Been thinking a lot about the nature of Hit Points recently, in part from seeing Akrasia's house-rules whereby HP's do NOT represent actual injury--once you lose HP's, then you start suffering the "real" damage to your CON. I like that. I like it a lot. Except, that is, for the fact that this effectively gives every character 10+ extra Hit Points. I'm not too crazy about that. I've had a few thoughts one this subject.
One idea is specifically in the context of Spellcraft & Swordplay, which is an entirely 2d6-based game. Entirely except for attributes, which are 3d6 as per usual. I have been playing with the idea of making S&S all 2d6 (I may post more about this later). With 2d6 CON, that's a significantly smaller kicker.
But, let's leave that idea aside for a moment. Because I've been rather excited lately about dismemberment. Not for myself, of course, but for foolish adventurers. This is, really, just an extension of my thoughts on hurting characters as worse than killing them. And, nothing says hurting like getting your sword-arm lopped off. What fun!
In addition, I have been noodling around with thoughts of tactics in combat. Before visions of battle-mats and square-counting swim before your horrified eyes, gentle, hypothetical readers, fear not. I don't mean anything like that. I mean players making meaningful choices about their character's actions in combat.
Here's the idea: a player may choose to avoid the damage of any one attack by choosing, instead, to spin the Wheel of Dismemberment. The results of the Wheel will NOT result in hit point damage (which would make the whole thing pointless). With a little luck, you get knocked down or stunned. With a great deal less luck, you lose an arm or leg and suffer attribute damage. Losing a limb would reduce DEX, having muscles damaged would reduce STR, a chest wound might reduce CON, while horrible scaring would hurt CHA.
Where is this mighty Wheel of Fun, you ask? I don't know yet. There is a perverse part of me that wants to use this:
(that's a classic critical chart from Arms Law for the uninitiated)
But that's really way too fiddly in truth, bloody fun though it may be. I think I would, instead use something more like The Major Wounds Table from Stormbringer/Elric! or Robert Fisher's Classic D&D Injury Table. What I like about this idea is that it works along the principle of Trollsmyth's Shields Shall be Splintered! -- giving a strategic option that helps with the "Argh! Cleric!" Syndrome without just adding more Hit Points to the pile (a self-defeating strategy).
Plus, I love systems that make players choose to have nasty things happen to their characters. It's so much more entertaining to watch.