Tuesday 30 August 2011

Hit Points are Player Morale

One more thing left over from my examination of what hit points mean: Players act a lot differently with 30 hit point characters than with 3 hit point ones.

So, in a hit point based gaming system, the HP dictate player morale.

I like to reverse-engineer this fact. Hit points are also character morale. If you play that zero HP or below is a serious physical injury possibly killing you, then any damage prior to that is the wearing down of confidence by near misses and glancing blows. And, as long as you have enough confidence, you just cannot be killed. Welcome to a heroic universe.

This means:
  • Failure to regain HP losses when resting in less than optimal conditions makes sense. So does losing HP for staying in such adverse conditions. Inns where you can't bling out to the tune of X Gold Pieces/Level are just not going to restore your pampered morale!
  • Magical fear can be modeled - and created in players - by a process of slow but nonlethal wearing down of hit points when in the presence of a terrifying creature or area.
  • Clerics don't so much lay on hands most of the time, as restore confidence and will. This might be an argument for same-religion healing bonuses. If going this route there also needs to be a way they can heal serious injuries.
  • Zero hit points might be "unconscious" but might also be "whipped and weary."
  • Healing surges make total sense!!!! (Okay, forget I said that) How about ... bards can cast area effect cure spells?


  1. Clerics healing serious injuries could be psychosomatic faith healing, like those revival meetings. A "STAND UP! AND FEEL THE HEALING POWAW! OF THE LORD-AH!" type of thing.

    Or it could just be mistaking correlation for causation. "That cleric cast a healing spell on my leg, and my leg healed, so the cleric must have healing powers." It just happens that adventurers tend to be quick-healers, which is why they put themselves into harm so often.

  2. Dude, did you just steal my notes? :D

    re: spells: healing spells cure wounds and an equal amount of non-lethal damage under d20 system. That would model perfectly the above effect. People like bards and warmasters can heal the nonlethal damage allright, berserkers being immune to it and stuff like that.

    It would be perfect if fallen and fleeing individuals would damage their comrades, and reinforcements would bring them up!

    Also, killing the opponent or wounding a big mythical monster would do the same.

  3. This is an extremely inspired post. Thank you for sharing it. Plenty to chew on and think about...