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Lore wise, How to rationalize a 100+ hp character in a 10 hp commoner world?


Advice


As the title states, how do you all rationalize a 100+ hp character in a world where most common folk have 10 hp or so? I understand how mechanically it needs to be the case, as one needs to have the higher number in order to defeat more powerful monsters, but I'm approaching the question from a strictly lore sense.

I suppose the question might just boil down to what is the nature of hit points. I'd assume some part of it is just being tougher from experience, but I'm trying to figure out what about a higher level character would prevent them from being bbq'd by a dragon more than a normal person would.

Thanks!


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

They're better at avoiding death blows and lethal damage than inexperienced/untrained commoners. That's why it takes many attacks with a sword to kill them rather than just a couple.


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With great difficulty.

Probably the hardest part is that sleeping people have the same number of HP as awake people. Dodging, avoiding injury, and general skillfulness can't be a factor.

Luck? Favor of the gods? The later is literally true for PCs.


I always just viewed having more hit points as being able to dodge more attacks before finally running out of stamina and receiving the death blow. For instance, the fighter is going toe-to-toe with a skelebones. As the fight goes on, the fighter is dodging the majority of the attacks, receiving only minor scratches and bruises in the process. Then, when the fighter's HP approaches and hits 0, the wounds he receives become more grievous until he succumbs.

That's how I like to see it. Alternatively, you can always say that as your character gains levels, and by extension more HP, they are absorbing magic from the world in a completely involuntary process that is magically increasing their ability to deal with wounds. Or something.


You can always rationalize it by comparison to how in many action movies the protagonist suffers incredible punishment in the service of creating drama, whereas most of the people the protagonist faces off against are fairly easily dispatched.


I am with Gyges on this one.
The best I could come up with is in this thread.


I appreciate the answers (and more are welcome from anyone reading this thread after I post this). I think a lot of them are pretty valid ways of looking at things.

This had me thinking of a setting where this question is part of a central mechanic, where there are some people in the world who were more in tune with the mystical energies of the world (much like what TheMagicIndian suggested) and they either became infused with the energies to perform great feats of prowess (martial classes) or could learn to bend the energies (magic classes). Normal people would be normal people, and there could be strife between the two types (see anything related to X-Men).


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He has eaten 9 other 10 hp commoners and absorbed their power?


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All existance is illusion, all those strange things are just proof of this. There are actually a couple philosophies that touch on this. We are all just spirits, mostly living in a shared, for the most part, illusion. The 10 hit point commoner just doesn't believe in himself as much as that 150 HP fighter. Concept gets tired rather quickly, unfortunately. It does allow you to use those fantastically ridiculous rules sleazes without breaking the concept.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Ring_of_Gyges wrote:

With great difficulty.

Probably the hardest part is that sleeping people have the same number of HP as awake people. Dodging, avoiding injury, and general skillfulness can't be a factor.

Luck? Favor of the gods? The later is literally true for PCs.

Uh, yes and no. Asleep people are helpless and can quite easily be killed wit a coup de grace. They may have the same HP, but likely can't make the fortitude save even if the auto-critical doesn't kill them outright.


Conan the barbarian appears in a village of peasants?


Watch a UFC fight. Those guys can take a lot more of a beating than I could. It's really no different. A hero is trained to take a hit. A commoner is trained to work a plow.

Shadow Lodge

This also applies to falling damage, so your level 12 rogue falling at terminal velocity is really prepared to tuck-and-roll.

Grand Lodge

what kind of character is it? class wise i mean

Liberty's Edge

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It's simple: HP is abstraction. 100 hp doesn't actually mean that you can tank a greatsword to the face 14 times. It means you're especially adept at turning those blows to the face into grazing wounds or parrying in a way that gets you thrown into the wall and bruised but otherwise unharmed.

You should look at HP in the same way the rules for action stars works. Bruce Willis gets pummeled, rolls around in broken glass, and falls down flights of stairs but it never feels like he's endured a lethal injury.

Sovereign Court

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

Consider a wound/vigor system if you want it more "realistic."


Really since commoner is d6 most have 6 or 7 hp. If their kid is playing with their crossbow and they get accidently shot in a vital spot (full damage) they're probably going to feint.
Captain of the town guard (warrior 3) has taken a few arros in his day. Same ammount of damage, but more pain tollerance. When the pain becomes so great that he passes out it takes about the same number of rounds for his negative hitpoints to reach true death as the level one commoner though.
It's mostly about pain tollerance and experiance taking a hit so that the hit does less damage. Like how a boxer knows how to lean his body when he knows a punch will hit him.

as for slitting someone's throat in their sleep not working so well as it would in the real word chalk that one up to game balance.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

Another weakness of a level based system. The problems with saying that more experienced people have learned to minimize their damage comes with explaining magic healing. Why can cure light wounds heal one person from near death while barely healing the paper cuts a high level PC receives?

