A Hit Point Proposal

Jeff Carlsen

Adventurer
Finding the right balance between simplicity, believability, and fun in a damage system is a challenge. I want injury to mean something, but avoiding the death spiral is important to others. So, without further blathering, here is my initial proposal:
Hit Points: Hit points represent a combination of physical damage and your ability to mitigate damage through skill and fortitude. At first level, you start with a number of hit points equal to your constitution score plus the full hit die* of your class. At each subsequent level you gain additional hit points according to your class.

Damage: Damage that you take reduces your current hit points. If you drop below your constitution score in current hit points, you are wounded and dying. Immediately make a DC 15 constitution save or fall unconscious.

Wounded: A wounded character has taken a serious wound. When wounded, you take a -2 penalty to all attacks, saves, and checks. You also don't heal as quickly and magical spells do their minimum possible healing to a wounded character. The wounded condition lasts until your current hit points are once again equal to or greater than your constitution score.

Dying: A dying character is in critical condition. Every hour, you must make a DC 15 constitution save. The penalty for being wounded applies to this roll. Failure causes you to lose an additional hit point. Success means you stabilize and stop taking damage from your wounds. Someone with the heal skill can attempt an aid another action on this check. Some spells can stabilize a dying character as well.

Death: If your hit points drop to zero, you die.

Natural healing: After a full night's sleep, you recover a number of hit points equal to your level. A full day's bed rest doubles the number of hit points recovered that day. A wounded character only recovers a single hit point per day. Once your hit points equal or exceed your constitution score, you heal normally.


*How hit points per level are determined is beyond the scope of this proposal. I'm using third edition as the bases purely for illustrative purposes.
Features of this proposal

  • Hit points are all still hit points, but those below your constitution score represent more serious damage, while hit points above it are more nebulous. Even so, every attack that hits still hits.
  • Negative hit points are gone, replaced with additional hit points equal to your constitution score. Same math, easier to work with.
  • It's possible to be dying and remain conscious.
  • Wounds mean something. There is a point between fully able and dead.
  • You won't bleed out in combat because dying rolls are handled each hour instead of each round. But, because a wounded character takes so long to heal and magic is so ineffective against them, letting them drop below their constitution in inadvisable.
  • Stabilizing without help is challenging, but you'll almost always have help as long as someone around you has the heal skill.
Of course, this is just the first draft. I'm more than to open to advice.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

the Jester

Legend
No thank you.

1. Wounded is a death spiral in this system. It's not a horribly bad one, but it's still there.

2. Dropping unconscious when you're still above 0 hit points... yuck. More to track/remember, especially for the dm ("what's my monster's con score again?"), for no real gain in... anything, AFAICS. From your "features" list, you seem to view this as preferable to having an easy to remember "down at 0" rule, but I think it's far more of a pain to keep track of your way. (Especially if I'm running a combat with a good dozen monsters.)

3. Dying by the hour- again, not to my taste. I don't like taking the urgency away from getting to a fallen comrade.


In my opinion, hit points aren't broken, so why try to fix them? I get that not everyone likes them, and that's fine, but IMHO if you're just going to move 0 to Con score and add a death spiral, you aren't really doing anything to improve them, you're just making them more of a pain in the butt to handle. I think you're better off going to a wounds/vitality system or something like that.
 

underfoot007ct

First Post
No thank you.

1. Wounded is a death spiral in this system. It's not a horribly bad one, but it's still there.

2. Dropping unconscious when you're still above 0 hit points... yuck. More to track/remember, especially for the dm ("what's my monster's con score again?"), for no real gain in... anything, AFAICS. From your "features" list, you seem to view this as preferable to having an easy to remember "down at 0" rule, but I think it's far more of a pain to keep track of your way. (Especially if I'm running a combat with a good dozen monsters.)

3. Dying by the hour- again, not to my taste. I don't like taking the urgency away from getting to a fallen comrade.


In my opinion, hit points aren't broken, so why try to fix them? I get that not everyone likes them, and that's fine, but IMHO if you're just going to move 0 to Con score and add a death spiral, you aren't really doing anything to improve them, you're just making them more of a pain in the butt to handle. I think you're better off going to a wounds/vitality system or something like that.

