Not long ago on a Facebook page about game design, someone asked if anybody knew of a role-playing game that didn’t use hit points.
Hit Points by Any Other Name …
Comments that followed mentioned damage bars, damage labels, targeted locations, and various other things that—when you think about it—are really just other names for hit points: ways of measuring attrition from damage so that we can tell when a being in an RPG is dead. Or a limb is crippled, or they’re knocked out. It’s just tracking points.
A design circuit in my brain clicked. The dice circuit that brought to life the Dragon Dice game because TSR executives said, “It’s too bad there’s no way to make a collectible dice game.” And the D6xD6 RPG because a fellow designer said you couldn’t make a full-fledged role-playing game with just one stat. And the D13 RPG because how could a game incorporate an easy, intuitive way to make a 1-13 scale?
Before the weekend was over, the basics of the Bookmark HP RPG were drafted: Difficulty on an intuitive 1-10 scale; dice sizes by the four main Attributes in my other self-published RPGs. By the end of the week, that draft had been play-tested, the wording torn apart by eagle-eyed consultants, revised, torn apart again, and revised again to make them express exactly what was in my head.
It seemed too simple to be a real thing. But the math worked—((x-1)/x)^y—and weird as it was to explain:
- “The only target number is ‘1’;
- “More dice is bad;
- “Combat is about not getting hit;
- “There are no hit points but every blow hurts.”
it felt right.
There you have it. The origins of the game design.
Okay, now you know the origins of that HP part of the title. But that’s not really the game’s defining feature, so why have it there?
Because “Bookmark RPG” is bland and forgettable. It conveys a sense of what I term “rules casual.” But when people see that HP in the title, it makes them stop a minute and take a serious look at the content. And I believe that content is convincing.
So when you talk about this game—and I hope you do—please make a point of calling it the Bookmark No HP RPG.
“Sourcebookmarks” (I love that word) are on their way: Dracula’s Get, a Supers! expansion, and others, with adventures in various settings to follow. And actual bookmarks on the webstore here soon!
But all you really need is that one PDF. It’ll take you wherever you like. Just imagine.
Design: Lester Smith
Editing: Dale Donovan
Consulting: James Cotton, Abraham Limpo Martinez, James Pearson, Kurt LaRue, Chris Reed, Jennifer Smith, Karalyn Smith, Katheryn Smith
Play-Testing: James Brooks, Paul Dundee, Gerald Robinson, & the above
Patreon Backers: Ciriaco, Bill Clark, Michael David Jr, Marcelo Figueroa, GondorianDotCom, Christopher Henry, Kris Herzog, John Kane,Tad Kelson, Kyle, Kurt LaRue, Abraham Limpo Martinez, John Mason, T. Mike McCurley, William Moore, James Pearson, Donald Perrin, Roland Perry, Christopher Reed, Rob, Michael Sandlin, Mark A. Schmidt, Storagezilla, Steven D. Sullivan, Eric Troup, Simon Zed
Webpage Art: mollyroselee from Pixabay