In the heat of battle, is hit point loss a wound?

In your mind, in the heat of a battle, what do hit points represent?

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Considering the amount of physical damage a mid- to high-level character would require to be taken down, it makes no sense that it would all be physical damage. Gygax explained this all decades ago, and it will apply so long as a massively abstract system like hit points is used.


How do you actually think about hit points in the middle of a game; is hit point loss a matter of endurance or real physical damage?

Gygax always claimed the Errol Flynn movies where what he was trying to emulate, its all flashing blades and very little actual contact.

I'm not talking about what Gygax thought; I'm talking about what happens in YOUR mind's eye. Often times what we intend to say is different than how others perceive it; game rules vs. fluff can be seen in the same manner. How do you honestly perceive hit points?


Hit Points is an abstraction of many excuses why a character is not dead.

It's "I'm not dead because I blocked/parried/dodged/shoulder roll or You only scratched/bruised/nicked/shook/winded/dizzied me" with a usage limitation.

Sometimes it is a wound, sometimes a scratch, sometimes a harmless parry, sometimes a forced miss with no contact


First Post
I think the word "hit point" should be used to describe actual physical damage from actual physical hits.

As others have pointed out, this becomes nonsensical with the amount of hit points high level characters have, which is why I stopped using hit points a long time ago.

In any case, physical wounds are the main outcome measure of combat and should be explicitly tracked in some fashion.


We don't really think about it too much. High HP is "looking fine," low HP is "looking pretty bad," 0 HP is "it dies."

Gold Roger

First Post
Depends entirely on the creature hit and what attack it was that hit. On a bulette every hit is a proper wound, on a pixy, only the lone that takes it down. PC's are in the middle, but with large variance.

The halfling rogue mostly aquires fatigue, minor bruises and luck running out, the large in-your-face barbarian starts of with aquiring cuts and goes all the way to arrows and large gashes all over his body.

An attack that goes under 0 is a potentially mortal wound by default, unless other options (and optional rules for going to 0) are explicitly agreed by the group.

Voidrunner's Codex

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