Hit Points & Dying


Combat & Magic


Dear friends,

This thread is dedicated to what you would like to see changed with the hit point & dying mechanic of 3.5x.

It is not that the current system is not working but I believe that it could be better. The way hit points work have in my opinion something to do with two things I would like to see disappear from 3.5x:

  • The 15 min adventure day
  • Clerics having to convert all their spell slot to curing

Pathfinder’s answer is to attach healing properties to the Cleric’s turn undead. I am not a great fan of this solution because:

  • It looks artificial
  • Does not solve the fact that “someone has to play the cleric” if a group wants to have a genuine chance of survival

Please write down your issues with the current system and what fixes you would recommend.

Best regards


Actually someone doesn't have to play the cleric. You could have a bard or someone with a high enough score in Use Magic Device to wield the wand of cure light. And what's wrong with playing the cleric? Clerics are cool.


Clerics are cool but they are a bit of a required character in a party, especially at low level.

To replace them, you have to rely on magical object like you described.

Scarab Sages

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber
TabulaRasa wrote:

Dear friends,

This thread is dedicated to what you would like to see changed with the hit point & dying mechanic of 3.5x.

Personally, the idea of changing -10 into -1/4 totalHit points or -10 (whichever is lower) seems to work, especially with the new HP rules allowing for higher starting points. This will alleviate the 15 min adventure day at higher levels while allowing low levels to still be challenging.

Another option to add if that hasn't helped is to make it that a healing spell always cures from 0. In other words, if you are at -12 and dying, and the 2nd level cleric casts cure light wounds on you, rolling a 7, you are healed to 9 rather than -3.


My objectives:

  • Keep it backward compatible, so HP as a concept stays
  • Keep it simple
  • Extend the adventuring time
  • Reduce the reliance on clerics as heal-bots
  • Avoid the paradox of being as effective whether you are at full hit point or left with 1

My solution: Introduce the concept of “Wound levels” alongside hit points.

How it works: Take your hit point pool and divide into 4 equal tranches. Each tranche correspond to a wound level (Fine 100%-75%, Lightly wounded 74%-50%, Seriously wounded 49%-25%, Critically wounded 24%-0%). There are 2 additional wound levels: Dying (which correspond to -1 to -10-your Fort save) and finally Dead

As you take damage, you tick-off one wound level after another. Wound levels impact you in two ways:
They limit the actions you can take.

  • Fine & Lightly wounded: no restriction, you shrug off the pain
  • Seriously wounded: you cannot take full-round actions anymore
  • Critically wounded: you can take only 1 action per round
  • Dying: You are unconscious
  • Dead:….well you are dead obviously

They act as a cap on your current max number of hit point (more below)

Note: I want to avoid malus to lessen the book-keeping and because I believe playing on the actions you may take during a round gives a better “feel” for the physical degradation than a mere -2 or -3.

Natural Healing:

  • After combat: You immediately regain a number of HP up to the max allowed under your current Wound level. For example: if you are Fine, you go back to 100% of your HP but if you are Lightly wounded, you go back to 75%. This corresponds to you tightening a bandage or slapping something on a bruise.

    Note: PCs heal naturally. This system lessens the need to continuously cast cure spells to prop up the party, thus extending the adventuring day and lessening the role of the cleric as a heal-bot. However, as the adventure progress, PCs will slowly deteriorate as they the wound cap comes down. I also believe that this solution is more elegant because you do not have to manage a set of reserve hp pool like some rule variants under the UA.

  • You can also do a Heal check whose DC is based on your current wound level to remove 1 wound level.
  • If you rest 8 hours, you automatically remove 1 wound level and regain the appropriate number of HP

Magical Healing:

  • Cure spell makes you immediately regain HP and on top remove a number of wound levels. For example: Cure Light Wounds makes you regain 1d8 and remove 1 wound level. Cure Medium Wounds makes you regain 2d8 and remove 2 wound levels. The natural healing only kicks in after combat which means the DM will never have to worry about this system for his NPCs. Should the occasion arise, hit points you regain above your wound level cap are lost.

    Note: This makes healing much more powerful (you get more bang for your buck and therefore you may use it less often) but all the benefits kick in after combat. During combat, it makes no difference (save for the limitation on action) as to the current situation under 3.5 .

Dying
Dying occurs when you are between -1 and -10- your fort save. Each round, you make a Fort save with a DC equal to 10 – you r number of negative HP. For example, if you are at -5 your DC save is 15 (10—5). You roll each round until you save. When you fail, your HP go to -10- your fort save (the min under the Dying wound level). You continue saving but this time with a DC equal to -10- your fort save (which correspond to you HP at that time). If you fail, you die.

