For our games of Gamma World and D & D 4e I've decided that I'm going to throw in a little bit of a home brew on the rules. Not sure exactly how well it will work but I like the idea so I figure I'll give it a shot and see what happens. The first of these has to do with hit points.
I think this is one of the things that bugs people the most about D & D. You hit somebody with a huge sword and they stand there, smile, and then return the favor. Doesn't really make that much sense when you think about it even for a fantastic setting. I mean come on, its a frickin' sword! No two ways about it, that's gonna leave a mark.
What I've decided to do is take hit points in a slightly different direction so that they make a little more sense. Instead of them representing purely how much physical abuse you can take, they are also going to represent fatigue in the battle. If you think about it, parrying or dodging that massive sword is going to start wearing you down almost as much as being hit by it. This isn't to say that the players lose hit points just for moving around or being missed; that would be a little too harsh in my mind. No, instead this will represent them blocking or dodging the blows in the narrative though they'll still take some damage. Only hit for 5 hit points? Well, that's probably at best a scratch and might even just be a solid punch.
So the question is "Where's the house rule?" That comes into play when players (and monsters... gotta be fair after all...) take a massive hit, say equal to their bloodied value. A blow like this is truly devastating and it makes sense that you're not going to be performing up to par after that. In game terms this is represented by a -2 modifier on all rolls except for damage (seems like that would be a little too harsh). Of course its not too easy to inflict that much damage in one blow so I'm also going to apply this when a creature becomes bloodied as well. To me the name says it all; you're bloodied. You've taken a beating and while you're not ready to lie down and die, you're not going to be as nimble as you normally would. This also helps the idea of the second wind make a little more sense. It isn't some kind of magical healing that is flowing through your body, its you pausing in the fight to catch your breath for a second.
My other idea is a little more... dramatic. Normally in 4e your character earns action points that you can spend to take another action on your turn. I really like this mechanic as I think it really pushes forward the idea that the characters are supposed to be big damn heroes and helps them live up to it. In addition to the regular action points, I'm also going to introduce drama points (though I might call it something else...).
Unlike action points which have a limit on how often you can use them, the drama point is more open ended and can be spent to give you a re-roll any time you want. Choke on a crucial to hit roll? Spend a drama point and re-roll it! Fail that diplomacy check and make an ass out of yourself to the dragon? Pop a drama point and try again!
So what's the catch? A free re-roll? Heck yeah I'll take that! The catch is that you have to earn them with role play. It could be something as simple as a good concept in character generation or strong back story to some solid role play around the table later in the game. This is supposed to be a role playing game after all so why not encourage it?
Of course the real question is how do these ideas work in practice. Theories are wonderful things but until they're successfully applied they don't really mean much. For that we'll just have to see what happens when we get back to the table. Until next time...