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Health tracking; minimum amount of health

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Jarec
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Joined: 12/27/2013

First of all, sorry for stealing the name for the topic. It was just so perfect that when I come back here with a problem to see a topic of almost describing my problem.
Unfortunately that one didn't answer my question...

I've done passive research dozens upon dozens of hours now and looked at threads and other Google results about different ways of tracking health in games, but I grow frustrated and want to actively bother people with my issue.

So, I have a game (A space ship adventure game, but I will forever talk about it with D&D mechanics because it is easier for everyone to understand) that has shields on PC's which will act as the main defense, pretty much your generic HP track. But also have some sort of defensive layer underneath the shield, a hull if you will, almost as having an extra HP tracker after you have gone through your "normal HP".
And it also has weapons which will bypass the main defense layer and go straight to the hull layer.

So the problem is how should I track the weaker hull layer and with what mechanic?
The shots that bypass shields come through at damage of 1-2, while the bigger shots that must go through the shields do maybe total of 3-8 damage.

So what am I looking for are these things:
1) The less it has book keeping the better, something elegant (the main book keeping is on the shields)
2) I like the idea of shots hitting at the hull to start degrading your ship (disabling the ship systems etc.), maybe some sort of abstract injury type deal, but...
3) The small shots that go through shields should not feel lethal or that much threatening
4) The big shots that you must defend via shields should feel threatening once they start coming through

What else my systems has, and what could be incorporated in to the elegant design, are: crew (that could act as an abstract HP); different ship locations/systems (that could be destroyed); and a cooldown mechanic for said systems (that could go for extra down time). I also have the tracker for my shields, which could just have a hull tracker in it too...

It's just that everything abstract I've come up with just doesn't feel right, and everything that feels good is a convoluted mess...
So do any of you have any mechanics or games (of board or video variety) for me to check out to help me out of this block?

X3M
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Joined: 10/28/2013
Options

Not sure how I can help here. But there are some options that might give idea's.

For starters. When health is being tracked with less points. The damage dealt should be less as well. The trick in this can be that if you want 1 to 2 damage, to be halved. You have 0.5 to 1 damage. But that 0.5 can be expressed in a die roll as well.
The problem here is, that any damage lwoer than 1, can be 1. Thus a lucky roll can deal more damage as expected. And it might be possible to have an overshoot or overkill effect. Which is often a game breaker too.

Another variant to this option is, to redesign the damage. Making lower damage rarer in the dice example like above. Or simply rarer by design.
And on top of this, the 3 to 8 damage is also lower, once it hits the hull. Again, if it is half of the original design. You need only half of the max health.

Second option:
Binairy health tracking.
I love this one, I use it for my public version.

You deal damage in the range of powers of 2.
1, 2, 4, 8 etc. would be the damage value's.
The health is the sum of all these numbers.
The health bar is only 4 when the maximum health is 15.

How does this work?
Let's say, the health bar is full. You deal 1 damage.
The 1 health is removed.
What if you deal another 1 damage?
The 2 health moves 1 spot down.

What if the health bar has only 1 and 8 avaiable?
Yet you do 2 damage?
Simply toggle all the health trackers from 2 and above. Until an existing health tracker is removed.
Thus, 2 and 4 come back, 8 is removed.
If 2 and above were all empty to begin with, health was already to low and the unit is destroyed.

You can still go for different damages, like 3, 5, 6 or 7. But it will make tracking the total health a bit more difficult.
Another variant is to have the damage being between 1 and 4 for a big weapon. But when getting that 4, you are actually dealing 8 damage. If you roll a 3, you would be dealing 4 damage. Simply said, you roll for which tracker has to be removed. Which is something I have in my game.

One last adjustment. The total health goes with 1, 3, 7, 15, 31 etc. But if you want a little variation. You can:
A. Make combinations of 2 trackers. Thus one ship has 15, while another has 3 + 3 = 6.
B. When all trackers are removed, the ship still has 1 health remaining. Thus the total health is 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 etc.
If you combine A with B. One of the trackers has to have 0 health when depleted. It can only be +1 for all the trackers combined.

Well, this has been the most mathimatical approach. If you have questions, let me know. If you seek something different. I am sure someone on this forum can direct you.

larienna
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Joined: 07/28/2008
Depending on the amount of

Depending on the amount of ships you have, it could be more or less convenient to have an hull and HP track for each ship. If you only have 1 ship, it's OK, if you have dozens, that does not work.

In that case, you want to limit the amount of status changing. Some games use a 2 step count. You can get "Wounded" then "Destroyed" unit. You generally mark wounded units by flipping them. This is the minimal amount of tracking involved that I know. Else you will have to avoid tracking at all or add more tracking with tokens.

