Health & Hit Points

Name dcss:brainstorm:misc:hp
Summary Rebalance of the racial HP and the HP from the fighting skill.
Further informationReference chart
Added by galehar
Added on 2011-04-18 16:43

The fighting skill gives too much HP in general. It creates the following problems:

  • Frail races can have more HP from fighting than their racial HP. This seems wrong.
  • It's hard to play a pure caster. Players are heavily encouraged to hybridise at least a bit because a few level in fighting provide a decent amount of HP for a relatively low XP investment.

We still want melee fighter to have more HP than casters. Also, if we reduce the HP from fighting, we should raise the base HP of all races to compensate. The HP bonus from fighting scales linearly with XL, maybe it shouldn't.

This page is not about how to replace/remove the Fighting skill. It is just about if/how to change the Hp-from-Fighting formula. — dpeg 2011-04-18 21:07

I've added yet another table to the spreadsheet showing the difference in HP between the current and the new system. It is applicable to all races (unless we change the individual races HP to base it on frail/robust mutation, see below). — galehar 2011-05-06 16:27

This is in. I've also updated the spreadsheet so it shows the final change. — galehar 2011-05-27 11:08

Fighting HP

The current formula is (Fighting * XL) / 5. We can also write it (Fighting^(1+a) * XL^(1-a)) / b for a=0 and b=5. By increasing a, we can move some of the weight from XL to Fighting. I initially proposed to use (Fighting^2)/5 (a=1), but that may be too much. We can also increase b like we did for felid. I've set up a chart to compare the current formula with the new one. I've put a=0.5 and b=7 but you can experiment with different values.

Quadratic Fighting would be bad

As recently discussed on ##crawl-dev, such a formula would be a disaster, at least for any positive a. It would make Fighting even more worthless in the early game without affecting the underlying problem. Negative a wouldn't be that good either, though. Why? All other skills give large benefits early on and smaller late:

  • The first few points in a weapon skill keep you from missing. The next several reduce your delay. After meeting mindelay, you just get minor damage bonuses.
  • Having a spellcasting skill at 6 allows decent use of low-level spells, at 10-12 of all but high-level ones.
  • Evocations have near-zero gains after the first few points for most uses. Only Nemelexites, elemental staff and ball of energy (overnerfed) users would want to put more xp there.

The only reason turning off Fighting until well into midgame isn't a no-brainer is it being artificially hard to practice. If we remove victory dancing as planned, I expect most people to not train Fighting at all early and put everything there after meeting weapon mindelay. This means we'd have to make Fighting more useful early, rather than even more worthless as in this proposal.

Also, what are the reasons to victory dance Fighting? To let that frail caster survive crystal spears to the face. During that discussion, there was generally a consensus that an xl27 Deep Elf should have ~120 maxhp at the very least (ancient liches do 132 damage per shot, …).

My understanding is that you conflate moving a good part of maxhp from Fighting to base (a very good idea!) and changing the benefit-to-investment curve (not only not good, but actually harmful). — kilobyte 2011-04-18 23:48

I have added a new tab to the chart with examples of what the change does to some theoretical characters. The caster has no fighting skill, the hybrid 1 has fighting = XL/3, hybrid 2 has fighting = 2*XL/3 and fighter has fighting = XL. It's not realistic, but it gives a general idea of what could be expected from the change. The examples update automatically when values of a and b are changed, so feel free to experiment.
I agree that a=1 is too high and make the skill useless at low levels. However, I do think that with a=0.5, the numbers look better than with a=0.
The fact that other skills don't provide enough benefit at high level is a problem in itself, and we should try to fix it on a per skill basis, instead of making it worse. Higher skill levels are more expensive, we should try to reward them. We kinda do it with some of the magic school skills because very high level spells need a big XP investment but are very powerful. — galehar 2011-04-19 17:47

Racial HP

Currently, the HP of all races is based off of the human HP. If we change it, we automatically change all races. Whether we increase a, b or both, the nerf will be more pronounced at high XL. A simple and efficient way to boost the racial HP at high level is to keep the initial rate of 5.5 instead of reducing it to 4 at XL 13 and 2.5 at XL 22. The result of this change for all races can be seen in the same chart linked above (there's 2 tabs). It gives 14 more HP at XL 22 and 32 at XL 27 to everyone.

Mutation based

It has been suggested to differentiate species by giving them frail and robust mutations. I was initially against the idea, but now that I've worked with the numbers a bit, I changed my mind. It's simple and transparent, and provides good results. I added the numbers at the end of the racial HP table. Here is how it would be applied:

Mutation level-4-3-2-10 1 2 3
Species FeSpDEHEHuCeDDOg
Would this be applied independently of the existing mutations? If not, would this mean that only “normal” robustness mutation level species (Hu, Ds, Me, Mu, Va) would be eligible to receive the existing +/- robustness mutations (actually, Mummies would be excluded as they cannot get mutations.) — jeffqyzt 2011-05-06 18:39
It would be a separate mutation, that's easier to understand. Would feeble/hardy be good names for them (not native speaker here)? If not, suggestions are welcome. Also, I forgot that frail/robust mutation also affect fighting HP, not racial HP. Should the intrinsic mutations affect fighting HP too? I'm not sure about it. I'll fix frail/robust to scale with fighting in the examples and add feeble/hardy without scaling to to compare. — galehar 2011-05-06 23:44
I've updated the example page. Here is some explanation:
  • frail/robust: total HP if species get normal mutation on top of linear racial HP and changed fighting formula. The HP from fighting is affected by the mutation.
  • feeble/hardy: hypothetical new mutations that would affect only racial HP and not fighting HP.

