[HR] Hit points and recovery

I've made some changes to various elements of hit points in my historical game. Firstly, no one rolls them; everyone gets max hp for their HD at 1st level, and half HD for every level thereafter.

Secondly, and more significantly, I'm borrowing some stuff from 4e to make some simple conditions, that being Bloodied.

Record your Bloodied value underneath your hit points; this is equal to one half of your full hit points. The first half of your hitpoints represent brusing, minor fatigue, minor cuts and grazes. Drop into the second half (Bloodied) and you're into major fatigue, heavier brusing, more serious cuts, muscle pulls and so on, which give a -1 to hit, Proficiencies and saves and movement is reduced by 30'.

Hit zero (and up to negative your Constitution score) and you're in danger of going unconscious, having to make a Fort (Poison and Death) save every round to stay with it. Even then you're at a -2 to hit, Proficiencies and saves, and movement reduced by 60'. Fail a save or drop below negative your Constitution and you're unconscious (and we get into Mortal Wounds).

Thirdly, healing is changed. Primarily by adding a level link to natural rates.

Natural healing is equal to half your level in hp per day. If this is less than 1hp, then you take a number of days equal to that fraction to recover one hp. This is halved if a character is Bloodied (once you are above ½ maximum you return to the normal rate). This is doubled if under the care of someone with the Healing Proficiency. Furthermore, for every week of complete rest (no major exertion such as combat, running, swimming and so on), you recover an additional amount of hit points equal to your Con bonus.

Note that the healing times required to return to 1hp from the Mortal Wounds table still apply.

Fourthly, I'm thinking the spell-like effects of the Healing Proficiency only work when treating Mortal Wounds. They don't give insta-healing. Wounds recover with time, care and attention, not some lucky first aid. Essentially they represent surgery or some other intensive treatment on someone critically injured.

  1. Non-random hp growth: Not really my cup of tea, but by no means horrible. I like that it makes things more consistent, but rolling dice is fun.

  2. Bloodied condition/injury penalties: While more realistic, injury penalties tend to be annoying to track. They also tend to make battles drag on as both sides have trouble aiming straight as the battle comes to a close. You should also consider what the consequences for 0 or negative speed are (does the character get some minimum slow speed (15 or 30 ft base?), are they forced to drop equipment before any movement, or do they immediately collapse under the weight). You might also want a proficiency (maybe general, maybe class) that allows someone to reduce the injury penalty by one.

  3. Natural healing tweak: So this will slow down non-bloodied natural healing for characters below 4th level and speed it up for 4th+ level slightly. Not a big change, really. Do consider the case of 0-level normal men.

  4. Healing proficiency 2+ nerf: I have yet to see a situation where I felt that mundane healing was too useful. I understand the realism complaint, and would suggest perhaps increasing the time requirement for “spell-equivalent” healing, say at least an hour for the surgery and a few hours of rest afterward. Do also note that you might need to address how healing works on poison and disease.

You could also have a “combat surgery” which is more about keeping a character in the fight (or at least walking) than healing them. Say give a number of “temporary hit points” that are lost first and go away after the fight (but may decrease wound penalties and keep the character from dying). This makes healing just as long, but lets the character keep moving. Alternatively, you can just let the combat surgery help the character ignore wound penalties (or some aspect of wound penalties) for a period.

  1. I figure there’s already plenty of swing in the damage roll without screwing characters with a bad roll. Besides, I apply it to the opposition too; nothing suckier than having a supposedly tough opponent who rolled crap hit points.

  2. They’ve been fine so far; truth be told it’s only PCs and significant NPCs who have enough hit points for it to become something that needs to be tracked. The average 1HD opponent tends to go down in one when most of my PCs hit them.

0 speed is “you’re in no condition to move”. Seems pretty fitting if you’re into negative hit point territory in particular.

I can see where you’re coming from with the Proficiency; I might tack that on to Endurance rather than adding a new one.

  1. 0th level can heal as 1st level. I forgot them because we don’t actually have any who we keep track of in the game. All the henchmen are now at least 2nd level (the 1st level ones having recently levelled). The PCs are all 5th level.

  2. Good call on poison and disease.

As to nerfing, none of the PCs have Healing; but they do have two excellent henchmen (one a physician, the other a chirurgeon), but neither of them are combat medics by any means. One’s a philosopher, the other a proper doctor from the Alexandrian school. They’re more people you’d bring a badly wounded character to, than someone who’s going to be tagging along when doing dangerous stuff.

Healing in the era is very much something that happens over a long period assuming you didn’t die from the initial injuries. Which is why the refocus on the doubled healing rates for longer-term care. A PC put out of action for a few weeks isn’t that big a deal (one of them is for two weeks after last session), the players are happy to switch in their henchmen and most stuff isn’t happening on an hourly or even daily basis anyway.

Which is another reason why I’m not worried about the loss of combat surgery. There’s no dungeons and no dungeoneering in this game, after all.

Don’t forget that the first bunch of HP are representing something like fatigue, so you could make the nonmagical headlong represent something more like an ability to give them a second wind… Bandage them up and get them back on their feet. Make it take a turn instead of a round, and don’t let it remove your conditions, and it will act more like that. If you restrict it to mortal wounds, you might want to remove the roll, since there is already an element of randomness in the mortal wounds table, and characters are more likely to be almost unsalvageable otherwise with the ability to stay on their feet until deep into the negatives.

That’s a good point; though it’s starting to make me wonder if I should give everyone a once-per-combat Second Wind in the 4e style. Hmmmm.