Ballpark Figures for Enemy HP


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

Silver Crusade

I am planning a vital strike character who favors non-lethal damage, but at a certain point, choosing vital strike or not might negate the choice of using non-lethal if the damage overflows through non-lethal to lethal to beyond total hit points.

As a GM, how do you give hints as to how much would knock an opponent out instead of killing them?

Do you give actual numbers or more vivid descriptions?

Do you allow PCs to make knowledge or skill checks? Or are the players responsible for estimating CRs and levels?

Thank you for your comments!


IN PF1, Dealing non-lethal damage is unlikely to kill the enemy, you have to deal essentially double their HP in damage.

Once an enemy's non-lethal damage equal their current hit points they go unconscious. But if you only dealt non-lethal equal to their hp they have 0 lethal damage. Once you go beyond that, more non-lethal damage causes instead lethal damage, which could kill them.

In PF2....I think it's now basically up the GM to decide, because otherwise it's just the last hit that determines whether or not it kills the enemy by trying to deal non-lethal damage. Which does make it harder to know when you might kill them by accidentally doing too much damage.

Silver Crusade

True, double HP is a lot, but a lower level enemy that is mechanically indistinguishable from a higher enemy is the issue for the character — a Hulk with power they don’t want to use unwisely.

the numbers:
lvl 13 brawler/evangelist(monk) of irori with constructed pugilist limb
braid of 100 masters + monk’s robes —> 2d10 UAS
+1 keen impact constructed limb (bladed 19-20 crit)
Irori evangelist —> uas treated as if 1 size larger
this all + enlarge person —> 8d8 base weapon damage, 16d8 for vital strike, 24d8 with crit
Irori’s divine technique —> max weapon damage on crit
17-20 crit range—> 192 dmg


THIS TABLE was put together by some lovely people who did a lot of work so that we don't have to.

The column labelled "EDV" stands for "Expected Damage Value". The blue rating assumes that you and an equally powerful ally would be able to kill a CR appropriate enemy in one round, so if you double the blue rating in the EDV column you should get the average enemy hitpoint value for any given level.

There will be significant variation for this of course, but for what you're looking for I can't think of anything better.


Oli Ironbar wrote:

+1 keen impact constructed limb (bladed 19-20 crit) 

Irori evangelist —> uas treated as if 1 size larger 

I don't know the Irori Evangelist ability, but usually two effects that "treat as one size larger" don't stack (so Impact and Irori ability).

Maybe double check that one.

Silver Crusade

Good catch! and it checks out. Inevitable Fist “Your unarmed strikes deal damage as if you were one size category larger”. Impact increases the size of the weapon, with enlarge person, the creature is actually larger.


When we remove the non-stacking impact enchantment, it's 6d8 pre Vital Strike.

Irori’s Perfected Fist says "you must still roll sneak attack dice or any other dicebased additional damage", and Vital Strike "deals additional damage" via "extra weapon damage dice".

Thus, a crit would deal 96+6d8+X damage. You might one-hit a CR7 enemy on a good damage roll, everything above is safe (unless it's an enemy with unusually few HP).


Oli Ironbar wrote:

As a GM, how do you give hints as to how much would knock an opponent out instead of killing them?

Do you give actual numbers or more vivid descriptions?

Do you allow PCs to make knowledge or skill checks? Or are the players responsible for estimating CRs and levels?

Thank you for your comments!

When half the hit points are gone I'll describe them as 'bloodied' due to one of my players always using the term. Typically I go for a description rather than numbers and when the enemy is nearly dead I'll make sure people are aware that the enemy is barely standing. Once it's at the point that a single hit will do it I'll ask the player if they can do "XX" damage because they all seem to like that.

But that does depend on the monster.
Sometimes I'll involve heal check or monster lore checks as appropriate (but not very often). People want to have fun and for their characters to be aware as to how close the enemy is to dropping and it should typically be fairly obvious on a percentage base roughly how hurt characters are.

Silver Crusade

Looks like I’ve hijacked my own thread. Here is a thread for damage questions.

How does estimating HP work in the games you’ve played and run?

@Warped Savant, Does figuring out HP values with skills add to the role play value at your table? Does it take something away from the fun?


I've given numbers to the nearest 25%.

100% = Uninjured
75%-99% = Barely Wounded
50%-74% = Moderately Wounded
25%-49% = Heavily Wounded
01%-24% = Critically Wounded
0% = Disabled

I think you know the rest from there.


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Oli Ironbar wrote:
@Warped Savant, Does figuring out HP values with skills add to the role play value at your table? Does it take something away from the fun?

The players seem to like it. But it's important to be aware that I almost never have them roll for it.