I so agree with this opinion. I want so see cleaner & quicker combats not more book keeping & more complicated.
 

I'd go a little similar, but simpler:

You have HP, of whatever amount. This is your ability to avoid long-term injury.

Once you're out of HP, additional damage is critical damage. Also, you're disabled. Barely conscious, able to see what's going on, but unable to take any actions.

If your critical damage ever equals your Constitution score, you make a save each round or die (however saving throws work).

You can regain HP through rest (you can take up to three rests per day), but critical damage remains until you receive magical healing. Critical damage heals naturally at a rate of 1 per day, and if you get 5 days of bed rest all your critical damage heals. As long as you have hit points, you can keep acting as normal, regardless of how many critical wounds you have. If your buddy is dying, though, you need to heal him quick.



Then add in an optional rules module to cover bleeding to death, or wounds caused by critical damage. Yes, it's basically a Hit Point/Wound Point mechanic, but HP still basically works the way it always did. You just get some extra options for gamers who want a grittier game, and for Warhammer gamers who want to chop legs off.
 

Jeff Carlsen

Adventurer
No thank you.

1. Wounded is a death spiral in this system. It's not a horribly bad one, but it's still there.

2. Dropping unconscious when you're still above 0 hit points... yuck. More to track/remember, especially for the dm ("what's my monster's con score again?"), for no real gain in... anything, AFAICS. From your "features" list, you seem to view this as preferable to having an easy to remember "down at 0" rule, but I think it's far more of a pain to keep track of your way. (Especially if I'm running a combat with a good dozen monsters.)

3. Dying by the hour- again, not to my taste. I don't like taking the urgency away from getting to a fallen comrade.


In my opinion, hit points aren't broken, so why try to fix them? I get that not everyone likes them, and that's fine, but IMHO if you're just going to move 0 to Con score and add a death spiral, you aren't really doing anything to improve them, you're just making them more of a pain in the butt to handle. I think you're better off going to a wounds/vitality system or something like that.

Some fair observations. Let me address them.

1. Yes, it's a minor death spiral, but one that really only looks bad. The wounded condition only occurs when you're under your constitution, which is the equivalent of negative hit points. In previous systems, you're entirely vulnerable at this point. Here, there's the possibility that you'll be conscious and actively able to defend yourself. It affects your save to stabilize, but both the penalty and the DC are static, so I was able to set the DC according to the percentage chance I wanted (20% with a 10 Con).

So the only part that's actually a death spiral compared to previous editions is the fact that magical healing is less effective. More descriptively, it requires more healing to repair serious wounds. This addresses the problem I've always had that someone who is near death can readily be put back on their feet with a low level spell. In the real world, that kind of magic would be more valuable than greater teleport.

Another thing I should have mentioned in the features, though, is that putting the whole of the wound mechanics under a single mechanic, it can be easily excised from the rules for those that don't want it. I don't mean this to say, "I don't care what you think. If you don't like it, don't use it." Merely that I want the design to be easily adjustable.

2. This, I suppose, is a matter of taste. I have far more of a problem with negative hit points. I want zero to equal dead. While I don't think it's a big deal to have the constitution score listed next to hit points like bloodied is in 4E, I could see simply ignoring the whole thing with monsters and having them simply die at zero. Save the wound and dying mechanic for important NPCs. Would that work for you?

3. This is also a matter of taste, as you said. I'm less interested in the combat effect of the dying rules as I am the setting and story effect. In previous editions, characters either bleed out and die within a minute of falling, or stabilize. I'd prefer them to need hours of medical care. Obviously, I'm testing the waters here. The interval for the checks is mutable.


Hopefully that at least better conveys my thoughts. I'm specifically trying to not throw out hit points. They're a good and classic system. I'm trying to better integrate death, dying, and injury into them.
 


Personally I'd rather have starting HP based on a maximum score for a Hit die type (adjusted by a Con bonus). Starting a 1st level character on Con score based HP is too high for my tastes.
 

