Monday, December 10, 2012

Hit Points Are More Than Physical Damage?

So yeah, the discussion about hit points in AD&D  is that hit points reflect more than just physical damage.  That's fairly obvious, Gary Gygax's own comments about Hit Points in the core books make the same points that once X number of HP have been accumulated, it gets a bit silly.

If HP is NOT all physical damage though, then where does physical damage begin and end? That is going to depend on how the DM handles Hit Points and Death.

For me,  I use negative ten (-10) as character death,  zero is "Out Cold".   I like to play averages.  if we assume playing characters to about 15th, heck, let's say 10th level, on a Fighter.

So here is a Fighter at level 10 with 93 Hit Points at the maximum.  That's if he rolled 10's every time plus the 3 after 9th level.  Say he only rolled a 5 every time instead that's still 48 Hit Points at 10th level.

At what point does he start incurring physical damage?  Maybe at 20 Hit Points?  Anything above 20 we assume it's his armor and shield and whatever absorbing the brunt of the punishment maybe.

Maybe he's just a tough, thick-skinned son-of-a-gun and just is able to take a whoopin' longer than the average Joe before it starts wearing on him?

Maybe it's a combination of both.

That's how I handle it though.  Anything above 20 Hit Points, isn't physical damage to the body in terms of cuts, bruises, abrasions, lacerations, etc...

Once a PC gets to 20 Hit Points though, they're going to likely need a medic after the fight, unless of course, they are taken to 0 HP, at which time, they are going to need hospitalization.

That leads us to the topic of the next post, how much damage can your armor take before it is FUBAR?


  1. One place where this falls apart for me:

    The cleric spell cure light wounds. If the above mentioned fighter's first seventy hit points represent luck or armor/shield damage, then what is cure light wounds curing? Is it fixing his shield? Is it giving him back some of his luck?

    I know it's kind of nitpicky, but I find that I just sort of have to let my vision blur with regard to what hit points really are. Any close examination of a highly abstract system and the whole concept starts to look absurd.

  2. I agree with you. To be honest, I find it to be a similar problem to the vampire drain and levels. What has one got to do with the other?

    All in all, I just started looking at it this way to "play" with the concept. I see it come up in discussions and in the core books. You're right, if you let your head do the math, it gets wonky on you.

    Having said that, in regards to the clerical curing spells.

    Those spells aren't really meant to bring a person from near dead to spring fresh overnight. They are supposed to be used to help people out in times of "crisis" which to me means during or immediately after battle.

    So this allows a Cleric to decide which spell to use if they have an option of cure spells.

    If you have 12 to 20 HP left, Cleric can figure, ah, CLW will be good enough for this guy. But if you have someone who went under 0 and bled out or what ever for a few rounds and ended up at -5 by the time the action ended, the Cleric can see an obvious need for Cure Serious wounds instead.

    I guess I'm thinking my "20 and below" allows for better triage" by clerics, etc..