Like, it might come up once or twice in a full adventure path.
Anything even slightly humanoid is described as being wounded at different points (similar to what Balkoth just described) in vague terms. (Or "Yeah, it's very nearly dead"). It's easy to tell if two enemies that are the same creature and one is more damaged than the other because that's something the characters would be able to see.
Elementals are described as nearly falling apart and large chunks of it has been battered away.
Undead are similar to humanoid but with body parts dangling/being severed.
Aberrations are usually described (but I think I had a player roll for one I had used in Kingmaker).
Oozes are similar to elementals.
Outsiders depend, but are usually similar to humanoid.

But actually telling the players hit points (with or without a roll) isn't something that I think takes away from the game. I ask them to roll when they want to know and I think it will add to the game. If it's a generic/common monster I'll just flat out tell them. ("Hey, you're using this super powerful spell on a skeleton. Skeletons have, like, less than 5 hit points and your minimum damage is 37... are you sure you want to use that spell?")
If it's something rare/that they haven't experienced before and is a weird thing AND they haven't hurt it yet, I'll totally let them use the high level spell and then say how much in the negatives the monster is because that kind of overkill should be kind of obvious and it makes everyone laugh. ("Yeah, so it takes 45 damage, so it's at negative... umm... 39.")

BUT I've known some GMs that refuse to do anything like that and are terrible at letting you know how damaged monsters are.
I've been a player with a GM like that and it drove me nuts. That's why I'm really open and obvious about it with my players. I like showing them "under the hood" because they all seem to enjoy the game more when it's like that.
I use a computer program for the monster (Combat Manager) otherwise I'd likely write out the current hit points (or possibly just how much damage the monsters have taken) right out in the open.

I want my players to win and I want them to have fun doing it. The games that I run have never felt like it's me versus them and if they get a laugh out of realizing that the monster only has 2 hit points left due to a roll being low damage but then the monster gets a major hit on them they laugh and like it because that 30 damage could have been avoided if only they had rolled a 5 instead of a 3.

As for lethal/non-lethal damage I let players know how dazed creatures are, especially if they're humanoid, and if the player is likely to accidentally kill someone that they're trying to knockout I'll usually tell them so long as they have points in the heal skill or have them roll for it.

Silver Crusade

I really like the detail you have put into different types of monsters taking damage. Also, the responsive descriptions of enemies based on what the players are going for and what their characters would be looking for.


Oli Ironbar wrote:
True, double HP is a lot, but a lower level enemy that is mechanically indistinguishable from a higher enemy is the issue for the character — a Hulk with power they don’t want to use unwisely.

In regards to a character gauging how much force is too much force, in general that kind of information can be the domain of a relevant Knowledge skill check. Especially for humanoids with class levels, a Knowledge (Local) check can be a good way to identify their relative strength via hit dice.

Of course, what the various Knowledge skills actually give you are a grey area of the rules, so best check with your GM to be sure.


I'll note that slayers have a talent that allows them to know HP. It seems fairly useful for strategy, since it would let you know "ok, which one would be the easiest to take down in a charge after the caster does an AoE?".

It can also be useful in social situations because you would be able to ask "Why does this no name NPC maid have 200 hp? I didn't even know she was over level 1."

Silver Crusade

lemeres wrote:
It can also be useful in social situations because you would be able to ask "Why does this no name NPC maid have 200 hp? I didn't even know she was over level 1."

That is a different angle on learning HP. It does seem like the same slippery slope that led Goku over one million, but potentially game changing.


Oli Ironbar wrote:
lemeres wrote:
It can also be useful in social situations because you would be able to ask "Why does this no name NPC maid have 200 hp? I didn't even know she was over level 1."
That is a different angle on learning HP. It does seem like the same slippery slope that led Goku over one million, but potentially game changing.

Well, it fits with the class's general style- you are a bounty hunter, assassin, etc. that uses the same ability in social situations that you use when you stab someone in the kidneys (I really love studied target for that flavor).

Trust no one. Suspect everyone. There might be experts hiding right in plain sight.


lemeres wrote:
Trust no one. Suspect everyone. There might be experts hiding right in plain sight.

Also Adepts, Aristocrats, Commoners and Warriors.

Although I think they'd have to prestige to gain Hide in Plain Sight.


Once the players start combat I will flat out tell them how many HP the monster has. I don’t want to waste time dragging out the players actions. I have seen a situation where it took a player 5 minutes to decide his action because the GM would not give out the HP. Most people don’t have the narrative talent to adequately describe injuries on the fly. What ends up happening is they either fall into pattern like Balkoth uses, or waste a lot of time trying to come up with unique descriptions. If you use a pattern it is not hard to figure out how many HP the monster has and thereby figure out how many HP they have remaining.

Silver Crusade

Ouch. I like my players to think through their actions and work as a team, but as a GM, I will just tell them that they are in delay and can decide to come out of delay at any point. That is after about 30 seconds of them deciding what to do. Five minutes sounds bad.

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