[RPG] What alternatives to hit points are there for abstracting wounds?


I don't like hit points as an abstraction anymore. I'm interested in writing an RPG and I have some ideas for other ways of handling wounds, but I wanted to see what else was out there.

MERP had HP, but it also had critical hits, which were far more interesting and far more likely to kill someone. I think what I'm interested in will end up being closer to a system that just uses critical hits, but I'm open to other ideas.

I'm familiar with the stress tracks from Dresden Files, but I haven't played it enough to tell if it's a different abstraction or just three separate HP tracks.

What major categories of wound mechanics are there besides hit points? Please include a system as an example for each category.

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By hit points I mean any system that uses a numerical representation of your current health. Even if those numbers have different names (winded, bloodied, incapacitated, etc) or different penalties at different thresholds, they still act like hit points.

Systems with multiple tracks (Fate, TRoS) seem distinct enough that I am interested in hearing about them.

Best Answer

The Riddle of Steel

Though out of print, TRoS is still available in PDFs through some venue or other. But what's relevant to your question is how it handled tracking damage to living creatures.

TRoS injuries consisted of three separately rated components:

  • Shock - A short-term penalty to actions from the initial shock of the injury.
  • Pain - A persistent penalty to actions from the ongoing pain of the injury. I believe pain didn't accumulate, but the current pain penalty was always the highest penalty yet incurred.
  • Blood loss - A cumulative obstacle against which the player would roll the equivalent of Constitution (it's been a while since I dragged out TRoS, edits to fix this are welcome)

In this way, a hit in TRoS would:

A) Make the wounded party's next attack (or other action) significantly more difficult (from Shock).

B) Make the wounded party's further attacks (or other actions) more difficult even once the initial shock subsided (from Pain).

C) Threaten the character's life - even a low obstacle roll can be failed, so any hit is serious in TRoS.

IIRC, the degree of failure in a Blood Loss roll determined whether a PC was unconscious, bleeding out, or dead. There was also a wound system, which use the highest Pain or Shock inflicted during a fight to determine the nature of a lasting injury.

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