Survey: Would DM tracking player HP (instead of players) increase immersion?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Biggest problem with trying this is that Pathfinder has no real cues for how injured you are. Nothing in terms of wound penalties/etc., so players are likely to get upset if they go from completely healthy to dead in one turn because they had no idea they were only at 10 HP.


If you're playing with the "can't tell any other player how many HP you have rule", there's a tendency for players to develop internal codes, like "moderately wounded" to mean "a Cure Moderate Wounds would be appreciated at this point".

Alternatively you can have a consistent standard of percentage health lost, like using "bloodied" to mean half hit points or less - I think this is a 4E rule that lets you see how opponents are doing.


Better yet, just throw in wound modifiers to actions. It's not that difficult, I have a friend who GM'd a horror game with an increasing flat penalty to rolls for every 25% of HP missing. Just let the character know when they've crossed the threshold, and they'll at least have a general idea of how healthy their character is without knowing their exact HP.


BTW,
I have also told players after some sort of check that a NPC/monster is looking ragged, not wounded, etc.
So the door swings both ways.

It is a different style of play that some like and so do not. You can try it out for a few games and see what your table prefers. If you have computer aid'ed combat tracking then it is much easier. If you know hot to program you can make an interactive app that lets the players connect to a data base and enter in their own to hit numbers and damage numbers to speed up play and so the GM does not have to do it all.

As another poster said above if you play a specific theme (horror/steam punk or post apocalyptic) it might add some flavor to the table that the GM and group are looking for.

Having said that I have played with a few people that hate it, some do not mind and some love it. The haters tend to be more war gamer's (roll players no negative connotation on my part) and the people who love it tend to be more role players, actors.

So if you are curious ask your players, try it out and see if you like it. If you can you do not have to do it during a full game maybe one of those times that a few players cannot make it fits the bill or maybe you have some sort of combat tournament and the damage is fake so some other system is devised that simulates the not knowing how many HP you have situation.

MDC


As a GM it just creates more work for me to do, and I have enough of that.

As a player it wouldn't do anything positive for me.

I would say ask your group.

The things that one group loves may be hated by another group.


quibblemuch wrote:
Khudzlin wrote:
Oykiv wrote:

"moderately wounded" will mean cast a cure moderate wounds will be enough?

And the answer is depends, to the low CON wizard or the high CON Barbarian? And what about the people in the middle?
And what level are we talking about? 25% of the life of a 5 level character is not the same than 25% of the life of a 15 level character
True, but you know who you're trying to heal, and each character's level. The healer knows that 25% of my high-CON Barbarian's HP is probably about 50% (this is a guess, I don't keep track of other player's max HP - I might if I was a healer) of the low-CON caster's HP.
Which is a bit of meta-gaming which then counteracts the original stated goal of increasing immersion...

Exactly just more maths, no more inmersion (at least for me).

And regarding the spells pointed by Matthew Downie; so I need to spend one spell to not waste another one? Not for me, thanks.


quibblemuch wrote:
Which is a bit of meta-gaming which then counteracts the original stated goal of increasing immersion...

It seems reasonable to know that the brawny martial can take more hits than the squishy caster. Especially when you've been fighting alongside them for a while.


Khudzlin wrote:
quibblemuch wrote:
Which is a bit of meta-gaming which then counteracts the original stated goal of increasing immersion...

It seems reasonable to know that the brawny martial can take more hits than the squishy caster. Especially when you've been fighting alongside them for a while.

That is different from "I know what classes they are and what their Con is..."


It's not hard to guess HD size (you don't need the exact class) from the equipment and abilities characters use (especially in the party). And you also know how tough and healthy (which is measured by CON) your comrades in arms are. That won't give you their exact HP total, but it'll give you an estimation of it (on which you can base your use of healing abilities).


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I'm not saying it can't be done. I'm saying that if you're thinking "This person is a 1d12 and this person is a 1d6" you're metagaming. If you're thinking "That guy carries a big sword and wears lots of metal, therefore he probably has a Con of at least 14 and a base HD of at least 10," you're metagaming. That's not a criticism, it's just a term. Going from in-game, in-character observations to conclusions about the abstractions that compose the game system is the definition of metagaming.