Just accept the carrot and stick rewards of leveling up, justifying it leads to madness. Point buy systems and more gradual experience systems do a better job with it, yet many systems end up with PCs that do not gain much more in being able to take damage than when the PC first started.

Past 10th level and characters are beyond what we see in all but the most comical movies and stories. A 20th level barbarian can survive being fully immersed in lava for a round or two. Outside of a cartoon, I just can't justify it.


I just go with "Ablative Plot Armor". Trying to treat D&D hitpoints as a real thing either results in madness or PCs who LITERALLY can take enough physical punishment to wreck a Sherman tank.


A lot of it is motivation. If you believe and don't give up, it's ridiculous how far you get. I'm talking people losing a foot and crawling to safety. On the other hand, some people get shot once, and give up. It hurts like hell, but sometimes you can walk on.

Consider Darth Tyranus (count dooku) versus Anakin. As the fight continues, Tyranus gets more and more exhausted getting sloppy in his movements. At the end he was just too weak to fight from exhaustion. Same thing with Qui Gon Jinn. All the jumping exhausted him and he couldn't match the stamina of Darth Maul. That is low hp, and another hit ends you.

Now star wars is different because a single Lightsaber hit ends you. With a sword though, it might make more sense to get nicked and just badass the pain away. Use different representations based on the situation.


HP could represent how much positive energy your body/soul can store.

Why is it that a simple cure light wounds spell can take a commoner from KO to OK but only closes a 2 inch cut on the high level badass?

In fact it takes about 10 CLW spells to completely heal the high level badass after he got KOed. Why does it take that many?

Easy; the high level badass has a internal well of positive energy that protects him from harm. Not quite a forcefield but it does toughen him up from the inside out. Starting with his bones of course. As he will always be able to walk away from a fall from a great height without any bones being broken unless that fall also KOs him.

Similarly the undead are powered up by negative energy. And well objects are just that tough to begin with (hardness and HP).


See goku


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I just take the stance that they're superhuman (or superelfin/superdwarven/etc.).


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Everyone has the same amount of meat points.
Hit points are merely a countdown of fate.


Except that it takes healing to roll back your countdown. I guess fate has to be bought off with positive energy or the sacrifice of bandages. :)


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Feral wrote:

It's simple: HP is abstraction. 100 hp doesn't actually mean that you can tank a greatsword to the face 14 times. It means you're especially adept at turning those blows to the face into grazing wounds or parrying in a way that gets you thrown into the wall and bruised but otherwise unharmed.

You should look at HP in the same way the rules for action stars works. Bruce Willis gets pummeled, rolls around in broken glass, and falls down flights of stairs but it never feels like he's endured a lethal injury.

How do you justify with that interpretation falling damage or dive in lava? Because a 20th level character can survive those 20d6 of damage but the explanation that you are better at avoiding damage just doesn't seems to apply here.

I know the superhuman explanation tickles a lot of people in the wrong side, but overall I think it makes more sense seeing how hit point function.


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edduardco wrote:
Feral wrote:

It's simple: HP is abstraction. 100 hp doesn't actually mean that you can tank a greatsword to the face 14 times. It means you're especially adept at turning those blows to the face into grazing wounds or parrying in a way that gets you thrown into the wall and bruised but otherwise unharmed.

You should look at HP in the same way the rules for action stars works. Bruce Willis gets pummeled, rolls around in broken glass, and falls down flights of stairs but it never feels like he's endured a lethal injury.

How do you justify with that interpretation falling damage or dive in lava? Because a 20th level character can survive those 20d6 of damage but the explanation that you are better at avoiding damage just doesn't seems to apply here.

I know the superhuman explanation tickles a lot of people in the wrong side, but overall I think it makes more sense seeing how hit point function.

I justify it by saying it's a mechanical abstraction and moving on. :)

There are so many things in this gonzo fantasy game that don't really make any sense if you look too closely, so it's better not to think about it too much.


thejeff wrote:
edduardco wrote:
Feral wrote:

It's simple: HP is abstraction. 100 hp doesn't actually mean that you can tank a greatsword to the face 14 times. It means you're especially adept at turning those blows to the face into grazing wounds or parrying in a way that gets you thrown into the wall and bruised but otherwise unharmed.

You should look at HP in the same way the rules for action stars works. Bruce Willis gets pummeled, rolls around in broken glass, and falls down flights of stairs but it never feels like he's endured a lethal injury.

How do you justify with that interpretation falling damage or dive in lava? Because a 20th level character can survive those 20d6 of damage but the explanation that you are better at avoiding damage just doesn't seems to apply here.

I know the superhuman explanation tickles a lot of people in the wrong side, but overall I think it makes more sense seeing how hit point function.

I justify it by saying it's a mechanical abstraction and moving on. :)

There are so many things in this gonzo fantasy game that don't really make any sense if you look too closely, so it's better not to think about it too much.