Ratskinner

Adventurer
Personally, I've always had issues with HP. For my money, they represent your ability to avoid an injury/killling blow that has serious consequences. Otherwise, why no consequences? Which, of course, drives me nuts when clerics somehow knows which spell is appropriate for which victim. Also driving me nuts is the "Schrodinger's Wound." This is where the severity of a character's wounds depends on who's asking. So, he's fighting up and strong as he ever was...until the fight's over and the cleric is dispensing healing...suddenly sucking chest wounds and blood-spurting gashes appear as the begging for limited healing magic begins. (Although less a problem in later editions.)

Inspired by one of the other DMs in my group, I think I'll just implement a "death chart". You roll on the chart when you take damage beyond your HP. Maybe add the total excess damage to the roll, with higher being worse. Depending on the spell system, the chart might also have wounds of the light, serious, and critical variety. I figure you should get all HP back at a decent rest. Unless you're injured, then you reset to your "bloodied" total.
 

Khaalis

Adventurer
I would like to see a system like this in the optional combat modules. For an example… Fantasy Craft already uses a very workable system for this.

VITALITY & WOUDS together make up a character’s ability to remain standing in a fight. Also note that the FC system uses armor as Defense & Damage Reduction system, as well as Damage Resistances.

Vitality: This is a measure of your character’s ability to avoid injury. Basically the same as HP. It is a mixture of endurance, luck and will to fight. Losing vitality does not indicate physical damage, but rather combat fatigue. As vitality drops, the character get closer to exhaustion and the possibility of a nasty wound.
* Classes grant a certain number of Vitality per level (+ CON modifier per level)
* Certain racial/origin/feat choices can grant 1 additional Vitality per Level.


Wounds: These are a direct measure of a character’s remaining vigor, measuring their ability to sustain injury. As wounds drop, the character acquires abrasions, cuts, and eventually broken bones and worse.
* Small Size = Your maximum Wounds equals your Constitution score x2/3 (rounded down).
* Medium Size = Your maximum Wounds equals your Constitution score.
* Large Size = Your maximum Wounds equals your Constitution score x1.5 (rounded down).


Damage & Death: When you take damage, it lowers your Vitality. Once Vitality drops to 0 (you can’t drop below 0 Vitality), you become fatigued and remaining damage rolls into Wounds. When Wounds drop to 0 you fall unconscious and are considered Dying. Remaining damage puts you into negative Wounds.

** Fatigued: Fatigue is a condition that stacks up to 4 times (Fatigued I-IV). When fatigued, you cannot Run. Also, for each level of fatigued up to III, your Speed drops by 5’, STR & DEX drop by 2. At fatigue IV you fall unconscious. Fatigue is lost at the rate of 1per scene (or encounter) or 1per hour of sleep.

** Dying: Each round roll d%. If the result is equal or less than your CON, you stabilize and wounds return to 0; otherwise Wounds drop by 1. You can also be stabilized with a Medicine skill check (DC 15)or by magical healing. Death is at -10 Wounds and a body is destroyed at -25 Wounds.



ADVANCED DAMGE RULES
* Critical Injuries: Critical injuries offer an opportunity for characters to scar, break, and maim the enemy, brutally establishing their battle superiority. Each time a character suffers 25 or more points of damage in a single hit, he makes a Fortitude save (DC 1/2 the damage suffered, rounded down). With failure, he gains a critical injury from a table (results can last for a scene or for up to 1d4 months; reduced by treatment).

* Massive Damage: When a character suffers 50 or more points of damage in a single hit, he makes a Fortitude save (DC 1/2 the damage suffered, rounded down). With failure, he dies instantly

* Stress Damage: Stress damage ignores DR, but is not applied to Vitality or Wounds and cannot inflict critical injuries; rather, it accumulates over time until it wears off. Instead each time Stress damage is taken you make a Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 your total stress damage, rounded down). Failure means you gain 1 rank of shaken and stress damage resets to 0. Critical hits with stress damage result in being stunned for 1 round (Will succeeds) or 1d6 rounds (Will fails).
-- shaken: Cannot take 10 or 20. Suffer a -2 with all attack checks, CHA and WIS based skill checks per grade of shaken (I-IV). If pushed to shaken V, you fall unconscious. You lose 1 grade of shaken at the end of each scene.
-- Outside combat or when all sources of anguish are removed, stress damage wears off at 1 per 10 minutes.

