaming, IMO. Parties are supposed to be cooperative, not competitive.

If you insist on the competition, I'm glad I don't play in the same games as you.


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In 1/2E, casters went straight to super-hero territory, because they kept getting more and more powerful spells, while non-casters got into more trouble.
I assume that's what the changes to hp and base attacks, among other things, were supposed to address in 3e. Giving non-casters a way to keep being relevant. It also boosted low-level casters, which was a good thing. Just as no classes should have to suck at high levels, none should have to go through a long, often fatal, low-level suck to reach the heights of power. Classes should be fun and playable from start to finish.

There are other ways to address this. Top out sooner. Don't allow casters to get so powerful. E6 does this. Plenty of non-D20 systems do it.

I'm not sure how 4E handles it. I didn't play it to high levels, but it felt to me like they were trying to keep the classes very balanced, not just in total power, but by making them work similarly. I don't think they get to the same power levels as 3E characters, but it looked like non-casters would be just as magical.

I don't see a way to balance the traditional power and spell lists of (Pre-4E) D&D without making everyone magic.


Jerry Wright 307 wrote:

Why do you have to compete with magic-users? They don't have to compete with your weapons skill.

This whole player-vs.-player thing is a very unhealthy way to approach gaming, IMO. Parties are supposed to be cooperative, not competitive.

If you insist on the competition, I'm glad I don't play in the same games as you.

I don't see it as player-vs-player competition. I'm not saying we should have competitions for the fighters to beat up the wizards. Just that both should be roughly as useful to the party.

If I'm playing a playing a fighter or a rogue and the wizard's covering everything I can do, then why am I there? Just to watch his back when he's out of spells? Nah, he'll just pop off to his demiplane for the night.

Liberty's Edge

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thejeff wrote:

In 1/2E, casters went straight to super-hero territory, because they kept getting more and more powerful spells, while non-casters got into more trouble.

I don't see a way to balance the traditional power and spell lists of (Pre-4E) D&D without making everyone magic.

The spell casting system in 1e was a equalizer, if a 18th level Archmage ever stood before an 18th Fighter - my money is on the fighter. Now at range I'll side with the Magic-User. Casting in combat was something unlikely to end in you ever reaching high levels as a Magic-User. You required 'team work' with a Fighter taking the front and stopping the nasty getting behind the lines. Rogues perhaps staying hidden at the back waiting to pounce on the enemy who does get through. I'm with Jerry 110% on this. 3e+ seems to have instilled a competitive streak in people. It's like damage output is the penis-length of the D&D world.

A blacksmith in 1e had a maximum of 9 hp - now with the 3e+ Expert NPC they can have LOTS. How can I as a DM make a scary dragon if the local baker can take multiple breath weapon attacks and has a better to hit than the dragon?!

I have had to play by these inflationary rules for the last 12 years, perhaps now under 5e I don't have too. But I do hope they leave in the bits that you obviously enjoy, those who started D&D under 3e perhaps don't get why I would want to 'nerf' all the classes. For me I have massive difficulty justifying the campaign worlds under 3e+. They make no sense - I extrapolate to a world filled only with high level individuals.

S.


Stefan Hill wrote:
thejeff wrote:

If that's your stance, then the answer has to be that the 20th level character is magic. Not just so he can wade in lava or jump off cliffs, but because that's the only way those who aren't casting spells can keep up with those who are. If you limit those without magic to common sense and the laws of physics, then they can't compete with those who can defy both with spells or innate magic.

Either we have to force non-magic characters to suck or we have to admit all the characters are magic at high level.

1e/2e didn't require this and in many ways was far more balanced than the attempts made in the d20 system. Magic was made too easy in 3e+. Then to counter this they had to make 'magic' non-magic PC's. 5e is a chance within a certain module to take a step back when John Woo didn't rule D&D.

I'm not so sure it didn't. It's been a long time, but I do remember running into the same kinds of issues in 1/2E. That's partly why we usually didn't run much past the name levels.

