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The D&D game's hit point system is an easy and effective way of measuring character health - but it's somewhat abstract. This variant eliminates hit points, and simply determines whether characters are hurt or killed every time they're hit in combat.
When using the injury variant, characters no longer have hit points. Instead, a character's injuries accumulate until he becomes disabled or dying (or staggered or unconscious, if he has taken nonlethal damage).
When a character or creature takes damage, divide the damage dealt by the attack by 5 (rounding up). The result is the damage value of the attack. For example, if you are hit by an attack that deals 12 points of damage, the attack has a damage value of 3 (12 divided by 5, rounded up).
To determine if you are injured, make a Fortitude save to resist injury. The DC is 15 + the damage value. If you succeed on the save, you suffer no ill effect from the attack.
If you fail the save by less than 10, you have taken a hit. (If the attack dealt nonlethal damage, the hit is a nonlethal hit.) Each hit you take imposes a cumulative -1 modifier on future Fortitude saves to resist injury. If you fail the save by 10 or more, you are disabled. (If the attack dealt nonlethal damage, you are staggered.)
Automatic Success and Failure: A natural 20 on a Fortitude save to resist injury is treated as an automatic success, just as normal. A natural 1 is always treated as if the save failed by 10 or more.
|Saving Throw Result||Lethal Damage||Nonlethal Damage|
|Success||No effect||No effect|
|Failed by 1 to 9||Hit||Nonlethal Hit|
|Failed by 10 or more||Disabled||Staggered|
Use the descriptions below to determine the game effects from a failed saving throw to resist injury.
A disabled character is conscious, but can only take a single move or standard action each turn (but not both, nor can she take full-round actions). He moves at half speed. Taking move actions doesn't risk further injury, but performing any standard action (or any other action the DM deems strenuous, including some free actions such as casting a quickened spell) worsens the character's condition to dying (unless the action involved healing; see below). If 5 or more points of magical healing are applied to a disabled character, he is no longer disabled.
A character can be both staggered and disabled. Becoming staggered while disabled does not worsen a character's condition to dying. If a staggered and disabled character receives at least 5 points of healing, both conditions are removed. A disabled character who suffers a hit or a disabled result from an attack becomes dying.
A dying character is unconscious and near death. Each round on his turn, a dying character must make a Fortitude save (DC 10, +1 per turn after the first) to become stable. Penalties suffered from hits apply to this saving throw. If the character fails the save, he dies. If the character succeeds on the save by less than 5, he does not die but does not improve. He is still dying and must continue to make Fortitude saves every round.
If the character succeeds on the save by 5 or more but by less than 10, he becomes stable but remains unconscious. If the character succeeds on the save by 10 or more, he becomes conscious and disabled. Another character can improve a dying character's condition to stable by succeeding on a DC 15 Heal check as a standard action (this provokes attacks of opportunity). A dying character who suffers a hit or a disabled result from an attack is killed.
A nonlethal hit means you have been battered and bruised and are in less than top condition. Every nonlethal hit you take imposes a cumulative -1 penalty on your Fortitude saves to resist injury from nonlethal damage. Nonlethal hits do not affect Fortitude saves against lethal damage.
For example, a character with 4 hits and 3 nonlethal hits has a -4 penalty on Fortitude saves to resist injury from lethal damage, but a -7 penalty on saves to resist injury from nonlethal damage. A staggered character (see below) who suffers a nonlethal hit or becomes staggered as the result of an attack falls unconscious.
Being staggered is identical to being disabled (see above), except that if the character's condition worsens, he becomes unconscious instead of dying. If 5 or more points of magical healing are applied to a staggered character, he is no longer staggered.
A character can be both disabled and staggered. Becoming disabled while staggered does not worsen your condition to unconscious. If a staggered and disabled character receives at least 5 points of healing, both conditions are removed. A staggered character who suffers a nonlethal hit or a staggered result from an attack falls unconscious.
Behind The Curtain: Injury
This variant reduces the minutiae of combat bookkeeping (since characters don't need to track their hit point total). Still, since the system ties survivability to a character's saving throw, higher-level characters are better at surviving injuries than lower-level characters. That said, creatures or effects that deal large quantities of damage can turn a battle very quickly, since a single unlucky save can put a character out of commission.
In this system, a character's class Hit Die becomes less important than his Fortitude save bonus in terms of his ability to withstand damage. This factor reduces the difference between classes - instead of having five shades of ruggedness (represented by five different sizes of Hit Dice), there are only two (classes with good Fortitude saves, such as barbarians, clerics, and fighters, and classes with poor Fortitude saves, such as bards and wizards).
Bonuses on Fortitude saves become immensely important to characters, making options such as the Great Fortitude feat very attractive. Multiclassing between classes with good Fortitude saves can create abusive situations: you might choose to rule that no character can get the 2-point "bump" in a good saving throw more than once (after that, a good save starts at +0 and goes up 1 point every even-numbered level), thus limiting the potential for extensive abuse.