But the point of the original exercise is to reduce thinking of your own character (let alone the characters of others) in terms of numbers, on the theory that that will increase immersion.

However, as this line of thought shows, working out the logical likelihood of a character's HP isn't any different from knowing the information that the original idea proposes hiding. Adding on a whole "Well, I'm guessing this guy has 25% of that guy's HP but the second guy just took what I guess to be 33% of his total HP in damage, which means word problem word problem algebra I'll heal that guy..." line of thinking in response to the GM hiding information about everyone's HP changes nothing about the game.

Which, I suppose, is the point of many of the objections above re: healing and the "hide the HP" idea. Players are going to engage in the type of thinking you are engaged in because, well, it works.

And that's not a bad thing.


quibblemuch wrote:

I'm not saying it can't be done. I'm saying that if you're thinking "This person is a 1d12 and this person is a 1d6" you're metagaming. If you're thinking "That guy carries a big sword and wears lots of metal, therefore he probably has a Con of at least 14 and a base HD of at least 10," you're metagaming. That's not a criticism, it's just a term. Going from in-game, in-character observations to conclusions about the abstractions that compose the game system is the definition of metagaming.

But the point of the original exercise is to reduce thinking of your own character (let alone the characters of others) in terms of numbers, on the theory that that will increase immersion.

I guess. Not how I normally think of meta-gaming, but I guess it makes sense.

Of course, on those grounds, being told "You take 10 hp damage" and then acting on that is also metagaming. The mechanics are our viewpoint into what's happening in the world. If I know I'm at 12 of 60 hp, I know how badly I'm hurt.

Ideally, the GM's description should be clear enough that you could use it to determine your best action without needing to translate into mechanics. In PF, that's hard to do.
Still, you should know that some in the party are much tougher than others and require both more damage to take down and more healing to restore. You know if the big angry fighting lady is badly wounded she needs lots of healing magic before she's all better, while if the bookish magic guy is badly wounded he doesn't need nearly as much.
From this you can approximate - last time BAFL was all the way down it took 4 Cure Serious Wounds before she was functional, while when BMG went down he only needed 2 Cure Moderates. He's not nearly so bad off now, so I won't waste a Serious on him, but she needs a Cure Critical quick.
Or, you can just translate it into numbers and assume the characters are thinking in those terms.

Silver Crusade

Matthew Downie wrote:
The healer issue is one that exists in many games that don't use this variant. Some GMs let players track their own HP, but don't let them tell the exact number to other characters, because that's metagame knowledge - if you want to know exactly how badly hurt someone is, there are spells for that.

What spells accomplish that?

Oh, and I probably dislike all (or most) variants of this as much as I dislike this.

I want to know hit points to do my job as a healer and to be able to actually use my resources efficiently.

I've heard of games where the players don't see the GM rolls, are just told that they're hit, missed, etc. Same basic issues. Same basic strong dislike from me.


pauljathome wrote:
What spells accomplish that?

Status, Deathwatch...


thejeff wrote:
I guess. Not how I normally think of meta-gaming, but I guess it makes sense.

Sure. My point in using the term "meta-gaming" wasn't meant as a criticism of meta-gaming. As you point out, a certain amount of that is built into the way the game flows and is useful. Everyone has different tolerance levels for how much they want at their table.

My point was just that the OP had suggested hiding certain numbers from the players as a way of eliminating a perceived bar to immersion, and that inevitably led to players trying to figure out those numbers. So it complicates the game without changing the basic initial objection. If I know I have HP, I'm going to try to figure out how many I have, and it's just easier to let me track them than for me to suss it out via word problems. Which I will.

The Exchange

Only if the GM also had preset values to represent where people are. Obviously 0hp needs it's own identifier as that has specific rules on what you can or can't do, so might as well call it what it is, Staggered.

0- Staggered
1-10% - Mortally Wounded
11-25% - Critically Wounded
26%-50% - Severely Wounded
50%-75% - Moderately Wounded
76%-90% - Lightly Wounded
91%-99% - Just a Scratch (May even still have 2 arms, but not guaranteed!)
100% - Unwounded

The descriptions you've included are nice, but it is too easy to have misunderstandings because the GM may describe something he pictures around 25% life and you interpret that to mean about 50%.

