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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Some Thoughts on Hit Points and Why the Resource Differs for PCs and Their Adversaries

I've been thinking a bit about Tunnels & Trolls recently. Specifically the "death spiral" that applies to monsters in 5e (I believe it no longer applies in 7e, but as this is being written on my lunch hour, I'll have to verify that later).

Simply put, monsters in T&T do damage based upon their Monster Rating. MR determines the number of d6 they roll for damage, and half of the CURRENT MR is added to the roll as Combat Adds. When a monster takes damage in 5e, it becomes less effective. As damage in T&T is applied to one side or the other (high total minus lower total equals damage to the losing side), as the MR of the monster decreases, it's opportunity to do damage drops quickly. Therefore, "Death Spiral".

Initially, I didn't like the rule, as D&D doesn't have a similar one. It just seemed foreign to my sensibilities.

Now I realize it's damn near genius. Monsters are, for the most part, just there for a single encounter. Rinse and repeat. PCs get whittled down - monsters get beat down.

You see, hit points or health or whatever you want to call it is different for PCs than it is for monsters. PCs need to survive multiple encounters - a monster, one or done.

Minions in 4e come to mind - it's probably the one think introduced with 4e that I like.

Ah well, back to the grindstone...


  1. My understanding of 7e is that the death spiral is still there though lessened - in that the number of dice the monster is doing stays the same, but their adds go down as MR is reduced.

  2. I think some monsters should be treated as Mooks, a term used in Feng Shui. Mooks are defeated with a single hit, so you can move on to the more important events -- fighting the lieutenants of the Big Boss, and then the Big Boss himself. This is in keeping with Feng Shui's cinematic style.

  3. I always liked the T&T "death spiral" as written into the rules. Foes declining in combat capacity as they get stabbed, zapped, and hacked makes sense and is even "realistic".

  4. On the other hand, I prefer my ogres and cave bears to continue being juggernauts of destruction until that final blow lands. That's why combat in 5AK is the way Otis.
    ; )