Friday, February 20, 2015

Hit Points Are Kung Fu

So a long time ago I did this article about how, while I never codify this or ask anybody to roll Stamina or anything, I kind of use the idea of the six Attribute Values as, rather Feng Shui-like, really setting the value for a suite of qualities. The Unofficial Eighteen Attributes.

Now let's randomly do a Google Image search for Hit Point shall we? First result:

i feel dirty hosting this why hello 1997 i remember you
Oh ho that is high LARIOUS.

Except of COURSE that's how it works, Black Knight has strong kung fu. It requires only the slight shift in thinking that comes with swapping the usable gameable term "Hit Points" for the more frou frou but also more accurate LIFEFORCE to see this pool as not representing, on a scale of 1 to 10, how hale a character is. Instead we're talking about the fundamental animating agent of the universe just to START. There's also survival instincts. There's conviction, there's the only good scene from Rocky V. Your Hit Points are an abstraction representing the wholeness of your mind-body.

The stronger your chi, the more powerful your lifeforce, the more Hit Points you get as a bonus. We base this on an ability store called Constitution, but then this is one reason I don't call that stat ONLY Constitution. The harder you work (more you level) on perfecting your kung fu, the stronger your chi (higher your Hit Points), the harder you are to kill. If you act like this means magical healing or Second Winds or whatever make less sense then brother you and I have watched different movies.

Still standing at 1HP doesn't mean you're Black Knight. It means you're Lo Mang. It means you have Invincible Armour.
It means that though you've taken all kinds of abuse and HURT your Inner Strength has not been overcome. You have withstood everything because of the fortitude you've acquired from discipline. This is also why the squishy classes are so squishy: it's not that they're inherently weaker, they just lack the discipline and the insight to build their Inner Strength because they busied themselves with other pursuits.

You have been hurt but you are not WOUNDED because your Inner Strength sustains your Lifeforce. But the thing about Toad Style is that there's always a weak point. Usually this is a literal weak point but it may be a psychological lever or an environmental pressure which finally cracks your mighty facade...even Superman must bow to magic, for example.

And sure enough, once that weak spot has been exploited, once all your reserved have been surpassed, you are like a softshell crab in the mouth of a crane, and you're done for.

This holds true whether you are down to 1HP or whether you only began with 1hp. Don't talk to me about low HP meaning you're weak, beat to hell, or an implausible kind of badass. One of the most hardcore fights I've ever run were between an entire basilisk and a 2HP hobbit, who got the basilisk down to 1HP and escaped unscathed. BECAUSE that little bastard had strong kung fu, which was evidenced when he dared to solo a basilisk at 2hp in the first place.