Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Monsters with no HP

This is just me trying out a half baked idea (don't take this too seriously).

So there was a discussion on the Discord of the Good Friends of Jackson Elias about monsters having HP being somehow reassuring and I thought what if hitting monsters made them react instead of chipping away at numbers.

So you roll to hit as usual, then you roll your damages and consult the reaction table.

1-3 minor reactions table
4-6 major reactions table
7+ critical reactions table

Minor reactions table d6

  1. Recoil: the creature step back a few steps but is still agressive. 
  2. Scream: the creature scream in pain or anger, this may attract unwanted attention.
  3. Riposte: the creature strike back to wound.  
  4. Intimidate: the creature make a intimidation show, if the group retreat it wont pursuit.  
  5. Swap weapon away: the creature swap away or break the weapon that hurt it.
  6. Minor custom move: see creature profile

Major reactions table d6

  1. Lurk: the creature step back and lurk away from weapon range but remain agressive.
  2. Knock down: the creature knock down or throw away who hurt it. 
  3. Furious strikes: the creatures make a series of furious attacks. 
  4. Charge: the creature charge or push back it attackers. If the group run away it wont pursuit them once they exit their territory. 
  5. Defensive stance: the creature step back to protect it wound and take a defensive stance. 
  6. Major custom move: see creature profile

Critical reactions table d6

  1. Retreat: creature retreat toward a defensive area to hide or barricade itself. 
  2. Pin down: the creature tackle down or grab it attacker and immobilize or pin them down. 
  3. Vicious strike: the creature make a critical attack that break armor or possibly kill it target. 
  4. Sweeping attack: the creature make a sweeping attack and gain some ground. 
  5. Lash in pain: small creatures make a weak desperate attack, large creatures trash in pain and damage the location.  
  6. Critical custom move: see creature profile

Some custom move exemples:

Hobgoblins mob:

  • minor: start chanting the blood song > gain buff (on reroll)
  • major: form a shield wall > spear or missile attack (on reroll)
  • critical: champion step forward and ask to duel or parley

Displacer beast:

  • minor: activate displacer field > displacer jump (on reroll)
  • major: teleport attack 
  • critical: teleport away to lick it wounds


  • minor: laugh and brag
  • major: breath weapon
  • critical: leave in anger to destroy nearby village 

Weird slime creature

  • minor: release toxic spores
  • major: life draining pseudopod attack
  • critical: dissolve into the earth and leave behind a corrosive goo

For the player characters?

I guess that this work better with a player facing system like in The Black Hack. 
On a miss the character have to step back and give ground or take a minor wound. 
How wounds work if you have no HP?  Good question... 

Maybe this, roll the creature damages:
1-3 minor wound: no effect but two minor wounds become a major one and then a critical one. 
4-6 major wound: roll to hit or damage with disadvantage (player choice). 
7+ critical wound: make a save or roll on a incapacitated table. 

Or maybe that the monsters make their attack and roll their damages like the players do and consult the same reactions table but each entries offer a choice between a reaction or taking a wound.

This is far from being perfect as this is tackled on a system already existing instead of being it own system. 


Yomar said...

Intriguing but where are the reactions like "gurgles, dies"? It seems like no matter how hard I hit this monster I'm only making it angrier.

Anne said...

This seems pretty well thought out, and seems like it should produce narratively interesting combat.

One question - would this result in all monsters being equally easy to defeat in combat? (And if so, are you okay with that?)

Evlyn said...

Yeah you are not supposed to kill the monsters, they are mostly unbeatable. You can only force them to react. But anyway this is just a half baked idea and I quickly wrote these tables. There is certainly place for adjustments to make the results fit with different genres expectations.

Evlyn said...

I guess that their Hit Dice could play some role, I don't know. I guess that the big difference is their special reactions. But again when I first thought of this I had more in mind Call of Cthulhu type of encounters featuring unbeatable monsters.

Jones Smith said...

It seems like it's objectively better to roll lower damage then, yeah? Because the major and critical reactions tables give results that are more likely to wound or kill the attacker. So really, I'd just want to do as little damage as possible to force my foe to recoil or scream or something.
Having higher damage = monster hurts you badly is interesting, but I think it would rely on the monster having HP so high damage rolls are still meaningful and helpful.

Evlyn said...

I agree, the tables certainly need work.

Jones Smith said...

It's a really cool idea though! I hope you expand it some more

Anne said...

Oh, that makes sense. In that case, yes, all the monsters are supposed to be equally difficult to defeat (ie, impossible).

JDsivraj said...

Have HD factor into the reaction table with a HD base resistance roll. Low totals would have the most serious impact while high rolls would virtually ignore the condition.