Additionally the GM should only plan his NPC actions based on where they are on this same scale, otherwise the NPC's can react based off exact values.

Along those same lines of applying to NPC's if you're using this type of reference for a Healer to visually see how injured a party member is, you need to also allow the players and NPC's to size up their opponents by the same standards.

As for GM's not checking with players if values hit or miss I feel is not appropriate. Characters often have many nuances that a GM might not fully understand. A 18 might successfully hit Touch AC on one attack and Miss on another. I would accept rather than asking if a specific number hits (which could give away Attack Bonus even if die rolls are not seen) they could ask what is your AC against this specific attack, and just state if that is a hit or miss.

Silver Crusade

Matthew Downie wrote:
pauljathome wrote:
What spells accomplish that?
Status, Deathwatch...

Neither of which give you a clue as to how many hit points somebody has or has lost. Well, deathwatch works a little that way at level 1 I guess.

They tell you the person has been hit and whether they're conscious/dead and that is about it.


Matthew Downie wrote:
pauljathome wrote:
What spells accomplish that?
Status, Deathwatch...

Not so true

Deathwatch:
You instantly know whether each creature within the area is dead, fragile (alive and wounded, with 3 or fewer hit points left), fighting off death (alive with 4 or more hit points), healthy,
So I don't know if the barbarian as 4 or 40 HP, just that he is "fighting off death", which spell should I use?

Status:
You are aware of direction and distance to the creatures and any conditions affecting them: unharmed, wounded, disabled, staggered, unconscious, dying.
So full HP, less than full HP or just O HP. this gives me even less information than the GM giving thresholds like 25%. Again, which spell should I use?


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If I were playing in such a game, I wouldn't try to do the math and estimate actual HP. I'd embrace the immersion, look at it from the character point of view, and try to forget that HP exist as a quantity. I'd try to think of it all qualitatively, more like a story than a game. Would a character in fiction quantify "I can take two more hits like that but not three?" Probably not, at least in the kinds of fiction that I watch and read.

This is not for everybody.

It would be a lot like playing Rolemaster or other games with deadly crit systems. Without the safe comfortable buffer of HP, where literally any hit could be lethal. That random city guard does have a crossbow, which could theoretically kill you. It's a very different style of game, but I know from experience there are lots of players for whom it would work. Maybe not so many on this forum, though.


I wouldn't like to run this system. Not because I particularly mind tracking player hit points for them - that's just a question of efficient data management - but because I have difficulty describing hits in narrative terms without repeating myself, or making it sound way too drastic, or whatever.

"Three crossbow bolts lodge in your flesh." (I roll behind the screen; all do minimal damage. I check the character's hit points - he's lost only ten percent of his health.) "They don't hurt much I guess?"


Glorf Fei-Hung wrote:

Only if the GM also had preset values to represent where people are. Obviously 0hp needs it's own identifier as that has specific rules on what you can or can't do, so might as well call it what it is, Staggered.

0- Staggered
1-10% - Mortally Wounded
11-25% - Critically Wounded
26%-50% - Severely Wounded
50%-75% - Moderately Wounded
76%-90% - Lightly Wounded
91%-99% - Just a Scratch (May even still have 2 arms, but not guaranteed!)
100% - Unwounded

This is exactly how our GM did it, although with only four categories. There was no misunderstanding about which threshold you were at when he said "Seriously wounded." He would usually also say if you were right on the edge between "Seriously Wounded" and "Critically Wounded."


This percent theory is interesting. Is there some way it could be given as a ratio? Like "You're at 3/13th of your total" or, at higher levels, "You just took 47/93rds of your health from that last spell."

Wait a second... *narrows eyes*


Matthew Downie wrote:

I wouldn't like to run this system. Not because I particularly mind tracking player hit points for them - that's just a question of efficient data management - but because I have difficulty describing hits in narrative terms without repeating myself, or making it sound way too drastic, or whatever.

"Three crossbow bolts lodge in your flesh." (I roll behind the screen; all do minimal damage. I check the character's hit points - he's lost only ten percent of his health.) "They don't hurt much I guess?"

