Hero Image

Separating HP into two separate pools - Devlog #7

In the last post, you may have noticed two curious blocks on the character sheet capturing "grit" and "flesh" and wondered what those are for. Let's talk about that.

The problem with HP

There's long been a problem many of us have had with HP in games. Your character is often supposed to be this tough hero and yet they can take this bizarre quantitative facsimile for damage, usually without any repercussion, until they hit zero. When they do hit zero, they might need to be revived or they may die. Sure, some video games tackle this better with character limping, doing less damage, and all sorts of things when they've taken too much damage themselves and need to take a breather, but tabletop games (in their majority) still struggle here.

Finding a solution

My first attempts here were throwing a bit too much chaos and punishment at the players. I had it so that almost any damage taken had them rolling for injuries. I felt cruel. At the same time, I thought the arthropods of Bug & Claw at least had a few more limbs they could sacrifice compared to typical TTRPG characters. There had to be a better way, though.

I'm certainly not the first one to be annoyed or to try and find a solution to this problem. Ben of Questing Beast talks in this video about this very problem and suggests an interesting solution. He proposes separating HP into two pools called (yep, you guessed it) "grit" and "flesh."

In this solution, grit represents a hero's resolve, fortitude, guts, moxie, courage, their fighting spirit that keeps them going. That "something special" that helps them avoid damage. Once that's whittled away, however, is when that hero starts to have their literal flesh damaged. This flesh may be hard to heal, and it may incur severe injuries and penalties. This is also not to say that certain enemies and attacks couldn't forego attacking one point pool for another, or that healing couldn't work similarly and raise only one pool or both.

In a world of multi-limbed arthropods, where they will have mutations that can cause them to potentially grow even more strange limbs, you can see how this kind of mechanic interests me. Being someone living with mental illness I also liked the possibilities this mechanic presented, too.