HD&D: Hit Points and Damage

In my first post about HD&D I spoke of the need to get the maths right. I suggested that a character of level x should have about a 50% chance to hit another character of level x. I said that it should take four successful hits to bring down a character of your level. Put the two together and we are saying that a fight against a character that is the same level as you are should last about eight rounds.

So far, this blog has been big on the principles and short on the details. For the above to work properly we need to know what the average hit points are for each level. From that we can extrapolate the average damage we can expect a character of that level to inflict. Here’s where things start getting technical.

Hit Points in HD&D

Hit Points in HD&D are derived in a very similar method to the one used in fourth edition. There is no dice rolling, so all characters of the same class will have fairly similar hit points. As with all editions of D&D, certain classes get more hit points than others.

In third and second editions this was managed by the dice rolled for hit points. Barbarians (d12); Fighters and Paladins (d10); Rangers, Monks, Clerics and Druids (d8); Rogues and Bards (d6); Wizards and Sorcerers (d4).

In fourth edition, hit points are derived from your character’s role: Defender (6 hit points per level); Striker and Leader (5 hit points per level); Controller (4 hit points per level).

There are three hit point bands in HD&D that mirror the roles from 4e. These bands are Warrior (for muscly athletic types), Scholar (for emphysemic wizardy types) and General (for everyone else). Anyone who comes up with a better term than “General” will have my gratitude. However, unlike 4e you only get extra hit points for your class when you take a Talent related to that class.

Here’s how it works:

Base Hit Points: Constitution Score

Hit Points per level: 4/level (including level one)

Actually, the hit points per level are dependent on Size. Small and Medium creatures get 4 hit points, larger creatures get more hit points. More on this below.

Additional hit points are gained every time you take a Talent. Remember you get a talent at every odd numbered level, except levels 1, 11 and 21 when you get three talents. The number of hit points you receive depend on the class or race associated with the talent.

Warrior-related Talents: +4 hit points

General-related Talents: +2 hit points

Scholar-related Talents: +0 hit points

So a first level fighter with a Constitution score of 18, who takes three fighter class talents would have the following hit points at first level:

18 (his Con score) + 4 (for his level) + 12 (three fighter talents) = 34

Whereas a wizard with a Con of 10, who takes three wizard class talents would have following:

10 (his Con score) + 4 (for his level) + 0 (for his talents) = 14

The above examples are on the extreme side, but anyone who has played any D&D will know that they are well within the bounds of possibility. Because Constitution only affects your hit points at first level, the difference between warriors, scholars and everyone else are most extreme at this level. Proportionally the difference between a wizard and fighter’s hit point is less extreme than in third edition.

Let’s put all this into a table. The table below assumes that all characters start with a Con of 13 that is improved to 14 at level 11, and 15 at level 21. It also assumes that the character has exclusively chosen talents related to its class for its entire career. Multiclass characters will have different hit points, and will drift closer to the General value.

Table: Average Hit Points by Level

Level

Warrior

General

Scholar

1

29

23

17

2

33

27

21

3

41

33

25

4

45

37

29

5

53

43

33

6

57

47

37

7

65

53

41

8

69

57

45

9

77

63

49

10

81

67

53

11

98

78

58

12

102

82

62

13

110

88

66

14

114

92

70

15

122

98

74

16

126

102

78

17

134

108

82

18

138

112

86

19

146

118

90

20

150

122

94

21

166

132

98

22

170

136

102

23

178

142

106

24

182

146

110

25

190

152

114

26

194

156

118

27

202

162

122

28

206

166

126

29

214

172

130

30

218

176

134

So how does the above compare to previous editions? It would probably be misguided to produce a level to level equivalent, but here’s the some of the highlights for levels 1, 10, 20 and 30. The number in parenthesis is the average hit points, rounded up. The following assumes a Con of 13, increasing to 14 at level 11.

Second Edition:

Fighter: Level 1 (6), Level 10 (60), Level 20 (90), Level 30 (120)
Priest: Level 1 (5), Level 10 (50), Level 20 (70), Level 30 (90)
Thief: Level 1 (4), Level 10 (40), Level 20 (60), Level 30 (80)
Wizard: Level 1 (3), Level 10 (30), Level 20 (40), Level 30 (50)

Third Edition:

Fighter: Level 1 (11), Level 10 (74), Level 20 (154), Level 30 (234)
Priest: Level 1 (9), Level 10 (63), Level 20 (133), Level 30 (203)
Rogue: Level 1 (7), Level 10 (52), Level 20 (112), Level 30 (172)
Wizard: Level 1 (5), Level 10 (41), Level 20 (91), Level 30 (141)

Fourth Edition:

Defender: Level 1 (32), Level 10 (80), Level 20 (142), Level 30 (203)
Striker: Level 1 (28), Level 10 (70), Level 20 (121), Level 30 (172)
Controller: Level 1 (23), Level 10 (59), Level 20 (100), Level 30 (140)

Please don’t pull apart the numbers too much. I’m working from memory for the second edition stuff. The above is mostly right – certainly it’s right enough for you to get the general gist.

So you can conclude from the above that I intend to hand out hit points at about the same rate as 4e, with the exception that clerics, rogues and wizards get a few less hit points and fighters get a few more. However, I have said that level 30 in HD&D will be the equivalent of level 20 in third edition. So let’s compare the hit points level 30 HD&D characters have when compared to level 20 third edition characters:

In HD&D a fighter’s average hit points increases from 142 to 218; a cleric’s average hit points increases from 133 to 176; a rogue’s average hit points go up from 112 to 176; and a wizard’s average hit points go up from 91 to 134.

This isn’t an entirely fair comparisson in that we’re going from four bands of hit points (d10, d8, d6 and d4) to three bands (Warrior, General and Scholar). Also, Consitution has a much larger bearing on third edition hit points. A 20th level fighter with Con of 18 has an average of 204 hit points, and a maximum of 280 hit points. However, the point that I’m giving everyone more hit points on average, has not been lost in translation.

I have to confess that I’ve become very focused on making the maths work, not in creating hit point totals that ressemble previous editions. If you remember my earlier post I said I was looking at giving PCs 3 extra hit points for Defender Talents and 1½ hit points for Striker Talents. Well half hit points are cumbersome, so I changed it to 4 and 2 extra hit points respectively. Obviously, this boosted the hit points available to those characters.

Personally, I don’t think that the amount of hit points really matters. PCs could have a million hit points, as long as each successful attack did a quarter of a million points of damage. The fact is that it’s all relative. As long as we balance the damage potential of the characters, then we shouldn’t have a problem. Fortunately, the HD&D figures are close enough to fourth edition to use that as a base.

Hit Points and Size

Remember I said that all characters get 4 hit points per level regardless of them class? Well, that’s not entirely true. It makes sense to give larger creatures more hit points than smaller ones. It makes sense from the verisimilitude perspective, bit it also makes sense from a purely mechanical point of view.

If you have a big monster, then it is likely that all the PCs will attack it at once. If that monster only has the same hit points as any one party member they are likely to survive less than one round – perhaps even before they get to do anything. This is the logic between Solo monsters in fourth edition, and indeed where I have shamelessly stolen the kernal of this idea. This is my proposal:

Size

Hit Points Gained
Tiny 2/level
Small 4/level
Medium 4/level
Large 8/level
Huge 12/level
Gargantuan 16/level
Colossal 20/level

For example, imagine a Great Wyrm Red Dragon. It’s fiftieth level, with a Con of 40. That means it’s got 1040 hit points, plus any extras from its talents. I suspect that would leave the final figure at about 1180 hit points. Ridiculously powerful? It’s a fiftieth level dragon! How ridiculous do you want to get?

As I have said before, doing it this way creates difficulties in making PCs of Large size or larger. I have yet to come up with a suitable work around, but I think that it’s within reason to eschew the third edition philosophy and say that some races are just unsuitable as player characters.

That said, Large PCs should be doable. But that’s not the thrust of this blog post, we’ll get to them in due course.

Damage Potential

Right. So, a successful attack should inflict a quarter of average hit points; that way it takes four successful hits to bring down your enemy. I am going to assume that Average Hit Points are those listed in the “General” column in the table above. Average hit points for a 17th level character are 108; therefore an attack from a 17th level character should inflict about 27 points of damage. This has the happy side effect of making a fighter a little more durable than average, and a wizard a little less durable.

I can almost hear the murmurs of discontent. Let’s put all this in a table first, and pick it apart in a moment.

Level

Average Hit Points

Average Damage

1

23

6

2

27

7

3

33

8

4

37

9

5

43

11

6

47

12

7

53

13

8

57

14

9

63

16

10

67

17

11

78

20

12

82

21

13

88

22

14

92

23

15

98

25

16

102

26

17

108

27

18

112

28

19

118

30

20

122

31

21

132

33

22

136

34

23

142

36

24

146

37

25

152

38

26

156

39

27

162

41

28

166

42

29

172

43

30

176

44

The above figures should only be taken as guidance. When we look at how much damage we assign to a Talent or a Spell, we reference this table but we are not slaves to this table. How does this work in practice? Let’s look at two examples. The first is for a spell, the second for a weapon.

Damage by Spell

Fireball is a third level spell, which means a wizard gets it at level nine (trust me, it’s level nine, we’ll discuss spells later). That means fireball needs to do somewhere in the vicinity of 16 points of damage, on average.

How we get to 16 is entirely up to us. Maybe a ninth level fireball inflicts 3d10 damage (average 16½) or 2d12+3 (average 16). We don’t even have to stick to the 16 average. We might want the spell to do  4d8 damage (average 18!), or 3d8+4 damage (also average 17½), or maybe it does 5d6 damage (again the average is 17½).

When a wizard in third or second edition gained fireball, he got at at fifth level and it did a base 5d6 damage. We like continuity, it gives us a warm and fuzzy feeling, so in HD&D Fireball is a third level spell, gained at 9th level, and inflicts 5d6 damage. That gives us an average of 17½ instead of 16, but it isn’t far off and it feels right to me.

The next question is do we want the damage to scale. Well, it’s a spell so the damage doesn’t have to scale at all. The wizard could just learn a different spell (Greater Fireball or some such thing) at a higher level, but let’s assume that we do want it to scale. Fireball always scaled traditionally after all.

In the past, this spell increased its damage in increments of 1d6. Now 5d6 is an average of 17½ damage. An extra 1d6 adds 3½ points to the average damage roll. So let’s take the average damage for fireballs of escalating potency and map them onto the “Average Damage” that a character should be inflicting with his level. The results are something like this:

  • 5d6 (av. 17½) = 9th Level
  • 6d6 (av. 21) = 12th Level
  • 7d6 (av. 24½) = 15th Level
  • 8d6 (av. 28) = 18th Level
  • 9d6 (av. 31½) = 21st Level
  • 10d6 (av. 35) = 24th Level

Notice, that the average damage is seldom exactly the same as the level I have mapped it onto, but it is close enough. In fact, fireball, seems to work surprisingly well (even if I do say so myself). The damage is perhaps just a little on the low side at higher levels, but that should be fine. After all, it is only a third level spell. A 24th level wizard should be calling upon the bigger guns in a crisis. Fireball is also an area effect spell; I’ll discuss how this might influence our decision for how much damage it inflicts later.

In summary: fireball is a third level spell gained by the wizard at level nine. Its damage increases by 1d6 every three levels to a maximum of 10d6 at level twenty-four. Marvellous.

Damage from a Weapon

This is much trickier. Going by what I have already written, a swing of a sword should inflict the same damage as a spell. So at 24th level it should be the equivalent of a 24th level fireball. Well… let’s not lose sight of why we are doing this. I don’t want to create a system that is as utterly unlikely and seamlessly bland as fourth edition.

I think that given the right circumstances, feats and talents a fighter should be able to inflict damage with a sword that is approching the damage a wizard could do with a spell. However, he really has to work at it. Let’s look at the numbers and see where they take us.

This fighter is going to start with a Strength of 18, and he is going to increase his Strength at every conceivable opportunity. This is not as unlikely a circumstance as you may think. Assuming the fighter is using a longsword, the average damage he inflicts is as follows:

  • Levels 1-7: 1d8+4 (av. 8½)
  • Levels 8-13: 1d8+5 (av. 9½)
  • Levels 14-20: 1d8+6 (av. 10½)
  • Levels 21-27: 1d8+7 (av. 11½)
  • Levels 28-33: 1d8+8 (av. 12½)

Which is absolutely nowhere near where the fighter should be. At 12½ damage per round a 33rd level fighter would take about 31 rounds to obliterate the hit points of another 33rd level character. Or would they?

Unlike the wizard, the fighter needs to use his talents and his feats to heighten his skill and his damage potential. There are feats that increase his chance to hit. When that chance becomes more than 50%, the rate of average damage increase purely by dint of the fact that the fighter hits more often. There are then other feats, such as Weapon Specialisation, that will increase the damage. Factor in Weapon Specialisation and the average damage becomes this:

  • Levels 1-5: 1d8+5 (av. 10½)
  • Levels 6-7: 1d8+6 (av. 11½)
  • Levels 8-10: 1d8+7 (av. 12½)
  • Levels 11-13: 1d8+8 (av. 13½)
  • Levels 14-15: 1d8+9 (av. 14½)
  • Levels 16-20: 1d8+10 (av. 15½)
  • Levels 21-25: 1d8+11 (av. 16½)
  • Levels 26-27: 1d8+12 (av. 17½)
  • Levels 28-33: 1d8+13 (av. 18½)

Amazing the difference a simple feat makes isn’t it? Weapon Specialisation gives you +1 damage per five levels in HD&D (in case you were trying to work it out). However, even with the above, the fighter if falling short of the damage capacity that we want from him.

This is where talents come to our rescue. Double Strike, Triple Strike and Two-Weapon Fighting increase the number of attacks per round, and therefore the damage. One can imagine other talents that increase the damage of a single attack. Power Attack, anyone?

This blog is getting very close to to the point where I start posting details of HD&D character classes. The first one I am going to look at is the Fighter. When that happens, I think we have to revisit the damage potential of the fighter, and those other classes that rely on weapons instead of talents and spells. The write-up for the HD&D fighter will include details of talents and feats that increase the damage the fighter deals (within limits). However, there are still a few other things we need to discuss.

Damage per Round?

Okay, so four successful hits brings down a foe the same level as you. Only half your attacks hit, so it takes eight rounds to defeat the foe. Or does it? What happens when characters have multiple attacks per round. Should the required damage be inflicted per attack, or should it be the sum of all the attacks in the round.

Here’s an example.

A 21st level character should inflict about 33 points of damage with a successful attack. Most characters only get one attack per round. The wizard casts his spell and BANG, 33 damage. However, a 21st level fight could be attacking multiple times over the course of one round.

A fighter with the Double Attack and Triple Attack talents gets three attacks per round. Should each of those attacks do 33 damage, or should the average result of all those attacks add up to 33 damage – so each individual attack only does 11 damage?

There’s some obvious problems for both options. If a fighter hits for the same damage with all his multiple attacks then he can potentially do much more damage than a wizard simply because of his additional attacks. The 21st level fighter could do 99 damage in one round.

However, it is wrong to assume that all those extra attacks will hit (even if they all have the same high attack bonus). If the fighter has a 50% chance to hit another fighter of the same level, that’s a 50% chance to hit with one attack. If he’s making three attacks then the chance of hitting with them all is 50% of 50% of 50%, or a 12½% chance by my reckoning. Therefore the damage potential shouldn’t be reduced by a third just because he’s making three attacks.

Mathematical Challenge! Someone who knows more about probability than me needs to have a look at this. If a character has a 50% chance of dealing 33 damage in one round, what is the average damage in one round if a character makes two, three or four of those attacks – taking into account the diminishing liklihood that all attacks hit.

So what do I do? Do I reduce the damage potential of multiple attacks – in a manner similar to fourth edition? Two shots with the ranger’s twin strike ability is better than making a basic attack, but it’s not better than making two basic attacks. Should I go down that road?

Or should I go the other way? If fighters can make multiple attacks and deal more damage then other classes should have the means to transcend their damage potential as well. We’ll reintroduce Quicken Spell as a feat, and give something comparable to all classes. We’ll create an arms race. We won’t make multiple attacks worse, we’ll give all the other classes the same opportunity to make their attacks better.

The problem here would be if a fighter combined lots of different talents and feats: Double Strike + Triple Strike + Two-Weapon Fighting + Power Attack + Skill Focus + Weapon Specialisation = multiple attacks doing more than average damage with a better than average chance of hitting. Something to think about.

Armour Class

 The next complication is armour class. In HD&D, armour class works in the same way that damage reduction worked in third edition. It reduces damage. For example, leather armour has an armour class of 2. That means if you are wearing leather armour, you take 2 less damage from every attack that hits you. If this reduces the damage to less than zero, then you don’t take any damage at all.

While this is fine in practice, there is an enormous amount of work to do to get this to balance in game. We cannot overpower armour class. Two points might be too much for leather armour. My instinct is to take the AC value of armour from third edition and use that as the HD&D version of armour class. Right or wrong, it’s certainly a good place to start.

For example, in third edition Full Plate granted you +8 to your armour class. In HD&D it makes sense for full plate to grant AC 8. If you are wearing full plate you ignore the first 8 points of damage from any attack. Maybe this makes sense, maybe it doesn’t. But it does have a profound knock on effect on the rest of the game.

Have a look again at the average damage a fighter with Strength 18 dishes out with a longsword. A longsword only deals a base 1d8 damage! If you’re absorbing 8 points of damage every time someone attacks you, then you will never get hurt. This can certainly be frustrating for the GM, and I speak from painful and ongoing personal experience.

But isn’t that fair enough? Isn’t it possible to wail on a knight in shining armour all day and do little more than bruise him? Here are some other things to think about:

  • As soon as we start taking away damage for wearing armour, then our calculations for what constitutes “average damage” is completely thrown off. A 21st level fighter attacking another 21st level fighter in full plate would have to roll 41 damage in order to inflict the required 33.
  •  

  • But if we upped the average damage to take account of armour, that penalises those who do not wear armour. It also makes spells more potent because they will (usually) by-pass armour.
  •  

  • Armour class probably wouldn’t apply against energy attacks. Armour is set up to defend against kinetic assaults.
  •  

  • If AC only applies against weapons, then we might have solved our problem with fighters and damage. Fighters might be able to get away with inflicting more damage because their attacks are subject to armour class. However, against unarmoured opponents fighters would be very dangerous indeed.
  •  

  • Certain weapons could be set up to ignore or partially ignore armour class. Piercing weapons like daggers are designed to punch through chainmail. However, we have to be careful that we don’t make things too complicated.
  •  

  • Critical hits could by-pass all armour. You really feel it when someone rolls a natural 20 against you.
  •  

  • Then there is the problem of magic weapons. If full plate is problematic then +5 full plate would be even more so! Like weapons, I would intend magic armours to grant bonuses other than additional armour class. Maybe there is a type of magic full plate let’s you use your armour class to defend against fire attacks, for example.
  •  

  • What stacks? Some creatures have natural armour (even some PCs will have natural armour). Does that stack with Armour Class? I would say definitely not!
  •  

  • How do we handle natural armour? Some monsters in third edition had upwards of +30 natural armour. Does this give them an armour class of 30? Surely we can see that such a thing would break the game in HD&D.

Exceptions that Prove the Rule

The last thing I want to underline is that all of the above can be ignored on a case-by-case basis. Some classes just don’t deal damage. If we’re looking at the diviner or the healer or even the bard, we shouldn’t expect them to match the fighter, the wizard or the ranger in terms of damage output. Their strengths lie elsewhere.

Which I think is absolutely fine. We should not fall into the trap of fourth edition and create classes that are always useful in all situations. A diviner should be no more able to slay the orc king with a battle axe, than the barbarian should be able to see the future.

After almost a year of fourth edition hype and expectation we need to return to a third-edition way of thinking: it’s okay for classes to specialise. What the above rules do is give us firm principles to fall back on when we have to assign a damage value to something. It’s a necessary tool, not  a prescription.

Over to you.

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41 thoughts on “HD&D: Hit Points and Damage

  1. for the “Mathematical Challenge”,

    50% chance to deal 33 damage means an average of 16.5 damage per round.

    If all attacks are 50% to hit, then for two attacks, the average damage is 33, and for three attacks the average damage is 49.5. For four attacks, it is 66 damage on average

    .

    Since all attacks are independent of each other (their outcome is unrelated to the success or failure of the others), then it is simply a case of [(50% x 33) + (50% x 33) + (50% x 33) + (50% x 33)] to calculate average damage.

    – hvg3

    • So we treat each attack independently? This is what happens when you stop studying maths when you’re 16. I’ve spent the last 19 years thinking I understood probability. Well, that’s a blow.

      Okay, you’ll have to talk me through this in baby steps. This is an example of my way of thinking: when you generate a D&D character’s stats by rolling 3d6, it’s very hard to roll an 18. The chances of rolling a 6 on 1d6 is 1:6. The chances of rolling two 6s on 2d6 is 1:36. The chances of rolling three 6s on 3d6 is 1:216. This is the same principle I applied to iterative attacks.

      If an attack as a 50% chance of hitting then that’s the same as flipping a coin or rolling 1d2. You either have one result on the other. So, by extensive, the chance of hitting with three attacks is the same as rolling 3d2 and getting a result of 6 from the sum of all the die rolls. The chance of rolling a 2 on 1d2 is 1:2. The chance chance of rolling two 2s on 2d2 is 1:4. The chance of rolling three 2s on 3d2 is 1:8.

      To extrapolate this to the iterative attacks: the chance of hitting with one attack is 1:2 (50%), the chance of hitting with two attacks is 1:4 (25%) and the chance of hitting with three attacks is 1:8 (12.5%).

      Now this all seems reasonable and logical to me, so where did I go so comprehensively wrong? To return to the character generation example: all d6s have an equal chance of rolling any number when rolled in isolation. But does that mean that if we take the results of any three d6 ever rolled in the history of the world and add the results together, we have an equal chance of getting any result? How can we? We know that if you roll 3d6 then the result will probably be a 10 or an 11 and is very unlikely to be a 3 or an 18.

      So I’m just confused.

  2. This comment from Jon:

    With reagrd to your spells/damage point on the blog – I was going to rant at you last week but decided to think about it first. ( I was very cross)

    But I still feel you a badly wrong.

    1. Spell Casters have a limit on the amount of times they can “do damage” this is either hit points / spells point.

    2. Fighters are not limited to the number of times they can swing thier big pointy metal stick!

    Therefore unless you introduce a “swing point system” in which fighter can only attack so many times a day before 8 hours continous rest then you should skew the damage that magic inflicts accordingly – to make the damage levels equivalent to a sword blow is wholly unjust.

  3. Jon: You have a point.

    However, in practice when have spellcasters ever run out of damaging spells? I don’t tend to run combats frequently enough that such a thing ever happens. Also, I would hope that this problem will be somewhat mitigated by how spellcasting works in HD&D.

    In HD&D, once you cast a spell it becomes unavailble until you take a short rest (5-10 minutes) outside combat. There will be certain feats or talents that let you cast some spells more than once before they become unavailable, but on the whole it’s fire and forget until you get a short rest – not an eight hour rest.

    What this means is that a spellcaster’s damaging spells only have to hold out for the duration of one combat. You won’t be able to stand there shooting Lightning Bolt after Lighting Bolt, but you should still have equally powerful options round after round. The only time spell availability becomes an issue is if you can’t get a short rest between combats. Maybe you’re being chased and you’re conducting a running battle (possibly across roof-tops).

    Yes, fighters can keep swinging their sword all day, but they have to be very focused in their seletion of talents and feats to keep up with the damage potential of a wizard. Plus in order to do an equal damage, fighters will need to concentrate their firepower on single targets. Wizards and sorcerers usually have the means to injure multiple foes at once. And don’t forget that damage is only one thing that spell-casters can do. They can freeze their foes in place, befuddle their minds, make their drop their weapons and so on and so forth.

    I’m not saying that there isn’t an issue, but the effectiveness of a spell-caster is not dependent (not solely dependent) on being able to inflict more damage than a fighter. It’s a different class and a different style of play. There are checks and balances that I haven’t done yet – and probably won’t do until I have a working version of both the wizard and the fighter. However, I understand where you’re coming from on this, and I’ll certainly bear it in mind.

  4. Neil has made a number of pertinent comments to me by email. I’m going to split these up thematically and include his remarks and my replies in the same post. Neil’s comments are in itallics:

    I think you are confused, the probability of hitting with consecutive attacks (given 50% chance for one) is 1/2 to the N (where N is the number of attacks. I.e for 3 attacks there is a 12.5% chance of hitting with all 3. Given that you have said that each attack will do 33 damage that means there is a 12.5% probability of doing 99 damage in a round. The average amount of damage for N attacks is as Hvg3 says.

    Damn right I’m confused!

    I think the solution to the maths problem you are having (but didn’t ask) is thus: chances of hitting with one attack 50%, damage equals average of 33. Chances of also hitting with the second attack is 25%, damage equals 66. Chances of hitting with third is 12.5%, damage equals 99. Average damage with consecutive attacks is therefore: (33*0.5) + (33*0.25) + (33*0.125) ~ 29.

    Ah! Now we’re getting somewhere! So a 21st fighter making one attack per round will inflict 16.5 damage per round on average. A 21st level fighter making three attacks per round will inflict about 29 points of damage on average.

    This is exactly what I needed to know! Have an experience point.

  5. Neil again:

    As for the rest of your entry it doesn’t seem very fair to say that to get this sort of damage a fighter has to take every ability upgrade in strength, every appropriate talent etc. whereas all the wizard needs is the spell! Surely they can get talents or feats which can boost the damage just as fighters can? Remember you are saying that a fighter has to work hard to get this damage which is average for a wizard who simply needs the spell. Since wizards can do a lot more than fireball I think this is unfair on fighters. Also, what about area of effect? No way should a wizard just be able to lob off a fireball that can do the same average damage to a group of enemies. I think there should be talents that a fighter (and rogue etc) could have which enable area of effect attacks, a whirlwind attack for example, but these should do the average to the total number of enemies they can damage.

    This is what I love about this blog. Jon read this post and said how it was unfair to spellcasters. You read this post and said how it was unfair to fighters! Someone remind me why I’m doing this again? Let’s take you points in order:

    1) HD&D generally assumes that all characters have an 18 in their classes prime requisite stat. So a fighter has to do this to reach what I would consider appropriate damage per round isn’t singling out the fighter. All classes are treated the same way.

    2) While wizards can get talents and feats to boost their spells, most of a wizards talents will be spent on ‘buying’ the right be a spellcaster. So I think it’s fair to say that, overall, they have less options. Of course, the spells themselves give them near infinite options. This is deliberate on my part. I’m not trying to make wizards and fighters the same, just make their power level close enough that no-one gets bored during a session.

    3) Yes, wizards can do a lot more than fireball – but the damage for everything else they can do will be pretty much the same. Notice I say “pretty much” there are still exceptions. As I pointed out to Jon, wizards can do more than just damage their opponents, and this does need to be taken into account.

    4) There is certainly a case for area effect powers doing less damage than powers that target a single foe. I don’t agree that area effect powers should do proportionately less damage. A fireball designed to hit eleven foes shouldn’t inflict 3 damage instead of 33 as that would make the power utterly irrelevent.

    However, you have a point. I was going to put this in the above post but forgot to include the paragraph. Should area effect spells and other abilities do less damage simply because of what they are? Before fourth edition, D&D firmly said “no” to this. I am not entirely sure either way. The trouble with area effect magic is that you need special circumstances to be able to use it. You can’t just drop fireballs willy-nilly and hope for the best. Because they can’t be used as often, then the fact they inflict damage to multiple foes seems less of an issue in my view.

  6. Neil again:

    Another thing, why do HPs need to scale? I know the rationale is that they represent an abstract of the ability to roll with blows, not be where the strike is etc. but is an escalating HP system necessary? You take the example of escalating damage, well it’s the same with HP, escalating HP means escalating damage potential, why do it? A given species should have a roughly similar number of HP for all, a bit of variation but essentially the same region. Bigger creatures should have more HP since it takes more to significantly injure them (compare an elephant to a human). A sword hitting a highly skilled fighter does the same damage (give or take) as that sword damaging a novice, it’s just that it is much harder to hit the skilled fighter than the novice.

    Neil, I can always rely on you to see things from a completely different perspective. I am going to say one thing, and then throw this open for a wider discussion.

    Hit points affect how you play the game. In games where hit points are fixed (like Call of Cthulhu) PCs remain vulnerable to all threats throughout their career. To put it in D&D terms, a 1st level wizard can kill a 20th level fighter with one blow from a staff if the circumstances are right. Character will always fear falling off a thirty foot cliff because they know that whatever level they are, the fall will kill them.

    Scaling hit points allow the characters to be more heroic, because as you advance in level a whole tier of threats become beneath you. If means you can wade through a cave full of kobolds and have a chance to survive.

    Fixing hit points in D&D will change the nature of the game. Good change? Bad change? What does everyone think?

  7. From Neil:

    Finally, you asked if natural armour should stack with manufactured, YES! Of course it should! A crocodile in a tin can will take less damage from an attack than a crocodile not in a tin can, the concept is called layering and it is a fact of military life. Give a man some body armour, then put him in a tank, obviously any damage going through the tank will then effect the man, but the damage potential has been greatly reduced. This damage is then reduced further by the body armour. You cannot whale on someone in full plate forever and not damage them, if nothing else they will bruise, so I suggest a minimum of 1, not 0. Also certain weapons, maces for example, were designed to crush the armour and thus damage the occupant. Armour should be effective against energy attacks; a fireball’s energy would be equally well be absorbed by the armour as kinetic energy. Arguably, a lightning strike would do no/little damage to a knight in full plate since he is grounded! I’m not saying there aren’t types of energy attacks which can ignore armour, but the more conventional electric and fire based ones should.

    Yeah, I thought you would say that.

    Of course, it’s more realistic to allow armour to layer. The question is whether we can make that work in the system. If a Dragonborn has +2 armour class, then a dragonborn in plate mail has +10 armour class. If a sword does 1d8 damage then you’d need to have a +3 strength bonus just to have a 1:8 chance of injuring the dragonborn at all.

    I think that if we allow armour class from natural armour and worn armour to stack, the chance of injuring foes at all will plummet. We’ll see too many combats with five foes surrounding a heavily armoured enemy and doing practically no damage to it each round. A very long and very dull combat.

    Having successful attacks inflict a minimum of 1 damage instead of 0 is the beginnign of a solution.. It would certainly be easier to adjudicate than the other option, which is having armour reduce a percentage of the damage inflicted. That I think would be two maths-heavy for the purpose of the game.

    As for things like fireball, lightning bolt and taking into account whether the foe is grounded, I think we’d be taking things a little bit too far. It’s easier to say that physical assaults are stopped by armour, and energy assaults are not. A nice simple rule that works the same way as third edition damage reduction.

    One of the goals of HD&D is to make combat quicker. I don’t think there’s time to work out whether a particular type of energy bypasses armour or is stopped by it – particularly if it varies depending on the type of armour you are wearing.

    Does anyone have any thoughts on how we keep armour class under control?

  8. Just a quick point on natural armour. If it doesn’t stack with normal armour, then what is the point of it? A Dragonborn in anything heavier than padded armour (and has anyone ever worn that?) would receive no benefit from it. It would only be useful for wizards, monks and captives. I think it has to stack or there’s no point having it.

  9. Neil says:

    You may be right about escalating HP meaning more epic possibilities but personally I think the talents, feats and skills should fulfill that role. Remember I am advocating roughly constant HP for all characters, PC and NPC and monster. A high level fighter should still be bale to wade through a pack of Kobolds because he will hardly ever get hit by them and will almost always hit them. Add in power attack and multiple attacks and he should make mincemeat of them.

  10. Neil says:

    I understand your concerns about natural armour class but if you think about it it is a significant advantage. Taking some examples from nature, a shark has a chainmail like skin which deflect small calibre bullets! Alligators and crocodiles have armour plates which can protect them from all but the highest calibre hand guns. Elephants, rhinos and hippos all have very tough leather/rubber-like skin which can absorb blows easily. Maybe you should say that a Dragonborn’s armour is just +1? If you don’t stack then what is the point of the trait in the first place? Just to protect unarmoured wizards and rogues?

    Right, so at the moment the consensus would seem to be: natural armour and worn armour stack when calculating armout class. To offset this advantage we:

    1) Reduce the armour class bonus granted by toughened skin and armour.

    2) Increase the minimum damage of weapon from 0 to 1.

    Okay. That could work, I’ll grant you. So here’s a suggestion for armour class to look at. Everyone starts with a base AC of 0. This can be improved by wearing armour as follows:

    Padded Armour +1
    Leather Armour +2
    Chain Armour +3
    Scale Armour +3
    Splint Armour +4
    Banded Armour +4
    Half-Plate +5
    Full-Plate +6

    Additional AC bonus from ‘regular’ PC-type races (e.g. Lizardmen, Dragonborn) is reduced to +1.

    As for monsters… in third edition DR could be anything from 1 to 15 depending on the creature. We could use that as a guide or (considering AC applies far more often than DR) limit it to +10. A dragon has an AC of 10?

    Thoughts?

  11. Neil says:

    The problem with making wizards roughly as powerful as fighters is the same problem you get with 3rd ed, at a certain level the fighters may as well have a nap while the wizard blasts everyone to kingdom come, whilst thefighters are unlikely to be able to do much in certain situations where the wizard excells. You are in danger of having the wizard being able to do anything and as well as the other classes, they shouldn’t for balance sake if nothing else. That may not be fair since the spell recharage thing is different but you see my point I’m sure. Personally I think fighters should be the big hitters, rogues should be the jack of all trades, wizards should be a jack of all trades with magic and then you have specialist magic users such as battle mages which are on a par with the fighters. All other classes are regarded as a specialist type of fighter/rogue/cleric/wizard or an amalgam.

    Fighter, Rogue, Cleric and Wizard are the archetypes and every other class is just an amalgam of abilities from the core four? Fair enough. I’d go with that.

    When speaking of character roles, I think that you need something more than “jack of all trades”. That’s just another way of saying “second best at everything” or “Marc’s character”. We need to move away from that.

    Is there a danger of wizard being sneakier than the rogue and a better damage dealer than the fighter? Yes. At very high levels the answer is yes. But this is not to say that the wizard is a party of one, he still needs his flunkies (er… companions).

    The trouble is I’m not sure you can down power the wizard to the point when this isn’t and will never be the case without making the wizard… crap. Look at fourth edition. My plan for diminishing the potency of the wizard is to:

    1) Replace spell points with the recharge mechanic so the wizard can’t keep casting the same spell again and again and again.

    2) Limit the number of spells wizards have knowledge of. This is probably only a short term plan, as wizards will get hold of spells eventually.

    3) Increase the casting time of mega-powerful spells so that they can’t be cast off the cuff in the middle of combat.

    Will that be enough? I don’t know. The alternative (as far as I see it) is to go down a road that takes us dangerously close to 4e.

  12. Neil says:

    You talk of area affect weapons not being used very often, and that may be true of something like fireball, but what about burning hands? Okay not so much of an area but still multiple opponents. Personally I’d downgrade fireballs damage and have it able to affect multiple opponents. So for example an equivalent level fighter may be able to do, on average, 40 points of damage a round (multiple attacks) whilst the fireball can do only an average of 20 but to multiple opponents. The fighter has less chance of actually doing this than the wizard because he has to hit everytime whereas the wizard need only hit the once.

    Actually I have done a comparisson of how this worked in fourth edition. The DMG has a list of the sort of average damage a threat of a specific level should inflict. However, though it may seem that attacks that effect multiple targets do less damage, this is not actually the case.

    The designers treat powers as either at-will or limited (encounter or daily). Looking at the suggested damage for limited powers you see the following pattern – or rather non-pattern.

    Assuming the amount of damage infliced by a single attack is 100%, the the amount of damage inflicted by an attack against multiple foes of the same level is:

    Levels 1-3: 104%
    Levels 5-6: 94%
    Levels 7-9: 81%
    Levels 10-12: 76%
    Levels 13-15: 94%
    Levels 16-18: 78%
    Levels 19-21: 86%
    Levels 22-24: 76%
    Levels 25-30: 85%

    So at early levels, powers that attack multiple opponents actually do more damage! If we can take anything from the 4e way of doing it, it is that we need to judge each spell or power on its merits. We may have a rule of thumb that says all area effect powers should do about 20% less damage than a normal power that affects just one target. But how or even if we apply that rule should be based on circumstances.

    Which is my way of saying that may be we apply it to Burning Hands and not Fireball. Or maybe not to either. Or maybe both.

  13. Neil says:

    Why is it difficult to say that certain energy based weapons ignore armour the rest don’t? The “fire” or “electric” descriptor is in the spell entry so why not just have a “ignore” or something descriptor for attacks which ignore armour? I do however advise lumping all armours into this otherwise it is indeed a faff!

    I think the point is that there could be situations where an energy type would bypass armour. The rules for the third edition fireball state that the spell generates no concussive force, and that it is just heat. Well, wearing metal armour is no protection against heat is it? Quite the contrary. Equally while you might argue that metal armour makes you immune/vulnerable to electricity (not sure how it works) what about armour that is no more than toughened skin; and what happens if you’re struck by a lightning bolt when flying or wading through water?

    To my mind it all becomes a bit to dependent on circumstances and a bit too complicated. Armour has never protected a character from these dangers in D&D before, so there is definite precedent for HD&D to go down this route as well.

  14. A very quick tuppence worth…
    Neil is right a guy with a decent layer between him and the outside world will not be as affected by any instantaneous elemental effect such as fireball, acid blast etc, there simply isn’t enough time for the:
    Fire + Cold – thermal lag
    Acid – dissoliving
    Electricity – heating (guy in full plate is equally safe on or off ground, good old faraday’s cage any current would flow around him may get burns from the armour tho’)
    etc. etc.

    to be overcome. That is if you want verisimilitude as opposed to being consistant with 3e.

    …Long term exposure is a different matter entirely…

    • Personally, I think that if we allow armour to absorb damage from energy attacks then we’re making armour much too good and much too useful.

      Certain creatures and even PCs have energy resistance. They would be diminished if everyone could effectively get energy resistance by simply putting on a heavy jumper. Letting armour apply to everything is going to have knock-on effects that are felt throughout the game.

      Do we want to go down this road? Is it worth it?

  15. I’m not agreeing with Neil’s assessment of probability. He has not calculated the average damage of a fighter making three attacks (that is 49.5, as I gave earlier). What he calculated was the average damage of a fighter *hitting* with three attacks. That is, the % he has used (50%, 25%, 12.5%) only look at how the 2nd and 3rd attacks hit *if the first one hit*.

    The fighter might miss his first attack, and then hit on the second and third. (that would be 0% + 50% x 33 + 25% x 33).
    Or, the fighter could miss his first two attacks, and just hit on the third (0% + 0% + 50% x 33).
    Or the fighter could miss, then hit, then miss (as above, but in a different order).

    To find the average damage, you need to take in to account all these cases, which is why the average damage of the fighter, in three attacks, is 49.5.

    .

    Taking your stat-rolling example, you are correct in saying that rolling an 18 (or max damage) is unlikely – but we were not looking at that. We are looking at average damage. That would be an average score of about 10.5.

    We work out the average of 3d6 by such:

    (average of dice #1) + (average of dice #2) + (average of dice #3)

    The result of the first dice has no bearing on the results of the second or third. Calculating the above, we get:

    (1+2+3+4+5+6)/6 = 3.5

    (3.5) + (3.5) + (3.5) = 10.5, which is the average for 3d6.

    If we used the diminishing probability, we would get something far lower.

    ..

    Again, with the coin toss, imagine a hit is 1, a miss is 0. The total possibilities are:

    0 0 0
    0 0 1
    0 1 0
    0 1 1
    1 0 0
    1 0 1
    1 1 0
    1 1 1

    You can see that there is only one in eight chances of every attack hitting. That is small – but we are looking at averages. The average amount of attacks hitting is:

    (0+1+1+2+1+2+2+3)/8 = 1.5 attacks hitting, on average.

    Low, assuming that each attack does 33 points of damage, we see that if on average, we hit 1 1/2 times, the average damage is:

    1.5 x 33 = 49.5 (as stated before :) )

    Also from the above, you can see that the chance of rolling poorly (0 damage) is 1/8 (or 12.5%).
    The chance of rolling max damage (99 damage) is also 1/8, or 12.5%.
    The chance of getting one hit (33 damage) is 3/8, or 37.5%.
    And the chance of getting two hits (66 damage) is 3/8, or 37.5%.

    Interestingly, note that you aren’t actually able to get “average damage”, but that is to be expected, as we are looking at averages ;)

    ….

    Does this help ease the confusion at all?

    -hvg3

  16. Can I just say, on behalf of poor stupid humanities students and graduates everywhere, that that was beautifully explained, hvg3. Thank you very much!

    P.S. I don’t think it was Neil’s maths that was lacking. It was more likely Iourn’s understanding. Sorry Iourn!

  17. Two items:
    1 – Hit probability – I agree with hvg3 (49.5 on average). Will send Neil a simple example of the calculation. If in doubt, just do a load of dice rolling (100 times) to get a more practical perspective.

    Preferring fighters to mages, I am generally narked that mage attacks have a much better chance of hitting and damaging, while your high-level fighter suffers the shame of rolling 2’s and 3’s all the time and missing. Think about magic missiles versus bows and arrow. Definitely being able to damage an oponent is a huge advantage over possibly hitting an opponent!

    2 – Armour. I like the rules whereby different types of weapon (piercing, slashing and bludgeoning) have different effects on different armours. This is why knights use maces against plate armour, rather than swords. This allows much more variety in armament, otherwise weapons such as maces and multi-versatile pole-arms will be overlooked in preference of the longsword. Acid, leccy and cold-type attackes would also have different effects on different arour types.

    Jake.

  18. Right. Let me get this straight…

    Our example character of 21st level should inflict 33 damage with one successful hit. However, only every other hit will be successful which means the average damage of each swing is 16.5.

    This means if he only has one attack per round, his average damage output for the round is 16.5 (33 divided by 2).

    If the character has multiple attacks then he will inflict that average damage with each attack. So if this character makes two attacks per round he’ll do an average of 33 damage (16.5 x2), if he makes three attacks per round he’ll do an average of 49.5 damage (16.5 x3) and if he makes four attacks per round he’ll do an average of 66 damage (16.5 x4).

    So what we’re basically saying is that a character with four attacks per round does four times as much damage as a character with one attack per round.

    Why was that so hard for me to grasp?

    Thank you all very much. Now I have the figures I can attempt to balance multiple attacks with other fighter talents and abilities. Admittedly I’m still taking much of this maths on faith but, you know, I trust you guys.

  19. Hi Jake. To take your two points:

    1) I’ll be following the fourth edition route that calls for everyone to roll to hit with everything. Wizards will be as equally capable of getting crappy rolls as fighters.

    2) Now, you see what you’re saying makes a lot of sense. Different types of armour giving different defences aganist certain types of weapons. Part of me really likes this – and there are loads of rules from second edition that we could port into the system.

    The question is: do we want to go down this road? It could be quite evocative: “I drop the warhammer and use my dagger to avoid the armour class of his chain mail”. Or it could be very annoying, and slow the game down no end, and require there to be many more numbers on the character sheet.

    Which way should we go?

  20. yay! :p And I think you explained it a lot easier than I did… whilst I might understand all that stuff, I am not great at teaching it, so I am glad we got there in the end :)

    oh, and i wasn’t meaning to discredit Neil before, or claim he had bad maths! just that he was possibly missing what was being asked.

    -hvg3

  21. Some messages from Neil:

    I agree with Hvg3 that I only took into account all 3 strikes hitting, however I’m not convinced on the 49.5 damage average, it seems too high to me. Calculating all possibilities, ie. 111 to 000, where 1 is a hit and 0 is a miss gives you 152.625. Divide this by 8 (number of possibilities) and you get the more reasonable figure of 19.078125! I’m fairly sure this is the average damage given 50% probability of any one strike hitting for 33 damage, however we are taking an average of an average so I’m not sure it’s right!

    And later:

    Okay, finally figured it out! The post I just sent in based the damage on 33, however what you simply need to do is take average damage that all three attacks hit (99, since average damage is 33 and we are saying all 3 hit) PLUS three possibilities that 2 strikes hit (average damage 66) PLUS the three possibilities that only 1 strike hits (average damage 33). Divide by 8 and you get… ta daaaa! 49.5 which is of course what Hvg3 said all along! Sorry for doubting you it just seemed very high.

    I think the confusion comes from the fact that 33 is an average damage for one hit.

    So basically, we’re all in agreement now. Well, you’re in agreement and I’m trusting you – which is probably as much as we can reasonably hope for.

  22. A nice lengthy post from Neil:

    I have a few concerns, some of them I have mentioned before but I want to put in a more coherent way, and some are new. Here goes:

    1. Fighters should be the big hitters of a party. They should do more damage than any other class and should be able to absorb more. It is after all their rason d etre. On average a fighter of a given level should be able to quickly subdue a wizard of a similar level once in melee, UNLESS that wizard uses melee enhancing magic of some sort (could be quite an interesting off-shoot, a wizard who only uses his magic to boost his melee abilities…)

    2. Area effect weapons should do less damage than single focused attacks and ranged weapons should do less damage than melee. Reasons? There should be a reward for the character who wades into melee over those who stay out of range. Obviously area effect weapons affect more than one opponent and therfore should be weaker simply for the sake of balance (though not watered down to 4e levels).

    3. If HP increases with level it creates an arms race, with weapons having to deal more and more damage. Worse, escalating HP means that armour diminishes in importance (assuming armour doesn’t increase with level…). Example, 40 HP PC with no armour will get taken down, on average, in 8 strikes, with four actually hitting if average damage dealt is 10. If the same PC has chainmail (AV 5) then it will take 16 strikes, twice as long. Now take a PC with 200 HP and no armour. On average he will be taken down in 8 strikes (4 hitting), if average damage is 50. Take same PC with chainmail (AV 5) and it only takes about 9 strikes, hardly worth bothering with really. If this armour also comes with penalties to certain skills, why would such a character have armour at all? The epic nature of D&D should be retained through the increasing of skills, feats, talents and traits.

    4. Natural armour class must stack with armour. However, you could easily rule that certain natural armours are too bulky for some/all armours to be worn. Perhaps the character could get a suit made but that would obviously involve a quest…;-)

    5. Armour should protect from all “real life” energy attacks, i.e fire, ice, acid etc. though perhaps at a lesser value? It’s up to you for things such as negative energy, positive energy etc. Perhaps you could have the armour degrading if hit by energy attacks?

    6. To counteract the possibility of someone with a high AV being immune to attacks, simply say that minimum damage is 1 or the attacker’s strength bonus, whichever is higher. Or maybe even the bonus plus 1. Thank James D-H for that little gem.

    7. The idea of using different weapon types for different situations appeals but I agree that it may slow down the game too much. One for play testing methinks.

    8. Critical hits should bypass armour. Ouch!

    9. To Hvg3, no offence taken. I got confused over the whole probability of hitting and average damage thing. I couldn’t fault your maths but 49.5 seemed too high. I have since e-mailed Neil with a much easier way of looking at it and came to the same, correct, conclusion as your good self.

  23. On the subject of area effect vs single target spells or melee attacks, I disagree that the area effect should cause less damage. The occasions when an area effect spell could be used are few and far between. They are hazardous to use (as Arvan would attest to) and I would therefore consider them to be a specialised attack, as opposed to an all purpose attack like a sword swing or a magic missile.

    Compare the third level Wizard spell Fireball, with the third level Cleric spell, Searing Light. Searing Light only hits one target, you have to roll to hit and it does the same damage as a fireball vs undead and half that damage against the living. A fireball gives a saving throw for half damage but otherwise hits everyone within a 20′ radius. Both equally useful and comparable in power.

    As an area effect is only useful in specialised circumstances, it is fair enough that it can cause lots of damage comparably. A Fighter with Whirlwind Attack can hit lots of opponents, especially with a pole arm. Should they be doing half damage too, as it is effectively an area attack? I would say not as the opportunities for using it effectively are slim and you want to really feel the satisfaction of using it properly when you get the chance. The same goes for Fireball. I don’t think we want to tone down the big guns, because they’re not as fair as your average attack.

    Different situations require different solutions and one shouldn’t be penalised because it fits certain requirements better than others. In most combats, the most useful weapon is a big strong man or woman with a large pointy metal thing. That is a universally advantageous thing to have so, if anything, it is the melee attacks and Magic Missiles that should be toned down, not the Fireballs and Burning Hands. Precision is usually better than indiscriminate.

  24. And now my responses to Neil’s comments:

    1) I’m not sure I agree with everything you have said here. Fighters should be able to dish out considerable damage in a consistant and reliable fashion. That’s doesn’t make them the biggest damage dealers in the party. A rogue might outdo them with a sneak attack (although he can only do that in special circumstances) and a wizard could certainly do more with powerful spells. It seems silly to say that a fighter should be the class that does the most damage, when a high level wizard could simply summon the tarrasque to sit on him, or teleport him into outer space or just make him explode by wiggling his eyebrows.

    If a fighter gets into melee with a wizard then yes, the wizard will be at a disadvantage. Whether the wizard has a means to mitigate that disadvantage depends on how the wizard has been built and what spells he has available. Certainly, wizards would have options to defend themselves. It would be a question of whether the PC or NPC had selected them.

    2) Now you see the problem I have here is your reasons. Melee weapons should do more damage than missile weapons to reward someone entering close combat. Area effect attacks should do less damage than single attacks for the sake of balance. Those aren’t really in good in-game reasons.

    A long bow can do as much damage as a sword. Why nix the power of the weapon simply because melee combat is more highly valued? I really don’t see the argument there. Surely weapons inflict the damage they inflict. Does a dagger do less damage when you throw it as it does in melee? Admitedly, second edition did do this, as you couldn’t apply your strength bonus to ranged attacks.

    You say that area effects should do less damage due to balance. Okay, that’s be a sound point – although if you look at second and third edition that didn’t happen at all. Arguably, area effects are disadvantaged because they are more difficult to get off. Either you have allies in the area of the spell, or your enemies are canny enough not to group themselves together so you can get them all.

    As I pointed out above, even fourth edition doesn’t really treat area effect powers consistantly in terms of damage. Something needs to be worked out, yes. But I’m favour tailoring each effect for the circumstances rather than have a blanket rule that all area effects must do less damage.

    3) My opinion is that static hit points work best in a game that doesn’t use levels. D&D is all about gaining the next level, improving your abilities, getting the better spell, the bigger weapon, the next feat. It’s all about creating a character that is more effective and does more damage as you advance. All the various powers and toys of all the editions have been angled in that direction. If we wany to keep the feel of D&D then I think we need to accept escalating hit points and escalating damage as characters climb levels. Therefore, what we have to look at is escalating armour class.

    In second edition it was stunningly unlikely that a character would start wearing any armour heavier than chain. In fact, it wasn’t even likely that they’d be able to afford chain. In the same way that magic items are governed by character level (the paladin doesn’t start with a holy avenger) so must mundane equipment also be governed by character level. I wouldnt’ expect by PCs to start with an airship, so they’re not going to start with field plate either.

    Third and (especially) Fourth edition have introduced the concept that all PCs are superheroes from level one with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. A first level, heroism is a frame of mind – it is not demonstrated by your powers or your equipment.

    I actually spent this lunchtime reading the second edition Arms and Equipment Guide. Lovely read. I now know more about banded mail then I ever hope to use. The point is, that good armour should not be easy to come by and it should be very expensive. Availability is the key to mitigating some of the points you raise.

    So we’d be in a situation where most of the more powerful armours (like Plate Mail) wouldn’t be available until after level 10. Fighters would get talents and feats to improve their use of armour and continue getting mileage out of it at higher levels.

    4) Yes. Agreed. We’ll find a way to make it work.

    5) I’m really having difficulty with this. We lived all the way through third edition with no one asking why their leather armour didn’t give them a +2 bonus to their saving throw again fireball, so why is this becoming an issue now? Armour has never defended against energy in any edition of D&D. Ever. Why should HD&D be any different?

    I had a chat with Marc about this yesterday (he largely agrees with you). I think that if we base the combat system on real world physics, and start citing examples such as thermal lag or Faraday’s cage we’re going to encounter problems. The main problem is that I don’t understand these things and will never adjudicate them correctly (there’s a reason why a run fantasy and not scifi games). But there’s also the fact that this is a fantasy world. There’s a thin line between verissimilitude and a slavish devotion to reality.

    D&D is a world where spiders can grow to the size of horses. That’s impossible in the real world. In the real world an angel would have to have a chest the size of a park bench to house the muscles needed to generate lift. But we don’t worry about things like that. Why worry about this?

    Armour grants damage reduction to physical attacks. Energy Resistance to specific energy types also exists. I really don’t think there should be any overlap. We simply risk making armour too good (and it’s already pretty good) if it defends against everything.

    The problem with saying that amour defends against different things at a lesser value or defends only against instantaneous damage and not ongoing damage (which is what Marc suggested) is that it suddenly starts to make everything too complicated. It is the same as “degrading” armour. It becomes something else to keep track of.

    As we have come to a difference of opinion on this matter, I’m going to turn this problem over to a poll. We’ll get a consensus and see what the results are.

    6) Yeah. Minimum damage of 1 for a successful hit would be an easier way to go.

