Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fixed Health vs. Growing Health

Vampire the Masquerade uses a unique system for health in which all vampires share the same amount of health levels. This “fixed health” system contrasts with the typical RPG health system where each character has a different number of health points. When the game progresses, a typical RPG character can “grow” his health points, typically increasing Constitution or directly increasing a Health attribute. However, a vampire cannot directly increase his health levels. Of course, increasing Stamina (which is used to resist damage) you are increasing the odds of not being damaged, but your vampire is always equipped with 7 health levels. This is OK from a narrative point of view, but we all love when our health bar grows from time to time.

Here’s my proposal of growing health system. In order to make the vampire health bar a little more dynamic, Stamina will determine the amount of health levels of your vampire:
  • Stamina 1 = 7 health levels.
  • Stamina 2 = 8 health levels.
  • Stamina 3 = 10 health levels.
  • Stamina 4 = 12 health levels.
  • Stamina 5 = 15 health levels.
Also, there’s a little change in how damage affects health level to make it more general:
  • When you’ve lost 1/4 of health, you’re hurt, you cough and move slowly (-1 penalty to all dice rolls). 
  • When you’ve lost 1/2 of health, you’re wounded, you can’t run (-2 penalty to all dice rolls). 
  • When you’re in your last 1/4 of health, you’re crippled, you walk very slowly (-5 penalty to all dice rolls). 
My only concern is: when you level up Stamina, you’re increasing both your health levels, i.e. your maximum health, and your soaking roll, i.e. your chances of not being damaged. This is a positive reinforcement loop that may lead to overpowered characters with a lot of health getting almost no damage.

On the other hand, a great advantage of having a wider range of health is allowing more subtlety in weapon damage. If you’re limited to 7 health levels, there are lots of weapons causing 1 health level of damage. Let’s take melee weapons for instance: a sap, a knife and a stake, all cause Strength + 1 damage. However, if your health can grow from 7 to 15, you can give slightly different values: a sap Strength + 1, a knife Strength + 2, and a stake Strength + 3.


  1. I really hope you get this game out there. I will be the first to play it! Following this blog! Write more about it please! =)

    1. Thanks a lot for your support! I promise to post more really really soon :D

  2. SEXTO NOBLE DE KHARÉAugust 4, 2012 at 9:08 PM

    Congratulations on the project!

    What about leaving exactly the same system as the tabletop rpg? You could even make the AI control the playing character in combats, following the dice guide. I'd love it.

    Regards from Spain.

    1. Of course! VtM narrative system rules are great. We should give the basic health system a try before extending to something more elaborate. Maybe it all ends up being a game mode or something (classic mode).

      I'm curious, what do you mean by controlling the playing character in combats? During frenzy?

      Thanks a lot for your comments. Gracias, de verdad ;)

  3. SEXTO NOBLE DE KHARÉAugust 7, 2012 at 5:26 PM

    The player wouldn't control the character. In a combat, you wouldn't be clicking "punch" repeatedly. Instead, you would choose an action (bite, kick...). Then the artificial intelligence resolves everything as a human game master.

    ¡De nada! ;)

    1. Oh! A 100% RPG combat without "action" (aiming with the mouse, moving your character, hitting keys, etc). That is SO tempting! It will probably end somewhat in the game, but action-RPG is required as a kind of legacy from Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines.