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jjordan
2019-05-08, 04:55 PM
I'm familiar with the refrain that HP aren't meat. But every single combat narration I've ever seen assumes that they are. I think this is because "You're definitely wearing him down" and "He's tiring, you almost slipped past his guard that time" are incredibly boring phrases. So, to reiterate the thread title: If HP aren't meat, how do you narrate combat?

Vorpal Glaive
2019-05-08, 05:11 PM
"Ouch! You just lost X HP. What do you do next?"

HP is part meat, part luck, part reaction time, part armor, Et al. As a fledgling DM back in the day, if a PC took a lot of damage I would say "Whoa! The Orc slashes off your arm!!" which would drive the player berserk.

I learned not to assume how injured a PC was. That is for the player to decide, unless we're using Called Shot rules. If a PC loses all but 1 HP and wants to continue fighting as normal, that is the player's prerogative.

I stick to the numbers.

cajbaj
2019-05-08, 05:13 PM
"Chips of wood spray from his shield as you slam your axe upon it."

"He gasps and recoils from the strength of your blow."

"With great strain, she manages to redirect your spear."

When they hit, use language that puts the players in a dominant position.

Resileaf
2019-05-08, 05:17 PM
Depending on the severity of the wound, I narate a more or less grisly wound.
"The sword grazes your arm, giving you a slightly bleeding cut."
"The axe bites deep in your shoulder, causing your muscles to burn in exertion."
"The arrow strikes straight in one of your organs (for a crit)."

For enemies, I tend to say "He looks barely bothered" to "He's barely holding on his feet".

Man_Over_Game
2019-05-08, 05:21 PM
I'm familiar with the refrain that HP aren't meat. But every single combat narration I've ever seen assumes that they are. I think this is because "You're definitely wearing him down" and "He's tiring, you almost slipped past his guard that time" are incredibly boring phrases. So, to reiterate the thread title: If HP aren't meat, how do you narrate combat?

Grazed, Nicked, Mauled, Cut, etc. Same way you'd envision a fist fight; it might be decided by one punch, but that doesn't mean it's the only one that counts.

You also leave things ambiguous, just like they do in the movies. Sometimes, the hero can take a whole sword slash down the back. Other times, a small dagger plunged into his heart is what kills him. As long as you don't mention anything penetrating, implying organ/permanent damage, it's hard to tell exactly how much damage one takes.

So if I just say "You slashed him up pretty badly with that combination", you know exactly how successful you were, yet you paint your own image of what he looks like. He's certainly not dead, and he seems like he's able to fight still, and that's all you really need to know. "Slashed him up pretty badly" could just be a single cut along the shoulder.

But if I said "Your combination lacerated his knee and his fighting arm", it'd start to make little narrative sense how he was still able to fight. By adding more detail, I'm actually limiting the imagery to those details, potentially making the scene worse.

----------

If you mean zero contact at all, you want to narrate some kind of consequence to the successful attack. This could be the enemy tripping, or gasping for air, or making a sudden exclamation. If blood and hits aren't a telltale sign of success, create another. When non-contact is involved, you can ignore what I said earlier about details and add as much as you want. Also, continue to leave the "blocking" portion ambiguous. Do not say that the enemy blocked your combination, only describe what the enemy does afterwards. For example:

"After your combination, the lizardman seems to be struggling to keep his weapon steady, visibly shaking at the end of the blade. The bloodlust in his eyes seems to be slowly transitioning into fear as he takes a defensive stance".

Aotrs Commander
2019-05-08, 05:23 PM
For enemies, I tend to say "He looks barely bothered" to "He's barely holding on his feet".

This, mostly, when broadly describing NPCs, mostly.

HP is an abstraction, so I lean on that and don't always treat it the same way every everytime, I got whatever I feel is right in the moment. Sometimes it's phyiscal damage (okay, more often than not this, because I'm a bit too lazy and have been very slipping on descriptives (big party, though, so easy to slide), but am trying a bit more having been shamed into it by Lanipator's Role With Me)) and sometimes it's fatigue or whatever. Sometimes it's physical damage going down, and reduction of fatigue or new wind going up (e.g. a Crusader's vital spirit stance or something).

It is one of the few areas where I don't feel the (what some might call obessive) need for consistency.

Zhorn
2019-05-08, 07:38 PM
I tend to favour describing HP as meat, but I tend to avoid describing serious wounds unless its the killing blow or a critical.
Lots to grazing, bruises, shallow cuts and gashes, if it pieces the body it's avoiding any vital organs, lots of arrows tend to hit shoulders.

I tend to view statements like "HP is not meat" as someone trying to assert a headcanon as standard.
HP doesn't have to be meat. It's not meat when you want it to not be meat, and it is meat when you want it to be meat.

Thinker
2019-05-08, 08:35 PM
These days, I don't like to use HP. I find it draws out combat and doesn't do a good job of describing how characters are actually doing. I prefer to have 3 to 5 health levels, depending on the game's tone and style. Something like this:


Wounds

Effect



Critical

Character is dying, cannot act without assistance of others



Severe
Character is gravely injured. Cannot make full successes or critical successes.



Moderate

Character is struggling, but is still ticking. Suffers a debility of some kind (half movement, requires concentration rolls, or something of that nature).



Light

Character has taken some scrapes, but has a lot left in the tank. Takes a penalty to all rolls.



Negligible

Character is bruised, but ready. No penalty.




Depending on the type of game I'm running, there might be multiple boxes in each level. Heroic fantasy characters would have two or three Negligible Wounds, a few Light Wounds, a couple of Moderate Wounds, a single Severe Wound, and a single Critical Wound. Tougher characters are more resistant to taking damage in the first place. I weigh the fiction against how the character was avoiding the damage. Reflex Save against a Lightning Trap? Might end up with a Light Wound as you were singed. Taking cover behind your tower shield against a volley of arrows? Might end up avoiding all harm.

RedMage125
2019-05-09, 09:24 AM
I'd like to chime in here. Because I stick fairly close to the RAW, and by RAW, HP are not "meat", but rather an abstraction of how much "fight" you have left in you. Characters low on HP are getting tired, sore, and may have suffered superficial injuries.

One must be flexible, however, because some things don't make sense unless some form of contact has occurred. Like being poisoned after being bit by a giant viper, or a lycanthrope bite transferring the curse/disease.

So here's how I narrate hits: A hit can be an attack that the character had to spend a little bit of extra energy dodging, he/she is just a little more tired after doing that. It could be a blow that struck armor or shield, rattling the character, and perhaps being sore later, but nothing too serious. It could be a grazing wound (ideal for venomous/poisoned attacks). Energy attacks sometimes take some creativity (acid, especially). It's easy to narrate fire damage that doesn't kill as intense heat, maybe something unimportant caught fire, like the end of a sleeve. Sonic (thunder), likewise doesn't necessarily tear flesh. Cold and electricity also easy to narrate. Negative energy (necrotic) could leave skin pale and corpse-like in coloration, as it slightly necrotizes the flesh. Foce damage is a lot more like intense blunt impact trauma than anything else.

One thing I have done is adopted the "bloodied" condition from 4e. Whenever a creature is at 50% or less HP, it is "bloodied". This means it has finally taken at least SOME superficial damage, and is likely bleeding a little bit. This is for PCs as well. I ask that the players at my table not discuss HP totals in combat (but there's no real punishment if they slip and do anyway). So when the cleric asks "Who needs healing?" responses might be "I'm down a little, but not bloodied", "I'm bloodied", "I was bloodied 2 hits ago, and I can't take much more", and so on. I don't care if they discuss HP totals when doing out-of-combat healing. I will also tell players when a monster is "bloodied". This is the only information I give players in regards to monsters' HP totals or combat status. When they ask "are any of them hurt?". If they've been paying attention, they know which ones have been hit by their comrades, even if none are bloodied. But the only information I will disclose is which ones are bloodied, if any.

HOWEVER, a critical hit is always a "meat strike" when I run things. Doesn't matter is the damage rolled is so low that it does less than a non-crit could have. It doesn't have to be major, but it is narratively painful for the target, no matter what. An ogre takes a crit from an arrow, but it was previously unharmed, and it's nowhere near bloodied. The arrow sank into it's flesh near the shoulder, the ogre grunts, rips it out, and moves on, seemingly not bothered by it, even though a trickle of blood runs down its chest. Boromir in Fellowship took several crits in his last battle, even though the first few did not "bloody" him. Sneak attacks are on a case-by-case basis, but frequently are some kind of contact, whichever is more fun. A Rogue who bloodies an enemy with a sneak attack almost always gets narrated as something especially painful. For example, the Fighter has worked his way through the crowd of mooks and is now squaring off with the Hobgoblin Captain. The rogue, having nimbly darted across the field, comes up behind the hobgoblin with her dagger in hand. Distracted by her companion, the hobgoblin doesn't give her his full attention, which is a mistake. He dagger plunges into his side, piercing his chainmail and rewarding her with a cry of pain, a spurt of blood, and a curse in Goblin from the captain. She smiles, because she's sure she at least nicked his kidney with that, and because she speaks Goblin and knows what he just said. "You kiss your mother with that mouth?" she taunts, knowing if she can get his eyes off her Fighter friend, he'll make the hobgoblin regret it.

Avoidance of damage through saving throws can be narrated in a number of ways, as well. Let's say a party is in combat with a group of enemies, including an enemy spellcaster. At one point, the enemy casts Fireball on the party, getting everyone in the area of effect. Everyone rolls a Dexterity (or Reflex) save, and everyone passes. The Fighter takes half damage, but is not bloodied. The Rogue has Evasion, she takes nothing. The Cleric takes half damage and is now bloodied. The wizard only took half damage, but it's enough to drop her to -1 (or just 0, if you're playing 5e). Here's how the narrative goes: Fighter sees the fireball coming, and tucks his chin down and raises his shield over his face, trying to minimize the amount of bare skin exposed. He feels the intense heat wash over him (he's wearing metal armor, after all). His face is flushed and he's sweating, but not harmed too badly. He lowers his shield and glares grimly at the spellcaster who just cast the spell. The Rogue nimbly leaps and spins when the explosion comes, passing just so through a gap in the flames. She alights on her feet, ready to return fire with her bow. The cleric saw the explosion and, like the Fighter, raised his shield, silently calling to his deity for protection out of instinct. He feels the flames and intense blast of heat wash over him, but the favor of his deity is strong. The heat was so much that his skin is red. His armor is especially hot and uncomfortable, and he is certain that he can feel blisters on his arms underneath his armor. He looks around at his companions to see how they are, catching the wizard's eye just before she collapses. The wizard was intimately familiar with the fireball spell, being one of her own favorites. As soon as she heard the other wizard start chanting, she figured she'd be in the area of effect. She ducked and cringed, calling on her own arcane power to create a minor protective field, hopefully mitigating some of the damage. It worked, sort of. She didn't get burned TOO badly, she was not on fire, but that HURT. Her skin is bright red, her eyelashes, eyebrows and a few stray hairs on her head are a little crispy. Every inch of her feels like the worst, most painful sunburn imaginable, as blisters start to form and skin peels. She lowers her arms, and parts her chapped lips as if to speak. Nothing comes out as heat stroke takes her, and she falls to the ground unconscious.

Mark Hall
2019-05-09, 09:49 AM
So, I mostly think in Hackmaster, these days, which flavors this.

HP are not Meat, but HP loss is Meat in proportion to your total HP.

So, first level character with 10 HP gets a 8 point wound? That's a meat hit.
10th level character with 100 max HP gets an 8 point wound? That's not a meat hit.

Throwing in a 4e ism, "Bloodied" is a useful concept. Prior to being bloodied, you're not taking meat hits. After being bloodied, you're getting meat hits... again, in proportion to your HP.

The Jack
2019-05-09, 09:55 AM
Oh no no no.

I run HP as meat in all but the most high-hp but oddly grounded of settings

In simple terms, DnD's like a toned down dragonball where the body just gets tougher. Forget about monks and barbarians; I mean a fighter that can attack nine times a turn? It only makes sense to have his durability supernatural. Everybody ascends in durability as they unlock their power, though some paths of improvement (Barbarian) lead more into this than others (Sorc, Wiz).

In games like WoD where HP is definitely meat, I go all out on describing how messed up you are. If your character can survive disembowelments and still function, why wouldn't I let the guts fly?

Conradine
2019-05-09, 09:57 AM
In my opinion, HP from levels is "ability to dodge and attenuate damage", HP from Costitution is "meat".

For example, even a squishy level 18 Wizard, despite phisically fragile, is able to escape somehow most of the impacts; but a level 1 Barbarian with magic gear and 28 Costitution while raging can survive being pierced through the heart.

Telok
2019-05-09, 10:09 AM
I'v gotten some pretty good humor value out of playing the "hp is not meat" thing straight. Having literally everything be a luck or fatigue based description untill the character dies and explodes in ludicrous giblet spray. It works particularly well in games that use hp for pretty much everything and don't do actual wound/damage based status conditions. It's even better in games with faster or easier 'back from death' kinds of rules like having healers being able to cast in-combat spells that un-kill a character.

Kurald Galain
2019-05-09, 10:17 AM
I'm familiar with the refrain that HP aren't meat. But every single combat narration I've ever seen assumes that they are. I think this is because "You're definitely wearing him down" and "He's tiring, you almost slipped past his guard that time" are incredibly boring phrases. So, to reiterate the thread title: If HP aren't meat, how do you narrate combat?

It's funny that this question gets numerous responses that "it's not meat but I'll describe it as meat anyway" :smallbiggrin:

RedMage125
2019-05-09, 10:29 AM
It's funny that this question gets numerous responses that "it's not meat but I'll describe it as meat anyway" :smallbiggrin:

Well, if you look at my response, I said HP is how much "fight" you have left in you. Taking a physical blow certainly diminishes that. And the drop to 0 is always considered some kind of physical damage.

jjordan
2019-05-09, 10:48 AM
It's funny that this question gets numerous responses that "it's not meat but I'll describe it as meat anyway" :smallbiggrin:
It is. Which is why I asked the question. It seems to me that HP really are an abstraction and not actual physical damage taken BUT the requirements of interesting roleplaying make us treat HP as actual physical damage. Which makes sense. Right up until you've got people healing broken ribs and axe slashes and worg bites by getting a good night's rest.

I'm trying to think back over the body of fantasy material I can remember to think about protagonist injuries. It seems as though there's a lot of the Star Wars effect going on: the protagonists engage in desperate fighting but usually don't get anything more than minor cuts, bruises, and scrapes. A solid hit from a weapon (blaster, sword, arrow, knife) was a dangerous thing that took a long time to heal in the absence of magic (or technology sufficiently advanced to act like magic).

I'm not trying to change the way D&D 5e works this, I'm just trying to figure out how I can work with it and have the game still be fun for everyone.

Segev
2019-05-09, 10:55 AM
A "hit" can be a shallow cut across the bicep that would have been much worse if he hadn't been as fast to dodge. Or it can be a stab to the gut turned aside not-quite-fast-enough by a parry. Each successful, hp-loss-inducing damage source does at least something; a mild burn, a bleeding cut, a bruise that'll swell impressively if not treated, some hair clipped off of the side of your head. Not only do these accumulate to gradually slow you down, but the energy and luck spent to turn what should have been mortal blows into these minor inconveniences is tiring, draining on a level deeper than mere exercise. The metal focus, the stamina, and even the realization that you can't keep getting lucky every time factors into it.

So describe successful hits in ways that inform this. Describe how the blow was almost fatal, but they turned it into a minor injury with a combination of luck, skill, and combat awareness.

Critical hits are much closer to fatal, and may be "more meat" than usual. Coup de grace do as much damage as they do because they are going straight for the meat, and you have to be AMAZINGLY lucky, skilled, or (yes) tough, to avoid a fatal injury when you're helpless and somebody's trying to execute you.

In systems where you're fine until 0 hp, that last, 1 hp is the important one. It's that one that is the fatal, crippling, or otherwise disabling hit. When you take that last hp, you didn't turn the sword aside; it skewered you. You didn't just get your hair clipped; your bell was rung. The arrow didn't just lodge shallowly in your shoulder; it hit an artery. You're actually hurt, this time, and it's making it hard to move, if you're even still conscious.

Mendicant
2019-05-09, 11:17 AM
I just mostly describe the blows numerically. I'll describe the enemy's general state of being maybe, but unless the blow kills I avoid describing what happened.

What HP "really are" is less important than if the picture being drawn for the player seems reasonable to them. You can tell people "how aren't meat" till you're blue in the face, but when you describe their solid-damage hit as having reduced the enemy's resolve or something, the typical response IME is disappointment or even the mistaken impression that they failed.

If you don't do a lot of description, people will fill in that blank themselves with whatever seems reasonable to them.

PhoenixPhyre
2019-05-09, 01:13 PM
I don't really narrate most hits, because speed of resolution is primary for me.

But in-universe (and because I found it amusing), I made it canon that hit points are meat. Specifically, each being has two "reserves" of bodily energy that they can use to repair tissue and heal injuries much faster than "earth standard".

Hit points represent the ready-reserve. This energy can be mobilized almost instantly. Above half, even minor cuts heal pretty much instantly and even serious injuries heal. Basically a "fast healing", Wolverine-style. Doesn't reduce the pain or shock of the injury, but you won't die or be permanently injured. Below half, the body prioritizes healing the major stuff, so you're "bloodied"--ie showing visible wounds, topical bleeding, etc. Hitting 0 HP means you're out of healing energy, so you're down while the body tries to do everything it can to keep you alive (death saving throws). For NPCs, this may cause lasting injuries, limb loss, etc. I don't do that for PCs just for game purposes.

Hit Dice represent the slow-acting reserve. Given some down-time, the body can mobilize other resources to replenish the ready reserve. This takes much more time and rest to recover. Your hit dice are a measure of your soul capacity, so more powerful creatures (more/larger hit dice) are more tempting targets for blood magic. In universe, several civilizations have actually quantified the amount of energy possessed by an average soul and figured out more efficient way of turning people into "bricks" of compressed energy ready to be consumed for power.

Diseases affect the soul/body connection (much more like a curse) rather than being directly microbial agents or whatever. That's because my setting's physics and biology is much more Platonic/Aristotelian than modern. No atoms, no molecules, no cells. Just anima with various aspects.

Psyren
2019-05-09, 11:21 PM
I think this is because "You're definitely wearing him down" and "He's tiring, you almost slipped past his guard that time" are incredibly boring phrases.

Why? They seem fine to me.

Alternatively you can use ones like "glancing blow" and "you jab his leg."

Kaptin Keen
2019-05-09, 11:46 PM
I uh ... do other people really 'narrate' every swing of the sword? I mean, really?

I narrate death blows. In wonderful technicolor. But I fail to imagine the player who really wants to have 7 hp of damage (out of 89) described in any particular level of detail.

I'm more likely to narrate a miss. Because it's just more interesting. Provided of course the player has a sense of (self) irony.

Knaight
2019-05-10, 05:42 AM
I uh ... do other people really 'narrate' every swing of the sword? I mean, really?

In some systems, sure - I wouldn't do it if I ever found myself GMing Palladium or something, but I'm not going to do that. When everyone is maybe 3 hits away from bleeding out on the floor, at best? That gets narrated.

Assuming the system uses an HP system which doesn't represent physical injury I tend to describe it in terms of fictional positioning, momentum, etc - especially when I don't have a map restricting those descriptions. A high HP character may be poised and fighting on the aggressive, sword at the ready, a low HP character might be taking potshots from behind a wall as it slowly ablates to incoming plasma fire.

Said descriptions just need to stay short. There's a couple of exceptions (death scenes for really major characters, battles in particularly exceptional conditions that would stand out), but generally? All short sentences, all the time.

Kane0
2019-05-10, 06:23 AM
Star Wars might be a good example. You actually get struck by a lightsaber and you’re losing a limb or getting a hole in you (well, except in the sequels but anyway). Same story with blaster bolts (again with some exceptions).

But the fight lasts longer than that, with exertion, parries, luck (or the force, because in my experience theres no such thing), the occasional nick or near miss, etc.

Cikomyr
2019-05-10, 07:23 AM
It's meat when I need it to be. It's not when it's not

MoiMagnus
2019-05-10, 07:47 AM
I'm familiar with the refrain that HP aren't meat. But every single combat narration I've ever seen assumes that they are. I think this is because "You're definitely wearing him down" and "He's tiring, you almost slipped past his guard that time" are incredibly boring phrases. So, to reiterate the thread title: If HP aren't meat, how do you narrate combat?

We use a mixture of those:

1) We have the bloodied condition from 4e. Even if HP aren't only meat, we assume you have some visible damages when under half of your HP, and no damages when above. (Possibly damages to armors and clothes, but without any technical consequences)

2) We don't narrate. More precisely, we only narrate "relevant moments". So when a player want to narrate its final blow, he is free to interpret as he want its level of HP (wounds, desperation, broken armor, exhausted, ...), or just ignore it for the narration. Same for the DM's narration, HP is not treated in a consistent way. Sometimes, a player will ask "how much HP this guy still has" and the DM will answer "a lot / he is bloodied / very few / ..." and no narration will take place.

3) Mid and high level creatures and players are supernatural enough so that we can take the "cinematographic" approach: You can have injuries that look like you would die in 30s, but if the plot need you to stay alive (or in our case, if the rules says you're still few strikes away from death), then you will suffer no real consequences for them.
[And your lost fingers will regrow by themselves when you take a short rest]

Psyren
2019-05-10, 10:06 AM
Star Wars might be a good example. You actually get struck by a lightsaber and you’re losing a limb or getting a hole in you (well, except in the sequels but anyway). Same story with blaster bolts (again with some exceptions).

But the fight lasts longer than that, with exertion, parries, luck (or the force, because in my experience theres no such thing), the occasional nick or near miss, etc.

I would argue that such as system would absolutely need wounds, injuries, called shots and the like to properly approximate its source material. I've never played a Star Wars system so I don't know if any do this.

HouseRules
2019-05-10, 10:19 AM
A normal person would faint when they lose 1/3 of their blood. Low Constitution people in real life would die when they lose 1/2 of their blood, and High Constitution people in real life would die when they lose 2/3 of their blood.

Hit Points represent fantastic blood. While a normal person has 5 quarts of blood, fantastic creatures have much higher volume.
Hitting 0 Current Hit Points is the equivalent of losing 1/3 of a normal person's blood, so they remain 10/3 quarts of blood. At -10 hit points is death, so we determine that each hit point is worth 1/3 of a quart of blood. A normal person thus has 5 hit points, and Fantastic beings have more than 5 hit points.

Fantastic Blood does not take up any volume at all since they stay within the Astral Realm when the body has more than 5 hit points.

RedMage125
2019-05-10, 11:33 AM
I would argue that such as system would absolutely need wounds, injuries, called shots and the like to properly approximate its source material. I've never played a Star Wars system so I don't know if any do this.

Star Wars d20 systems usually do. I don't remember if Saga Edition did or not, but the d20 system modelled after 3e did. You had Vitality, which was like hp. That loss represented narrow misses, parrying, and the like, and Wounds, which equaled your CON score, and damage to that was actual injury.

King of Nowhere
2019-05-10, 01:28 PM
I've tried to do it, but there were too many inconsistencies. the man falling at terminal velocity is just one of them.

So now I narrate HP as meat.

I realize it's just much more consistent all around. High level people are superhuman on all counts. they can kill a giant dragon with a few sword slashes, that's not something any ordinary person could do. they could lift a small car. they can survive spells that deal damage regardless. And on top of that, they are also magically enhanced.

so by stating that everyone high level is basically a superhero you can get consistent with all those abilities.

I have described high level characters getting hit square in the chest with a cannon and have the cannonball bouncing off. After breaking several bones, of course, a cannon is still signifficant damage, but it did not turn them into a red paste as it would with a lesser person.

Anymage
2019-05-10, 02:29 PM
In D&D combat, I just abstract it. D&D neither has nor needs a specific system for blow-by-blow resolution. Plus, trying to tie down just what non-meat quantities HP represent would interact oddly with the Cure line of spells. (4e had a good system of distinguishing short-term capacity from long-term stamina, but that was rather deeply tied to a lot of things intrinsically 4e.)

Other systems can, depending on the theme, either go all-in on the meat idea (usually because PCs are assumed to have some sort of healing factor in their favor), or else can be described as positioning/momentum if you have a track that resets between encounters.

jjordan
2019-05-10, 02:55 PM
Thanks everyone. I appreciate you taking the time to share your viewpoints on this.

Tvtyrant
2019-05-10, 03:01 PM
I'm familiar with the refrain that HP aren't meat. But every single combat narration I've ever seen assumes that they are. I think this is because "You're definitely wearing him down" and "He's tiring, you almost slipped past his guard that time" are incredibly boring phrases. So, to reiterate the thread title: If HP aren't meat, how do you narrate combat?

"Your sword dents his armor and leaves a fleshwound underneath." "You hit her shield with tremendous force, she stumbles under the momentum." "Your arrow slashes her cheek and splits her earlobe."

Segev
2019-05-10, 03:12 PM
I've tried to do it, but there were too many inconsistencies. the man falling at terminal velocity is just one of them.

Eh, the man falling at terminal velocity got very lucky, used some impressive parkour skills, and/or managed to land so that the damage was minimized to critical organs (assuming he didn't go to 0 or lower hp). Massive damage rules may also kick in.

Heck, depending on the scene, he may have bounced off several branches, or through awnings, or the like, on his way down.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-11, 11:18 AM
The problem isn't HP in general, but rather steeply scaling HP in the style of D&D. They're meat until they're not, they're not meat until they are.

And each of the other things they are until they aren't, just causes more knock-on complication and contradiction.

For example, "They also represent abilty to partially evade hits." Really? Isn't that covered by the DEX bonus to AC, and some class powers? And how does Healing restore this expendable pool of evasiveness, exactly?

Same with "luck", etc.

1337 b4k4
2019-05-11, 03:06 PM
For example, "They also represent abilty to partially evade hits." Really? Isn't that covered by the DEX bonus to AC, and some class powers? And how does Healing restore this expendable pool of evasiveness, exactly?

This never stuck me as all that odd. Two people with the same HP are some X degree capable of evading critical damage. A person with better reflexes (either reflected by high Dex or specific skills) is even better.

HouseRules
2019-05-11, 03:21 PM
For example, "They also represent ability to partially evade hits." Really? Isn't that covered by the DEX bonus to AC, and some class powers? And how does Healing restore this expendable pool of evasiveness, exactly?
Same with "luck", etc.

So Hit Points also represents Armor Class.

Telok
2019-05-11, 04:36 PM
The problem isn't HP in general, but rather steeply scaling HP in the style of D&D.

The difference between a 4 hp person in the 90% of the population and the 12 hp of a standard 1st level fighter is beliveable. 4 hp might feel a bit low, but it's in an acceptable range for the fiction.

The difference between the 12 hp 1st level fighter and the 20th level version of that same person 8 or 9 months of regular adventuring later that has 240 hp... That's a bit harder for me to swallow.

King of Nowhere
2019-05-11, 07:32 PM
Eh, the man falling at terminal velocity got very lucky, used some impressive parkour skills, and/or managed to land so that the damage was minimized to critical organs (assuming he didn't go to 0 or lower hp). Massive damage rules may also kick in.

Heck, depending on the scene, he may have bounced off several branches, or through awnings, or the like, on his way down.

and the person managed this impressive parkour even when falling on flat rocks without anything to slow down the fall.

And while he didn't suffer any large damage to his vital organs, and his body is no more damaged than the body of the first level commoner, a simple cure light wounds will heal the commoner to full, while you will need 10 or so to get back to healty.

ok, you can narrate it like that if you want, but you can't make it really consistent.

on the other hand, ever since I embraced the "high level people are supernaturally though with bulletproof skin" interpretation, I never had any difficulty in describing anything.

PhoenixPhyre
2019-05-11, 08:24 PM
on the other hand, ever since I embraced the "high level people are supernaturally though with bulletproof skin" interpretation, I never had any difficulty in describing anything.

Yeah. Giving up the "they're just normal people" idea and realizing that medium/high level people are superheros makes a lot of things better. This is one of them. No one flinches when a Marvel character takes way more punishment than any normal mortal could. And high level D&D characters are on that same scale (or should be). Heck, the 5e DMG even says that in tier 4 (17-20), the characters are "super-heroic".

1337 b4k4
2019-05-11, 09:16 PM
The difference between a 4 hp person in the 90% of the population and the 12 hp of a standard 1st level fighter is beliveable. 4 hp might feel a bit low, but it's in an acceptable range for the fiction.

The difference between the 12 hp 1st level fighter and the 20th level version of that same person 8 or 9 months of regular adventuring later that has 240 hp... That's a bit harder for me to swallow.

I feel like this is really only a huge problem if you map HP 1 to 1 with some fixed value of survivability / meat. If you look at it as a general rating number for how good you are at surviving things that would kill a lesser person, it makes a bit more sense. So if your average damage per hit for your lower level monsters is 4, and for the sake of convenience your AC is such that you have a 50/50 chance of being hit, your every day normal person won't last more than about 2 rounds against an attacking monster. Your 1st level fighter fairs a bit better, lasting somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 rounds. Long enough to have a fighting chance, but not long enough that a low level monster isn't concerning. Your 20th level fighter, with the exact same AC lasts almost 120 rounds. It's not that your 20th level fighter has superhuman resistance to being slashed with rusty knives. Sure that's some of it, but it's also that your fighter has more endurance, has more skill, more tricks up their sleeve. They're less likely to succumb to any one strike. That doesn't mean those strikes don't do damage, but your fighter is better at rolling with them. After months of adventuring and learning to fight dragons and basilisks, going mono-a-mono with a goblin is just easier, and less likely to kill them.

Mike Tyson hits just as hard whether you're a professional boxer or an average joe, and the damage that Mike Tyson can do with that hit will be just as much on the pro-boxer or the average joe, the difference is the pro boxer knows what it's like to take a hit, and can roll with it and keep on fighting.

In some ways, this is really what I think 4e healing surges and 5e short rest hit die healing are supposed to help with. That nebulousness that is HP representing more than just pure meat, and more than just plain luck. You can't (generally) heal to 100% because some of that is meat, but you can heal some of it because some of it is also endurance and stamina and the sort of "luck pools" that all heroes draw from in deadly situations. That stuff you can get back with some rest, but which is also a limited resource.

Mendicant
2019-05-11, 09:17 PM
The problem isn't HP in general, but rather steeply scaling HP in the style of D&D. They're meat until they're not, they're not meat until they are.

This doesn't bother me at all. HP are HP, and not being tied to anything hard and fast is a strength, not a weakness.

Hytheter
2019-05-12, 01:38 AM
and the person managed this impressive parkour even when falling on flat rocks without anything to slow down the fall.

And while he didn't suffer any large damage to his vital organs, and his body is no more damaged than the body of the first level commoner, a simple cure light wounds will heal the commoner to full, while you will need 10 or so to get back to healty.

ok, you can narrate it like that if you want, but you can't make it really consistent.

on the other hand, ever since I embraced the "high level people are supernaturally though with bulletproof skin" interpretation, I never had any difficulty in describing anything.

Yeah, I don't really get why people are able to buy into HP being things like luck and plot armour over the idea that high-level characters are just fantasy superheroes who can take a ton of punishment, especially when the mechanics don't really support the former when you analyse them with any scrutiny.

Anonymouswizard
2019-05-12, 05:37 AM
These days I'm more likely to run hp as meat no matter what the system is like. It's just a law of the universe that the more badass you are the less you need to functional organs. Boromir being an eighth level fighter would have allowed him to tank the sixteen arrows he takes in Fellowship because, more if we're assuming shoddy orc bows deal less damage.

However this also means that you're likely tending to cuts and bruises after every couple of encounters, unless you have a lot of clerical magic.

HP being meat isn't bad or good, but it's not realistic. And some people want realism

deuterio12
2019-05-12, 05:42 AM
These days I'm more likely to run hp as meat no matter what the system is like. It's just a law of the universe that the more badass you are the less you need to functional organs. Boromir being an eighth level fighter would have allowed him to tank the sixteen arrows he takes in Fellowship because, more if we're assuming shoddy orc bows deal less damage.

However this also means that you're likely tending to cuts and bruises after every couple of encounters, unless you have a lot of clerical magic.

HP being meat isn't bad or good, but it's not realistic. And some people want realism

Then there's a whole real world out there, no need for a game in which they may risk running into such unreal things as dragons or magicians.:smalltongue:

King of Nowhere
2019-05-12, 07:30 AM
These days I'm more likely to run hp as meat no matter what the system is like. It's just a law of the universe that the more badass you are the less you need to functional organs. Boromir being an eighth level fighter would have allowed him to tank the sixteen arrows he takes in Fellowship because, more if we're assuming shoddy orc bows deal less damage.

However this also means that you're likely tending to cuts and bruises after every couple of encounters, unless you have a lot of clerical magic.

HP being meat isn't bad or good, but it's not realistic. And some people want realism

the system as designed does not support that.

E6 works to some extent. when your hp total is a few dozens at most, you still can assume hp =/ meat without too many problems. otherwise, you'd need a totally different game

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-12, 07:43 AM
Then there's a whole real world out there, no need for a game in which they may risk running into such unreal things as dragons or magicians.:smalltongue:

"But dragons..." (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?445781-The-quot-BUT-DRAGONS!-quot-Fallacy)

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-12, 07:44 AM
This never stuck me as all that odd. Two people with the same HP are some X degree capable of evading critical damage. A person with better reflexes (either reflected by high Dex or specific skills) is even better.

Then why have AC or whatever at all?

Why have both HP and AC representing "how hard is this guy to actually hit"?

Anonymouswizard
2019-05-12, 07:56 AM
the system as designed does not support that.

E6 works to some extent. when your hp total is a few dozens at most, you still can assume hp =/ meat without too many problems. otherwise, you'd need a totally different game

True it doesn't. And when I want realism I'll run a different game.

But in D&D, a 6th level Fighter is already a mythological hero. Going back to the somewhat lower powered Basic Dungeons & Dragons (Rules Cyclopedia to be specific) an average 6th level Fighter had a mighty 27 hit points, enough to survive even a mighty hit with a two handed sword from the strongest of warriors. These days that Fighter is more likely to have 45 or 50hp and be able to tank basic sword hits, but even from the early days D&D has been about growing into a legendary hero. I mean, if you're lucky enough to have a high Constitution roll fairly well for hp (average of six per level), and survive to level nine your Fighter might be able to tank as many as six maximum power two handed sword hits and still be able to function!

The 'hp aren't meat' argument is mainly from those who want realistic games without playing realistic games. Which seems strange to me.

Florian
2019-05-12, 08:13 AM
Then why have AC or whatever at all?

Why have both HP and AC representing "how hard is this guy to actually hit"?

Yeah, that's kinda stupid.

Most of the time, I'm sticking with how it was in early D&D:
- HP: Ability to keep on going and stay relevant on the field of battle. General combat endurance, not tied to anything specific, just a mixture of smaller wounds and the fatigue of fighting.
- AC: The relative amount it takes to break through defenses and get the above going. Amongst other things, the difference between deflecting a blow with a shield without breaking a sweat and feeling the impact of doing so.

Jay R
2019-05-12, 08:34 AM
Simulations are inherently over-simplistic, in order to avoid being unwieldy.

The more you look at the inconsistencies, the more annoyed you get at them.

I want to use the system as a mere tool to focus on the fantasy world. This means not concentrating on the system.

This is similar to just pressing on the accelerator to move the car forward, without thinking about the working of an internal combustion engine.

So I prefer to recognize that hit points are hit points, a deliberately simplistic system used in order to play the game without absurdly high knowledge of sword angles and biology.

Now stop thinking about the mechanics in the book and focus on the ogres in the cave.

Sebastian
2019-05-12, 08:48 AM
HP are meat. When someone lose HPs he got a wound (maybe it is just a scratch, but weapon made contact). Else poisoned weapons or special materials for weapons (silver for lycanthropes, for example) would make no sense.

HPs are a combination of

meat (you are tougher);

skill, training, luck, etc. (that 30 hp wound would have pierced your heart when you were a 1st level fighter, but at 5th level you are able to move and take it on the shoulder/side/arm. It hurt, but you can still fight, for a while;

and sheer stubbornness/willpower/experience (at 20th level that 30 hp wound? you barely register it. You got hurt worse in the past and you survived that, you'll survive this, too.)

And this mean that you need the same quantity of healing magic to heal a XX HP wound at 1st or at 20th level, because the wound is the same.

Sebastian
2019-05-12, 08:54 AM
These days I'm more likely to run hp as meat no matter what the system is like. It's just a law of the universe that the more badass you are the less you need to functional organs. Boromir being an eighth level fighter would have allowed him to tank the sixteen arrows he takes in Fellowship because, more if we're assuming shoddy orc bows deal less damage.


Well, who said Boromir was 8th level?

Gandalf was just a 5th level wizard, after all. :biggrin:

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-12, 09:49 AM
Simulations are inherently over-simplistic, in order to avoid being unwieldy.

The more you look at the inconsistencies, the more annoyed you get at them.

I want to use the system as a mere tool to focus on the fantasy world. This means not concentrating on the system.

This is similar to just pressing on the accelerator to move the car forward, without thinking about the working of an internal combustion engine.

So I prefer to recognize that hit points are hit points, a deliberately simplistic system used in order to play the game without absurdly high knowledge of sword angles and biology.

Now stop thinking about the mechanics in the book and focus on the ogres in the cave.

I routinely think about the workings of an internal combustion engine while driving... it's how my mind works.

kyoryu
2019-05-12, 10:54 AM
Yeah, that's kinda stupid.

Most of the time, I'm sticking with how it was in early D&D:
- HP: Ability to keep on going and stay relevant on the field of battle. General combat endurance, not tied to anything specific, just a mixture of smaller wounds and the fatigue of fighting.
- AC: The relative amount it takes to break through defenses and get the above going. Amongst other things, the difference between deflecting a blow with a shield without breaking a sweat and feeling the impact of doing so.


Simulations are inherently over-simplistic, in order to avoid being unwieldy.

The more you look at the inconsistencies, the more annoyed you get at them.

I want to use the system as a mere tool to focus on the fantasy world. This means not concentrating on the system.

This is similar to just pressing on the accelerator to move the car forward, without thinking about the working of an internal combustion engine.

So I prefer to recognize that hit points are hit points, a deliberately simplistic system used in order to play the game without absurdly high knowledge of sword angles and biology.

Now stop thinking about the mechanics in the book and focus on the ogres in the cave.

These two responses, combined with a hefty dose of "narrate them in a way that makes sense given the situation, without worrying too too much about having a consistent model of what HP represent.

IOW, "in this situation, given that the character just lost <x> hit points, and that I generally treat HP as not-meat-points, what is a reasonable narration for this one situation in isolation?"

Generally this looks something like how Fred Hicks defined Stress in Fate - "Stress is pain". So it's probably not a lucky miss - it's a hard parry that sends a shock up your arm, or a bad hit that bruises but doesn't count. It's all the bumps and bruises and everything else.

Yeah, in D&D, sometimes this gets a little hard to figure out. Nature of the system (especially post-2e where level 20 and so is expected, vs. the system slowing down after 10 as it did in earlier versions).

RedMage125
2019-05-12, 12:02 PM
HP are simply an abstraction, like I've been saying from the start. There's no hard and fast threshold of "how much of them counts as meat". That would be a Wound/Vitality system like Star Wars d20.

4e gave us Minion enemies. Foes who only have 1 HP. Not because they are creatures so inherently frail that one injury would kill them, but because they were narratively of low significance. Attacks that do damage on a miss did no damage to minions, only a hit would do them in. But it only takes one. They were the chaff, the cannon fodder, the ones that mighty adventurers cut down hordes of on their way to more dangerous foes. 4e also gave us Elite creatures, with twice the HP for their level, allowing a creature with more significance to have more staying power in combat (and much more convenient from a metagame perspective for a DM who wants a caster type leading mooks to last longer than his mooks).

I think everyone here has gotten lost in the minutiae of "what ARE hit points?", rather than focus on the question of narration. HP loss can be narrated as a near miss, a lightly grating attack, a solid blow against a shield that rattles the defender, a shallow wound, a deep wound to an extremity, or a potentially lethal blow. HP loss can be all of these, even to the same DM.

That's because HP don't have to just be one, concretely defined thing. They're an abstraction. HP aren't ANYTHING until they begin to be lost. Like 4e showed us, sometimes they're just a measure of "plot armor". A horde of orcs that has been plundering the countryside is attacking the PCs. All of these orcs bear scars of wounds from previous battles, they have all been tested in the crucible of war. And yet, when the PC Barbarian wades into melee with them, some are felled instantly by the swing of his mighty great axe. I don't have my 4e books in front of me right now, but I remember that there were Large creatures (I want to say either ogres or formorians) that were big, brutish, hard to kill bags of HP, and then, at higher levels, were statted as minions. Not because they became more frail when the party leveled up, but because those particular ones were meant to be used as less significant mooks for a higher level party.

