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D&D 3E
Query about optional rule 
15th-Jun-2007 09:47 am
hot raam
I just wanted to get some input on an idea. Anyway, here goes:

Creatures and characters of size Small or smaller would take a Damage Increase penalty, sort of like the opposite of Damage Reduction. It seems like sound reasoning to me that a smaller creature would be more injured than a larger creature for the same blow. To compensate for this, though, they would get an even bigger size adjustment to AC. Likewise, Large or larger creatures would receive damage reduction, but a larger penalty to AC.

It might break down something like this:
Size | Damage Increase or Reduction | AC bonus or penalty
Fine | DI 8/- | +16 (instead of +8)
Diminutive | DI 4/- | +8 (instead of +4)
Tiny | DI 2/- | +4 (instead of +2)
Small | DI 1/- | +2 (instead of +1)
Medium | 0 | 0
Large | DR 1/- | -2 (instead of -1)
Huge | DR 2/- | -4 (instead of -2)
Gargantuan | DR 4/- | -8 (instead of -4)
Colossal | DR 8/- | -16 (instead of -8)

It should be noted that the DI and DR would effect weapons and targeted spells, but probably shouldn't affect area of effect spells.

It would drastically change the way parties handle very large creatures, suddenly the fighters would not be able to hurt the dragon so much and it would be up to casters to deal a lot of the damage.

It's just a thought. On the whole, I think it would make things a bit more realistic, but on the other hand, it might bog combat down even further. Tell me what you think, please.

Edit: I had the table spaced for clarity, but the editor won't keep it. Sorry if it's hard to read.

Edit #2: A lot of people are pointing out that there is a Con modifier to account for differences in size. I am actually aware of that. I'm not asking whether this is a balanced way of dealing with size modifiers, but rather a more realistic way. Although, I'd love to read suggestions on ways to make it more balanced.

Let me give a couple of examples that I gave below:
If you were to swat a (fine) horsefly sitting on a (large) horse, a blow that would flatten the fly would hardly be felt by the horse. Not because the horse has so many hitpoints that it won't miss the few lost from your blow, but because the horse was genuinely unhurt. In the one instance that I know of someone accidentally stepping on a cat, the cat died. Con modifiers adjust hp based on size but there are many situations that would injure a smaller creature, but not a larger one.
15th-Jun-2007 03:42 pm (UTC)
Ehh, I can't say that I would use it in my game. It seems needlessly complex, not to mention all those halflings who might not like taking extra damage just for being small.

And yeah, giving Dragons and other huge beasties more AC doesn't strike me a wise.
15th-Jun-2007 04:03 pm (UTC)
They, admittedly, end up with less AC not more.

They end up with more Damage Reduction, though, which is worse.
15th-Jun-2007 03:48 pm (UTC)
I dont have the charts right in front of me, but I thought that size modifiers also carried a Con modifier as well. If you are going to use something like this maybe just make it a HP change, but I would not have it affect anything in the small to large range.
15th-Jun-2007 04:05 pm (UTC)
IIRC, they do, but it's not implicit. For instance, if you wanted to increase the size of a monster, if the monster is Small or larger, it'll get a Con bonus. On the other hand, Enlarge Person/Reduce Person spells don't affect Con at all.
15th-Jun-2007 04:18 pm (UTC)
Heh, always forget about d20srd...

Thought the Con modifier was higher.
15th-Jun-2007 04:26 pm (UTC)
I love it -- it's quicker than flipping through my books, and I can do it on my lunch break.

Bigger monsters also usually have more hit dice as well, which also increases the HP and Fort saves. If you just look at those numbers instead of the stats (which is usually what I do towards monsters), it's hard to separate the two effects.
15th-Jun-2007 04:21 pm (UTC)
I was going to say what twyst976 said, that creatures have their attributes scaled based on size. When taken in the context of Enlarge Person, what you say makes a little more sense. I guess I'd reduce the complexity by adding a Con (or HP) bonus to the spell. I'm not sure why it doesn't use the standard monster advancement chart other than it increases the bookkeeping a bit.
15th-Jun-2007 04:56 pm (UTC)
Because +8 to STR, +4 con, and +2 natural armor sounds closer to a level 7 spell than level 1.
15th-Jun-2007 04:02 pm (UTC)
Er, No.

No way. No how.