galehar 2011-05-07 01:24

Native speaker here - feeble/hardy are OK in terms of their meanings, except perhaps for undead. Since you're only proposing applying it to Ghouls, I wouldn't make an exception for that one case, just for clarity's sake. Note that those terms are relative, though, so they imply comparison to some other standard (in this case, it's between races - but a new player seeing in their list of mutations might wonder why their elf is feeble, for instance.) They're also similar enough to the terms for the existing mutations that it might cause some cognitive dissonance when someone e.g. sees that their character is “hardy” but “frail”. Might want to consider sturdy/delicate instead - as those would be less likely to be variable.
Also - if it only affects the racial HP - you should consider giving all races a constant racial HP gain and then only modifying that via the mutation. Otherwise, you've added a hidden factor. — jeffqyzt 2011-05-09 14:32
This is somewhat tangential, but can we extend this to racial MP? It gives the same transparency advantage. — minmay 2011-05-12 21:51
I was going to ask for the same thing. — b0rsuk 2011-06-21 18:31
kilobyte did that just a few hours ago. — dpeg 2011-06-21 22:05

Simpler proposal

I've updated the spreadsheet with the latest proposal which is much simpler :

  • Make human HP linear. Formula is 10 + 5.5 * (XL - 1).
  • HP from fighting = (XL * Fighting) / 8.
  • Give frail and robust mutations to all races (see table above). The result can be seen in the “Examples Frail/Robust” tab. There's a table for each mutation level.

galehar 2011-05-09 17:15


If the change nerf the fighting skill too much we can try to make it more relevant by reducing the base to_hit and/or increasing the effect of fighting on accuracy for example.


Usually in games you get extra hit points not because your internal organs are somehow getting tougher, but because you learn to reduce the impact of external attacks. As such, getting more HPs from Fighting than from racial level ups is very logical. But it might be good to turn this gain into percentile gain - that is, make it proportional to your racial HPs as well. —sinsi 2011-04-21 23:67

My main problem with the status quo is that to play a spell caster effectively one must not use spells for a large percentage of encounters. When playing a Deep Elf Wizard one should attack enemies with weapons rather than nuking them with spells *whenever possible* to raise Fighting for those precious HPs. If I pick a spell casting character I want to fight *with spells* 90% of the time without nerfing my character. Tying HP to skill scumming makes casters un-fun to play. There may be many ways to solve this problem but to me it seems that an elegant solution is to replace Fighting in the HP formula with STR (and adjust the formula as necessary for balance). This accomplishes the desired goal of giving melee characters greater HP since they start with more STR and will choose STR picks on level up. —
wesleyshaver 2011-05-1 22:40

Victory dancing will be gone in 0.9, we just are not sure about details. Thus, your remarks about the Fighting skill are no longer relevant. You do have a point, though, that a conjurer still has to fight with weapons most of the time as 1. you don't have enough mana to kill those 20 green rats, 2. if you do, you'll be tapped out when that hydra comes. This means, conjurers have to either rest a ridiculous portion of the time or kill a good part of enemies in melee. — kilobyte 2011-05-02 14:33
Maybe a solution would be for the MP pool to be greater but spell costs to rise exponentially with spell level instead of linearly? That way conjurers could spam the heck out of low level spells but higher level spells would be punishing to cast. I guess this is off-topic though. — wesleyshaver 2011-05-06 9:22

While I don't have any issue with implementing the HP differences via a mutation, I wonder if anyone else agrees with me that the mutation itself should be 'hidden' (not visible on A). Firstly, I gather you can still mutate +/- 3 levels from your initial mutation - this is counter-intuitive. Minotaurs, for example, start with Horns 2, but certainly can't mutate to Horns 5. Secondly, I feel that it makes all races feel a bit like mutations of humans; the separate HP growth, for me, is one of the major things that makes races 'feel' different to play, and having the mutation visible somewhat undercuts that. Lastly, I don't feel that it's needed for clarity - it is quite intuitive that spriggans have less HP than humans, and humans less than dwarves. I think a good place to put it, though, would be on the aptitude chart, so people can quickly check it if they so desire. — ionfrigate 2011-06-03 10:45

I agree with ionfrigate. The new system is good, spelling out the numbers in the A screen is not necessary. Using ?% may or may not be better, I don't mind either way. — dpeg 2011-06-06 21:53
I strongly feel that transparency is needed here - you know a spriggan has less HP than a human, but you don't know how much less, which is the important part. — minmay 2011-06-16 20:47
How about putting the modifier in the aptitudes file? That's where you go if you're looking for numerical differences among species. By the way, now that's it's no longer a mutation, it's easy to increase the precision of the modifier, if we want some species to have 15% more HP instead of 10% or 20% for example. — galehar 2011-06-21 13:29
Implemented. — kilobyte 2011-06-21 15:53
I see the modifier is in the aptitudes file…with the +2, -1 scale. Not only is this opaque, it's outright misleading - a felid has an HP “aptitude” of -4, but it doesn't get half the HP of a human. — minmay 2011-06-27 16:15
The XP aptitudes are on the same boat. I wonder how to stress they work differently. — kilobyte 2011-06-28 00:05
Both can be fixed by adding a %. HP: -4 becomes HP: -40%. XP: 150 becomes XP: 150%. Although, since 0.8 removed the list of actual percentages that was next to the aptitude scale, it would be a little jarring to have some aptitudes listed transparently and others not. — minmay 2011-06-28 01:40
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dcss/brainstorm/mutation/hp.txt · Last modified: 2011-12-22 00:26 by XuaXua
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