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This variant gives each character a capacity to recover quickly from injury. This capacity, measured in reserve points, replenishes lost hit points quickly after a fight. Thus characters may be wounded and near death by the end of a fight, but then recover to full strength (or near full strength) before the next fight begins.
Reserve points work well in low-magic campaigns or any game in which healing is rare, expensive, or otherwise hard to get.
Using Reserve Points
A character’s quantity of reserve points equals his full normal hit point total.
After a character becomes injured (by losing hit points), reserve points begin automatically converting to hit points at the rate of 1 per minute of nonstrenuous activity (such as resting or hiking, but not climbing, swimming, or fighting). Thus, for each minute of nonstrenuous activity, the character regains 1 hit point and loses 1 reserve point.
For example, a Dwarf Fighter has 22 hit points, so he also has 22 reserve points. In a battle with orcs, he takes six points of damage, dropping his hit points to 16. After the fight, the Dwarf Fighter's reserve points begin "converting" to hit points. Over the course of the next 6 minutes, his reserve point total drops by 6 and his hit point total increases by 6, up to his maximum of 22. During the next fight, the Dwarf Fighter takes 24 points of damage, dropping him to −2, and is then dying for 5 rounds before stabilizing, leaving him at −7 hit points. Over the next 16 minutes, his remaining 16 reserve points convert to hit points. After 7 minutes, he’s conscious but disabled (0 hp). After 8 minutes, he’s back on his feet (1 hp), and after all 16 minutes, he’s up to 9 hit points and 0 reserve points.
Nonlethal Damage: Reserve points can also reduce a character’s nonlethal damage total. For each reserve point that converts to a hit point, a character also subtracts 1 point from his nonlethal damage. In addition, a character can take a standard action to “spend” a number of reserve points equal to or less than his HD to reduce his nonlethal damage an equal amount. (If the character has the Endurance feat, the DM might choose to make this a move action, to reflect the fact that such characters can more easily persevere through exhausting situations).
Replenishing Reserve Points
Characters naturally regain lost reserve points at the same rate that they naturally heal lost hit points (see Healing). If a character receives any magical healing, that healing is applied first to the character’s lost hit points. Any excess healing left over after the character’s hit points are restored to full normal is applied to increase the character’s current reserve point total (up to its normal maximum).
For example, the Dwarf Fighter normally has 22 hit points, but he’s down to 9 hit points and 0 reserve points. He drinks a potion of cure moderate wounds, rolling 2d8+3 and getting a result of 15. The first 13 points replenish his hit points; the remainder go to his reserve points. He now has 22 hit points and 2 reserve points.
If a character’s Constitution modifier goes up or down, his reserve points go up or down just as his hit points do. If a decrease in Constitution would drop a character’s reserve points below 0, any excess reduction is deducted from his current hit points.
Behind the Curtain: Reserve Points
Even though this variant effectively doubles a character’s number of hit points, he can’t take a beating over and over again without depleting his capacity to recover. Reserve points effectively double the number of hit points a character can lose over the course of multiple fights but do not increase the damage a character can withstand in a single fight.