* Stress Damage: Subdual damage is not applied to the target’s vitality and wounds and cannot inflict critical injuries; rather, it accumulates over time until it wears off. Instead each time Subdual damage is taken you make a Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/2 your total subdual damage, rounded down). Failure means you gain 1 rank of fatigued and subdual damage resets to 0. Critical hits with subdual damage result in being stunned for 1 round (Fortitude succeeds) or 1d6 rounds (Fortitude fails).

* Cheating Death: “Heroes can often Cheat Death, beating the odds to adventure another day. Like all miracles, though, Cheating Death has a price.”
* You can Cheat Death only 1 per Adventure, and only with GM approval. “The option shouldn’t be extended to characters whose deaths were reckless, foolhardy, or a result of violating the basic principles of the game (e.g. acting ruthlessly in a heroic game, betraying the party, supporting the enemy, or being disruptive).”
* On approval the PC offers a plausible reason for survival as well as a LASTING IMPACT the experience has on the character or the world.
* EVERYONE at the table Rates the proposal from 1 (horrible) to 5 (brilliant). The results are averaged and recorded.
* The player then rolls 1d20 and consults a Table of Cheating Death results, suffering a fate corresponding to the average rating (1 being Catastrophic, 2 being Ruinous, 3 being Tragic, 4 being Damaging, and 5 being Petty).
* The character earns no XP or other rewards for the adventure they Cheat Death in.
* The character may return in the next adventure, suffering the listed penalty (if any). This penalty is permanent (though the character can sometimes recoup over time, as is the case with lost Renown).
 

Hassassin

First Post
Of course, this is just the first draft. I'm more than to open to advice.

Excellent draft. I would XP if I could.

One modification I would suggest is Wounded vs. unconscious. I would make the default that Wounded means you are down, but give classes like Fighter the ability to act at -2 or at no penalty once they are high enough level.

Unlike what some commenters above say, I think your proposal is both less complex (no negative hit points, no wounds/surges to track) and has less of a death spiral effect (-2 penalty instead of total loss of actions) than previous editions' HP systems (with the exception of those where HP 0 is death).
 

Li Shenron

Legend
I'd just stick to the minimum rules as possible:

1- say that HP represent at least physical damage plus something else, whatever your imagination is satisfied with

2- drop to/below 0 and you're out of the game (I prefer unconscious rather than dead, but do what you want)

3- divine magic can heal your HP

Make everything else a "module", supplementary rules (even in the PHB, fine for me) or whatever, but keep them optional. Anything beyond those simplest rules is going to piss off a lot of people who just want to play D&D. Those who don't like HP at all, please check the modules or just play another game.
 

vagabundo

Adventurer
I prefer to keep hitpoints as minor bumps, scrapes and very minor injuries. As you gain HPs you gain the ability to turn what may have once killed you into a minor wound.

Once HPs are gone you are in trouble. If you take more damage you start dying from a more serious wound; make an immediate save or fall unconscious. You can only take a standard action when you are dying if you are conscious, you must make a death save every round. Failing 3 death saves means you are dead. You can be stabilised as a full round action, anyone trained in heal can auto stabilise, otherwise it is a DC 15.

Recovering from the dying condition requires a full nights rest and maybe more healing, magical or mundane. I don't think I would like PCs to be at their fighting best the next day after nearly dying the day before, but I don't want it to be a pain to track either. Maybe a save every morning against a persistent condition.

That's how I would do it anyway.

EDIT: My idea failed. See dice below :(.
 
Last edited:

Ahnehnois

First Post
There are some positives to it, definitely. I like the idea of making constitution score meaningful. I don't think the wounded condition is nearly bad enough or easy enough to acquire, but it's an improvement, and something one could build on if necessary.

I'd hardly call -2 to attacks a "death spiral", but then again, that's a derogatory term for something that's actually a good thing (and, interestingly enough, that 4e has through the bloodied condition moreso than the core rules of earlier editions).

[MENTION=2167]Khaalis[/MENTION], I'm all for vitality/wound and that's not a bad implementation. I'd be pretty surprised if that was the default, but presenting it as an option would indeed be a good idea.
 

