PDF version here with UD tables (it’s PWYW just in case you want to encourage such tomfoolery)
EDIT – the below paragraph is just to pick up on some FAQ/comments/feedback:
:: the UD roll replaces the damage roll – so there is no net increase in dice rolling
:: Yes, to reflect combat the UD target number is dependent on your PC’s class and level
:: the UD target number changing with level is no biggie – HPs change with level too
:: it’s not very complex, you just replace ‘Max HP’ and ‘Actual HP’ boxes with UD boxes
:: Agreed, UD and HPs are not ‘realistic’, they are just game mechanics
:: This is still a thought experiment so work is still needed (see healing and monsters)
:: Some people think UD requires more bookkeeping – I find this an odd conclusion
:: IMO drama is at the heart of UD, it makes each hit a meaningful threat to PC life
:: Some people don’t like Usage Dice (UD) mechanic, and they never will
Usage Dice (UD)
As I understand it, in the Black Hack you don’t track things like individual arrows. Instead, you use a ‘usage dice’ (UD). At the end of the relevant turn, you roll the UD: if you fail, you move down one UD, otherwise you keep the same/current UD.
So, if the UD is a D10 and you fail you move down to a UD = D8. This is repeated until you get to a D(minimum) e.g. D4. A fail on the D(minimum) means that the “resource” is used up.
Applying this to Hit Points
Why – who wants to track pesky Hit Points (HPs) anyway …?
More seriously, the thing that is most ‘fun’ (IMO) about UD is the uncertainty of when the ‘resource’ will expire. Adds a dash of tension.
Hopefully, it makes wounds more significant and so meaningful …
This idea tries to address these points. So:
- No tracking individual HPs
- Tension – will the PC progress a significant step to death on a successful hit
- Each wound is significant; PCs of the same level can take the same number of significant wounds before death (except high level fighters and clerics, who I’ve given a bonus ‘fortitude D2 usage die’ to – think Boromir peppered with arrows and fighting on)
… and I also hope this would make combat a more scary option for players
The below table gives the UD and target number for each PC by class and level:
This is so under/overpowered right?
Hopefully I’ve not screwed any of the maths up! Spreadsheets can go wrong!
I compared this UD system with HPs in AD&D for the classes over the levels.
Base-line: To do this, I worked out average HPs a PC would have based on HPs if rolled i.e. rules as written (RAW.HP)
I then brute force modeled in Excel (1000 runs) out how many successful ‘hits’ on average would be needed to reduce a PC to death using this UD system, awarded 3.5 HPs per damaging hit (i.e. mimicking a DA=D6).
For example – a first level fighter has a D4 UD and needs 3+ to avoid damage (50;50). But if they pass they get another go. In theory they could avoid damage from 10 successive hits (but the probability is low). So I needed to add up all the little pieces.
Anyway … I basically worked out how many hits a PC would be able to take on average (over 1000 runs) and compared this to how many hits a ‘standard’ AD&D character (of the same class, with ‘average’ HPs, taking ‘average’ damage) could take:
If I’ve not made any mistakes … (???) … then this UD method is not far off the standard HP method on average. There are a few blips, but no system is perfect.
So, other than having stark and unsettling jumps towards death, the UD system appears to track well enough to AD&D (on average).
In case anyone is interested, this is effectively the same sort of thing, but expressed as % compared to the AD&D base:
Small differences in ‘hit’s are magnified as % at lower levels.
Example of UD combat?
Belorgt is a 7th level fighter and is unwounded, so use UD = D8, and to avert damage from a hitting blow they need to roll 6+ on the UD8.
So, a roll of 8 means the hitting blow is averted; so keep the same UD (6 : UD8)
However, a roll of 3 would mean a significant wound was received and they would move down one UD. They would now use UD of D6 and need 4+.
Another hit means the UD goes down to a D4, needing a 2+ to avoid a hitting blow. Man, this is a bad day, it’s a 1! For a thief or magic-user this would be the end!
But, thankfully, Belorgt has deep reserves and can fight on despite 3 nasty wounds – however from now on it’s 50:50 if they get another blow! The bonus ‘fortitude UD’ is a D2 and Belorgt needs a 2 every time (or an even roll)! The next failure means: incapacitation, mortally wounded, or death etc.
These PCs are too squishy
You’ve modeled against RAW HPs – I normally give PC extra HPs, and what about CON bonuses etc. Maybe just bump the UD up one level, so treat a 3rd Lv fighter as a 4th level fighter on the tables above etc.
Other things that I have not really thought through ….
Perhaps progress as Fighters where HD = Lv
Or, as guidance on a UD monster system: adding more UD means they can take more wounds before death, lowering the target numbers makes them tougher.
Powerful attacks (e.g. breath weapons)
A fireball doing 6D6 might be considered 6 successful attacks each needing a UD save.
A giant’s tree club doing 2-12 = 2 successful hits, each needing a UD save?
Hrmmm …each ‘HD’ worth of healing restores one UD? I think that is probably too easy to revert the much larger effect of dropping down a usage die.
Or, perhaps better – wounded PCs need to roll against current UD: a fail (I say fail because this reflects the symmetry of going up or down the UD from the current health position) and they jump back to the previous UD so a UD D4 jumps to a UD D6 etc. So if the UD is a D6 with a target of 5+, a roll of 1-4 from that position represents a change in the UD – so with healing it goes up one UD to a D8, and for a wound the UD goes down to a D4.
Perhaps, with a fail, as a consolation, the target number on the current UD is lowered by 1, e.g. so a 4+ on UD6 goes to a 3+ on UD6. So, this mimics powerful and milder healing.
Some damage wearing?
I’ve not done the maths – but I suppose the target number could be eroded every time a successful hit is saved, but never more than the maximum number of the UD. So if the target number is 6+ on UD8 and a hit is made and a save is made using the UD, then the new target number becomes 7+ on UD8, if this happens again it’s 8 on UD8, if this happens again it remains 8 on UD8. A fail of course reverts to the UD6.
I ran out of energy for those, but I see a D10 coming into play!
Option 1 – add the D2 UD bonus on at Lv1
Option 2 (which I prefer) – give the PC 1 or 2 ‘CON points’ to spend between full healing, the points can be ‘spent’ to nudge a just wound (fail) roll into a pass roll. So if you need a 4 on a D6 to avoid a wound and you roll a 3 you can spend a CON point to nudge the roll to a 4.
– – –
Me on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural:
:: High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea,
:: Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown,
:: Dungeon/network generator – In the Heart of the Delve & Dangerous