|The man on the left is about to suffer 1d6 damage.|
The problem with hit points isn't that weapons do too much damage, or that regular joes have too few hit points, or even that zero hit points shouldn't equal death because that's not how it works in the real world.
The problem with hit points is that they scale shittily. And here's how.
A level one dude, let's say a Fighting Man rolling a d8, has roughly four hit points. That's enough to take a good whack from a mace or a sword and go down. Much like warriors in real life, he's going to avoid letting his enemy strike a telling blow that will fell him. This man is cunning and clever enough to survive these trials and tribulations and acheives level two. Suddenly, the man has 8 hit points- twice as many as before. In a single level, he's doubled his hit points, and at level three, he gains another roughly 4 hit points, to a total of twelve. By the time he hits level four, a Fighting Man with average constitution and average luck will have managed to attain 16 hit points- he's four times as tough as he was before. His possible range of hit points is between 4 and 32.
That's kind of silly.
It would be interesting if Fighting Men gained a small bonus to health, similar to the +3 bonus they gain instead of an additional hit die after a certain level- what if the first die were the only one rolled? What if all they ever got was the first hit die, and after that they gained a bonus to armor class, or a flat reduction in damage taken?
Hit points act like a sign, "You must be thiiiiis tough to enter!" And that's not cool. It honestly surprises me that in an old-school revolution where dungeon masters and players alike cry "Challenge the players, and not the characters!", that there would be hubbub about skill systems but none about leaning on stacks of hit points to deal with problems. I exaggerate, of course, but really- it means that certain challenges aren't doable unless you have passed certain in-game requirement.
|You must be this tall to hug giraffes.|
What if health and level were totally disconnected? What if you never got more health, but instead just gained your other class features? Would you have to continue to play cautiously even when just facing more "boring" foes like other humans, and goblins? Would monsters have to be redesigned and rethought so that a challenging fight consisted less of ever-increasing super powers and more so there's a reason that a stupid race of fat cannibals can exist?
Would we ever have to make players go in a goblin warren ever again?