The question the OP asked was "how does one narrate combat if hp are not meat", not "should HP be defined as meat?". Some of you find less narrative conflict if you define them as meat, and sharing that is relevant to the topic and may be helpful to others. But when some of you act like people doing it a different way are "looking for too much realism ", all you're doing is being critical of other people's play preferences, for no reason.

Like JayR said, HP are HP. They are an abstraction used to help simplify a simulation. Narratively, they can be a lot of things, including meat. Insisting that can only be one thing is not only silly, but it's "one true way-ism".

So I will end with what I've been saying since the beginning of this thread, "HP are an abstraction of how much 'fight' a creature has left in it". And the loss of them can be narrated in a number of ways. That doesn't mean any of them are "wrong".

Mendicant
2019-05-12, 01:04 PM
Yeah, I don't really get why people are able to buy into HP being things like luck and plot armour over the idea that high-level characters are just fantasy superheroes who can take a ton of punishment, especially when the mechanics don't really support the former when you analyse them with any scrutiny.

The mechanics don't support meat HP if you look at them with any scrutiny either. Massive damage thresholds and coup de grace rules that kick "are you alive" over to Fortitude saves even if you're not out of HP, adamantine weapons that reduce damage reduction instead of AC, blood drain that drops your Con, and of course critical existence failure itself all point to HP being something other than meat. "It's just the ability to absorb punishment" is just as much a narrative cludge as "it's plot armor".


Then why have AC or whatever at all?

Why have both HP and AC representing "how hard is this guy to actually hit"?

Because they serve obviously different gameplay purposes? If your artful dodger is better at dodging when he's fresh than after several acrobatic escapes and small nicks, you *could* recalculate his AC after every hit or even after every attack, or you could keep his baseline AC as a static value and his plot armor as a depleting value.

Why have meatpoint HP if you're also going to have Con scores and Fort saves and natural armor and soak values and whatever else?


HP being meat isn't bad or good, but it's not realistic. And some people want realism

Wanting HP that aren't *only* meat isn't about "realism," it's about suspension of disbelief, which incorporates realism but is bigger. I, personally, do not like battle slapstick where Roy is walking around with a sword sticking out of him having a normal conversation. It's fine in a webcomic that I read for laughs, but that's not what I want out of my epic fantasy adventure. Super hero-style durability doesn't really cover this either, because lots of super heroes don't have super durability and still get to play in the big leagues. It's quite easy and elegant, in a game, to port some of that "super dodging" or whatever into a depleting pool rather than making the nimble character into a binary character who is mostly unhittable moment to moment but who is eventually going to be turned to paste by iterated expectations.

There are two general camps here, and they aren't "realists" v. "non realists".

It's people who think HP should stay an abstraction that you explain with post-hoc rationalizations when the mechanics and fiction don't seem to line up, vs. people who don't recognize a tacked-on healing factor or "badassery" as a post-hoc rationalization for when the mechanics and fiction don't seem to line up.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-12, 01:07 PM
Why have meatpoint HP if you're also going to have Con scores and Fort saves and natural armor and soak values and whatever else?


Good question, and more of the same point I was making.

kyoryu
2019-05-12, 01:22 PM
The question the OP asked was "how does one narrate combat if hp are not meat", not "should HP be defined as meat?". Some of you find less narrative conflict if you define them as meat, and sharing that is relevant to the topic and may be helpful to others. But when some of you act like people doing it a different way are "looking for too much realism ", all you're doing is being critical of other people's play preferences, for no reason.

Like JayR said, HP are HP. They are an abstraction used to help simplify a simulation. Narratively, they can be a lot of things, including meat. Insisting that can only be one thing is not only silly, but it's "one true way-ism".

So I will end with what I've been saying since the beginning of this thread, "HP are an abstraction of how much 'fight' a creature has left in it". And the loss of them can be narrated in a number of ways. That doesn't mean any of them are "wrong".

This, 100%.

HP are HP because they make for a fun game. That's what they represent. Probably the easiest way to look at them (if you want to not view them as Meat Points), is like a movie scene - you want it to take some amount of time for the loser of a fight to lose, but how much time? HP represent that. So, in your encounter, figure out how you'd show them getting closer to defeat, and narrate it that way, in a way that satisfies your group's tolerances for realism and plausibility.

Mendicant
2019-05-12, 01:45 PM
Good question, and more of the same point I was making.

Because they serve useful gameplay purposes split up that way. Just like reflex saves, Dodge AC, and HP as not-meat.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-12, 01:53 PM
Because they serve useful gameplay purposes split up that way. Just like reflex saves, Dodge AC, and HP as not-meat.

They strike me as the opposite of useful, split up that way.

Or rather, not split up and instead mushed up in a mess that way.

Mendicant
2019-05-12, 01:55 PM
As soon as you create nice neat categories you're going to realize there are edge cases where you need to pick one or the other and your neat separations are bleeding into eachother after all.

Edit: and you will probably be grateful for a highly-abstracted grab-bag you can use to caulk over the ones you want to stay more sharply defined.

1337 b4k4
2019-05-12, 01:56 PM
Then why have AC or whatever at all?

Why have both HP and AC representing "how hard is this guy to actually hit"?

A handful of reasons:

1) Because HP doesn't represent "how hard is this guy to actually hit". If you're losing HP, you are taking damage of some kind. You have been hit in a measurable and meaningful way.

2) Because a person's ability to survive a lethal encounter is made up of a number of different factors and most people appear to find it generally unsatisfying to have the myriad of different statistics about a person summed into a single number. I mean you can have (and I think there is) a TTRPG wherein your entire character's stats are 3 numbers "do something", "know something", "survive something", but generally speaking other than for quick play / one shots, most people would find that dissatisfying.

3) Because mechanically they do different things. An enemy with 30 AC and 5 HP is a different combat than an enemy with 15 AC and 15 HP and that's different still from an enemy with 5 AC and 100 HP

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-12, 02:08 PM
As soon as you create nice neat categories you're going to realize there are edge cases where you need to pick one or the other and your neat separations are bleeding into eachother after all.

Edit: and you will probably be grateful for a highly-abstracted grab-bag you can use to caulk over the ones you want to stay more sharply defined.

Don't project your own experiences or problems as if they were universal truths.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-12, 02:16 PM
1) Because HP doesn't represent "how hard is this guy to actually hit". If you're losing HP, you are taking damage of some kind. You have been hit in a measurable and meaningful way.


And here we go with the total disregard for context that always happens in these discussions.

The people I was responding to specifically said that HP does include "how hard is this guy to hit", along with a bunch of other stuff -- but only kinda, because all those other things are also covered by other parts of the system.

So which is it -- is (D&D-style hyper-scaling) HP just how tough you are and the ability to withstand damage, or is it a bunch of other stuff too?

I'm still waiting after multiple decades for the defenders of this nonsense to actually decide among themselves which it is and which it isn't.




2) Because a person's ability to survive a lethal encounter is made up of a number of different factors and most people appear to find it generally unsatisfying to have the myriad of different statistics about a person summed into a single number. I mean you can have (and I think there is) a TTRPG wherein your entire character's stats are 3 numbers "do something", "know something", "survive something", but generally speaking other than for quick play / one shots, most people would find that dissatisfying.


And I prefer a system that separates out all those factors and treats them as discrete.

Don't mistake my questions to people who WANT all those things mashed up together into (D&D-style hyper-scaling) HP for my actual position on the matter.




3) Because mechanically they do different things. An enemy with 30 AC and 5 HP is a different combat than an enemy with 15 AC and 15 HP and that's different still from an enemy with 5 AC and 100 HP


So what? That's just abstractions that give a different "feel" depending on how they're paired up, and has nothing to do with what the two things are actually supposed to represent, or how they messily overlap.

Mendicant
2019-05-12, 02:38 PM
Don't project your own experiences or problems as if they were universal truths.

If you have an empirical example where this problem either doesn't arise

Or

Doesn't get "solved" by simply not having a mechanical resolution for the action in question

I'd love to see it.

PhoenixPhyre
2019-05-12, 02:47 PM
Abstractions aren't true or false. They're more useful or useful. The degree to which they "work" or "don't work" is almost entirely subjective.

D&D has a set of partially-overlapping, partially-unique measures of defensive ability/combat endurance.

AC and saves are effectively a group of thresholds below which an effect does not reduce a character's ability to continue fighting.
HP is a measure of ability to continue fighting. When you have some, you are able to continue fighting with impairment that is below the resolution of the system. When you don't, you can't.

This abstraction is useful for a game where fighting is
a) a constant/regular part of the game
b) not expected to be brutally fatal (for the PCs)
c) expected to take multiple rounds
d) designed at least in part as a pacing mechanism
e) supposed to happen multiple times within a game session (so they have to run pretty fast).
f) expected to progress across a bunch of different bands of enemies as a campaign progresses, so you start with the goblins and end with adult dragons. This mandates durability improvements on a very large scale.

HP thus acts as a progress bar and a way of separating the big bads from the little mooks. Simply having higher binary defenses (AC/Saves) produces a completely different enemy than one with low binary defenses and a large HP pool. There's a big game difference between the following two scenarios:
1) whiff-whiff-whiff-splat
2) hit-hit-hit-dead
MMOs generally take the line that, for tanks (which everyone is in D&D), passive effective health (HP + always-on damage reduction) is vastly superior to probabilistic effective health (dodge chance, block, parry, etc). Specifically because of the whiff-whiff-whiff-splat problem.

HP has to not impair fighting capability, because otherwise assumptions a, b, and d fail badly. If the PCs are expected to be in frequent fights with not enough time to completely reset between fights (assumptions a and d), but are expected to survive the ultra-vast majority*, death spirals don't work unless they're so slow as to just be cosmetic. Which are not worth (IMO) cluttering up the system with.

It's entirely a game-layer entity. Any form of narration beyond the mechanical will result in a leaky abstraction. For some people, that's OK. For others, it isn't.

* To get to level 2 in 5e you need 300 XP. That's 6 threshold-medium fights or 3 threshold-deadly fights. If an average deadly fight has a 5% chance of killing a PC, 15% of all characters will not survive the first adventuring day. In a party of 6, that's 1 expected casualty. And the numbers only get worse from there. The default for 5e is that PCs have a nearly 100% chance of surviving unless they do something colossally stupid.

Vorpal Glaive
2019-05-12, 02:53 PM
Wow. This escalated a bit.

HP can't be meat, because as old head Tim Kask stated, wounds turn into scar tissue (for those who want REE'AL'ISM) and scar tissue slows people down, rather than the subject getting better (aka Level Up).

So HP is an abstract thing that has zero to do with real-world injury. It's as much "fantasy damage" as casting spells is "fantasy agency". D&D wasn't designed for REE'ALI'TY but rather, with a small dose of VERISIMILITUDE.

Just enough to make the game SEEM real, but never enough for what you might call "immersion". And thus, we get these predictable arguments about what D&D does and doesn't do. Yeah. It doesn't do that "injury" thing well, whether it's combat, falling or whatever.

Can we embrace this? Sure would cut down on the debates, and maybe lead us to begin discussion with ideologies that lend towards creating a 6th edition of the game that perhaps addresses this dilemma.

Like armor as ablative damage reduction, ubiquitous bleeding damage from slashing/piercing weapons, balanced (meaning pluses are countered by minuses) races and classes, and other ridiculous concepts that might make D&D at least different, if not better.

Maybe.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-12, 03:20 PM
If you have an empirical example where this problem either doesn't arise


Most systems lacking D&D-style hyper-scaling Hit Points, and lacking overlapping defensive system components, never encounter the problem you're seeming to think is universal.

HERO for example has clearly defined and separated "evade being hit" and "absorb being hit" mechanisms, and never runs into the problem you're claiming is universal.

RedMage125
2019-05-12, 03:21 PM
Abstractions aren't true or false. They're more useful or useful. The degree to which they "work" or "don't work" is almost entirely subjective.

D&D has a set of partially-overlapping, partially-unique measures of defensive ability/combat endurance.

AC and saves are effectively a group of thresholds below which an effect does not reduce a character's ability to continue fighting.
HP is a measure of ability to continue fighting. When you have some, you are able to continue fighting with impairment that is below the resolution of the system. When you don't, you can't.

This abstraction is useful...

Yes, yes, yes.

Narration of hits is subjective. That is the universal truth one xan take from this thread. It's subjective to the DM, it's subjective to the hit (and damage), it's subjective to the attacker.

It's not about "what HP are supposed to be", because the only coherent thing they CAN absolutely be defined as is "a metagame statistic that quantifies a given creature's ability to continue fighting".

Even as I said in my examples (I generally do not view HP as straight-up "meat" for all cases), some hits necessitate some form of physical contact (poison damage or condition, lycanthropy, etc) if one is interested in the narration of the hit.

If someone is looking for a consistent "always true in all cases" answer to "what do hit points represent?", then that person is going to be constantly unsatisfied with one inconsistency or the other. Like I said last post, HP aren't ANYTHING until they begin to be lost. And they represent a variety of things that make up, collectively, "the ability to keep fighting". HP are just HP. They are as much of a metagame concept as proficiency bonus, or BAB, or the number one adds to any d20 roll, really.

jjordan
2019-05-12, 06:11 PM
Thanks, again, for all the responses. It's been an education.

Thanks, in part, to your contributions I've developed a working guideline of HP that allows me to narrate combat. I'm grateful.

1337 b4k4
2019-05-12, 06:25 PM
So which is it -- is (D&D-style hyper-scaling) HP just how tough you are and the ability to withstand damage, or is it a bunch of other stuff too?


Why ask people when you can just read the rules:



Your character's hit point score represents his ability to survive injury. The higher his hit point score, the more damage he can sustain before dying. Characters who survive long enough to gain a good deal of experience typically gain more and more hit points; therefore, an experienced character lasts longer in a fight or other dangerous situations than does an inexperienced character.



These hit points represent how much damage (actual 01: potential) the character can withstand before being killed. A certain amount of these hit points represent the actual physical punishment which can be sustained. The remainder, a significant portion of hit points at higher levels, stands for skill, luck, and/or magical factors. A typical man-at-arms can take about 5 hit points of damage before being Killed. Let us suppose that a 10th level fighter has 55 hit points, plus a bonus of 30 hit points for his constitution, for a total of 85 hit points. This IS the equivalent of about 18 hit dice for creatures, about what it would take to kill four huge warhorses. It is ridiculous to assume that even a fantastic flghter can take that much punishment. The some holds true to a lesser extent for clerics, thieves, and the other classes. Thus, the majority of hit paints aresymbolic of combat skill, luck (bestowed by supernatural powers), and magical forces.



Your hit points tell you how much punishment you can take before dropping.



Hit points (hp) measure your ability to stand up to punishment, turn deadly strikes into glancing blows, and stay on your feet throughout a battle. Hit points represent more than physical endurance. They represent your character’s skill, luck, and resolve—all the factors that combine to help you stay alive in a combat situation.

It's very clear that HP represents more than just how physically tough you are. But none of those say that HP represents how hard you are to hit. That's covered by AC in all editions. When you're losing HP you are hit, you are taking damage.

To go back to my original analogy, when an average adult, a 7 year old child and a professional boxer all take a hit from Mike Tyson, they're all taking however many joules of energy is in that hit. Between the average adult and the 7 year old, most of the difference in outcome is going to be in pure physical toughness. But between the pro-boxer and the adult, now we're getting into not only toughness but also skill, experience and ability. Tyson still delivers the same punch, with the same force and the targets are absorbing that force. In D&D, that overall combination is represented with higher HP.

deuterio12
2019-05-12, 06:34 PM
Like I said last post, HP aren't ANYTHING until they begin to be lost.
Actually, they are.

Power Word spells in 3rd edition specifically only affect targets under a certain HP treshold regardless if they've lost any HP or not.

In 5e there's a bunch of spells like Sleep that similarly only affect a creature with a certain HP value or lower again independent of they taking any actual damage.

King of Nowhere
2019-05-12, 07:00 PM
Wow. This escalated a bit.

HP can't be meat, because as old head Tim Kask stated, wounds turn into scar tissue (for those who want REE'AL'ISM) and scar tissue slows people down, rather than the subject getting better (aka Level Up).


Wrong.

that's how it worrks in the real world. This is a fantasy world with obviously different rules. and there is magical healing.

and of course if you dig enough on a specific issue you are going to run into some inconsistency sooner or later. it doesn't prove anything. with the "xp as meat" stuff, you need to dig to find inconsistencies. Otherwise, you need to willingly avert your sight to not see them.
-----------------
I managed to narrate a guy with around 60 hp without calling in supernatural durability when i still was trying. this guy was obese, but very muscular underneath, sort of like a sumo wrestler, and the main enemies were goblins. So I described goblin arrows puncturing him but being cushioned by all the fat and muscle so that they would not reach anything vital. I also showed him to have extreme resistance to pain, so that he was able to keep functioning even when reduced to a pin-cushion.
After that, though, he asked for magical healing fast, because all that blood loss from multiple wounds would kill him soon.

so, that's how far I think it's possible to go while still maintaining a decent illusion of realism. when everyone in the party had more hit points than that guy, i realized I could never describe any of them as more durable in any realistic way. especially not the scrawny halfling. it was what got me to switch position.

deuterio12
2019-05-12, 07:13 PM
Wrong.

that's how it worrks in the real world. This is a fantasy world with obviously different rules. and there is magical healing.


Plus let's be honest, in fantasyland the heavily scarred warrior is always a badass you need to watch out for.

kyoryu
2019-05-12, 07:24 PM
Narration of hits is subjective. That is the universal truth one xan take from this thread. It's subjective to the DM, it's subjective to the hit (and damage), it's subjective to the attacker.

It's not about "what HP are supposed to be", because the only coherent thing they CAN absolutely be defined as is "a metagame statistic that quantifies a given creature's ability to continue fighting".

This is the only really coherent take.

Basically, accept that HP are incoherent overall, and narrate them to consistency on a case by case basis.

PhoenixPhyre
2019-05-12, 07:32 PM
Plus let's be honest, in fantasyland the heavily scarred warrior is always a badass you need to watch out for.

And for D&D, which leans heavily and intentionally on tropes and archetypes, that's a selling point. If scars slowed you down, you wouldn't have that trope, which would be a flaw. So scars can't slow you down.

deuterio12
2019-05-12, 08:39 PM
And for D&D, which leans heavily and intentionally on tropes and archetypes, that's a selling point. If scars slowed you down, you wouldn't have that trope, which would be a flaw. So scars can't slow you down.

Indeed. Just recently, I've been reading the Assassin and Fool series where the main protagonist collects quite a lot of nasty scars (to the point they're actually used by other characters to identify him) but remains pretty much one of the top warriors in the setting.

RedMage125
2019-05-12, 09:37 PM
Actually, they are.

Power Word spells in 3rd edition specifically only affect targets under a certain HP treshold regardless if they've lost any HP or not.

In 5e there's a bunch of spells like Sleep that similarly only affect a creature with a certain HP value or lower again independent of they taking any actual damage.

...which only proves my point that HP are a metagame concept not directly representative of anything in game.

And 5e's Sleep spell basically does "virtual damage" to targets, with an "all-or-nothing" qualifier of whether they are affected by the spell or not. It uses CURRENT hp, not MAX, so a paladin with 6 hp remaining out of 80 and a 6 hp kobold are affected the same way by the spell Sleep.

Mendicant
2019-05-12, 09:52 PM
Most systems lacking D&D-style hyper-scaling Hit Points, and lacking overlapping defensive system components, never encounter the problem you're seeming to think is universal.

HERO for example has clearly defined and separated "evade being hit" and "absorb being hit" mechanisms, and never runs into the problem you're claiming is universal.

Mechanical components with overlap or fuzzy edges are absolutely still a thing in HERO. I'm hardly an expert in it, but you can use shadowing and perception for some of the same checks, for instance. Ongoing crush damage is an attack roll defendable by DCV each round if a person is doing it, but isn't if it's a boulder. Dive For Cover is its own whole thing that you can use to defend, say, Sweep without needing to involve your DCV at all.

Hytheter
2019-05-12, 10:50 PM
It's very clear that HP represents more than just how physically tough you are.

I mean, it's clear that they like saying that, but the mechanics don't actually support the assertion.

Porkslope
2019-05-12, 11:23 PM
I do what a lot of the people in this thread already described. HP is a little bit of meat and a little bit of luck, but in my opinion HP is mostly skill. It's evasion and defense, knowing where to be and when, and how to deal with what's coming your way. As other people have suggested, I like to describe them as grazes and glancing blows, but I also like to throw in blocks.

If an NPC with 60 HP takes 20 damage from a single attack from a PC, I like to describe the attack as being hastily blocked, but he was unprepared and was hit so hard that he could feel it through his whole body and it knocked him off-balance. This wasn't "just a block," he didn't shrug it off or power through. I also turn that around and describe it that way to the PCs, that they block it but they can feel the impact in their bones, that they can't afford another sloppy block like that.

As others have suggested, I also highly recommend using the bloodied condition from 4e, even if you don't tie any mechanics to it. When a strong enemy hits 50% HP, that hit hurt it. That's the point in the fight when the music turns triumphant and the players know that it's time to start pushing, to bring out the big guns and end the fight as quickly as they can.

Some people call HP boring and will complain that you have to put in all sorts of effort into narration to make it interesting, but I think this is the sort of thing people should have been doing with HP right from the start.

Mendicant
2019-05-13, 12:43 AM
I mean, it's clear that they like saying that, but the mechanics don't actually support the assertion.

Sure they do, sometimes. If you insist HP can happily always be meat the mechanics don't support that either.

Zhorn
2019-05-13, 01:21 AM
I do what a lot of the people in this thread already described. HP is a little bit of meat and a little bit of luck, but in my opinion HP is mostly skill. It's evasion and defense, knowing where to be and when, and how to deal with what's coming your way. As other people have suggested, I like to describe them as grazes and glancing blows, but I also like to throw in blocks.

If an NPC with 60 HP takes 20 damage from a single attack from a PC, I like to describe the attack as being hastily blocked, but he was unprepared and was hit so hard that he could feel it through his whole body and it knocked him off-balance. This wasn't "just a block," he didn't shrug it off or power through. I also turn that around and describe it that way to the PCs, that they block it but they can feel the impact in their bones, that they can't afford another sloppy block like that.

This is a good way of describing HP as being meat and not meat at the same time.
Schrodinger's mea........ NO! :smalleek:
Schrodinger's HP! I meant HP!

The important part is to be clear at a hit is still a hit. The 'evasion' portion is the rolling with a punch aspect, the skill and presence of mind to minimize the damage (thematically, not mechanically).

The shield example is a good one. If you don't brace yourself right while holding the shield, a fair amount of that force still travels through and it can really HURT (personal experience, good times).
Another I like to think of is say two character's get caught in a green dragon's breath attack, both fail the save and take a hefty 40 points of damage.
The level one warlock didn't know what to expect and breathed in while the attack hit, filling their lungs with the toxic cloud and knocked out their 10 hp, overshot with the extra 30 remaining and they are DEAD.
The level 20 wizard, being similarly frail (thematically), at the last moment managed to hold their breath as the attack hit, and came out the other side still standing, the damage they took was just from contact with the fumes. Mechanically it's still the same damage on each target, both were effected and felt a physical effect, but the second character surviving is described as doing something that makes sense that they were not only not one shot, but still walking about afterwards.

raw damage numbers can be thought of as potential meat damage
applied damage to a character in terms of the percent it dealt compared to their total HP is the character's heroic ability and experience to deal with it without dying.

deuterio12
2019-05-13, 02:22 AM
This is a good way of describing HP as being meat and not meat at the same time.
Schrodinger's mea........ NO! :smalleek:
Schrodinger's HP! I meant HP!

The important part is to be clear at a hit is still a hit. The 'evasion' portion is the rolling with a punch aspect, the skill and presence of mind to minimize the damage (thematically, not mechanically).

The shield example is a good one. If you don't brace yourself right while holding the shield, a fair amount of that force still travels through and it can really HURT (personal experience, good times).
Another I like to think of is say two character's get caught in a green dragon's breath attack, both fail the save and take a hefty 40 points of damage.
The level one warlock didn't know what to expect and breathed in while the attack hit, filling their lungs with the toxic cloud and knocked out their 10 hp, overshot with the extra 30 remaining and they are DEAD.
The level 20 wizard, being similarly frail (thematically), at the last moment managed to hold their breath as the attack hit, and came out the other side still standing, the damage they took was just from contact with the fumes. Mechanically it's still the same damage on each target, both were effected and felt a physical effect, but the second character surviving is described as doing something that makes sense that they were not only not one shot, but still walking about afterwards.

raw damage numbers can be thought of as potential meat damage
applied damage to a character in terms of the percent it dealt compared to their total HP is the character's heroic ability and experience to deal with it without dying.

Ok, now your example lv1 1 warlock and lv.20 wizard got a for a short swim on lava. Naked.

The lv1. warlock is burned to a crisp.

The lv.20 wizard comes out a bit singed but otherwise still fine.

So how do you explain that one? Is the wizard not breathing the lava? Is the wizard expertly blocking the lava while swimming inside it?


...which only proves my point that HP are a metagame concept not directly representative of anything in game.

And 5e's Sleep spell basically does "virtual damage" to targets, with an "all-or-nothing" qualifier of whether they are affected by the spell or not. It uses CURRENT hp, not MAX, so a paladin with 6 hp remaining out of 80 and a 6 hp kobold are affected the same way by the spell Sleep.

You do realize that just proves that HP is plain how tough you are? If you have high HP, the wizard can't put you to sleep and you can also go to take swims on lava. But get wounded a bit, and the wizard can now make you take a nap and you'll die if you try to swim on lava.

Plus the basic healing spell is literally called cure light wounds which heals a fixed amount of HP. If you try to claim that HP is some kind of abstraction, then it wouldn't make sense that a spell that specifically heals wounds would always work, nor that the lv.20 fighter will need lots of cure light wounds to go from half HP to full.

Hytheter
2019-05-13, 02:46 AM
If you insist HP can happily always be meat the mechanics don't support that either.

Why not? Bearing in mind we're talking about fantasy superheroes here.

Zhorn
2019-05-13, 03:48 AM
Ok, now your example lv1 1 warlock and lv.20 wizard got a for a short swim on lava. Naked.

The lv1. warlock is burned to a crisp.

The lv.20 wizard comes out a bit singed but otherwise still fine.

So how do you explain that one? Is the wizard not breathing the lava? Is the wizard expertly blocking the lava while swimming inside it?
A hyper specific fringe case to make a point? Sure, why not, I'll bite.
[side note: I'm assuming you're taking me as being on the "HP are not meat" side of things? Or as a "HP are meat" person? Just trying to estabish WHAT point you were aiming for with your scenario]

So, lava... Going by the improvised damage chart in the DMG p249, 18d10 to be fully submerged in lava, or 10d10 to wade through a lava stream. Impressive.

So that rules out most humanoid races from qualifying for this scenario (average human body density sitting somewhere between 985 to 1027 kg/m³ depending on you sources).
Lava has a density of 3100 kg/m³ and a viscosity of 100-1000 Pa*s (for context, water has a density of 1000 kg/m³ and a viscosity of 0.00089 Pa*s.), so that humanoid meat ain't sinking in that lava any time soon.

So to qualify as 'swimming' in lava, our hypothetical characters would need to be either a Warforged or an Earth Genasi to have a density high enough to sink in a way to qualify for being able to swim (can't rely on heavy equipment to drag them under, since you did specify they were naked), which would thematically fit if they were quick and smart about it, surviving a dip in lava won't sound like a stretch.
At this point I'd rule it as the higher level character had the advantage of aiming at a darker (cooler) patch of lava compared to the low level inexperienced character just dive bombing in and landing in a brighter/hotter patch. Being the same numbers would be applied to each mechanically, this is all thematic fluff to handwave away why the high level character got away alive.

Hmm? Oh, you want me to stick with a meat-based example? Sure, we can do that too.
So the low level meat-based warlock lands onto the surface of the lava, and does not sink due to the density difference, but still a full body belly flop contact. Being lit on fire does 1d10 damage per round which seems a little low, so lets bump it up to 3d10 because why not. Our level-1-meat-warlock is char grilled and ready to serve. Our high level meat-based wizard on the other hand is smart enough to only contact the lava with their hands/feet, and scuttle over to planting those limbs on the darkest patches of lava within reach. It hurts, it burns, but they manage to get out alive. Again, same damage, just thematic fluff to explain it away.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e57D4oGoh5s

Like I said on page 1; I favour describing HP as meat, but if the story make more sense for it to be described in a different way, I'll do that, or narrate a reasoning why one character took a fatal hit while another shrugged it off. As long as the hit landed, it'll make sense one way or another why a HP loss took place.

deuterio12
2019-05-13, 04:32 AM
I didn't ask about running on warm rocks that are solid enough to run over.

I asked about lava, which is what the DMG rules cover, not solid rocks. The case of total immersion (such as when a character falls into the crater of an active volcano) (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/environment.htm). Now you may try to pull random numbers (like claiming that all lava has the exact same density, which is blatantly false, it can be changed by numerous factors) and use them to create fake physics scenarios, but luckily the DMG rules overrule such sillyness, pointing out that a character will be submerged in lava in a X scenario, so that's what we'll be using here. The 1st level warlock dies instantly 100% of the time, no amount of skill or luck can save him, he can never fall in "cooler" bits even by miracle, but the high level character has a pretty good chance of shrugging it off even if they're blindfolded and tied up.

Zhorn
2019-05-13, 06:06 AM
I didn't ask about running on warm rocks that are solid enough to run over.

I asked about lava, which is what the DMG rules cover, not solid rocks. The case of total immersion (such as when a character falls into the crater of an active volcano) (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/environment.htm). Now you may try to pull random numbers (like claiming that all lava has the exact same density, which is blatantly false, it can be changed by numerous factors) and use them to create fake physics scenarios, but luckily the DMG rules overrule such sillyness, pointing out that a character will be submerged in lava in a X scenario, so that's what we'll be using here. The 1st level warlock dies instantly 100% of the time, no amount of skill or luck can save him, he can never fall in "cooler" bits even by miracle, but the high level character has a pretty good chance of shrugging it off even if they're blindfolded and tied up.

Sorry if my post wasn't as amusing for you as I hoped. Was really aiming for a chuckle on the absurdity of the scenario on that one.
And I do mean absurd (but in a fun way, we're in a game after all).
Coming up with an explanation for a scenario, I'm going to apply a level of reasoning WHY that scenario would have happened. Lava doesn't act like the way you are implying. Movies pretty much never present lava the way it's really like when its still. You want ANY character to fall into lava and sink, then that lava will need to be in motion, at which point both characters are dead since save for a teleportation effect, that 'current' is going to hold anyone from swimming out safely.

The implication that the lava was survivable by the high level character is setting a stage (both thematically and metaphorically), since to a squishy meat-bag, lava is too dense for said meat-bag to sink in. Not liking the 3100 kg/m³ figure from a basic google search? No problem, we can use basalt magma for 2650–2800 kg/m³ (it's what makes the oceanic crust), or granitic magmas for 2400-2800 kg/m³ (continental crust), or if that's also not your speed there's andesite magma (2450–2500 kg/m³) or rhyolite magma (2180–2250 kg/m³) for your lighter variants. Lots of factors, lots of densities, but even your most generous molten material selection is still going to be +1000 kg/m³ more dense than meat. Now if you want to go with an idea fantasy lava that suits your specifications, we can do that too. We're playing make believe and nothing can stop us. But by that point any argument on whether a character can realistically survive it or not is out the window, as fantasy lava is as deadly as it is intended to be. Me? I'd play my lava scenario as if it were real lava, so no sinking *shrug*

As for the warlock dying. You say they died. I say they died. They died... and your calling out a problem where?

Boiling down to the core of this absurdity we had:
Porkslope talks about still getting hurt while using a shield to block
I agreed in that using that as a thematic narration works. It's not changing the numbers of the dice, it's just describing the hit that caused the damage in a way that make sense to lose HP but survive.
I threw out another scenario; the green dragon breath. The damage is already decided. one person dies, the other lives, same damage different narrations as to WHY they had different outcomes using the same numbers. It's all narrative fluff.
Then you propose some ridiculous scenario, and out of boredom I take a shot at it, thinking it was just simply a case of "two character are in lava, one lives and one dies. explain why"
So I think of it like a DM, and as a DM any scenario in front of me is likely one I caused. So using the information you gave me, I explained how I would narrate it based on what factors would have led ME to be applying the levels of damage the two characters got from lava. I wouldn't rule 'swimming' in lava as possible for most characters purely for the density thing, so I did what conditions I would have had that scenario occur under. And if that condition wasn't an option, there's how I would have played it out if the characters where to someone come into contact with lava and NOT have the density required to attempt to swim in it with. Each scenario has their appropriate damage dice rolled (accounting for editions of the game, I'm using 5e, and from your link I'm guessing 3.5 for you), the low level character is dead and the high level character is alive. THEN the last part is what my earlier comment was about, giving a thematic (not mechanical) reason for why it played out that way. The silly fluff that's used to handwave away such things.

Now, at first I though it was just some fun "what if" game you were setting up, but now I'm under the impression this is some argument you're intent on winning (if I have the wrong idea I do sincerely apologise), and if that's the case, I'll just yield and let you have your win and whatever quantity of internet points you wish to attribute to it. I'm here for fun discussions, not to yell down at anyone for daring to think differently.

Jay R
2019-05-13, 07:43 AM
In simulations class, we were taught that a simulation only measures what it was designed to simulate. There is nothing to be gained by trying to get more out of a simulation than was built into it.

HP indicates how much more you can take before collapsing. Is it cuts into meat? Exhaustion? Being mentally overwhelmed? Utter panic? The simulation didn't have that question built into it, so you cannot find that answer there.

It represents how much more you can take before you collapse.

And nothing else.

RedMage125
2019-05-13, 08:44 AM
You do realize that just proves that HP is plain how tough you are? If you have high HP, the wizard can't put you to sleep and you can also go to take swims on lava. But get wounded a bit, and the wizard can now make you take a nap and you'll die if you try to swim on lava.

Plus the basic healing spell is literally called cure light wounds which heals a fixed amount of HP. If you try to claim that HP is some kind of abstraction, then it wouldn't make sense that a spell that specifically heals wounds would always work, nor that the lv.20 fighter will need lots of cure light wounds to go from half HP to full.

I don't see how this undercuts what I've been saying. How "tough" someone is means how long they can stay in the fight. How much "fight" is left in them, so to speak. If it were meat, then every 20th level Wizard is physically thicker and "meatier" than a level 5 Fighter, which is narratively not the case. But a 20th level Wizard can have over 100 HP and be immune to a Power Word Kill spell, while a 5th level Fighter would not be. The higher level character is "tougher".

Cure [Light] Wounds restores HP, yes (not a fixed amount, there are dice involved). But it does so by channeling positive energy into the target. If there are physical wounds, they are healed, but the target is also refreshed and revitalized. There's also non-magical restoration of HP as well. Resting restores HP. In 4e, Warlords could use Inspiring Word to restore HP, in 5e, any character can spend Hit Dice on a short rest. HP are always just an abstraction of how long one can continue to fight in the face of being attacked, whether by weapons or magic. Narrating this loss is subjective. Sometimes there are physical wounds, sometimes the person is just tired or sore. Magical healing is accomplished through energy. The effects of this energy on a living creature are restorative, and restore the target according to its subjective needs.

Mendicant
2019-05-13, 09:23 AM
Why not? Bearing in mind we're talking about fantasy superheroes here.

"Bearing mind we're talking about fantasy superheroes here" is begging the question. It's a way of not really addressing the ways HP being meat doesn't make sense because you've already stuck your conclusion into your premises.

That said, it also doesn't matter, because the super hero durability argument is already overstated, as I pointed out above. If you layered HP as a concept onto The Flash, having him just eat 6 bullets without any reduction in capability, because he's a high level hero and that's what all his HP must do, would ruin the character. Most super-heroic concepts do not have "swim in acid because you're just that tough" as a thing. If you put them in the situations high-level D&D characters survive, you'd still have to explain their HP loss as something other than meat.

The fundamental mechanical reality that HP loss causes zero problems for the character is much more thorough going than "swimming in lava" or even "poisoned arrows". Focusing on those isn't "really analyzing the mechanics." It's really analyzing exceptions and edge cases.

Segev
2019-05-13, 10:18 AM
The problem isn't HP in general, but rather steeply scaling HP in the style of D&D. They're meat until they're not, they're not meat until they are.

And each of the other things they are until they aren't, just causes more knock-on complication and contradiction.

For example, "They also represent abilty to partially evade hits." Really? Isn't that covered by the DEX bonus to AC, and some class powers? And how does Healing restore this expendable pool of evasiveness, exactly?

Same with "luck", etc.Dex bonus to AC represents something you can do all day long. It's not a near miss, either; it's a complete miss. They didn't so much as scratch you. HP as "near miss" or "luck" represents barely avoiding serious harm. The words "nick" and "cut" and "scrape" feature strongly in most of these descriptions.

Hit points are an abstraction, but they're an abstraction of a lot of things, and "meat" can be one of them. What they ultimately represent is anything either non-repeatable or of limited repeatability that explains why a given damage source was non-crippling and non-fatal. Be creatively consistent with your world-setting to explain it.

The wizard might have a magical aura he projects that is basically a magic force field and absorbs most of that damage, keeping the majority of hits from doing much at all before it collapses as he runs out of hp. (But it's not perfect, and that poisoned knife still scratched him enough to inflict the poison's effects.)

The rogue might be lucky or dexterous enough to have what should be extra "dodge points" - points he can spend to negate damage by getting out of the way, but which are a limited supply. These, too, are hit points, and if something with an on-hit rider matters, he got scathed or grazed.

The fighter might be just that skilled with his weapon, able to part the fireball around him so he only takes mild burns, or catch the stilletto in a crevase of his armor so it loses most of its penetrating power.

Even touch spells can represent being brushed by the aura of the touch, or having it ground out in your magical force field, or otherwise not being fully exposed to a fatal blow. Greater damage, too, represents more ability to force your way through such defenses, demanding more of them to escape a deadly injury.

"They're meat until they're not" is actually true, but also fine. They're an abstraction. Explain them case-by-case if you need to. Be creative in explaining why your character (in a manner consistent with the interesting but definite nature of your character) has them. The magiphobic barbarian isn't going to have a force field, but the sorcerer might. Heck, the monk may have an aura of ki so strong that blows are deflected, but he can only deflect so much.


and the person managed this impressive parkour even when falling on flat rocks without anything to slow down the fall.

And while he didn't suffer any large damage to his vital organs, and his body is no more damaged than the body of the first level commoner, a simple cure light wounds will heal the commoner to full, while you will need 10 or so to get back to healty.

ok, you can narrate it like that if you want, but you can't make it really consistent.Sure you can. The healing magics restore more than just knitting flesh together (though they can and do do that any time they're used on somebody at or below 0 hp). They restore luck, stamina, even the personal energy from which magical force fields represented by hp might be drawn. They knit flesh and replenish whatever je ne se qua that the character has.


on the other hand, ever since I embraced the "high level people are supernaturally though with bulletproof skin" interpretation, I never had any difficulty in describing anything.That's fine, too. Hit points can absolutely represent that. They can also represent that high-level people don't let paltry things like having their lungs flooded, their heart crushed, and their spleen scattered across the battlefield prevent them from beating the tar out of you, by sheer willpower if necessary.


Yeah. Giving up the "they're just normal people" idea and realizing that medium/high level people are superheros makes a lot of things better. This is one of them. No one flinches when a Marvel character takes way more punishment than any normal mortal could. And high level D&D characters are on that same scale (or should be). Heck, the 5e DMG even says that in tier 4 (17-20), the characters are "super-heroic".
Of course it does. I'm not saying you should give up on that notion. It's true. I'm just saying that you shouldn't close off hit points to "just" being meat, when they're an abstraction that represents whatever you want them to that makes sense in your narrative to explain why the creatures that still have them are not yet dead.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-13, 10:41 AM
I didn't ask about running on warm rocks that are solid enough to run over.

I asked about lava, which is what the DMG rules cover, not solid rocks. The case of total immersion (such as when a character falls into the crater of an active volcano) (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/environment.htm). Now you may try to pull random numbers (like claiming that all lava has the exact same density, which is blatantly false, it can be changed by numerous factors) and use them to create fake physics scenarios, but luckily the DMG rules overrule such sillyness, pointing out that a character will be submerged in lava in a X scenario, so that's what we'll be using here. The 1st level warlock dies instantly 100% of the time, no amount of skill or luck can save him, he can never fall in "cooler" bits even by miracle, but the high level character has a pretty good chance of shrugging it off even if they're blindfolded and tied up.

The human body doesn't really sink in lava... while its density varies, it's almost always denser than a human body, the same density (roughly) as the rocks when they're solid. It can get pulled under by rapid-flowing lava.

Whether or not you're immersed in the lava is a red herring, though -- without very elaborate and thorough protection, the heat will kill anyone who falls on lava LONG before they have to worry about whether they sink. It's 2 to 4 times hotter than an oven on broil, and because rock is far denser than air that represents a far higher level of energy that will be transmitted to the person's body by both conduction at the point of contact and the radiant energy coming off the lava.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-13, 10:47 AM
Dex bonus to AC represents something you can do all day long. It's not a near miss, either; it's a complete miss. They didn't so much as scratch you. HP as "near miss" or "luck" represents barely avoiding serious harm. The words "nick" and "cut" and "scrape" feature strongly in most of these descriptions.