Over time, or through magical healing, a character can reduce the number of hits he has. Some creatures have special abilities that affect the way in which they heal hits.
With a full night's rest, a character heals 1 hit per two character levels (minimum 1 hit per night). If he undergoes complete bed rest for 24 hours, he heals a number of hits equal to his character level. Any significant interruption during the rest period prevents the character from healing that night.
Nonlethal hits heal more quickly. A character heals nonlethal hits at a rate of 1 hit per hour per two character levels (minimum 1 hit per hour). If the DM chooses, he can prorate this healing so that it occurs more uniformly. For instance, a 12th-level character heals 6 nonlethal hits per hour; instead, the DM can allow her to heal 1 nonlethal hit per 10 minutes.
For every 5 points of magical healing administered, a character eliminates 1 lethal hit and 1 nonlethal hit.
Special Healing Abilities
Some creatures have extraordinary or supernatural powers of healing.
Fast Healing: A creature with fast healing can remove 1 lethal hit and 1 nonlethal hit per round per 5 points of fast healing (minimum 1 hit of each type). For example, a vampire spawn has fast healing 2; it can therefore eliminate 1 lethal hit and 1 nonlethal hit per round.
A creature with fast healing may add its fast healing value to Fortitude saves made to become stable when dying. A dying vampire spawn, for example, gets a +2 bonus on its Fortitude saves to become stable.
Regeneration: A creature with regeneration treats all damage as nonlethal, except for specific types of damage, given in the creature's description, that affect it normally (such as a troll's vulnerability to acid and fire). A creature with regeneration can remove 1 nonlethal hit per round per 5 points of regeneration (minimum 1 hit).
House Rule: Slower Magical Healing
The instantaneous nature of magical healing sometimes stretches the imagination a little too thin, even in the highly imaginative world of fantasy roleplaying. I prefer a slightly grittier feel to the game - one that doesn't change things in the long run, but just "feels" a bit more realistic.
When a character is magically healed, the damage, instead of simply going away, is converted to nonlethal damage. The character can recover from the nonlethal damage normally - usually by just taking a little time to rest. Magic cannot be used to heal nonlethal damage.
This rule slows events down a bit in the game, because characters have to rest between fights. But it also gives the game a more realistic feel, without actually changing the way it works. -Charles Ryan
Special Damage Defenses
Bonus Hit Points
Effects or abilities that normally give you bonus hit points (such as the Toughness feat or the aid spell) instead add to your Fortitude saves to resist injury. For every 5 bonus hit points gained by the effect (round fractions up), add a +1 bonus on the save. For example, Toughness gives you a +1 on Fortitude saves to resist injury.
Extra hit points gained by an increased Constitution score don't add to this save bonus, since your high Constitution already gives you a bonus on your Fortitude saves.
Damage Reduction and Resistance to Energy
Damage reduction adds to your Fortitude save to resist injury. For every 5 points of damage reduction that apply against the incoming attack (round fractions up), add a +1 bonus on the save. For instance, a creature with DR 10.magic gains a +2 bonus on Fortitude saves to resist injury from damage dealt by nonmagical weapons.
Dealing Damage to Objects
Objects can suffer the effects of lethal damage just as creatures can. Nonmagical, unattended objects have a base Fortitude save bonus of +0. A magic item has a Fortitude save bonus equal to +2 +1/2 its caster level. An item attended by a character makes saving throws as the character (or, in this case of a magic item, uses its own saving throw bonus if better).
Add an object's hardness to its Fortitude saves to resist injury. Furthermore, for every additional inch of thickness beyond the first, an object gains a +1 bonus on its save. Magic weapons, armor, and shields also add their enhancement bonus to their Fortitude saves against damage.
An object that takes any lethal hits has a cumulative -1 penalty on its future saves to resist injury from lethal damage, just as with characters. An object that is rendered disabled is broken or destroyed instead.
Creatures without Constitution Scores
Some creatures, such as undead and constructs, do not have Constitution scores. Creatures without Constitution scores have a +4 bonus on Fortitude saves to resist injury. However, a creature with no Constitution score that becomes disabled is destroyed instead.
Special Damage Effects
This system changes the way some special damage effects work.
Coup de Grace
A coup de grace is handled as a normal attack, except that the result of the Fortitude save is treated as one category worse. (The save DC is usually higher than normal, as well, since the coup de grace is considered a critical hit and thus deals extra damage.) On a successful save, the target takes 1 hit (or 1 nonlethal hit, if a nonlethal attack was used). If the save fails by less than 10, the target is disabled (or staggered); and if the save fails by 10 or more, the target is dying (or unconscious).
The DM could rule that a Fortitude save to resist injury that fails by 20 or more results in the character being rendered dying (or becoming unconscious, if the damage is nonlethal damage). This introduces the very real possibility that a single hit (such as a critical hit or sneak attack) can take a character out.