Simple damage: a cautionary tale of pointlessness

I was reading through some ancient gaming articles recently, and encountered something that set off a very dim light bulb in my head. One author, referring to the buffness and studliness of characters and monsters used the term "hits" rather than "hit-points".

It occurred to me that one might define a creature by, among other things, the number of average whacks with an average weapon (a sword, say) it would take to render it hors de combat. In such a case, there'd be no need to determine damage when one hit in combat; each blow would be a "Hit".

On further consideration, I thought this would tend to make combat a bit too mechanical and predictable. If an ogre always takes 4 hits to take down, there's no real suspense. So I thought, how about if critters had a standard base number of hits, plus or minus a few to reflect tougher or weaker individuals?

Then I thought, what about varying damage a bit? We could throw a d6 and treat a 6 as two hits, a 1 as no hits, and 2-5 as the standard 1 hit.

Then I thought, it's not reasonable that a hit from a dagger should be exactly the same, damage-wise, as a wallop from a pole-axe. So I thought that maybe weapons should be split into a number of damage classes: maybe a dagger would subtract 2 from the die roll while a pole-axe would add 2....

And THEN I thought.... I'm doing a lot of fiddling to end up with a combat damage system that isn't really any simpler or more useable than the standard D&D system.

So then I gave up.

Gug

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