Nonlethal Damage: Do people prefer PF1-style or SF-style?


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A low-bookkeeping compromise proposal:

As long as you've taken any nonlethal damage, the character that brings you to 0 may decide to knock you unconscious instead of giving you the Dying condition.

Benefits:
1) No need to track two separate damage pools - the only thing to note is whether or not a character has taken nonlethal.
2) Allows nonlethal characters to do their part in a fight without making them culpable in an unintended murder.
3) Gives final agency to the player who makes the knockout blow - if they really want to kill the enemy, they can do so, but they also have the option to just KO the enemy without taking any -4 penalties.

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Corrik wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:

Just conceptually I don't like the idea that "Sure, you have 11 arrows stuck in you and the barbarian worked you over pretty good with an axe, but since the rogue hit you with a sap on round 1, you're just unconscious".

So SF style for me.

Is "Sure, you have 11 arrows stuck in you and the barbarian worked you over pretty good with an axe, but since the rogue hit you with a sap for 1 hp as the last blow, you're just unconscious" really conceptually different?

Yes.

You can imagine/describe a character at 1 hp as reeling and roughed up, but just barely standing. A final tap with the sap to knock 'em out is cinematic.

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RumpinRufus wrote:
3) Gives final agency to the player who makes the knockout blow - if they really want to kill the enemy, they can do so, but they also have the option to just KO the enemy without taking any -4 penalties.

That final agency already exists in SF-style last-hit-counts. It's called dealing nonlethal damage.


Hmm. Just struck me- if dying rules apply, there’s no longer any chance of a sword immediately killing a conscious person. Even a crit puts them at Dying 2. The pacifist just needs a reliable way to stabilize someone in a round or two.


KingOfAnything wrote:
Corrik wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:

Just conceptually I don't like the idea that "Sure, you have 11 arrows stuck in you and the barbarian worked you over pretty good with an axe, but since the rogue hit you with a sap on round 1, you're just unconscious".

So SF style for me.

Is "Sure, you have 11 arrows stuck in you and the barbarian worked you over pretty good with an axe, but since the rogue hit you with a sap for 1 hp as the last blow, you're just unconscious" really conceptually different?

Yes.

You can imagine/describe a character at 1 hp as reeling and roughed up, but just barely standing. A final tap with the sap to knock 'em out is cinematic.

You can also describe that the final arrow hits them in the leg or the shoulder, and the accumulation of wounds causes them to finally fall over.


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I'm not sold on the "no bookkeeping". In fact when I gm Pathfinder, I don't bookkeep nonlethal damage as such, but as normal damage (treating the enemy as unconcious when it is down), because it is really hard to kill someone with nonlethal damage.
It is very frustrating to play Starfinder and want an enemy alive. It is just not feasible, when not everyone is dealing nonlethal damage.

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QuidEst wrote:
Hmm. Just struck me- if dying rules apply, there’s no longer any chance of a sword immediately killing a conscious person. Even a crit puts them at Dying 2. The pacifist just needs a reliable way to stabilize someone in a round or two.

The stabilize orison might come in handy.


KingOfAnything wrote:
Corrik wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:

Just conceptually I don't like the idea that "Sure, you have 11 arrows stuck in you and the barbarian worked you over pretty good with an axe, but since the rogue hit you with a sap on round 1, you're just unconscious".

So SF style for me.

Is "Sure, you have 11 arrows stuck in you and the barbarian worked you over pretty good with an axe, but since the rogue hit you with a sap for 1 hp as the last blow, you're just unconscious" really conceptually different?

Yes.

You can imagine/describe a character at 1 hp as reeling and roughed up, but just barely standing. A final tap with the sap to knock 'em out is cinematic.

And you can imagine that being punched before taking an axe would make you fall quicker. Whether the 1 hp damage comes at the beginning or the end you mechanically have the same effect. XYZ amount of lethal damage, and 1 amount of nonlethal damage. The fluff is really the only thing changing.


KingOfAnything wrote:
RumpinRufus wrote:
3) Gives final agency to the player who makes the knockout blow - if they really want to kill the enemy, they can do so, but they also have the option to just KO the enemy without taking any -4 penalties.
That final agency already exists in SF-style last-hit-counts. It's called dealing nonlethal damage.

Dealing nonlethal damage incurs a -4 penalty.

QuidEst wrote:
Hmm. Just struck me- if dying rules apply, there’s no longer any chance of a sword immediately killing a conscious person. Even a crit puts them at Dying 2. The pacifist just needs a reliable way to stabilize someone in a round or two.