A quick idea, each ship could be made of 2 tokens, one for keeping track of shield health, and 1 for tracking hull health. Same system, flip the token when wounded, but now you have 2 separate minimalist tracks.

You can compare weapon strength and defense to determine if a wound is inflicted. Since you cannot much cumulate wounds, you will need other mechanics that will be able to combine or improve combat strenght to pierece trough the ennemy defense. You cannot just poke the enemy a lot to eventually destroy it. Combined attacks, terrain, events, die rolls, etc.

Jarec
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Joined: 12/27/2013
X3M wrote:Another variant to

X3M wrote:
Another variant to this option is, to redesign the damage. Making lower damage rarer in the dice example like above. Or simply rarer by design.
And on top of this, the 3 to 8 damage is also lower, once it hits the hull. Again, if it is half of the original design. You need only half of the max health.

Most likely making that penetrating damage rarer by design will be the easiest way to balance things.

X3M wrote:

Second option:
Binairy health tracking.

I came upon something very similar during my research. It was used with some ttrpg. Just a handful of health boxes, that spilled over to the next one if one box was hit twice. I wanna say Fate, but looking at it's damage mechanics again now, I'm not so sure. I'm not that experienced with ttrpg's, so I hardly retain any information about them.
Funnily enough that was one of the ones I gave a much deeper think, and tried to bend it to my liking...

larienna wrote:
Depending on the amount of ships you have, it could be more or less convenient to have an hull and HP track for each ship. If you only have 1 ship, it's OK, if you have dozens, that does not work.

Only one ship per player (unless a carrier or some sort of drone-maker ship), it really is like D&D in most cases, but with big metal husks and in space.

larienna wrote:
In that case, you want to limit the amount of status changing. Some games use a 2 step count. You can get "Wounded" then "Destroyed" unit. You generally mark wounded units by flipping them. This is the minimal amount of tracking involved that I know. Else you will have to avoid tracking at all or add more tracking with tokens.

Oh hey, this got me thinking! I do have the crew members which are constant on your ship (pretty much acting as D&D ability score modifiers). I could have them to act as a spot to hold some sort of harm tokens, as they now don't do nothing more than give the ship its stats...

larienna wrote:
You can compare weapon strength and defense to determine if a wound is inflicted. Since you cannot much cumulate wounds, you will need other mechanics that will be able to combine or improve combat strenght to pierece trough the ennemy defense. You cannot just poke the enemy a lot to eventually destroy it.

That's the thing, though. I want players and enemies to be able to poke each other dead if poked enough with the small piercing attacks. I'd like to have that as a concept. It just ends up in a lot of book keeping.

One of the easiest ideas that keeps on popping in my mind is to have some sort save after hitting the hull. The small attacks of course would be easier to save, and players would not be stressed about them that much.
The end result of that system is the most ideal I came up with, to shrug off most of the smaller hits along with the pain of keeping book of them. But the downside is that it introduces one more dice mechanic, and is pretty slow to go through once the hits start coming in.
I need something That would have the best of both of those two...

larienna wrote:
Combined attacks, terrain, events, die rolls, etc.

Terrain and events, sure. Dice rolls? Like a crit to go over the defense threshold?
Combined attacks might be a no-go. I have pretty literal and deterministic damage system. Big broadside batteries shooting a handful of 2 or 3 damage shots, while big giant front mounted gun doing 8-ish on a single hit. All damage is counted as is, and I feel abstracting it by some combo system takes away its simplicity.

Anyway. Big thanks to both of you. I now have more food for the thought!

larienna
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Take a look at 2 games for

Take a look at 2 games for ideas:

I think it's called "Deep space D6" and there is a redesign and retheme called I think "Star Trek the dice game".

It's basically a dice assignment game with event cards that you need to deal with. Maybe you could get some ideas from there.

Jarec
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Joined: 12/27/2013
larienna wrote:Take a look at

larienna wrote:
Take a look at 2 games for ideas:

I think it's called "Deep space D6" and there is a redesign and retheme called I think "Star Trek the dice game".

It's basically a dice assignment game with event cards that you need to deal with. Maybe you could get some ideas from there.

Oh these are cool. I've not been aware of either, or any solo only games for that matter, a complete blind spot on mine...
Went through the Deep Space D-6 already and was worried for a second there, because I have the exact same 4-point tracker on the side. Fortunately it was for threats, rather than ship system cooldowns which I have.

Looked a bit the other one also. These two seem to share A LOT of the same DNA. And while neither gave me any instant ideas for my current woes, I bet they do come handy when I start tackling my events and on-site missions.

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