Hit Points vs Damage System

As many of you know, I work on a number of different systems. I am a frequent GM for Fate Core, D6 Star Wars and even Savage Worlds in addition to other non-rpg board games. One of the things that always seems to bog down our D&D sessions is the combat grind. Turn after turn of rolling d20 and deducting points. While this can lead to some additional drama, more times than not it just bores the pants off of me. So what can be done to improve the speed of the combat round while still keeping the drama of that natural 20?

Enter the damage system.

All of the other games I GM have a system of damage that consists of multiple “steps” that drag your player down closer to death. Typically it’s three steps: Wounded, Incapacitated, and Taken Out. I really like this, but how can it be worked in a D&D type system?

I think that it’s a matter of adjusting how damage is applied to the player or monster.

Rolling to hit.

To hit an opponent we roll d20 and add modifiers vs the target’s Armor Class (AC). That’t still good – the ability to adjust how hard to hit something works.

Rolling damage needs to change.

Roll the damage for the weapon (ex: 1d8) and then compare it to the target’s strength. So if a Ogre has a +4 to strength so any roll over 4 would result in a wound, whereas a rat with a strength of +1 would wound automatically if hit. This would keep with the paradigm that rats are easier to kill than ogres. It also would allow for damage to scale automatically without changing anything else. A two handed sword does 2d6 damage and it much more likely to kill a monster with one hit that a dagger. It works.

The OpenD6 system has a great scale for damage. It allows for the amount over the target’s strength to cause addition issues. I also like this. It allows for high damage rolls to really kill things fast (as they should).


Amount over Strength

Amount Over Status Effect
1-3 Stunned -1 to all rolls next round actions only
4-8 Wounded -1 to all rolls until healed
9-12 Incapacitated / Severely Wounded CON Save or become unconscious. Success you become Severely Wounded: -3 to all rolls until healed
13+ Mortally Wounded CON Save or Death. Success you become Mortally Wounded: -5 to all rolls until healed

If the player is already wounded once, then the second wound would would penalize the character with a -2 to all rolls until healed. If they’re wounded again, treat that wound as a Severe / Incapacitated wound. If it happens after that, then treat it as a mortal wound.

If the player is already stunned and get’s stunned again – then stack the stunned penalty. A player can be stunned as many times as they have strength with a minimum of once. If they get stunned after that, then they become unconscious for 1d6 rounds.

Any additional wounds are automatically upgrade to the Incapacitated / Severely Wounded level, save accordingly.

Soaking Damage

The final piece of the puzzle is a way for HEROIC saves to happen. I propose a CON check (or use the monster’s hit dice as the bonus) to halve the damage roll (rounded up). This would represent the ability for heroes to shrug off attacks. Creatures that are resistant to certain types of damage would automatically get half damage.

Final Run Through

Player Attacks. Roll d20 + bonus > Target Armor Class (AC)

if hit, then roll the weapon’s damage  (ex: 1d8 + str for a sword) and find the difference between the roll and the target’s strength.

if the difference is greater than zero, then defender rolls CON Save 10 to reduce the number by half (AKA the Soak)

Finally compare final number to chart above to see the effect


So what do you think?

Does this make sense? Would it speed up combat? Post a comment below and let me know.



Combat – Expanded

SimpleDnD thus far has been about simple hand-to-hand combat. Your character stands toe to toe with a monster and they slug it out. There is more to combat! Listed below are additional rules to add to your games. If you have additional ideas, please post in the comments!

Full Dodge

The PC can give up their next attack and roll 1D20 +Dexterity and compare it to the attackers hit roll. If the roll is equal to or greater than the attack roll, the attack misses due to a full dodge.

Range Attack

All weapons have 3 ranges. Short, Medium and Long. Depending on the distance to the target apply these modifiers.

  • Short Range: +1 to hit
  • Medium Range: No modifier
  • Long Range: -4 to hit


Cover can be classified as any obstacle that blocks the target from view. This could be bushes, boulders, boxes, smoke, etc. There are two types of cover, light cover where at least 50% of the target is covered or full cover where the target is 90% covered. This does not apply to targets who are behind things like walls or buildings, they would be considered invalid targets.

  • Light Cover: +3 to Target Armor Class
  • Full Cover: +5 to Target Armor Class


Draft class under development.

Laurelinde – Elf Druid by GoddessVirage

Druids share a belief in the fundamentally spiritual nature of life and avoid choosing any one conception of Deity, believing that by its very nature this is unknowable by the mind. All Druids sense Nature as divine or sacred. Every part of nature is sensed as part of the great web of life, with no one creature or aspect of it having supremacy over any other. In doing this they pull their magical powers from the very living world around them.

