D&D General How does your PC interact with hit points?

Which of these is closest to how your PC relates to their hit points? Clarify in the replies.

  • The PC knows if they're fully functional (>0) or out of it (<=0 ) and that's it.

  • The PC knows if they're fully functional (>50%), bloodied (1-50%), or out of it (<=0%).

  • The player has the PC act on the metagame information the player has about the HP.

  • The PC roughly knows their "health status" (corresponding to HP) since they've been getting "hit".


Results are only viewable after voting.

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
So, pick an edition of D&D and imagine you're in a game that's being run by the default settings. In particular, hits and damage don't really have a specified narration (maybe you're getting tired, or nicked, or bruised, or small cuts, or are running out of luck), although either you or the DM might give some. How does your character relate to damage and their hit point total?
 

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Stormonu

Legend
As DM or player, I've always acted with the character having full knowledge of hit point status. It isn't something where one character will turn to another and say "I'm down to 8 hit points, we need to finish this guy or the next round I'm gonna be done," but I have no problem with the player having his character act on such information or communicating it to others. I realize HP is a game mechanic and I assume in the game world the characters are communicating their general status (visible wounds, banter or "feeling") in in-world means. I just don't bother with how that's done.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
PC knows they're being worn down by the progress of the fight commiserate with HP.

The manifestation of this is based on the character. Killpretty the barbarian is being cut and bruised to hell and back, but Kaiel Arunsteadeles the bard doens't have a scratch on him until he his zero, but he's feeling winded and punchy.
 

Hussar

Legend
As DM or player, I've always acted with the character having full knowledge of hit point status. It isn't something where one character will turn to another and say "I'm down to 8 hit points, we need to finish this guy or the next round I'm gonna be done," but I have no problem with the player having his character act on such information or communicating it to others. I realize HP is a game mechanic and I assume in the game world the characters are communicating their general status (visible wounds, banter or "feeling") in in-world means. I just don't bother with how that's done.
Yup, pretty much agree.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
My PC doesn't know anything about hit points--which are an in-game mechanic. Is all the "damage" (poor term) they have taken from "hits" (also a poor term) physical injury, fatigue, luck depletion, or something else? Until the DM narrates the exchange, there is no spoon. ;) Even at that point, it is immaterial how the PC withstood the damage.

So, my character does not relate to damage and their hit point total in any fashion as they are meaningless really except as a game mechanic. They have no game impact other than a binary state of fully functional or unconscious (unfortunately...).
 

theCourier

Explorer
They're all meat (in my games/POV). Every single one of them. However, not every HP and hit is equal. At Level 1, with a measly 6 or so HP each hit is dangerous, even one that deals 1 HP of damage. Experience and Levels represent not only the character getting better at their role, but getting better at surviving combat. 5 HP at Level 1 is a blow that leaves you on Death's Door. At Level 10, it's a different blow that probably leaves a scar and that's either because it's not a near-lethal blow or because your character has learned how to move about in combat to defend from such blows.

So I guess the 4th option would be the one that fits the most in my situation.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I voted for the third option, though I find the phrasing of it a bit odd. The player is free to have their character act or not act on the information of how many hit points they have, as they see fit. That’s information they have access to, I have no interest in policing their ability to pretend they don’t have access to it.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
They're all meat (in my games/POV). Every single one of them. However, not every HP and hit is equal. At Level 1, with a measly 6 or so HP each hit is dangerous, even one that deals 1 HP of damage. Experience and Levels represent not only the character getting better at their role, but getting better at surviving combat. 5 HP at Level 1 is a blow that leaves you on Death's Door. At Level 10, it's a different blow that probably leaves a scar and that's either because it's not a near-lethal blow or because your character has learned how to move about in combat to defend from such blows.

So I guess the 4th option would be the one that fits the most in my situation.
So... what happens when you take psychic damage from a bard hurting your feeling with Vicious Mockery?
 


Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
I voted for the third option, though I find the phrasing of it a bit odd. The player is free to have their character act or not act on the information of how many hit points they have, as they see fit. That’s information they have access to, I have no interest in policing their ability to pretend they don’t have access to it.
Same. It was the only answer that fit, but the description of it was off.
 


Odd setup of a question, because it blurs the line between player and PC. As a player, I know my HP, so some level of metagaming is likely to occur, even if I don't intend to do so. Healing is always an OOC discussion, since the math is a game construct that has no direct fictional representation. This perspective generally makes the question fairly meaningless.