Note: Utilizing -10- your fort save to set the lower boundary of the Dying range gives more survivability to high level characters as their Fort save will improve with time. Also with this system, unless your are hit by a massive amount of damage and die immediately, you have at least 2 rounds during which your comrades can try to heal you with a skill check or a cure spell

Do you like it or not? Please discuss…


How about you die when you are below 10+your Fort save in negative HP. For a 20th level fighter this would give you a -22.

Is that enough to avoid a monster bringing you from a low number of HP to dead in a single attack?

You should die (otherwise where is the fun) but I also believe that your other party members should also have the opportunity to save you should they chose to do so.


TabulaRasa wrote:

How about you die when you are below 10+your Fort save in negative HP. For a 20th level fighter this would give you a -22.

Is that enough to avoid a monster bringing you from a low number of HP to dead in a single attack?

You should die (otherwise where is the fun) but I also believe that your other party members should also have the opportunity to save you should they chose to do so.

Here is what we use:

Characters fall unconscious at 0 current HP (the staggered condition is removed). A character is dead when his current HP are reduced to the negative of his CON-score.

Characters have a chance to stabilize each round when dying. To do this, they must make a FOR-save [DC 10 + 1 per previous save]. If the save is failed, the character automatically looses 1d4 hp. Depending on the result, he is still unconscious and dying or dead.

HEALTH & HEALING
A character adds his CON-modifier to his natural healing rate (but heals at least 1 hit point regardless of a CON-penalty).

MASSIVE DAMAGE
If you suffer massive damage, you make a FOR-save (DC 10 + 1 per 5 points of damage taken). If you fail you are reduced to 0 hp and are unconscious and dying.

SAVE OR DIE EFFECTS
Save or die effects are somewhat weakened. If you fail your saving throw against a save or die effect (such as against a finger of death spell), you are reduced to 0 hp and are unconscious and dying.

Sczarni

I personally like the change to the turn undead skill. It takes away, but then again adds more flavor. Best of all it makes it easier to run. I always hated the "roll a d20 a bunch of times to see what happens" This way the player picks up a huge amount of dice and rolls away. Makes it more unsure and also makes it more exciting. As far as turn undead as it pertains to balance, I think it greatly sways balance toward the cleric over a mage. Mage classes are set in their spell selection and have a limited amount, Clerics are not set, just gained more spells to cast by making turn undead a heal spell x3 (x6 if improved) saving spell slots for other spells. So do you as designers give the mage more power?, does this start and unending chain of events until we see super heroes? I like the new changes, especially on how you modified grapple. I actually used modified 2nd edition rules due to the arguements and "grey" areas of the rules. This new system of grapple works!


There is mirror post to this in the general section, but this is probably the correct section.

I have been using the following rules for a few years now, death is fairly rare because of them (Which is good because Raise Dead and co are very difficult to come by in my campaigns):

Death and dying rules

0HP to -4HP
You are fatigued, you can do a single move or standard action with out penalty. If you do a full round action you take a point of damage.

-5HP to -9HP
You are exhausted, You can not take a full round action, If you take a no action or a none strenuous single action such as moving or retrieving a stowed item (which takes 2 rounds) you get no worse. Take a strenuous action and you lose another HP at the end of the action.

-10Hp and beyond
You are Exhausted, Unconscious and Dying. You must make a Fortitude saving throw each round at the start of your go, the DC is equal to the minus Hit points you are on as a positive figure, e.g. -15HP is equal to a DC15 Fort save.

Make the save and you stabilise as just unconscious (still exhausted)
Fail the saving throw by 5 points or less, you lose another HP but do not get any worse.
Fail the saving throw by more than 5 points and you lose 5HP and die at the start of your next go (this allows you one round for another character to save you, hard core rules are you die a soon as you fail the save)

Heal Skill, every time the dying character makes a saving throw to avoid death you make a Heal check. The dying character uses your check result or his or her saving throw, whichever is higher.

Feats:
Modify the following feats as follows:

Die Hard Feat.
This feat changes the Death and dying rules as follows.

0HP to -4HP
You are fatigued, You can otherwise act as normal.

-5HP to -9HP
You are exhausted, you can do a single move or standard action with out penalty. If you do a full round action you take a point of damage.

-10Hp and beyond
You are Exhausted and Dying. You can take only single actions each round, If you take a none strenuous single action such as moving or retrieving a stowed item (which takes 2 rounds) you get no worse. Take a strenuous action and you lose another HP at the end of the action.

You get a +4 bonus to you the Fortitude saving throw you make each round at the start of your go, the DC is equal to the minus Hit points you are on as a positive figure, e.g. -15HP is equal to a DC15 Fort save.