This doesn't even make that much sense. 1 hp of damage is 1 hp of damage. Small creatures usually have smaller CON scores to represent having fewer HP due to body mass.

This rule means if someone accidentally steps on a cat (Tiny, DI/2) I automatically knock it unconscious (1d3 +2).

And it means there's no way anyone would want to play a small creature (you mean, i'm taking more damage for every hit? Sure, i get hit 5% less often, but that hardly makes up for it.)
15th-Jun-2007 05:01 pm (UTC)
I can certainly understand not liking the idea based on character balance. I agree it would make smaller creatures weaker and larger creatures tougher.

However, even if unbalancing it is more realistic. If you were to swat a (fine) horsefly sitting on a (large) horse, a blow that would flatten the fly would hardly be felt by the horse. Not because the horse has so many hitpoints that it won't miss the few lost from your blow, but because the horse was genuinely unhurt.

In the one instance that I know of someone accidentally stepping on a cat, the cat died.

I'm not arguing with your opinion, though, and I appreciate your response. I just think increasing and decreasing the Con doesn't accurately reflect size differences.
15th-Jun-2007 05:22 pm (UTC)
See, that's entirely covered by the Hit Point (and armor class) concept.

HP isn't actual damage; we're not using a Vitality/Wound system. HP are abstract. Doing 1 HP of damage to a horse, who has 30HP isn't terribly significant. And that assumes slapping the horse gets through the horses natural armor.

Doing 1 HP to a fly, who has 1 HP to start with, it fatal. However, a strong breeze doesn't kill a fly, even though with your system, it should take 8 HP of damage just for existing.

15th-Jun-2007 05:28 pm (UTC)
Except for taking 8hp of damage for existing (which is not what the system implies) you make good points.

I guess it comes down to whether you want a cumbersome, but realistic system vs. a smoother, but more abstract system. Probably every aspect of the game could be made more realistic, but more complex.

Thanks for your input.
15th-Jun-2007 04:45 pm (UTC)
"It would drastically change the way parties handle very large creatures, suddenly the fighters would not be able to hurt the dragon so much and it would be up to casters to deal a lot of the damage."

Do you actually have this problem in your game that melees are overpowering the casters?

If so, I suggest you try one or both the following:
a) Running a game over level 8
b) Introducing this concept of "spells" to your PCs.
15th-Jun-2007 04:51 pm (UTC)
That's kind of unnecessary, honestly. Most smaller creatures have less HP to begin with, as size mods usually carry a con mod with them. Plus, DR can bog down combat already, and this would give a ton of things that don't have any DR a modifier on damage. Good thinking, though. Honestly, if you want to try it out, go ahead--it might turn out kind of cool--but your players may very well hang you.
15th-Jun-2007 05:09 pm (UTC)
I agree it's unnecessary, but I thought it might be fun to think about. I also agree my players might get pissed if I sprung something like this on them without clearing it first.
15th-Jun-2007 05:13 pm (UTC)
It sounds like something from Second Edition.
15th-Jun-2007 05:34 pm (UTC)
Re: Edit #2

Dont try to bring real world physics into a fantasy rule setting.

Some games had systems where damage was set up in tiers, a weapon that can hurt a human could not dent a tank for example. Usually it would take multiples of a lower tier damage to affect a higher tier.

Another option was damage caps, where smaller weapons could not do more than a set amount of damage to larger targets, and at the same time usually had a maximum effect against a smaller target.

The one thing in most of these systems is that you were dealing with vehicles and armor. Since D&D tends to be flesh and blood no matter how big you get (If it bleeds we can kill it!) stick with what works. If you want give the bigger guys more HP's on a case by case or bump up the DR/- ratings. I do this with certain "Boss" monsters, it tends to affect the Archer/Dual Wielders more than the 2H/Barbarians thou but it plays out since the 2H/Barbarians tend to hit less often anyway. Do what you think is right for the situation, and remember, you dont get xp from killing a horsefly.
15th-Jun-2007 05:43 pm (UTC)
You are absolutely right. In another comment, I mentioned something along these lines, but I could probably go through everything in the books with a "realism comb" and make a system that would accurately portray reality, except that it would take several hours to resolve a minute of combat or a simple skill check.
15th-Jun-2007 10:06 pm (UTC)
Actually, if you swat a fly on a horse in D&D, the horse takes no damage, anyway, as the attack was directed at the fly. Just as you can't attack someone through a glass window (seriously, it's on the WotC site somewhere), you can't attack one creature through another. The only way the horse would get damaged is if you threw an alchemist's fire at the fly, where the horse takes damage for occupying the same square.

