Core - Alternate Hit Point System
Alternate Hit Point System for use on Ivrel;
It is generally agreed that a 100 hit-point warrior is not 17 times tougher than a 6 hit-point peasant, so why the difference? Skill. A skilled warrior can ignore all but the most serious of strikes, with a well-timed twist, parry or duck. Eventually, though, all those little nicks and cuts will catch up on him, he’ll begin to slow down, and he will succumb to his injuries. This system reflects that. It has been used in my campaigns for a little over a year now, and has been proven to make the PC’s think before they fight. Of course, it must be used for the PC’s adversaries as well – there are notes at the end on how to convert most “monsters” to this system.
How to calculate the Hit Points
All characters get an initial hit point roll, based on race. This signifies the character’s health at 0-level; i.e. prior to becoming an adventurer. See Table 1.
After rolling, add any Con/Fit bonus, to a maximum of +2 (Only warriors have the training to take advantage of high Con/Fit scores, and 0-level characters are by definition not warriors)
After this roll, hit points are rolled exactly as per the Player’s Handbook, with the exception that Con/Fit bonuses stop after 2nd level (i.e. a character gets their Con/Fit bonus a maximum of three times) – being fit only gets you so far.
The hit points a character has are divided into two “pools” – physical hit points and skill hit points. A character must have a full allotment of physical hit points before they have any skill hit points. A character’s physical hit point potential is calculated as follows :
Racial Hit Point Maximum + Con/Fit Bonus + Class Bonus
The racial hit point maximum is determined from the table on the above; it is 6 for humans, 5 for half-elves, 8 for dwarves, etc. The Con/Fit bonus does take into account the character’s class, so warriors with a 17+ Con/Fit have a higher physical maximum than other warriors. The class bonus is found in the table below, and is based on class groups :
For multi-classed characters, average the bonuses, rounding as normal (round 0.5 up, 0.4999 down).
If a character’s physical maximum has not been reached, hit points are allocated to their physical side until the potential is reached, and any excess are added to the character’s skill total.
Note that in this system, because of the 0-level roll, most characters will have a full allotment of physical hp at 1st level (unless they roll badly for both 0th and 1st levels), and characters with a Con/Fit bonus will almost always have full physical hp’s. Also in this system elven warriors (unless they have a Con/Fit bonus) will only have 7 physical hp, while even Dwarven thieves will have 9.
When a character takes damage, a proportion of the damage will come off physical hit points as follows :
When a character reaches 0 physical hit points, they fall unconscious, even if they have skill hp remaining. If a character has no skill hp left after deducting damage, any remaining damage is taken directly off physical.
In most situations, characters will run out of skill hp (representing fatigue) well before they run out of physical hp. However, there are some situations where damage comes directly off physical.
Physically Damaging Attacks
When a character is surprised or held, all damage comes off physical hp. This makes ambushes particularly deadly; DM’s be warned! (To refresh your memory, in an ambush the attackers get a free round of attacks, then the ambushed party rolls for surprise on the second round.)
Since a thief’s backstab attack is a surprise attack, damage from it also comes directly off physical. To stop all thieves becoming instant assassins, the backstab ability has been changed. Instead of a damage multiplier, thieves automatically do maximum damage on a successful backstab, but are restricted in what weapons they can use as shown below :
Of course, a high level thief can opt to use a smaller weapon. The +4 to hit and conditions for backstabbing are unchanged.
Important Exception : Damaging magical spells tend to go off with a hiss and a roar; even if a character is surprised, they are assumed to have the reflexes and instincts to duck when a Fireball goes off. Damage from spells is deducted normally.
For every two slashing or piercing wounds which caused at least a physical hit point of damage, one physical hit point is lost at the end of the round, representing bleeding damage. Any healing spell will stop all bleeding, as will the healing proficiency; however each wound needs to be healed separately when using the proficiency. When a character is unconscious the bleeding rate drops to 1/round, no matter what it was previously (the body is shutting down non-essential functions and blood flow is lessened). Note : Bludgeoning weapons do not cause bleeding damage; this causes the “bar-room brawl” type of situation, where using a chair leg will probably not kill someone, while using a knife might. Be careful where you draw steel! Also, I highly recommend using the optional “Hovering on Death’s Door” rule.
Healing spells and proficiencies work as usual, with the addition that physical hit points are healed first, and any remainder goes to skill. Also, a character recovers Ѕ their skill hit point total overnight (from recovery of fatigue, etc).
Monster Hit Points
To convert monsters to this new system, simply roll there hit points as usual, and then split them up into physical and skill based on the type of monster. If the monster is humanoid, the task is simple. Determine how “tough” they are, and using the 0-level racial hit point table as a guide assign their physical hit point total as if they were a PC, including class bonuses (most monsters get +3 for warrior class). Non-humanoid creatures aren’t so easy, but as you get used to the system it becomes a split second process. Monsters of extremely low intelligence do not have skill; all their hit points are physical. I also made Dragons in my world have all physical; not because they aren’t intelligent enough, but so they are very hard to kill, even if surprised.
Tables and Charts for this alternate Hit Point System.
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