I'm not saying 3E's fixes actually worked. There was definitely an overall power escalation, especially as more and more splatbooks came out.
I wouldn't mind seeing limitations like casting time and the ability to interrupt spells come back. Though dealing with high-level casters by not ever letting them cast their high-level spells in combat isn't exactly ideal.
I do think that is what they were trying to do and I agree with the intent, even if it didn't work out in practice.

But D&D is John Woo. It always has been. Or rather it gets to John Woo around level 3-4 and goes up from there. If you want grim and gritty, play something else.
Even Conan would back down from a couple guards with crossbows pointed at him. (At least until they were distracted for a second, then he'd kill them or run.) A 4th level fighter would just go "16hp max. I can take that." and attack. Even in 1E.
The question is do you want it to be super-hero or anime fantasy.

The simple solution is just to ignore the high levels. Leave them to those who want that kind of game. Then most of the craziness doesn't even come up.


What Dm takes the time to create a level 20 Baker?? Or am I the odd one out? Actually I have never bothered stating out NPCs that the PCs are not going to fight. If a Dragon attacks the town and hits a commoner or some such that person is gonna die unless they are a guard or something. If the PCs need info from someone that NPC either has the answers or doesn't or he knows someone that can help. Just cause the rules give you options for a 20th level NPC class doesn't mean you have to use them.

I pretty sure I read in one of the blogs or interviews somewhere that they are going to have a slower progression of stat increases over the levels to keep the same threats challenging for longer and I assume this includes Hp. Sounds good to me though I did start playing Dnd with 3e I've always enjoyed low level play better than high level.


I will agree that there were issues about mages wielding a lot of power, even in 1E/2E. But it was a different scale of power.

In the old days, a +1 to hit was significant. And when they introduced the idea of weapon specialization or two-weapon fighting with their additional attacks, we were convinced it would break the game.

A magic-user being able to lob one of his few, previously keyed spells didn't seem as overpowering as it does today. Especially since he didn't have a concentration check to avoid losing a spell if he was hit before it went off. And he had to worry about the number of segments it took to actually cast the spell, creating a window in which he could be attacked. And he had to stand stil to cast, losing his Dex bonus.

They've removed those restrictions. They've changed the flow of the game to the point they have to fix it.

I keep hearing people complain about "What do I do when I run out of spells?"

There's a lot more options for mages these days. They can use two-handed swords if they want, something they couldn't do without penalty in the old days. And they can use missile weapons as well, furthering their "artillery" role even more. And with the kind of spells they can cast to "buff" themselves these days, they can be even more effective.

All in all, I don't see the need for "at-will" abilities to break the game even further just to help the "over-powered" mages be more competitive.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Kip84 wrote:
What Dm takes the time to create a level 20 Baker?? Or am I the odd one out?

Don't get me wrong I never would, but they can exist. That is the bit that makes my head spin as I try to design a campaign and a world/area for it to be in. This is perhaps the core of the 1e/2e vs 3e+ divide. As you go up uber-fast in levels in 3e+ the focus of a campaign setting really doesn't have to be that great. In short your PC will be level 20 and looking for an Epic level books faster than a 1e Paladin gets their horse!

Neither way wrong, I just come from a school that levels are an outcome of adventuring (1e/2e) and not that you adventure to gain levels (3e+). It took me, playing 3 lunchtimes (read as 45 minutes each) plus 6-8 hours each Saturday, just over two years of real time to get to level 16 as a 1e Magic User. My PC's I DMed playing 3.5e Age of Worms were 15-16th in a period of weeks and playing less.

S.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
thejeff wrote:
I wouldn't mind seeing limitations like casting time and the ability to interrupt spells come back.

Preaching to the converted my friend!


The most levels I ever gained with any character in the old game was 14, beginning at 1st. And we played a lot kmore often than we do these days.

