14 August 2009
Critical Hits Idea
I've been thinking about my Swords & Wizardry (OD&D) house rules for damage and critical hits.
Very roughly, for player characters and important non-player characters, hit points represent only 'superficial damage.' Characters (and important NPCs) take 'real damage' -- loss of points of Constitution -- once they run out of hit points (moreover, once a character takes damage to his/her constitution, he/she is at -2 to all actions, and must make a saving throw in order to avoid falling unconscious). 'Critical hits,' on the other hand, do maximum damage plus an additional damage roll. So a character can take a 'critical hit' that is only 'superficial damage' (if he/she has enough hit points).
I've been thinking about this system some more, after some additional play testing. Now I am contemplating having 'critical hits' simply do Constitution damage directly (including the -2 penalty, possible unconsciousness, etc.). So critical hits would 'bypass' a character's hit points, so to speak, and score 'real damage.' (Critical hits would be unchanged for minor NPCs and most monsters, who use only hit points.)
My main concern with such a change is that it would require players to keep track of both hit points and constitution points at the same time (and Game Masters would have to do the same with respect to important NPCs). The current system, in contrast, has the virtue of (relative) simplicity, since constitution is lost only when all hit points have been depleted. Perhaps this is not a significant concern, but I like to keep things as simple as possible.
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