I will say the PF2 Death and Dying rules do make it better. But if there are enemies still up, you don't necessarily want to spend actions stabilizing dying enemies. It is nice how PF1 rules (or my proposed rule at the top of the page) allow you to stay fully effective to the party's goals of ending the threat posed by the enemies and still avoid any unwanted murder.

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I still want to know what people would think if it was just matter of the person who gets final blow deciding whether they want to kill or ko the opponent with the final blow?


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CorvusMask wrote:
I still want to know what people would think if it was just matter of the person who gets final blow deciding whether they want to kill or ko the opponent with the final blow?

That seems fine to me


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Ok, I must say I Hate non-lethal systems such as 4e. I don't know about Starfinder.

The problem is: if it's just declaring I knockout this enemy after my last hit, then there's absolutely No Reason to kill 99% Of all enemies.
It makes lethal combat pretty much always evil, since you have all the opportunity of the world to prevent you from dying without killing the opponent!
When non-lethal combat is harder to do (except for characters built with that purpose), then there is a dilemma and there is moral reason to kill that guy (he'll kill me if I don't kill him). But in 4e, almost all killings are murders, and that just doesn't fit to me.


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CorvusMask wrote:

I don't think they said "95% of people wouldn't kill enemies", he was talking about cases were pcs end up in conflict with each other due to part of them trying to take non lethally foes down :P Its really rare to see situation where someone gets angry because "I wanted to kill them, why you had to take them alive" its almost always "I didn't mind taking them alive, but I don't want to deal with that -4 penalty".

Anyway, like I said, if issue is problem with tracking non-lethal damage, isn't it just simpler to let player choose when they deal final blow whether they take them down lethally or non lethally?

I still disagree that 95% players are only doing lethal because of the penalty. I think plenty of people play characters that intend to kill their enemies. Most of my characters fall into that category, with exceptions for circumstances like "need a prisoner for info". If my character is going to fight someone, they are going to end things then and there are not give opportunities for reprisals.

My default is kill them unless I have a reason not to, and I feel like that attitude doesn't represent only 5% of the player base.

Outside of that discussion though, I would generally be fine with a system of "last person to hit gets to decide" but then a player trying to save everyone would still probably get upset because their fellow players might well end up killing the majority of their enemies.


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Quote:
Mercy to the enemy is cruelty to oneself


theCopper wrote:
I voted for the second way, SF-style. I don't consider it inferior and I like that it requires no book-keeping.

SF still requires that you track hit points. It's *less* book-keeping, not no book-keeping...

The system my party uses (well some of us anyhow), makes it really simple. The DM doesn't even bother with the second row of squares, he just draws an underline or overline to represent the non-lethal.

So it's just a tiny bit of extra book-keeping.

It's quite good when the wizard forgets his AoE sizes and manages to blast the traitor Duke we're trying to capture. That just knocks him out instead of killing him.


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Kerrilyn wrote:
theCopper wrote:
I voted for the second way, SF-style. I don't consider it inferior and I like that it requires no book-keeping.
SF still requires that you track hit points. It's *less* book-keeping, not no book-keeping...

I haven't seen SF, and obviously I misunderstood the OP's description of how it works there. I'm confused. Of course you track hit points, I was referring to the need to track lethal damage and nonlethal damage separately. The OP's description implied, to me, that this is not the case. What am I missing??


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theCopper wrote:
Kerrilyn wrote:
theCopper wrote:
I voted for the second way, SF-style. I don't consider it inferior and I like that it requires no book-keeping.
SF still requires that you track hit points. It's *less* book-keeping, not no book-keeping...
I haven't seen SF, and obviously I misunderstood the OP's description of how it works there. I'm confused. Of course you track hit points, I was referring to the need to track lethal damage and nonlethal damage separately. The OP's description implied, to me, that this is not the case. What am I missing??

You're not missing anything. Damage is damage, it all goes to HP rather than separate tracks. But if the hit that brought the enemy to 0 HP was declared (before actually rolling the attack) as nonlethal, then the enemy goes unconscious instead of dead.

Some SF weapons have a "set phasers on stun" mode (a trait next to the weapon in the table) that lets you switch them between lethal and nonlethal damage as a swift action. Otherwise I think it's the usual -4 penalty from times immemorial to deal nonlethal with a lethal weapon.