Like comic books


There are crazy stories of how people survived high altitude drops.
Relaxed body, snow softening the impact, tree branches slowing down the fall. Hell, hit points is gracious enough to let you both contribute survival to luck or being a superhuman, if you wish so.

Quote:
Except that it takes healing to roll back your countdown. I guess fate has to be bought off with positive energy or the sacrifice of bandages. :)

Indeed. Fighting fate with divine magic seems fairly sensible.

Bandages can be bit too slow at times. Which is why they are not that good at fighting fate.


Just so all of you understand, this question has been around for something like 40 years with no better answers than have appeared in this thread.


Robin D. Laws wrote a book about this.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

A good read on this subject.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

In a word..Rasputin...

For example.. there are all sorts of stories of folks taking huge amounts of punishment and surviving

The Exchange

KestrelZ wrote:
Another weakness of a level based system. The problems with saying that more experienced people have learned to minimize their damage comes with explaining magic healing. Why can cure light wounds heal one person from near death while barely healing the paper cuts a high level PC receives?

Not really, you just treat healing in the same manner in which you treat the damage. It's not actual damage, it's Pain Tolerance. If damage is pain tolerance until you pass out, and a near mortal wound leads you to bleed out if you are unconscious near death. Then Healing even a single point will close the mortal wound (you're no longer bleeding out, since you have stabilized) but you're still in great pain, or a severely weakened state from all the pain you have recently suffered. A 10HP character goes from -8 to full health with 2 CLW, so their minor suffering has all be wiped away. The 100 HP character goes from from -8 to 12 as you have only revived their spirit from a portion of the pain and suffering they had to endure. There is still much more to go before they feel completely refreshed and back to full spirit.

It may not be the best terminology, since it's the same as a wisdom based save (Will) but you can consider HP dmg as the Will to continue fighting. When a character's Will to fight-on finally reaches 0 they can barely act, at -1 they fall unconsious. Once the Will to fight is no longer driving someone, (or if their will to fight was already low and they are hit significantly hard) All people have the same basis for what keeps them alive (Con Score).

As mentioned above a few point of magical healing can close wounds, but the will to fight takes more to restore in someone that has that greater will (higher HP).


Magic. It infuses everything and everyone. Even 'humble' fighters are very magical creatures. Gaining levels literally makes you more powerful.


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Usually I think about HP as physical endurance more than physical wounds. Its more that as the fight continues it drains your ability to keep avoiding the weapon hits. With critical hits being when the weapons get too close and maybe cause significant minor damage like a belly slash across the body. Then when you hit below zero the attack finally hits. Because honestly for most people a solid connection 1 or two times is gonna take them down. The exception would be fighters and athletes whos bodies have been subjected to damage so that they learn to shrug it off and keep going or to work around what would debilitate normal people.

No real wounds happen until half HP or quarter. We like to use the term Bloodied (1/2 HP) and Very Bloodied (1/4 HP) for describing how we look in fights. So scars would only start showing up if you went below 1/4. Helps explain how you can go around walking after taking 40 HP worth of damage. Your not bleeding out your just kinda winded.

With this most healing would be more of a fatigue healer than wound healer. You rejuvenate their energy with positive energy which helps explain why healing is Conjuration instead of Transformation.


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I just go with higher-level folks actually being superhuman and shockingly durable compared to our mere mortal standards, and can weather injuries much better than us.

A normal person getting whacked by an orc with a greatsword gets chopped in half. A hero taking the exact same hit may just have a nick and some bruising.


Some of it obviously depends on player interpretation and GM narration, and the type of game you are running.

Some people like to call HP luck, sort of like Nathan Drake. While you are obviously being shot, the damage doesn't matter as long as you can find some time to rest. Unless of course you are inside a cutscene, then things are for keeps.

However, as pointed out the problem with luck is trying to take the abstraction from very definitive damage sources. Like falling to your doom, an acid bath, or eating a fireball to the face.

Simply being a super human works, but it reduces the perceived threat to your characters. Sure, you might be fighting literal giants but your parties barbarian can be smashed over the head seven or eight times before going down then they aren't particularly threatening.

Its a conundrum. I've liked several of the answers here, especially the well of positive energy. Inverting that well also explains how powerful undead are created. Additionally, negative levels reducing your HP total makes sense here since the Negative power is sapping your internal reserve of positive energy.

This is the view I will be taking from now on, personally.


Think of hp as a fraction or percentage. 100/100 and 10/10 are both the same number (1) or percentage (100%). 10 damage is 10/100 or 10/10 (10% or 100%), depending. HP as damage reduction or mitigation.


One of these days, I'll find something that fights better at low HP than at high HP. Contingencies just don't cut it.


Haywire build generator wrote:
One of these days, I'll find something that fights better at low HP than at high HP. Contingencies just don't cut it.

Take a cue from MMOs: Multi-phase boss fights, with some sort of enrage mechanic at low hp.


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Quote:
Lore wise, How to rationalize a 100+ hp character in a 10 hp commoner world?

Like this. >:D

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