Sunday, 18 April 2010

Gygaxian Damage Reduction

One of Gary Gygax' OD&D house rules (spotted at Cyclopaetron):
When taking damage allow -1 HP per character level
There's a case to be made that this is just Gary's "Characters are only unconscious at 0 HPs. For each level a character may have a minus HP total equal to the level, so a 1st level PC is dead at -2, a 2nd level at -3, etc." house rule restated in another form.

But how about taking it as read?

Characters deduct 1hp/level from all damage sustained. This rule would effectively give all characters 3E-style damage reduction, allowing them to laugh off nicks and scratches as they grow in level.

OK, it might harm verisimilitude that the Orcs of the Lowly Beatstick tribe can no longer mob and gang pound Lord Slashstab when he reaches a certain level, but it appears to be in keeping with the source material for D&D. Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, Elric, Kane, [your preferred S&S hero here] are hardly ever in any real danger from single unnamed lowbies getting in a lucky blow; it takes memorable and major threats to concentrate the minds of such bad-asses.

I might have to give this a try IMG...


  1. Is it not a bit redundant if hit points are also increasing per level? I can see the utility of this idea in a system where a character starts with, for example, 15hp, and doesn't get any more as they progress, but if you're getting more hit points and damage resistance as you go, it seems like double-dipping to me.

  2. @Kelvingreen: You could be right. This would probably work better for something like Mutant Future, where hp start out higher and get burned through faster than in LL.

  3. Neat, I wonder, will anyone ever cull all these little nuggets together into document form? I find it frustrating having to search all the old threads on the forums to find the occasional pearl of wisdom from the old masters.

  4. This is just my personal taste, but for me, this suggestion would make one of my biggest problems with D&D - the absurd survivability of high-level characters - even bigger. I'd be interested to see how it worked, but my interests lie in making high-level characters more fragile, not less.


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