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Fuzzypaws wrote:
theCopper wrote:
Kerrilyn wrote:
theCopper wrote:
I voted for the second way, SF-style. I don't consider it inferior and I like that it requires no book-keeping.
SF still requires that you track hit points. It's *less* book-keeping, not no book-keeping...
I haven't seen SF, and obviously I misunderstood the OP's description of how it works there. I'm confused. Of course you track hit points, I was referring to the need to track lethal damage and nonlethal damage separately. The OP's description implied, to me, that this is not the case. What am I missing??

You're not missing anything. Damage is damage, it all goes to HP rather than separate tracks. But if the hit that brought the enemy to 0 HP was declared (before actually rolling the attack) as nonlethal, then the enemy goes unconscious instead of dead.

Some SF weapons have a "set phasers on stun" mode (a trait next to the weapon in the table) that lets you switch them between lethal and nonlethal damage as a swift action. Otherwise I think it's the usual -4 penalty from times immemorial to deal nonlethal with a lethal weapon.

That's better than just deciding about knockout or kill *after* the hit.


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Claxon wrote:
I still disagree that 95% players are only doing lethal because of the penalty.

I'm with you on this... Those suckers are DEAD unless I have a very good reason to keep them alive.

MMCJawa wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:
I still want to know what people would think if it was just matter of the person who gets final blow deciding whether they want to kill or ko the opponent with the final blow?
That seems fine to me

Fine with me too! The last guy gets to snap their neck or give them a 'Kirk' karate KO chop!


Fuzzypaws wrote:
theCopper wrote:
Kerrilyn wrote:
theCopper wrote:
I voted for the second way, SF-style. I don't consider it inferior and I like that it requires no book-keeping.
SF still requires that you track hit points. It's *less* book-keeping, not no book-keeping...
I haven't seen SF, and obviously I misunderstood the OP's description of how it works there. I'm confused. Of course you track hit points, I was referring to the need to track lethal damage and nonlethal damage separately. The OP's description implied, to me, that this is not the case. What am I missing??
You're not missing anything. Damage is damage, it all goes to HP rather than separate tracks. But if the hit that brought the enemy to 0 HP was declared (before actually rolling the attack) as nonlethal, then the enemy goes unconscious instead of dead...

Thanks, that's what I figured. I admit I didn't phrase it right in the post Kerrilyn referred to, though; it should have been "less" instead of "no". It happens to me sometimes, heh...


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I prefer PF1’s approach. It was easy enough to just add it in to SF though, so I don’t really care how it’s done.


theCopper wrote:
I haven't seen SF, and obviously I misunderstood the OP's description of how it works there. I'm confused. Of course you track hit points, I was referring to the need to track lethal damage and nonlethal damage separately. The OP's description implied, to me, that this is not the case. What am I missing??

No, you understood the OP's description I think..but the tracking of lethal and non-lethal separately is only trivially more work than the SF (and I think 5e?) stuff, where you still have to track basic hit points.

Well, if you do it right (our checkbox system, or like HeroLab or whatever). The writing down two numbers as described in the CRB does get a bit clunky.


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I don't understand how people think PF1 nonlethal is hard to track.
Hit Points count downward.
Nonlethal damage counts upward.
If the nonlethal damage gets up to the current HP, you're unconscious.


My suggestion is to give someone who takes nonlethal damage (that has not healed) a bonus on stabilise checks, and have stabilisation apply to enemies like PCs. Also include NL not killing with the killing blow. This way, nonlethal damage contributes to you being unconscious due largely to minor wounds, but lethal attacks are still not inherently a safe thing to use all the time.


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I was going to vote for PF 1's way to handle it, but most of the time taking someone prisoner is an agree upon group decision so the last blow isn't likely to be lethal anyway.

If there is a conflict that table can work it out, and if they can't the prisoner is likely going to die anyway unless the lethal attacking party member is restrained or killed.

It also allows for the "I don't kill" character type to play because they can do nonlethal damage to their heart's content. They aren't the one delivering the final blow so they get to stay within their concept, and the rest of the party isn't beholden to take prisoners.

And like I said above knocking the guy out, even under the PF1 version doesn't mean someone else can't just kill him while he's defenseless.


Bloodrealm wrote:

I don't understand how people think PF1 nonlethal is hard to track.

Hit Points count downward.
Nonlethal damage counts upward.
If the nonlethal damage gets up to the current HP, you're unconscious.