Honestly, you're very enthusiastic, and I like that you're trying to mod the system towards realism, but it's just too unbalancing and already adequately accounted for. Sometimes you just have to accept that realism and the d20 system are very different things.
16th-Jun-2007 12:48 am (UTC)
I haven't read all the comments, so I apologize for repeating anything else anyone said

First, not the balance conversion between DR and AC. If the attack does less than 20dmg, a point of DR is better than a point of AC. If the attack does more than 20dmg, a point of AC is better than a point of DR. So keep in mind how this will effect game balance. Against stuff that does a lot of damage (no matter what the starting size), small creatures will take overall less damage than big creatures.. That is purely objective and cannot be argued.

Now onto the subjective part: the above senario doesn't sound all that realistic to me. Furthermore, the problem is that you're trying to add a concrete meaning to the abstraction that is dmg and HP. We will start by being forced to agree that actually taking damage does not actually mean the attack came into contact with you. Otherwise your average fighter could be filled with arrows, yet still able to fight normally. HP is not realistic, so trying to make it so is an exercise in futility.

As for your example, that is technically false. The laws of real-world physics say that the horse WAS hurt by the fly--when it hit the fly, an equal amount of force was applies by the fly hitting the tail as was the tail hitting the fly. It's just that that amount of force doesn't matter to the horse, but matters a whole lot of the fly. A bug and a car windshield works the same way. They hit with the same amount of force, but while that force is enough to crush the bug, the car doesn't even notice it. This sounds a lot more like the idea that the house just doesn't notice that missing 1/10 HP, while the fly does (because it only has 1/10 of an HP). So I would argue that the normal system of large creatures having more HP is more "realistic" than your system. But it all depends on what you think HP really means.

And that's the crux of the issue. HP doesn't mean ANYTHING. So saying something has more HP could be a bunch of different stuff--it is huge and shrugs off damage more so that each hit affects it less, it is more easily able to avoid attacks, it can simple take that many more blows, whatever. And in fact, HP can mean all of these at the same time! That's part of what is nice about the HP system--it is an abstraction.

It seems realistic to me that large creatures would apply more force to each blow, and similarly would be affected less by smaller forces. So they do more damage with each attack--they have a STR bonus. And they take less (relative) damage with each attack--they have a CON bonus. I think the effect you are looking for is already mirrored rather nicely in the game, and your rule doesn't really add anything or make anything more realistic.

But if you love it, go for it. Let us know if small PCs suddenly start sucking or ruling in the game. Since most PCs are small or medium, the changes to other sized creatures won't really be noticable (except that 2handed Power Attack will rule the day against big creatures, because you can make off for each point of lowered AC with 2 points of damage against the DR).

16th-Jun-2007 01:13 am (UTC)
Thanks for your well thought out comment. A lot of this has been said, but you put it all together nicely. Your point about power attack is excellent.
16th-Jun-2007 06:18 pm (UTC)
Not a problem :) As I said, let us know how it goes.
16th-Jun-2007 02:15 am (UTC)
Something that (I think) hasn't been mentioned yet is the idea that hit points represent a lot more than the ability to take physical punishment. They also represent the dodging, parrying, and near misses that take place in combat. That's why a person who is completely unable to defend himself is vulnerable to a coup de gras attack; if HP were sheer physical toughness, coup de gras would simply do damage.

I've come to view HP as a measurement of a character's energy level. Each time a character takes damage, he expends energy to dodge or block an otherwise lethal blow. Eventually, he gets so tired that he cannot actively defend himself (somewhere around 0 HP), at which point the next successful attack knocks him out of commission. This is also (IMO) why characters only start bleeding out at negative HP, or from certain special attacks from Wounding weapons, etc.

Wizards tried to break HP up along this model with the VP/WP system, but it was (again, IMO) more complicated than it needed to be. As long as you can visualize HP loss as near misses instead of actual life-threatening wounds, HP as is works just fine.

And that is how you can have a halfling with 86 HP. :)
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