I think one of the big problems with this approach is that if kind of forces you to confront the abstraction of hit points. If you want to handle injuries in descriptive terms you have to find a coherent way to talk about damage in a system where that really isn't clearly defined.

Do three crossbow bolts actually lodge in your flesh when they do 20 points of damage to a 10th level barbarian with 150hp? How about with a 150 hp dinosaur?
Or a 15 hp wizard?


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

Normally I would loathe this idea but...

I'm going to be running Strange Aeons in about a year, and this strikes me as an interestingly horrific option. I might just do it for the first session as a "surprise", then afterwards ask the players if it worked and they want me to continue, or abandon the idea.


Sounds interesting. Never tried, but it seems like it would devolve into metagaming in a number of ways.

One of the most basic ways would be that percentages are no different than the actual numbers (its just a simple conversion), and neither are colorful words that use metagaming nouns (such as "you feel critically wounded" - although I do say this to myself after a dentists visit). That right there breaks immersion.

The second way is that no matter how much trust you and your players have, the dice are going to hate on you at some point. So the level 4 Bard casts Cure Critical Wounds and heals the Fighter a whopping 8 points (yes, rolling all 1s). Player doesn't know it and assumes that they're back in business. In this scenario, the fighter may pull himself to his feet and charge back in to the fray. But when he's killed the very next hit, your player is going to be all "WTF!??? Conan was just cured by Shakespeare! Why did he die?"

Of course DM fiat can handle all of this; meaning that you can control what happens to the fighter, dice be damned.

Good luck.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

Tracking my own character's HP does not break my immersion. It allows me to role-play my character as appropriate to my character's sense of well-being. Wimp who whines that he's dying at the smallest injury to stoic Deathless half-orc who says he's fine at -10 HP. I would find it less fun if the GM took that away from me.

It seems there's a different idea of what immersion is than mine, too. Immersion is the sense of being in the world. E.g. Mood lighting, mood music, sound effects, the GM using different slang and jargon appropriate to the NPC/world. Therefore, increasing immersion in the sense of HP, to me, means physically striking your players.

EDIT: PF is also a tactical game as well as role-playing. How would I know when to Fight Defensively or Withdraw, etc, if I didn't know my HP.


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This is a bad idea because it makes it harder for the player to figure out how badly his character is hurt. By telling me I have just taken 15 out of my 60 HP gives me a good idea of what shape my character is in. Several people have suggested using percentage thresholds convey their status. This does not work well because different characters have widely different HP. Take a barbarian with a 18 CON vs a Wizard with a 8 CON. At 6th level the barbarian has around 77 HP, while the wizard has about 26. So the barbarian takes 38 HP and you tell him that he is severely wounded, The Wizard takes 6 HP and you tell him that he is moderately wounded. Next round both are hit with a fireball doing 30 points of damage. The barbarian is still alive and awake but the wizard is dead.

The other problem with this system is quite frankly most GM’s are not good enough with the descriptions to convey the effects of damage. It would take a person with incredible communication skills and a great deal of time to convey the proper information to the characters. You may think you are good enough but probably 99.99% of GM’s do not have the communication skill necessary to pull this off. Even if you do taking the time to convey this properly to the players requires a lot of time and will slow down the game immensely. Not to mention that fact that it would also require the GM to memorize the exact HP of each character so they can alter the descriptions to fit. Add this to the extra time from the book keeping for the GM to track the HP and the game comes to a screeching halt.


In short, no. Don't mess with the formula.


I'm already juggling too many plates at once as a GM. I don't need the added bookkeeping.


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If it's a horror-style game, I can see it, but generally it's going to be more trouble than it's worth. It's not just keeping track of their HP, it's also the DR, resistances, immunity, etc.


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Vanykrye wrote:
If it's a horror-style game, I can see it, but generally it's going to be more trouble than it's worth. It's not just keeping track of their HP, it's also the DR, resistances, immunity, etc.

not to mention when you miscalculate a character's hp and they die because of it. There are few things that anger a player more than finding out that the reason they died so easily is that you screwed up yhe math

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