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D&D 5E Mortal Wounds: Revised Death and Rest Rules

OB1

Jedi Master
Hi all - I'm a couple months away from launching my second long home brew campaign in 5e (the first was 4.5 years and went from 1-20) and have been working on revising the death and rest rules to better suit the style of game I intend to run. This will be a player directed open world campaign where sessions take one of two forms.

Free Play: In these sessions, PCs have relatively easy access to rest and recover. Combat encounters happen infrequently, assume the party is at or near full strength and are more for flavor, foreshadowing and fun (assuming they don't poke something far beyond their level). These sessions are about the party deciding what mission they will take on next or doing prep work to increase the odds of success on a mission they have decided on

Mission Play: In these sessions, PCs have decided to take on a mission with a specific goal. Combat (unless avoided by skill) happens frequently. A mission is only a mission if there is a real chance for the party to fail to accomplish the primary goal. It is meant to push the PCs to the limit even with solid planning and tactics. Missions also contain at least one side mission that provides a reward at the risk of putting the primary mission in jeopardy. Players level up every time they complete 4 missions.

Goal of the new rules: Increase the challenge of completing missions (and completing side missions) in a way other than TPK or Ticking Clock via rule changes that are in world consistent.

Hoping to get feedback from the EnWorld community on all this as I continue to tweak prior to our Session 0 as to how you think these rules will help meet my goals and what changes I might consider making to them.

MORTAL WOUNDS RULES
These rules replace the Dropping to 0 HP and Dying rules. They also modify the Resting and Cure Wounds rules.

Dropping to 0 HP
  • When you drop to 0 HP, you lose HD equal to the damage taken divided by the max value of your HD (round down, min 1 lost)
    • If you do not have any HD or if the HD lost takes you to 0 or fewer HD, make a Con Check (DC 10 or 1/2 Damage Taken, whichever is higher.) On a Failure, you gain a Mortal Wound. Edited (thanks @Laurefindel )
    • If damage reduces you to negative your max HP, you die instantly. Edited
Starting your turn at 0 HP
  • If you start your turn at 0 HP, are not stable and have at least 1HD, make a DC 15 Con Check, on a failure, you lose 1HD.
    • If you have no remaining HD, make a DC10 Con Check, on a failure, you gain a Mortal Wound.
  • Stabilizing - You are stabilized if you make either of these Con Checks twice in a row, on a DC15 Medicine Check or via the Spare the Dying Cantrip.
Taking Damage at 0 HP
  • When you take damage while at 0 HP, make a Con Check (DC 10 or 1/2 Damage Taken, whichever is higher) On a Failure, you gain a Mortal Wound, on a success, lose HD equal to the damage taken divided by the max value of your HD (min 1 lost)
    • If you do not have any HD, you gain a Mortal Wound.
    • If the damage is caused by a melee attack, you gain a Mortal Wound and then make the above checks at disadvantage
Mortal Wounds
  • You cannot gain the benefits of a short or long rest while you have a Mortal Wound
  • If you have 3 Mortal Wounds, you die.
    • If you have proficiency in Con Saves and/or the Toughness feat, you die when you have 4 Mortal Wounds.
  • If you have 1 or more Mortal Wounds, your Exhaustion Level cannot be lower than 1
  • Recovering from Mortal Wounds
    • Lesser Restoration removes 1 Mortal Wound
    • Greater Restoration removes all Mortal Wounds
    • Following 1 Hour of uninterrupted rest, a DC 20 Medicine Check using a Healers Kit will remove a Mortal Wound.
      • If this check is failed by 5 or more, you gain a Mortal Wound.
      • If you attempt this on yourself, the check is made at DC25 Edited (thanks @Laurefindel )
    • Following 8 Hours of uninterrupted rest, a DC 10 Medicine Check using a Healers Kit will remove a Mortal Wound.
      • If this check is failed by 5 or more, you gain a Mortal Wound.
      • If you attempt this on yourself, the check is made at DC15 Edited (thanks @Laurefindel )
  • You must remove at least 1 Mortal Wound from a dead character before attempting to resurrect them. This can be done with Lesser or Greater Restoration, or with a DC20 Medicine Check using a Healing Kit.
Long Rest Healing
  • At the end of a Long Rest, before you regain HP, you regain HD.
    • Roll 1d4 and recover that number of HD.
    • Once you reach 5th level, roll 2d4, at 11th, 3d4 and at 17th, 4d4.
  • After completing a long rest, you do not automatically regain all HP. Instead, after recovering HD, you can spend HD to regain HP, gaining the maximum value of the die plus your con modifier for each die spent.
Cure Wounds
  • The cure wounds spell can recover HD instead of HP when cast. The number of HD recovered is equal to the spell slot it is cast with minus 1.
  • The cure woulds spell can be used in lieu of a Healers Kit when attempting to remove a Mortal Wound. The PC does not recover HP when the spell is used this way.
 
