Hit Points

Recovery of HP
Zero Hit Points

It is quite unreasonable to assume that as a character gains levels of ability
in his or her class that a corresponding gain in actual ability to sustain
physical damage takes place. It is preposterous to state such an
assumption, for if we are to assume that a man is killed by a sword thrust
which does 4 HP of damage, we must similarly assume that a hero
could, on the average, withstand five such thrusts before being slain! Why
then the increase in HP? Because these reflect both the actual
physical ability of the character to withstand damage -- as indicated by CON bonuses -- and a commensurate increase in such areas as skill
in combat and similar life-or-death situations, the "sixth sense" whith
warns the individual of some otherwise unforeseen events, sheer luck,
and the fantastic provisions of magical protections and/or divine
protection. Therefore, constitution affects both actual ability to withstand
physical punishment HP (physique) and the immeasurable areas
which involve the sixth sense and luck (fitness).

Harkening back to the example of Rasputin, it would be safe to assume
that he could withstand physical damage sufficient to have killed any four
normal men, i.e. more than 14 HP.
Therefore, let us assume that a
character with an 18 CON will eventually be able to withstand no
less than 15 HP of actual physical damage before being slain, and
that perhaps as many as 23 HP could constitute the physical makeup
of a character. The balance of accrued HP are those which fall into
the non-physical areas already detailed. Furthermore, these actual
physical hit points would be spread across a large number of levels,
starting from a base score of from an average of 3 to 4, going up to 6 to 8 at
2nd level, 9 to 11 at 3rd, 12 to 14 at 4th, 15 to 17 at 5th, 18 to 20 at 6th, and
21 to 23 at 7th level. Note that the above assumes the character is a fighter
with an average of 3 HP per die going to physical ability to withstand
punishment and only 1 point of constitution bonus being likewise
assigned. Beyond the basic physical damage sustained, hits scored upon a
character do not actually do such an amount of physical damage.

<d4: 2><d6: 2> <d8: 3> <d10: 3> <d12: 4>
<physical hit points per die (one interpretation of the above)>
<add 1 for 18 CON if a HP bonus of 4 is granted>

Consider a character who is a Lord (F10) with an 18 CON.
This character would have an average of 51/2 HP per die,
plus a CON bonus of 4 HP, per level, or 95 HP!
Each hit scored upon the character does only a small amount of actual physical harm -
the sword thrust that would have run a Veteran (F1) through the heart
merely grazes the character due to the fighter's exceptional skill, luck, and
sixth sense ability which caused movement to avoid the attack at just the
right moment. However, having sustained 40 or 50 HP of damage,
our lordly fighter will be covered with a number of nicks, scratches, cuts
and bruises. It will require a long period of REST && recuperation to regain
the physical and metaphysical peak of 95 HP.

Recovery of Hit Points:

When a character loses HP in combat or to some other attack form
(other than being drained of life energy levels), there are a # of
different means by which such points can be restored. Clerics && paladins
are able to restore such losses by means of spells or innate abilities.
Magical devices such as potions operate much the same way,
and a ring of regeneration will cause automatic healing and revitalization in general of its wearer.
Commonly it is necessary to resort to the passage of time, however, to restore many characters to full HP strength.

For game purposes it is absolutely necessary that the character rest in order to recuperate,
i.e. any combat, spell using, or similar activity does not constitute rest,
so no hit points can be regained.

For each day of REST a character will regain 1 HP up to and including 7 days.
However a character with a penalty for poor constitution must deduct weekly the
penalty score from his or her days of healing, i.e., a -2 for a person means
that 5 HP healing per week is maximum, and the first two days of
rest will restore no hit points. After the first week of continuous REST,
characters with a bonus for high CON add the bonus score to the
number of HP they recover due to resting, i.e., the second week of
rest will restore 11 (7 + 4) HP to a fighter character with an 18 constitution.
Regardless of the number of HP a character has, 4 weeks of
continuous REST will restore any character to full strength.

<compare to PH>

Q: How can any character be able to take more physical damage
than an ancient huge red dragon?

A: AD&D gaming is based on what is sometimes called 'fantasy
realism.' In reality, none of us humans would have a chance
against a monster the size of a red dragon; however, AD&D gaming
is not reality. It reflects very well the kind of 'fantasy realism'
found in myths, legends, tales, and modern fantasy literature,
wherein it is possible to be so lucky, gifted, and powerful
that one could even be tougher than a dragon. Hit points not
only reflect bodily damage; they also reflect combat skill, the
ability to sidestep an otherwise fatal blow, and the blessing of a
patron deity, as well as innate luck (and perhaps other attributes
of an intangible nature). Obviously, it cannot be argued that
even the toughest fighter in an AD&D game has more body mass
than a red dragon; however, it can be argued that a warrior,
especially a heroic warrior on the level of Beowulf, Roland, or
Conan, could be skilled enough to give a dragon a bad time in
combat. After all, it's the essence of heroic fantasy -- not humdrum
reality -- that the game reflects.

"Jeteye is sometimes voluntarily
used before torture or immed.
after battle injuries (preventing a system shock survival roll)."
- The Nathlum

Zero Hit Points:

When any creature is brought to 0 HP (optionally as low as -3 HP if from the same blow which brought the total to 0), it is unconscious.

In each of the next succeeding rounds 1 additional (-negative-) point
will be lost until -10 is reached and the creature dies. Such loss and death
are caused from bleeding, shock, convulsions, non-respiration, and similar
causes. It ceases immediately on any round a friendly creature administers
{aid} to the unconscious one. Aid consists of binding wounds, <(cf. bandages)>
starting respiration, administering a draught (spirits, healing potion, etc.), or otherwise
doing whatever is necessary to restore life.

Any character brought to 0 (or fewer) HP and then revived will remain in a coma for 1-6 turns.
Thereafter, he or she must REST for a full week, min..
He || she will be incapable of any activity other than that necessary to MOVE slowly to a place of REST and eat && sleep when there.
The character cannot attack, defend, CAST spells, USE magic devices, carry burdens, {run}, study, research, or do anything else.
This is true even if cure spells and/or healing potions are given to him or her,
although if a heal spell is bestowed the prohibition no longer applies.

If any creature reaches a state of -6 or greater negative points before being revived, this could indicate scarring or the loss of some member, if you so choose.
For example, a character struck by a fireball and then treated when at -9 might have horrible scar tissue on exposed areas of flesh -- hands, arms, neck, face.

<if brought to -6 to -8 the character loses a point from a random ability score. if brought to -9, then loss of a random limb -- roll d5 and include the head>
<note: with regards to the above, the initial blow must bring a character to -6 or lower>
<ie. if a character gets hit and brought to -5 points of damage, there is no adverse affect if he 'bleeds out' to -6 or lower>

Q: What happens when a character is
reduced to 1 hp?

A: Nothing. Characters in the D&D and
AD&D games don't have to worry until they
are reduced to zero hit points (or less in the
AD&D game; see the DMG, page 82).

Evreaux wrote:
Hi, Gary. My apologies for bringing up another AD&D question--if you've already answered this, please say so and I'll begin the delve through the various Q&A threads. I don't recall seeing it addressed, but I probably haven't caught every page so far.

The PHB says that 0 hit points or below = death. The DMG introduces the descending -10 system. Neither is mentioned as being optional by their respective texts, but the consensus over in the 1E forum is that the DMG method supercedes the PHB by virtue of being published later.

So, I'm curious as to your reasons for introducing the different system. Were your campaigns simply proving too deadly for PCs at the time? Or did you enjoy presenting the tactical challenge of having to negotiate aiding fallen comrades in the midst of a fight? Or something else entirely?

Thank you very much in advance for your feedback.

The DMG system was introduced to allow players to have a chance to keep their PC alive without clerical spell casting and the chace of being raised failing.
Neither the 0 = dead nor the -10 equals dead mechanics are given as hard and fast rules so as to allow the DM to decide which one will be used in his campaign.

I modified the two in my own campaign by allowing the PC to go to -10% (rounded up) of total HPs before being stone cold dead.
Not quite as generous as the -10 points, but graded to give higher level PCs a better chance than lower level ones.

I use this in the LA game system too, so that Avatars there can drop into minus Health and still survive in unconscious state.