Make the save and you remain exhausted and dying (and unconscious and stable if you have already fallen unconscious).
Fail the saving throw by 5 points or less, you lose another HP and fall unconscious.
Fail the saving throw by more than 5 points and you lose 5HP, fall unconscious and die at the start of your next go (this allows you one round for another character to save you)

Lone Wolf
You get a +4 bonus onto any fortitude save to stabilise as detailed in the death and dying rules. This stacks with the +1 bonus to all fortitude saves granted bt the feat.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

I also like the new turn undead mechanics, but I'm willing to give a little on the death issue. I use -CON instead of -10 for when characters die.


Hit points:

1. Maximum hit points per hit dice.
2. If you have a racial hit dice, PC class level, or warrior NPC class level, you gain 20 bonus hit points at 1st level.

Maximum hit points per HD seems to be an unwritten rule nowadays. 20 hit points is enough to survive a bit longer, but restricting it to monsters, PCs, and warriors means that a commoner can still be killed with a single hit (which they should).

Dying:

Keep track of negative hit points. Your negative hit point total is infinite. You do not stabilize; you lose 1 hit point/round until healed magically or with the heal skill (see Heal Skill). Death occurs five minutes after the end of the current encounter if you are not healed to one hit point above your Con score as a negative number.

Example: PC #1 has a Con score of 16. He takes damage and drops to –20 hit points. He must be healed to –15 hit points or greater before 5 minutes pass after the end of the encounter or he dies.

Coup de grace changes slightly; failing the Fort save DC 10 + damage dealt still causes permanent death, but the save DC increases by 2 for every 10 hit points below 0 the unconscious opponent is before the damage is dealt.

Example: PC #1 is at –15 hit points. He is hit with a coup de grace that deals 17 damage. He must make a Fort save DC 29 to survive the blow; 10 (base) + 17 (damage dealt) +2 (-15 is 1 multiple of 10 below 0 hit points). If he saves, he is then at –32 hit points and not dead, and a further coup de grace attempt against him would be made with a +6 bonus to the save DC.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

TabulaRasa wrote:


As you take damage, you tick-off one wound level after another. Wound levels impact you in two ways:
They limit the actions you can take.

How would this interact with such spells as haste, free action, and slow?

With barbarian rage?

Could temporary hit points raise a character up into the next wound level?

How would non-lethal damage work?


Dan Davis wrote:

Hit points:

1. Maximum hit points per hit dice.
2. If you have a racial hit dice, PC class level, or warrior NPC class level, you gain 20 bonus hit points at 1st level.

Maximum hit points per HD seems to be an unwritten rule nowadays. 20 hit points is enough to survive a bit longer, but restricting it to monsters, PCs, and warriors means that a commoner can still be killed with a single hit (which they should).

I agree about the Maximum HP "unwritten" rule. It should become a "written" one for starting HP. As for any bonus HP, I think the best solution is the racial bonus (p.11).

For my campaign, the starting HPs go like this:

Maximum Hit Dice HP + CON bonus + Favored Class bonus + racial bonus + feats (if applicable)

As for HP at higher levels, I may go with the 3.5 DMG variant (average HP) or with max HP… Not sure yet.


We're going average hit points to see how things work out for now. More once the PCs get smacked around a bit . . .

The Exchange

I don't think that a party needs a cleric at any level. There are so many options out there to allow players to exist without one. As for HP and Dying, I do agree that there needs to be some change. Alpha has taken care of the HP department with Racial, or flat hp bonuses to your HP. As for the dying issue, I think that -10 should not be the end of a character. That's just to easy to overcome and gives a countdown for characters to follow. In my campaigns, I switched to an Unearthed Arcana variant that when you reach 0 HP, you need to make a fort save to determine if you are staggered, disabled, or dying. This has taken away the predictability of death and gives the players a little more chance to survive. This has worked well for my party but it's a variant rule. As a way to fix the -10 thing, maybe Alpha should use a system similiar to 4e or around those lines.


I currently use the system below. Gives the PCs a slightly expanded buffer before dying and allows creatures like dragons and giants a dying whack at the PCs too.

Death occurs when you reach negative con. Additionally instead of only being disabled at 0, it extends into the negatives equal to your con bonus. When you exceed your con bonus in negative hits you are unconscious, when you reach your con score as a negative you are dead.

When you are disabled you may take only a single action (move, standard, swift or immediate) each round. Taking a standard, swift or immediate action will cause 1 point of damage. Any action that would cause damage is resolved prior to the application of the -1.

When unconscious roll d10:
1-lose 1d4 hits
2-9 -1 hit
10 Stabilize

Once stabilized you do not lose additional hits unless subsequently wounded.

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