Hit points are an abstraction, but they're an abstraction of a lot of things, and "meat" can be one of them. What they ultimately represent is anything either non-repeatable or of limited repeatability that explains why a given damage source was non-crippling and non-fatal. Be creatively consistent with your world-setting to explain it.

The wizard might have a magical aura he projects that is basically a magic force field and absorbs most of that damage, keeping the majority of hits from doing much at all before it collapses as he runs out of hp. (But it's not perfect, and that poisoned knife still scratched him enough to inflict the poison's effects.)

The rogue might be lucky or dexterous enough to have what should be extra "dodge points" - points he can spend to negate damage by getting out of the way, but which are a limited supply. These, too, are hit points, and if something with an on-hit rider matters, he got scathed or grazed.

The fighter might be just that skilled with his weapon, able to part the fireball around him so he only takes mild burns, or catch the stilletto in a crevase of his armor so it loses most of its penetrating power.

Even touch spells can represent being brushed by the aura of the touch, or having it ground out in your magical force field, or otherwise not being fully exposed to a fatal blow. Greater damage, too, represents more ability to force your way through such defenses, demanding more of them to escape a deadly injury.

"They're meat until they're not" is actually true, but also fine. They're an abstraction. Explain them case-by-case if you need to. Be creative in explaining why your character (in a manner consistent with the interesting but definite nature of your character) has them. The magiphobic barbarian isn't going to have a force field, but the sorcerer might. Heck, the monk may have an aura of ki so strong that blows are deflected, but he can only deflect so much.


This is exactly the sort of thing I do not want in a gaming system. "It is until isn't, it isn't until it is"... is the very definition of what I consider dysfunctional.


If the wizard has a "magic aura", why can't it be dispelled, why doesn't it fail in an anti-magic field?
If the rogue's HP are based in part on evasiveness, why doesn't he lose HP when his evasiveness is hindered?
If the fighter's HP are based in part on weapon skill, why doesn't he lose HP when he's been disarmed?


All of these excuses for HP based on what it is but isn't, then fail in turn to interact with the rest of the system, or the "fiction" layer.

Vastly scaling HP with these layers of excuses... also distorts other parts of the mechanics. Two weapon hits that beat the target's AC by exactly the same number and roll exactly the same amount of damage... are entirely different things in the "fiction layer" based on how that damage compares to the HP of the target. And maybe also based on how much of that total HP the same target has left when those hits occur, so even within the same fight against the same opponent, two mechanically identical weapon hits are wildly and entirely different in the "fiction layer".

RedMage125
2019-05-13, 11:06 AM
Dex bonus to AC represents something you can do all day long. It's not a near miss, either; it's a complete miss. They didn't so much as scratch you. HP as "near miss" or "luck" represents barely avoiding serious harm. The words "nick" and "cut" and "scrape" feature strongly in most of these descriptions.

Hit points are an abstraction, but they're an abstraction of a lot of things, and "meat" can be one of them. What they ultimately represent is anything either non-repeatable or of limited repeatability that explains why a given damage source was non-crippling and non-fatal.
Segev, you and I disagree on a few finer points, but when we agree, it's wholeheartedly. This is such an excellent way to parse this.

Be creatively consistent with your world-setting to explain it.

The wizard might have a magical aura he projects that is basically a magic force field and absorbs most of that damage, keeping the majority of hits from doing much at all before it collapses as he runs out of hp. (But it's not perfect, and that poisoned knife still scratched him enough to inflict the poison's effects.)

The rogue might be lucky or dexterous enough to have what should be extra "dodge points" - points he can spend to negate damage by getting out of the way, but which are a limited supply. These, too, are hit points, and if something with an on-hit rider matters, he got scathed or grazed.

The fighter might be just that skilled with his weapon, able to part the fireball around him so he only takes mild burns, or catch the stilletto in a crevase of his armor so it loses most of its penetrating power.

Even touch spells can represent being brushed by the aura of the touch, or having it ground out in your magical force field, or otherwise not being fully exposed to a fatal blow. Greater damage, too, represents more ability to force your way through such defenses, demanding more of them to escape a deadly injury.

I love so much of all of this. You're one of the few posters besides myself who is willing to posit such ideas as "casters can produce protective force fields to avoid injury". It's all conjecture and personal choice on both our parts (not explicitly in the RAW), but I like it just the same.

I cut some of the rest of it out, but I still agree with it. Narration of what hit point loss represents exactly is subjective, and best left to the individual DM/Player.

I'm just saying that you shouldn't close off hit points to "just" being meat, when they're an abstraction that represents whatever you want them to that makes sense in your narrative to explain why the creatures that still have them are not yet dead.

And this. The focus of the discussion was supposed to be the narrative of hit point loss, not nit-picking about finding some sort of "consistent always-true answer to what HP exactly represent". HP are an abstraction that measures whether or not a given creature gets to keep fighting on its turn.



One more note (not a response to Segev):
HP absolutely HAVE to mean more than just meat, at least by RAW, because the RAW says they are*. Pre-5e rules have been quoted once, but 5e's rules on this are on page 196 of the PHB, where it explicitly states that "hit Points represent a combination of physical and mental durability, the will to live, and luck". Physical durability is in there, so meat can be and is a part of the total.

5e PHB page 198 states that a PC may, with a melee attack, choose to knock a creature that has dropped to 0 HP unconscious. "The attacker can make this choice the instant the damage is dealt. The creature falls unconscious and is stable." Which can be problematic if all HP loss are lethal "meat strikes". If the drop to 0 is either the only one, or one of very few direct strikes to the target, then it is not as problematic.

For my part (and this is my personal ruling as a DM), I keep that option restricted to melee blows. A character using a Ranged Weapon must declare that he is attempting to injure or disable in order to not kill, otherwise, I assume that they're going for the most effective (lethal) shot possible. And spells that do energy damage can almost never do so nonlethally. Force and Thunder damage, MAYBE, but the target is unconscious and dying, not stable (maybe Cold and Radiant on that list as well). But when it comes to dropping a target to 0, Fire damage is always a lethal burn; Electricity always stops their heart, if nothing else (like a lightning bolt blasting a hole in their chest); Acid always burns through the flesh and a vital organ; and Necrotic lethally deadens (necrotizes) the flesh of something vital.

*As always, there is no "wrong way to play" D&D, unless people at your table are not having fun. Of course if it makes your narrative better, do what is best for your table. Some of the people who have advocated "always meat" also emphasize superhuman healing factors, and that may make that person's players feel extra awesome and heroic and really get them excited in the game. Which is a Good ThingTM. I only bring up the RAW, because for a forum discussion about the "facts" of D&D, all house rule permutations are impossible to account for, so only what is in the RAW is "true".

RedMage125
2019-05-13, 11:29 AM
This is exactly the sort of thing I do not want in a gaming system. "It is until isn't, it isn't until it is"... is the very definition of what I consider dysfunctional.



If the wizard has a "magic aura", why can't it be dispelled, why doesn't it fail in an anti-magic field?
If the rogue's HP are based in part on evasiveness, why doesn't he lose HP when his evasiveness is hindered?
If the fighter's HP are based in part on weapon skill, why doesn't he lose HP when he's been disarmed?


All of these excuses for HP based on what it is but isn't, then fail in turn to interact with the rest of the system, or the "fiction" layer.

You're insisting that HP can only be one thing, though. HP are a metagame concept. In-character, no one has any idea how many HP they have left. You agree with me on that, right?

Okay, since they are a metagame concept, they need not be "representative" of only one thing, nor do the multitude of things they represent have to be consistent across the board for each character at the table. Is that something that still works for you?
A Fighter's HP loss may be parrying some attacks, while others are blows and scrapes along his armor, leaving him a little bruised underneath. A wizard's may be a magical aura that he calls up instinctively in response to threats of harm (which is why it can't be dispelled), and in an anti-magic field may be like the Rogue, and attempts to dodge. A rogue's HP can be based in part on his evasiveness, but that doesn't mean they are somehow the sum total of his evasiveness. Quite a bit of his evasiveness is his ability to avoid taking damage in the first place, which IS hindered when his evasiveness is hindered (in 3.5e, AC is affected, in 5e, enemies get advantage to attacks). When HP loss is narrated as being "evasiveness", it is important to note what Segev said about "non-(or limited) repeatability". THAT kind of dodging took extra effort, and was at the last possible moment, like rolling with a blow to lessen the impact.

Trying to nail down HP as "only one thing" is why you're having such a non-resonance with the fluff. I'm not trying to be rude, Max, but perhaps instead of saying "the RAW explanation does not meet my expectations, therefore the RAW are at fault for causing this dysfunction and non-resonance", you could say "the RAW explanation does not meet my expectations, perhaps I should alter my expectations".
You see, it's not so much "it isn't meat until it is", but rather "it's a lot of things, 'meat' being one of them". And the very last his point before 0 HP, for sure, is some level of "meat". This is evidenced by how the RAW tell us that the blow that drops one to 0 is a direct hit, but also how instant-death damage works, even in 5e. If you have 12 max HP, but only have 3 HP left, and take 16 points of damage, you are outright dead.
It's only "inconsistent" if you are demanding that the RAW say that HP explicitly ONLY represent one thing, and that such is true for all characters in all cases. And that demand isn't even being attempted to be met by the RAW. So saying "I dislike the explanation of HP because HP are not one, concrete, thing across all cases" is like saying "I dislike toasters because they do not make ice cream"

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-13, 11:52 AM
You're insisting that HP can only be one thing, though. HP are a metagame concept. In-character, no one has any idea how many HP they have left. You agree with me on that, right?

Okay, since they are a metagame concept, they need not be "representative" of only one thing, nor do the multitude of things they represent have to be consistent across the board for each character at the table. Is that something that still works for you?
A Fighter's HP loss may be parrying some attacks, while others are blows and scrapes along his armor, leaving him a little bruised underneath. A wizard's may be a magical aura that he calls up instinctively in response to threats of harm (which is why it can't be dispelled), and in an anti-magic field may be like the Rogue, and attempts to dodge. A rogue's HP can be based in part on his evasiveness, but that doesn't mean they are somehow the sum total of his evasiveness. Quite a bit of his evasiveness is his ability to avoid taking damage in the first place, which IS hindered when his evasiveness is hindered (in 3.5e, AC is affected, in 5e, enemies get advantage to attacks). When HP loss is narrated as being "evasiveness", it is important to note what Segev said about "non-(or limited) repeatability". THAT kind of dodging took extra effort, and was at the last possible moment, like rolling with a blow to lessen the impact.

Trying to nail down HP as "only one thing" is why you're having such a non-resonance with the fluff. I'm not trying to be rude, Max, but perhaps instead of saying "the RAW explanation does not meet my expectations, therefore the RAW are at fault for causing this dysfunction and non-resonance", you could say "the RAW explanation does not meet my expectations, perhaps I should alter my expectations".
You see, it's not so much "it isn't meat until it is", but rather "it's a lot of things, 'meat' being one of them". And the very last his point before 0 HP, for sure, is some level of "meat". This is evidenced by how the RAW tell us that the blow that drops one to 0 is a direct hit, but also how instant-death damage works, even in 5e. If you have 12 max HP, but only have 3 HP left, and take 16 points of damage, you are outright dead.
It's only "inconsistent" if you are demanding that the RAW say that HP explicitly ONLY represent one thing, and that such is true for all characters in all cases. And that demand isn't even being attempted to be met by the RAW. So saying "I dislike the explanation of HP because HP are not one, concrete, thing across all cases" is like saying "I dislike toasters because they do not make ice cream"


I reject that idea HP as a metagame concept.

While the characters do not know about hit points, they do understand in general terms how tough they are, how hurt they are, how dangerous various things are, and so on.

A mechanic in the system layer needs to actually represent something going on at the character/setting/world layer, the "fiction layer". The D&D-style hyper-scaling HP in question here don't represent something, they do-or-don't represent this-or-that thing... usually based on how they're being questioned at the moment, to the point that even the defenses of those HP as a mechanic end up contradicting each other.

If the rules were set up so that those HP represented a consistent combination of "meat, luck, skill, blessing, etc", then that would just be a bit sloppy -- but the rules aren't set up that way, they're set up so that those things are and are not part of those HP at the same time. See, the short list of examples from above.


Also, I reject your analogy about toasters -- D&D-style hyper-scaling HP are a toaster that fails to consistently make toast... sometimes its makes toast and sometimes it spews out icecream and sometimes it starts singing showtunes.

Resileaf
2019-05-13, 11:54 AM
So saying "I dislike the explanation of HP because HP are not one, concrete, thing across all cases" is like saying "I dislike toasters because they do not make ice cream"

Well now I dislike toasters.

HouseRules
2019-05-13, 11:55 AM
How about think of HP as the number of Pawns worth you have in a chess game. Of course, the value is actually unknown because the position of pieces have slightly different value. An approximation could be made, but not necessarily perfect.

8 Pawns * 1 + 2 Knights * 3 + 2 Bishops * 3 + 2 Rooks * 5 + 1 Queen * 9 + 1 King * 4 = 43.

Many computer chess give an extra 100 Pawn value to the King Piece because they cannot give infinity.

At end game, Knights are worth 2 pawns. You need 9 pawn worth in at least 2 pieces to checkmate a bare king. Of course, it is more complicated when the enemy king is not bare. If the enemy has a pawn, you may use less than 10 pawns worth of pieces to checkmate.

Psyren
2019-05-13, 11:57 AM
Yes, yes, yes.

Narration of hits is subjective. That is the universal truth one xan take from this thread. It's subjective to the DM, it's subjective to the hit (and damage), it's subjective to the attacker.

It's not about "what HP are supposed to be", because the only coherent thing they CAN absolutely be defined as is "a metagame statistic that quantifies a given creature's ability to continue fighting".

Even as I said in my examples (I generally do not view HP as straight-up "meat" for all cases), some hits necessitate some form of physical contact (poison damage or condition, lycanthropy, etc) if one is interested in the narration of the hit.

If someone is looking for a consistent "always true in all cases" answer to "what do hit points represent?", then that person is going to be constantly unsatisfied with one inconsistency or the other. Like I said last post, HP aren't ANYTHING until they begin to be lost. And they represent a variety of things that make up, collectively, "the ability to keep fighting". HP are just HP. They are as much of a metagame concept as proficiency bonus, or BAB, or the number one adds to any d20 roll, really.


This is the only really coherent take.

Basically, accept that HP are incoherent overall, and narrate them to consistency on a case by case basis.

+1 to this.

Narratively, they only matter when they start to be lost.

Mechanically, they only matter when they fall below a certain threshold (generally zero one, but higher in some cases e.g. Power Word spells). And then you throw in "nonlethal" which complicates things even further.

Those examples largely refer to D&D, but they apply to other systems (and countless video games) too.

Case-by-case is the only real way to go here.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-13, 11:59 AM
This is the only really coherent take.

Basically, accept that HP are incoherent overall, and narrate them to consistency on a case by case basis.


And if one does not want incoherent mechanics?

jjordan
2019-05-13, 12:14 PM
HP, as a concept, date back to the 19th Century Kriegspiel games where they represented the quantity, and sometimes the quality, of men in a military unit. They've always been a somewhat nebulous meter of the overall effectiveness of a unit. Using them as a meter in D&D to give everyone a clear idea of relative strengths is simply an outgrowth of the game's evolution out of tabletop, fantasy wargaming and the easiest way to keep track of matters.

I incline to the idea that HP are reflections of meat and motive and skill and have built my own little guide to narrating combat on that idea.

RedMage125
2019-05-13, 12:30 PM
I reject that idea HP as a metagame concept.
This right here is why, I feel, that you are not going to get any further kind of satisfaction from discussing this further.


Since your character is not, in-character, going to know exactly how many hit points he has at full health it is, by definition, a metagame concept. Hit Point, and tracking their loss/gain, is for the benefit of the player, and is a fair arbiter of exactly when his character is too injured to continue to act.


While the characters do not know about hit points, they do understand in general terms how tough they are, how hurt they are, how dangerous various things are, and so on.
But that's all subjective. A level 20 wizard may have 110 max HP and not consider himself very tough or durable, especially compared to his Barbarian party member. He may consider himself still in good shape at 80 HP, but in dire straights at 40 HP. A pair of Trolls do not cause him undue alarm. Contrast to a 5th level Fighter, let's say his max HP is 55. He considers himself very tough. 40 HP is not that injured to him, and a pair of trolls is a potentially lethal threat.

All of those things are subjective.


A mechanic in the system layer needs to actually represent something going on at the character/setting/world layer, the "fiction layer". The D&D-style hyper-scaling HP in question here don't represent something, they do-or-don't represent this-or-that thing... usually based on how they're being questioned at the moment, to the point that even the defenses of those HP as a mechanic end up contradicting each other.

If the rules were set up so that those HP represented a consistent combination of "meat, luck, skill, blessing, etc", then that would just be a bit sloppy -- but the rules aren't set up that way, they're set up so that those things are and are not part of those HP at the same time. See, the short list of examples from above.

Look, it's been explicitly stated in the RAW what they say HP are. It's also been defined, more or less consistently, in this thread as something to the effect of "HP are a measure of your ability to keep fighting". If you want ONE definition of what HP are, that's it. At the deepest, most basic level, HP are how you track if your character keep fighting or not. If you hit 0, the answer is no.

The narrative explanation is completely subjective, and therefore there is no "one right answer" that you seem to be looking for. This isn't a failing, it's a feature. It lets individual Players and DMs make that hit point loss unique to their table. It's carte blanche to be creative with storytelling, not a failure of the rules to fill in details.


Also, I reject your analogy about toasters -- D&D-style hyper-scaling HP are a toaster that fails to consistently make toast... sometimes its makes toast and sometimes it spews out icecream and sometimes it starts singing showtunes.
You misunderstood my analogy. Perhaps that's my fault.
You expecting a single, solitary "always-the-case" concrete answer to "what HP are" is the desire for a machine that makes ice cream. D&D RAW about HP are toasters.

Well now I dislike toasters.
Smart, you never know when they're Decepticons waiting to ambush you. Do not trust them.

+1 to this.

Narratively, they only matter when they start to be lost.

Mechanically, they only matter when they fall below a certain threshold (generally zero one, but higher in some cases e.g. Power Word spells). And then you throw in "nonlethal" which complicates things even further.

Those examples largely refer to D&D, but they apply to other systems (and countless video games) too.

Case-by-case is the only real way to go here.
This is a much better way to phrase what I said before about 'they do not matter until they are lost". Thank you, Psyren.

And if one does not want incoherent mechanics?
Then I would assume one is seeking a game with more Simulationism than D&D is even trying to accomplish.

Is it a coherent mechanic that chainmail protects against bludgeoning damage from a mace the same as it does against a slashing dagger? No. A mace should be WAY more effective against a chainmail-clad opponent than a dagger. The chainmail would give completely to the blow from the mace. And 2e had some optional rules to simulate that. But by and large, D&D is a game and it should be FUN. We use things like AC and HP as abstractions to simplify the mechanics of things like combat. It makes the game flow more smoothly, faster, and makes the mechanics contribute to fun, instead of be an obstacle to it (which was my opinion of 2e's mechanics). Thus, both AC and HP are abstractions. They do not mean only one thing.

At some point, we, as DMs, need to decide what things make the game more fun for our players. And sometimes, insistence on coherent simulationism or verisimilitude does not accomplish that. So we use abstractions to represent these things. And since narratively, those abstractions must be something more concrete, those things can narratively be made up of a lot of factors. but what those factors are is completely subjective to the Player and DM involved.

Psyren
2019-05-13, 12:36 PM
And if one does not want incoherent mechanics?

In Dungeons & Dragons you mean? I would wager one is doomed to eternal disappointment in that case :smallbiggrin:

But it really doesn't have to be as incoherent as you think. Take the rogue example earlier, where some of their HP was aligned with "evasiveness." The counterpoint to that approach was, if you restrict the rogue's movement, why don't his HP drop. But in a way they do, because his AC does, and therefore more hits will land, meaning more HP loss from the same attacks. You could model that as the restricted movement causing him to incur increased strain or pain to avoid or mitigate the same blow. It's not perfect but it's something.


HP, as a concept, date back to the 19th Century Kriegspiel games where they represented the quantity, and sometimes the quality, of men in a military unit. They've always been a somewhat nebulous meter of the overall effectiveness of a unit. Using them as a meter in D&D to give everyone a clear idea of relative strengths is simply an outgrowth of the game's evolution out of tabletop, fantasy wargaming and the easiest way to keep track of matters.

I'm curious - as the men were lost in a unit, did its damage or any other stats decrease also? If so, clearly D&D didn't model that approach, because in most iterations you are just as effective at 1HP as you are at full.

HouseRules
2019-05-13, 12:48 PM
I'm curious - as the men were lost in a unit, did its damage or any other stats decrease also? If so, clearly D&D didn't model that approach, because in most iterations you are just as effective at 1HP as you are at full.

Modern Military Units are still functional for the first 1/3 is lost. Only then would they demote to one unit lower, so additional deaths is equivalent to level drain.

Florian
2019-05-13, 01:41 PM
I'm curious - as the men were lost in a unit, did its damage or any other stats decrease also? If so, clearly D&D didn't model that approach, because in most iterations you are just as effective at 1HP as you are at full.

You are asking the question wrong, Psyren.

Contrary to the movies and some such, a modern military unit is "broken" quite easily and loses its battlefield relevance. In most cases, it´s the 25% dead/wounded/destroyed mark, which is the equivalent to reaching 0 hp.

Segev
2019-05-13, 02:06 PM
This is exactly the sort of thing I do not want in a gaming system. "It is until isn't, it isn't until it is"... is the very definition of what I consider dysfunctional.


If the wizard has a "magic aura", why can't it be dispelled, why doesn't it fail in an anti-magic field?
If the rogue's HP are based in part on evasiveness, why doesn't he lose HP when his evasiveness is hindered?
If the fighter's HP are based in part on weapon skill, why doesn't he lose HP when he's been disarmed?


All of these excuses for HP based on what it is but isn't, then fail in turn to interact with the rest of the system, or the "fiction" layer.You're missing the point; you're insisting that they must consistently represent the same thing, all the time. They do not. They represent whatever it was that prevented whatever just happened from being crippling/fatal. (Assuming, of course, you wind up with at least 1 hp after whatever-just-happened.)

The wizard's magical force field may be constant, or may be something he does as part of normal dodging and weaving and parrying. If he is in an anti-magic field, then obviously whatever caused that arrow whose attack roll exceeded his AC to not kill him wasn't a magical force field, but something else: luck, perhaps, that it merely got snagged in his robe and gave him a nasty scratch on the upper arm; or a panicked flail of his arms that barely deflected it with his sleeves; or a skillful twirl of his quarterstaff that knocked it out of the air (but he can only keep that up for so long, against so many hits, before one of them actually lands a telling blow).

If there is no rider effect that requires contact/skin penetration, then hp need not even represent actual flesh damage. Again, it's a case-by-case basis.

You can complain that the poisoned dagger seems to graze flesh more often than the unpoisoned one, if you like, but if you think about combat in fiction, the poisoned weapons DO do that...if they affect the target with poison. You could even argue that one way to represent the fortitude save is as the flesh being unpierced. The guy with more stamina/constitution just manages to be that much more durable, with thicker skin or more energy left for that last-ditch dodge or parry.

The fighter being armed means his hit points are his parrying, which get less reliable as the fight goes on. The fighter being unarmed means something else is keeping him from getting killed. Deflections with his armored gauntlets, if armored. Improved ability to dodge if unencumbered. Stunting blocking things with environmental props, like ducking behind a bar table or using the tree at his back to cause a swing to hit the trunk rather than his body.

The point is, hit points can represent something different every single time. The narrative remains consistent because they're the dramatic reason the fight hasn't yet ended. Consider any fight in fiction that you happen to like. If the fight wasn't over in a single exchange of blows, consider all the reasons the described action didn't result in instantly-deadly impact. Those are all hp, barring them being something that the defender could have kept doing all day long without getting more tired than engaging in general manual labor, and requiring no more luck than that to avoid injury.


Vastly scaling HP with these layers of excuses... also distorts other parts of the mechanics. Two weapon hits that beat the target's AC by exactly the same number and roll exactly the same amount of damage... are entirely different things in the "fiction layer" based on how that damage compares to the HP of the target. And maybe also based on how much of that total HP the same target has left when those hits occur, so even within the same fight against the same opponent, two mechanically identical weapon hits are wildly and entirely different in the "fiction layer".They're not mechanically identical, though.

Three targets, to help illustrate: Paul, the low-level peasant with 3 hp; Fred, the high-level fighter who's fresh as a daisy and has 100 hp; and Will, the worn-out warrior who is at 5/100 hp after a drawn-out fight with some orcs.

Mark, the mean mugger, confronts each of them in an alley, in three parallel universes. Per your example, he always happens to roll the same amount above the target's AC, and he rolls the same 4 points of damage.

Mark attacks Paul, and Paul's lack of training shows immediately as not only does Mark aim accurately for the vulnerable neck, but Paul has absolutely no luck or skill or instinct and simply takes it to the neck, going down and passing out in a gurgling mess at -1 hp that will likely bleed out over the next 9 rounds.

Mark attacks Fred, and though Mark's strike is on-point to find that vulnerable spot between the shoulder of Fred's armor and his gorget, and would be quite lethal if he landed it unimpeded, Fred is well-trained and on the ball, and manages to raise his chain-shirt-sleeved arm to catch the dagger blade and turn it aside. He's taken a shallow cut to his arm and some minor damage to the chain of his armor, but can keep this up for quite some time. Mark would need to make attacks similarly accurate another 24 times to wear Fred down to the point that he finally gets something fatal in (assuming Fred didn't put him down, first).

Mark attacks Will, and the tired warrior also attempts to deflect the blow with his chain-sleeved arm, but he's exhausted, and slower. The knife still doesn't hit the neck, but the cut on Will's arm is deeper, having taken the knife at a much worse angle, and he's having a hard time raising it. He won't be able to deflect an identical blow in the next six seconds, and would take the next one to the neck.

HP are an abstraction, but what they're simulating is specific. They're anything that makes sense to describe why the fatal blow hasn't yet landed. Why THIS attack was not the one that felled you. Anything you care to come up with that makes sense will do. And it need not be the same thing every time, even on the same character, just so long as it makes sense for the circumstances.

If you think it doesn't make sense in those circumstances that you'd not die, then you need to rethink what actually happened with the damage source.


I love so much of all of this. You're one of the few posters besides myself who is willing to posit such ideas as "casters can produce protective force fields to avoid injury". It's all conjecture and personal choice on both our parts (not explicitly in the RAW), but I like it just the same.Glad you like it. It was something that hit me a few weeks ago as a possible way to stunt it.


I reject that idea HP as a metagame concept.

While the characters do not know about hit points, they do understand in general terms how tough they are, how hurt they are, how dangerous various things are, and so on. Certainly. They know how worn out they are and how good they are at that level of tiredness at deflecting or dodging blows. They have a good sense of how lucky they've been so far, and while the gambler's fallacy ("we're due") is a fallacy for a reason, the law of large numbers still says that sooner or later, they'll stop having lucky breaks. And as their hp get lower, the breaks are getting more and more improbably lucky.


A mechanic in the system layer needs to actually represent something going on at the character/setting/world layer, the "fiction layer". The D&D-style hyper-scaling HP in question here don't represent something, they do-or-don't represent this-or-that thing... usually based on how they're being questioned at the moment, to the point that even the defenses of those HP as a mechanic end up contradicting each other. They represent an abstract law of drama and character importance. The same one that says that the mooks get slaughtered when the bad guy makes a sweeping attack, but the important characters can defend themselves in some fashion which leaves them alive to respond if the bad guy targetted them.

They don't represent one thing, and they don't represent the same exact circumstance every time. They do represent something, however: they represent the character's ability to keep in the fight for longer, because he's higher level/more important/cooler. How is he cooler? A number of ways, and those will help inform what losing hp to any particular attack means.


If the rules were set up so that those HP represented a consistent combination of "meat, luck, skill, blessing, etc", then that would just be a bit sloppy -- but the rules aren't set up that way, they're set up so that those things are and are not part of those HP at the same time. See, the short list of examples from above.This is an incoherent, self-contradictory paragraph. I'm sure what you mean to convey makes sense to you, Max, but you're not conveying it well to me.

HP absolutely reprsent a combination of those things and anything else that explains why, if that last damage source didn't drop you below 1 hp, that damage source didn't do physical damage sufficient to knock you out. The last hp is the only one that MUST represent "meat." The other hp can represent meat to varying degrees based on each damage source and how the players choose to describe the attack and the hp loss.

I think the problem is that you assume I don't see hp as anything consistent. I do. You're just not grasping where that consistency lies. Or you're rejecting it on the basis that you don't like it, which I suppose is fine, but at that point you're injecting a premise, and it doesn't support nor is it supported by your arguments of inconsistency. Because it IS consistent; you just don't like the consistency it represents.


Also, I reject your analogy about toasters -- D&D-style hyper-scaling HP are a toaster that fails to consistently make toast... sometimes its makes toast and sometimes it spews out icecream and sometimes it starts singing showtunes.
False. It makes toast every time. The toast is an explanation as to why you're not dead after that fireball went off, until you are.

Just like a fight to first blood in a fencing duel has a lot of exchanges, riposts, and the like, and neither dualist is wounded...until one is.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-13, 02:12 PM
You're missing the point; you're insisting that they must consistently represent the same thing, all the time. They do not. They represent whatever it was that prevented whatever just happened from being crippling/fatal. (Assuming, of course, you wind up with at least 1 hp after whatever-just-happened.)

The wizard's magical force field may be constant, or may be something he does as part of normal dodging and weaving and parrying. If he is in an anti-magic field, then obviously whatever caused that arrow whose attack roll exceeded his AC to not kill him wasn't a magical force field, but something else: luck, perhaps, that it merely got snagged in his robe and gave him a nasty scratch on the upper arm; or a panicked flail of his arms that barely deflected it with his sleeves; or a skillful twirl of his quarterstaff that knocked it out of the air (but he can only keep that up for so long, against so many hits, before one of them actually lands a telling blow).

If there is no rider effect that requires contact/skin penetration, then hp need not even represent actual flesh damage. Again, it's a case-by-case basis.

You can complain that the poisoned dagger seems to graze flesh more often than the unpoisoned one, if you like, but if you think about combat in fiction, the poisoned weapons DO do that...if they affect the target with poison. You could even argue that one way to represent the fortitude save is as the flesh being unpierced. The guy with more stamina/constitution just manages to be that much more durable, with thicker skin or more energy left for that last-ditch dodge or parry.

The fighter being armed means his hit points are his parrying, which get less reliable as the fight goes on. The fighter being unarmed means something else is keeping him from getting killed. Deflections with his armored gauntlets, if armored. Improved ability to dodge if unencumbered. Stunting blocking things with environmental props, like ducking behind a bar table or using the tree at his back to cause a swing to hit the trunk rather than his body.

The point is, hit points can represent something different every single time. The narrative remains consistent because they're the dramatic reason the fight hasn't yet ended. Consider any fight in fiction that you happen to like. If the fight wasn't over in a single exchange of blows, consider all the reasons the described action didn't result in instantly-deadly impact. Those are all hp, barring them being something that the defender could have kept doing all day long without getting more tired than engaging in general manual labor, and requiring no more luck than that to avoid injury.

They're not mechanically identical, though.

Three targets, to help illustrate: Paul, the low-level peasant with 3 hp; Fred, the high-level fighter who's fresh as a daisy and has 100 hp; and Will, the worn-out warrior who is at 5/100 hp after a drawn-out fight with some orcs.

Mark, the mean mugger, confronts each of them in an alley, in three parallel universes. Per your example, he always happens to roll the same amount above the target's AC, and he rolls the same 4 points of damage.

Mark attacks Paul, and Paul's lack of training shows immediately as not only does Mark aim accurately for the vulnerable neck, but Paul has absolutely no luck or skill or instinct and simply takes it to the neck, going down and passing out in a gurgling mess at -1 hp that will likely bleed out over the next 9 rounds.

Mark attacks Fred, and though Mark's strike is on-point to find that vulnerable spot between the shoulder of Fred's armor and his gorget, and would be quite lethal if he landed it unimpeded, Fred is well-trained and on the ball, and manages to raise his chain-shirt-sleeved arm to catch the dagger blade and turn it aside. He's taken a shallow cut to his arm and some minor damage to the chain of his armor, but can keep this up for quite some time. Mark would need to make attacks similarly accurate another 24 times to wear Fred down to the point that he finally gets something fatal in (assuming Fred didn't put him down, first).

Mark attacks Will, and the tired warrior also attempts to deflect the blow with his chain-sleeved arm, but he's exhausted, and slower. The knife still doesn't hit the neck, but the cut on Will's arm is deeper, having taken the knife at a much worse angle, and he's having a hard time raising it. He won't be able to deflect an identical blow in the next six seconds, and would take the next one to the neck.

HP are an abstraction, but what they're simulating is specific. They're anything that makes sense to describe why the fatal blow hasn't yet landed. Why THIS attack was not the one that felled you. Anything you care to come up with that makes sense will do. And it need not be the same thing every time, even on the same character, just so long as it makes sense for the circumstances.

If you think it doesn't make sense in those circumstances that you'd not die, then you need to rethink what actually happened with the damage source.

Glad you like it. It was something that hit me a few weeks ago as a possible way to stunt it.

Certainly. They know how worn out they are and how good they are at that level of tiredness at deflecting or dodging blows. They have a good sense of how lucky they've been so far, and while the gambler's fallacy ("we're due") is a fallacy for a reason, the law of large numbers still says that sooner or later, they'll stop having lucky breaks. And as their hp get lower, the breaks are getting more and more improbably lucky.

They represent an abstract law of drama and character importance. The same one that says that the mooks get slaughtered when the bad guy makes a sweeping attack, but the important characters can defend themselves in some fashion which leaves them alive to respond if the bad guy targetted them.

They don't represent one thing, and they don't represent the same exact circumstance every time. They do represent something, however: they represent the character's ability to keep in the fight for longer, because he's higher level/more important/cooler. How is he cooler? A number of ways, and those will help inform what losing hp to any particular attack means.

This is an incoherent, self-contradictory paragraph. I'm sure what you mean to convey makes sense to you, Max, but you're not conveying it well to me.

HP absolutely reprsent a combination of those things and anything else that explains why, if that last damage source didn't drop you below 1 hp, that damage source didn't do physical damage sufficient to knock you out. The last hp is the only one that MUST represent "meat." The other hp can represent meat to varying degrees based on each damage source and how the players choose to describe the attack and the hp loss.

I think the problem is that you assume I don't see hp as anything consistent. I do. You're just not grasping where that consistency lies. Or you're rejecting it on the basis that you don't like it, which I suppose is fine, but at that point you're injecting a premise, and it doesn't support nor is it supported by your arguments of inconsistency. Because it IS consistent; you just don't like the consistency it represents.


False. It makes toast every time. The toast is an explanation as to why you're not dead after that fireball went off, until you are.

Just like a fight to first blood in a fencing duel has a lot of exchanges, riposts, and the like, and neither dualist is wounded...until one is.


And in all of that, all you have done is describe exactly why they're broken.

Psyren
2019-05-13, 02:18 PM
I actually agree with Max that a "magic aura" is a bridge too far and doesn't make sense. After all, (a) wizards and sorcerers get less HP than everyone else, so they must be using something closer to what the jocks use rather than their own thing, and (b) things like AMF/detection don't interact with such an explanation at all, not even the indirect way that a rogue squirming while restrained might.

If you want magical HP that aren't strictly meat, there are clearer ways to model that, like False Life or Vigor.

I agree with the larger point though that you have to consider each loss of HP that doesn't disable/kill the target independently though.


You are asking the question wrong, Psyren.

Contrary to the movies and some such, a modern military unit is "broken" quite easily and loses its battlefield relevance. In most cases, it´s the 25% dead/wounded/destroyed mark, which is the equivalent to reaching 0 hp.

Well, I wasn't asking what was the most realistic, but rather how this legacy system handled it (which I assume informed Chainmail and later works we know and love.) Basically, if the oldest versions accounted for HP thresholds applying to damage or morale or what have you, when exactly did we lose that, and why?

Segev
2019-05-13, 02:49 PM
And in all of that, all you have done is describe exactly why they're broken.

Except in all of that, I just described why they aren't.

What I think you mean is, I've described why you don't like them. But they're not broken, by the formulation. They work just fine. They do exactly what they're designed to, and represent exactly what they're meant to. You just don't like what they represent. You want it broken down into far more granular causes, each of which can be overcome specifically by various means, and each of which leads ultimately to destruction when any of them fail. This is a high-simulation approach. HP are an abstraction, and you want more simulative fidelity.

To me, they achieve sufficient fidelity for game purposes. I can map them in any given instance to something real happening in the game world.

RedMage125
2019-05-13, 02:52 PM
And in all of that, all you have done is describe exactly why they're broken.
It's not "broken", though.

You're conflating the subjective statement of "I don't like it, because it doesn't resonate with what I want it to be" with "this is objectively problematic ".

I'm not trying to diminish your perceptions or experiences, Max. I am trying to get you see that conflating your preference with fact is the issue.

It's fine to say "I don't care for the way HP are handled, because my preference would be for something concrete and consistent between the mechanics and the narrative that applies universally". But that is a statement of opinion, and it lets other readers here on the forum know you are only expressing your preferences. But you aren't doing that. You're saying "the disconnect and subjectivity doesn't mesh with what I expect from this mechanic, and so it is a bad mechanic" it's one of the reasons you and I have had conflict in past discussions.

And my proposed suggestion to you is the same as I said last time. If the RAW don't match your pre-existing preferences and expectations, instead of complaining that the RAW are "inadequate", why do you not instead alter your expectations?

I actually agree with Max that a "magic aura" is a bridge too far and doesn't make sense. After all, (a) wizards and sorcerers get less HP than everyone else, so they must be using something closer to what the jocks use rather than their own thing, and (b) things like AMF/detection don't interact with such an explanation at all, not even the indirect way that a rogue squirming while restrained might.

If you want magical HP that aren't strictly meat, there are clearer ways to model that, like False Life or Vigor.

I agree with the larger point though that you have to consider each loss of HP that doesn't disable/kill the target independently though.


I usually only do the "magical field" for saving throws (see my earlier example of a party saving against a fireball). But both of us freely acknowledge that the idea is a deviation from RAW, and that we're just taking creative liberties with the narrative. I don't think either one of us meant to imply that such is a "RAW fact".

But that's more like an optional subset of "each HP loss is considered individually ".

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-13, 03:00 PM
Except in all of that, I just described why they aren't.

What I think you mean is, I've described why you don't like them. But they're not broken, by the formulation. They work just fine. They do exactly what they're designed to, and represent exactly what they're meant to. You just don't like what they represent. You want it broken down into far more granular causes, each of which can be overcome specifically by various means, and each of which leads ultimately to destruction when any of them fail. This is a high-simulation approach. HP are an abstraction, and you want more simulative fidelity.

To me, they achieve sufficient fidelity for game purposes. I can map them in any given instance to something real happening in the game world.

It's not that I don't like what they represent, it's that they don't represent anything. Rather, they "represent" whatever is needed to justify them as the moment, and then don't "represent" the exact same thing when it would be inconvenient to justifying them. Every reason you gave why they're "not broken", just makes them more self-contradictory, and more contradictory to the rest of the system.

And that's what they are -- the game-mechanic equivalent of an inconsistent and self-contradicting argument.

Psyren
2019-05-13, 03:00 PM
To me, they achieve sufficient fidelity for game purposes. I can map them in any given instance to something real happening in the game world.

Indeed, and multiple things in many cases.



I usually only do the "magical field" for saving throws (see my earlier example of a party saving against a fireball). But both of us freely acknowledge that the idea is a deviation from RAW, and that we're just taking creative liberties with the narrative. I don't think either one of us meant to imply that such is a "RAW fact".

But that's more like an optional subset of "each HP loss is considered individually ".

Yeah, we agree in the broad strokes (particularly the last sentence.)


Rather, they "represent" whatever is needed to justify them as the moment, and then don't "represent" the exact same thing when it would be inconvenient to justifying them.

Yes, and? Being "convenient" is the whole point behind their existence.

RedMage125
2019-05-13, 03:10 PM
It's not that I don't like what they represent, it's that they don't represent anything. Rather, they "represent" whatever is needed to justify them as the moment, and then don't "represent" the exact same thing when it would be inconvenient to justifying them. Every reason you gave why they're "not broken", just makes them more self-contradictory, and more contradictory to the rest of the system.

And that's what they are -- the game-mechanic equivalent of an inconsistent and self-contradicting argument.

I just realized that what I have been trying to say to you is summed up perfectly in Psyren's signature. in the quote from The Giant, himself:
"But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?"

