Tuesday, July 8, 2014

5th Edition Hit Points & Grievous Wounds

Damage and healing is a polarizing issue among the 5e crowd.  We have one camp believing hit points should be fatigue/stamina while another believes hit points are actual injuries.  For those somewhere in the middle, who don't want to house-rule away the HD healing and total refresh after 8 hours of sleep baked into the system's core rules, I propose this...

Instead of the standards double damage crit, the DM may elect to apply a grievous wound instead (not counting bludgeoning damage).  Grievous wounds do not heal at the same rate as other hit points.  They represent an arrow to the gut, slash upside the head, or taking a morning star to the spine.  The kind of physical devastation that won't disappear after a good night's rest.  Such damage takes 1 day to heal 1 hit point, unless supernatural healing is proffered such as cure light wounds, a healing potion, etc.

For instance, a slathering beast with orange and aqua scales lunges at the party's warrior.  The creature normally does 1d10 damage.  GM rolls a natural 20 and chooses to make this a grievous wound rather than doubling the damage.  He rolls a 7.

The fighter loses 7 hit points which will take 7 days to fully heal without magical means.  Whatever the fighter's hit point total, he can eventually self-heal that number minus 7 until tomorrow, at which point his total available hit points will be the usual number minus 6.  The day after it's minus 5 and so on...

Grievous wounds are not cumulative.  If that fighter took another critical and grievous wound for 5 points later in the day, his total aggravated damage would still only be 7.  However, if the damage rolled was 11 instead of 5, then the fighter's grievous wound would be at 11.

I thought about the difficulty some 5e gamers are having with healing damage quickly.  Rather than shouting, "This is terrible!" or sweeping it under the rug with justification after justification, I decided to try and fix the problem.  Some of us oldschoolers enjoy the deadlier aspects of D&D when players were somewhat afraid for their characters' lives.  But, if you prefer the modern approach, enjoy your coddling.

On the way home from work yesterday, I remembered aggravated damage from one of my favorite old school RPGs, 1st edition Vampire: the Masquerade.  Those who know V:tM will remember that being chewed up by a werewolf doesn't go away after drinking a little human blood.  Aggravated wounds are persistent.

Though it will only happen approximately 5% of the time (not counting advantage), I think this is a reasonable compromise for those, such as myself, who feel that not all injuries should alleviate swiftly.  Disagree?  Send me your feedback.  I want to know what you think?  Is this something you might use?  Why or why not?


p.s.  Or you could simply use exploding dice for all damage (again, excluding bludgeoning).  Just as lethal but without the extra bookkeeping.