I can remember falling asleep in class because I was up all night battling evil in Middle-Earth. :)


All though the more I think about it the more Manu level 20 Chef taking down the Dragon with his Vorpal croissant of death becomes awesome in my mind! :D

When I design a homebrew campaign setting it almost always involves average joes (the PCs) responding to an incredible threat and in so doing becoming incredible themselves. That said I've never played or Dmed a campaign that reached past 15th level. I have played epic level campaigns that started from level 20 but I didn't enjoy it much.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Kip84 wrote:
All though the more I think about it the more Manu level 20 Chef taking down the Dragon with his Vorpal croissant of death becomes awesome in my mind! :D

My partner is French - this outcome would appeal to her greatly!


Sebastrd wrote:
I agree with Stefan. I like my PCs to remain "human" across all 20 or 30 levels of development. I suspend enough disbelief when a guy kills an ancient wyrm with a sword. I don't need Frodo wandering through the lava in Mt. Doom, thanks.

The thing is that Frodo wasn't anywhere near to lvl 10 (Gandalf level), not to mention 20 when crawling about Mt. Doom. Otherwise he'd have teleported there from Hobitton, dropped the ring and teleported back.

Note also, that 3E lava submersion does some 20d6 damage ~ 70 damage. That means you roll the death save (somewhat trivial for 20 lvl fighter, I know) and if you have some 350 hp it's about 5 turns of unprotected bath. All 30 seconds of glory. I think that a demigod level hero could do that, but it still seems deadly enough.

That's why there should be an optional hp cap, which would allow to wander to superhero territory or not.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
Zmar wrote:
Sebastrd wrote:
I agree with Stefan. I like my PCs to remain "human" across all 20 or 30 levels of development. I suspend enough disbelief when a guy kills an ancient wyrm with a sword. I don't need Frodo wandering through the lava in Mt. Doom, thanks.

The thing is that Frodo wasn't anywhere near to lvl 10 (Gandalf level), not to mention 20 when crawling about Mt. Doom. Otherwise he'd have teleported there from Hobitton, dropped the ring and teleported back.

Note also, that 3E lava submersion does some 20d6 damage ~ 70 damage. That means you roll the death save (somewhat trivial for 20 lvl fighter, I know) and if you have some 350 hp it's about 5 turns of unprotected bath. All 30 seconds of glory. I think that a demigod level hero could do that, but it still seems deadly enough.

That's why there should be an optional hp cap, which would allow to wander to superhero territory or not.

I'm always extremely suspicious of these arguments where comparisons are made to fiction as if they are relevant to a game. Tolkien wasn't playing D&D, he was writing a novel. He didn't have to worry about game balance or mechanics. Characters in a game are almost always a similar level, so this isn't really a problem anyway.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
Zmar wrote:
Aubrey the Malformed wrote:
Zmar wrote:
Lava in 4E does do a fixed aount of damage AFAIK - it just shows how much damage it does for level of submersion and level rating just shows at what level the lava like that is merely a chalelnge and not a deadly hazard (or a nuisance).
Does it? It's not my recollection. If it has it listed as an example hazard for a certain level then that may be the case - that said, those levels are not hard and fast and can be shifted in accordance with the rules in the DMG2. That isn't really the case for 3e - obviously you can change it if you wish, but there isn't a pre-existing mechanism to do it.
The thing is, that most of the things in 4E do have table damage per level, but the rules guide the GM to use the thing to represent different level of the effect. Lvl 5 hero walking around a pool of lava suffers X damage, lvl 12 hero walking around the same pool should suffer the same X, not Y. It's a way to show that lvl 12 guy is tougher. Is the pool suddenly exploded and showered the lvl 12 guy with lava drops it would be a an excuse to cause some Y damage, but otherwise it had better not. The same goes for DCs and other such stuff. The PCs are gaining levels for a reason and if the challenges change only numerically nad not visually as well the sense of accomplishment is lost. It's not entirely fixed, but not free either. Stepping into a pool of lava should be a deadly thing for PCs on certain level, as it should be a uncomfortable, but surviveable for really epic hero...