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Istbor

Dances with Gnolls
You may want to put a minimum limit on the Cure Wounds recovery of HD. Otherwise, nothing is happening if Cure Wounds is used as a 1st level slot. Unless that is intended.

Otherwise, with my quick scan, I am digging this. Will have to read through it slower to see if there is anything I have questions on, or possible suggestions.
 

OB1

Jedi Master
You may want to put a minimum limit on the Cure Wounds recovery of HD. Otherwise, nothing is happening if Cure Wounds is used as a 1st level slot. Unless that is intended.

Otherwise, with my quick scan, I am digging this. Will have to read through it slower to see if there is anything I have questions on, or possible suggestions.

Thanks @Istbor ! You have it correct, you cannot recover HD using a 1st level cure wounds (though you can still use it to recover HP as normal)
 

I'll attempt a constructive criticism,

There are a lot of moving parts; it could benefit from simplification.

3 strikes and you're out! Ok, simple enough.

Check and saves failed by 5/10/15. This introduces a mechanics otherwise absent from standard 5e rules. For the better or for the worse, D&D doesn't do degrees of success. I suggest sticking with failure/success dichotomy, with potential special cases for natural 1s and 20s.

Many different DCs. DCs are all over the place, ranging from 10 to 25. I suggest using advantage/disadvantage on checks made with assistance or by yourself, without affecting base difficulty. DC 10 or 1/2 damage taken is easy and already baked in the system.

Damage divided by total HD. Not very intuitive. Not hard maths, but needlessly complex for benefit. I suggest sticking to a fixed number or easy division like damage/10 or something.

Cure wounds restore spell level minus 1. Not sure I see a big benefit with minus 1. HD = spell level sounds good in itself.
 

OB1

Jedi Master
I'll attempt a constructive criticism,
.

Appreciate it, @Laurefindel!


Check and saves failed by 5/10/15. This introduces a mechanics otherwise absent from standard 5e rules. For the better or for the worse, D&D doesn't do degrees of success. I suggest sticking with failure/success dichotomy, with potential special cases for natural 1s and 20s.

I was on the fence about this, was trying to think of a way to allow for instant death if say, a 1st level character gets breathed on by an Ancient Dragon. May be better just to keep the current rule of Neg Max HP equals Death.

Many different DCs. DCs are all over the place, ranging from 10 to 25. I suggest using advantage/disadvantage on checks made with assistance or by yourself, without affecting base difficulty. DC 10 or 1/2 damage taken is easy and already baked in the system.
Checks on yourself are at disadvantage anyhow due to 1 level of exhaustion from the Mortal Wound. Perhaps I don't need the further complication of a higher DC. Gonna have to think on this.

Damage divided by total HD. Not very intuitive. Not hard maths, but needlessly complex for benefit. I suggest sticking to a fixed number or easy division like damage/10 or something.

I was trying to show the difference between a Wizard taking damage and a Barbarian, but will think on whether the complexity is worth it.

Cure wounds restore spell level minus 1. Not sure I see a big benefit with minus 1. HD = spell level sounds good in itself.

On the fence on this one. On the one hand, I like the additional cost, on the other, it might be too much to make it worth it except at higher levels.
 

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