Segev
2019-05-13, 03:11 PM
It's not that I don't like what they represent, it's that they don't represent anything. Rather, they "represent" whatever is needed to justify them as the moment, and then don't "represent" the exact same thing when it would be inconvenient to justifying them. Every reason you gave why they're "not broken", just makes them more self-contradictory, and more contradictory to the rest of the system.

And that's what they are -- the game-mechanic equivalent of an inconsistent and self-contradicting argument.

They are not self-contradicting. They're not inconsistent. They represent "why this character isn't dead yet, despite being in a dangerous situation." Specifically, they represent the "why" that can't last forever.

Can we agree that, if an orc swings a sword at a PC, and the PC isn't left bleeding out and dying on the ground, there is some in-setting/in-narrative reason why that PC isn't cut in twain?

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-13, 03:13 PM
It's not "broken", though.

You're conflating the subjective statement of "I don't like it, because it doesn't resonate with what I want it to be" with "this is objectively problematic ".

I'm not trying to diminish your perceptions or experiences, Max. I am trying to get you see that conflating your preference with fact is the issue.

It's fine to say "I don't care for the way HP are handled, because my preference would be for something concrete and consistent between the mechanics and the narrative that applies universally". But that is a statement of opinion, and it lets other readers here on the forum know you are only expressing your preferences. But you aren't doing that. You're saying "the disconnect and subjectivity doesn't mesh with what I expect from this mechanic, and so it is a bad mechanic" it's one of the reasons you and I have had conflict in past discussions.

And my proposed suggestion to you is the same as I said last time. If the RAW don't match your pre-existing preferences and expectations, instead of complaining that the RAW are "inadequate", why do you not instead alter your expectations?


I usually only do the "magical field" for saving throws (see my earlier example of a party saving against a fireball). But both of us freely acknowledge that the idea is a deviation from RAW, and that we're just taking creative liberties with the narrative. I don't think either one of us meant to imply that such is a "RAW fact".

But that's more like an optional subset of "each HP loss is considered individually ".


It is objectively problematic, because "each HP loss is considered individually", and because it's entirely subjective, without any grounding at all.

The very arguments in favor of it illustrate this.

* It's "meat" until being "meat" would be inconvenient, and then it's not meat.
* Then it's "luck" until being "luck" would be inconvenient, and then it's not luck.
* Then it's "skill" until being "skill" would be inconvenient (and never mind that "skill" is already elsewhere in the system).
* Then it's "magic" until being "magic" would be inconvenient (and never mind that things that dampen magic don't affect it).
* Then it's "meat" until...

And never mind, also, that things that don't interact with each of those don't inherently increase or decrease hit points...

And the same person will make all of those arguments in turn as they try to justify the thing, such that their actual argument or position can never be pinned down exactly. It's like the game-mechanic equivalent of that person who refuses to actually just give their position on the question at hand and stand by it.

Segev
2019-05-13, 03:19 PM
It is objectively problematic, because "each HP loss is considered individually", and because it's entirely subjective, without any grounding at all.

The very arguments in favor of it illustrate this.

* It's "meat" until being "meat" would be inconvenient, and then it's not meat.
* Then it's "luck" until being "luck" would be inconvenient, and then it's not luck.
* Then it's "skill" until being "skill" would be inconvenient (and never mind that "skill" is already elsewhere in the system).
* Then it's "magic" until being "magic" would be inconvenient (and never mind that things that dampen magic don't affect it).
* Then it's "meat" until...

And never mind, also, that things that don't interact with each of those don't inherently increase or decrease hit points...

And the same person will make all of those arguments in turn as they try to justify the thing, such that their actual argument or position can never be pinned down exactly. It's like the game-mechanic equivalent of that person who refuses to actually just give their position on the question at hand and stand by it.
Now I'm getting a little insulted, as you're accusing me of moving my argument around. I'm not. I've spelled out exactly what they represent, and then explained how to map that to in-game events.

You don't like my mapping, but I am not letting you get away with pretending that my mapping means my definition is inconsistent. Either you're grossly misunderstanding what I'm saying, to the point that I think your reading comprehension is being impeded by your preconcieved notion of how wrong I must be for disagreeing with you, or you're deliberately avoiding my point and erecting a straw man. I believe you're better than that last, so I hope it's not what you're doing. Thus, I ask you to carefully read my argument, because what you said here is demonstrably not responding to what I said, but to a straw man version of it.


What I am saying is that hit points are a mechanic for modeling fights and other dangerous activities wherein more skilled and powerful creatures/characters/beings have limited but extant ability to keep going despite the hazards they've endured. How that power manifests (skill, luck, talent, magic, sheer toughness, force of will, etc.) is a matter of mapping narrative to mechanics as they make sense for a given instance. Hit points, however, consistently model the capacity to persist in the face of adversity without being able to do so indefinitely.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-13, 03:19 PM
They are not self-contradicting. They're not inconsistent. They represent "why this character isn't dead yet, despite being in a dangerous situation." Specifically, they represent the "why" that can't last forever.

Can we agree that, if an orc swings a sword at a PC, and the PC isn't left bleeding out and dying on the ground, there is some in-setting/in-narrative reason why that PC isn't cut in twain?


No. Because it approaches the thing exactly backwards.

"Why this character isn't dead yet, despite being in a dangerous situation", is a question, not an answer.

The orc swings the sword at the PC, and then hits or doesn't it, and then if it hits causes some kind of wound, and then that has an effect on the character, and then we know if the character is left bleeding out and dying on the ground.




Now I'm getting a little insulted, as you're accusing me of moving my argument around. I'm not. I've spelled out exactly what they represent, and then explained how to map that to in-game events.

You don't like my mapping, but I am not letting you get away with pretending that my mapping means my definition is inconsistent. Either you're grossly misunderstanding what I'm saying, to the point that I think your reading comprehension is being impeded by your preconcieved notion of how wrong I must be for disagreeing with you, or you're deliberately avoiding my point and erecting a straw man. I believe you're better than that last, so I hope it's not what you're doing. Thus, I ask you to carefully read my argument, because what you said here is demonstrably not responding to what I said, but to a straw man version of it.


What I am saying is that hit points are a mechanic for modeling fights and other dangerous activities wherein more skilled and powerful creatures/characters/beings have limited but extant ability to keep going despite the hazards they've endured. How that power manifests (skill, luck, talent, magic, sheer toughness, force of will, etc.) is a matter of mapping narrative to mechanics as they make sense for a given instance. Hit points, however, consistently model the capacity to persist in the face of adversity without being able to do so indefinitely.

Then they don't map/model anything. At all.

"The ability to persist in the face of adversity, but not indefinitely" is a meaningless nth-degree abstraction, that tells us nothing about the character or their capabilities. It's like giving the character "kill stuff" points and then saying "it's the character's ability to kill stuff, but not endlessly".

It's inherently an argument that moves around, even if it's not intended that way. It's just another attempt by D&D / its writers to have things both ways, to eat the cake and still have it, to avoid actually having to take a stand and be held to that stand.

Hit points are either meat, or they're not -- there is no "maybe". Hit points are either "the gods' favor", or they're not -- there is no "maybe", and if they are, then what becomes of a character who rejects the gods or angers the gods or otherwise doesn't "have their favor"? Etc and so on for every justification that's ever been given for D&D-style hyper-scaling HP.

Segev
2019-05-13, 03:25 PM
No. Because it approaches the thing exactly backwards.

"Why this character isn't dead yet, despite being in a dangerous situation", is a question, not an answer.

The orc swings the sword at the PC, and then hits or doesn't it, and then if it hits causes some kind of wound, and then that has an effect on the character, and then we know if the character is left bleeding out and dying on the ground.

And THERE is why you don't like them.

You don't like pacing mechanics. HP are a pacing mechanic.

MrSandman
2019-05-13, 03:31 PM
They are not self-contradicting. They're not inconsistent. They represent "why this character isn't dead yet, despite being in a dangerous situation." Specifically, they represent the "why" that can't last forever.

But that "why" isn't the same (or even of the same kind) every time. That makes it inconsistent, i.e. not staying the same throughout.



Can we agree that, if an orc swings a sword at a PC, and the PC isn't left bleeding out and dying on the ground, there is some in-setting/in-narrative reason why that PC isn't cut in twain?

Personally, that's my problem with hp as other than meat. You need to find a narrative reason to explain why what mechanically was a hit is a hit some times and isn't some other times, why your character has to roll Fort for poison/disease despite not actually having been hit, why your character is still losing hp every turn from the hit despite not actually having been hit, etc.

Jakinbandw
2019-05-13, 03:33 PM
So, to reiterate the thread title: If HP aren't meat, how do you narrate combat?

You punch him through two tables and a wall. The wall now has a gaping hole and looking kinda unsteady. He stands up and glares at you. It seems you've made him angry!

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-13, 03:40 PM
But that "why" isn't the same (or even of the same kind) every time. That makes it inconsistent, i.e. not staying the same throughout.


Yes.



Personally, that's my problem with hp as other than meat. You need to find a narrative reason to explain why what mechanically was a hit is a hit some times and isn't some other times, why your character has to roll Fort for poison/disease despite not actually having been hit, why your character is still losing hp every turn from the hit despite not actually having been hit, etc.


Not just mechanically a hit, but mechanically the same hit. Rolled the same number on the d20, and/or beat the target's AC by the same margin, rolled the same damage, subtracted the same number of HP from the target's total... yet somehow with an entirely different "fiction level" result, based on nothing more than whether the character has 10 HP or 100 HP.

Psyren
2019-05-13, 03:44 PM
And the same person will make all of those arguments in turn as they try to justify the thing, such that their actual argument or position can never be pinned down exactly. It's like the game-mechanic equivalent of that person who refuses to actually just give their position on the question at hand and stand by it.

My position is that ANY and ALL of them work. Because at the end of the day, it's a game.



Personally, that's my problem with hp as other than meat. You need to find a narrative reason to explain why what mechanically was a hit is a hit some times and isn't some other times, why your character has to roll Fort for poison/disease despite not actually having been hit, why your character is still losing hp every turn from the hit despite not actually having been hit, etc.

They were hit, just not as much. It's not a binary, glancing and telling blows are things that exist.

Segev
2019-05-13, 03:53 PM
But that "why" isn't the same (or even of the same kind) every time. That makes it inconsistent, i.e. not staying the same throughout.No more than it's inconsistent when you roll Craft(woodworking) with a block of wood and get a statue of a totem pole dedicated to the Olmec pantheon versus rolling Craft(woodworking) with a mechanically-identical block of wood and form a toy wagon what is equaly well-made and intricately carved. Actually, hp are more consistent, in that with hp the different mapping still leads to the same end result of the target being closer to collapsing.


Personally, that's my problem with hp as other than meat. You need to find a narrative reason to explain why what mechanically was a hit is a hit some times and isn't some other times, why your character has to roll Fort for poison/disease despite not actually having been hit, why your character is still losing hp every turn from the hit despite not actually having been hit, etc.No, you need to map the pacing mechanic of hp to the narrative. The situation and the number of hp lost and any ancillary mechanics inform what that mapping should be, but in the end, it is a consistent measure of how much longer the creature can take these kinds of combat conditions.


Not just mechanically a hit, but mechanically the same hit. Rolled the same number on the d20, and/or beat the target's AC by the same margin, rolled the same damage, subtracted the same number of HP from the target's total... yet somehow with an entirely different "fiction level" result, based on nothing more than whether the character has 10 HP or 100 HP.

It is no more mechanically the same hit than when a rogue flanks a human and when he flanks an undead creature. The different targets mean there are different things happening.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-13, 03:59 PM
They were hit, just not as much. It's not a binary, glancing and telling blows are things that exist.


If that's the case, and there's some skill/evasiveness involved, then why is it that the actual hits are binary, such that two hits against the same target, one that beats the target's AC by 1 and one that beats the target's AC by 10 don't inherently differ in damage output? And why is it that two hits with the same to-hit roll on the d20, but against different targets, don't inherently differ in damage output?

Skill is already involved in the contest between attack (roll+bonuses) and AC. By then also (supposedly?) including skill in Hit Points, the system abstracts the same thing twice, and then turns around and doesn't treat HP like they include a factor for skill most of the time.

Segev
2019-05-13, 04:04 PM
If that's the case, and there's some skill/evasiveness involved, then why is it that the actual hits are binary, such that two hits against the same target, one that beats the target's AC by 1 and one that beats the target's AC by 10 don't inherently differ in damage output? And why is it that two hits with the same to-hit roll on the d20, but against different targets, don't inherently differ in damage output?

Skill is already involved in the contest between attack (roll+bonuses) and AC. By then also (supposedly?) including skill in Hit Points, the system abstracts the same thing twice, and then turns around and doesn't treat HP like they include a factor for skill most of the time.

Because AC isn't modeling how hard or precisely you hit, only whether you managed to make a "hit" that causes the target to have to expend some sort of resource to not die. Damage reflects how much of that resource is required and whether the hit is lethal or not.

1337 b4k4
2019-05-13, 04:05 PM
Yes.



Not just mechanically a hit, but mechanically the same hit. Rolled the same number on the d20, and/or beat the target's AC by the same margin, rolled the same damage, subtracted the same number of HP from the target's total... yet somehow with an entirely different "fiction level" result, based on nothing more than whether the character has 10 HP or 100 HP.

If any of the other numbers were different for this attack, you’d be ok with the fact that is a different outcome. Why then is the fact that the final number (the max hp of the target) is different making the different outcomes suddenly not make sense?

Psyren
2019-05-13, 04:05 PM
If that's the case, and there's some skill/evasiveness involved, then why is it that the actual hits are binary, such that two hits against the same target, one that beats the target's AC by 1 and one that beats the target's AC by 10 don't inherently differ in damage output? And why is it that two hits with the same to-hit roll on the d20, but against different targets, don't inherently differ in damage output?

But the damage output (or rather result) is different. Use your longsword to stab a guy with 10 HP and a guy with 100 HP. Same damage applied to both, but the second guy shrugs it off much more easily. You can even poison that longsword, and they're now both poisoned (assuming the first guy isn't dead that is) so we know it wasn't a total miss, just a glancing blow compared to the first guy.



Skill is already involved in the contest between attack (roll+bonuses) and AC. By then also (supposedly?) including skill in Hit Points, the system abstracts the same thing twice, and then turns around and doesn't treat HP like they include a factor for skill most of the time.

You keep saying these things like they're problems. By all means, abstract it twice, or three times, or four. Whatever means I don't have to track damage to people's individual organs or extremities; that's ultimately the role of hit points. (Heh, roll.)

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-13, 04:05 PM
It is no more mechanically the same hit than when a rogue flanks a human and when he flanks an undead creature. The different targets mean there are different things happening.


Same roll+bonus result on the to-hit roll and same total result on the damage roll === same hit mechanically.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-13, 04:11 PM
But the damage output (or rather result) is different. Use your longsword to stab a guy with 10 HP and a guy with 100 HP. Same damage applied to both, but the second guy shrugs it off much more easily. You can even poison that longsword, and they're now both poisoned (assuming the first guy isn't dead that is) so we know it wasn't a total miss, just a glancing blow compared to the first guy.


Which doesn't answer the question.

Why doesn't a hit that beat AC by 10 do more damage than a hit that beat AC by 1?

That is, if "skill" is included in Hit Points, why doesn't the more skillful hit do more damage?




You keep saying these things like they're problems. By all means, abstract it twice, or three times, or four. Whatever means I don't have to track damage to people's individual organs or extremities; that's ultimately the role of hit points. (Heh, roll.)


If you abstract the same thing repeatedly into several parts of the system, then any "fiction level" element that affects what has been abstracted needs to be reflected in every part of the system you've abstracted it into.

That is plainly and clearly not the case with D&D's hit points. Things that affect "luck" don't consistently affect HP totals; things that affect "skill" don't consistently affect HP totals; things that affect "cosmic favor" or whatever don't consistently affect HP totals; things that affect "magic" don't consistently affect HP totals; etc.

MrSandman
2019-05-13, 04:11 PM
They were hit, just not as much. It's not a binary, glancing and telling blows are things that exist.

So any loss of hp always represents some sort of injury?


No more than it's inconsistent when you roll Craft(woodworking) with a block of wood and get a statue of a totem pole dedicated to the Olmec pantheon versus rolling Craft(woodworking) with a mechanically-identical block of wood and form a toy wagon what is equaly well-made and intricately carved. Actually, hp are more consistent, in that with hp the different mapping still leads to the same end result of the target being closer to collapsing.

???
When you roll Craft (woodworking) you roll to see if you are able to use your woodworking skills to successfully create a finished piece of work. Please do explain how being able to roll the same skill for different works that use the same skill is inconsistent.

HP are inconsistent because sometimes they represent luck, sometimes they represent skill, sometimes they represent meat, etc... so they are not the same throughout what they represent.



No, you need to map the pacing mechanic of hp to the narrative. The situation and the number of hp lost and any ancillary mechanics inform what that mapping should be, but in the end, it is a consistent measure of how much longer the creature can take these kinds of combat conditions.


But what it represents still changes. Most people I played with don't narrate hp loss as "the orc reduces your ability to remain in combat." Sometimes it is a hit, sometimes it is a near miss, sometimes it is a hard parry, sometimes it is luck. The simple fact that this changes based on the requirements of the narrative and not on any mechanical difference makes it inconsistent.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-13, 04:17 PM
Because AC isn't modeling how hard or precisely you hit, only whether you managed to make a "hit" that causes the target to have to expend some sort of resource to not die. Damage reflects how much of that resource is required and whether the hit is lethal or not.


AC models how hard the target is to land a damaging blow on -- not anything about the attacker.

(We're so far in the weeds of D&D's overlapping and contradicting indeterminate abstractions that the mashup of armor and evasiveness in "AC" looks downright simulationist at this distance... though we need binoculars to see it.)

Psyren
2019-05-13, 04:18 PM
So any loss of hp always represents some sort of injury?

For weapon attacks, enough to apply injury poison.

How serious that injury is depends on several factors, as this thread hopefully shows you. One of those factors is the HP total of the target relative to the damage of the attack.


Which doesn't answer the question.

Why doesn't a hit that beat AC by 10 do more damage than a hit that beat AC by 1?

But it can, that's how several rules (like Power Attack or critical confirmations) work.

Beyond that, AC itself is composed of a number of abstractions. And that's okay.


If you abstract the same thing repeatedly into several parts of the system, then any "fiction level" element that affects what has been abstracted needs to be reflected in every part of the system you've abstracted it into.

It needs no such thing.

Segev
2019-05-13, 04:21 PM
Same roll+bonus result on the to-hit roll and same total result on the damage roll === same hit mechanically.So it's mechanically identical to use a fireball on a fire elemental and on a tree? You honestly expect the same results, because it's the same spell, mechanically? Let's have both make saving throws and have the same difference between the final result on the d20 roll and the DC of the spell. Are these, mechanically, the same effect? ARe you upset when the tree is destroyed but the fire elemental is fine?


AC models how hard the target is to land a damaging blow on -- not anything about the attacker. So what? I didn't say anything at all about the attacker in what you quoted. Well, beyond that he managed to get past the defender's "I can do this all day" defenses.

Max, you're getting incoherent because you're so focused on insisitng your point is right that you're ignoring what others are actually saying and tilting at straw men. You may need to take a step back from this.

Morty
2019-05-13, 04:22 PM
If any of the designers had ever put half as much effort into designing hit points as people put into explaining them, they would have been one fantastic piece of mechanics.

RedMage125
2019-05-13, 04:32 PM
It is objectively problematic, because "each HP loss is considered individually", and because it's entirely subjective, without any grounding at all.

The very arguments in favor of it illustrate this.

* It's "meat" until being "meat" would be inconvenient, and then it's not meat.
* Then it's "luck" until being "luck" would be inconvenient, and then it's not luck.
* Then it's "skill" until being "skill" would be inconvenient (and never mind that "skill" is already elsewhere in the system).
* Then it's "magic" until being "magic" would be inconvenient (and never mind that things that dampen magic don't affect it).
* Then it's "meat" until...

And never mind, also, that things that don't interact with each of those don't inherently increase or decrease hit points...

And the same person will make all of those arguments in turn as they try to justify the thing, such that their actual argument or position can never be pinned down exactly. It's like the game-mechanic equivalent of that person who refuses to actually just give their position on the question at hand and stand by it.

"Objectively Problematic" means "it is problematic, regardless of the subjective preferences of the user". Which is clearly not the case. So it is not "objectively problematic", it is subjectively problematic. As in, it is problematic to you.

And everything you complain about is just narrative anyway. How many people have you met and/or played D&D with who don't care about the narrative of each hit?

Your last statement is also blatantly incorrect. Many of us, including those of us who will say that it can be "meat, luck, skill, magic, endurance, willpower, etc." DO have a solid position that can be pinned down exactly. You just don't like it because it doesn't match your preferences. Segev and I, for example; Our "solid position" is that HP are "whatever they're needed to be to explain why your ability to fight has been diminished, but not depleted completely (assuming HP > 0)". That's it. That's our position. They are Schrödinger's "meat/luck/skill/magic/endurance/sandwiches/whatever" until the specifics of a situation call for one to determine what each loss of HP represents. And we DO stand by that position.

You want it to only be ONE of those things. But you are not recognizing that such is your preference. And it's okay. You're totally allowed to prefer it to be one thing. Other posters have stated how they like it all to be meat, and have all PCs be superheroes who regenerate at ridiculous speeds. That works for them, and it's fun for their players. I'm going to presume a bit here and say that Segev would agree with me that that is fine for them. But those posters who have their "solid position" don't feel the need to come and tell us that we're wrong or that the RAW are bad because they have a different preference.

Please, Max. All I'm asking is that you recognize that your opinions are not the same as objective facts. You don't like the RAW's answer. We get it. It's totally fine that you don't. I'm not trying to make you change what you like. I'm only trying to get you to broaden your perspective and say "I don't like it because it doesn't match my tastes", not "I don't like it, so it therefore must be factually faulty". One of those takes responsibility for your own perceptions, and admits that it's a matter of preference. The other blames the subject and claims that it has failed in a matter that fails everyone.

To which, I again pose the question posited by the Giant himself:
"But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?"



No. Because it approaches the thing exactly backwards.

"Why this character isn't dead yet, despite being in a dangerous situation", is a question, not an answer.

The orc swings the sword at the PC, and then hits or doesn't it, and then if it hits causes some kind of wound, and then that has an effect on the character, and then we know if the character is left bleeding out and dying on the ground.

And the consistent, unequivocal answer to that question is: "because he still has positive HP left".

Anything further is narrative, and left subjective to the individual DM/Players.



Then they don't map/model anything. At all.

"The ability to persist in the face of adversity, but not indefinitely" is a meaningless nth-degree abstraction,
Full stop, because you've grasped the point, you just don't like it.

HP are an abstraction. We've been repeating that point for several pages now. it is not, however, meaningless. Because the meaning is, quite simply "you can continue to fight or not". That's it. Everything else is flavor text.


Hit points are either meat, or they're not -- there is no "maybe". Hit points are either "the gods' favor", or they're not -- there is no "maybe", and if they are, then what becomes of a character who rejects the gods or angers the gods or otherwise doesn't "have their favor"? Etc and so on for every justification that's ever been given for D&D-style hyper-scaling HP.
It's not "maybe", it's "sometimes they are". The very last Hit Point is "meat" in some meaningful way, that is certain. Everything above that is flavor text.

Look, you don't have an issue with someone playing a Fiend-Pact Warlock who didn't make a Faustian bargain, do you? Perhaps he was part of a cabal of good guys who helped imprison a fiend, and is one of many members of that cabal who siphoned off the Fiend's power, and that is how he got his Warlock abilities. The more levels he gains, the more of the Fiend's power he siphons off, keeping the fiend from breaking its bonds. That's all flavor text, too. Fluff is mutable and subjective.


But that "why" isn't the same (or even of the same kind) every time. That makes it inconsistent, i.e. not staying the same throughout.
It's not "inconsistent" unless you think that there's somehow a "right way" to play D&D. It's subjective, because it's pure flavor text. It's no different than a PC wizard with a penchant for the color green insisting that his Magic Missiles, Shield, Fireball, Lightning Bolt, etc are all green. It's just narration.



Personally, that's my problem with hp as other than meat. You need to find a narrative reason to explain why what mechanically was a hit is a hit some times and isn't some other times, why your character has to roll Fort for poison/disease despite not actually having been hit, why your character is still losing hp every turn from the hit despite not actually having been hit, etc.
This has been covered, extensively. Even in the last few posts today. ASSUMING YOU ARE INTERESTED in narrating hits, and ASSUMING YOU ACCEPT the RAW explanation that "HP are not always meat", then for narrative purposes, some things only make sense if physical contact of some kind was made. A poisoned weapon/bite/sting, the spread of lycanthropy, the spread of disease through injury, these are all examples of this.

To many people who play the game, the narration is not important. To some it is more important. But the table (that is, to say, the DM and/or Player) is left to decide for themselves what that narration is, specifically. All the examples that have been provided throughout this thread have been suggestions on what such a hit could be.


My position is that ANY and ALL of them work. Because at the end of the day, it's a game.

They were hit, just not as much. It's not a binary, glancing and telling blows are things that exist.

A position that Segev, myself, and another of other posters share. Which proves that the "problem" is not as objective as Max claims.




???
When you roll Craft (woodworking) you roll to see if you are able to use your woodworking skills to successfully create a finished piece of work. Please do explain how being able to roll the same skill for different works that use the same skill is inconsistent.
You seem to have entirely missed the point. The point is that they ARE consistent, but the comparison is that you and Max's claims about inconsistency is like complaining that the specific finished works being different equals an "inconsistency".


HP are inconsistent because sometimes they represent luck, sometimes they represent skill, sometimes they represent meat, etc... so they are not the same throughout what they represent.
No, they consistently represent "a creature's ability to continue fighting". What they can be described as narratively is subjective, and may be anything from meat, narrow dodge, luck, etc. That's all flavor text.



But what it represents still changes. Most people I played with don't narrate hp loss as "the orc reduces your ability to remain in combat." Sometimes it is a hit, sometimes it is a near miss, sometimes it is a hard parry, sometimes it is luck. The simple fact that this changes based on the requirements of the narrative and not on any mechanical difference makes it inconsistent.
You're conflating "subjective to each group of playing" with "inconsistent". There's no need for the kind of "consistency" that you are clamoring for, because there isn't a wrong way to play D&D.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-13, 04:42 PM
So it's mechanically identical to use a fireball on a fire elemental and on a tree? You honestly expect the same results, because it's the same spell, mechanically? Let's have both make saving throws and have the same difference between the final result on the d20 roll and the DC of the spell. Are these, mechanically, the same effect? ARe you upset when the tree is destroyed but the fire elemental is fine?


No, because I don't have to make up after-the-fact justifications for why the effect was different, the "fiction layer" facts are that one is a tree and the other is a fire elemental, it's absolutely expectable that a fireball isn't going to affect them in identical ways.

But if I hit two otherwise identical characters with the same exact fireball, and both fail their saves, but one has 10 HP and the other has 100 HP, now I have to make up after-the-fact justifications as to why the exact same fireball killed one and wounded the other.

AND, those same exact justifications might or might not apply if they were hit with some different attack, and the characters' respective HP totals wouldn't change a bit in those new circumstances.

AND, those same exact justifications don't apply to other parts of the system that claim to be modelling the same exact fiction-level elements that those justifications involve.




So what? I didn't say anything at all about the attacker in what you quoted. Well, beyond that he managed to get past the defender's "I can do this all day" defenses.


Your words -- "...AC isn't modeling how hard or precisely you hit, only whether you managed to make a "hit"..."




Max, you're getting incoherent because you're so focused on insisting your point is right that you're ignoring what others are actually saying and tilting at straw men. You may need to take a step back from this.


I am responding to exactly the revolving, shifting justifications being given.

Psyren
2019-05-13, 04:42 PM
If any of the designers had ever put half as much effort into designing hit points as people put into explaining them, they would have been one fantastic piece of mechanics.

You mean like they did?


Most attacks deal lethal damage, which is subtracted from a creature’s hit points. Hit points measure how hard a creature is to kill. Hit points represent the ability to take physical punishment and keep going, and the ability to turn a serious blow into a less serious one. For some creatures, hit points can represent divine favor or inner power.

LOSS OF HIT POINTS
An uninjured creature has its full normal hit points. As it takes lethal damage, subtract that damage from its hit points, leaving it with its current hit points. Current hit points go down with damage and go back up when a creature heals. Damage doesn’t slow a creature down until its current hit points reach 0 or fewer—see Injury.

Everything we've been saying is in the bold, all we're doing is providing examples. You don't need any of those examples if you don't like them, just stick to the RAW. Or houserule it, whatever.

MrSandman
2019-05-13, 05:08 PM
It's not "inconsistent" unless you think that there's somehow a "right way" to play D&D. It's subjective, because it's pure flavor text. It's no different than a PC wizard with a penchant for the color green insisting that his Magic Missiles, Shield, Fireball, Lightning Bolt, etc are all green. It's just narration.

I would like to point out that consistency has nothing to do with rightness or wrongness, it has to do with not changing and staying the same throughout.

Since hp change in what they represent from situation to situation, they are inconsistent in what they represent.

I would also like to point out that I never said that the approach to hp as other than meat is wrong or that I don't use it. As far as approaches to narrating hp loss go, it has several advantages and I quite like it. That doesn't make me blind to the fact that it is inconsistent in what it represents.



This has been covered, extensively. Even in the last few posts today. ASSUMING YOU ARE INTERESTED in narrating hits, and ASSUMING YOU ACCEPT the RAW explanation that "HP are not always meat", then for narrative purposes, some things only make sense if physical contact of some kind was made. A poisoned weapon/bite/sting, the spread of lycanthropy, the spread of disease through injury, these are all examples of this.

To many people who play the game, the narration is not important. To some it is more important. But the table (that is, to say, the DM and/or Player) is left to decide for themselves what that narration is, specifically. All the examples that have been provided throughout this thread have been suggestions on what such a hit could be.

Okay.




You seem to have entirely missed the point. The point is that they ARE consistent, but the comparison is that you and Max's claims about inconsistency is like complaining that the specific finished works being different equals an "inconsistency".


No more than it's inconsistent when you roll Craft(woodworking) with a block of wood and get a statue of a totem pole dedicated to the Olmec pantheon versus rolling Craft(woodworking) with a mechanically-identical block of wood and form a toy wagon what is equaly well-made and intricately carved. Actually, hp are more consistent, in that with hp the different mapping still leads to the same end result of the target being closer to collapsing.


There, I have highlighted for you the bit that indicates that there is inconsistency (or less consisrency, if you would) in using the same skill to achieve different outcomes. Even if it is just a complaint for the sake of the argument, it still needs to be properly argued for.



No, they consistently represent "a creature's ability to continue fighting". What they can be described as narratively is subjective, and may be anything from meat, narrow dodge, luck, etc. That's all flavor text.

You're conflating "subjective to each group of playing" with "inconsistent". There's no need for the kind of "consistency" that you are clamoring for, because there isn't a wrong way to play D&D.

No, I am not. Subjective means that what hp loss represents is relative to the feelings, tastes and opinions of the group. Inconsistent means that what hp loss represents doesn't remain the same. A group can be subjective and consistent just as much as it can be subjective and inconsistent.

Maybe it is important to reiterate at this point that I never clamored that everyone should represent hp consistently or that there is a right or wrong way to play D&D. In fact, before this post I hadn't even mentioned whether I use hp consistently or not (because, in all honesty, it is irrelevant to the present discussion). But since you seem to be seeing value attachments that I never meant to attach, I'll say it: I use hp inconsistently. When I narrate it, hp loss sometimes means one thing and sometimes it means another, without any regard whatsoever for the mechanics behind.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-13, 05:26 PM
"Objectively Problematic" means "it is problematic, regardless of the subjective preferences of the user". Which is clearly not the case. So it is not "objectively problematic", it is subjectively problematic. As in, it is problematic to you.


No, just problematic. It has nothing to do with preferences.

Why? Detailed previously and below.




And everything you complain about is just narrative anyway. How many people have you met and/or played D&D with who don't care about the narrative of each hit?


Only if one conflates "narrative" with 'fiction level" as a perfectly overlapping set of concerns.




Your last statement is also blatantly incorrect. Many of us, including those of us who will say that it can be "meat, luck, skill, magic, endurance, willpower, etc." DO have a solid position that can be pinned down exactly. You just don't like it because it doesn't match your preferences. Segev and I, for example; Our "solid position" is that HP are "whatever they're needed to be to explain why your ability to fight has been diminished, but not depleted completely (assuming HP > 0)". That's it. That's our position. They are Schrödinger's "meat/luck/skill/magic/endurance/sandwiches/whatever" until the specifics of a situation call for one to determine what each loss of HP represents. And we DO stand by that position.


And in repeatedly coming back to "can be" and "whatever it needs to be", you evade actually being held to any one thing that it is, or is not. You refuse to say whether it is, or is not, one or more of those things, and thereby keep trying to sidestep dealing with the implications and complications of it actually being one or more of those things. Both the implications and complications for the D&D HP mechanic itself, and the interwoven implications and complications for the rest of the system.

Is it X, or is it not X? Is it Y, or is it not Y? Is it X+Y, or is it not X+Y?

And no, "it's whatever it I need it to be" is not an answer, and "it's the ability to keep fighting, but not forever" is not an answer, they're just an evasion of the question in the former, and a restatement of the question in the latter. HOW does the character keep fighting? HOW does this particular character avoid taking lethal damage? HOW is it that this particular character exceeds the normal limits of most people in the setting being used?

"It depends" is not an answer to those questions, it's just an evasion.




You want it to only be ONE of those things. But you are not recognizing that such is your preference. And it's okay. You're totally allowed to prefer it to be one thing. Other posters have stated how they like it all to be meat, and have all PCs be superheroes who regenerate at ridiculous speeds. That works for them, and it's fun for their players. I'm going to presume a bit here and say that Segev would agree with me that that is fine for them. But those posters who have their "solid position" don't feel the need to come and tell us that we're wrong or that the RAW are bad because they have a different preference.


No. It can be one, or any combination, or all of those things -- what I want is for it to explicitly be whatever it is, not an indeterminate squirming mass of "maybe" that evades analysis and criticism by always being something other than what it was a minute ago or a post ago or an argument ago.

And then once we know what it actually is and is not... it must actually be affected as those things it is would be affected by the circumstances at hand. If it's meat, then it must be affected as meat would be affected, consistently and coherently. If it's luck, then it must be affected as luck would be affected, consistently and coherently. Etc, etc, etc. And if it's some combination, then it must be affected by all the combined factors, consistently and coherently.




Please, Max. All I'm asking is that you recognize that your opinions are not the same as objective facts. You don't like the RAW's answer.


No, I don't like that RAW, and the defenders of the mechanic in question, REFUSE to give an actual answer, and instead want a non-answer that by its very nature evades being judged as a mechanic.




And the consistent, unequivocal answer to that question is: "because he still has positive HP left".


Which gets it exactly backwards, making hyper-scaling HP into an answer looking for a question, or rather a game mechanic looking for an after-the-fact justification for the result of the roll(s).

It's like being asked why a tree on bad ground is standing, and answering "because it hasn't fallen yet". It's a self-referential, meaningless tautology masquerading as an answer.




Full stop, because you've grasped the point, you just don't like it.

HP are an abstraction. We've been repeating that point for several pages now. it is not, however, meaningless. Because the meaning is, quite simply "you can continue to fight or not". That's it. Everything else is flavor text.


What are they actually an abstraction of?

No, some undefined and ineffable ability to not drop dead, which shall be explained as convenient, if you feel like it... is not an answer to that question. If anything it's just a re-framing of the question itself, leaving us to still ask "HOW does the character avoid dropping dead?"

So far, the overwhelming answer in this thread and every other discussion I've ever had for decades now about D&D's hyper-scaling HP has been "whatever is convenient at this moment to deflect or evade the criticism at hand, but check back in five minutes in case there's a different criticism we're trying to deflect or evade". It's X, until X is inconvenient to its defenders, and then magically it's not X.


I've seen a few answers that actually have the guts to be specific, and risk being analyzed, such as PhoenixPhyre's -- and his is actually pretty good on the coherence and internal consistency scale, without entangling other parts of the system in conflicting implications.

Psyren
2019-05-13, 05:39 PM
I would like to point out that consistency has nothing to do with rightness or wrongness, it has to do with not changing and staying the same throughout.

Since hp change in what they represent from situation to situation, they are inconsistent in whay they represent.

I would refer to that more positively, using a word like "dynamic" or "flexible." Which is precisely what abstract mechanics need to be.



No, I don't like that RAW, and the defenders of the mechanic in question, REFUSE to give an actual answer, and instead want a non-answer that by its very nature evades being judged as a mechanic.

You've gotten an actual answer ("it depends.") You just don't like it, so you continue to prate that you haven't gotten one.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-13, 05:42 PM
I would refer to that more positively, using a word like "dynamic" or "flexible." Which is precisely what abstract mechanics need to be.

You've gotten an actual answer ("it depends.") You just don't like it, so you continue to prate that you haven't gotten one.


Then it doesn't abstract or model or map anything, it's just a purely gamist contrivance with nothing underlying it against which it could actually be judged -- in isolation and as it interacts with the rest of the system and what the other mechanics would be abstracting, modelling, or mapping.

Psyren
2019-05-13, 05:48 PM
It models all the detail it needs to:

"Hit points represent the ability to take physical punishment and keep going, and the ability to turn a serious blow into a less serious one. For some creatures, hit points can represent divine favor or inner power."

All the "non-meat" use cases are covered by:

"Ability to turn a serious blow into a less serious one"
"Divine favor"
"Inner power"

More detail than that is not needed.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-13, 05:53 PM
It models all the detail it needs to:

"Hit points represent the ability to take physical punishment and keep going, and the ability to turn a serious blow into a less serious one. For some creatures, hit points can represent divine favor or inner power."

All the "non-meat" use cases are covered by:

"Ability to turn a serious blow into a less serious one"
"Divine favor"
"Inner power"

More detail than that is not needed.

First, why don't HP totals go down when those characters are affected by things or events that alter those sources of HP? Why doesn't a character with "evasiveness" lose HP when they're walking on a tar-covered floor? Why doesn't a character with "inner power" lose HP if they drain their inner power doing something else, or have it drained by something? Why doesn't a character who loses "divine favor" lose some of their HP? Etc, etc, etc. AND, why don't characters who have HP from one of those non-meat sources also see effects in other mechanics that should arise from those facts about them as beings/characters?


Second, that hoary old excuse for reasoning from an old edition of the game doesn't even touch on all of the justifications that other posters have offered up.

RedMage125
2019-05-13, 06:01 PM
No, just problematic. It has nothing to do with preferences.

And to those who do not have a preference that there be one, all-consuming, end-all-be-all answer to what HP are, they are not problematic.

So yes, preferences, and yes, subjective.



Only if one conflates "narrative" with 'fiction level" as a perfectly overlapping set of concerns.
Which many of us apparently do.

I certainly do.

I honestly don't see how they are not the same thing. Which may be a part of the disconnect here in our communication. You say "fiction level", which, to me, resonates as a synonym for "narrative".



And in repeatedly coming back to "can be" and "whatever it needs to be", you evade actually being held to any one thing that it is, or is not. You refuse to say whether it is, or is not, one or more of those things, and thereby keep trying to sidestep dealing with the implications and complications of it actually being one or more of those things.

Is it X, or is it not X? Is it Y, or is it not Y? Is it X+Y, or is it not X+Y?

Le sigh...

It's not "evasion", because we have been explicitly and blatantly stating that it is not "any one thing" or "not any one thing". If we were claiming that it WAS, and then waffling about between which one, then you would have a point about us being evasive, or "sidestepping". But we're not. Even in what of mine you just quoted when you said this. I specifically said "it's Schrödinger's meat/luck/skill/magic/endurance/sandwiches/whatever, until the specifics of a situation call for one to determine what each loss of HP represents". Because it's an abstraction, and a versatile one that can be whatever the user needs to fit the "fiction level", which need not be the same thing to each user, nor even to the same situation for the same user.


And no, "it's whatever it I need it to be" is not an answer, and "it's the ability to keep fighting, but not forever" is not an answer.
Says who? By what authority do you claim that the bolded part is not an answer? Because I can at least point to the RAW, of pretty much every edition of D&D. But all the WotC-produced editions especially.



No. It can be one, or any combination, or all of those things -- what I want is for it to explicitly be whatever it is, not an indeterminate squirming mass of "maybe" that evades analysis and criticism by always being something other than what it was a minute ago or a post ago or an argument ago.
*snip*
No, I don't like that RAW, and the defenders of the mechanic in question, REFUSE to give an actual answer, and instead want a non-answer that by its very nature evades being judged as a mechanic.
I bolded for you the most significant part of what you have said.

You are stating your preference. Please acknowledge such.





Which gets it exactly backwards, making hyper-scaling HP into an answer looking for a question, or rather a game mechanic looking for an after-the-fact justification for the result of the roll(s).

It's like being asked why a tree on bad ground is standing, and answering "because it hasn't fallen yet". It's a self-referential, meaningless tautology masquerading as an answer.
To a lot of us, YOU have it backwards, because the narrative doesn't even take place until AFTER the rolls have occurred, and damage is calculated. You don't narrate "the orc chops your PC's head off" before you determine how much damage was dealt and how many HPs the PC has remaining, do you? Of course not. You determine whether or not the blow was lethal, and if the character can continue to fight, and THEN you have a framework to fill in the "fiction layer". So until the purely mechanical portion has completely been resolved, the fiction layer can't fill the void in for it.

That's why I equate "fiction layer" with "narrative". Because it's all post-hoc fluff.



What are they actually an abstraction of?

No, some undefined and ineffable ability to not drop dead, which shall be explained as convenient, if you feel like it... is not an answer to that question. If anything it's just a re-framing of the question itself, leaving us to still ask "HOW does the character avoid dropping dead?"

So far, the overwhelming answer in this thread and every other discussion I've ever had for decades now about D&D's hyper-scaling HP has been "whatever is convenient at this moment to deflect or evade the criticism at hand, but check back in five minutes in case there's a different criticism we're trying to deflect or evade". It's X, until X is inconvenient to its defenders, and then magically it's not X.
No, it's "whatever is narratively appropriate at this moment to adequately explain how this character is able to continue fighting". The different examples have all been different examples of what it could be, not "changing the answer to deflect some new criticism". They're not meant to be mutually exclusive answers, and your attempt to claim that they were is starting to wear thin. It's borderline intellectually dishonest, because Segev, Psyren and I have all said something to that effect more than once now. If you continue to make that assertion again, I am going to call it as a Straw Man and refuse to address any further than that.



I've seen a few answers that actually have the guts to be specific, and risk being analyzed, such as PhoenixPhyre's -- and his is actually pretty good on the coherence and internal consistency scale, without entangling other parts of the system in conflicting implications.

But you'll note that PhoenixPhyre didn't come back here and tell us all that the system failed objectively in a way that is bad for everyone, right? Nor did he say that his preference was the sole "truth". He stated his preference, and the way he does things. It's cool for him and his players. Were he my DM, I would accept such as his house rule and go along with it.


You, OTOH, qualify your statements with subjective markers like "I want" and "I don't like" on one side, and then turn around and say "but it's not my perspective or opinion, this is an objective fact that you guys are not seeing".

Please, Max, can you just acknowledge that the abstraction, with all of its ephemeral "meat and luck and skill and magic and whatever", works for some people, even if it doesn't resonate with you? It's okay to have a distinct opinion and preference. just because you prefer something other than RAW doesn't mean you're "wrong". No one has said that you're "wrong" to have your preference.

And one more time (until you respond to it, really):
I again pose the question posited by the Giant himself:
"But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?"

Tinkerer
2019-05-13, 06:20 PM
To put it another way: Max, do you want The System Which Shall Not Be Named? Because that's how you get The System Which Shall Not Be Named.

1337 b4k4
2019-05-13, 06:26 PM
But if I hit two otherwise identical characters with the same exact fireball, and both fail their saves, but one has 10 HP and the other has 100 HP, now I have to make up after-the-fact justifications as to why the exact same fireball killed one and wounded the other.

The problem is a character with 10 HP and a character with 100HP are NOT identical characters. They are mechanically different, just like a tree and a fire elemental are mechanically different.

This is no different than wondering why two characters with equal stats including hp, and having been subject to identical hit rolls have different outcomes when their AC are different.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-13, 06:56 PM
I bolded for you the most significant part of what you have said.

You are stating your preference. Please acknowledge such


YOU repeatedly tried to put "I want" statements into my mouth, so I clarified what it is that I would actually want. That is the entirety, the full extent, of any ""preference" statement made here by me.

And then you have the unmitigated gall to accuse me to "attacking strawmen".




No, it's "whatever is narratively appropriate at this moment to adequately explain how this character is able to continue fighting". The different examples have all been different examples of what it could be, not "changing the answer to deflect some new criticism". They're not meant to be mutually exclusive answers, and your attempt to claim that they were is starting to wear thin. It's borderline intellectually dishonest, because Segev, Psyren and I have all said something to that effect more than once now. If you continue to make that assertion again, I am going to call it as a Straw Man and refuse to address any further than that.


I never said that you were giving mutually exclusive answers, or even trying to.

What I said is that you continue to give evasive non-answers by fastidiously sticking to "could be" and "might be" and repeating the same old tired worn out "it is until it isn't" stuff about what's actually being modeled / abstracted that I've been getting in defense of HP for 30+ years.


I can show you someone who is so physically tough that they can take more of a beating. I can show you someone who evades getting hit. I can even hypothetically show you a fictional character who is magically hard to hit for some reason.

What I can't show you is a character who "can keep fighting longer but not indefinitely", because it doesn't actually tell us anything. The proper response to that statement is not "how do we model that" -- the proper response is "HOW?" or "WHY?" And once you know the how or the why, THEN you have something to actually model.


Hell, I have a fictional character in something I'm working on who has reaction time and speed so fast it's just past the border of humanly possible (as in, she can see the strike coming, decide to parry, and parry, instead of having to parry through reflex and muscle memory), and the LAST place I'd go to model that is "more hit points", it wouldn't make any bloody sense, the hits don't connect in the first place, she's evaded or parried or countered.

And if I wanted to model that a character can only fight for so long without getting worn out, I'd use some sort of "endurance" stat, separate from how much damage they can take, because those are two separate things.




To a lot of us, YOU have it backwards, because the narrative doesn't even take place until AFTER the rolls have occurred, and damage is calculated. You don't narrate "the orc chops your PC's head off" before you determine how much damage was dealt and how many HPs the PC has remaining, do you? Of course not. You determine whether or not the blow was lethal, and if the character can continue to fight, and THEN you have a framework to fill in the "fiction layer". So until the purely mechanical portion has completely been resolved, the fiction layer can't fill the void in for it.

That's why I equate "fiction layer" with "narrative". Because it's all post-hoc fluff.


If you get to the point of starting a campaign, and having actually rolled dice, and you're still searching for what a mechanical aspect of your system actually represents, then you're WAY too late. The time to decide that was... before you created the mechanic in the first place. What does it model, what does it map? What actual definable thing about the character or creature or setting does it represent?


The orc in your example tries to hit the PC. If the orc fails to hit, then the orc doesn't hit the PC. If the orc succeeds, then... maybe he failed anyway, because you need a way to justify the hyper-scaled HPs. That's where it breaks down. You only need to hold off on all those narrative details and retroactively fill them because you've got all this stuff bundled up in the ad-hoc justifications for what's really an ungrounded abstraction.

If the hit roll determines whether the orc hit, and that's it, and a hit is a hit, and a miss is a miss, then the "fiction layer" and the "system layer" proceed hand-in-hand, and there is no need to retroactively backfill. On miss, proceed to next attempted action by one of the characters. On hit, proceed to damage. Etc.




You, OTOH, qualify your statements with subjective markers like "I want" and "I don't like" on one side, and then turn around and say "but it's not my perspective or opinion, this is an objective fact that you guys are not seeing".


Explained above, those "markers" were only used due to the need to counter your blatant misrepresentation of what I want or like.




Please, Max, can you just acknowledge that the abstraction, with all of its ephemeral "meat and luck and skill and magic and whatever", works for some people, even if it doesn't resonate with you? It's okay to have a distinct opinion and preference. just because you prefer something other than RAW doesn't mean you're "wrong". No one has said that you're "wrong" to have your preference.


It's already been laid out how it doesn't work in multiple ways. It's a mashup of potential but uncertain fiction-layer elements in an indeterminate abstraction that immediately start contradicting each other and other parts of the system once you take them as actually true.

If skillful evasion is part of HP, why don't things that affect skillful evasion also raise or lower HP? If diving favor is part of HP, why don't things that affect divine favor also raise or lower HP? Etc? (And note that NO WHERE in those questions am I saying that it's exclusively one thing or mutually exclusive, or saying that you are saying that.)

I still don't have a straight and detailed answer for any of those contradictions between the asserted "potential components" of HP, and the rest of the system where those elements also show up.

If part of a rogue's HP is modelling his ability to evade solid hits because he's agile, and part of a rogue's AC is modelling his ability to evade solid hits because he's agile, then why are the two mechanics utterly disconnected in terms of what effect having his agility impaired has each of them?

And no, "because they're different parts of the system" is not an answer, it's just an admission that the system layer is decoupled, incoherent, and asynchronous in relation to the fiction layer.


In order for these parts of D&D to "work", I'd have to approach it as a "mindspace boardgame", and the character as just a playing piece. At which point, the answer to the original question of the thread is, "you don't, they're just numbers".




And one more time (until you respond to it, really):
I again pose the question posited by the Giant himself:
"But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?"


Because the text is just another set of assertions that can be wrong as easily as anyone else.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-13, 07:08 PM
The problem is a character with 10 HP and a character with 100HP are NOT identical characters. They are mechanically different, just like a tree and a fire elemental are mechanically different.

This is no different than wondering why two characters with equal stats including hp, and having been subject to identical hit rolls have different outcomes when their AC are different.


I can explain why the two with different ACs get different outcomes. While AC is a bit of a mashup, at least I can directly link the fiction layer aspect and the system layer aspect and tell you specifically why one character got hit and the other didn't.

What I can't tell you, based on anything in the books or in this thread, is why the two characters with different HPs get different outcomes. If I want to do that, I have to retroactively make something up.

Against 10 HP guy and against 100 HP guy, I can roll a 14, and add my bonus, and hit them both, and roll the same damage based on my weapon and bonuses... and one of them is dying, and the other isn't even phased Why? What's actually different about the two hits? Not the characters, the hits. Nothing is actually different, we simply ran into a spot where we needed to retroactively justify the different outcomes for two attacks that hit by the same margin and rolled the same damage total.

Now, someone will suggest that the 100 HP character is skilled enough to partially evade the hit. OK, but if that's the case, let's go back to your "two different ACs" example. If that's part of the equation, why is it that a hit that beats one character's AC by 1 and the other character's AC by 5 don't differ in any way after that point in the process? If skill is part of the equation, why doesn't the more skillful strike do more damage?

RedMage125
2019-05-13, 07:40 PM
YOU repeatedly tried to put "I want" statements into my mouth, so I clarified what it is that I would actually want. That is the entirety, the full extent, of any ""preference" statement made here by me.

And then you have the unmitigated gall to accuse me to "attacking strawmen".

But your claim that HP "must be one concrete, defined thing" is your preference. The RAW have stated that HP are representative of a number of different things, and that those things may be different for different characters.

Your desire for them to be solidified into something concrete (which you attempt to express as a "factual inadequacy") is just your desire.



I never said that you were giving mutually exclusive answers, or even trying to.

What I said is that you continue to give evasive non-answers by fastidiously sticking to "could be" and "might be" and repeating the same old tired worn out "it is until it isn't" stuff about what's actually being modeled / abstracted that I've been getting in defense of HP for 30+ years.

You implied it by saying we were "being evasive" and "sidestepping" and claiming that we "refuse to say what it is". As Psyren said, you've gotten your answer of "what it is". That answer was "it depends". You may not find that answer satisfactory to your preferences, but that doesn't mean we "failed to provide an answer".

In order to give you an answer that would meet your prerequisites of "satisfactory", we would first need to accept your premise (which involve rejecting the RAW). We will not do that. Demanding such from us is an attempt to Move The Goalposts.



I can show you someone who is so physically tough that they can take more of a beating. I can show you someone who evades getting hit. I can even hypothetically show you a fictional character who is magically hard to hit for some reason.

What I can't show you is a character who "can keep fighting longer but not indefinitely", because it doesn't actually tell us anything. The proper response to that statement is not "how do we model that" -- the proper response is "HOW?" or "WHY?" And once you know the how or the why, THEN you have something to actually model.
Because this is a game, with accepted parameters of successes and failures to facilitate the role play of fantasy adventuring (which includes combat). The rolling of dice to determine success, and the thresholds of victory to accomplish goals are part of that. In terms of combat, AC is the determined threshold one must roll equal to or greater in order to succeed on a hit. Once a hit has been established, HP is the measure of whether or not the creature will be able to continue fighting after said hit.

That's it. That is the abstraction, fully broken down. Because it's a GAME. If you don't want reasonably fair and equitable arbiters of success and failure (the dice), then just do free-form cooperative storytelling or something.



And if I wanted to model that a character can only fight for so long without getting worn out, I'd use some sort of "endurance" stat, separate from how much damage they can take, because those are two separate things.
Then why play D&D?



If you get to the point of starting a campaign, and having actually rolled dice, and you're still searching for what a mechanical aspect of your system actually represents, then you're WAY too late. The time to decide that was... before you created the mechanic in the first place. What does it model, what does it map? What actual definable thing about the character or creature or setting does it represent?
I know you don't like the answer but the answer is: "The ability of a character to continue to fight". That is what HP is.



The orc in your example tries to hit the PC. If the orc fails to hit, then the orc doesn't hit the PC. If the orc succeeds, then... maybe he failed anyway, because you need a way to justify the hyper-scaled HPs. That's where it breaks down. You only need to hold off on all those narrative details and retroactively fill them because you've got all this stuff bundled up in the ad-hoc justifications for what's really an ungrounded abstraction.
The orc was YOUR example, actually. If the orc succeeds, you need to know whether or not he has exceeded the threshold of the target's ability to continue fighting before you narrate it, don't you? If the PC had 7 HP remaining out of max 15, and the orc does 8 damage, he has dropped the character out of the fight, but not killed him. You need to know that BEFORE you can narrate the hit into something for the "fiction layer". If that same orc hits that same PC for 23 damage, that PC is dead. And now that you know that, the blow can be narrated as something instantly lethal, like decapitation. If that same orc hits that same PC for 5 damage, the PC isn't even knocked unconscious, and a narrative of a strike that is either lethal or even debilitating is inappropriate.


If the hit roll determines whether the orc hit, and that's it, and a hit is a hit, and a miss is a miss, then the "fiction layer" and the "system layer" proceed hand-in-hand, and there is no need to retroactively backfill. On miss, proceed to next attempted action by one of the characters. On hit, proceed to damage. Etc.
And you can do that with HP. But, since HP are an abstraction, an individual table may choose to narrate it as a near-miss. Or a glancing blow off of the target's armor.

I'm sorry, but to my perception, you are sounding more and more like you object to anyone playing in a style that is different than your and calling themselves "right".



Explained above, those "markers" were only used due to the need to counter your blatant misrepresentation of what I want or like.
And yet you keep reinforcing those representations by demanding that it "be one or the other". So how have I misrepresented your preferences when you keep saying that you WANT it to be something concrete and defined? That's all I have been saying about what you want or like.



It's already been laid out how it doesn't work in multiple ways. It's a mashup of potential but uncertain fiction-layer elements in an indeterminate abstraction that immediately start contradicting each other and other parts of the system once you take them as actually true.
No, you've laid out multiple ways that it doesn't work FOR YOU.

If it works for other people who have no problem with HP being ephemeral and undefined until they need to be for a given loss of them, then you cannot say, conclusively, that it is a "fact" that they "do not work".

That is the distinction between objective fact and subjective opinion.

The evasion thing has been spelled out for you, and all of those points answered. Scroll up to the relevant post, I'm not repeating it.


Because the text is just another set of assertions that can be wrong as easily as anyone else.

Incorrect. D&D is both a GAME, and a construct of FANTASY. Ergo, the developers actually DO get to make tautological statements, and those things can be true for the RAW of a D&D world. There is no obligation to NOT be self-referential. When the devs say, in the RAW text, "HP can be many things, at different times, for different characters", then it can be said to be true.

Look Max, this is a Forum discussion. And while there is no wrong way to PLAY D&D, when it comes to Forum Discussions, it is impossible to account for all possible permutations of house rules that could be used. Therefore, the only thing that can be accepted as FACT is what is in the RAW. That needs to be a foundational understanding for anyone participating in a RAW discussion.

So that means that any discussion or argument you make that is predicated on the foundation of "Max_Killjoy is right and the Rules themselves are wrong" is not a discussion that anyone is ever going to be able to have civilly with you, because you have violated one of the basic tenets of discourse. You are not debating honestly if you are not willing to engage under the same rules we abide by.

Serenity
2019-05-13, 07:58 PM
I just realized that what I have been trying to say to you is summed up perfectly in Psyren's signature. in the quote from The Giant, himself:
"But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?"

Because the assumption 'HP is meat' fits with all other text *except* the brief statement that 'HP is not meat', while the assumption 'HP is not meat' does not fit with the text of falling damage, injury poisons or diseases, Stunning Fist, the grab ability, the rend ability, the Cure X Wounds spells...

Zhorn
2019-05-13, 07:59 PM
I keep reading these back-and-forths over this thread, and it seem that describing a hit that causes damage without killing the target as 'partially evaded' where most of the problems lie.

It's all narrative fluff, and at the end of day is meaningless mechanically. But a rule of thumb I feel needs to be maintained is to describe a hit AS a hit if healing IS healing. Blocked is fine, rolling with a bunch works, hitting armor, blah blah blah. Those being hits, causing damage and surviving fit the narrative just fine.
Losing HP and narrating it as 'evading' is causing that narrative dissonance since you are now in that realm of not having an injury to heal, but healing restores HP.

Whether HP is meat or not probably matters less than whether there is consistency in how you narrate HP loss with HP restoration.
HP as meat: hits cause cuts, bruises, burns, etc, and healing mends that. (A hit is a hit AND healing is healing)
HP as not meat: hits are survived by expending your heroic will to evade taking any hit, and 'healing' is just recharging your heroic capacity (Hits are not hits AND healing is not healing)

kyoryu
2019-05-13, 08:00 PM
And if one does not want incoherent mechanics?

Don’t play D&D?

Psyren
2019-05-13, 08:15 PM
First, why don't HP totals go down when those characters are affected by things or events that alter those sources of HP? Why doesn't a character with "evasiveness" lose HP when they're walking on a tar-covered floor? Why doesn't a character with "inner power" lose HP if they drain their inner power doing something else, or have it drained by something? Why doesn't a character who loses "divine favor" lose some of their HP? Etc, etc, etc.

No individual abstraction (evasiveness included) going down has to affect to affect all the others. Again, it depends on the situation.

There are many kinds of inner power too - such as levels (and by the way, negative levels do drain HP, so there's a direct tie if you're so gung-ho for one.)

Losing "divine favor" can be as simple as bad luck, like an enemy rolling max damage on an attack - i.e. more HP loss.

Etc, etc, etc.



Second, that hoary old excuse for reasoning from an old edition of the game doesn't even touch on all of the justifications that other posters have offered up.

Oh, now you care what other posters are saying? :smalltongue:

RedMage125
2019-05-13, 08:15 PM
Because the assumption 'HP is meat' fits with all other text *except* the brief statement that 'HP is not meat', while the assumption 'HP is not meat' does not fit with the text of falling damage, injury poisons or diseases, Stunning Fist, the grab ability, the rend ability, the Cure X Wounds spells...

I don't know what you think you're proving, but I think you haven't read the whole thread.

The text that says what HP is includes the phrase "physical toughness ". And it has been brought up on numerous occasions, that sometimes, a hit is best narrated as physical contact. Healing has also been covered. I invite you to read thru the rest of the thread. These have been addressed.

1337 b4k4
2019-05-13, 08:25 PM
I can explain why the two with different ACs get different outcomes. While AC is a bit of a mashup, at least I can directly link the fiction layer aspect and the system layer aspect and tell you specifically why one character got hit and the other didn't.

What I can't tell you, based on anything in the books or in this thread, is why the two characters with different HPs get different outcomes. If I want to do that, I have to retroactively make something up.

Why do some people die instantly from a bullet wound to the head and others survive? Why do some people fall 2 or 3 stories and die, while others fall 10 or even out of a plane and live? Obviously if we get detailed enough, we can answer those questions. But most people don't seem to enjoy determining which portions of the brain were damaged by the bullet path, and how many fragments of the skull penetrated, and how far, and how long until medical assistance showed up. Some people do, and for those people GURPS and its associated add ons exist. For everyone else, there are varying levels of abstraction of all the myriad of minor ways one individual can be better at surviving a given lethal danger than another. D&D happens to run this at a very high level of abstraction. Don't get me wrong, I love me some GURPS, but just because I love that degree of detail doesn't mean I have a problem with a higher level abstraction too. You have a gross adjustment to how difficult it is to land any sort of meaningful hit (AC), you have a gross adjustment for how effective an attacker is at placing their hits (BAB/THAC0), you have a gross adjustment for how relatively powerful a weapon is (damage die) and then for all the other fine adjustments that could make or break any given potentially lethal event, you have HP.

It's also probably worth noting that all abstractions are leaky. There is no way to make an abstraction that isn't leaky and trying is an exercise in frustration. One is better spending time making their abstractions fit the goal of the abstraction, rather than plug all the leaks.



Against 10 HP guy and against 100 HP guy, I can roll a 14, and add my bonus, and hit them both, and roll the same damage based on my weapon and bonuses... and one of them is dying, and the other isn't even phased Why? What's actually different about the two hits? Not the characters, the hits. Nothing is actually different, we simply ran into a spot where we needed to retroactively justify the different outcomes for two attacks that hit by the same margin and rolled the same damage total.

Nothing is different about the hits, just like nothing is different about the fireball cast against a tree vs a fire elemental. The difference is entirely on the receiving end.


Now, someone will suggest that the 100 HP character is skilled enough to partially evade the hit. OK, but if that's the case, let's go back to your "two different ACs" example. If that's part of the equation, why is it that a hit that beats one character's AC by 1 and the other character's AC by 5 don't differ in any way after that point in the process? If skill is part of the equation, why doesn't the more skillful strike do more damage?

Because AC is about complete evasion (or more accurately evasion sufficient to make the hit entirely inconsequential). Exceeding the AC is the threshold for getting in a hit at all. Just like depleting HP to 0 is the threshold for dealing lethal damage. Until you have exceeded the AC threshold, you've done no damage at all. Until you've exceeded the HP threshold (barring certain effects that have fallen out of style over the years) you've done no lethal damage at all.

Let's take HP out of the equation for a bit. Let's imagine instead that AC was ablative, and every creature has just 3 hit points. Until you've ablated all the AC, the creature themselves takes no meat damage at all. Would you have a problem with the fact that a creature with 10 AC and a creature with 2 AC wind up alive and dead respectively when taking 5 damage? If you don't have a problem with that, would you have a problem if AC was instead called "passive defense" and depending on the creature might represent tough hide, or armor, or small size and great dexterity?

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-13, 09:40 PM
Why do some people die instantly from a bullet wound to the head and others survive? Why do some people fall 2 or 3 stories and die, while others fall 10 or even out of a plane and live? Obviously if we get detailed enough, we can answer those questions. But most people don't seem to enjoy determining which portions of the brain were damaged by the bullet path, and how many fragments of the skull penetrated, and how far, and how long until medical assistance showed up. Some people do, and for those people GURPS and its associated add ons exist. For everyone else, there are varying levels of abstraction of all the myriad of minor ways one individual can be better at surviving a given lethal danger than another. D&D happens to run this at a very high level of abstraction. Don't get me wrong, I love me some GURPS, but just because I love that degree of detail doesn't mean I have a problem with a higher level abstraction too. You have a gross adjustment to how difficult it is to land any sort of meaningful hit (AC), you have a gross adjustment for how effective an attacker is at placing their hits (BAB/THAC0), you have a gross adjustment for how relatively powerful a weapon is (damage die) and then for all the other fine adjustments that could make or break any given potentially lethal event, you have HP.

It's also probably worth noting that all abstractions are leaky. There is no way to make an abstraction that isn't leaky and trying is an exercise in frustration. One is better spending time making their abstractions fit the goal of the abstraction, rather than plug all the leaks.


Assuming that's true, the answer to "all abstractions have leaks" is not "well then let's make all our abstractions really leaky and not even try".




Nothing is different about the hits, just like nothing is different about the fireball cast against a tree vs a fire elemental. The difference is entirely on the receiving end.


OK, based on that... what is different?

What about the characters themselves causes one to have more hit points than the other? (That is, "one has more hit points" is not the answer, it's part of the question.)




Because AC is about complete evasion (or more accurately evasion sufficient to make the hit entirely inconsequential). Exceeding the AC is the threshold for getting in a hit at all. Just like depleting HP to 0 is the threshold for dealing lethal damage. Until you have exceeded the AC threshold, you've done no damage at all. Until you've exceeded the HP threshold (barring certain effects that have fallen out of style over the years) you've done no lethal damage at all.

Let's take HP out of the equation for a bit. Let's imagine instead that AC was ablative, and every creature has just 3 hit points. Until you've ablated all the AC, the creature themselves takes no meat damage at all. Would you have a problem with the fact that a creature with 10 AC and a creature with 2 AC wind up alive and dead respectively when taking 5 damage? If you don't have a problem with that, would you have a problem if AC was instead called "passive defense" and depending on the creature might represent tough hide, or armor, or small size and great dexterity?


That's no better than the current setup, just a shuffled arrangement of the abstractions-of-abstractions.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-13, 09:57 PM
Because the assumption 'HP is meat' fits with all other text *except* the brief statement that 'HP is not meat', while the assumption 'HP is not meat' does not fit with the text of falling damage, injury poisons or diseases, Stunning Fist, the grab ability, the rend ability, the Cure X Wounds spells...

Unlike some past editions, 5e appears to have fastidiously avoided any sort of real description in the Heal, Cure, etc spells... leaving them simply as bland "target regains Hit Points" text... almost as if they left it intentionally vague to avoid having to actually make sense of it all. Huh.

1337 b4k4
2019-05-13, 10:12 PM
Assuming that's true, the answer to "all abstractions have leaks" is not "well then let's make all our abstractions really leaky and not even try".

So far no evidence that the decision was "let's make all our abstractions really leaky and not even try"





OK, based on that... what is different?

What about the characters themselves causes one to have more hit points than the other? (That is, "one has more hit points" is not the answer, it's part of the question.)

What does the fiction say? Why in BECMI are black bears AC 6, but grizzly bears AC 8? Why is a boar AC 7 but a great boar is AC 3? Why are all great cats except the panther AC 6? Why do large dinosaurs have AC between 2 and 7? Why does the color of the dragon change its AC? Why does a generic elf monster have the same AC as an elephant?

Obviously the answer to all of these depends on the specific animal or monster in question and how various real world traits and other odds and ends factor into building up the monster's general passive armor thresholds. No one seriously thinks that the elf and the elephant having the same AC means the elf is walking around wearing elephant hide armor. No one thinks that the panther having a 4 AC compared to all the other great cats means it's armor plated with dragon scales. If you're comfortable with letting the creature specific fiction and lore speak to the meaning behind the AC number, why are you so uncomfortable doing the same for HP?



That's no better than the current setup, just a shuffled arrangement of the abstractions-of-abstractions.

Why is it no better? You've agreed that AC at least maps more directly to a concrete thing in the real world. If the issue is with the mapping, surely this is at least a little better in your mind? Or is the fundamental issue less that you don't like the mapping and more that you just don't like abstract ablative damage pools, regardless of what they map to?

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-13, 10:17 PM
So far no evidence that the decision was "let's make all our abstractions really leaky and not even try"


What's what HP appears to be...




What does the fiction say? Why in BECMI are black bears AC 6, but grizzly bears AC 8? Why is a boar AC 7 but a great boar is AC 3? Why are all great cats except the panther AC 6? Why do large dinosaurs have AC between 2 and 7? Why does the color of the dragon change its AC? Why does a generic elf monster have the same AC as an elephant?

Obviously the answer to all of these depends on the specific animal or monster in question and how various real world traits and other odds and ends factor into building up the monster's general passive armor thresholds. No one seriously thinks that the elf and the elephant having the same AC means the elf is walking around wearing elephant hide armor. No one thinks that the panther having a 4 AC compared to all the other great cats means it's armor plated with dragon scales. If you're comfortable with letting the creature specific fiction and lore speak to the meaning behind the AC number, why are you so uncomfortable doing the same for HP?


I think I just asked specifically that about the two characters in the example.




Why is it no better? You've agreed that AC at least maps more directly to a concrete thing in the real world. If the issue is with the mapping, surely this is at least a little better in your mind? Or is the fundamental issue less that you don't like the mapping and more that you just don't like ablative damage pools, regardless of what they map to?


Yes, AC maps more directly than HP's not at all.

But the change your hypothetical suggested -- making it "ablative" -- would make AC considerably worse in that regard.

Telok
2019-05-13, 10:22 PM
Honestly with the scaling in D&D being what it is I don't think HP can represent anything anymore. It's a game where I've seen someone set themself on fire to provide light for the party to read a sign. Someone having 30 times the HP at high level than they had at low levels just doesn't have belivable explanations. It's just a video game style health bar now.

jjordan
2019-05-13, 10:26 PM
Unlike some past editions, 5e appears to have fastidiously avoided any sort of real description in the Heal, Cure, etc spells... leaving them simply as bland "target regains Hit Points" text... almost as if they left it intentionally vague to avoid having to actually make sense of it all. Huh.The most logical design choice. Maximum inclusivity. Maximum flexibility. Maximum simplicity. Keeps the nerds busy.

I think discussing what HP might be is interesting. I think discussing how to implement HP in your game is useful. I think arguing about what they must be is folly. Though I've really enjoyed your points on narrative consistency in a setting.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-13, 10:28 PM
Honestly with the scaling in D&D being what it is I don't think HP can represent anything anymore. It's a game where I've seen someone set themself on fire to provide light for the party to read a sign. Someone having 30 times the HP at high level than they had at low levels just doesn't have believable explanations. It's just a video game style health bar now.


That might be the least-bent explanation at this point.

1337 b4k4
2019-05-13, 10:29 PM
What's what HP appears to be...

Begging the question.



I think I just asked specifically that about the two characters in the example.


But you provided no such information about the characters such that we could answer. Likewise, we couldn't tell you why they're both equally difficult to hit in the first place other than the AC values are the same. If referring to the numbers themselves is not sufficient reason for WHY the characters are different, then one must look to the fiction which the numbers abstract. Again, you seem to have no problems mapping physical armor and natural armor to a single number in AC and recognizing that it could be representing two different things. Why is the fact that the HP number represents different things in fiction so much harder to accept?



Yes, AC maps more directly than HP's not at all.

But the change your hypothetical suggested -- making it "ablative" -- would make AC considerably worse in that regard.

It makes it a more realistic abstraction. Almost all armor is ablative in some way or another. Very little armor can take infinite beatings and leave the soft nougat center it's protecting unharmed without degrading in protective quality. Certainly it better reflects our real understanding of armor than some magical force which withstands all damage below a threshold and is completely worthless to all damage above a threshold while simultaneously remaining unaffected by the fact that damage was taken exceeding the threshold.

So again, is your issue that HP doesn't map to the same concrete thing for each point and each character or is your issue with ablative damage pools?

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-13, 10:36 PM
Begging the question.


Oh hardly.




But you provided no such information about the characters such that we could answer. Likewise, we couldn't tell you why they're both equally difficult to hit in the first place other than the AC values are the same. If referring to the numbers themselves is not sufficient reason for WHY the characters are different, then one must look to the fiction which the numbers abstract. Again, you seem to have no problems mapping physical armor and natural armor to a single number in AC and recognizing that it could be representing two different things. Why is the fact that the HP number represents different things in fiction so much harder to accept?


Where did I say I had no problems with AC? I believe I described as a mashup, but one that could at least have some sense made of it. I can at least look at a character sheet and tell you in what way a character's AC is generally based on how agile the character is, and what kind of armor they're wearing, at the fiction layer.

I cannot tell you what makes one character take ten times as many of the same sword hit to kill -- exactly the same sword hit.




It makes it a more realistic abstraction. Almost all armor is ablative in some way or another. Very little armor can take infinite beatings and leave the soft nougat center it's protecting unharmed without degrading in protective quality. Certainly it better reflects our real understanding of armor than some magical force which withstands all damage below a threshold and is completely worthless to all damage above a threshold while simultaneously remaining unaffected by the fact that damage was taken exceeding the threshold.

So again, is your issue that HP doesn't map to the same concrete thing for each point and each character or is your issue with ablative damage pools?


You seem to think you've caught me in some sort of contradiction, because I'm "OK with" AC or something along those lines.

You haven't.

If I wanted a more realistic model for what's mashed up in AC, evading hits and "resisting" hits wouldn't be part of the same thing.

The AC that's in D&D now gets a leg up on HP simply by being neither a total indistinct muddle, nor an abstraction of an abstraction, nor a video game health bar.

Psyren
2019-05-13, 11:53 PM
I think I just asked specifically that about the two characters in the example.

Someone decided fire elementals should be immune to fire, just like someone decided grizzly bears should have more HP than black bears. You can deal with it, or not.

kyoryu
2019-05-14, 12:25 AM
I'll see if I can find the quotes/evidence/etc. but HP was really just a game-level mechanic. It wasn't intended to model anything - it was intended, based on what was happening in Gary's game in Lake Geneva, to make the game more fun and to solve gameplay problems.

Originally "hit dice" were basically the number of enemies that would have to strike an opponent in a turn to kill them. D&D is an evolved system that had "fun game" as its guiding principle, not realism.

Segev
2019-05-14, 01:09 AM
Max asked about the difference between a guy with 10 hp and a guy with 100 hp.

We are to assume they have the same AC and hat the to hit roll exceeded that number by the same amount. We are also, obviously, assuming that the damage rolled is the same.

Our aggressor is Billy, a 13-year-old punk with a baseball bat who rolls 5 damage on this successful attack.

The 10 hp guy is a varsity football player who he wants to beat up to earn some cred with the tough guy crowd at school.

The 100 hp guy is Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, whom Billy thinks will be a serious boost to his rep if he can beat him up.

(Billy isn’t very bright, and is an evil little snot.)

The football playing school boy is very gifted, and has the same Dex as the Rock. Both are wearing street clothes. Billy’s bat swing is dangerously accurate enough that neither of them are able to dodge or otherwise ignore it in a fashion that they could keep up for longer than a typical combat lasts, and be fresh as they were before with only a couple minutes’ rest. So neither dodges trivially and Billy doesn’t comedically miss, and the bat doesn’t bounce harmlessly off of any armor or magically tough flesh.

5 hp doesn’t drop the football school boy. It does, however, represent about half his ability to keep fighting being exhausted. The varsity boy this frantically dodges and is a touch off-balance at this assault, and probably took some sort of grazing hit.

The Rock, on the other hand, has both far more muscle to absorb blows and years of training and practice as a wrestler in “selling” lethal-looking hits and getting back up because they weren’t. He also fails to be able to dodge or otherwise ignore the hit completely, but the blow is taken in a calculated way, using techniques the Rock knows to minimize the bat’s leverage and to roll with it. He can’t take 5 hp hits forever, but he certainly doesn’t look terribly inconvenienced after this one.

This is ONE EXAMPLE. Note how I spelled out specific situations to give a complete picture. If the 100 go guy were Jack Sparrow, the blow would be a near miss made by his desperate defensive antics, probably involving broken plates and stepping between wooden posts to rob the blow of momentum before it hit. If Billy were an assassin with a poisoned knife, the wounds would be flesh wounds in both cases, just lesser in the Rock’s, but would force poison saves because of the shallow (or not so shallow, in the varsity boy’s case) cuts.

Now, I know Max dislikes this. But the fundamental answer to his question about the difference between he 100 hp guy and the 10 hp guy is that one is much better in a fight than the other. How is he better? It varies by person, just like “how is a level 20 character stronger than a level 1 character?” Varies from character to character. Or “how is a DC 30 lock harder to open than a DC 5 lock?” Will vary from lock to lock.

Blacksmiths’ puzzles would be abstracted to a skill check (probably disable device), but two puzzles of the same difficulty might be entirely different in the fiction layer.

Hytheter
2019-05-14, 01:52 AM
5 hp doesn’t drop the football school boy. It does, however, represent about half his ability to keep fighting being exhausted. The varsity boy this frantically dodges and is a touch off-balance at this assault, and probably took some sort of grazing hit.

The Rock, on the other hand, has both far more muscle to absorb blows and years of training and practice as a wrestler in “selling” lethal-looking hits and getting back up because they weren’t. He also fails to be able to dodge or otherwise ignore the hit completely, but the blow is taken in a calculated way, using techniques the Rock knows to minimize the bat’s leverage and to roll with it. He can’t take 5 hp hits forever, but he certainly doesn’t look terribly inconvenienced after this one.

And yet when the medic shows up, the hits "lessened" by the Rock's maneuvers require exactly as much treatment as the halfway lethal blow taken by the Varsity guy even though they are supposedly much less severe.


If Billy were an assassin with a poisoned knife, the wounds would be flesh wounds in both cases, just lesser in the Rock’s, but would force poison saves because of the shallow (or not so shallow, in the varsity boy’s case) cuts.

So then why does the Rock's shallow scratch take the same amount of healing to recover as the varsity guy's semi-deadly wound and apply the same poison effects with the same DC?

Speaking of DCs, if HP includes stuff like skill and luck then why do so many abilities work equally well regardless of how much HP you've got left? Having 200 HP gives you the magic power to always have convenient branches or debris below you every time you fall from a great height (unless you got punched a lot beforehand) but offers no extra protection against Hold Person?

Speaking of Hold Person, what if the Rock and the Varsity guy are both paralysed? At that point taking blows in a calculated manner and rolling with the punches are clearly no longer applicable but the Rock is still 10 times tougher, suggesting that his skill wasn't actually making a difference at all.

Florian
2019-05-14, 02:25 AM
@Hytheter:

The important point is to know when to use HP as an abstraction and when to know when the abstraction gets in the way.

3E/3.5E/PF includes a small but important paragraph in their respective DMG/GMG: Assume that everything works as in our reality unless explicitly stated otherwise.

There's a very easy question to verify the stance on that: Assume that a high-level Barbarian is held hostage at knife point. Will cutting his throat kill the high-level barbarian or not?

That's why the question about the punk with the baseball bat and two guys with different HP totals is next to meaningless. You don´t model the strike with the baseball bat, you model how those two guys deal with it.

deuterio12
2019-05-14, 05:05 AM
@Hytheter:

The important point is to know when to use HP as an abstraction and when to know when the abstraction gets in the way.

3E/3.5E/PF includes a small but important paragraph in their respective DMG/GMG: Assume that everything works as in our reality unless explicitly stated otherwise.

There's a very easy question to verify the stance on that: Assume that a high-level Barbarian is held hostage at knife point. Will cutting his throat kill the high-level barbarian or not?

That's why the question about the punk with the baseball bat and two guys with different HP totals is next to meaningless. You don´t model the strike with the baseball bat, you model how those two guys deal with it.

Knifing an helpless victim is a coup-de-grace which deals an auto-crit and a save-or-die fort save, so the high-level barbarian has much better odds of getting his throat slashed and plain shrugging it off than the lv1 dude.

The thing with HP is that they indeed keep working just fine regardless of you being surprised, helpless, paralyzed, stunned, dazed, blinded, deaf, you name it, so there's simply no way they're actually dependent on any kind of personal reaction.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-14, 06:59 AM
The thing with HP is that they indeed keep working just fine regardless of you being surprised, helpless, paralyzed, stunned, dazed, blinded, deaf, you name it, so there's simply no way they're actually dependent on any kind of personal reaction.

One of the points I've been making.

If HP have evasiveness built in, why don't HP go down when something hinders the character's evasiveness?

Maybe someone will suggest some sort of fantasy superheroic sixth sense... at which point I'd have to ask why this thing only shows up buried in the character's HP....

RedMage125
2019-05-14, 07:40 AM
One of the points I've been making.

If HP have evasiveness built in, why don't HP go down when something hinders the character's evasiveness?

Maybe someone will suggest some sort of fantasy superheroic sixth sense... at which point I'd have to ask why this thing only shows up buried in the character's HP....

I think this point is intellectually dishonest by now.

Segev pointed out earlier, and I also mentioned, general "evasiveness" is the DEX bonus to AC. And that DOES go down when evasiveness is hindered. If loss of HP is narrated as the blow being "narrowly evaded", that's the kind of last-second "oh, crap" attempt to roll with the blow, or knee-jerk response that pulls one out of the way at the last second. Either way, it's tiring, and cannot be done repeatedly forever.

It's been pointed out multiple times, that narration of HP loss is always going to be post-hoc, and vastly dependent on the kind of damage, how much damage, and how many HP the target was left with, as well as the subjective specifics of the target in question. Until you have all of that data, HP narration cannot occur, at least not as HP are defined by RAW.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-14, 08:43 AM
Now, I know Max dislikes this. But the fundamental answer to his question about the difference between he 100 hp guy and the 10 hp guy is that one is much better in a fight than the other. How is he better? It varies by person, just like “how is a level 20 character stronger than a level 1 character?” Varies from character to character.


The various aspects of "how much better one fights than the other" are already captured in part of AC, and in attack bonus, and in maneuvers and special class/subclass abilities, and so on. If none of that is different, why would HP be different, if HP is based on the same things?