Like some here, I don't buy this. This is just the suspension of common sense and post-event metagamey-type justification of what is ultimately a poor mechanic with peculiar results - or two poor mechanics: fixed rules for certain effect like lava and hp as the arbiter of phyiscal damage. Put the two together and you end up with this silliness where being immersed in lava or flung off a 200'+ tall cliff only hurts a little bit. This feels a bit like the "If you shove a crossbow bolt into someone eye-socket it won't kill them because they are 10th level and a crossbow bolt only does 1d8 damage"-style arguments from a pivotal scene in CotCT.

My personal preference is for the sliding scale in 4e, as hp are quite useful and simple to grasp, even if they create their own problems, as well as iconic in the game. Hit point caps only deal with totally outrageous examples like lava, but still leave you with the crossbow bolt problem at anything above level two or three.


Yes, but you can always approximate the power level from what have the characters done in the book and what level would they have to be to do it in game.

Expecting that a D&D character of certain level would find it hard to do certain things described as incredibly hard in the book. Their heroism was moving because they accomplished it in spite of not having superpowers. If they had superpowers, they would have probably been doing something... harder, or it wouldn't have been exciting to read.


CotCT scene wasn’t caused just by hp, but rather by inhuman toughness granted by certain magic connections. Otherwise coup-de-grace would have probably applied and the ugly person could have died. The scene was there to show that that the ugly pwerson is not only tough, but also that it’s rather unnatural, not to show that crossbow sucks.
Remember that in 3E the damage is not only caused by that funny 1d8 from weapon. It would have been something better thanks to the mojo used by NPC to deal the attack (feats, ability, magic etc.). If the levels as they were later shown in other parts of the AP applied, then how would 4E resolved an attack of lvl X striker/defender on lvl 2X leader? Probably it would be similar given that the difference wasn’t like 5 levels.

The trick is where you fix the damage. Lava immersion should be something like lvl 20 hazard – which makes it sufficiently deadly and yet keeps it in place for higher levels, for some heroes pass the mark where lava is instant death just like it should be instant death for some at lower levels. If it just scaled with a person, then it would always be something painful, but surviveable – and we’d have Frodos wading through lava. In a similar way mundane wooden door shouldn’t have DC appropriate to lvl 23 thief in any meaningful way. Thief of that level is a master of masters and anything short of some runecraved arcane vault shouldn’t bother him much – The DC should be rather low, perhaps so low that he passes by skill rank alone unless there is some catch to it.

4E doesn’t present any fixed table because it doesn’t want to overwhelm the DM and encourage DMing on fly probably, but it also warns him not to change already set valuess without a good reason or update to the challenge (for example see p. 105 of Essentials DM book if you have it at hand) visuals.

Towards caps – they can be placed on lvl 3, you know ;) But more seriously that’s what you may want them to do. Should a simple farmer with crossbow be a problem or not? A PFRPG hero on lvl 6 is still dangerous with crossbow to another such guy thanks to deadly aim, point-blank shot and other such things, but relatively untrained guy doesn’t present as much threat. It all depends where you choose to place them.

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
Zmar wrote:

CotCT scene wasn’t caused just by hp, but rather by inhuman toughness granted by certain magic connections. Otherwise coup-de-grace would have probably applied and the ugly person could have died. The scene was there to show that that the ugly pwerson is not only tough, but also that it’s rather unnatural, not to show that crossbow sucks.

Remember that in 3E the damage is not only caused by that funny 1d8 from weapon. It would have been something better thanks to the mojo used by NPC to deal the attack (feats, ability, magic etc.). If the levels as they were later shown in other parts of the AP applied, then how would 4E resolved an attack of lvl X striker/defender on lvl 2X leader? Probably it would be similar given that the difference wasn’t like 5 levels.