DMPrata wrote:
Gary, you've enlightened me once before in regards to good cavaliers being able to function (but not fight) when reduced to negative hit points.
Here's a follow-up on that topic.
Any other character at negative hit points, upon being stabilized, requires a full week of bed rest before being able to resume normal activities.
Would this stipulation apply to a cavalier as well, or would it be possible (for example) for a cavalier at -4 hp to drink a healing potion and rejoin combat in the next round?

that's a call for the DM to make.
Actually, if a cleric heals any sort of character so as to be back aove 50% of HPs I generaly allowed normal activity, set aside the requirement for bed rest,
of the situation were dire and another person was needed by the party.

Something the deities move in mysterious ways 


<Preface: I honestly think that what follows was the most fucked up part of OD&D.
It added way too much fuckin' complexity to combat.
Gary had it right, to try (in theory) to keep things simple, for the sake of a game -- see APPROACHES TO PLAYING AD&D.
That said, AD&D wasn't perfect either -- the 'burden' of Weapon Speed (tied init & melee vs. spellcasters) && Weapon vs. AC!!
Anyway, with regards to combat, in the spirit of AD&D:
Keep it simple.
Keep it fast.
- Prespos>


The following tables are from BLACKMOOR.

(Some of the notes have been altered/expanded)
[Sever] results only come into play for swords of sharpness, or other weapons of sharpness (such as Excalibur).

Zero or Less Hit Points + Crippling Effects (check this table, only at the moment that a wound is made) :
0 = unconscious, no blood loss (as UA)
-1 to -3 = conscious until end of round (something needed to be done with that -3)
-4 to -5 = unconscious
-6 = unconscious, roll on tables if a weapon* hit, fire = Minor burn <WSG>, cold = Frostbite (d3: feet, ears, hands) <WSG>
-9 = unconscious, roll on tables if a weapon* hit, apply a crippling effect if damage is from another source

* WEAPON (here, "weapon" incl. all physical attacks (melee weapon, missile weapon, natural weapon)
if a hit takes a creature to -6 or greater, then roll on the tables.
    note: Constitution losses are applied to the max. HP.
    note : Dex/AC (Dex if a Dex score, AC if no Dex score)

-6 or less, bludgeoning : Apply effects for Broken bone (arm or leg), no permanent damage.
-9 or less, bludgeoning : Apply effects for Broken bone (arm or leg), permanent damage.

0 or less, edged weapon && damage = 6+ && getrand(25%) : only use the 2-4 hp per round rules <WSG>

[Sever] always use the 2-4 hp per round rules <WSG>, not the 1 hp per round rules

note, Con 0: then the creature dies, and cannot be ressurected
note, Dex 0: creature is automatically hit, cannot make missile attacks, cannot act during rounds when the party is surprised, and loses all thieving skills
    <move the relevant parts of these notes to the ability score tables>
note, ability -1 or less: excepting Charisma, the creature is dead

if a non-weapon* hit takes a creature to -9 or greater :
    fire = -1 Com + Major Burn <WSG>
    cold = -1 Str + Frostbite (d4: 1 of 4 last results on table) <WSG>
    acid = -1 Com
    electricity = -1 Dex
    green = -1 Con

Tabletop Play: only apply any effects on a figure not in the PC party if the creature is brought to -6 or less, and raised to 1 or more, for some reason.

Both: tail length (default : 1/3 of total, rounded to easy) should be included in the monster descriptions

UA: yes, tail hits with a weapon of sharpness can make a monster miniature smaller!
(remember, the tail can only be severed once!)

