Constitution as Hit-Points

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I'm not sure if this is the right forum; I am not too familiar with 4e, but I am familiar with D&D & 2e. 

I'm looking for a way to make combat a bit more realistic and lethal.  Your hit-points are always your constitution score no matter what level you are; as you advance levels, your hit-points don't increase, but the other benefits do such as THAC0 etc.   I just want a hit to be a hit and not some abstract thing such as luck.

As for being wounded, your hit-point level constitutes your new constitution score.  If you get hit bad, and your at 3 hit-points left, you're as a person with a 3 constitution score.

Now, I do realize that the average constitution scores are 9 to 12 so a long-sword-blow won't kill outright in most cases; just like in real life.  However, a house-rule (20 = double-damage) or a really strong opponent can cause death in one hit. 

I do realize that this is balanced for PC to NPC conflicts, mortal to mortal, but when faced with a monster, things can get real bad for the PCs.   I say, give the creatures a constitution score and multiply it by it's size or something like that to get a more realistic measure of life.

Thoughts? Has anyone done this before?
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You'll get more/better responses to this down in the House Rules forum.

If you're proposing this for 2E then it might be mildly viable at low levels, but not beyond that.

If you're proposing this for 4E then it will turn almost every encounter into a game of rocket tag.
Everyone would play strikers, primarily dex based ones so they go first and 1-shot the enemy.


A defender doesn't have a point in defending. A fighter only marks when he attacks...but if he hits the guy is likely dead anyway, and if he's not, the guy might as well just stab the fighter.


leader healing becomes almost meaningless, cause your HP is so low that all healing surge heals will suck. They effectively become  the "get people up from below 0 so they can take 1 more hit" guys. Meanwhile a warlord MIGHT become more powerful, but probably not cause most of his attack granting requires him to hit.


Controllers lose all point. Dominate will never beat instant death.
And at later levels, those damaging area bursts will kill pretty much everything in their area of effect. Fireball (area burst 3),
3d6 + Int + static bonuses, miss half damage, should by level 6-8 kill every normal enemy in the burst it hits (and leave everyone else bloodied) and in paragon it will kill large portion of enemies it didn't hit either.

No, if you want to do this, you'll have to adjust damage all damaging effects also.
For all the reasons mentioned previously and more this couldn't work without similar adjustment being done on the DM's side of the screen. So much adjustment that I can't imagine the time investment is worth the (quite low) chance of success.

That said there's PLENTY of ways of making the combat in 4e more lethal. Many a time in my campaign have the PCs been forced to make death saves - ie. below 0 hitpoints. The DM generally gave us a free pass by foregoing any more attacks on that PC and moving onto another; you could opt to take the other route and just pound the poor guy into the ground! Essentially with a bit of acumen you've already got the tools, both mathematical and tactical, to make the hard as any masochist could want.
The DM generally gave us a free pass by foregoing any more attacks on that PC and moving onto another; you could opt to take the other route and just pound the poor guy into the ground!


This could be a fitting tactic, depending on the enemy.  An intelligent monster might move on, knowing that the person bleeding out on the ground isn't much of a threat anymore.  A hungry animal, however, would probably stop for a snack.

I ran the Slaying Stone with my group, and I killed the Bard in the Bullywug chieftain fight.  The defender didn't pull the shieftain out of the skull, so everyone piled up in front of the skull's mouth to attack him.  That made it incredibly easy to use his close burst power on them to great effect.  When the Bard went down, no one moved her out of the way, so the chieftain kept using that power.  Even so, the bard died from failing three death saving throws, rather than by hitting negative bloodied.

Fourth Edition can be pretty deadly.  I've damn near killed PCs by "forcing" them to go on after they expended resources.  That's really the key.  Fourth Edition is very much a game about managing resources.  If you fail to grasp that concept, it becomes very easy to get a character killed.

And, when it happens, the players know it's their fault, because they had every opportunity to correct their poor strategy.  One of the things I hated about 3E (I never played anything previous) was that my favorite classes were so easy to kill.  I hated that, for the span of about 4 levels, I was at the mercy of the cosmos to decide my fate, as I'd have maybe 5 hit points at level 1, and then average 3-4 every level thereafter.

Most of what has been said above.  The best way to make 4th edition lethal is to make sure the monsters you are using are either made with or converted to the damage expressions from the MM3 era; these were, I believe, updated in the DMG Errata.  Next is, honestly, to use terrain (damaging terrain, precipitous cliffs, etc) together with traps and moster themes and powers that make the entire encounter more deadly.

Monsters by themselves can be deadly, but they are much more deadly if they are used in conjunction with terrain and traps that complement them.  For example, Fire monsters are great, but having squares, puddles of oil to ignite and burn the PCs?  Much better.

Traps that scoot or move players into other traps, over cliffs (yes, they get a save vs that, but at the least they'll be prone, and then you pick out or create monsters that attack prone targets for more damage), onto difficult terrain, etc.

