Friday, March 26, 2010

Badasses and hit point Heresy

Sometimes a badass just needs a ride.

What follows was inspired, in part, by this-

Trollsmyth's Damage Table

However, it is also the distillation of some ideas that have been bouncing around in my head for quite some time; some of it comes directly from a forum post I made a while back; most of it is new.

Edit: I now have my own, slightly different table.

Disclaimer: what follows will definitely add a little more complexity to play, but only a little and there is some bad language. If either of those things bother you, I suggest you put on a Sean Cassidy record and think of puppies or hobbits or some shit like that.

Now, excuse me, whilst I behave like an idiot:

The Metal Earth is not an heroic setting; it’s too late to save the world in any significant way. You might save a city or a region from a specific threat, but the world? No motherfucking way. That shit is just too fucked up. Again, in case you didn’t get it the first time, Mr. Frodo- The Metal Earth is not an heroic setting.

What The Metal Earth is, however, is a badass setting.

Like the comics, novels and movies that inspired it, The Metal Earth is slopping over with badasses. Being a badass isn’t about being unkillable; it’s about being tough. Your PC is not indestructible, not deathless, not going to win every time- but he* is a motherfucking badass.

With big giant balls of badass steel**.

*or she, or it- badasses don’t care about PC shit like this; they’re too busy kicking ass and/or shagging your little sister.

**Now would be a good time to get in touch with your inner 14 year old by putting on Back in Black.

Anyone who willingly ventures outside the cities has giant metal nads, anyone who is exiled and survives, also has giant balls of steel- even if all they do is run and hide all the time. If your character can get it together long enough to crouch in a bush and punch a grumpy, he has big giant motherfucking shining ferrous balls- and he is tougher than the steak special at the motherfucking Sizzler.

Therefore, the hit point rules as written do not work for me. (As a point of information, they never have). So here is my new system, like or leave it- if you want to use the ME (and some people seem to want to) you can just as easily use the rules as written and I very much encourage you to do so- what works for you works for you, but I’m going to offer this system as an alternative.

Metal Earth alternate Hit Point Rules:

The small and the large: These rules only work for small and medium creatures, and perhaps should be used only for PCs and important NPCs, but that, like everything else is up to the Metal Master… er, I mean the referee. The standard system applies to bigger animals, mainly because in the most extreme sense, it’s easier to swat an elephant with your sword than it is to hit some leaping, dancing badass like D'Artagnan.

Hit points represent fortitude, luck and skill. They do not represent the ability to sustain physical damage. They are computed as follows:

Hit points= Constitution + ld6 + LVL mod.

Level Mod= +1 per level for sorcerers; +2 per level for everyone else.

Melee Damage:

When a character reaches 0 hit points- that means they’ve actually been hit, up until that point they have not actually sustained any real physical damage. At this point the referee rolls on this table

Critical hits:

A natural 20 is a critical hit. The player who has sustained a critical hit must make a saving throw; a failed save results in a roll on the wound table- and the loss of 50% of remaining hit points. A success means a loss of 50% of remaining hit points- or max normal damage, whichever is more.

Missile/Energy Weapon Damage:

If hit by a Missile weapon a character must make a saving throw. If the character fails the saving throw, they roll on the damage table, and hit points are immediately reduced by 50% of their current total. A successful save results in normal hit point damage. A critical hit is of course a critical hit. Anyway, missile weapons can fuck you up.


Standard: CON/5 + 1/2 LVL times a day, badasses heal 1d6 hit points. This is when the character has a chance to catch their breath (at least one turn) or drink some strong booze; that’s right, if you’re a badass, whiskey is a fucking healing potion.

If recovery is done in combat, the badass must sacrifice an action and only receives 1d4 hit points (unless, as mentioned above, they drink some hooch). Whiskey or not, this can never be done more than once every 10 rounds.

Basically, if recovery is done while at rest, the character is catching their breath; if done during a fight the character is hella pissed off and ready to kick an imperial* shit ton of ass.

Regardless, a good night's sleep will restore all hit points- unless there is a shortage of food and water, in which case it's up to the referee how much is recovered.

*That’s right, sweetheart, an imperial shit ton, badasses do not use the fucking metric system, nor do they fucking speak fucking Elvish. Do you think Conan used the motherfucking metric system? He’d rip off your genitals merely for suggesting such a thing. Den of Earth is another badass who didn’t use the metric system; first off, he was an American, and they’re not even smart enough to divide by 10 for fuck’s sake, and, beyond that, he measured everything in cock lengths- e.g. an elephant is 3 dencocks long.

....So anyway, Mr. Frodo, if you've got problems with any of this, Legolas is holding a table for you down at The Prancing Pony. The two of you can sit down together and convert BTUs to kilocalories or some shit like that; then you can have a good cry, together, in Elvish.


  1. The player in my game recently looted five bottles of expensive/high quality Earth whiskey. I think whiskey is now a healing potion on Algol!

  2. Personally, I'm shocked that Dave and Gary didn;t include it in the original rules.

  3. Gary gives temporary hp for drinking alcohol in the 1e DM's guide. You, sir, are a badass in good company.

  4. That is the coolest thing I've heard all day. I haven't looked at the 1e DMG in a long time. I need to get a copy.

  5. Wait, did I just see something that looked like 4E Healing Surges sneaking by shamefacedly?

    Ah, who cares! This post was at least a cubic chain* of win. *throws horns* :)

    * Imperial system; superiah!

  6. After the dencock, "chain" is one of my favorite units of measurement.

    And yeah, there's some borrowing from 4e in there. Also some of the thinking comes with my experience with True20 which uses a wound track. However, 4e goes too far for me, and the optional (S&W)rule of 1d4 for binding wounds once a day doesn't go far enough- especially considering the supposedly abstract nature of hit points.

    Anyway, the random aspect of the recovery (1d6 instead of a set number), the wound table and the critical hit option- not to mention what will work out in the mid and long term to be much lower hit point totals make for something somewhat, if not fundamentally different from what you have with both 4e and 0e.

  7. For those interested: 1e DMG page 82, "Effects of Alcohol and Drugs". A person "moderately" intoxicated gains 1 HP and suffers a -1 penalty on attack rolls, and a -1 CHA, -2 DEX, -4 WIS, -3 INT, +2 Bravery and +10% morale. A person "greatly" intoxicated gains 3 HP and suffers a -5 penalty on attack rolls, and a -4 CHA, -5 DEX, -7 WIS, -6 INT INT, +4 Bravery and +15% morale.

    One of many reasons that I love the 1e DMG

  8. Frankly, that's too many mods for me and not enough hit points- but that's why we house rule.

  9. I've used that table in a couple games now. I'm completely sold on having hit points prevent wounds and once they are gone you roll on the table. At least for this style of game.

  10. @ Norman- nice blog, man. You write a lot!
    As for the tables- I also think using it for crits is a good idea. It puts death on the table every time the dice come out. I'm going to make a new table this week- or maybe two or three new tables, one for bladed weapons, one for blunt, one for firearms, one for energy weapons... ect.

  11. I'm stealing this in a major way for Infdelus (to be posted later today at the Haven). I've stolen yours and Norman's, changed some and thrown an idea or two in. We had one small combat last night (our first!)and the table never came up. So I'm psyched to see it in action...soon...

  12. Hey there, Jim, it's nice to see you over here.

  13. I will run a ME campaign if for no other reason than my friends will have to call me "Metal Master".

  14. I hope you are familiar with this website . . .


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.