Hit Location Table 1: (Humanoid)
Head 1-15 1-20 1-25
Chest 16-50 21-50 26-70
Arms* 51-80 [01-60] 51-80 [01-60] 71-80 [01-20]
Legs** 81-00 [61-00] 81-00 [61-00] 81-00 [21-00]

* also wings
** also tail

Head = lose 1 point of Intelligence
Chest = lose 1 point of Constitution (1-8 hp if a monster)
Arm = lose 1 point of Dex/AC, arm cannot be used
    [Sever] = lose 1 point of Dex/AC, arm cannot be used
Leg = lose 1 point of Dex/AC, lose 1 point of move
    [Sever] = lose 4 point of Dex/AC, move = 1
    [Sever, last leg] = lose a further 4 points of Dex/AC, move = 1
Wings = lose 1 point of move, lose 1 point of MC
    [Sever] = cannot fly
Tail = lose 1 point of Dex/AC
    [Sever] lose 2 point of Dex/AC, move = (move - 2)

Hit Location Table 2: (Avian)
Head 01-20 1-10 - 1-15 1-10
Body 21-50 11-50 1-15 16-50 11-50
Wings 51-00 [1-100] 51-80 [1-60] 26-40 [1-20] 51-90 [1-80] 51-70 [1-40]
Legs - 81-90 [61-80] 41-90 [21-80] - 71-90 [41-80]
Tail - 91-00 [81-00] 91-00 [81-00] 91-00 [81-00] 91-00 [81-00]

Head = lose 1 point of Intelligence
Chest = lose 1 point of Constitution
Leg [Sever] = lose 2 point of Dex/AC when not in air (the creature now has 2 Dex or AC scores), land move = 2
    Last Leg [Sever] = lose 2 further Dex/AC points when not in the air, land move = 1
Wings = lose 1 point of move, lose 1 point of MC
    [Sever] = cannot fly
Tail = lose 1 point of Dex/AC
    [Sever] lose 2 point of Dex/AC, move = (move - 2)

Remember aerial combat damage rules apply as normal.

UA (game school)
Max Fall = 20 squares(1000') per round

if HP=0 or less
    (temporary exception: -1, -2, -3),
then immediately ALT = 0 (up to Max Fall)
    or next closest surface/figure (up to Max Fall)
    immediately apply falling damage + possible 'squish' rules (damage from a falling object)


Hit Location Table3: (Reptile)
Head 01-25 01-20 -
Chest 26-70 21-50 -
Abdomen - 51-75 1-50
Legs* 71-00 [1-100] 76-90 [1-66] 51-80 [1-60]
Tail - 91-00 [67-00] 81-00 [61-00]

* also wings but optional (default : 50% for either)

Head = lose 1 point of Intelligence
Chest = lose 1 point of Constitution (1-8 hp if a monster)
Abdomen = lose 1 point of Constitution (1-8 hp if a monster)
Leg = lose 1 point of Dex/AC, lose 1 point of move
    [Sever] = lose 2 point of Dex/AC, move = 1/2 of current move
    [Sever, 2 Legs Left] = as human leg
    [Sever, 1 Leg Left] = as human leg
Wings = lose 1 point of move, lose 1 point of MC
    [Sever] = cannot fly
Tail = lose 1 point of Dex/AC
    [Sever] = lose 2 point of Dex/AC, move = (move - 2)

Hit Location Table 4: (Insectoid)
Head 1-00 1-25 - 1-30 1-25
Thorax - 26-40 - - 26-40
Abdomen - 41-60 1-100 31-00
Legs - 61-00 [01-00]
(*61-80,  [01-50])
- - 71-00, [01-00]
Wings - (*81-00,  [51-00]) - (*71-00, [01-00]) -


* Use these only if the insectoid has wings. (actually, a 4a(Winged Insectoid) could/should be made)

Head = lose 1 point of Intelligence
Thorax = lose 1 point of Constitution (1-8 hp if a monster) and 1 point of Dex/AC
Abdomen = lose 1 point of Constitution (1-8 hp if a monster)
Leg = lose 1 point of Dex/AC, lose 1 point of move
    [Sever, per leg] = lose 1 point of Dex/AC, move = -1
    [Sever, 3 legs left] 3 legs left = ignore all prior movement reductions, apply reptile leg effects)
Wings = lose 1 point of move, lose 1 point of MC
    [Sever] = cannot fly
Tail = lose 1 point of Dex/AC
    [Sever] = lose 2 point of Dex/AC, move = (move - 2)

Hit Location Table 5: (Fish)
Head 1-75 1-25 [01-30] - 1-30 1-25
Body - 26-60 - 31-60 26-60
Fins 76-00 [01-00] 61-75 [31-70] - 61-80 [01-50] 61-80 [01-50]
Tail - 76-00 [71-00] 1-00 81-00 [51-00] 81-00 [51-00]

