February 8, 2012

Now How to Lose Hit Points!

Instead of sleeping I decided I should throw this next bit up too.

Now where we had previously left off was discussing my view of hit points and how they work, along with what happens when unfortunate adventurers and mooks run out of them. So, naturally, we must figure out how to go from the prior to the latter.

While I prefer one method of handling hit points, the game itself or even the players may ultimately determine what is what and where. For example, games like Metamorphosis Alpha and Gamma World both assume hit points are a character's physical capacity to survive damage, so we usually would stick to that when playing those. But when I'm having my way, a character's hit point total is divided in half. Monsters, however don't apply to this rule, unless they're hominids.

One side of this division represents a character's ability (in a combination of the facets mentioned last post) to completely avoid damage in combat. Any damage suffered to this value will completely generate post-encounter after five minutes rest.

The second part of hit points represent the character slowing and tiring as they once again avoid any meaningful injury, with the worst damage being light nicks, glances, and blows completely deflecting off or dragging along armour without harm. Despite this, the character is still not surviving injury with this other set of hit points in the standard sense, but is only fatigued enough to take minor superficial damage that at worse makes a conversation starter. The catch with this second value however, also as a way to balance the automatic regeneration of the first number, is that it regenerates like hit points traditionally do, based on the system being played. Which gives magical healing spells and potions the illusion of being more potent.

On the subject of critical hits and massive damage, my system turns away from hit points, as they do not represent physical damage threshold for characters. Instead, a critical is a roll on the critical chart, with the potential of maximum attack/weapon damage directly to a character's Constitution score, which is indeed threatening. Similarly, falling damage is dealt as 1d4 damage to Constitution per 10 feet, with a 2d10 roll against current CON or get knocked unconscious afterward.


  1. I think that's a reasonable approach to an age old problem.

    Your earlier post on this topic got me to thinking about magical healing. If hit points are seen as not representative of actual wounds but as some sort of broader abstraction (which you and the rules suggest in places), then that sort of changes the nature of clerical healing. It because more a spiritual than physical healing, perhaps. Or, in our modern parlance--it's mostly placebo effect. ;)

    1. Exactly! And if nothing else for the really really minor bumps and nicks, the hockus-pockus will sooth those minor sores like a numbing herb, massage, or "band-aid effect" when it comes to potions and wands.

      Faith healing is something I've always liked and it just fits for priestly healing. Paladins too, as these characters are generally regarded as warriors of the big 'G', and many would regard their very touch as a gift from the gods, which is all 'lay on hands' is anyway. So again, the placebo effect works wonders.

      Comparatively, healing Constitution damage would be the real-deal magical healing.

  2. Hi Joshua,

    you might want to look at On Hit Points and Healing, you seem to be thinking much the same thoughts I did.


    1. Thank you, it was a nice read. And I definitely agreed with a lot of what was said.

      Also, the video link in your head shot post was amazing. As a lover of slingshots, I heartily welcomed such a sight.