And, if HP does include "how much better one fights than the other" why aren't HP diminished by circumstances that hinder a character's ability to fight? That's what I mean when I say that "it's fighting skill... until it isn't".

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-14, 08:54 AM
I think this point is intellectually dishonest by now.

Segev pointed out earlier, and I also mentioned, general "evasiveness" is the DEX bonus to AC. And that DOES go down when evasiveness is hindered. If loss of HP is narrated as the blow being "narrowly evaded", that's the kind of last-second "oh, crap" attempt to roll with the blow, or knee-jerk response that pulls one out of the way at the last second. Either way, it's tiring, and cannot be done repeatedly forever.


Evasion is evasion. Either it's part of HP, or it's not. If it's part of HP, then HP needs to diminish when evasiveness is hindered. If evasiveness is part of both AC and HP, then both need to be affected by circumstances that affect evasiveness.

The idea of a split of "evaded" vs "narrowly evaded" is nonsense, especially in the context of armor's deflection and absorption of hits being part of AC. That is, some of this supposed "narrowly evaded" is in AC already, along with the "evaded" from DEX, but it's also supposedly part of HP... which just takes us right back to the same questions.




It's been pointed out multiple times, that narration of HP loss is always going to be post-hoc, and vastly dependent on the kind of damage, how much damage, and how many HP the target was left with, as well as the subjective specifics of the target in question. Until you have all of that data, HP narration cannot occur, at least not as HP are defined by RAW.


Then wonder of wonders, D&D has always been a "narrative" game, despite its "gamist" appearance. (Insert eye-roll emote here.)

Psyren
2019-05-14, 09:21 AM
Then wonder of wonders, D&D has always been a "narrative" game, despite its "gamist" appearance. (Insert eye-roll emote here.)

It's both. Like every TTRPG. *rolls eyes right back*

Constructman
2019-05-14, 09:23 AM
Evasion is evasion. Either it's part of HP, or it's not. If it's part of HP, then HP needs to diminish when evasiveness is hindered. If evasiveness is part of both AC and HP, then both need to be affected by circumstances that affect evasiveness.

The idea of a split of "evaded" vs "narrowly evaded" is nonsense, especially in the context of armor's deflection and absorption of hits being part of AC. That is, some of this supposed "narrowly evaded" is in AC already, along with the "evaded" from DEX, but it's also supposedly part of HP... which just takes us right back to the same questions.




Then wonder of wonders, D&D has always been a "narrative" game, despite its "gamist" appearance. (Insert eye-roll emote here.)
NOBODY CARES EXCEPT YOU.

Like holy **** get the stick out of your ass can we just accept that the HP number is just the thing that goes down whenever you get smacked so that you don't have to have an anatomy chart open whenever combat is joined?

I just caught up with the thread and the last few pages have been going in circles because you keep on insisting that the system is irrefutably, objectively broken, and implying that those that argue otherwise and are fine with it as a subjective taste -- or Lord have mercy, like the fact it's so vague -- have some kind of moral deficiency. You haven't said it out loud, but that's the tone I'm getting from your posts. Knock it off.

kyoryu
2019-05-14, 09:33 AM
Then wonder of wonders, D&D has always been a "narrative" game, despite its "gamist" appearance. (Insert eye-roll emote here.)

Nah, it’s “gamist”. HP exist because they make for a fun game. They don’t model anything. If you don’t like that, cool. If you don’t like the word “narrate”, substitute “describe” - they effectively mean the same thing in this usage.

I’m not sure what you’re point is here:

D&D is a bad simulationist game? I think everyone agrees on that.

You don’t like changing the narration based on situation? Okay.

You don’t like games where statistics don’t consistently map to concrete concepts? Okay.

Not a lot of argument on any of these points. Unless you’re trying to claim that your preferences are an objective measure of goodness, and that D&D is a “bad” game because it doesn’t meet your criteria even though it might be perfectly suited for those with different criteria.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-14, 09:42 AM
NOBODY CARES EXCEPT YOU.

Like holy **** get the stick out of your ass can we just accept that the HP number is just the thing that goes down whenever you get smacked so that you don't have to have an anatomy chart open whenever combat is joined?

I just caught up with the thread and the last few pages have been going in circles because you keep on insisting that the system is irrefutably, objectively broken, and implying that those that argue otherwise and are fine with it as a subjective taste -- or Lord have mercy, like the fact it's so vague -- have some kind of moral deficiency. You haven't said it out loud, but that's the tone I'm getting from your posts. Knock it off.


Evidently several people care, or the thread wouldn't have been created and wouldn't still be going...

As for the rest... I suggest decaff and less projection.

Jay R
2019-05-14, 09:49 AM
You can only get out of a simulation what was put into it.

HP is a high-level abstraction representing how much more punishment you can take, without a detailed description of the punishment already taken.

If you flip a coin to decide which side wins a large battle, you can't use that result to determine if the left flank failed to hold, or if the center was smashed through by the cavalry, because that simulation didn't simulate that aspect. Flipping a coin is a realistic simulation of a battle between even forces, but it isn't a detailed one.

Similarly, you can make a Diplomacy check to determine if the baron will support your cause. If you succeed, was it because you gave rational reasons, or because he likes your bard, or because it aligns with his strategic goals, or because he's feeling particularly mellow just then? You can't tell, because the simulation didn't treat those separately.

All attempts to determine what the details of hit points represent must fail, because hit points don't have those details.

RedMage125
2019-05-14, 09:53 AM
Evasion is evasion. Either it's part of HP, or it's not. If it's part of HP, then HP needs to diminish when evasiveness is hindered. If evasiveness is part of both AC and HP, then both need to be affected by circumstances that affect evasiveness.

The idea of a split of "evaded" vs "narrowly evaded" is nonsense, especially in the context of armor's deflection and absorption of hits being part of AC. That is, some of this supposed "narrowly evaded" is in AC already, along with the "evaded" from DEX, but it's also supposedly part of HP... which just takes us right back to the same questions.
You missed a great deal of what the point was. Since HP are just a metagame concept (as evidenced by the fact that in-character, no one knows what a "hit point" is or how many they have), and it can be a lot of things (physical or mental toughness, luck, will to live, just to name some of 5e's examples), and since those things could be different for different characters...which one it is -particularly- is part of a post-hoc narration that occurs after all of the facts have been determined.

It might not be "evasiveness" for the paladin in full plate. It might be physical toughness, divine favor, will to live, or something else.

It's precisely BECAUSE it is not one, concrete, explicitly defined thing that it doesn't just go down when a character's evasiveness is hindered.

You do understand the reference when I said it was "Schrödinger's meat/luck/skill/etc", right? Erwin Schrödinger, when explaining the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics, explained that if a cat is in a box with a vial of poison gas, and above the vial is a hammer that is attached to a Geiger counter, which will drop the hammer and release the gas if a single atom of radiation is detected, then the cat can be said to be in a state where it is both alive and dead until such time as one opens the box to observe it. It is the observation of the cat that makes it actually alive or dead. until such time as it is observed, it is both. Thus with HP. Until such time as HP are lost, they can be any number of things. they could be physical toughness, luck, will to live, favor of the gods...anything. Once the circumstances of HP loss occur, and the damage is calculated, and we know how many HP the target has remaining (and out of what total), can we narrate what occurred.

That's what we have been saying for several pages now. You don't LIKE that answer, I get it. But that's the answer that is in line with what the RAW says about HP. Narration of a given hit is entirely subjective, and in the purview of the DM and Player to decide for themselves.

I don't approve of the personal attack manner in which Constructionman made his point, but he is right about one thing. You have been behaving as if those of us who are fine with (or even prefer) that HP not be defined as only one, concrete thing, are somehow "doing it wrong", and that such somehow offends you. This is the perception that you are creating, I'm not saying you consciously believe this. But be aware that such is how you come across. I would personally appreciate it if you would be more civil and less insistent that your preferences are somehow "superior" to what the RAW say as if that were some kind of objective fact. I get that your preferences are superior for you. I am not diminishing how you like to play, how you prefer your rules to work, or anything of the sort. I am asking that you not conflate such with Objective Fact. Objective Fact is something that is going to be true, regardless of perception or preference. That HP is supposed to represent a lot of things, and can be any one or more of them in different situations is a fact. Calling this a "failing" is an opinion. Most value judgements are.



Then wonder of wonders, D&D has always been a "narrative" game, despite its "gamist" appearance. (Insert eye-roll emote here.)

And yet, it is still a game. Before it is a "narrative game", it is a "game". And therefore it has rules and mechanics. HOW people narrate their "narrative game" is subjective and individual. D&D actually encourages people to make it their own.

It's both. Like every TTRPG. *rolls eyes right back*
Quite.

stuff
Constructionman, I appreciate that you are on "the same side of the fence" as it were, but please review the Forum Rules (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/announcement.php?a=1).



Not a lot of argument on any of these points. Unless you’re trying to claim that your preferences are an objective measure of goodness, and that D&D is a “bad” game because it doesn’t meet your criteria even though it might be perfectly suited for those with different criteria.
Honestly, if he would just acknowledge that his preferences are not an objective measure of goodness, I'd be satisfied. I've been barking up that tree with a number of posters on the forums for years.

1337 b4k4
2019-05-14, 10:02 AM
Evasion is evasion. Either it's part of HP, or it's not. If it's part of HP, then HP needs to diminish when evasiveness is hindered. If evasiveness is part of both AC and HP, then both need to be affected by circumstances that affect evasiveness.

The idea of a split of "evaded" vs "narrowly evaded" is nonsense, especially in the context of armor's deflection and absorption of hits being part of AC. That is, some of this supposed "narrowly evaded" is in AC already, along with the "evaded" from DEX, but it's also supposedly part of HP... which just takes us right back to the same questions.

One is gross evasion, and the other is fine. Just like on a microscope you have gross and fine focus adjustments. One represents the sort of easy evasion you can do all day because it’s just that easy and natural for your character. The other is for the sort of last minute evasions that mean the difference between taking a haymaker to your nose and turning your head to take it to the temple. Both are powerful hits and both have done you damage but only one left you with a broken nose. But that sort of evasion you can only keep up for so long. Eventually all of those blows to the head are going to take you down even without the broken bones.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-14, 10:12 AM
Nah, it’s “gamist”. HP exist because they make for a fun game. They don’t model anything. If you don’t like that, cool. If you don’t like the word “narrate”, substitute “describe” - they effectively mean the same thing in this usage.

I’m not sure what you’re point is here:

D&D is a bad simulationist game? I think everyone agrees on that.

You don’t like changing the narration based on situation? Okay.

You don’t like games where statistics don’t consistently map to concrete concepts? Okay.

Not a lot of argument on any of these points. Unless you’re trying to claim that your preferences are an objective measure of goodness, and that D&D is a “bad” game because it doesn’t meet your criteria even though it might be perfectly suited for those with different criteria.

I'm going to go back and make that line blue. My mistake for thinking the sarcasm would come through clearly.

Note that I really haven't posted any arguments against the idea that D&D Hit Points don't model anything or mean anything. That's a stance consistent with the facts at hand, and the way the mechanic works. And at that point, they can't

If there's a claim as to what they actually consistently represent, then I try to address that.

What I've been arguing against is the claim that they represent an indefinite shifting muddled abstraction of the abstraction "can keep fighting, but not forever", made up of some combination of one or more of toughness, evasiveness, luck, "diving favor", "personal power", magic, and whatever ineffable whatever that keeps changing moment to moment isn't known until after all the rolls are made and one is trying to retroactively explain the result.

Segev
2019-05-14, 10:13 AM
And yet when the medic shows up, the hits "lessened" by the Rock's maneuvers require exactly as much treatment as the halfway lethal blow taken by the Varsity guy even though they are supposedly much less severe.The physical wounds? No, they require less. The energy expended? Sure, it takes as much time to recover, but unless the Rock is getting into lots of fights, or that fight goes on WAY longer than the one round we're discussing, nobody's going to notice that it takes him however many days it takes to recover the hp that the medic can't restore. (Though for 5 hp, the Heal check I think can manage it, even the 1 treatment you're allowed per day. I'd have to dig into the rules, though; it's very rare for mundane healing to be a factor in hp matters in actual play, because clerics.) If we bring magical healing into it, we're back to the abstraction anyway: yes, it takes as much "healing energy" to get the Rock back up to full as it does the varsity football player. It's restoring that je ne se qua as well as flesh; whatever the hp lost represented. Because it's magical healing, and it restores "life energy" or whatever you call it. I'm not even copping out here: it's positive energy, and it's magic, and it restores hp.


So then why does the Rock's shallow scratch take the same amount of healing to recover as the varsity guy's semi-deadly wound and apply the same poison effects with the same DC?I've answered about the same amount of healing (though, actually, going mundane with rest and such, the Rock technically heals faster than the kid anyway, because he has more hit dice, and I'm pretty sure those factor into healing rate). If we move to 5e, actually, both of them fully recover their hp after 8 hours of rest, so they absolutely must model nearly everything but "meat" damage.

As to the same poison DC, for the same reason that the attacker rolled the same to-hit and the same damage: the poison DC is a function of the poison, not the target. The results of the poison are a function of the poison + the target, which is why the Rock, if he has a higher fort save, is less likely to suffer the poison effects than the kid. If they both fail, the consequences to the Rock are potentially no different than to the kid, depending on the poison and the relative ability scores of the Rock and the varsity kid. If the poison is a knockout poison, they're both knocked out on a failed save. IF the poison deals ability damage, they both take the same ability damage on a failed save, and that ability damage may or may not have the same effect on both of them depending on whether their ability scores started out the same or not.

And if they didn't start out the same - if, for instance, it's a Constitution poison and the Rock has a 20 while the kid has a 12, they have different effects for the same reason that the same amount of damage has different effects on two different characters with different hp.


Speaking of DCs, if HP includes stuff like skill and luck then why do so many abilities work equally well regardless of how much HP you've got left? Having 200 HP gives you the magic power to always have convenient branches or debris below you every time you fall from a great height (unless you got punched a lot beforehand) but offers no extra protection against Hold Person?No, 200 hp gives you the ability to stave off mortal wounds by a number of different means, from skill to luck to personal toughness. Yes, the high-hp character will have convenient branches where the low-hp character did not, and the high-hp character who is out of hit points will find that his luck has finally run out. No, it isn't always "convenient branches."

I think that's the straw man that I'm most annoyed with. Can people who dislike the "hp are not always meat" formulation honestly not grasp that hp are a number of things, all balled up into one pool for simplicity's sake? Do you guys genuinely think that we're trying to say, "HP are always luck," and then changing our tune when you point out a specific situation where hp-as-luck doesn't work?


Speaking of Hold Person, what if the Rock and the Varsity guy are both paralysed? At that point taking blows in a calculated manner and rolling with the punches are clearly no longer applicable but the Rock is still 10 times tougher, suggesting that his skill wasn't actually making a difference at all.As is pointed out later, this is a coup de grace, and is an automatic critical hit that does double-again damage, and forces a fortitude save to not die.

At this point, the fact that the 100 hp Rock isn't dying from having his throat slashed is only partially about his hp, as he also needs to make a fortitude save. Hp-as-meat is definitely involved, as the Rock is quite the slab of beef, and forcing that knife through the muscle and sinew can be tricky. If he survives that AND the fortitude save, his heroic, olympian body has managed to stay alive.

Of course, this probably is just modeling that it took extra rounds of effort to saw into his neck or whatever it was that Billy was doing to execute him, because Billy can just keep coup de gracing every round until the Rock dies.


The thing with HP is that they indeed keep working just fine regardless of you being surprised, helpless, paralyzed, stunned, dazed, blinded, deaf, you name it, so there's simply no way they're actually dependent on any kind of personal reaction.Which is why they also represent luck, toughness, and actual meat. Or ki, or magic, or divine blessings, or whatever else makes the explanation work for you.

Note that coup de grace actions are really, really hard even for level 20 characters to survive. Well, barring magical defenses that have little to nothin to do with hp, such as the stereotypical optimized wizard's contingency to teleport away.


The various aspects of "how much better one fights than the other" are already captured in part of AC, and in attack bonus, and in maneuvers and special class/subclass abilities, and so on. If none of that is different, why would HP be different, if HP is based on the same things? No, they're partially captured in AC and attack bonus. Maneuvers, class features, and feats do, in fact, represent unique capabilities that might differ, but they're not the sum total.

HP represent anything that lets the character keep going. Fighting prowess and/or heroic willpower and/or luck and/or unspecified magic and/or ki force and/or meat are all possibilities.

The assertion that fighting prowess is entirely encapsulated by AC and attack bonus also means I can ask why anybody gets a reflex save. Does a reflex save not represent some form of avoid-damage prowess?

Arbitrarily stating that some amount of prowess in battle cannot be represented in hp is...well, arbitrary. Especially since the biggest PC examples of mountains of hp are exactly the sorts of characters you expect to be very good at fighting.


And, if HP does include "how much better one fights than the other" why aren't HP diminished by circumstances that hinder a character's ability to fight? That's what I mean when I say that "it's fighting skill... until it isn't".Once again, you're pretending that we're asserting it's only fighting skill, and that we're somehow cheating or being inconsistent when we say it isn't.

It's not even "it's fighting skill until it isn't." It's fighting skill when it is. "Fighting skill" isn't necessarily even the default; the default will depend a lot on the character, and may not be an officially-declared thing so much as a revelation achieved by seeing what the player chooses to characterize it as most often.

You're attacking a straw man when you complain that "it's fighting skill...until it isn't," because you're erecting a straw man when you pretend we're asserting that that's what it "really" is all the time, and being inconsistent or moving the goal posts when we change our minds because "fighting prowess" doesn't make sense in the face of a given example.

I suppose you're very upset that two blacksmiths' puzzles of the same DC aren't identical and don't use the exact same tricks to open them up? That two locks of the same DC to pick don't have exactly the same key open them? That a Climb DC of 30 represents a smooth ice wall today, when it represented vines hiding where they're firmly attached and where they're not on an inverted-angle slope yesterday? That a Will save represented having the observational skill to recognize that the "wall of fire" wasn't actually burning anything despite feeling painfully hot this morning, but the ability to call upon one's loyalty to one's cause to resist the command to smash the fragile artifact that is the only thing that can stop the Vampire King from becoming a god this afternoon? How inconsistent! Clearly, will can only be loyalty and devotion to resist compulsions; that can't help see through illusions! Clearly, a DC 30 climb check representing unreliable hand-holds on an inverted cliff can't also represent a verticle surface of sheer ice, that's inconsistent, and there must be a different set of skills for each! Clearly, if two locks have the same picking DC, they must have identical tumbler arrangements, so the same key can open them; to say otherwise is to be woefully inconsistent about it being tumblers HERE...until it isn't because it's actually a tricky counterweighted latch over here.

Abstractions often wind up with the same numbers, even the same specific stats, representing different subsets of things at a time. It's not just hp.

I doubt you'll find a game system in the world that so fully represents everything that it needs no abstractions that aren't just as variable as hp.

Edit to add:

What I've been arguing against is the claim that they represent an indefinite shifting muddled abstraction of the abstraction "can keep fighting, but not forever", made up of some combination of one or more of toughness, evasiveness, luck, "diving favor", "personal power", magic, and whatever ineffable whatever that keeps changing moment to moment isn't known until after all the rolls are made and one is trying to retroactively explain the result.
That's literally their definition. You're trying to argue that they're not that is like trying to argue against the notion that the Pope is the leader of the Catholic Church. Or that an executioner isn't a killer. Or that ground beef between two halves of a bun isn't a hamburger.

RedMage125
2019-05-14, 10:16 AM
I'm also going to re-post something I still find relevant from earlier in the thread...(with a few points added for clarity)


YOU repeatedly tried to put "I want" statements into my mouth, so I clarified what it is that I would actually want. That is the entirety, the full extent, of any ""preference" statement made here by me.

And then you have the unmitigated gall to accuse me to "attacking strawmen".

But your claim that HP "must be one concrete, defined thing" is your preference. The RAW have stated that HP are representative of a number of different things, and that those things may be different for different characters.

Your desire for them to be solidified into something concrete (which you attempt to express as a "factual inadequacy") is just your desire.



I never said that you were giving mutually exclusive answers, or even trying to.

What I said is that you continue to give evasive non-answers by fastidiously sticking to "could be" and "might be" and repeating the same old tired worn out "it is until it isn't" stuff about what's actually being modeled / abstracted that I've been getting in defense of HP for 30+ years.

You implied it by saying we were "being evasive" and "sidestepping" and claiming that we "refuse to say what it is". As Psyren said, you've gotten your answer of "what it is". That answer was "it depends". You may not find that answer satisfactory to your preferences, but that doesn't mean we "failed to provide an answer". You also explicitly said, when different examples of what it could be were posted, that such was "changing" the answer.

In order to give you an answer that would meet your prerequisites of "satisfactory", we would first need to accept your premise (which involve rejecting the RAW). We will not do that. Demanding such from us is an attempt to Move The Goalposts.



I can show you someone who is so physically tough that they can take more of a beating. I can show you someone who evades getting hit. I can even hypothetically show you a fictional character who is magically hard to hit for some reason.

What I can't show you is a character who "can keep fighting longer but not indefinitely", because it doesn't actually tell us anything. The proper response to that statement is not "how do we model that" -- the proper response is "HOW?" or "WHY?" And once you know the how or the why, THEN you have something to actually model.
Because this is a game, with accepted parameters of successes and failures to facilitate the role play of fantasy adventuring (which includes combat). The rolling of dice to determine success, and the thresholds of victory to accomplish goals are part of that. In terms of combat, AC is the determined threshold one must roll equal to or greater in order to succeed on a hit. Once a hit has been established, HP is the measure of whether or not the creature will be able to continue fighting after said hit.

That's it. That is the abstraction, fully broken down. Because it's a GAME. If you don't want reasonably fair and equitable arbiters of success and failure (the dice), then just do free-form cooperative storytelling or something.



And if I wanted to model that a character can only fight for so long without getting worn out, I'd use some sort of "endurance" stat, separate from how much damage they can take, because those are two separate things.
Then why play D&D?



If you get to the point of starting a campaign, and having actually rolled dice, and you're still searching for what a mechanical aspect of your system actually represents, then you're WAY too late. The time to decide that was... before you created the mechanic in the first place. What does it model, what does it map? What actual definable thing about the character or creature or setting does it represent?
I know you don't like the answer, but the answer is: "The ability of a character to continue to fight". That is what HP is.

Because the alternative is 5 year olds playing Cops&Robbers with:
Kid1: I shot you, you're dead.
Kid2: Nuh-uh, you missed, I just shot you.
Kid 1: You just got my in my arm, I'm not dead.

Explicit mechanics that specify whether or not the target what hit, if they were damaged, and how much. Quantified with numerical representation, to include those numbers increasing at the same rate as other class features/abilities, when new tiers of capability (levels) are reached.



The orc in your example tries to hit the PC. If the orc fails to hit, then the orc doesn't hit the PC. If the orc succeeds, then... maybe he failed anyway, because you need a way to justify the hyper-scaled HPs. That's where it breaks down. You only need to hold off on all those narrative details and retroactively fill them because you've got all this stuff bundled up in the ad-hoc justifications for what's really an ungrounded abstraction.
The orc was YOUR example, actually (orc with a sword). If the orc succeeds, you need to know whether or not he has exceeded the threshold of the target's ability to continue fighting before you narrate it, don't you? If the PC had 7 HP remaining out of max 15, and the orc does 8 damage, he has dropped the character out of the fight, but not killed him. You need to know that BEFORE you can narrate the hit into something for the "fiction layer" (which in this case should be some kind of debilitating strike). If that same orc hits that same PC for 23 damage, that PC is dead. And now that you know that, the blow can be narrated as something instantly lethal, like decapitation. If that same orc hits that same PC for 5 damage, the PC isn't even knocked unconscious, and a narrative of a strike that is either lethal or even debilitating is inappropriate.


If the hit roll determines whether the orc hit, and that's it, and a hit is a hit, and a miss is a miss, then the "fiction layer" and the "system layer" proceed hand-in-hand, and there is no need to retroactively backfill. On miss, proceed to next attempted action by one of the characters. On hit, proceed to damage. Etc.
And you can do that with HP. But, since HP are an abstraction, an individual table may choose to narrate it as a near-miss. Or a glancing blow off of the target's armor.

I'm sorry, but to my perception, you are sounding more and more like you object to anyone playing in a style that is different than your and calling themselves "right".



Explained above, those "markers" were only used due to the need to counter your blatant misrepresentation of what I want or like.
And yet you keep reinforcing those representations by demanding that it "be one or the other". So how have I misrepresented your preferences when you keep saying that you WANT it to be something concrete and defined? That's all I have been saying about what you want or like.

What seems to irritate you is that you think what you like is "objective fact", and seem offended when I say it is "your preference". Allow me to be clear: I am not denigrating your preferences, nor am I saying that having such preferences contrary to the RAW is, in any way, inferior. I encourage everyone to play D&D the way that makes it fun for them. But I feel it is important to recognize the distinction between "preference" and "fact".



It's already been laid out how it doesn't work in multiple ways. It's a mashup of potential but uncertain fiction-layer elements in an indeterminate abstraction that immediately start contradicting each other and other parts of the system once you take them as actually true.
No, you've laid out multiple ways that it doesn't work FOR YOU.

If it works for other people who have no problem with HP being ephemeral and undefined until they need to be for a given loss of them, then you cannot say, conclusively, that it is a "fact" that they "do not work".

That is the distinction between objective fact and subjective opinion.

The evasion thing has been spelled out for you, and all of those points answered. Scroll up to the relevant post, I'm not repeating it.


Because the text is just another set of assertions that can be wrong as easily as anyone else.

Incorrect. D&D is both a GAME, and a construct of FANTASY. Ergo, the developers actually DO get to make tautological statements, and those things can be true for the RAW of a D&D world. There is no obligation to NOT be self-referential. When the devs say, in the RAW text, "HP can be many things, at different times, for different characters", then it can be said to be true.

Look Max, this is a Forum discussion. And while there is no wrong way to PLAY D&D, when it comes to Forum Discussions, it is impossible to account for all possible permutations of house rules that could be used. Therefore, the only thing that can be accepted as FACT is what is in the RAW. That needs to be a foundational understanding for anyone participating in a RAW discussion.

So that means that any discussion or argument you make that is predicated on the foundation of "Max_Killjoy is right and the Rules themselves are wrong" is not a discussion that anyone is ever going to be able to have civilly with you, because you have violated one of the basic tenets of discourse. You are not debating honestly if you are not willing to engage under the same rules we abide by.

Florian
2019-05-14, 10:26 AM
And I already envision Max droning on and on and on and on and on and on and on about the topic, pointing out that the system cannot function and nobody will be happy with it, while the rest of us confirms that we do so.

The amusing thing is, that comes from a guy who seems to have taken such a whack during the Forge discussions back then, that he doesn't even notice when his behavior is getting close to well..... won't tell a word about brain damage.

Max, just something to think about.

RedMage125
2019-05-14, 10:40 AM
If there's a claim as to what they actually consistently represent, then I try to address that.
But no one has made the claim that they "consistently represent" anything. We've been giving examples of what they can represent.


What I've been arguing against is the claim that they represent an indefinite shifting muddled abstraction of the abstraction "can keep fighting, but not forever", made up of some combination of one or more of toughness, evasiveness, luck, "diving favor", "personal power", magic, and whatever ineffable whatever that keeps changing moment to moment isn't known until after all the rolls are made and one is trying to retroactively explain the result.

You're arguing against a "claim" that is explicitly spelled out in the RAW? I'm sorry, then I must amend what I have been saying, and tell you that you're now objectively wrong.*


Page 196
Hit points represent a combination of physical and mental durability, the will to live, and luck.
Page 197
Dungeon Masters describe the loss of hit points in different ways. When your current hit point total is half or more of your hit point maximum, you typically show no signs of injury. When you drop below half your hit point maximum, you show signs of wear, such as cuts and bruises. An attack that reduces you to 0 hit points strikes you directly, leaving a bleeding injury or other trauma, or it simply knocks you unconscious.

*Caveat: This goes back to what I said about Forum Discussions vis How You Play. Everyone is free to make whichever house rules or changes they wish, and if people have fun, more power to them. But on the Forums, the only things we can accept to be Factually True are those things spelled out in the text of the RAW. In this instance, the RAW explicitly state that "Hit points represent a combination of physical and mental durability, the will to live, and luck." So if you are calling that a "claim", and say that you are "arguing against it", then you are arguing against FACTS, with no relevant published references to cite to support you.



stuff

Florian, please review the Forum Rules (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/announcement.php?a=1).

I don't like the manner in which Max is presenting a lot of his case, either. But insinuations about Max as a person are not appropriate, nor are they constructive to the discussion.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-14, 11:30 AM
And yet when the medic shows up, the hits "lessened" by the Rock's maneuvers require exactly as much treatment as the halfway lethal blow taken by the Varsity guy even though they are supposedly much less severe.



The physical wounds? No, they require less. The energy expended? Sure, it takes as much time to recover,


And yet the total HP lost was the same, and the medic's treatment heals exactly the same amount of HP. Is the medic somehow restoring the character's pool of "skill and luck and energy and woo"?




Speaking of DCs, if HP includes stuff like skill and luck then why do so many abilities work equally well regardless of how much HP you've got left? Having 200 HP gives you the magic power to always have convenient branches or debris below you every time you fall from a great height (unless you got punched a lot beforehand) but offers no extra protection against Hold Person?



I think that's the straw man that I'm most annoyed with. Can people who dislike the "hp are not always meat" formulation honestly not grasp that hp are a number of things, all balled up into one pool for simplicity's sake? Do you guys genuinely think that we're trying to say, "HP are always luck," and then changing our tune when you point out a specific situation where hp-as-luck doesn't work?

...

Which is why they also represent luck, toughness, and actual meat. Or ki, or magic, or divine blessings, or whatever else makes the explanation work for you.

...

Once again, you're pretending that we're asserting it's only fighting skill, and that we're somehow cheating or being inconsistent when we say it isn't.


Note the word I bolded in the post you were replying to -- "includes". No one is asserting that you or anyone else is saying that's only fighting skill, or only this, or only that. We're all well aware that you're saying that it's a bunch of different stuff in combination.





It's not even "it's fighting skill until it isn't." It's fighting skill when it is. "Fighting skill" isn't necessarily even the default; the default will depend a lot on the character, and may not be an officially-declared thing so much as a revelation achieved by seeing what the player chooses to characterize it as most often.

You're attacking a straw man when you complain that "it's fighting skill...until it isn't," because you're erecting a straw man when you pretend we're asserting that that's what it "really" is all the time, and being inconsistent or moving the goal posts when we change our minds because "fighting prowess" doesn't make sense in the face of a given example.


No, the "it is until it isn't" thing is an inherent complication of the position you're taking.

Why?

Because HP doesn't act like its includes skill, or luck, or divine blessing, or anything else on the list of ineffable maybes. It isn't affected by events and elements that come up in game that would affect those things, it just sits there exactly as it was. So while all those ineffable maybes are being used as excuses for why D&D HP works the way it does, they never actually have any impact on the mechanic, at all.

If the wizard's HP is actually partially a magic aura, why don't magic-dampening or blocking effects EVER reduce a wizard's HP?

If the rogue's HP is actually partially luck, why doesn't being cursed with bad luck seem to include a reduction in the rogue's HP?

("Partially" emphasized to avoid being falsely accused of misrepresenting your position.)




That's literally their definition. You're trying to argue that they're not that is like trying to argue against the notion that the Pope is the leader of the Catholic Church. Or that an executioner isn't a killer. Or that ground beef between two halves of a bun isn't a hamburger.


None of those definitions is inherently self-contradictory or in conflict with other elements of the system in question, unlike the definition you're pushing for D&D HP.


You'd be better off just going with kyoryu's stance that D&D HP are purely a game mechanic and don't actually mean anything at all.

MrSandman
2019-05-14, 11:46 AM
You missed a great deal of what the point was. Since HP are just a metagame concept (as evidenced by the fact that in-character, no one knows what a "hit point" is or how many they have), and it can be a lot of things (physical or mental toughness, luck, will to live, just to name some of 5e's examples), and since those things could be different for different characters...which one it is -particularly- is part of a post-hoc narration that occurs after all of the facts have been determined.

Actually, characters show at least a wroking understanding of what hp are and a reasonable awareness of their current hp over their total hp when they ask the party healer to cast a healing spell on them and even ask for a particular potency.

This, by the way, conjures up in my mind the image of a mighty warrior coming out of a combat without a single scratch saying to the healer, "Wow, that combat sure took a lot of my luck away. Would you mind doing that thing to make me lucky again?"

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-14, 11:50 AM
No, you've laid out multiple ways that it doesn't work FOR YOU.

If it works for other people who have no problem with HP being ephemeral and undefined until they need to be for a given loss of them, then you cannot say, conclusively, that it is a "fact" that they "do not work".

That is the distinction between objective fact and subjective opinion.

The evasion thing has been spelled out for you, and all of those points answered. Scroll up to the relevant post, I'm not repeating it.


So HP totals do respond to things that effect the various elements claimed to go into HP? A bad luck curse or an anti-magic field or a tar-covered-floor reduce a character's HP? Is this new in 5e? Have I missed it somewhere?

Or... do HP just sit there completely unaffected by events, etc, that would affect one or more of the elements that supposedly can be (in some combination) part of a character's HP?

If the latter is true, then there is objectively a problem, as this game mechanic that's said to represent (model, map, abstract, whatever) some combination of multiple factors isn't responding to things that impact those factors.




Incorrect. D&D is both a GAME, and a construct of FANTASY. Ergo, the developers actually DO get to make tautological statements, and those things can be true for the RAW of a D&D world. There is no obligation to NOT be self-referential. When the devs say, in the RAW text, "HP can be many things, at different times, for different characters", then it can be said to be true.

Look Max, this is a Forum discussion. And while there is no wrong way to PLAY D&D, when it comes to Forum Discussions, it is impossible to account for all possible permutations of house rules that could be used. Therefore, the only thing that can be accepted as FACT is what is in the RAW. That needs to be a foundational understanding for anyone participating in a RAW discussion.

So that means that any discussion or argument you make that is predicated on the foundation of "Max_Killjoy is right and the Rules themselves are wrong" is not a discussion that anyone is ever going to be able to have civilly with you, because you have violated one of the basic tenets of discourse. You are not debating honestly if you are not willing to engage under the same rules we abide by.


So no one can ever say that the rules of a game are inherently flawed as-written?

Really?





But no one has made the claim that they "consistently represent" anything. We've been giving examples of what they can represent.


OK. Note the "if" in the sentence you were replying to there. I didn't say you made that claim -- in fact I'd say you made the claim that they don't consistently represent anything, but rather represent some unknowable combination of one or more things.




You're arguing against a "claim" that is explicitly spelled out in the RAW? I'm sorry, then I must amend what I have been saying, and tell you that you're now objectively wrong.*


*Caveat: This goes back to what I said about Forum Discussions vis How You Play. Everyone is free to make whichever house rules or changes they wish, and if people have fun, more power to them. But on the Forums, the only things we can accept to be Factually True are those things spelled out in the text of the RAW. In this instance, the RAW explicitly state that "Hit points represent a combination of physical and mental durability, the will to live, and luck." So if you are calling that a "claim", and say that you are "arguing against it", then you are arguing against FACTS, with no relevant published references to cite to support you.


And that description as written is inherently contradictory with the HP mechanic. See repeatedly, above, regarding the failure of the HP mechanic to reflect events and environmental conditions and fiction-level elements that would affect those things. HP just sit there, as they are, until actual damage is taken, not paying a bit of attention to anything that would erode or build up a character's durability, willpower, luck, "magical aura", evasive instinct, or any of the other supposedly factors that have been listed off as "sometimes maybe" part of HP.




Florian, please review the Forum Rules (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/announcement.php?a=1).

I don't like the manner in which Max is presenting a lot of his case, either. But insinuations about Max as a person are not appropriate, nor are they constructive to the discussion.


*shrug*

I'm used to it.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-14, 11:51 AM
Actually, characters show at least a wroking understanding of what hp are and a reasonable awareness of their current hp over their total hp when they ask the party healer to cast a healing spell on them and even ask for a particular potency.

This, by the way, conjures up in my mind the image of a mighty warrior coming out of a combat without a single scratch saying to the healer, "Wow, that combat sure took a lot of my luck away. Would you mind doing that thing to make me lucky again?"

Same here.

Segev
2019-05-14, 12:08 PM
And yet the total HP lost was the same, and the medic's treatment heals exactly the same amount of HP. Is the medic somehow restoring the character's pool of "skill and luck and energy and woo"? Yes. Just like the DC 30 ice wall and the DC 30 underhanging vines of uncertain providence require different actions for the climber to cimb, despite having the same DC, the care for the hp loss of the Rock and the hp loss of the varsity football player are different. There's more bandaging and stitching for the varsity football kid, and maybe more salve to reduce bruising and an aspirine for the Rock.

"But how did that take a Heal check?" you ask? "Anybody can give an aspirine; the Rock could just take one, himself!"

You're absolutely right. And anybody can bang a pipe with a hammer to stop a leak. But the plumber gets paid the big bucks for knowing which pipe and where on it to bang that hammer.

I mean, we're talking about 5 hp, here; the DC isn't that high. Maybe the Rock DID just take some aspirine and put a band-aid on, making his own Heal check (I forget if it can be made untrained). The kid's injuries aren't any harder for the medic to deal with, provided it's the same medic, but they are different to deal with.

Note the word I bolded in the post you were replying to -- "includes". No one is asserting that you or anyone else is saying that's only fighting skill, or only this, or only that. We're all well aware that you're saying that it's a bunch of different stuff in combination.Okay. Then stop pretending that the fact that not every hit point is any specific one of those things somehow makes this contradictory.


Because HP doesn't act like its includes skill, or luck, or divine blessing, or anything else on the list of ineffable maybes. It isn't affected by events and elements that come up in game that would affect those things, it just sits there exactly as it was. So while all those ineffable maybes are being used as excuses for why D&D HP works the way it does, they never actually have any impact on the mechanic, at all. Neither is a lock's DC affected by whether it's a key lock, combination lock, puzzle lock, or a simple bar on the far side of the door, but instead by how difficult any of those things are to deal with. There are enough things making up hp that any one of them being "gone" for wahtever reason doesn't have an appreciable effect on the creature's ability to keep fighting.


If the wizard's HP is actually partially a magic aura, why don't magic-dampening or blocking effects EVER reduce a wizard's HP?Somewhat snarkily, it does: a wizard in an AMF is going to take way more hp damage than he normally would, because his magical defenses are down.

"But," you might say, "if he didn't cast any spells or put up any defenses, he'd have the same hp as if he did, and as if he were in the AMF!"

"But if he doesn't have them up, he'll also take more hp than he otherwise would."

Less snarkily, he has plenty of other things his HP represent beyond any unspecified magical defenses. Modeling the loss of the "magical force field" hp just isn't worth the effort, because of how rare the situation is where it would come up and how little impact it has compared to other effects.


If the rogue's HP is actually partially luck, why doesn't being cursed with bad luck seem to include a reduction in the rogue's HP?Because it's also partially skill, partially meat, and the representation of "bad luck" in whatever mechanical way it pops up will, like the wizard, generally cause him to take more hp damage than he otherwise would anyway. Once again, it doesn't actually represent enough "one thing" for any "one thing" being hindered to appreciably diminish the whole of the pool.

The pool is abstraction of all the things that CAN keep him going. It isn't summed by "luck points" and "dodge points" and "fighting prowess points" and "stamina points" and "ki points" and "magic force field points." It's a lot of things that don't have individually quantified amounts. Take one away as a thing they "can" be for a given situation, and the others are all still there. They are also all inherently unreliable on an individual basis, which is why they degrade as any of them are used: it's an abstraction of the aggregated probability that all of them will fail at once, accumulated over time.


None of those definitions is inherently self-contradictory or in conflict with other elements of the system in question, unlike the definition you're pushing for D&D HP.And despite your claims to the contrary, nothing you've outlined demonstrates self-contradiction in what hp are.

You keep confusing "it can be any of these things" with "it doesn't always behave like any one of them" and calling that a contradiction.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-14, 12:40 PM
Yes. Just like the DC 30 ice wall and the DC 30 underhanging vines of uncertain providence require different actions for the climber to cimb,


The way you and RedMage are treating HP, would be the same as saying "there's a DC30 obstacle, roll to climb it, and I'll decide what the obstacle was after we see how the roll turns out".




despite having the same DC, the care for the hp loss of the Rock and the hp loss of the varsity football player are different. There's more bandaging and stitching for the varsity football kid, and maybe more salve to reduce bruising and an aspirine for the Rock.

"But how did that take a Heal check?" you ask? "Anybody can give an aspirine; the Rock could just take one, himself!"

You're absolutely right. And anybody can bang a pipe with a hammer to stop a leak. But the plumber gets paid the big bucks for knowing which pipe and where on it to bang that hammer.

I mean, we're talking about 5 hp, here; the DC isn't that high. Maybe the Rock DID just take some aspirine and put a band-aid on, making his own Heal check (I forget if it can be made untrained). The kid's injuries aren't any harder for the medic to deal with, provided it's the same medic, but they are different to deal with.