Head = lose 1 point of Intelligence
Body = lose 1 point of Constitution (1-8 hp if a monster)
Fins = lose 1 point of Dex/AC
    [Sever] = lose 2 points of Dex/AC, move = (move -2)
Tail = lose 1 point of Dex/AC
    [Sever] = lose 2 points of Dex/AC, move = (move - 2)

<*game school : math a little bit off, as nice square numbers were used>

Hit Location Table 6: (Snake)
Head 1-00 1-25 - 1-35
Body - 36-60 - 36-60
Tail - 61-00 [01-00] 1-100 [01-00] 61-00 [01-00]

Head = lose 1 point of Intelligence
Body = lose 1 point of Constitution (1-8 hp if a monster)
Tail = lose 1 point of Dex/AC
    [Sever] = lose 2 points of Dex/AC, move = (move - 2)

Note: These tables just the general guidelines/template.
    (Even this needs to be looked at, but only with an eye for playability)
    Once these get the playability 'green light',
    then individual tables (for some monsters) are made.
    These tables are just a 'helper rule', no more official than your decision.

Note2: Remember, from my point of view, i am thinking in terms of UA+.


    add  wounds (.)
magic effects, as normal

leg scars, <x>
wing scars, <x>
scars, <x>

burnt, <x> times
frostbitten <'x'>
dissolved, <x> times
poisoned, <x> times
electrocuted, <x> times

Z = total of all the x's that apply

the idea is to avoid screen clutter
(don't list all the wounds at the STATUS line)
instead of writing CRIPPLED at the STATUS line,
    @Z (whatever) can be     added after the HP,
        where Z is the total number of wounds


Originally posted by Anabstercorian
3) How do you explain hit points, or do you even bother?

3) That's easy. HPs represent not only the physical person, but that one's luck, skill in avoiding damage.
As luck runs low, muscles tire, and reflexes slow their measure, HPs. are lost to reflect this. The last few remaining are the actual physical body being harmed.
Okay, its rationalizing, but it works pretty well, I think 

Originally Posted by Onyx
Mr. Gygax, a question regarding a fundamental of D&D that has always weighed heavy in my mind (and if it's not one you want to tackle, I understand :P).
Heh, Onyx...

You surely do dramatize things <laughing>

This applies only to OAD&D. Later forms of the D&D game I am not responsible for.

Now I think you mean duplication, not duplicity, in the two combat factors you are so concerned with, AC and HP.
If you think having both is trickery, well, what can I say other than all games are based on the fallacious, they are not real.

Anyway, on to the basic assumptions employed in those two factors.

AC is the measure of how difficult it is to make an effective attack on a target subject. One might broaden it by including dodging and parrying, but those are subsumed in the single number, as is indicated by the addition of Dex bonus, thus obviating the need for a lot of additional adjustments and dice rolling. The game is not a combat simulation, after all.

Hit points for characters are a combination of actual physical health and the character's skill in avoiding serious harm from attacks aimed at him that actually hit. This is a further measure of the defender's increasing ability to slip blows and dodge, as mentioned above in regards AC. While AC increases mainly by the wearing of superior protectionm HPs increase with the character's accumulating experience in combat reflected by level increase.

In combination the two give a base protection and survivability for the beginning character and allow that base to increase as the character increases in experience. It does not pretend to realism, but it does reflect the effects of increasing skill in a relatively accurate manner while avoiding tedious simulation-oriented considerations and endless dice rolling.

As someone who has designed a number of military miniatures rules sets, I could have made combat in the OAD&D game far more complex, including all manner of considerations for footing, elevation of the opponents, capacity to dodge, parrying skill, opponents using natural weapons, etc. Knowing that the game was not all about combat, I skipped as much of that as I could by having the main factors subsume lessers, ignoring the rest. It is a role-playing exercise where all manner of other game considerations come into play, not just fighting.

Oh, least I forget, when magic is mixed into the formula, getting anything vaguely resembling reality becomes wholly problematical <paranoid>