All You Hit Points Belong To Us?

One of the most contentious topics out of the day-old D&D Next playtest is the rule that resting overnight gets you all your hit points back without fail.  There are multiple Wizards and ENWorld threads arguing about it already.

I think it’s a terrible idea.

The common arguments for it and their obvious refutations are:

1. Well, hit points are just luck and near misses and stuff! Why shouldn’t they all come back?

Because there’s no other mechanic for actually getting wounded.  If this were a game with “wound points and vitality points” or some other way of having a way to reflect persistent wounds while still regaining your “near miss points” that would be fine.  But there’s not.  And being wounded, persistently wounded, is not just realistic, it’s a major part of all fantasy fiction from Lancelot to Harry Dresden. Leaving that out is shitty from a storytelling point of view.

Besides, hit points have always been described that way and have always come back slowly, so saying it’s a necessary consequence is ignoring the mechanic’s history.

2. But it sucks to be injured when you’re headed out to adventure!

“I want my videogame character to be at max!”  I mean, I understand that from a certain gamist perspective. But this is the kind of player entitlement that leads to the kind of childproofed gaming that 4e got to with its rust monster. If you just want a big “I Win” button or have a 5 minute attention span, there’s other games to play.  RPGs allow you to be concerned about resource usage over the long haul, not just the 30 minutes.

3. In 3.x, isn’t it lame that everyone has to spend on wands of cure light wounds that just do this anyway?

No one has actually said this that I’ve seen but me, but this is the one valid argument that does occur to me.  Yes, it is lame to just pay thousands of gold to get disposables to do the same thing. But there’s probably a different fix to that problem than “here you go, heal up whenever you want!”.


14 responses to “All You Hit Points Belong To Us?

  1. Well, you could make magic items not buyable (maybe even not creatable) in your campaign. Problem solved… 😉

  2. It’s possible that will be one of the “modules” they’ve been talking about. It’d be pretty easy to adjust HP refresh rate. One of my friends is already talking about creating a wound point mechanic for it.

    Our biggest concern locally is just that it’s an uncomfortable hybrid of old school and 4e. Specifically, it’s punitive about being interrupted at all and requires a five person party if you want to be able to have someone on watch the whole time. Thus, it’s a full heal… that can’t happen if the DM throws any monsters at you overnight. It seems like it will create the situation of a binary healing situation: either you can safely rest 8 hours and full heal, or you’re interrupted and can’t refresh HP and spells at all.

    • Sure, but “you can change it” is not a useful critique of a game’s rules, and they’ll be playing the “maybe it’ll get a module later” game for decades, it’s a get out of criticism free card. If the core rule is bad, the core rule should get fixed.

      • On Mearl’s twitter his response to the whole Old School Hp thing was “Yeah, you should change that, too. Suggest level + Con mod hit points regained.”

        I don’t really play the minigame of resource management when I’m running, because it’s not what interests me, but if it does that’s a pretty simple and straight forward fix.

        • Yeah, it’s not so much about resource management as about realism and simulation. But sure.

          • Potato, potato. 😛 We’ve had the “realism” argument before, and we just don’t operate on the same terms.

            As for the base assumptions, I get that… but given the overall goal of system modularity I think it’s useful to see what really needs to happen to get “old school” or whatever.

        • And also “you can change that” leaves me nonplussed. At some point they will need to come out with content for this game. That content will inevitably have to make assumptions about what the game is like. An adventure scenario that assumes everyone heals overnight and has background and theme powers is very different from one that does not. And Wizards still hasn’t learned that success is all about the adventures.

  3. Don’t tell. This game has been losing edge for a long time. I even miss save or die poisons and permanent energy drains. Why the hell a character should not be scared to explore a dungeon filled with monsters? Hopefully GRR Martin has been showing lately that characters can actually die, be mutilated forever, get crippled. Despite this, his stories are full of epic feel – you know, I could even dare they’re epic BECAUSE of this approach.

    • Well, to be fair there is fundamental difference between GRR’s books and a game… nothing in the books happens except by writer fiat. People die, or live, or get maimed not because of a random die roll but because the writer felt that it (no matter how whimsical or unimportant seeming to the reader) made sense at that time. So it’s not an entirely fair comparison.

      • I understand your point and agree to some extent. I was referring to the overall nerfing of the system we’ve been assisting since the last two editions (first we got non permanent energy drains, now we have total recovery from being half dissolved in acid in 8h). If we want to stay on RPG topic, Warhammer and Rolemaster for instance still maintain that aura of fear in game.

  4. Besides, the ruleset is light enough to be homeruled without making the whole rest of the system collapse just by changing a mechanic.

  5. Want to really throw some terrible things at the players? Do you love random rolls with the d100? The my friends, if you have access to “The Best of Dragon Magazine volume 5”. Crack it open to page 66 and let the past printed resources come back to haunt the parties of today. I know I will.

  6. Philo Pharynx

    From other comments I’ve seen, it looks like they were generous on hp and healing in this version of the playtest because some of the iterations of the closed playtest had trouble evaluating a lot of the mechanics due to TPK’s. If the characters aren’t lasting long enough to evaluate the other rules mechanics then it’s hard to playtest.

    “If the core rule is bad, the core rule should get fixed.” “And also “you can change that” leaves me nonplussed.” Have you ever run across a rules system that is 100% perfect as written with no house rules or a rule that can be interpreted multiple ways? I saw all the old mimeographed zines full of house rules. The Perrin conventions. Arduin Grimoire. The dozens of flavors of early D&D. Also, it was a given from the point that they mentioned the modularity that there would be some tweaking or choosing of modules needed for people to play the way they wanted. Getting upset that some modules won’t be your cup of tea is a little petty.

    I look at rules like architecture. There are some rules that are “load-bearing” – tweaking them would make significant changes to lots of other effects. Armor as damage reduction. Changing saves to attack rolls vs. defenses. 3e-style multiclassing. Other rules are curtain walls- they can be changed without a cascade of other rules effects. This is a curtain wall rule change. It will affect the characters, but it won’t ripple through the whole game.

    Re: GRR Martin. For every author that shows “that characters can actually die, be mutilated forever, get crippled”, I can show you an author that has a rollicking tale where characters get wounds that quickly end up as cosmetic and don’t ever impede them again. Some people want to play a grim and gritty game where every fight leads to a two-week period of bed rest and saves vs. gangrene. Some people want to play a swashbuckling adventure where the pretty girl kisses their boo-boo and it gets all better. From what it looks like, DDN will be able to accommodate both extremes to some extent.

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