It was a scene where one NPC kills anohter NPC in an interesting way, for dramatic effect. In my view it should have been entirely non-controversial. But when game mechanic intervened it was harder to justify, and when it was it was torturous. What I didn't get, and still really don't get, is how anyone could even doubt that having a long pointy object shoved in your eye isn't going to be very likely to kill you. Likewise, how can being immersed in lava not be very likely to kill you? I understand the stuff about spells and elemental protection - but that's magic and is accounted for in the rules for those spells. There isn't a section in the rules where it suggests that a PC above a certain level basically doesn't really get hurt by being immersed in lava because of hp. Again, it doesn't make sense in the real world. And D&D is not a superhero game, it is a swords & sorcery game (for want of a better term). If I have magic protection against lava, I'm cool with it. If I don't, I'm not. Yet the rules offer that, and I think it is not because of the justification that a PCbecomes more than human at high levels. A fighter at high levels might be a truly brilliant fighter, but I'm not sure why he is suddenly fire-proof.

Zmar wrote:

The trick is where you fix the damage. Lava immersion should be something like lvl 20 hazard – which makes it sufficiently deadly and yet keeps it in place for higher levels, for some heroes pass the mark where lava is instant death just like it should be instant death for some at lower levels. If it just scaled with a person, then it would always be something painful, but surviveable – and we’d have Frodos wading through lava. In a similar way mundane wooden door shouldn’t have DC appropriate to lvl 23 thief in any meaningful way. Thief of that level is a master of masters and anything short of some runecraved arcane vault shouldn’t bother him much – The DC should be rather low, perhaps so low that he passes by skill rank alone unless there is some catch to it.

4E doesn’t present any fixed table because it doesn’t want to overwhelm the DM and encourage DMing on fly probably, but it also warns him not to change already set valuess without a good reason or update to the challenge (for example see p. 105 of Essentials DM book if you have it at hand) visuals.

Towards caps – they can be placed on lvl 3, you know ;) But more seriously that’s what you may want them to do. Should a simple farmer with crossbow be a problem or not? A PFRPG hero on lvl 6 is still dangerous with crossbow to another such guy thanks to deadly aim, point-blank shot and other such things, but relatively untrained guy doesn’t present as much threat. It all depends where you choose to place them.

The game is about approximations to real life, and sometimes these break down with corner cases. Hit points are a semi-reasonable way to cover combat-related injuries - they don't work so well with stuff like falling from a height and falling in lava because, no matter how good a fighter you are, you are still likely to break or burn in the same way no matter what your puissance is with a sword. The rules are primarily predicated on combat and the sub-systems are biased that way, so when damage is coming from a non-combat source the system struggles. This dichotomy comes from treating the rules like they are THE TRUTH about how things happen in the world - the immutable physics of D&D. Some people like to treat the rules like that but I consider that a strait-jacket which 4e largely addressed (and is also presumably why some people don't like 4e).

I think your comparison of a door v lava is a false comparison. One rewards skill - if you are highly skilled, you should be able to open a trivial lock at high level without breaking into a sweat (though it begs the question of why a low DC lock is appearing in a high level game, though there may be reasons). I'm not sure what skill is brought to bear in wading in a pool of lava. Endurance? I'm not aware of the comment in the Essentials book as I don't own it. I think that there are exceptions to that rule, in any case, and something where a skill really doesn't come into it is probably one of those - it isn't skill that allows you to survive that. The farmer with a crossbow is again not in the same category - that's combat, and the system already covers that very handily. On the other hand, an army of farmers firing hundreds of crossbows? Then we start looking again at level-appropriate hazards.

I'm not in favour of hp caps, mainly as I think the issue is already solved by the sliding scale in 4e and the caps feel clunky. If I were to design a "lava encounter", I'd probably have some level appropriate skill DCs to avoid it but the damage would be nasty - and level appropriate, because I don't think level has any real bearing on how likely you are to get your legs cooked off in a couple of seconds.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

This thread illustrates one of my main concerns with Pathfinder (or is it modern day DnD as a whole?). There is simply to many rules. I don't think you need a rule to figure out how much you die from falling into lava. You just die. You fall off a cliff? You die. You fall into a blender? You die. You get attacked by a sword? You resolve that with mechanics.

