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Variant HP Rules

03-Jul-08

I’m on a roll with variant rules today; here are some thoughts that I had related to hit points. They’re not something that I wanted to include in the current Barrier Peaks adventure, but if I were to start a tabletop Mutant Future campaign, I would likely implement these rules.

As stated in the rules, Mutant future is a ‘high-powered’ game: “It is assumed from the start that characters are fully capable of survival in a dangerous post-apocalyptic world. Because of this, mutants have instant access to very powerful damage-dealing mutations, not to mention a high number of hit points.”

In contrast, in Labyrinth Lord, “characters begin as low-powered adventurers and work their way up in power over time.”

Mutant Future PCs have a number of hit dice equal to their Constitution score (and this value doesn’t increase or decrease unless a character’s CON score changes), while Labyrinth Lord characters receive 1 hit die per level, and begin play with very few hit points indeed.

This creates a system where it can take literally dozens of rounds to whittle down a Mutant Future PC in a knife fight, while a starting Labyrinth Lord character can meet an untimely demise from an unfortunate encounter with a house cat.

Presented here are two optional rules for hit points. The first rule proposes an alternate method for hit point determination. The second rule simply allows ongoing characters to reroll all hit dice at each level and take the result if it is higher.

(As an aside, either of these variants can be used in LL as well.)


Optional Rule #1: Alternate Hit Point Determination

A character’s base hit points are equal to their Constitution score. At each level, the PC adds a hit die (d8 for Pure Humans, d6 for other races).

This is approximately midway between the default power levels of Mutant Future and Labyrinth Lord.

Consequences:

Under this system, Mutant Future PCs start with much lower hit points than usual. Many mutant powers, as well as most poisons and radiation, are deadly at low levels. As characters gain experience, their hit points increase to levels close to the default Mutant Future values, making high-level play very similar to standard.

Since hit point values are closer to those from Labyrinth Lord, it is easier to import creatures or adventures directly from that game into Mutant Future. However, since starting hp are higher than in LL, low-level PCs are not as susceptible to sudden character death.

A Note on Androids:

I don’t quite know what to do with Androids under this optional rule. From a game balance perspective, 50 hp is too high for PCs to start with, but it doesn’t ‘feel’ right to give Androids a lot more hit dice as they increase in level. Perhaps Replicants follow the variant rule as described, while Basic Androids and Synthetics can begin with 2 × CON hit points but add only +2 hp/lvl thereafter.


Optional Rule #2: Reroll Hit Dice at Each Level

Continuing characters can reroll class hit dice when they gain a new experience level and keep the result if it is higher than the previous total.

This only applies if you are using the same PC between sessions; if you are starting a new character at a level higher than 1st, you’ll only get to roll for hp once. Thus, this rule rewards players for keeping the same character for an entire campaign.

Consequences:

If you’re using the standard Mutant Future rules for hit points, this means that a character’s hp will tend to gradually increase with experience, reaching close to maximum value at high levels.

If you’re using the alternate hp determination rule provided above, it means that a character is not stuck with an ‘unlucky’ hp roll from a given level – assuming the PC survives.

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2 comments

  1. If you’re not using Optional Rule #1, then another variant that I like is related to fixed hit points for NPCs.

    A low-power NPC (say a random ruin-picker or dirt farmer) would have a mere 1 hp per CON point. A somewhat sturdier individual (a travelling merchant, or town militiaman) would have 2 hp per CON. A soldier or wilderness scout might have 3 hp per CON. And for an important ‘named’ NPC, roll for hp just like a PC.

    (A Pure Human might get an extra +1 hp per CON, depending on my mood.)


  2. Personally, I don’t like the high starting HP for androids. I would go with something like a lower starting point, but the ability to upgrade components of the body to increase HP. As far as scaling goes, I don’t know how to handle it. Perhaps the android’s familiarity with tech increases, the more capable they become at upgrading their components? It’s indirectly level based. *shrug*



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