What if Hit Points were the currency of the game rules?


I wasn't thinking of "converting" 5E to this- but rather an (imaginary) new edition of D&D that would utilize the concept. And obviously there would have to be some tweaks/rules so players wouldn't game the system.


I've been thinking about this further.. Train of thought is all over...

HP could be called HP or Vitality or Endurance or whatever- Fighter maneuvers, Spells, Rogue maneuvers, some kind of crazy skill maneuver (a huge leap, etc) would be fueled by HP.

Once you are at 0 HP/Endurance/Vitality, whatever- you are now in trouble. i.e. into "meat". You now have a small "reserve" of points-maybe equal to your level, or level + con mod, or con mod + cha mod..something like that. These are used on a 1 for 1 basis for death saves to stabilize and/or as further HP to get in a last heroic spell, or lunge or what have you. You might be able to get off a Magic Missle (or fireball if you are high enough level and/or have the stat mods) and still make a death save or two. Do you dig into your PC's last reserves of power and potentially risk death? (due to lack of points to power death saves) or go out of action and play it safe rolling multiple death saves/stabilization rolls?

Or maybe you burn CON points to roll death saves/last gasp spells/actions and getting them back is not easily done.

Clerics would not cast spells that cure HP/E/V- instead they would be casting healing spells that cure conditions/ afflictions- poison, ghoul fever/paralysis, diseases, etc. They could cast "stabilizing" spells (and thus use their own HP to power a death saving throw for the PC), but with a per day limitation- maybe once per day

If you go unconscious but save/stabilize, maybe that gives you 1HP or maybe you are just OOA for the duration. Since you only have 1HP you wouldn't be able to pull much off anyway, but...


Blades in the Dark has a system similar to this.

Every character has 9 stress to spend. They can spend 2 stress to increase their chances to succeed on a roll by adding a d6 to their dice pool, they can spend 1 stress to help another PC and add a d6 to their pool for a roll, and they can spend stress to activate special abilities.

When they spend all 9 stress, they’re out of play for the remainder of the score (mission).

How this ties to HP is that when a PC would take harm, they can reduce it by spending stress. The cost is 6 minus the results of a die roll. So resisting harm can cost from 0 to 5 stress.

The system works really well. It really puts decisions in the players’ hands, and they have a lot of influence on how a PC may be removed from action. Spending stress or saving it in case you’re harmed is a big decision, and it’s a really fun dynamic.

This idea for HP reminded me of Blades. It’s a worthwhile idea for sure.


I have contemplated a similar system - the main appeal being that it really adds to the immersion when casting spells is an exhausting thing (and similarly, special combat maneuvers and feints are), sometimes even leading to nose bleed or worse; it would IMO also work very well with 5e's fast healing (since you really recover from physical/mental stress than wounds).
Two things you might want to consider are:
  1. Maybe not all actions should require expending hit points/stamina (e.g. a simple attack or casting a cantrip doesn't) - then you would need less hit points overall
  2. Maybe powerful spells that exceed the level you can comfortably wield directly also physical harm (at least to some extent); similarly for desperate combat maneveurs

Or maybe you burn CON points to roll death saves/last gasp spells/actions and getting them back is not easily done.
I would indeed say you should burn your attribute scores and recovering them requires a doctor/cleric or extensive rest. That way there's no need need for another resource in the game. I'm inclined to say this might work better if you merge strength and constitution into a single body attribute, though.