[MUD-Dev] [MLP] Why care about levels? (was: The use of ecology models)

Travis Casey efindel at earthlink.net
Fri May 3 16:32:12 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

Wednesday, May 01, 2002, 2:57:20 PM, Sean Kelly wrote:
> From: "shren" <shren at io.com>
>> On Sat, 27 Apr 2002, Sean Kelly wrote:

>>> At the same time, levels (especially in CPRGs where there is no
>>> human arbiter) can give rise to absurd situations, like a naked
>>> 20th level mage wh o has 20d4 hit points needing to be stabbed
>>> by a dagger 20 times before he dies, even if he stands still and
>>> does nothing at all.  A DM can adapt to the situation and make
>>> it more fun/plausible than current AI can.

>> Sidenote.  In second ED, a mage never had 20d4 hit points.

> Thought hit points were 1d4 per level for a mage?  Or did it cap
> at some point.

In 1st and 2nd edition, it caps at 11d4, IIRC, after which a mage
gets +1 per level.  In 3e, a 20th level mage will have 20d4.

>> In third ED, one can safely divide this into two situations.  >
>> In the first, the mage is aware of his attacker.  A 20th level
>> mage fights as well as a 10th level fighter (minus the feats) -
>> one would expect a fighter of such skill to take a lot of
>> defensive wounds before the knife fighter got him.

> Certainly.  The misleading factor with D&D is that hits are
> actually "hits that do damage," and a player's ability to reduce
> damage by avoidance and whatnot is dependent on their fighting
> skill.

Yep.  Note the old rule in 1st edition AD&D: "helpless opponents can
be killed at the rate of one per round, regardless of hit points."

>> In the second, the mage is unaware.  If a 20th level rogue is
>> sneaking up behind a 20th level mage, the rogue can get 3 attacks
>> with his dagger from behind, each doing 1d4+10d6 or so.

> I grant that D&D 3E is much improved over earlier versions.  And
> D&D in general is better than misc CRPGs that derived some concept
> of a level system from its rules.  However I think the level-based
> hit point system is misleading, as it implies that high-level
> characters have Rasputin-like fortitude (because of the
> implication that a mobile person will always be actively
> defending).

There are some ways around this.  The WotC Star Wars game divides
"hit points" into two quantities -- "wound points", which the
character starts with a certain amount of and doesn't get more for
going up in levels, and "vitality points", which go up with level.
"Wound points" represent actual serious damage; "vitality points"
represent fatigue from avoiding attacks, minor defensive damage
taken, etc.

The games Villains & Vigilantes and Lands of Adventure both had
rules that allowed characters to take some or all damage as fatigue
instead, representing extra energy expended in defense.  In LoA, you
could only take half your damage that way.  In a level-based system,
you could key how much damage is "real" and how much "fatigue" to a
character's level and ability to defend.

With either sort of system, you can decide that some kinds of damage
are always completely "real".  E.g., if you fall into a pool of
lava, it doesn't matter how good you are at dodging.

Travis Casey
efindel at earthlink.net

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