If you want to know purely from a narrative sense how a character feels, the game is pretty straightforward about that (re: the section about HP). You might feel a bit of exertion and bit battered before hitting 50% max HP, while below that you've taken some actual light wounds, and you suffer a serious wound if you drop to 0 HP.
 

beancounter

(I/Me/Mine)
I see no problem with players knowing their hit points. It's just a numerical representation of the damage they took, and it helps them make strategic decisions rather than some vague, non specific condition.

For those who don't reveal PC HP, how do you handle healing spells or short rests?
 

The last one. When you lose HP, you're actually hurt in some manner and you know it. The luck/skill aspect of HP comes from similar blows resulting lesser injuries to more epic characters.

This makes more sense with gritty rests and healing kit dependency though, as then you don't also need to imagine every character being Wolverine. (Not that healing times are remotely realistic that way either, but at least then it is close enough that my disbelief suspenders can handle it.)
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
I see no problem with players knowing their hit points. It's just a numerical representation of the damage they took, and it helps them make strategic decisions rather than some vague, non specific condition.
I hope players know their hit points. How else would they mark them on the sheet?

For those who don't reveal PC HP, how do you handle healing spells or short rests?
As a player, I express my HP with whatever specific attacks I've faced, defaulting to stamina. So if I take a short rest, it's because I'm "exhausted." If I need a healing spell without a specific injury, it's because I'm "in pain." This seems to equate healing spells with Tylenol...

I'd like to vote in the poll, but the 3rd and 4th options sound equivalent to me. Knowing your health means acting on your health...and health = HP.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I hope players know their hit points. How else would they mark them on the sheet?


As a player, I express my HP with whatever specific attacks I've faced, defaulting to stamina. So if I take a short rest, it's because I'm "exhausted." If I need a healing spell without a specific injury, it's because I'm "in pain." This seems to equate healing spells with Tylenol...

I'd like to vote in the poll, but the 3rd and 4th options sound equivalent to me. Knowing your health means acting on your health...and health = HP.
As I understand it, for the 3rd, some/many play that the characters themselves have no idea how close to death they are since there is no required in world narration or consequences for damage besides hitting 0. So, if the character acts differently based on a hit or hit point total it is purely metagame action by the player.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
The character knows exactly how they are doing, and it's not metagame information.

I picked the metagame option, but that's a real bias since "metagame" carries negative connotations to many. HPs happen in world - they are as observable as gravity is in our world. It is character knowledge, not player knowledge.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
All the players know exactly how many hit points their characters have remaining.

In past games we used a system for expressing that to others, in which the XP total is divided in four and correspond with being "lightly," "moderately," "seriously," or "critically" wounded, which were used to communicate with other players (without using hp totals for that purpose).

However, my current group isn't into that, so they just tell each other how many points they've lost/have left. Since they don't care about that degree of ambiguity/immersion, I am not gonna force them (even though it is my personal preference).

On the other hand, when it comes to their opponents I never say how many hps they have left and still use the descriptive categories above when narrating results of hit point loss.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
The character knows exactly how they are doing, and it's not metagame information.

I was picturing that as being 4 - my wording was definitely sub-optimal.

I picked the metagame option, but that's a real bias since "metagame" carries negative connotations to many. HPs happen in world - they are as observable as gravity is in our world. It is character knowledge, not player knowledge.

I was using metagame based on a discussion in another thread where it was argued the characters would have been on knowledge of how bad hits were or how close to zero they were based off of anything in world. (Repeat phrase about my wording being not good).
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
As I understand it, for the 3rd, some/many play that the characters themselves have no idea how close to death they are since there is no required in world narration or consequences for damage besides hitting 0. So, if the character acts differently based on a hit or hit point total it is purely metagame action by the player.
If you're right, that sounds like some type of reverse-metagaming. Very Tron.

The character knows exactly how they are doing, and it's not metagame information.
Would be odd if the character didn't, huh?

HPs happen in world - they are as observable as gravity is in our world. It is character knowledge, not player knowledge.
If an HP is simply the event of getting hit, sure. There's no other cause, in D&D anyway, for the character to have HP knowledge because losing a hit point has zero effect on a fifth edition character. What's to know if nothing has changed? At least in fourth edition a bloodied-event might occur. That's something the character would notice.

The solution to this is for the PC to recognize, in some fashion, the dwindling of hit points with role-playing. Then it makes sense for the character to change its behavior as HP get lower. But a PC who fails to role-play this has no cause for the character to ask for healing, and as it happens, is also the type of player to say something in-character like, "hey cleric, I need a heal. I only have 6 hit points left."
 

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