I think hit points is a fine idea. By summarizing stamina, tactics, physical toughness, etc into one value you sarifice some realism to make the game flow more fluently. I agree with the OP. The problem with hit points is that there's to much of them. To much in Pathfinder and waaaay to much in 4E. What i hope for DnD5 is that they keep the numbers down.

I would much rather deal with 20 (tough opponents hit points) - 1d10+4 (a solid blow from a fighter) than 265 - 1d10+2d6+16 (+3 if i'm flanking and +4 if it's bloodied)

100 hit points should be reserved for a ancient black dragon. Not... i don't know Pathfinder/4E to come up with a good example for what's currently standing at 100 hit points.

I saw that a adult black dragon has 161 hit points. That's at least 100 to many.


Something like the condition track from Starwars Saga ed would help maybe?


Aubrey the Malformed wrote:
...

D&D is a rough approximation of reality... somewhere up to level 5. In 4E you already start somewhat above that (and the rules state it as such). You progress toward godly levels, where it's rather natural that you can survive lava. Just as your skill grow, your toughness and power grow too. You approach the world in a way that completely scales it with heroes OR that you always let the effect deal damage appropriate to the level of person that is affected. I leave it as is and let the heroes grow through it. In my world a godly hero can swim in lava, in your the population had better been level appropriate or they will die when something damage dealing snores loudly (everyone unconscious if desert heat does hero level appropriate damage) or it lets Frodo swim through lava.

Small Dragon is a problem and at certain level and ceases to be a problem at certain other level - the same works with lava and any other obstacle. Heroes outgrow their shoes.

What hp cap does is that it artifically freezes the challenge levels at certain place, so you are still challenged by ogres and probably never want to see a greater devil in your life. That's what E6 does with 3E. Of course that the cap had better been on other things as well when you cap hp.

Kip84 - I think it would be good to have.


Patrik Ström wrote:
...

Sometimes I think it would be better to divide all numbers by ten and be done with it.

Or to count just hits, not hit points - Tough guy survives 12 glancing blows. Two glancing blows make one hit, two hits make solid hit.

Creature can survive one more hit per 3 lvls above PCs and one less for 3 below. etc

Martial light weapon does glancing blows, one handed weapon does hit, 2H weapon does solid hits.

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
Zmar wrote:
Aubrey the Malformed wrote:
...

D&D is a rough approximation of reality... somewhere up to level 5. In 4E you already start somewhat above that (and the rules state it as such). You progress toward godly levels, where it's rather natural that you can survive lava. Just as your skill grow, your toughness and power grow too. You approach the world in a way that completely scales it with heroes OR that you always let the effect deal damage appropriate to the level of person that is affected. I leave it as is and let the heroes grow through it. In my world a godly hero can swim in lava, in your the population had better been level appropriate or they will die when something damage dealing snores loudly (everyone unconscious if desert heat does hero level appropriate damage) or it lets Frodo swim through lava.

Small Dragon is a problem and at certain level and ceases to be a problem at certain other level - the same works with lava and any other obstacle. Heroes outgrow their shoes.

What hp cap does is that it artifically freezes the challenge levels at certain place, so you are still challenged by ogres and probably never want to see a greater devil in your life. That's what E6 does with 3E. Of course that the cap had better been on other things as well when you cap hp.

Kip84 - I think it would be good to have.

To a large extent, what we are talking about is an interpretation of what the rules mean in the game world. You aren't really "leaving the game world as it is", you are simply sticking to some stupid rule someone came up with about ten years ago which he probably never thought hard about before or after, and then justifying it in terms of how people become superhuman after level whatever because otherwise it just looks like what it is - a stupid rule.

In the end, we should run with what interpretations we like, and if spontaneously developing asbestos legs at 5th level works for you, it's cool. It just breaks my sense of immersion when I just get blithely told a character can do this because they are x level - it just seems stupid to me, and a cop-out, and ultimately metagaming. Because it's a breach of basic common sense. A level cap can address this, but it seems a better idea to simplky make the threat appropriate to the level of the characters. Excessive hit points are only a problem when you can't take them away fast enough.

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