Okay. Then stop pretending that the fact that not every hit point is any specific one of those things somehow makes this contradictory.

Neither is a lock's DC affected by whether it's a key lock, combination lock, puzzle lock, or a simple bar on the far side of the door, but instead by how difficult any of those things are to deal with. There are enough things making up hp that any one of them being "gone" for wahtever reason doesn't have an appreciable effect on the creature's ability to keep fighting.


If the lock's DC isn't affected by the details of the lock... what the heck is going on?

But then if we treat the lock like you (and others) are treating D&D HP, we don't even know what kind of lock it is until after we find out if the roll beat the lock, and there's no interaction between the details of the lock and anything else in the setting. HP isn't affected by anything in the environment or events at hand other than damage rolls, and locks wouldn't be affected by anything other than the roll.




Somewhat snarkily, it does: a wizard in an AMF is going to take way more hp damage than he normally would, because his magical defenses are down.

"But," you might say, "if he didn't cast any spells or put up any defenses, he'd have the same hp as if he did, and as if he were in the AMF!"

"But if he doesn't have them up, he'll also take more hp than he otherwise would."

Less snarkily, he has plenty of other things his HP represent beyond any unspecified magical defenses. Modeling the loss of the "magical force field" hp just isn't worth the effort, because of how rare the situation is where it would come up and how little impact it has compared to other effects.

Because it's also partially skill, partially meat, and the representation of "bad luck" in whatever mechanical way it pops up will, like the wizard, generally cause him to take more hp damage than he otherwise would anyway. Once again, it doesn't actually represent enough "one thing" for any "one thing" being hindered to appreciably diminish the whole of the pool.

The pool is abstraction of all the things that CAN keep him going. It isn't summed by "luck points" and "dodge points" and "fighting prowess points" and "stamina points" and "ki points" and "magic force field points." It's a lot of things that don't have individually quantified amounts. Take one away as a thing they "can" be for a given situation, and the others are all still there. They are also all inherently unreliable on an individual basis, which is why they degrade as any of them are used: it's an abstraction of the aggregated probability that all of them will fail at once, accumulated over time.


You are literally saying right there that it's OK for D&D HP to not reflect the things that they're made up of, because they're not always made up of those things, and also made up of other things too -- and that those other things that sometimes go into it too, just somehow ineffably make up for the negative impacts. You're saying that HP is an abstraction (that is a representation or model) of an unknown combination of X and Y and Z and F and A, but doesn't need to reflect anything that affects X or Y or Z or F or A...

And yet you wonder why I read this as deliberate evasion of the implications and complications of having those elements be part of HP, or why it seems like those things only go into HP until it would be inconvenient for them to be a part of HP?


If I pour some combination of things into a bucket, it fills the bucket to a certain level. If it then repeat but don't add one of those five things to the mix, the level in the bucket will be lower than it would have been, by an amount equal to what I didn't pour in. I don't even need to know what exactly I added or the exact amounts, the effect of adding or not adding one of the things is the same.

And the other stuff doesn't just mysteriously expand to fill the bucket to the same amount it would have filled to.





And despite your claims to the contrary, nothing you've outlined demonstrates self-contradiction in what hp are.


So it's not a contradiction if HP are at least in part X, and something in the fiction layer affects X, but it's not reflected in the HP part of the system layer?

Sorry, but I'll never consider that anything other than inherent contradiction.




You keep confusing "it can be any of these things" with "it doesn't always behave like any one of them" and calling that a contradiction.


Or rather... you keep confusing "it could be any combination of these things" with "therefore it doesn't have to respond as if it were any of these things".

RedMage125
2019-05-14, 12:53 PM
Actually, characters show at least a wroking understanding of what hp are and a reasonable awareness of their current hp over their total hp when they ask the party healer to cast a healing spell on them and even ask for a particular potency.

This, by the way, conjures up in my mind the image of a mighty warrior coming out of a combat without a single scratch saying to the healer, "Wow, that combat sure took a lot of my luck away. Would you mind doing that thing to make me lucky again?"
Straw Man.

1) Characters are NOT, in fact, aware of what "hit points" are or how many they have. That's why I put it in quotes. A "Hit point" is not something that means anything to a character in-game. Characters have a reasonable awareness of their ability to continue fighting and how injured they are, things of which hit points are an abstraction of. But no Barbarian knows that he has 15 "hit points", nor that he will get "1d12+CON modifier" when he "levels up". These are metagame concepts, and it's intellectually dishonest for you to say otherwise.
2) Nice straw man, since no one said anything of the sort. He could be tired from the fight, which healing magic revitalizes. He could have "signs of wear, such as cuts and bruises" (as per the 5e PHB). Trying to claim my point is that it's solely luck and that luck needs to be "replenished" is a straw man.


So HP totals do respond to things that effect the various elements claimed to go into HP? A bad luck curse or an anti-magic field or a tar-covered-floor reduce a character's HP? Is this new in 5e? Have I missed it somewhere?

Or... do HP just sit there completely unaffected by events, etc, that would affect one or more of the elements that supposedly can be (in some combination) part of a character's HP?

If the latter is true, then there is objectively a problem, as this game mechanic that's said to represent (model, map, abstract, whatever) some combination of multiple factors isn't responding to things that impact those factors.
Just going to repeat what I said before, since it absolutely answers this...

You do understand the reference when I said it was "Schrödinger's meat/luck/skill/etc", right? Erwin Schrödinger, when explaining the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics, explained that if a cat is in a box with a vial of poison gas, and above the vial is a hammer that is attached to a Geiger counter, which will drop the hammer and release the gas if a single atom of radiation is detected, then the cat can be said to be in a state where it is both alive and dead until such time as one opens the box to observe it. It is the observation of the cat that makes it actually alive or dead. until such time as it is observed, it is both. Thus with HP. Until such time as HP are lost, they can be any number of things. they could be physical toughness, luck, will to live, favor of the gods...anything. Once the circumstances of HP loss occur, and the damage is calculated, and we know how many HP the target has remaining (and out of what total), can we narrate what occurred.

That's what we have been saying for several pages now. You don't LIKE that answer, I get it. But that's the answer that is in line with what the RAW says about HP. Narration of a given hit is entirely subjective, and in the purview of the DM and Player to decide for themselves.



So no one can ever say that the rules of a game are inherently flawed as-written?

Really?
You can absolutely have that opinion.

But it is an opinion.

The metric by which you claim it is "flawed" is not flawed or problematic for others. Ergo, it is subjective. Almost all opinions are subjective.

But part of the foundations of discussing the RAW of D&D is that only what is written in the RAW is FACT. Saying "Max_Killjoy is right and the Rules are wrong" is fine for Max_Killjoy's table where he is the DM. And I get that it is true for Max_Killjoy. But that doesn't equal Objective Fact.

A great deal of the problem and opposition you get met with (on this topic and others) stems from this. You tend to conflate "what is true for Max" with "what is objectively true" (which would mean true in all cases for all people).

You perceive a flaw in the RAW for HP. Others do not. The reason you see the RAW is flawed is because you prefer that HP be consistently defined as something concrete, and that said definition be coherent between mechanical and fiction layers of the game. Others have no need or desire for such consistency, and thus do not perceive it as flawed. We aren't arguing with your claim that "it isn't always the same thing". Because that is true (and that truth can be substantiated in the text of the RAW). We are arguing with your claim that it is "objective fact" that such is a flaw.

Which means that you have a personal preference, and an opinion on the value of the RAW for HP. We are not trying to tell you "you have to like it" or that you are somehow "not allowed to have your own perceptions". No one has said that. but when you insist that your preferences are "objective fact", we perceive that YOU are saying "my opinion is the sole yardstick for what is good or not".


OK. Note the "if" in the sentence you were replying to there. I didn't say you made that claim -- in fact I'd say you made the claim that they don't consistently represent anything, but rather represent some unknowable combination of one or more things.
Maybe not "me", personally. But you have said that others (who I have been "on the same side with" as it were) have "changed their definition of what it is", when no one has done that. They were providing different examples of what it could be. Which is why I used the plural "we", instead of "I".

You are correct about what I have said they represent. However, my "claim" as you call it, is backed up by the RAW.

Maybe not the "magical field" thing. But I also acknowledge that's one of my own house ruled ways to narrate.


And that description as written is inherently contradictory with the HP mechanic. See repeatedly, above, regarding the failure of the HP mechanic to reflect events and environmental conditions and fiction-level elements that would affect those things. HP just sit there, as they are, until actual damage is taken, not paying a bit of attention to anything that would erode or build up a character's durability, willpower, luck, "magical aura", evasive instinct, or any of the other supposedly factors that have been listed off as "sometimes maybe" part of HP.
But it is a FACT, not a "claim". You can change what you like in your home game. I firmly believe and espouse that one of the things that makes D&D great is the many, many ways that individual DMs can bring their own visions to the game. House Rules, typically enrich the game as a whole.

Bu this is a Forum Discussion. Since any and all possible permutations of house rules cannot be accounted for, none of them count as a "fact". Forum Discussions are a special kind of monster, where the only thing that can be TRUE is something that any one of us can look to the same source (the books) and read the same thing. Rules dysfunctions sometimes occur, but that's when the RAW themselves create a problem, not when someone's preferences don't align with the RAW.

Examples (spoiler blocked because they are way off-topic):

"Drown Healing": In 3.5e, due to the RAW for drowning, after one round of being submerged in water (and not holding one's breath), a creature's HP is immediately set to -1. This means that if a party member is at -7 hp (and let's say stable), and the party healer only has one Cure Light Wounds spell left, they party could drown this guy for one round, which sets his HP to -1. Healer can then heal him to full consciousness. Ruling: This is a Rules Dysfunction.
"Mindless Undead having Evil alignment": Also in 3.5e. Zombies and Skeletons have an INT score of "-", but have an Evil alignment. They are literally mindless. The RAW state that creatures without sufficient Intelligence cannot be any alignment other than neutral (Animals, Vermin, Animated Objects, and so on). Some people think it should not be an Evil act to create them, nor should they be Evil aligned. They claim the RAW are problematic. HOWEVER, the RAW also establish that Creation of Undead, by any means, is an Evil act (BoVD). All the spells that only create undead (Animate Dead, Create [Greater] Undead, etc) have the [Evil] descriptor. The RAW for alignment also specify that sometimes a creature's alignment has more to do with its nature, rather than its moral choices or actions (fiends are literally made of Evil). Since undead are animated by magic (whether from a spell, or an epic cleric's Zone of Animation feat, etc), and that act of their creation was Evil, that Evil can be said to permeate their bodies. This is supported in the Detect Evil spell, which will detect undead, irrespective of the creature's alignment (a Chaotic Good Vampire still registers as Evil). So the RAW for "Evil inherent to their nature" supersedes the RAW for non-intelligent creatures being Neutral, in this case. Ruling: This is not a Rules Dysfunction, because the RAW are consistent and support each other. This is a matter of preference.





*shrug*

I'm used to it.
It's still not okay. I'm arguing opposite you, and you frustrate me sometimes. It is my opinion that you do not differentiate well between "what is true for you because of what you prefer" and "what is objective fact". But insinuating that you have "brain damage" is not cool.

Florian
2019-05-14, 01:40 PM
I don't like the manner in which Max is presenting a lot of his case, either. But insinuations about Max as a person are not appropriate, nor are they constructive to the discussion.

I disagree. Max is one of the users that can apparently not distinguish between his personal opinion and objective facts and will defend and repeat his opinion until the end of days. The only way to get this discussion back on track is either all of us ignoring max and getting on with the topic, or Max accepting that his "objective facts" are nothing but his own personal opinion and apparently not grounded in anything. So or so, this discussion has more or less been destroyed, like so many others.

kyoryu
2019-05-14, 01:42 PM
I think there’s two similar concepts being discussed here.

1) HP are basically a game mechanic, and don’t represent anything super concrete. When HP are lost, you can describe that loss in any appropriate manner. Fatigue, etc. are common ways to describe this.

2) HP represent a pool of various resources, and while those resources may be somewhat fungible and can vary proportionally from individual to individual, it still represents those things directly. Thus, an effect that should decrease one of those things should also decrease hit points.

Segev
2019-05-14, 01:47 PM
The way you and RedMage are treating HP, would be the same as saying "there's a DC30 obstacle, roll to climb it, and I'll decide what the obstacle was after we see how the roll turns out". Not at all. However, I do wait to see what the roll was before determining if they slipped off, and how.

For comparison, I can already tell you, knowing that Billy is swinging a baseball bat at the Rock, what any damage he rolls will probably be. I have to see how much it is to determine how severe and in what ratios I'll apply the mix of "what hp could be representing" are going to happen, but Billy with his bat swinging at Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is specific enough that I can already predict that The Rock is probably going to use a combination of skill and meat to take the bat without being seriously injured.

Just as, knowing that the DC 30 climb check is due to it being that untrustworthy overhang of vines, I can predict that a failure on that climb check will probably involve one or more vines coming loose.

It's not entirely post-hoc; it's just situational. I know what the probable combination is when I know the setup of the attack and agaisnt whom it's targeted. The only post-hoc thing is determining how exactly to describe it for appropriate levels of "gee, that made him less able to keep fighting."


If the lock's DC isn't affected by the details of the lock... what the heck is going on?

But then if we treat the lock like you (and others) are treating D&D HP, we don't even know what kind of lock it is until after we find out if the roll beat the lock, and there's no interaction between the details of the lock and anything else in the setting. HP isn't affected by anything in the environment or events at hand other than damage rolls, and locks wouldn't be affected by anything other than the roll. Again, you're missing the point.

Anything that knowledge of the lock would give you would, mechanically, roll into the character's already-extant skill bonus. "Well, it's a tumbler lock, and those are made easier to finagle with oil, right? So I'll add some," is clever-ish, but really is something the PC already knows and probably is practicing. (If this were Exalted, of course, I'd give stunt dice for that, but we're not talking Exalted, where health levels are explicitly always meat.)

Like the ice wall vs. the vine-cliff, and Billy-the-brat attacking The Rock vs. Billy-the-assassin attacking Aang with a poison knife, by the time I know who's doing the attacking, who the target is, and what the situation is, I can already tell you what the hp lost will likely model, within bounds modifiable by the threshold.

I mean, even if hp is always meat, you have to wait for damage to be rolled to determine how much meat was carved off.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-14, 02:17 PM
Actually, characters show at least a working understanding of what hp are and a reasonable awareness of their current hp over their total hp when they ask the party healer to cast a healing spell on them and even ask for a particular potency.



1) Characters are NOT, in fact, aware of what "hit points" are or how many they have. That's why I put it in quotes. A "Hit point" is not something that means anything to a character in-game. Characters have a reasonable awareness of their ability to continue fighting and how injured they are, things of which hit points are an abstraction of. But no Barbarian knows that he has 15 "hit points", nor that he will get "1d12+CON modifier" when he "levels up". These are metagame concepts, and it's intellectually dishonest for you to say otherwise.


From here, especially given the bold parts, that reads like you "rebutted" what he said with a rewording of what he said.




This, by the way, conjures up in my mind the image of a mighty warrior coming out of a combat without a single scratch saying to the healer, "Wow, that combat sure took a lot of my luck away. Would you mind doing that thing to make me lucky again?"



2) Nice straw man, since no one said anything of the sort. He could be tired from the fight, which healing magic revitalizes. He could have "signs of wear, such as cuts and bruises" (as per the 5e PHB). Trying to claim my point is that it's solely luck and that luck needs to be "replenished" is a straw man.


Note that he said that it conjured that image in his mind, not that it was your position. You need to slow down with the "strawman" and "moving goalpost" accusations. (Earlier, you misapplied "moving the goalposts", which would require my stated standard of proof or acceptance of a point to have moved over time to be an accurate accusation... while that wasn't what you described me as doing.)




Just going to repeat what I said before, since it absolutely answers this...

You do understand the reference when I said it was "Schrödinger's meat/luck/skill/etc", right? Erwin Schrödinger, when explaining the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics, explained that if a cat is in a box with a vial of poison gas, and above the vial is a hammer that is attached to a Geiger counter, which will drop the hammer and release the gas if a single atom of radiation is detected, then the cat can be said to be in a state where it is both alive and dead until such time as one opens the box to observe it. It is the observation of the cat that makes it actually alive or dead. until such time as it is observed, it is both.


Regarding Schrödinger's thought experiment -- taken literally, the cat is alive, or the cat is dead, even if you never open the box... looking in the box is completely irrelevant to the status of the cat, has no effect on the status of the cat, and does nothing to change or cause the status of the cat.

The idea that human perception somehow causes or creates reality, rather than being a limited window on an underlying objective reality, is so much subjectivist foof, a sort of high-minded version of solipsism. Some of this pop-science nonsense arises from a fundamental misreading of what "observed" means in the context of quantum physics. It does not mean "someone looked", it means only that the particle interacted with something else, anything else, that would collapse the wave function -- no actual observation by a living or otherwise "aware" entity is necessary.



Thus with HP. Until such time as HP are lost, they can be any number of things. they could be physical toughness, luck, will to live, favor of the gods...anything. Once the circumstances of HP loss occur, and the damage is calculated, and we know how many HP the target has remaining (and out of what total), can we narrate what occurred.


If HP could be anything until they're lost... then they are absolutely nothing.




That's what we have been saying for several pages now. You don't LIKE that answer, I get it. But that's the answer that is in line with what the RAW says about HP. Narration of a given hit is entirely subjective, and in the purview of the DM and Player to decide for themselves.

You can absolutely have that opinion.

But it is an opinion.

The metric by which you claim it is "flawed" is not flawed or problematic for others. Ergo, it is subjective. Almost all opinions are subjective.

But part of the foundations of discussing the RAW of D&D is that only what is written in the RAW is FACT. Saying "Max_Killjoy is right and the Rules are wrong" is fine for Max_Killjoy's table where he is the DM. And I get that it is true for Max_Killjoy. But that doesn't equal Objective Fact.

A great deal of the problem and opposition you get met with (on this topic and others) stems from this. You tend to conflate "what is true for Max" with "what is objectively true" (which would mean true in all cases for all people).

You perceive a flaw in the RAW for HP. Others do not. The reason you see the RAW is flawed is because you prefer that HP be consistently defined as something concrete, and that said definition be coherent between mechanical and fiction layers of the game. Others have no need or desire for such consistency, and thus do not perceive it as flawed. We aren't arguing with your claim that "it isn't always the same thing". Because that is true (and that truth can be substantiated in the text of the RAW). We are arguing with your claim that it is "objective fact" that such is a flaw.

Which means that you have a personal preference, and an opinion on the value of the RAW for HP. We are not trying to tell you "you have to like it" or that you are somehow "not allowed to have your own perceptions". No one has said that. but when you insist that your preferences are "objective fact", we perceive that YOU are saying "my opinion is the sole yardstick for what is good or not".


What's going on with HP is an inherent contradiction between what we're being told HP is (some combination of several factors) with how HP behaves (not responding to things going on that would affect those factors). Unless you're going to claim that it's a "subjective preference to care if there are inherent contradictions", that's not a subjective matter, it's an objective one.

If HP is at least in part X, and something that would impact X is ignored by HP, then there is an inherent contradiction between the setting assertion about HP and the mechanics of HP. That is not an opinion, unless you're really OK with that sort of deep dissonance and consider whether it even matters to be "subjective".

But then if you don't care whether the mechanics reflect what they're supposed to be representative of, why not just say that HP are entirely abstract and don't represent anything at all?




Maybe not "me", personally. But you have said that others (who I have been "on the same side with" as it were) have "changed their definition of what it is", when no one has done that. They were providing different examples of what it could be. Which is why I used the plural "we", instead of "I".

You are correct about what I have said they represent. However, my "claim" as you call it, is backed up by the RAW.

Maybe not the "magical field" thing. But I also acknowledge that's one of my own house ruled ways to narrate.

But it is a FACT, not a "claim". You can change what you like in your home game. I firmly believe and espouse that one of the things that makes D&D great is the many, many ways that individual DMs can bring their own visions to the game. House Rules, typically enrich the game as a whole.

Bu this is a Forum Discussion. Since any and all possible permutations of house rules cannot be accounted for, none of them count as a "fact". Forum Discussions are a special kind of monster, where the only thing that can be TRUE is something that any one of us can look to the same source (the books) and read the same thing. Rules dysfunctions sometimes occur, but that's when the RAW themselves create a problem, not when someone's preferences don't align with the RAW.


Stop. Back up. I'm not debating about what the RAW says or means, or writing house rules, or trying to argue based on a GM-specific ruling, or doing any homebrewing, or anything of the sort.

I am pointing out that there's a serious internal contradiction between what some of you are saying about D&D HP and what the mechanics of D&D HP do. I don't care if it's from RAW or from your own interpretation or whatever, the contradiction is there.




It's still not okay. I'm arguing opposite you, and you frustrate me sometimes. It is my opinion that you do not differentiate well between "what is true for you because of what you prefer" and "what is objective fact". But insinuating that you have "brain damage" is not cool.


I've also been accused of being a grown man "playing with barbies" because I refuse to treat characters as playing pieces, and have described treating settings as "worlds that could be real" and characters as "people who could be real". I've been accused of being delusional and self-deceiving because I value verisimilitude and immersion. Being insulted for how I approach RPGs is old hat at this point.

Segev
2019-05-14, 02:22 PM
From here, especially given the bold parts, that reads like you "rebutted" what he said with a rewording of what he said.

Less "rebutted" and more "clarified and explained why it's not a problem."

Characters do not know how many hp they have. In fact, the Rock probably doesn't know he has 10x as many hp as the varsity kid. Everybody agrees the Rock is much tougher than the kid, but the precise amount of "how much?" is unknown.

Characters have a general idea of how well they're doing and how much more they can take before they're going to be out of the fight. They do not know how many hp they are down. They do know that the last time their cleric cast cure light wounds, it was barely refreshing, but that cure serious wounds gets them from a little worse off than they are now to nearly 100%.

I'm not even arguing, right now; I'm just explaining what the things others have quoted from the rules mean from an in-game perspective. If there's an argument here, it's strictly that this isn't a problem.

kyoryu
2019-05-14, 02:22 PM
Max, I’m curious about your take on the two concepts we’re talking about above.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-14, 02:26 PM
I think there’s two similar concepts being discussed here.

1) HP are basically a game mechanic, and don’t represent anything super concrete. When HP are lost, you can describe that loss in any appropriate manner. Fatigue, etc. are common ways to describe this.

2) HP represent a pool of various resources, and while those resources may be somewhat fungible and can vary proportionally from individual to individual, it still represents those things directly. Thus, an effect that should decrease one of those things should also decrease hit points.


To me, if the approach is to describe the system-level loss of HP with fiction-layer details, but those fiction-layer details don't in turn affect the system-layer HP pool, then an inherent contradiction has been created.

When, for example, loss of "divine favor" doesn't reduce the max total HP of a character who derived some part of their pool from "divine favor", an inherent contradiction has by the very nature of the two things been created. I do not see how this can be a matter of opinion or subjective preference -- two conflicting assertions have been made.

I don't see any way around that other than:
A) Treat the big hyper-scaling HP mechanic as entirely and purely a system-level abstraction, with no fiction-layer meaning or connection what so ever, so that it doesn't bring the contradiction into being.
B) Create a fiction-layer explanation that consistently and coherently synchronizes with big hyper-scaling HP pools across the entire scale and across all possible losses of HP -- such as PheonixPhyre's.

Segev
2019-05-14, 02:33 PM
To me, if the approach is to describe the system-level loss of HP with fiction-layer details, but those fiction-layer details don't in turn affect the system-layer HP pool, then an inherent contradiction has been created.

When, for example, loss of "divine favor" doesn't reduce the max total HP of a character who derived some part of their pool from "divine favor", an inherent contradiction has by the very nature of the two things been created. I do not see how this can be a matter of opinion or subjective preference -- two conflicting assertions have been made.

I don't see any way around that other than:
A) Treat the big hyper-scaling HP mechanic as entirely and purely a system-level abstraction, with no fiction-layer meaning or connection what so ever, so that it doesn't bring the contradiction into being.
B) Create a fiction-layer explanation that consistently and coherently synchronizes with big hyper-scaling HP pools across the entire scale and across all possible losses of HP -- such as PheonixPhyre's.
How is the loss of divine favor modeled, aside from hp? Is it a loss of spellcasting? That will aversely affect his hp, if indirectly. Is it a wasting disease or loss of health? His Con is lowered, lowering his hp. Does he lose levels? Impacts his hp.

It won't always directly impact his hp, but it will indirectly do so. The contribution of any of these things to hp is small enough and unreliable enough that the real thing being measured is the increasing probability that you're eventually going to have all of them fail at once. Yes, a "better" way to model that if your goal was to take the model and make it have verisimilitude would be to have umpteen saving throws whose various DCs are set by how an attack impacts each possible way to avoid lethal damage, and have you roll all of them so that failure on all of them is required to have you suffer lethal injury. No, that wouldn't be fun, and even if a gradual withering of the save bonus or increase to the save DC were represented in it, it wouldn't have the easy measure of how much fight is left in you that is desired from the mechanic that hp provides.

RedMage125
2019-05-14, 02:48 PM
From here, especially given the bold parts, that reads like you "rebutted" what he said with a rewording of what he said.
Then you and he both failed to grasp what I said.

Characters do not know "I have 15 maximum hit points" or "that orc dealt 10 hit points of damage to me, and I have 5 left"

Ergo, "Hit Points" are a metagame concept.



Note that he said that it conjured that image in his mind, not that it was your position. You need to slow down with the "strawman" and "moving goalpost" accusations. (Earlier, you misapplied "moving the goalposts", which would require my stated standard of proof or acceptance of a point to have moved over time to be an accurate accusation... while that wasn't what you described me as doing.)
Which he said as a representation of what I was saying, in refutation. Ergo, Straw Man.

And I said you were attempting to Move The Goalposts because your stated standard of proof or acceptance of a point was such that the very RAW answer itself was, in your own words "not an answer". So you were demanding we provide you with an answer that only met your specific criteria of "HP are, in all cases, this one specific thing, consistently", which would involve us rejecting the RAW, which we were not going to do. The factual nature of the RAW is part of the foundation of how we were discussing the matter. Your attempt to get us to reject the founding premises and shift to yours would be altering that standard of proof. So yes, an attempt to Move The Goalposts.

I absolutely know which fallacies are which.



Regarding Schrödinger's thought experiment -- taken literally, the cat is alive, or the cat is dead, even if you never open the box... looking in the box is completely irrelevant to the status of the cat, has no effect on the status of the cat, and does nothing to change or cause the status of the cat.

The idea that human perception somehow causes or creates reality, rather than being a limited window on an underlying objective reality, is so much subjectivist foof, a sort of high-minded version of solipsism. Some of this pop-science nonsense arises from a fundamental misreading of what "observed" means in the context of quantum physics. It does not mean "someone looked", it means only that the particle interacted with something else, anything else, that would collapse the wave function -- no actual observation by a living or otherwise "aware" entity is necessary.

If HP could be anything until they're lost... then they are absolutely nothing.
...until they're lost. I believe myself and Psyren both said this, exactly. Do you think you're tricking me, or "proving a point"?



What's going on with HP is an inherent contradiction between what we're being told HP is (some combination of several factors) with how HP behaves (not responding to things going on that would affect those factors). Unless you're going to claim that it's a "subjective preference to care if there are inherent contradictions", that's not a subjective matter, it's an objective one.

If HP is at least in part X, and something that would impact X is ignored by HP, then there is an inherent contradiction between the setting assertion about HP and the mechanics of HP. That is not an opinion, unless you're really OK with that sort of deep dissonance and consider whether it even matters to be "subjective".

But then if you don't care whether the mechanics reflect what they're supposed to be representative of, why not just say that HP are entirely abstract and don't represent anything at all?
This is why you are frustrating.

We HAVE said this. From the beginning, it has been said that HP are an abstraction. Quite simply, an abstraction that provides quantifiable mechanics for how long a given creature can continue to act in combat. It has been said directly to you, a number of times that HP don't really represent anything until they're lost.

It has ALSO been said that WHAT a given instance of HP loss represents is subjective to a number of factors, not the least of which is the DM. And again, only if one cares about the narrative description of the damage.

So you acting like you're somehow delivering a point by saying, "why not just say [the exact same things you, Segev, and Psyren have been saying for pages now]?" is very frustrating.

You have also still failed to acknowledge the distinction between "what is true for Max" and "what is objective fact for everyone".



Stop. Back up. I'm not debating about what the RAW says or means, or writing house rules, or trying to argue based on a GM-specific ruling, or doing any homebrewing, or anything of the sort.

I'm not pointing out that there's a serious internal contradiction between what some of you are saying about D&D HP and what the mechanics of D&D HP do. I don't care if it's from RAW or from your own interpretation or whatever, the contradiction is there.
You haven't been "debating about what the RAW says"?

So this wasn't you?


What I've been arguing against is the claim that they represent an indefinite shifting muddled abstraction of the abstraction "can keep fighting, but not forever", made up of some combination of one or more of toughness, evasiveness, luck, "diving favor", "personal power", magic, and whatever ineffable whatever that keeps changing moment to moment isn't known until after all the rolls are made and one is trying to retroactively explain the result.
Perhaps your roommate/sibling/significant other is logging on to your account and posting things, then. But as far as we can perceive, this was you saying exactly that.



I've also been accused of being a grown man "playing with barbies" because I refuse to treat characters as playing pieces, and have described treating settings as "worlds that could be real" and characters as "people who could be real". I've been accused of being delusional and self-deceiving because I value verisimilitude and immersion. Being insulted for how I approach RPGs is old hat at this point.

I, at least, can qualify my statements as opinions and perceptions. Neither of which are served by insinuating that your brain is defective. Like I said, I am of the opinion that you do not distinguish well between "what is true for Max", and "objective fact". This has been an observation of you that has persisted across several threads over the years. That doesn't mean you're "defective". For all I know, you do it on purpose and are trolling us "for the lulz" (I'm not accusing you of trolling, that's a hypothetical "for all I know").
I do, however, in the interest of civility, ask that you at least acknowledge that wanting HP to "represent one, concrete, consistent thing" is a preference of yours.

kyoryu
2019-05-14, 03:12 PM
I don't see any way around that other than:
A) Treat the big hyper-scaling HP mechanic as entirely and purely a system-level abstraction, with no fiction-layer meaning or connection what so ever, so that it doesn't bring the contradiction into being.
B) Create a fiction-layer explanation that consistently and coherently synchronizes with big hyper-scaling HP pools across the entire scale and across all possible losses of HP -- such as PheonixPhyre's.

That sounds more or less like what I was saying. With the addendum that, for A, yeah you’re going to narrate something but accept that it is entirely fiction-layer, and that for B you are basically laying out the requirements for what it would take to make that a working model.

So I think most people here are happy in A here, even if they’re using words that imply B to you. I think that’s the core of the disagreement.

MrSandman
2019-05-14, 03:19 PM
Straw Man.

Maybe look up what a straw man is before you start defining things as such?




1) Characters are NOT, in fact, aware of what "hit points" are or how many they have. That's why I put it in quotes. A "Hit point" is not something that means anything to a character in-game. Characters have a reasonable awareness of their ability to continue fighting and how injured they are, things of which hit points are an abstraction of. But no Barbarian knows that he has 15 "hit points", nor that he will get "1d12+CON modifier" when he "levels up". These are metagame concepts, and it's intellectually dishonest for you to say otherwise.


So hp represent a character's ability to continue fighting, a character has a reasonable awareness of its ability to continue fighting, but a character has no awareness of how it generally stands in regards to its hp?

I must say that I find it troublesome that a character can be and not be at the same time aware of its ability to continue fighting.

You'll notice that I've never said that a character knows its exact hit points (hey, talking about straw men...) I said it has at least a working understanding of them and a general awareness of how it stands with regards to its current/total hp. This is very different than saying that a character thinks in terms of hp and always knows exactly how many hp it has. If it didn't have such awareness, it would have no way to discern whether it should ask for a cure critical wounds or a cure light wounds, or a way to know anything about its ability to continue fighting.




2) Nice straw man, since no one said anything of the sort. He could be tired from the fight, which healing magic revitalizes. He could have "signs of wear, such as cuts and bruises" (as per the 5e PHB). Trying to claim my point is that it's solely luck and that luck needs to be "replenished" is a straw man.



You might want to re-read what you quoted and check whether I was stating that somebody said anything of the sort or sharing a mental image that this discussion sparked, especially if you're going to accuse me of being fallacious.




Which he said as a representation of what I was saying, in refutation. Ergo, Straw Man.

I am thus rendered almost speechless. I can't but utter, "errr, no?"

Segev
2019-05-14, 03:45 PM
So hp represent a character's ability to continue fighting, a character has a reasonable awareness of its ability to continue fighting, but a character has no awareness of how it generally stands in regards to its hp?

Are you genuinely unable to understand the difference between saying, "A character knows how many hp he has," and "A character has a reasonable awareness of his ability to continue fighting?"

One is a precise number. The other is a rough estimate.

I can tell you whether it's cold, cool, comfortable, warm, or hot in a room. I can usually not tell you the precise temperature. (Well, I've actually gotten pretty good at estimating, but you get the point.) "Hit points" represent a large array of factors. And a given person doesn't know how many he has, let alone how many he's down, in precise numbers. However, he knows roughly how close he is to failing, and how far that is from tip-top shape. Roughly. Not "I am at 72.3451% effectiveness," nor certainly not "I'm at 14 of 19 hit points," but "I'm at about 3/4 my best."

Florian
2019-05-14, 03:45 PM
@MrSandman:

That´s more a failure how slot-based magic works in this case.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-14, 03:46 PM
Then you and he both failed to grasp what I said.

Characters do not know "I have 15 maximum hit points" or "that orc dealt 10 hit points of damage to me, and I have 5 left"

Ergo, "Hit Points" are a metagame concept.


Do characters know how badly a hit has "hurt" them, or how "hurt" they are after a fight?

They're not aware of hit points as a number -- but to assert that they're not aware of the things that hit points supposedly represent, is to assert that characters are largely or totally unaware of how badly they're hurt.

If the characters are aware of the things that HP represents, then it's entirely acceptable to use HP as player-side shorthand for that character-side self-awareness.

Of course,




Which he said as a representation of what I was saying, in refutation. Ergo, Straw Man.


Then you read his statement incorrectly.




And I said you were attempting to Move The Goalposts because your stated standard of proof or acceptance of a point was such that the very RAW answer itself was, in your own words "not an answer". So you were demanding we provide you with an answer that only met your specific criteria of "HP are, in all cases, this one specific thing, consistently", which would involve us rejecting the RAW, which we were not going to do. The factual nature of the RAW is part of the foundation of how we were discussing the matter. Your attempt to get us to reject the founding premises and shift to yours would be altering that standard of proof. So yes, an attempt to Move The Goalposts.

I absolutely know which fallacies are which.


Refusing to accept your premises or your standard of proof is not "moving the goalposts (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moving_the_goalposts)".

At no point have I changed the standard of proof that I'm demanding, and in fact I've hardly issued any demand for proof of anything.




...until they're lost. I believe myself and Psyren both said this, exactly. Do you think you're tricking me, or "proving a point"?


No.

I'm saying exactly what I said -- if HP could be anything until they're lost... then they are absolutely nothing. Not "nothing until they're lost", just nothing period.




This is why you are frustrating.

We HAVE said this. From the beginning, it has been said that HP are an abstraction. Quite simply, an abstraction that provides quantifiable mechanics for how long a given creature can continue to act in combat. It has been said directly to you, a number of times that HP don't really represent anything until they're lost.

It has ALSO been said that WHAT a given instance of HP loss represents is subjective to a number of factors, not the least of which is the DM. And again, only if one cares about the narrative description of the damage.

So you acting like you're somehow delivering a point by saying, "why not just say [the exact same things you, Segev, and Psyren have been saying for pages now]?" is very frustrating.


What you and others appear to have been saying is that D&D HP are an abstraction of some indeterminate combination of one or more factors from a list, which only "collapses" into something definite and less-abstract by being lost.

Now you're saying that D&D HP are completely abstract and represent nothing at all ?

To make sure that I neither misunderstand nor misrepresent -- which of these have you actually been saying?




You have also still failed to acknowledge the distinction between "what is true for Max" and "what is objective fact for everyone".


Because we're not talking about "what's true for Max_Killjoy", we're talking an inherent contradiction. There's an assertion that D&D HP represent some indeterminate combination of one or more factors from a list, but when elements appear in the fiction layer that affect those factors, HP is not affected. So either D&D HP fails to represent what it is claimed to represent, or it doesn't actually represent those things at all.

That's not preferences or opinions, that's an big giant flashing red sirens blasting contradiction.




You haven't been "debating about what the RAW says"?

So this wasn't you?

Perhaps your roommate/sibling/significant other is logging on to your account and posting things, then. But as far as we can perceive, this was you saying exactly that.


That's not a debate about what the RAW says, that's a rejection of that idea regardless of what the RAW says or doesn't say.




I, at least, can qualify my statements as opinions and perceptions. Neither of which are served by insinuating that your brain is defective. Like I said, I am of the opinion that you do not distinguish well between "what is true for Max", and "objective fact". This has been an observation of you that has persisted across several threads over the years. That doesn't mean you're "defective". For all I know, you do it on purpose and are trolling us "for the lulz" (I'm not accusing you of trolling, that's a hypothetical "for all I know").
I do, however, in the interest of civility, ask that you at least acknowledge that wanting HP to "represent one, concrete, consistent thing" is a preference of yours.

I do not see this as in any way linked to preferences, I see this as entirely about assertions that cannot be simultaneously true.

What I'm pushing for is for D&D HP to either represent what it represents and have that be fully reflected in a coherent, consistent, synchronous two-way relationship between the system-layer and the fiction-layer -XOR- for D&D HP to be fully acknowledged as utterly and completely abstract, representing absolutely nothing at all, with no connection to the fiction layer whatsoever.

And as part of that I reject, totally, the idea that it can be both, that the cake can be eaten and still had.

There is no "for the lulz". I am absolutely serious here.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-14, 03:48 PM
You might want to re-read what you quoted and check whether I was stating that somebody said anything of the sort or sharing a mental image that this discussion sparked, especially if you're going to accuse me of being fallacious.

I am thus rendered almost speechless. I can't but utter, "errr, no?"


OK, so I did read your comment correctly -- it was not an asserted representation of what RedMage or anyone else said, it was purely about a thought that came to you because of the general discussion at hand.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-14, 03:53 PM
That sounds more or less like what I was saying. With the addendum that, for A, yeah you’re going to narrate something but accept that it is entirely fiction-layer, and that for B you are basically laying out the requirements for what it would take to make that a working model.

So I think most people here are happy in A here, even if they’re using words that imply B to you. I think that’s the core of the disagreement.


That's the answer I don't get, though -- how can it be totally abstract and represent absolutely nothing... but still be "narrated" as if something were being represented?

MrSandman
2019-05-14, 03:56 PM
Are you genuinely unable to understand the difference between saying, "A character knows how many hp he has," and "A character has a reasonable awareness of his ability to continue fighting?"

What I am genuinely unable to understand is why you keep pretending that I said that a character knows how many hp it has.


Do characters know how badly a hit has "hurt" them, or how "hurt" they are after a fight?

They're not aware of hit points as a number -- but to assert that they're not aware of the things that hit points supposedly represent, is to assert that characters are largely or totally unaware of how badly they're hurt.

If the characters are aware of the things that HP represents, then it's entirely acceptable to use HP as player-side shorthand for that character-side self-awareness.


Exactly so.


OK, so I did read your comment correctly -- it was not an asserted representation of what RedMage or anyone else said, it was purely about a thought that came to you because of the general discussion at hand.

Indeed. At least someone did.

jjordan
2019-05-14, 03:56 PM
That's the answer I don't get, though -- how can it be totally abstract and represent absolutely nothing... but still be "narrated" as if something were being represented?I'd like to hear how folks answer this question.

Segev
2019-05-14, 04:11 PM
Do characters know how badly a hit has "hurt" them, or how "hurt" they are after a fight?

They're not aware of hit points as a number -- but to assert that they're not aware of the things that hit points supposedly represent, is to assert that characters are largely or totally unaware of how badly they're hurt.

If the characters are aware of the things that HP represents, then it's entirely acceptable to use HP as player-side shorthand for that character-side self-awareness. Of course they do! That's what RedMage was saying! At this point, I think some people are knee-jerk misinterpreting others' arguments. Given MrSandman's comment here:

What I am genuinely unable to understand is why you keep pretending that I said that a character knows how many hp it has.I may be guilty of this, myself.

MrSandman, if you're not making that claim to try to discredit the notion of hp, my apologies. I misunderstood your meaning.

I think all four of us agree that hp as a number are not known IC, but the rough idea of "I'm about this far from defeat" is something characters can be generally aware of. Am I right that we can agree on this?

That's the answer I don't get, though -- how can it be totally abstract and represent absolutely nothing... but still be "narrated" as if something were being represented?