Sadras

Hero
* Critical Injuries:.....Each time a character suffers 25 or more points of damage in a single hit...
* Massive Damage: When a character suffers 50 or more points of damage in a single hit.....

I like the proposal mostly, but the 25 and 50 margins seem arbitrary. For example not everyone has the same tolerance for alcohol - so why use a standard 25/50 rule for a mage as well as a dwarvern fighter. Rather use surge value (1/4 of total hp) and bloodied value (1/2 of total hp) respectively.
That makes more sense - I do like the Fatigue & Stress system though. Might have to steal that idea.

Of all the systems, I think White Wolf have it best though when it comes to health & wounds and the like. But that is a completely different system :)
 

Rhenny

Adventurer
J.C. - I like your idea. In my current campaign, I deal wounds if PC or Creature scores a critical hit. (Actually I have a list of choices PCs or creatures can choose from and wound -2 is one of them).

I agree with you about making some kind of damage/wounds more serious. I never liked the older ideas of "massive damage" either.

When a PC is dying however, I would allow them to make an Immediate Con save in which a Save = stabilized; failure = dying. Then, another failed save = "death's door." And a final save failure = "dead, dead." With these extra chances I don't think your proposed system would cause a death spiral unless a PC travels alone, which is as it should be.
 

KidSnide

Adventurer
I like the idea of a wound module that reflects long-term serious injury for grittier style games that care about this kind of thing. But any such system needs a few characteristics:

1) It needs to be an optional module. Core D&D doesn't need this kind of complexity.

2) It needs to be pretty simple and integrate with standard healing spells. If ability score damage is in the game, it should probably be an optional way of creating Con damage.

3) It can't cause death spirals.

To me the interesting question is how bad should the penalties be. My initial thought was that characters should be able to "adventure-through-the-pain" if the threat is serious enough that they have no choice but to go on. And, I guess that's true. If the party is stranded someplace, they can't just rest for a couple weeks.

But I also kind of like the idea that characters could be crippled, not permanently (i.e. curable with sufficient magic) but where it takes long enough to heal that the PCs can't go on with the adventure right now. Wait! That sounds like it could suck, but think of it as an alternative to a TPK. The party isn't dead, but enough of them are crippled that they can't defeat whatever they are going up against. A good wound system could provide a good, standard way to lose the adventure without ending the campaign.

That seems like a valuable property for the kind of campaign that would use this type of system.

-KS
 

Khaalis

Adventurer
I like the proposal mostly, but the 25 and 50 margins seem arbitrary. For example not everyone has the same tolerance for alcohol - so why use a standard 25/50 rule for a mage as well as a dwarvern fighter. Rather use surge value (1/4 of total hp) and bloodied value (1/2 of total hp) respectively.
Well, FC was written off of the base 3E d20 OGL, long before 4E. I guess you could do it either way. You could see massive damage as being dependent on how tough you are or as a set universal constant.
 


El Mahdi

Muad'Dib of the Anauroch
I mostly like it. I don't mind the "death spiral" possibility as much as others do. But I also use Action Points with a very broad spectrum of usage. So even with those penalties, characters can still use Action Points to take actions with Heroic Surges (eliminating penalties and adding bonuses, etc.) even though they are severely hurt. Kind of like modeling an Adrenaline surge even though you're basically FUBAR (like McClain at the end of Die Hard, etc.).

Also, I think that's an interesting way to use Constitution/Fortitude in the mix. It is an extra bit of tracking but I don't think it's all that complicated to do. Many do hate any form of extra tracking though, so that would be a major hurdle to acceptance of the mechanic (as well as opinions about death spirals). But all-in-all I like it. Pretty simple, streamlined, and can provide a bit more gritty and realistic feel.

Nice.

B-)
 

Hassassin

First Post
Also, I think that's an interesting way to use Constitution/Fortitude in the mix. It is an extra bit of tracking but I don't think it's all that complicated to do.

What extra tracking do you refer to? I don't think there is any in the proposal.

Checking if my hit points went under my constitution score is no different from checking if they went below zero.
 

Dungeon Delver's Guide

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top