Tuesday, March 13, 2012

While you were sleeping

I want to add something to the HP rules because it makes sense and is a logical extension of my HP rules.  However I'm worried it might have unintended repercussions to game play.  The HP rules state that if a character's HP drops to 0 they are unconscious and all further damage applies directly to their stats.  When any stat falls to 0 they are in an unresponsive coma and if their STR stat falls to 0 they are dead.  The line I want to change in here is this:
If a character's HP drops to 0 they are unconscious.  When a character is unconscious, sleeping or otherwise unable to react, all damage taken applies directly to their stats.
Your HP are your ability to avoid damage and you can't avoid damage when you are unconscious or unable to react. This doesn't mean just being tied up because you can move and struggle and be tricky even when tied up. In the same vein it wouldn't mean most forms of magical holding or charm because you should be able to resist that. This also wouldn't apply to surprise or things you don't know about, as in a surprise missile attack which you might somehow sense just before it occurs.  But if you are actually unable to react (including mentally cause, hey magic hero fate here!) you maybe shouldn't have hit points apply to the damage.

I think this makes total sense and would avoid the temptation for any weird coup de grâce rules tacked onto the game via in house rules or à la the SRD.  I'm sure someone will use this to beat me over the head with at some point however.


  1. How does this impact monsters or does it only apply to characters?

    For example, what if the characters come across a sleeping dragon? Do they automatically deal ability damage? And what happens when the beast wakes up? Are its attacks reduced due to the ability damage?

    Also, do you have rules for automatically dealing extra or maximum damage against unconscious or dying targets?

    Finally, how does this interact with Paralysis and related spells? If the characters manage to paralyse a monster, can the then easily kill it? Is that broken?

    1. I don't see this working both directions, characters start taking actual physical damage when they run out of hp but only really special NPCs would qualify for this treatment and generally monsters die at 0 hp.

      Sleeping/Paralyzed orcs and guards are usually already dispatched with a word instead of hit and damage rolls in most games I've played (sleeping dragons not so much - I would probably say that they aren't really sleeping... a bound and paralysed dragon however is fish bait). Your Mileage May Vary depending on the monster - golems or zombies don't sleep and would probably have to be dismantled.

      If a character woke up a few points shy of a load after getting stabbed it would impact their ability to fight certainly.