I agree that it's not hard to track. The strongest argument I see against it is that "it's another thing to track", but that can be said about a lot of things in the game.

PS: I have seen people get confused by it, if they've never seen it before. Those might be the same people who are saying it's difficult to use.


After seeing the new death rules here on the board, it is completely irrelevant. No character will die if you don't want him to, as it is impossible to get someone to Dying 4 by mistake.
To be honest, it makes non lethal damage completely irrelevant.
That aside, I had the "I don't want the -4 to my attack" Argument as well, and can completely understand it.
Starfinder IMO largely avoids this by having stun weapons - if you want to subdue the guy, you set phasers to stun, done.


DerNils wrote:
After seeing the new death rules here on the board, it is completely irrelevant. No character will die if you don't want him to, as it is impossible to get someone to Dying 4 by mistake.

Not technically true - it's unlikely but not impossible. If you accidentally crit someone and bring them to Dying 2, and then they fumble their stabilize check then they're dead before you get a chance to stabilize them. Your allies would get a turn to stabilize them, but you wouldn't. It's a corner case, but not impossible.


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Oh, god, I didn't even think about the fact that you can critically fail on the stabilization checks. Who the hell wrote these rules? How does this get past the idea board?


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Well, lets be honest, expecting your party to change their builds so they can follow in the "non killing" path with you just wont happen unless the cost is pretty much nothing, like literally nothing, not a feat...

So now it amounts to being good at stabilize so you keep people alive most of the time after they fall.


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I voted for PF1 style, because Kineticist.


Nox Aeterna wrote:

Well, lets be honest, expecting your party to change their builds so they can follow in the "non killing" path with you just wont happen unless the cost is pretty much nothing, like literally nothing, not a feat...

So now it amounts to being good at stabilize so you keep people alive most of the time after they fall.

You say that as if you couldn't stabilize enemies in PF1.


Bloodrealm wrote:
Nox Aeterna wrote:

Well, lets be honest, expecting your party to change their builds so they can follow in the "non killing" path with you just wont happen unless the cost is pretty much nothing, like literally nothing, not a feat...

So now it amounts to being good at stabilize so you keep people alive most of the time after they fall.

You say that as if you couldn't stabilize enemies in PF1.

At higher level or just with min/max raging guy in the party?

Often when the enemy goes down they are split in two. Atleast in my experience.


I prefer the PF2/SF non-lethal system myself - makes it easier to track. tracking non-lethal going up as opposed to lethal going down always annoyed me, and especially as DM I frequently forgot if an enemy was supposed to go down or not, especially tracking lots of enemies.


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In a perfect world, I'd prefer:

RumpinRufus wrote:

As long as you've taken any nonlethal damage, the character that brings you to 0 may decide to knock you unconscious instead of giving you the Dying condition.

Also known as the 5th edition nonlethal damage option. That way, you track nothing, and it's up to personal preference and character morals whether to spare the foe, or be merciless.

...Although, if we were going for more verisimilitude, have a rule that says,

"when an opponent is reduced to below zero hit points with lethal damage, roll percentile dice. There is a 10% chance that the blow knocks the opponent unconscious instead. Further, there is a 10% chance that a non-lethal blow instead kills the opponent."

That takes care of all the "less than lethal" takedowns that accidentally end up killing someone, as well as the "knife sticking out of the cranium and a gut shot to boot, but he's inexplicably still alive!" scenarios. Then, the good-aligned characters have to make a choice: The opponent is technically down and out, and incapable of harm - do you still kill them while they are defenseless?


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All of these suggestions still work a lot less than PF1's nonlethal and negative HP.


QuidEst wrote:
SF doesn't require tracking nonlethal specially and modifying healing. It also avoids trouble with "under 0 hp" effects like ferocity.

This is mostly why I prefer the SF way of doing it. less bookkeeping requirements to keep track of. HP is a way to track accumulated physical damage non lethal is still damaging. Honestly it is also a bit more realistic. Non lethal combat can still kill people if you are not careful.


kaid wrote:
Non lethal combat can still kill people if you are not careful.

In PF1, if you keep taking nonlethal after it knocks you out, it's lethal damage instead.

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Bloodrealm wrote:
kaid wrote:
Non lethal combat can still kill people if you are not careful.
In PF1, if you keep taking nonlethal after it knocks you out, it's lethal damage instead.

