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Lifepoint Limits

Further thoughts on making the system more lethal, and keeping to the iea of rating values out of 5.

A normal human with 1 lifepoint is going to get hurt easily by a super, but defending against another normal human they are likely to be rolling 1 or 2 dice against 1 or 2 dice, which seems reasonable. Confronted by the hitman rolling 3 dice, they are probably going down, although I still think that giving him a hard tech bonus would give him the sort of edge I would expect if I hired a professional assassin.
In my first game, the players will start out as astronauts, so giving them 2 life points seems fair. After their powers origin on the surface of mars it may be reasonable to give them 3 life points, plus a bonus for any toughness power that fits the bill.
This seems to be a good way of handling things, and I certainly prefer assigning a life point total to mooks rather than rolling 1-6.
A scientist being held hostage by the terrorists surely only needs 1 lifepoint. A beefy thug in the doorway of the room wearing body armour might even qualify for a 3.

Any thoughts ?


  • Simply deciding what is reasonable based on discription already provided is entirely reasonable. The random roll for Lifepoints if often for when a you haven't described the opponent in any great detail yet and are looking for inspiration.

    As for giving a player 3 lifepoints . . . Depends on the foes you are pitting them against. If one of their assailants has a rank 5 offensive Talent that they have no defense againts, then they are going down hard and fast. Probabaly too fast to be heroic.

  • Well, I'm probably going to give them 3 lifepoints and see how it goes. Unlikely to be a lot of rank 5 offensive talents in my game. At the start anyway : )
    I'm confident of running a challenging game without arbitrarilly killing off the heroes. I've got a lot of experience of balancing campaigns to my player character's abilities. Thanks for the feedback, though. Would still love to hear your thoughts on whether life points could fit the same ranking system as talents. I love modular systems.

  • So are you suggesting having essentially the following:

    Bob Toughness 2 - Lifepoints [F] : This gives Bob 2 positive Lifepoints and 2 negative Lifepoints. When Bob goes below -2 something bad happens (at the very least he is uncounscious).

    You could have the same thing for Strainpoints.

    If this is what you are suggesting . . . It could work. You would need to revise the 'staying conscious' rules somehow. And these Talents would be something pretty much every character would want. It would change the game quite a bit.  

    As it stands right now you can have fairly similar Talents, it just improves the starting point of 6 Lifepoints to a potential maximum of 10 Lifepoints with a 5 rank talent.

    You could always start your heroes at 3 Lifepoints and then have them use talents to bring this up, as above except to a maximum of 7 Lifepoints with a rank 5 talent. Thats a safer compromise I would say.

  • Indeed, I would hope most of the heroes in my game would either have talents giving them extra lifepoints, or 3 or better ranks in a defensive power. Those who don't are going to have to be cunning or sneaky. There's fun in having characters like that too : )
    I also like the whole damage intent concept. Saying that an attack is intended to be lethal will make a big difference, and I'm unlikely to run every minor villain in the game as a murderous psychopath. When the heroes are at serious risk of permanent injury or death they will know it and can adapt their strategies.
    Staying conscious may be an issue, but I have faith in the strainpoint mechanic. My players are used to having it tough, and often the most exciting and heroic drama in my games comes from the heroes risking all to save the day.

    In the case of Bob's toughness power, yes. That is pretty much how I'm seeing it, although for this first game at least, giving my heroes 3 lifepoints for free seems reasonable to me. Perhaps in later games I will set the base lifepoint rank to 1 and explain to the player that a vigillante going out to fight crime had better have a good way to avoid getting stomped by random drunken mobs looking for a thrill. I don't have any players in my games who don't like the superhero genre, they will all get that supers need a good armour power, or lightning reactions, or awesome fighting skills, and I think this will translate well into how they intend to raise their starting lifepoint rank. I can't help but think that in the case of say, a little girl with psychic powers having the same lifepoint rank as a big blue mutant with skin like stone, the player running the big guy is going  to feel a little cheated. Making the players think about why their characters are viable superheroes is going to add to how the power ranks add flavour to the game.

    As to compromise, I think I would agree. Starting the heroes on 3 lifepoints is probably the way forward.
    Thanks again for feedback.

  • "Indeed, I would hope most of the heroes in my game would either have talents giving them extra lifepoints, or 3 or better ranks in a defensive power."

    I did want to call out that simply having one rank 3+ defensive power isn't going to protect you from all kinds of attacks (or even most kinds). Talents are supposed to be narrow so there are a lot of things that a 'thick skin Talent won't protect you from.

    Check out Chapter 3: On Powers, Talents and Common Foes --> Defences for a discussion of the topic. For high powered games such constraints are less important, but in your case you seem to be aiming for a low-power street-level costumed-vigilante vibe, so I would think it applies.

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