Ability Focus: Wisdom

Hit Points: d6

Restrictions: Druids cannot use any metal weapon or armor

Special: Spell Casting for spells, scroll down for druid spells.

Special: At 4th level Druids can shape shift into the form of an animal once per day. Druid players should pick one animal and that will always be their form. This shifted animal will be roughly the size of the character even if the animal is tiny.

Special: Druids CANNOT read magic. Their power comes from their close connection to the earth.

Special: Druids can Turn or Befriend Animals

Turn or Befriend Animals

Much like a cleric, the Druid can repel or befriend animals. When an animal is encountered, the character should roll at d20 and all their Wisdom (and focus) vs a DC of 16 plus the number animals Hit Dice. If the result is equal or greater the animals are turned away or calmed. Magical animals (like owlbears, griffins, etc) add +2 to the DC of the roll. If the roll exceeds the required DC by 5 the animal can be befriended. Calmed animals will not interact with the druid and will calmly move away from the party. Befriended animals on the other hand will follow the druid, guarding and assisting within its capabilities so long as the druid remains in the general vicinity of its normal lair or range.

Druid Spells

Zero level spells

Create Water – Creates 2 gallons/level of pure water.
Detect Poison – Detects poison in one creature or object.
Know Direction – You discern north.
Spark – Ignites flammable objects.

1st level spells

Alter Winds
Detect Animals or Plants
Faerie Fire
Hide from Animals
Keen Senses
Pass without Trace
Read Weather
Speak with Animals

2nd level spells

Chill Metal
Control Vermin
Elemental Speech
Flame Blade
Fog Cloud
Hold Animal
Soften Earth and Stone
Spider Climb

3rd level spells

Call Lightning
Diminish Plants
Dominate Animal
Fungal Infestation
Meld into Stone
Plant Growth
Speak with Plants
Spit Venom
Thorny Entanglement
Vermin Shape I
Water Breathing

4th level spells

Air Walk
Ball Lightning
Cape of Wasps
Control Water
Flame Strike
Grove of Respite
Ice Storm
Slowing Mud
Thorn Body
Touch of Slime
Volcanic Storm

Limited Cleric Spells

In an effort to differentiate the classes and to add new ones, the magic user classes will have limit spells vs the whole spell list. Here is the spell list for the cleric class.

Zero Level

Create Water
Cure Minor Wounds (reversible)
Detect Magic
Purify Food and Drink

1st Level

Create Water (Reversible)
Cure Light Wounds (Reversible)
Detect Evil (Reversible)
Protection from Evil (Reversible)
Purify Food and Drink (Reversible)
Remove Fear (Reversible)
Resist Cold

2nd Level

Find Traps
Hold Person
Know Alignment (Reversible)
Resist Fire
Silence (15 ft radius)
Slow Poison
Snake Charm
Speak with Animals
Spiritual Weapon
Stinking Cloud

3rd Level

Animate Dead
Continual Light (Reversible)
Create Food and Water
Cure Blindness (Reversible)
Cure Disease (Reversible)
Dispel Magic
Gust of Wind
Protection from Evil (10 ft radius) (Reversible)
Remove Curse (Reversible)
Speak with Dead
Tongues (Reversible)
Water Breathing (Reversible)

4th Level

Cure Serious Wounds (Reversible)
Detect Lie (Reversible)
Lower Water (Reversible)
Neutralize Poison (Reversible)
Plant Growth
Protection from Evil (10 ft radius) (Reversible)
Speak with Plants
Sticks to Snakes (Reversible)

5th Level

Dispel Evil
Insect Plague
Raise Dead*
True Seeing

End of Year 2014 Updates

The following items have been updated:

New Monster: Dire Wolf

New Magic Weapons: Axe of Hurling, Dancing Sword, Flame Tongue, Hammer of the Dwarves, Javelin of the Raptor and Vorpal Long Sword

New Magic Items: Belt of Dwarfkind, Deck of Many Things, Figurines of Wonderous Power, Wings of Flying and many more.

Spell List

5th Level Spells

Quick Reference for Races and Classes  for quick, offline, player creation.

Sample languages list

Rules for poison added

Smaller half sheet character sheet.

Separate Saving Throws

One of the things that I often find odd in playing Basic D&D is why there has to be additional stats for Saving Throws, limited scenario saving throws at that. What does it add to the gameplay experience overall? I propose that saving throws add little to the game overall and that ability scores can cover nearly all of the same ground within the game.

