Rifts - World in Chaos
House Rules and Notes on Hit Points and Threshold Damaage
Hit Points are not just your life blood. As a matter of fact, only a small portion of your hit points should actually be considered your life blood (you know, that part where you are below 0 and bleeding to death). Hit points should actually be looked at as energy exerted to avoid that incoming deadly attack, or even the amount of luck you have (sooner or later your luck has to run out with all the bullets flying about).
Sure, having ten to twenty arrows sticking out of you, various sword wounds, or even dozens of bullet “just a flesh” wounds may sound cool because you have over one hundred hit points and can take it, but it doesn’t make your heroic character feel realistic, just makes him/her a good pin cushion in combat.
No, for this game, we will be looking at hit points a bit differently. Every character, whether NPC or PC, has their own “personal space” that is a 5×5 foot square. This square is the characters HP. A large majority of your hit points within a character’s square are those that when hit, and don’t put you under 0 HP, are considered “near misses” (those that you just were able to move your body out of the way) or “close calls” (those that somehow you were lucky to not have hit you, but cause you to flinch or be distracted). Then of course there is the one “Fatal Shot”, that which puts you below 0 hit points, and the killing blow (or painful slow death, whichever you prefer).
Let’s face it, combat is fast paced. It may not seem like it when each player is deciding what his/her hero is doing during the combat, but if you were to imagine what that combat looked like after all that was said and done. What may have taken fifteen minutes of one player after another taking attack turns to complete in game combat, would only be seconds in a movie setting with everyone attacking at once. Characters are using all types of physical and mental energy to avoid being hit, while at the same time trying to hit another character in combat.
When it comes to attacks that hit a characters hit points, there are two ways to look at the damage.
Normal Attack Hits (Ex: Opponent hits hero with weapon doing XdX amount of damage to hero’s hit points). These normal hits are the ones that are called “near misses”, “close calls”, or “absorbed blows” (melee). Hit points lost in this way can be recovered with a ten minute rest of non-activity.
Threshold Attack Hits (Ex: Opponent hits hero with weapon doing XdX amount of damage that goes over the hero’s threshold Fortitude Defense). These hits actually make physical contact and are the stings, deep cuts, surface burns, weapon grazes, and painful bruises that can debilitate your ability to concentrate (knock you down the Condition Track), as well as trigger a weapons secondary damage type (Ex: Poison). Hit points lost in this way can be recovered with a full days rest, successful treat injury skill checks, and even certain magic.
Critical Attack Hits (Natural 20) are considered automatic threshold attack hits no matter what the damage (critical hits are double damage) amount is. Use Threshold attack hit rules on the condition track and secondary damage types.
All hits are subject to armor resistance ratings.
Example of Damage types in a fight: Marcus has a Fortitude Defense of 18 and Hit Points of 60. In a firefight with four coalition grunts, he sustains hits of 8, 18, 13 and a miss for a total of 39 hit points of damage before he can react as they have the jump on him. The first and third hits are near misses. These shots entered Marcus’ five foot square” personal space”, but his natural reaction within that space, the shooters wrong guess as to where that body part he was aiming at should have been, or any other number of luck Marcus has, the shots did not penetrate him physically. The second shot however nicks Marcus pretty good on his side. The pain from the shot drops him down one on the condition track (-1 penalty, see chart) as his concentration on the fight is hindered for a moment (three swift actions dedicated to recover in any round to take him back to normal condition if he chooses).
After two rounds of running for cover, frag grenades and dodging, Marcus barely survives the encounter. He’s down another 15 points (normal hits) giving him 36 points of “normal hit” damage he can recover with several minutes rest and 18 points of “threshold hit” damage that will take almost three days of extended rest to heal. Or he can find a medical center that can treat his injury and get him up and running in less time then that.