I'd like to hear how folks answer this question.
I've demonstrated it numerous times now.

The trouble is, Max, that you're pulling a dirty trick you've called people out on in the past: you've gotten us to agree to a phrasing under one definition, then changed the definition to allow you to say we're contradicting ourselves. I'd name names of people you're arguing like, but I learned they've been banned, and it's not cool to talk about people behind their back.

Hit points are an abstraction taht represent how much longer a given creature can keep fighting. They are an amalgam of numerous hard-to-quantify factors, and for any given cause or potential cause of hp loss, you can look at the situation and judge likely forms the narration might take on, depending on just how much damage is done.

Jenny the Janni casting a fireball at Frank the Fighter, Willie the Wizard, and Rick the Rogue is probably going to, if she deals hp damage to them, have it take the form of some blistering to Frank's skin tanked by his armor and partially blocked by his huddling behind his shield, some expenditure of Rick's personal energy and luck to dive behind the right shelter to avoid more than a bit of singing for Rick, and some amount of magical hoodoo lost from Willie's protections, because those are default ways of representing the last two's hp, and more "hp as meat, because Frank's just that tough" combined with skill at using his armor for Frank.

If Rick succeeds his save, he actually takes no damage, because of Evasion, and the narration of how he avoided any damage at all is different. If the others save, they protected themselves better than if they didn't. If the damage roll is particularly high, or Frank was close to defeat, then he probably gets cooked in his armor and passes out, badly burned, unable to defend himself or take the additional hit points. If it's Rick that takes enough hp to go to or below 0, he just didn't manage to avoid it and the fireball went off in his imminently fragile face.

Note that I didn't have to know how much damage was rolled, or even if people would or would not save, only what the scenario about to be resolved was, and I can tell what any hp lost are likely to represent this time, barring something unpredicted happening.

This answers the question. I know Max_Killjoy doesn't LIKE this answer, but it is the answer.

Florian
2019-05-14, 04:11 PM
I'd like to hear how folks answer this question.

The simple answer is: Any way that you think fits the situation at hand.

jjordan
2019-05-14, 04:22 PM
The simple answer is: Any way that you think fits the situation at hand.That's indeed a simple answer. But to my mind it's lacking a certain specificity in more than one way. :)

I've settled on my own method of saying that some HP are meat and some are motive but it requires me to monkey with healing a little bit. That slows the pacing of the game down some, but I'm okay with that.

MrSandman
2019-05-14, 04:26 PM
I think all four of us agree that hp as a number are not known IC, but the rough idea of "I'm about this far from defeat" is something characters can be generally aware of. Am I right that we can agree on this?


You most certainly are (at least as far as I am concerned.)

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-14, 04:41 PM
I've demonstrated it numerous times now.

The trouble is, Max, that you're pulling a dirty trick you've called people out on in the past: you've gotten us to agree to a phrasing under one definition, then changed the definition to allow you to say we're contradicting ourselves. I'd name names of people you're arguing like, but I learned they've been banned, and it's not cool to talk about people behind their back.


Whereas I see two different statements that -- as far as I can tell -- cannot both be true at the same time, that are being treated not just as both true, but as one and the same, by some other posters.

And there's absolutely no trap being set here -- if I have to keep flipping between "total abstraction" and "abstracted representation", that's not an attempt to catch anyone in an overlapping definitions gotcha, that's how the terms have been used in this thread by other posters and I'm trying to be precise without having a glossary war over which terms to use.




Hit points are an abstraction taht represent how much longer a given creature can keep fighting. They are an amalgam of numerous hard-to-quantify factors, and for any given cause or potential cause of hp loss, you can look at the situation and judge likely forms the narration might take on, depending on just how much damage is done.

Jenny the Janni casting a fireball at Frank the Fighter, Willie the Wizard, and Rick the Rogue is probably going to, if she deals hp damage to them, have it take the form of some blistering to Frank's skin tanked by his armor and partially blocked by his huddling behind his shield, some expenditure of Rick's personal energy and luck to dive behind the right shelter to avoid more than a bit of singing for Rick, and some amount of magical hoodoo lost from Willie's protections, because those are default ways of representing the last two's hp, and more "hp as meat, because Frank's just that tough" combined with skill at using his armor for Frank.

If Rick succeeds his save, he actually takes no damage, because of Evasion, and the narration of how he avoided any damage at all is different. If the others save, they protected themselves better than if they didn't. If the damage roll is particularly high, or Frank was close to defeat, then he probably gets cooked in his armor and passes out, badly burned, unable to defend himself or take the additional hit points. If it's Rick that takes enough hp to go to or below 0, he just didn't manage to avoid it and the fireball went off in his imminently fragile face.

Note that I didn't have to know how much damage was rolled, or even if people would or would not save, only what the scenario about to be resolved was, and I can tell what any hp lost are likely to represent this time, barring something unpredicted happening.

This answers the question. I know Max_Killjoy doesn't LIKE this answer, but it is the answer.


And if that's case, it's not a total abstraction with no connection to the fiction, it's an abstracted representation of something(s) in the fiction.

And that being the answer... it goes right back to the way in which relevant elements in the fiction don't (consistently) affect that system-level representation of those something(s) in the fiction.

Segev
2019-05-14, 04:54 PM
Whereas I see two different statements that -- as far as I can tell -- cannot both be true at the same time, that are being treated not just as both true, but as one and the same, by some other posters.

And there's absolutely no trap being set here -- if I have to keep flipping between "total abstraction" and "abstracted representation", that's not an attempt to catch anyone in an overlapping definitions gotcha, that's how the terms have been used in this thread by other posters and I'm trying to be precise without having a glossary war over which terms to use.Okay. I had agreed to "total abstraction" under the belief we were using it synonymously; apparently we were not. Given below, I believe I am on the "abstracted representation" side of things.


And if that's case, it's not a total abstraction with no connection to the fiction, it's an abstracted representation of something(s) in the fiction.

And that being the answer... it goes right back to the way in which relevant elements in the fiction don't (consistently) affect that system-level representation of those something(s) in the fiction.Not trying to be tricksy, here, but given the miscommunication and heat leading up to here, I'm going to take this slowly, one concept per post, if I can:

Can we agree that "how close the creature is to defeat" or (in complementary formation) "how much longer the creature can go on fighting" is a thing that exists in the fiction?

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-14, 05:11 PM
Okay. I had agreed to "total abstraction" under the belief we were using it synonymously; apparently we were not. Given below, I believe I am on the "abstracted representation" side of things.

Not trying to be tricksy, here, but given the miscommunication and heat leading up to here, I'm going to take this slowly, one concept per post, if I can:

Can we agree that "how close the creature is to defeat" or (in complementary formation) "how much longer the creature can go on fighting" is a thing that exists in the fiction?


My position is that said thing is, in and of itself, an abstraction of multiple other factors, and doesn't exist on its own.

A character who is physically exhausted but unharmed, is not the same as a character who has taken multiple wounds and can't take much more of a beating, is not the same as a character who has run out of "magic ooomph" and can't keep putting it into their attacks, is not... etc.

Psyren
2019-05-14, 05:16 PM
My position is that said thing is, in and of itself, an abstraction of multiple other factors, and doesn't exist on its own.

All kinds of numbers in this reality - and hell, just in D&D - are "an abstraction of multiple other factors." Why is this one so objectionable?

RedMage125
2019-05-14, 05:21 PM
What I am genuinely unable to understand is why you keep pretending that I said that a character knows how many hp it has.

Maybe because you responded to me saying "Since HP are just a metagame concept (as evidenced by the fact that in-character, no one knows what a "hit point" is or how many they have)", with the comment "Actually, characters show at least a wroking understanding of what hp are and a reasonable awareness of their current hp over their total hp when they ask the party healer to cast a healing spell on them and even ask for a particular potency."

So yes, actually, you DID say that characters know how many hps they have. I copy/pasted your post.

And I apologize if I mis-read your statement, but it had all the tone of mocking and refutation, but couched in myopically focusing on the "luck" aspect, and attempting to ridicule healing magic as "restoring luck". Maybe take some responsibility for how your posts are perceived. Because I am not the only one who read that you claimed characters know what HP are, and anyone else who viewed your second comment as an attempt at refutation would also see it as a Straw Man.

And on that note, when you quote someone saying "X", then start a sentence with "Actually...not X" you ARE refuting what they are saying.

Do characters know how badly a hit has "hurt" them, or how "hurt" they are after a fight?

They're not aware of hit points as a number -- but to assert that they're not aware of the things that hit points supposedly represent, is to assert that characters are largely or totally unaware of how badly they're hurt.

If the characters are aware of the things that HP represents, then it's entirely acceptable to use HP as player-side shorthand for that character-side self-awareness.

Again, I said that Hit Points are a metagame concept. You earlier rejected that exact statement (Your exact words were"I reject that idea HP as a metagame concept." post #97). By acknowledging that characters are not aware of "hit points" (in quotes to show that I mean that exact term), you acknowledge that they are a metagame concept.


Refusing to accept your premises or your standard of proof is not "moving the goalposts (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moving_the_goalposts)".
Except that on the Forums, when discussing rules, the RAW are the accepted standard of FACT. It's not "my premises", because it's the one that Segev, Psyren, and most veteran forum-dwellers accept as the standard, because it's the only thing that's truly objective and can be fairly referenced by anyone, who will all see the same text (assuming we're all looking at the same printing or have errata).

You said that what the RAW says HP are "is not an answer".

And again, I say "says who?" Who says that the RAW is somehow not the authority on the fantasy game that they created?

You? Why should I completely change the premise of understanding what HP are away from what the RAW says they are to provide you with a definition that still doesn't adhere to the RAW? That's madness.


At no point have I changed the standard of proof that I'm demanding, and in fact I've hardly issued any demand for proof of anything.

You have demanded answers, such as "What are they actually an abstraction of?" (post #140), while maintaining the caveat that quoting or paraphrasing the RAW is, apparently, "not an answer" (same post).



No.

I'm saying exactly what I said -- if HP could be anything until they're lost... then they are absolutely nothing. Not "nothing until they're lost", just nothing period.
Except a measure of whether nor not a given creature can continue to take actions. If you have 0 HP, you're either unconscious or dead. So they still mean that.

But narratively...yeah, they don't mean anything. HP loss has narrative implications, but those are dependent on a number of situational and subjective factors.

The act of losing HP, mechanically, only means that you are that much closer to unconsciousness/death. Narratively, could mean a lot of things. But just "HP by themselves"? Like, in a state of stasis, where the character in question is not gaining or losing any? No, they narratively mean nothing. Psyren and myself have said as much. I won't presume speak for Segev.



What you and others appear to have been saying is that D&D HP are an abstraction of some indeterminate combination of one or more factors from a list, which only "collapses" into something definite and less-abstract by being lost.

Now you're saying that D&D HP are completely abstract and represent nothing at all ?

To make sure that I neither misunderstand nor misrepresent -- which of these have you actually been saying?

To be clear, are you saying "HP-to include HP loss", or "just HP as a given creature has them in a stable state-not including the act of losing them"? Because the former relates to the former of the one you said, and the latter to the latter.



Because we're not talking about "what's true for Max_Killjoy", we're talking an inherent contradiction. There's an assertion that D&D HP represent some indeterminate combination of one or more factors from a list, but when elements appear in the fiction layer that affect those factors, HP is not affected. So either D&D HP fails to represent what it is claimed to represent, or it doesn't actually represent those things at all.

That's not preferences or opinions, that's an big giant flashing red sirens blasting contradiction.
But not everyone even cares about the narration of HP loss, or the "fiction layer". And even some of those that do (like myself) don't have a problem with them being used as an abstraction of "how long you can remain in the fight", with only specific instances of HP loss becoming something definite, like meat/luck/evasion/magical field/sandwiches/soul energy/marshmallow fluff/whatever. So to us, who don't need a line of text explicitly saying "HP only means X in all cases, consistently", there is no "failure", no "problem".

So it is absolutely preference and opinion. The very fact that the point of whether or not it is an "absolute" is even in debate should be proof to you that it is not. I get that your preference is such that to your perception this is "truth". Which is why I phrased it as "what is true for Max", instead of something you might find demeaning like "Max's personal little opinion". By acknowledging that this is your truth, I am trying to use language that shows that I absolutely respect the level of validity that this has for you. But I also know that this "problem" is not Objectively True for everyone.



That's not a debate about what the RAW says, that's a rejection of that idea regardless of what the RAW says or doesn't say.


Okay, now we're right back to what I said about facts. Because in a discussion on the Forums about what is or is not factually true about a game that is a construct of fantasy, the developers who wrote the RAW actually DO have legitimate authority to issue tautological statements that are FACT. And the RAW is the accepted (and acceptable) source for citation of anything you try and present AS fact.

If you, as a DM, think Monks are too squishy, and give them d10 Hit Dice instead of d8, is it "true for you" that Monks are a d10 HD class? Yes. Is it an objective fact that Monks are a d10 HD class? No. The RAW states that Monks use a d8 for Hit Dice, that is FACT. It can be verified by anyone looking at the RAW that Monks use a d8 for Hit Dice. This is something that anyone can verify for themselves in their 5e PHB.

So, on topic, it is a FACT that "Hit points represent a combination of physical and mental durability, the will to live, and luck.", because that can be found in the 5e PHB, on page 196.

For you to be of the opinion that "that is terrible" is one thing. For you to try and claim that it "isn't factual" is actually explicitly, provably wrong.



I do not see this as in any way linked to preferences, I see this as entirely about assertions that cannot be simultaneously true.

What I'm pushing for is for D&D HP to either represent what it represents and have that be fully reflected in a coherent, consistent, synchronous two-way relationship between the system-layer and the fiction-layer -XOR- for D&D HP to be fully acknowledged as utterly and completely abstract, representing absolutely nothing at all, with no connection to the fiction layer whatsoever.

And as part of that I reject, totally, the idea that it can be both, that the cake can be eaten and still had.
Right, but what I bolded, above, is why I said what I did. You are "pushing for something". You have an agenda, based on your own ideals and preferences. You do not like the status quo, to include the FACTS of the status quo. All I was asking was that you say something to the effect of "It is my opinion that the RAW are not satisfactory".


There is no "for the lulz". I am absolutely serious here.
I guess I'm relieved? I dunno. I just brought it up as a hypothetical. Like, "you could be messing with me for all I know". But a steadfast refusal to acknowledge that your opinions are not facts that everyone can observe and agree upon is a hallmark of many of your discussions. On other threads, too. I don't actually think you're a troll, there's been a number of times I've agreed with you.

I especially remember a line you said once, I forget what the thread was, but it was something along the lines of "if a couch is on fire, and people are trying to extinguish it, you throwing gasoline on it is not 'offering a useful alternative opinion'"

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-14, 05:22 PM
All kinds of numbers in this reality - and hell, just in D&D - are "an abstraction of multiple other factors." Why is this one so objectionable?


At least the beginning of an answer to that question was in the part you left out of the quote.

I'm going to be driving for a while, so not going to be able to elaborate until later.

Psyren
2019-05-14, 05:31 PM
At least the beginning of an answer to that question was in the part you left out of the quote.

Only one of your examples relates to hit points, at least as D&D uses them. Being "unharmed" means full HP so the tiredness bit of that is irrelevant. "Magical oomph for attacks" can be spell slots, arcane pool, or a number of other things that aren't HP either.

Loss of HP due to damage does entail some level of harm (however slight) because at least 1 point is necessary to trigger an injury poison.

RedMage125
2019-05-14, 05:33 PM
Ok, so a lot was said while I typed that last response.

Segev, I agree with every word you wrote. Btw, your "fireball" example is super close to what I wrote on the first page.

Max, I am with Segev on "abstracted representation" as you presented it.

MrSandman, I'm glad we can agree on that issue now. Sorry that my last post was still confrontational, I started typing it and was on the "reply" page before you and Segev had that last back-and-forth.

jjordan, it only "slows down the pacing of the game" if you insist on narrating every single hit. What was initially shared back on the first few pages of this thread was helpful, general advice for this. For example (what I do), if you tell your players "Ok, generally, if you are above 50%, you're relatively unharmed, damage is narrated as near-misses, blows against your armor, and so on. At the 50% threshold, you've got some minor injuries, but nothing life-threatening. Exceptions exist for if contact is necessary to make sense, like poison, lycanthrope bite, disease, and so on. Oh, and crits are always some form of actual injury, even if it's minor." And then let things play out themselves. Only slow down the pacing to describe blows that are especially meaningful or dramatic, such as how a particularly gnarly monster or BBEG goes down. When PCs drop might also be appropriate. I'll leave it to your own sense of drama.

kyoryu
2019-05-14, 06:14 PM
For what it’s worth I certainly don’t always agree with Max but I don’t think I’ve ever seen him engage in a bad faith argument.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-14, 06:31 PM
Only one of your examples relates to hit points, at least as D&D uses them. Being "unharmed" means full HP so the tiredness bit of that is irrelevant. "Magical oomph for attacks" can be spell slots, arcane pool, or a number of other things that aren't HP either.

Loss of HP due to damage does entail some level of harm (however slight) because at least 1 point is necessary to trigger an injury poison.

Unless I'm confusing threads, other posters in this thread have listed off various things that they suggest could be part of the "can only fight for so long" of HP, and all three of those were at one point on those lists.

Psyren
2019-05-14, 07:31 PM
Unless I'm confusing threads, other posters in this thread have listed off various things that they suggest could be part of the "can only fight for so long" of HP, and all three of those were at one point on those lists.

I'll repeat - the only example you listed that's relevant to HP is the "multiple wounds, can't take much more."

For the magical oomph one, there are certainly systems where your HP is tied to your attacks, but D&D isn't one of them (at least not baseline.)

The tiredness one is closer, but losing any HP at all means you're not "unharmed." Once HP start to be lost though, you can begin applying this kind of model.

Do you have other examples of what you find "objectionable" about HP? I can't speak for the folks who put those examples forward but aside from the first one they're not particularly good.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-14, 07:37 PM
I'll repeat - the only example you listed that's relevant to HP is the "multiple wounds, can't take much more."

For the magical oomph one, there are certainly systems where your HP is tied to your attacks, but D&D isn't one of them (at least not baseline.)

The tiredness one is closer, but losing any HP at all means you're not "unharmed." Once HP start to be lost though, you can begin applying this kind of model.

Do you have other examples of what you find "objectionable" about HP? I can't speak for the folks who put those examples forward but aside from the first one they're not particularly good.

I think I've laid out in painful detail what I find objectionable... sorry if you haven't read the multitude of posts.

As for the list of things asserted to be part of the "mix" that might go into any one character's HP, I'll let those who make that assertion make it.

jjordan
2019-05-14, 08:00 PM
jjordan, it only "slows down the pacing of the game" if you insist on narrating every single hit. What was initially shared back on the first few pages of this thread was helpful, general advice for this. For example (what I do), if you tell your players "Ok, generally, if you are above 50%, you're relatively unharmed, damage is narrated as near-misses, blows against your armor, and so on. At the 50% threshold, you've got some minor injuries, but nothing life-threatening. Exceptions exist for if contact is necessary to make sense, like poison, lycanthrope bite, disease, and so on. Oh, and crits are always some form of actual injury, even if it's minor." And then let things play out themselves. Only slow down the pacing to describe blows that are especially meaningful or dramatic, such as how a particularly gnarly monster or BBEG goes down. When PCs drop might also be appropriate. I'll leave it to your own sense of drama.In my experience narrative combat is part of the appeal of the game. So, while it's slower, it's better. To some people. Thanks for the clarification, btw.

So far as slowing down the pacing I was referring to the structured pacing of the game due to differences in healing. My post was not super clear about that. Sorry. If HP are meat, in any sense or portion, then 100% HP recovery after a good night's rest doesn't make a tremendous amount of sense. But if you slow down healing then some of the overall game slows down. E.G. You're getting 2 encounters per session rather than 3.

1337 b4k4
2019-05-14, 08:20 PM
I think I've laid out in painful detail what I find objectionable... sorry if you haven't read the multitude of posts.

As for the list of things asserted to be part of the "mix" that might go into any one character's HP, I'll let those who make that assertion make it.

You're going to be waiting a long time I think, since to the best of my knowledge no one here has stated that you can lose HP and be unharmed.

Psyren
2019-05-14, 08:21 PM
I think I've laid out in painful detail what I find objectionable... sorry if you haven't read the multitude of posts.

Then I go back to "this is far from the only number abstracting multiple factors in this game, I think singling it out is unreasonable."

1337 b4k4
2019-05-14, 08:30 PM
Then I go back to "this is far from the only number abstracting multiple factors in this game, I think singling it out is unreasonable."

Not only this, but now I'm honestly curious if there is any TTRPG in the world Max that meets your very rigorous standard for every single number or value on the character sheet to always bi-directionally map to one and only one thing, because I'm not sure I can think of any systems that would qualify. I can think of some where the numbers are less abstract, but every system I can think of has a resolution level below which the details are subsumed into the abstraction.

Koo Rehtorb
2019-05-14, 08:52 PM
I don't get why people are defending hit points so vigorously. They're an inherently stupid gamist concept and I think everyone knows it. Like sure you can choose to consciously ignore that fact and just accept that they're video game health bars and make little to no actual sense and they'll function just fine. But it's taking a big old sledgehammer to the setting making any kind of coherent sense. A system that makes you do extra work to cover for its inconsistencies is a bad system.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-14, 08:54 PM
You're going to be waiting a long time I think, since to the best of my knowledge no one here has stated that you can lose HP and be unharmed.


Then I go back to "this is far from the only number abstracting multiple factors in this game, I think singling it out is unreasonable."

Fine.

Just a few of the posts in which D&D HP has been referenced as things other than taking an injury.




HP as "near miss" or "luck" represents barely avoiding serious harm. The words "nick" and "cut" and "scrape" feature strongly in most of these descriptions.

Hit points are an abstraction, but they're an abstraction of a lot of things, and "meat" can be one of them. What they ultimately represent is anything either non-repeatable or of limited repeatability that explains why a given damage source was non-crippling and non-fatal. Be creatively consistent with your world-setting to explain it.

The wizard might have a magical aura he projects that is basically a magic force field and absorbs most of that damage, keeping the majority of hits from doing much at all before it collapses as he runs out of hp. (But it's not perfect, and that poisoned knife still scratched him enough to inflict the poison's effects.)

The rogue might be lucky or dexterous enough to have what should be extra "dodge points" - points he can spend to negate damage by getting out of the way, but which are a limited supply. These, too, are hit points, and if something with an on-hit rider matters, he got scathed or grazed.

The fighter might be just that skilled with his weapon, able to part the fireball around him so he only takes mild burns, or catch the stilletto in a crevase of his armor so it loses most of its penetrating power.

Even touch spells can represent being brushed by the aura of the touch, or having it ground out in your magical force field, or otherwise not being fully exposed to a fatal blow. Greater damage, too, represents more ability to force your way through such defenses, demanding more of them to escape a deadly injury.

"They're meat until they're not" is actually true, but also fine. They're an abstraction. Explain them case-by-case if you need to. Be creative in explaining why your character (in a manner consistent with the interesting but definite nature of your character) has them. The magiphobic barbarian isn't going to have a force field, but the sorcerer might. Heck, the monk may have an aura of ki so strong that blows are deflected, but he can only deflect so much.

Sure you can. The healing magics restore more than just knitting flesh together (though they can and do do that any time they're used on somebody at or below 0 hp). They restore luck, stamina, even the personal energy from which magical force fields represented by hp might be drawn. They knit flesh and replenish whatever je ne se qua that the character has.


You mean like they did?


Most attacks deal lethal damage, which is subtracted from a creature’s hit points. Hit points measure how hard a creature is to kill. Hit points represent the ability to take physical punishment and keep going, and the ability to turn a serious blow into a less serious one. For some creatures, hit points can represent divine favor or inner power.

LOSS OF HIT POINTS
An uninjured creature has its full normal hit points. As it takes lethal damage, subtract that damage from its hit points, leaving it with its current hit points. Current hit points go down with damage and go back up when a creature heals. Damage doesn’t slow a creature down until its current hit points reach 0 or fewer—see Injury.

Everything we've been saying is in the bold, all we're doing is providing examples. You don't need any of those examples if you don't like them, just stick to the RAW. Or houserule it, whatever.



It models all the detail it needs to:

"Hit points represent the ability to take physical punishment and keep going, and the ability to turn a serious blow into a less serious one. For some creatures, hit points can represent divine favor or inner power."

All the "non-meat" use cases are covered by:

"Ability to turn a serious blow into a less serious one"
"Divine favor"
"Inner power"

More detail than that is not needed.



Hit points are an abstraction taht represent how much longer a given creature can keep fighting. They are an amalgam of numerous hard-to-quantify factors, and for any given cause or potential cause of hp loss, you can look at the situation and judge likely forms the narration might take on, depending on just how much damage is done.

Jenny the Janni casting a fireball at Frank the Fighter, Willie the Wizard, and Rick the Rogue is probably going to, if she deals hp damage to them, have it take the form of some blistering to Frank's skin tanked by his armor and partially blocked by his huddling behind his shield, some expenditure of Rick's personal energy and luck to dive behind the right shelter to avoid more than a bit of singeing for Rick, and some amount of magical hoodoo lost from Willie's protections, because those are default ways of representing the last two's hp, and more "hp as meat, because Frank's just that tough" combined with skill at using his armor for Frank.

If Rick succeeds his save, he actually takes no damage, because of Evasion, and the narration of how he avoided any damage at all is different. If the others save, they protected themselves better than if they didn't. If the damage roll is particularly high, or Frank was close to defeat, then he probably gets cooked in his armor and passes out, badly burned, unable to defend himself or take the additional hit points. If it's Rick that takes enough hp to go to or below 0, he just didn't manage to avoid it and the fireball went off in his imminently fragile face.

Note that I didn't have to know how much damage was rolled, or even if people would or would not save, only what the scenario about to be resolved was, and I can tell what any hp lost are likely to represent this time, barring something unpredicted happening.



Some emphasis added.

1337 b4k4
2019-05-14, 09:06 PM
Fine.

Just a few of the posts in which D&D HP has been referenced as things other than taking an injury.

...

Some emphasis added.

None of which suggest at all that the loss of HP does not represent injury. In fact every single one of them talks about HP loss being taking damage.


Edit
---------


I don't get why people are defending hit points so vigorously. They're an inherently stupid gamist concept and I think everyone knows it. Like sure you can choose to consciously ignore that fact and just accept that they're video game health bars and make little to no actual sense and they'll function just fine. But it's taking a big old sledgehammer to the setting making any kind of coherent sense. A system that makes you do extra work to cover for its inconsistencies is a bad system.

And yet if you asked me to think of a TTRPG which did not use some form of HP I think I can only think of one, Traveller, which instead used your actual stats and reduction to them as a stand in. Otherwise everything I can think of from Fate to GURPS uses HP in some form or another. So HP may be awful and horrible, stupid and gameist, but apparently they're still better than the other options.

In fact, to the best of my knowledge, there is no TTRPG that provides stats for the actual liters of blood in the body, or otherwise provides a real medical tracking of character health conditions to determine at what point a character engaged in combat would no longer be able to fight.

Constructman
2019-05-14, 09:12 PM
I don't get why people are defending hit points so vigorously. They're an inherently stupid gamist concept and I think everyone knows it. Like sure you can choose to consciously ignore that fact and just accept that they're video game health bars and make little to no actual sense and they'll function just fine. But it's taking a big old sledgehammer to the setting making any kind of coherent sense. A system that makes you do extra work to cover for its inconsistencies is a bad system.
Di you want to have an anatomy chart open every time combat is joined and roll percentile dice every time you get hit to uduge the lethality and rijsjdjrkskfodkekfdoeptieorleokd IT'S A ****ING GAME, OKAY?! And in the other thread talking about Health Levels, an alternate health system, the most common criticism is that it leads to the death spiral, which many don't find fun. At least HP is ingrained jnto the public consciousness as forn of "hit it until 0" so can you please, PLEASE REMOVE THE VERISIMILITUDE STICK OUT OF YOUR ASS?!

Koo Rehtorb
2019-05-14, 09:14 PM
And yet if you asked me to think of a TTRPG which did not use some form of HP I think I can only think of one, Traveller, which instead used your actual stats and reduction to them as a stand in. Otherwise everything I can think of from Fate to GURPS uses HP in some form or another. So HP may be awful and horrible, stupid and gameist, but apparently they're still better than the other options.

And I can think of lots. And moreover, I can think of lots of systems which use some variety of HP, but in a non-stupid way. I don't even mind using hit points as an abstraction. But at least make it a better abstraction than the incoherent jumbled mess D&D provides.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-14, 09:14 PM
Not only this, but now I'm honestly curious if there is any TTRPG in the world Max that meets your very rigorous standard for every single number or value on the character sheet to always bi-directionally map to one and only one thing, because I'm not sure I can think of any systems that would qualify. I can think of some where the numbers are less abstract, but every system I can think of has a resolution level below which the details are subsumed into the abstraction.


You're somewhat mistaking my biggest problem with D&D HP. That it might encapselate several things is something of a gripe, but not a breaking point, and certainly could be made to work.

It's that other part, where if all those things really are represented in HP, then:
* it doesn't consistently do so
* there's no mechanical connection or synchronicity between HP and those things (that by-directional thing)
* it overlaps with other parts of the system, and quite sloppily

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-14, 09:17 PM
Di you want to have an anatomy chart open every time combat is joined and roll percentile dice every time you get hit to uduge the lethality and rijsjdjrkskfodkekfdoeptieorleokd IT'S A ****ING GAME, OKAY?!


As if it's strictly and only a binary choice hyper-scaling deeply abstracted HP... and whatever it is you just said there about anatomy charts... (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_dilemma)

1337 b4k4
2019-05-14, 09:39 PM
And I can think of lots. And moreover, I can think of lots of systems which use some variety of HP, but in a non-stupid way. I don't even mind using hit points as an abstraction. But at least make it a better abstraction than the incoherent jumbled mess D&D provides.

So like Max your issue is less HP and more the level of resolution D&D uses when using HP. That's fine, but as has been repeated many times, that falls into personal preference rather than objective failure.


You're somewhat mistaking my biggest problem with D&D HP. That it might encapselate several things is something of a gripe, but not a breaking point, and certainly could be made to work.

It's that other part, where if all those things really are represented in HP, then:
* it doesn't consistently do so
* there's no mechanical connection or synchronicity between HP and those things (that by-directional thing)
* it overlaps with other parts of the system, and quite sloppily

It is consistent and bi directional though, it is consistently all of the other things that go into making a potentially lethal event survivable that aren not affected at a gross level by the other numerical statistics represented on the character sheet but for which we still want to retain some degree of relevance for the sake of improving the game. The level of resolution that D&D provides though stops there. Everything below that is informed by the fiction. Likewise STR resolves to an overall absolute rating of gross strength. But whether that maps to "The Rock" levels of body building, or a sumo wrestler's mass, or Lance Armstrong's cycling legs is not something the STR number tells you. It's a fictional detail that is below the resolution level of the statistic. HP is the ability to resist lethal damage. That is the limits of the statistical resolution. And it is consistently that, because until you hit 0 HP, you have not taken lethal damage.

As for the overlap, I'm not sure how this is a failing. All the other numbers in D&D are non ablative. There's no way in the other statistics to represent a non-unlimited character resource (short of inventory). D&D doesn't provide a "lactic acid levels" stat to say how much of your STR you can use before you can't use it to help in combat or lethal situations anymore. It doesn't provide a mental exhaustion stat to say how many rounds until your INT no longer contributes to your ability to outhink your adversary. It doesn't have a "coordination exhaustion" stat to say at what point you begin tripping over your own two feet trying to stay ahead of the sword blows. It doesn't have a "holes in armor" stat to say how well that armor has held up over the past 10 months of adventuring. Instead D&D provides you with a limited, rechargable, abstract pool of points which represent on the whole all of those things that would otherwise require individual statistics to track. The pool gets larger as your character improves, it gets smaller if your character goes through certain events that make take away their improvements, and is depleted in the short term as your character uses that pool to avoid death. The fictional overlap with other static statistical values is a feature of being an abstract pool of "death avoidance" points.

The details don't matter for the function of the points. They only matter for the fiction and then only to the degree that your table or groups cares about such details. Just like whether Rogar the Barbarian and Smashy McFighter Swordson's STR values of 16 are both represented by body building physique or sumer wrester physique is don't matter for the function of STR. The only matter for the fiction and then, again, only to the degree that your table or group cares about such details.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-14, 09:50 PM
It is consistent and bi directional though, it is consistently all of the other things that go into making a potentially lethal event survivable that aren not affected at a gross level by the other numerical statistics represented on the character sheet but for which we still want to retain some degree of relevance for the sake of improving the game.


To be clear:

If it were consistent, then the factors wouldn't shift around depending on the character and the circumstances and the "narrative needs" of the moment.

If it were bi-directional in the sense I've been talking about, then anything that affected those various fictional elements that it represents, would also affect HP, which currently does not happen.

Koo Rehtorb
2019-05-14, 09:55 PM
So like Max your issue is less HP and more the level of resolution D&D uses when using HP. That's fine, but as has been repeated many times, that falls into personal preference rather than objective failure.

I'd call a system in an RPG a failure when it doesn't accomplish what it wants to accomplish. I am of the opinion that D&D tries to sell itself as a simulationist system, and I also think that it does a bad job of it because it gives people a weird blend of simulationism and gameism that doesn't mesh well with each other.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-14, 10:06 PM
I'd call a system in an RPG a failure when it doesn't accomplish what it wants to accomplish. I am of the opinion that D&D tries to sell itself as a simulationist system, and I also think that it does a bad job of it because it gives people a weird blend of simulationism and gameism that doesn't mesh well with each other.

Then there's the narrative focus involved in describing the effects of hits due to the wibbly wobbly nature of HP?

To be fair though, 5e appears to be built and sold on a fairly consistent "narrative focus" (not Narrativist, that's something else), unlike previous editions.

Koo Rehtorb
2019-05-14, 10:09 PM
Then there's the narrative focus involved in describing the effects of hits due to the wibbly wobbly nature of HP?

I don't think D&D gives a rat's ass about describing the effects of the hits. As far as the system is concerned, you roll dice and subtract "be alive" points. I'd call it 100% a gameist mechanic.

1337 b4k4
2019-05-14, 10:26 PM
To be clear:

If it were consistent, then the factors wouldn't shift around depending on the character and the circumstances and the "narrative needs" of the moment.

If it were bi-directional in the sense I've been talking about, then anything that affected those various fictional elements that it represents, would also affect HP, which currently does not happen.

And we're back to "no abstract number is consistent in the way you demand". A DC 20 lock might be that hard because it has a complicated tumbler, or it might be heavily rusted, or it might be plugged with slime mold. The DC 20 doesn't tell you any of that, because that's not what the number resolves to. By your argument DCs for locks are inconsistent.

Likewise two creatures with the same AC might have that because they are naturally thick skinned, or because they are covered in fine manmade armor, or because they are particularly difficult to hit due to optical effects. Again you are arguing that AC is inconsistent because the fiction can change and the numbers remain the same.

Two characters with 18 charisma, one might be an incredible orator with commanding presence, the other might be incredibly attractive and charming. CHA 18 doesn't tell you which is which. The character and the fiction tells you that. And if the character's toungue is cut out, unless the table agrees that fictional detail should affect the mechanics of the character, the characters CHA score remains at 18 because the number did not depend on the fictional detail. This is inconsistent per your definition as well.

To me however, this is not inconsistent, it's just recognizing the limits of the model's resolution.


I'd call a system in an RPG a failure when it doesn't accomplish what it wants to accomplish. I am of the opinion that D&D tries to sell itself as a simulationist system, and I also think that it does a bad job of it because it gives people a weird blend of simulationism and gameism that doesn't mesh well with each other.

Fair enough, I've long argued with people who say D&D is a simulationist system that it absolutely is not. I suppose in that case we are in agreement. As a system which simulates reality (or really fantasy) in any repeatable and predictable way, it's an absolute failure. OTOH, other than 3.x, I'm not sure that any edition of D&D tries to be simulationist. It's a game, and more specifically, as it said on the first tin: "Rules for Fantastic Medieval Wargames Campaigns Playable with Paper and Pencil and Miniature Figures". To that end it's no more simulationist than OGRE is at simulating a far future battlefield. D&D is a game for playing out D&D style fantasy adventures and the sort of tropes and genre trappings of the fantasy that inspired it. Where it tries to be hard line simulationist, it tends to fall flat, and where it accepts that it is a game first, and an abstract simulation at best, is succeeds most effectively.

CharonsHelper
2019-05-14, 10:49 PM
OTOH, other than 3.x, I'm not sure that any edition of D&D tries to be simulationist.

I don't think that even 3.x tried to be REALLY simulationist. It just added enough simulation to pass casual muster - which is the most that a (playable) TTRPG can really do anyway.

It's like when a video game has semi-realistic physics for gameplay purposes. Does that mean that I can start running physics experiments in Unreal's latest game engine? Of course not. The system breaks down really fast if you push it. It's just supposed to be good enough to help with suspension of disbelief during gameplay.

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-14, 10:50 PM
And we're back to "no abstract number is consistent in the way you demand".


And this is why I end up repeating myself: I explain something, and then in return I get a bunch of stuff that has nothing to do with what I just posted. I've already explained repeatedly why I call D&D HP -- the actual subject at hand in this thread -- inconsistent, and I have no idea how the rest of your post is supposed to be a response to what I actually wrote.

Start with what I said in the post you were replying to: If D&D HP were consistent, then the factors wouldn't shift around depending on the character and the circumstances and the "narrative needs" of the moment. Whether it includes this factor or that factor changes depending on other things.

And then there's the tie-in to the lack of bi-directionality. Whether D&D HP actually represents a specific factor or not isn't consistent, sometimes it does, and somethings it ignores that same factor entirely -- that is, a character's HP total is affected by things that affect those listed potential factors that HP is supposed to represent. There's a whole list of conditions in 5e that should, by simple reading, interfere with "active movement" parts of HP, and yet never of them actually lower HP at all.

Florian
2019-05-14, 11:11 PM
I don't think D&D gives a rat's ass about describing the effects of the hits. As far as the system is concerned, you roll dice and subtract "be alive" points. I'd call it 100% a gameist mechanic.

Don't use words when you have no clue what they are meaning. That's pretty close to DU and not being able to understand railroading, you know?

HP, ability damage, saves and such are broad abstractions to cover a wide variety of things in the game. That's one of the reasons you can use a totally wide menagerie of monsters without getting into a sweat describing how they would interact with the game world and so on.

If you don't like that kind of broad abstraction, fine, say so, but like Max, don't make the error of mistaking your personal opinion with objective facts.

Ive played Phoenix Command and no, f**k verisimilitude.

1337 b4k4
2019-05-14, 11:14 PM
And this is why I end up repeating myself: I explain something, and then in return I get a bunch of stuff that has nothing to do with what I just posted. I've already explained repeatedly why I call D&D HP -- the actual subject at hand in this thread -- inconsistent, and I have no idea how the rest of your post is supposed to be a response to what I actually wrote.

Start with what I said in the post you were replying to: If D&D HP were consistent, then the factors wouldn't shift around depending on the character and the circumstances and the "narrative needs" of the moment. Whether it includes this factor or that factor changes depending on other things.

What I'm trying to clear up is your definition of inconsistent. Is it your assertion that ANY abstract number which CAN but is NOT REQUIRED to represent any number of fictionally specified dressings or concerns an inconsistent number?

If the answer to the above is YES, then are you also stating that STR, AC and DCs in D&D as they are used in all the editions are also inconsistent?

If the answer to either of the above is NO, then please further elucidate your definition of inconsistency and the specific reason why of all the abstract stat numbers used in D&D, only HP is "inconsistent"


And then there's the tie-in to the lack of bi-directionality. Whether D&D HP actually represents a specific factor or not isn't consistent, sometimes it does, and somethings it ignores that same factor entirely -- that is, a character's HP total is affected by things that affect those listed potential factors that HP is supposed to represent. There's a whole list of conditions in 5e that should, by simple reading, interfere with "active movement" parts of HP, and yet never of them actually lower HP at all.

Again, HP actually represents your ability to take potentially lethal damage and continue to fight. Nothing more and nothing less. All of the "specific factors" are fictional concerns, used to further flavor the play, and to enable players and GMs alike to apply narrative tropes to what would otherwise be a boring mechanical spreadsheet. They [the specific factors] are relevant and have measurable impacts beyond (and to) the HP only to the degree and extent that your table and group choose them to.

Koo Rehtorb
2019-05-14, 11:17 PM
Don't use words when you have no clue what they are meaning. That's pretty close to DU and not being able to understand railroading, you know?

I do indeed understand the terms I am using, sirrah.


If you don't like that kind of broad abstraction, fine, say so, but like Max, don't make the error of mistaking your personal opinion with objective facts.

I am entirely fine with broad abstractions. In fact I basically exclusively play games with broader abstractions than D&D deals in. I don't object to abstractions. I object to badly designed and incoherent abstractions. Because D&D is a badly designed game. :smallsmile: