Friday, January 9, 2015

Rules | Tying HP to Lifestyle

Players get pretty disappointed when they roll poorly for HP. And then they get annoying when they start asking for refills. So how about if we tie HP roles into the Lifestyle rules and turn what is otherwise a mildly annoying tax that is frequently ignored into a reward and something the player really cares about?

HP Re-Rolls Based on Lifestyle
Wretched: reroll Max, Max -1 and Max -2
Squalid: reroll Max and Max-1
Poor: reroll Max hp
Moderate: no reroll
Comfortable: reroll 1s
Wealthy: reroll 1s & 2s
Aristocratic: reroll 1, 2 and 3s

In the fiction this simulates the long term effect of Lifestyle: if you sleep comfortably and eat better you are more likely to have higher hp. Go cheap and live in a dockside flophouse, then you are more likely to be less robust. In the fiction there will be outliers like the frail noble or the hearty street thug, but that's a result of the CON modifier.

Example: a Wizard gains a new level and he's been cheap and living in Poor conditions. He rolls his new d6 HD and gets a 6. Too bad, due to the poor conditions he's been living in he can't take the roll.

So, what's the impact of living on the road? Personally I would tie that into rules for creting Camps, but that's another topic.

Also, I would be inclined to have characters re-roll hit points if their Lifestyle changed for a significant length of time (maybe 1 week, maybe 1 month). This is an aspect of the rule that players will most likely hate but I think it helps provide mechanical consequences for in-game behavior. Get locked in prison? You're health may take a hit until you get out and can spend some time living better. Get wined and dined by a Prince? You'd be surprised how good that feather bed makes you feel. 


  1. I like it. It's better than max hit points at first and then roll as you level. I won't mention 5e's wrinkle where it's probably better to take the average plus half point, because even though I've been cheesy enough to take it, that sucks.

    The lifestyle rule only makes sense if you have characters roll hp more than just the once. I can think of two ways you might do that:

    1. at the beginning of each adventure (defined as whenever you leave the safety of town and start doing something that draws random encounter checks).

    2. daily/after long rest. you'd have to separately track damage, and have the hp roll be to determine max hp for the day, less any unhealed damage. This could add an interesting realism angle, as the comfort of your less-than-fully-healed heroes can help prevent taking a bad turn in the night and slipping into death save territory.

    When do we start rolling hp dynamically? I can't wait until the next campaign.

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  4. A proposal WRT the effect of making camp on lifestyle rules, with some early-morning comment trouble:

    Everyone starts at wretched. Rangers and outsiders have a scrounge ability that provides a number of person-levels worth of boost: Four for the outsider scrounge, and maybe something like twice proficiency bonus for rangers. Rations and waterskins don't raise it because there's already a penalty for lacking them, but camping gear like tents and bedrolls do. A camp fire adds one, as does booze, since that's a bit of a luxury.

    So, our party of 6 plus two hirelings, assumed to be geared up and provisioned with basic gear plus tents might start out at poor (12 person levels divided 8 ways = a boost of one plus the boost from having camp gear), but if we take time to set up tents and fire, we're actually comfortable and get a nice bonus.

    The fire may have a side effect of doubling your random encounter chances, though., and tents make it harder to respond to same, so there are some interesting trade-offs there.

  5. OK, I've played with it now. I bitched about my role, but it felt like the right thing to do, and I recommend the practice to all. Final shape of things for camping appeared to be: start from wretched, and for every five rolled on a survival check, move up one level. Was that the way you were doing it, N?

  6. Yes, that's the ruling I used last night. Thinking about it for the future I think our protoplasm iv Camping Rule might want to account for gear vis a vis the Tools mechanic. I know a trained outdoorsman like Bear Gryls can survive on his own with no equipment, but when he brings civilians with him they are both carrying gear. That's also why REI and other camp gear stores stay in business: good gear makes a big difference when you're camping.

    So I'd like the Camp rule to account for skill, gear, and terrain/weather, and the core rules include getting Help from others. Are these too many factors and it gets over complicated? Any other factors we should consider?

  7. Weather and terrain are pretty mutable. It didn't seem like you wanted to roll hp all that often. If you only roll when you level or between adventures, you've maybe experienced a lot of terrain and weather changes since you last leveled.

    If you're rolling infrequently, it seems like asking for player complaints if you just go with the conditions that obtain at time of roll (you've been living in the palace for the past year, but you spent last night outside in the cold rain, skipped dinner, and fought and killed a dragon, so you level under wretched conditions), and averaging is too complicated.

    The problem with gear is some gear is specifically helpful under particular terrain and weather conditions, The value of a tent is mostly that it keeps the rain off, so you'd mostly only care whether someone had a tent if it was raining.

    All that considered, it seems like the simplest thing is that you roll your hp after each long rest. Since long rest resets hp anyway, there's some supporting core game logic, and all you have to do is rule on weather and terrain modifiers to the group survival check, as mitigated by appropriate gear, which can be with assistance as last night's was.

    Then the roll works like it did last night.