Negative Hit Points

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Negative H.P. Effects on Type of combatant
hit
points
Commoner Man-at-arms Levelled
incl. Player
Characters
0 No Effects
-1 -30% ability stats -20% ability stats -10% ability stats
-2 -50% ability stats
wisdom check
-30% ability stats -20% ability stats
-3 -80% ability stats
wisdom check
-50% ability stats
wisdom check
-30% ability stats
-4 death -70% ability stats
wisdom check
-40% ability stats
wisdom check
-5 -90% ability stats
wisdom check
-50% ability stats
wisdom check
-6 death -60% ability stats
wisdom check
-7 -70% ability stats
wisdom check
-8 -80% ability stats
wisdom check
-9 -90% ability stats
wisdom check
-10 death

Humanoids, including player characters, do not die at zero or less hit points, as happens with monsters and animals. Depending on the type of character, the actual threshold for death, from minus 4 to minus 10, varies according to the type of creature that it is, or how much training it has. There are three types of humanoid combatant: commoner, men-at-arms and levelled persons. As each type suffers damage below zero, there are specific effects that must be applied.

Combat Types

Commoners represent the bulk of all humanoid races, having characteristics as typically described in the stat box of a monster page. For example, commoner humans have 1 hit die and an armour class (AC) of 10; a hobgoblin has 1+1 hit dice and an AC of 5 (possessing heavy, leathery skin). Both of these describe ordinary examples of their species, being non-levelled and having hit points exclusively due to their mass.

Men-at-arms are non-levelled soldiers, having undergone combat training to strengthen their bodies and fighting skills. They have a minimum body mass of 3 hit points, to which they add 1d4 hit points due to their training.

Levelled persons, including player characters, have the benefit of character classes and extensive training. They have the benefit of adding hit points commensurate with their class to their body mass, as well as mental acuity to resist fear, so that they are far less likely to die if driven to less than zero hit points.

Ability Adjustments

All combatants possess ability stats, which remain constant as long as the combatant has zero or more hit points. However, as a character's hit points fall into the negatives, these stats are adjusted as shown. For example, Drummond the Fighter has a strength of 17 and suffers enough damage to reduce him to -1 hit points. This also reduces his strength to 15.3. For game purposes, decimals are ignored. Whereas Drummond is still conscious, and may continue to fight, where normally he would receive a +1 bonus to hit and +1 damage from his strength, these are temporarily lost. Additionally, an adjustment to his strength also adjusts the effects of encumbrance, so that depending on how much Drummond is carrying, the number of action points he possesses may also decrease.

In like fashion, other character classes will experience varying effects from decreases in their ability stats. While levelled status is not lost, clerics may be sufficiently lowered in wisdom that their spells have a chance of failure, while mages may, due to a drop in intelligence, find themselves unable to properly remember a spell. Players will need to understand that these are the effects of finding it harder and harder to concentrate or act physically as the body receives threat-levels of damage. When the combatant's hit points are restored, they will be able to spellcast or fight normally.

It is important to remember that ability checks or other rolls must adhere to the present state of the combatant's ability stats. If Drummond, above, had to make a "strength check", he would need to roll against a 15, not a 17. This is particularly important with regards to wisdom checks that become necessary as a combatant falls deeper into negative hit points.

Wisdom Checks

Where indicated on the table that a player must make a wisdom check, this is to determine whether or not the combatant remains conscious. The check is made according to the combatant's present wisdom, at the moment when the damage is caused (not waiting for the player's next move). If the wisdom check fails, the combatant sags to the floor, unable to take any further action. If the attacker in this case is able to strike again, the defender should be treated as helpless.

This will also mean that if the unconscious combatant is wounded and suffering damage each round, it is possible that the combatant will bleed out and die if someone else doesn't hurry to do something to close the wound and stop the bleeding, by binding wounds or healing. To restore someone to consciousness, they must be healed at least one hit point; once the healing has taken place, then if the recipient still has less than 1 hit point, they must again make a wisdom check before they are able to wake up. If this fails, they will remain unconscious until, again, more healing is received, even if the combatant must rest a day to do so. These rules apply in the case of accidents such as falling or collisions, in addition to combat.

If the combatant makes their wisdom check, then they will remain or regain consciousness, albeit with reduced ability stats. They will not need to check consciousness again, unless they receive more damage. This includes a bleeding wound, which will require a new wisdom check each round that the combatant loses hit points.