wiggywack1366 karma2021-03-30 18:34:48 UTC
Hey, so as some one who dm's for his friends a fair bit, and also having taken a BA in psych and gotten very involved with a peer counselling program, I've actually put a fair amount of thought into the relationship that needs to occur between HP and actual violence in the game. Years ago on reddit I found a post that was talking about different ways to actually connect HP to what was happening to characters, and one suggestion I saw that was very eye opening is taking "damage" doesn't have to mean your character is taking bodily damage, and in fact it makes a lot more sense in the context of the game when this isn't the case too! This DM talked about they assume that for a good chunk of you HP bar, say the first 50 to 75 percent, the damage you take is more reflective of the strain of combat on the body then it is cuts or bruises.
For example leta say a goblin swings a club at a full HP character and they take 4 damage. In narration that might look like "the goblin swings at you, and while you manage to get your shield up to block, your block angle is poor, and the force of the blow travels heavily up your arm, leaving it numb for a few seconds and a little shakey, you take 4 damage". Or for a rouge "the goblin launches a swing at you, and while you do dodge it, the dodge isn't graceful, and you nearly fall over a few times and have to really exert yourself to finish it standing in place, your legs are shaking and your breathing deeply, take 4 damage". If you outline this system with players first, it really does start to make a lot more sense, particularly how short rests can restore so much HP, because what your gaining isn't magically healed wounds after 4 hours, its that the rest has given you back stamina and energy, some of your pulled muscles have started to feel better, you elevated that strained ankle, ect. And this is cool because you can set different damage thresholds for how damage actually translates to violence in game. If extreme violence is a big trigger for some players, maybe combat never even looks like that! Fireball doesn't have to leave charred burned horror in its wake, maybe dropping someone to 0 HP with a fireball means they have some mild burns and pass out from heat stroke.
I hope this help you run games that make your players feel safe and are more constructive for them!
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