Or do what I once did with minions.  20 minions, ranged and melee, and each one had an "aura" of 4 squares that gave them a +1 to damage for every ally in their aura.  5 damage can easily become 10 or 15, which is more than half a wizard's starting normal HP.
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I thought of this today: what if you divide damage into lethal and bruising;  With Bruising-Damage, you gain hit-points whereas against Lethal-Damage, you can only use your Con.  An experienced gladiator would surely be able to withstand a fist-fight much better than a mage.



And at later levels, those damaging area bursts will kill pretty much everything in their area of effect. Fireball (area burst 3),
3d6 + Int + static bonuses, miss half damage, should by level 6-8 kill every normal enemy in the burst it hits (and leave everyone else bloodied) and in paragon it will kill large portion of enemies it didn't hit either.

No, if you want to do this, you'll have to adjust damage all damaging effects also.



True, but IRL, most people don't survive getting hit with a fireball and if they do, they have horrible scars and pain for the rest of their lives.

Famous Athasian last words: "Hey, you're wrong. I know elves, I've played AD&D for eight years. They're noble, sylvan creatures who will honor their word." In the desert, everything's further than it looks.
I thought of this today: what if you divide damage into lethal and bruising;  With Bruising-Damage, you gain hit-points whereas against Lethal-Damage, you can only use your Con.  An experienced gladiator would surely be able to withstand a fist-fight much better than a mage.



And at later levels, those damaging area bursts will kill pretty much everything in their area of effect. Fireball (area burst 3),
3d6 + Int + static bonuses, miss half damage, should by level 6-8 kill every normal enemy in the burst it hits (and leave everyone else bloodied) and in paragon it will kill large portion of enemies it didn't hit either.

No, if you want to do this, you'll have to adjust damage all damaging effects also.



True, but IRL, most people don't survive getting hit with a fireball and if they do, they have horrible scars and pain for the rest of their lives.




To the first point: I believe the d20 iteration of the Star Wars RPG had a mechanic similar to this, where they seperated lethal damage and non-lethal damage. I'm not quite sure how it shook out specifically, but I want to say the non-lethal was depleted whereafter the lethal reserves were tapped into. Kinda like temp hitpoints now that I'm thinking of it.

That might be a place to look to get some inspiration if you're deadset on messing with the 4e mechanics.

The second point delves into the tired issue of virisimilarity in D&D, which I find to be a rather silly topic in general. HP is the abstract quantification of whatever you would like it to be, whether it's someone's ability to physically absorb the damage of a fireball or their ability to dodge and maneuver.
I'm not sure if this is the right forum; I am not too familiar with 4e, but I am familiar with D&D & 2e. 

I'm looking for a way to make combat a bit more realistic and lethal.  Your hit-points are always your constitution score no matter what level you are; as you advance levels, your hit-points don't increase, but the other benefits do such as THAC0 etc.   I just want a hit to be a hit and not some abstract thing such as luck.

As for being wounded, your hit-point level constitutes your new constitution score.  If you get hit bad, and your at 3 hit-points left, you're as a person with a 3 constitution score.

Now, I do realize that the average constitution scores are 9 to 12 so a long-sword-blow won't kill outright in most cases; just like in real life.  However, a house-rule (20 = double-damage) or a really strong opponent can cause death in one hit. 

I do realize that this is balanced for PC to NPC conflicts, mortal to mortal, but when faced with a monster, things can get real bad for the PCs.   I say, give the creatures a constitution score and multiply it by it's size or something like that to get a more realistic measure of life.

Thoughts? Has anyone done this before?

4E threw this away completely, but there is an alternative that you might want to utilize.

Healing surges.

Each character, by the rules, has a certain number of healing surges per day.  While there is no immediate harm done to players when healing surges are subtracted to them, take note that there is a very tiny number of things in 4E other than an extended rest that allows the recovery of healing surges.  In fact, one of the greatest fears in 4E is when you are facing a series of tough encounters with no healing surges, as healing surges are effectively the lifeblood of each character.

It's also based off Constitution, and you don't need to do any large-scale character sheet modification whenever a character gets hit.

With this in mind, here's how I'd go about with your idea: Design monsters who, in addition to normal damage, cause enemies to lose at least one healing surge on a hit (4E Wights are an excellent example of such monsters), double that amount on a critical hit.  Yes, 5 damage against a 16 CON (31 HP) Fighter might seem trivial, but after five hits -- 25 damage and 10 less healing surges -- any fight after that would basically be a death knell for the Fighter.

EDIT: a 10 CON Wizard (20 HP) who laughs at taking 2 damage per hit would be in for a rude awakening after taking 14 damage and losing all of his 7 healing surges, with the Cleric being unable to give him more than 1 hit point in healing once his vitality is out. 
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I really like Chaosfang's idea of introducing more healing surge damage for a more lethal game when tempered with moderation. The purview of these types of powers is usually the undead or any creating with the "draining" gimmick in their fluff. I'm not sure how contrived it would be to your players to constantly see healing surge drain amongst a pair of bandits only then to have their surges drained by a wight in the next encounter. Definitely a recipe that calls for "use to taste".
If you want to introduce some lethality to your game, look at the damage threshold from star wars saga edition.
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