    7) We could give each armour a different armour class depending on whether it was facing a Bludgeoning (B), Piercing (P) or Slashing (S) attack. However, that is still a wide generalisation; and in as with any generalisation, niggling exceptions emerge. Daggers and crossbow quarrels are both piercing weapons. The latter is effecting against plate armour, the former isn’t. So the P rating of plate armour should be different for both weapons.

    Alternatively, we could build the description of everything the weapon can and cannot do into the weapon description itself. So in the description for the crossbow we could simply say that (e.g.) it ignores half of the AC of plate armour.

    That might be a better way to go. That way the person wearing the armour doesn’t need to know anything other than the armour value. It’s only the person using the weapon who needs to take armour into account and because you’re likely to be fighting with the same weapon throughout your adventuring career, you have a better chance of remembering what the armour does.

    Some of the natty effects of some weapons might need to be ‘unlocked’ by talents or feats, meaning that only some martial characters would be likely to be able to use them properly.

    8) Yes.

  25. From Neil!

    1. I didn’t mean to suggest a fighter should always do the most damage, of course all classes have particular ways of doing more than standard damage, I just meant that a fighter’s standard attack should be more powerful than any other class’s standard attack. I also think that they should be capable of doing the most damage of any other class, including wizards, directly. The Tarrasque example is indirect and I don’t think magic should be powerful enough to take another character out of the fight in an instant (assuming roughly comparable levels). If it can then it should take a long time to cast, giving an opportunity to disrupt the spell, and/or require a save of some sort which is at best 50/50 and should be in favour of the defender.

    Once engaged in melee the average wizard should be easy to take down if they have no spells running to protect/enhance them.

    2. I’m surprised at your objection to this considering your declaration that things must balance. Yes a bow and arrow is, in real life, a powerful weapon, but in a game you want players to feel special, fighters do one thing, hit things and therefore they should do it well. Rogues can do multiple things and so shouldn’t be as competent in combat. What is the point in having a fighter wade into combat only to have the rogue, say, take the opponent down with a well placed arrow and no threat to himself? Realistic? Yes. Fun? No, not for the fighter player.

    When I was talking of area effect weapons (I include spells in this term by the way) I meant area effect weapons of a similar power, so for example a fireball should do a bit less damage to multiple opponents than a similar, more focused spell of that level (3?). Obviously higher level spells will do more.

    3. So are you saying that at higher levels fighters can get talents which increase the AV of armour? I don’t agree with you, I see no reason why constant(ish) HP will take away from the feel of D&D and it just complicates things needlessly, cf HP damage debate and now armour!

    4. :-)

    5. It is becoming an issue because this is an opportunity to do something about all those things we hate about D&D! I’m sure everyone could give you a list of things that they’d like to change but this is the first opportunity we’ve had. I don’t understand your objection when you are thinking of countenancing multiple damage types! Surely simply saying that armour reduces both forms of attack isn’t difficult? If you have issues with the relevance of fire resistance and the like why don’t you just say half value against energy weapons and maybe boost the relevant resistances a bit?

    6. :-)

    7. What? You have interchanged armour and weapon too much, I don’t understand what you are saying here!

    8. :-)

    To Daniel; that depends upon the power of the indiscriminate, a nuke is pretty good!

  26. And my answers to Neil:

    1) If you’re saying that a wizard should be a pushover in melee against a fighter unless he has some sort of spell running then, yes. I agree completely. I’ll see that such a thing is the case in HD&D.

    At comparable levels magic shouldn’t take you out of the fight in an instant. Save or die mechanics aren’t fun for players, or for a GM that is trying to tell a consistant story. Any spells that could do that, would take more than a round to cast, and could be disrupted.

    I think both you and Daniel have valid points. An area effect might seem more powerful, but it can be used less often. As Jon pointed out, a fighter’s abilities are always available. He can always swing his sword, a wizard might not always be able to cast a spell. Balance is, therefore, more than a case of just comparing damage. If a fighter’s attack only does 10 damage but he can do it every round, and the wizard’s attack does 20 damage but he can only do it every other round, then surely it’s still balanced?

    2) I think I would say that (at the moment) rogues can’t do multiple things. They basically sneak around and stab someone. Sneak attack is the limit of their offensive powers. Everything else seems geared toward keeping them out of harm’s way. In most versions of D&D a rogue is as much a melee combatant as the fighter.

    I think that your example is for a very specific situation. I don’t see any reason why a bowman can’t be as good at taking things down from range as a fighter can from close up. I point you to the answer above, that it may not always be possible to attack from range. The melee fighter isn’t better or worse than the ranged fighter (a fighter can use a bow too you know!) he’s just different.

    3) Constant hit points would mean no more scaling of damage. Spells wouldn’t do any extra damage as wizards gained levels, there could be no feats to improve the damage of weapons, magic weapons that inflict enchanced damage couldn’t exist either. If they did, by the time characters were level 8 the game would become binary. You get hit: you die. Now we can take away scaling damage, but we’d be left with Runequest. It would play differently.

    If armour is too good or too easy to use then everyone will wear it. By introducing talents and feats to allow fighters to “make the most” of the armour he is wearing, then we offer the fighter a powerful advantage over the other classes.

    5) I guess my problem is that I don’t hate this aspect of D&D. I’ve never seen it as a problem or an inconsistancy. I hadn’t even considered that metal armour might protect against energy damage. As I have never seen it as a shortcoming or a problem before now, I find it hard to accept that it’s something that must be changed. Which is why we now have the poll. Let’s see what the great unwashed think.

    7) I was referring to the mechanic we could use to have armour function differently depending on the type of weapon that hits it. We can either give the armour a different AC against different types of weapons (Bludgeoning, Piercing and Slashing being the most common) or we can just give armour one value, and handle this element in the description of the weapons.

    I lean toward the latter. Rather than giving armour a different armour class in different situations, I say we give weapons special abilties that help them circumvent certain types of armour. Bows and crossbows (for example) are piercing weapons but they are still extremely effective at going through plate armour (or any armour). The description of the weapon should reflect that.

  27. It’s very rarely that I’ve heard a nuclear missile strike described as ‘pretty good’. Pretty evil is more like it.

    It proves my point really, in an extreme way. Unless you want to obliterate everything in the area and make it uninhabitable for years to come, you would never use it. If there’s even one thing in that area you don’t want to hit, you shouldn’t use it. Same goes for Fireball (Steve take note). How many times have nuclear weapons actually been used, compared to conventional weapons, despite the fact that they are so much more powerful? About the same ratio as Ice Storm gets used to Magic Missile, I would guess.

    I rest my case, your honour.

  28. From Neil:

    a weapon isn’t “evil” it just is. The intention behind the strike could be but not the weapon itself. I take your point however, very powerful but only “useful” in the right circumstance. However, I maintain that in a game the objective is fun for all players and it isn’t fun for the players who have fighters to have the wizard take down the enemy before they can even blink! Balance is the key, the wizard and projectile throwers soften ’em up and the fighters take ’em down.

    It is a problem I have with magic in general, at mid levels it is too versatile and can easily take over from any class, excepting a healer/cleric type. Before you all jump on me I’m not advocating that wizards don’t get involved in combat, afterall it is a regular occurance and wouldn’t be fair on the wizard player, BUT I don’t think they should have access to such powerful spells, or if they do there should be a penalty in their use, temporary HP loss or something, so that the player needs to really think about whether he wants to commit the energy. The recharge mechanic Neil is advocating will definitely help in this regard.

  29. From Neil (answering the points from me above):

    1. Yep, that is exactly what I meant. Good to hear.

    2.When I said multiple things I meant things other than combat, i.e hide, pick locks, sleight of hand etc. That’s my problem, rogues shouldn’t be as good in melee as a fighter, they should NEED to use backstab type sneaky abilities in combat not simply have it as a more damaging option. The problem I have with D&D is that they didn’t respect the fighter class enough they just said he can hit things a little better, has a few more HP and is a bit harder to hit. HD&D will hopefully rectify that (its looking good so far).

    3. Is taking away such feats a bad thing? I suspect everyone will say YES! so I bow out gracefully! I don’t disagree with your comment I was just asking a question; does this mean that you are advocating that armour class improves with level via talents and feats?

    5. Indeed!

    7. So the attacker would need to know the AV of the defender or are you simply saying that that type of weapon would ignore that type of armour?

  30. 1) Glad to hear its good to hear.

    2) I think that is the essence of the rogue. If he doesn’t have the drop on someone (combat advantage) then he’s probably not going to be delivering the damage of the fighter. But, if he does have it, then his sneak attack could be decisive.

    I think that (from third edition onwards) D&D has given perhaps too much respect for the fighter. In third edition mid-level fighters regularly dish dish out more damage than spell-casters, can take more punishment and have various options that spellcasters don’t have. A fighter in third edition could (with the right feats) kill a mage in a couple of rounds and the wizard (no matter what he did, or what level he was) couldn’t do anything about it. So the balance has to go both ways.

    3) There’s nothing wrong with getting rid of feats (it would certainly make HD&D simpler), but we return to the old chestnut of HD&D not being an evolution of D&D, but a different system entirely. Now, that might be fun, it might even be desirable, but it’s not what I’m trying to do.