For example:

A saving throw is a roll of dice used to determine whether magic, poison, or various other types of attacks are effective against a character or monster. d20 roll then add your ability bonus – if the result is equal or greater the save is successful.

Sample Saves:

Poison ingested or injected – use Wisdom Bonus

Magic and Spells – use Intelligence Bonus

Death in the event you are reduced to 0 hit points – use Constitution Bonus

Paralysis turn to stone – use Strength Bonus

Gas breathed in toxins (i.e.: Dragon’s Breath) – use Wisdom Bonus

What do you think? Is another mechanic necessary to get the D&D experience by adding separate saves? Post a comment and let me know.

Mechanic Checks vs Flex Checks

Everyonedies_6136One of the things that always bothered me about the 6 ability checks of D&D was the inflexibility in how difficulty checks are applied to gameplay. To search you ALWAYS add your Wisdom, to break down a door you always use you strength, etc, etc. But as life teaches all, there is more than one way to skin a cat.

So I propose moving from a rigid mechanic system that dictates what skill you MUST use for a task to a more flexible, player driven, skill check. This would replace difficulty checks and saving throws while keeping the combat system as is. That being said if the player is unable to come up with a good idea, we still keep the fall back on to the traditional mechanics via providing usage examples of each skill.

Here’s an example how it would work:

A player has to climb a sheer cliff to get to the archers above. There are multiple ways this could be approached.

The player would then say something like:

Because I am very strong (+2 strength) I should be able to muscle my way up the cliff.


Because I am very dexterous (+3 dexterity) I should be able to pick my way up the cliff.


Because I am very wise (+2 wisdom) I would intuitively know the best way up the cliff


Because I am very beautiful (+3 charisma) I’ll try to flirt with the archers to get them to come to me.

In each example, the DUNGEON MASTER would determine whether or not the player’s idea on how they would tackle the obstacle would work. Then roll against a predetermined Difficulty Check (DC) and describe the result. The rule of thumb is if it is a plausible approach to a problem it should be allowed.

I think this has some positive improvements to gameplay:

  1. The players are encouraged to think outside the box.
  2. Players are more engaged in the gameplay as their crazy ideas succeed or fail.
  3. BONUS: Adds variety and role playing to more situations.
  4. BONUS BONUS: The slave to the rules is lessened as bonuses become more subjective.

A good question about this flex check change from Google+:

No amount of book reading is going to allow me to climb some objects. Sure I could see using an Int check to help you use 10 – 25% less energy, but if you need 300% more energy than the task needs it does not help.

How about this example you need to run a laptop for a long time. If you are smart you can eek out an extra 30 minutes to an hour (kill screen, halt wi-fi, kill background tasks) but if you need it to last 48 hours instead of the usual 10 hours, you better bring a stronger battery.

If you don’t curb the DC the Int 20 wizard will be the skill monkey, not the rogue. Strength has only one skill (Athletics), If you allow easy substitutions without some penalty (Time, DC, resources) you are reducing the role of the strongman of the group.

To which I say, it would be up to the DM to make that judgment call because using a skill bonus would be subjective. So if you were the DM you would say, “that cliff is very physically demanding, explain to me how exactly you’d overcome that with your intelligence.” Then allow the player a chance to talk you into it.

In addition, using strength as an example, I could see a player using their strength to intimidate NPCs or monsters.

From the Basic Rules of old

Variant: Skills with Different Abilities

Normally, your proficiency in a skill applies only to a specific kind of ability check. Proficiency in Athletics, for example, usually applies to Strength checks. In some situations, though, your proficiency might reasonably apply to a different kind of check. In such cases, the DM might ask for a check using an unusual combination of ability and skill, or you might ask your DM if you can apply a proficiency to a different check.

For example, if you have to swim from an offshore island to the mainland, your DM might call for a Constitution check to see if you have the stamina to make it that far. In this case, your DM might allow you to apply your proficiency in Athletics and ask for a Constitution (Athletics) check. So if you’re proficient in Athletics, you apply your proficiency bonus to the Constitution check just as you would normally do for a Strength (Athletics) check.

Similarly, when your dwarf fighter uses a display of raw strength to intimidate an enemy, your DM might ask for a Strength (Intimidation) check, even though Intimidation is normally associated with Charisma.

I’ve adopted a Fate inspired mechanic for doing things. Read about it here

What do you think? Post a comment below!