Pedant's note: Nonlethal damage in excess of your maximum hit points is lethal. You can be knocked unconscious with 5 nonlethal damage and 50 lethal damage out of 52. You could still take a beating before more nonlethal damage turned lethal.


Ah, right, it was in excess of your maximum, not just current. My mistake. Point still stands that you can be beaten to death with nonlethal.


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The Sideromancer wrote:
I voted for PF1 style, because Kineticist.

I voted for SF style, because Kineticist. Die burn, die!!! :P


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IMO the main issue is that it makes characters designed to do nonlethal damage that much less valid. You pretty much are looking at a one in four maybe one in three chance for that to matter and that you're the one who gets the last hit. All those Sarenrae abilities to do nonlethal damage unpenalized? Way worse with SF nonlethal rules.

As was mentioned before, party members agreeing to take someone alive but not wanting it so much that they feel like eating the -4 penalty is more likely than outright disagreement.

I'd be on board with it if penalties for nonlethal damage were removed with most weapons/reduced/etc, and nonlethal-encouraging options maybe worked differently instead. Although tracking nonlethal hasn't been a big deal in my experience as a player, either (though admittedly with most NPCs if they rack up a huge amount of nonlethal, I do start just tracking total and figuring they survive KOs and heal on both tracks.)


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Kaladin_Stormblessed wrote:
IMO the main issue is that it makes characters designed to do nonlethal damage that much less valid. You pretty much are looking at a one in four maybe one in three chance for that to matter and that you're the one who gets the last hit. All those Sarenrae abilities to do nonlethal damage unpenalized? Way worse with SF nonlethal rules.

It's a whole new game, with a brand new set of rules,

But you still 'Gotta buy 'em all!'
To be the best that you can be
Pathfinder Two.Oh!


graystone wrote:
The Sideromancer wrote:
I voted for PF1 style, because Kineticist.
I voted for SF style, because Kineticist. Die burn, die!!! :P

So, without burn, you want... what? To reduce your actual maximum HP for the day, making it even easier to die? To not have any mechanic at all? To give per-day uses on the SLAs? To make Kineticist into a spellcaster?


Bloodrealm wrote:
graystone wrote:
The Sideromancer wrote:
I voted for PF1 style, because Kineticist.
I voted for SF style, because Kineticist. Die burn, die!!! :P
So, without burn, you want... what? To reduce your actual maximum HP for the day, making it even easier to die? To not have any mechanic at all? To give per-day uses on the SLAs? To make Kineticist into a spellcaster?

I would LITERALLY take any other mechanic over burn. Take damage? SURE! I can heal that. CON damage? SURE I can fix that. Per day SLA? GREAT! Spellcaster? WHY NOT! Burn... Heck NO!!!!!

IMO burn activity punishes you for your main stat... I do not like that. I'd almost take *shudder* kenders in the game before burn... :P


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I think you need to look at the Kineticist class again, because you don't seem to understand how it works.


I voted for SF.

Mechanically, I find the idea that a crit to the neck with a 2 handed axe won't kill you because somebody kicked you in the nuts two minutes ago more hilarious than the idea that someone has been beaten with saps and punches for a while and in the last moment he cuts himself and dies because the last hp was lethal. Both are pretty ridiculous, but the first one is worse for me.

And SF needs less bookkeeping too.


If that axe would have killed you without nonlethal damage, it would kill you with it, too.


Honestly, I think both styles are flawed, but if I had to make the choice, I'd go with the PF1-style. I hate the -4 penalty and I could use less tracking, although the nonlethal damage tracking has been pretty easy thus far. I think it does disallow a realistic scenario of killing an opponent filled with nonlethal damage with a single lethal hit.

I guess the major point is that both game styles already make the assumption that players are going for lethal hits, so I want to make things a bit easier for that player who wants to keep people alive. Then afterwards, the party can debate to kill them or not (as opposed to potentially creating conflict already in the middle of combat). Killing an enemy is a decision that can be done after the fight. The same cannot be said for keeping them alive.

I think I would just house rule the removal of the -4 penalty, and come up with a special attack that players would have to explicitely call out to deliver a potentially killing blow on a foe weakend by nonlethal damage.


I prefer PF1E to Starfinder because it's actually easier to take people alive and, as has been said, the pacifist character can contribute to combat and taking people alive is much easier.

On the other hand, I'd really just do what Fantasy AGE does: when you land a "killing" blow, you can just choose whether you actually kill the guy, or just knock them unconcious. It's simple, it's elegant, and it's way better than either of the systems presented.

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