    7) I think that martial-types (primarily the fighter) should have the option to specialise in the use of armour in much the same way they can specialise in the use of weapons. Talents should be available that improve certain types of armour – perhaps removing the armour check penalty, or perhaps even giving +1 to armour class. It’s up to the fighter as to whether he chooses these talents or not.

  31. Neil: I agree of course that weapons themselves aren’t evil. I was facetiously twisting your remark about it being good in order to satisfy my own ends. Muahahaha!

    I understand your fears though, that certain classes might be overshadowed by others. I’m not sure if fighters are the biggest concerns though. In 3.5 fighters were pretty awesome. Think of Revda. He could dish out unbelievable damage every round. Compare that to Carith who was very powerful but had to be prepared for specific threats in order to be effective. Unless she knew Revda was coming after her, he would have made mincemeat of her every time.

    From what I’ve seen of 4E though, fighters and dwarf paladins seem very underpowered compared to the striker types. This was clearly deliberate in terms of attacking prowess compared to defense, but it does seem wrong. Fighters and barbarians should be able to dish out heavy damage each round without having to seek specific advantages like rogues or rangers would. We need to find a middle ground. All classes should be good in their specialism. A fighter’s should be dealing consistently moderately high damage in a variety of situations, whilst also being able to take it.

    I also take issue with the idea that melee combatants should do more damage than ranged ones. In 3.5, it is much more difficult to be a good archer (and fighters of course are the best archers as well as the best swordsmen) than a good close combatant. You also have very little time at range before most combats turn into melee. The successful archer then has his work cut out not to be drawn into the melee where he would be cut down. Moving and shooting is very hard and prevents full attacks, thereby cutting the archer’s attacks down to one instead of the two, three or four that you could get in melee. 3.5 is biased in favour of melee combat, possibly rightly, but I think that we need to make other options more viable.

    7) I really like the option of improving armour, shield and parrying defences though feats or talents. Defence is just as skillful as offence. Fighters and paladins should have options here that barbarians, rogues and rangers might not have.

  32. A message from Neil!

    Hello again!

    Hello, Neil. Always a pleasure.

    2. That should be the essence of the rogue but certainly in 4e a rogue’s standard attack does more than my Paladin’s attack and in fact his backstab is as powerful as my daily power! That is not right! Yes I know rogues are strikers and Paladin’s are Defenders or some such rubbish but a rogue should not do the same damage as a barbarian with a standard attack.

    I must be playing fighters reakky badly then because in my experience wizards are the ultimate class at mid to high levels followed by the rogue. Perhaps I just don’t know the system well enough; all the feats and things you can take, but my fighters have been nowhere near as powerful as my wizards. At Daniel; Revda was a De*th Knight, I should hope he did do a lot of damage! Besides I reckon Tam could have taken on the whole party and if not won, certainly do serious damage. He clicked his fingers and Lycaon was helpless in a force cage! What about Carith, she took down at least two Barghests with two spells! If that is not powerful I don’t know what is!

    3. I wasn’t advocating getting rid of feats, just the ones that do extra damage.

    7. To scale in proportion with HP and damage it would have to be better than that I think. Otherwise you just go back to my point of armour being redundant at a certain level.

  33. Hi both. Daniel makes very good points about the power of fighters in third edition. You can tell they’re good points because I agree with them. I don’t think that you can honestly compare Carith and Tam with the rest of the party in that campaign. They were 17th/18th level characters in a party of 12th level adventurers. The system level adjustment system we were using did not work well.

    I think that by-and-large Revda was awesome because he was a fighter, not because he was a death knight. The biggest advantage being a death knight gave him was a high strength, which could have just as easily been gained from a magic item. If he hadn’t been undead he would have had more hit points.

    Regarding armour class scaling as a character levels:

    I think that it is much harder to build this into the system because armour comes from an outside source. It doesn’t accrue with your character level as other defences do. What we could do is look at the proportional increase of hit points level on level, and use that as a basis to work out what the same proportional increase in armour class would be.

    Assuming we started with Armour Class 1 at level one, then the progression would be as follows:

    Level 1: AC 1
    Level 6: AC 2
    Level 11: AC 3
    Level 14: AC 4
    Level 19: AC 5
    Level 23: AC 6
    Level 27: AC 7

    This isn’t a smooth progression, but we can smooth it out. What I would suggest is that we should assume characters of these levels have the following armour class values:

    Levels 1-5: AC 2
    Levels 6-10: AC 3
    Levels 11-15: AC 4
    Levels 16-20: AC 5
    Levels 21-25: AC 6
    Levels 26-30: AC 7

    That isn’t prescribed, but it is a guidance. We would probably assume fighters and races with natural armour (like dragonborn) to be slightly ahead of the curve. Equally, spells that grant armour class (you know there are going to be some) should also refer to this table.

    It might be something to work with.

  34. Neil says:

    Okay fair enough perhaps it isn’t fair to compare Tam and Carith to the rest of us poor schmucks! However your point about Revda is that his strength made him good but you could get that from another source. Yes but the fact remains that it is the strength that made him good, NOT the fact he was a fighter. Yes a few feats were useful such as cleave and power attack but being a fighter didn’t really make him awesome, his magical nature did that. Okay his HP were down, and that was seen in the game, but his AC and genral resistances were amazing! If his nature didn’t make much of a difference why did it cost him 5/6 levels?

    Your AC progression is interesting but I still don’t agree :-)

  35. You know, I’m pretty sure Revda’s awesomeness was largely down to his class. All being a death knight really gave him was +1 to hit and +1 to damage. The rest of it was all feats, as well as his big magic great sword. The whole undead thing was a big advantage in keeping him in combat (he was immune to mostly everything) but not in his skill as a fighter. It cost his x levels because the ECL system is flawed.

    Don’t agree with my AC progression? Really? You surprise me!

    Think about it. An AC 2 of represents the same proportion of hit points on an average 5th level character, as AC 7 does on a 30th level character. It does scale with level. Isn’t that what we’re looking for?

  36. I don’t get this scaling AC malarkey. What is correlating with what to get the AC numbers you have here? Are we suggesting that PCs shouldn’t be wearing chainmail until level 16 or platemail until level 26? That seems a little extreme. I want my Paladin to have bright shiny armour long before level 20.

    Also, it’s no longer really relevant, but Carith only took out that (Greater) Barghest because she knew that a Barghest was going to attack her in that fight and had planned specifically for it. That’s what Wizards should be good at. A wide range of options but only as effective as Fighters/Rogues etc if they have planned for certain eventualities, and only for a limited time. If that Barghest hadn’t gone down in one round (say it made its save against the first spell that robbed it of all of its Con) then Carith would have been toast. Revda couldn’t have killed it in one round but he would have got it eventually, then moved on to the next one. Sustained bludgeoning power is the Fighter’s oeuvre. And, as Neil has pointed out, being a Death Knight helps but not that much. Similarly, a Wizard with the Knock spell can open locks with spells, but only a few a day. A Rogue could open locks all day long if they wanted too. Not sure if any of that is relevant to this post on hit points and damage though.

  37. Daniel: to be honest, I think that if we’re going to be take scaling hit points and scaling damage seriously (which is not something 2nd or 3rd edition D&D ever took seriously) then we have to look at rationing the availability of armour – particularly if it’s going to act like Damage Reduction.

    From what I’ve read from various books so far, I’d envisage chainmail as AC 3 and Plate Armour as AC 5, so they’d be widely available at levels 6 and 16 respectively. However, that doesn’t change the point you are making.

    It’s a guide. It’s a guide in the same way the 4th edition PHB says that no paladin under 20th level should get his hands on a Holy Avenger. The DM can give out holy avengers to all the paladins in his campaign world, but he does so with the understanding that this will affect the balance of the game.

    I’m not going to set arbitrary restrictions on what PCs can or cannot obtain for their characters. However, I’m going to be pricing equipment as it was in 2nd or 3rd edition. Plate armour is going to be exceedingly expensive, because that was historically the case. The chances are that a character couldn’t afford to buy it until he was about (oh, say) 16th level.

    Does this mean that a PC can’t obtain such armour before hand? No. Of course not. But starting characters, and even low level characters aren’t going to be able to get their hands on plate armour very easily. In many cultures only nobles are allowed to wear plate, so you couldn’t just go to your local cash and carry and buy a suit of the peg; nor could you parade around town in the suit you had pillaged from a local burial mound.

    When it comes to working out equipment for NPCs, or devising the limits of a wizard’s Armour spell, then I will take these guidelines into account. When it comes to imposing them on PCs without rhyme or reason, then I’ll defer to the integrity of the setting.

    I don’t want to create something that is too artificial, but neither can we have a bunch of first level PCs walking around with AC 7, when their attacks only do six points of damage on average!

  38. That all sounds fine to me. I’m still not sure how you got the AC figures for each level bracket, though. In no way am I disagreeing with them, I just can’t work the method out (I’m stupid that way).

    Limiting the types of armour available through social and economic reasons is fine by me, as long as appropriate classes can get decent armour relatively early. I’m certainly not encouraging first level PCs in full plate but, on the other hand, I wouldn’t want to have Fighters having to wear leather armour for the first five levels just to create balance. Chainmail at level six and plate at sixteen seems fine.

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