A median way for HPs recovery & critical hits

There’s a problem with healing and hps from the start.


• They fail to render the fact that being wounded doesn’t stop a trained combatant to rest and resume combat the next day without problem after a more difficult wake up that usual, provided the wounds are not too serious (or critical in game term), if you do not allow to recover all hit points during a long rest.
• They also fail to render the fact that some wounds are so serious that they won’t allow even a trained combatant to resume combat unhindered without stopping all strenuous activities, often for days, if you simply allow to recover all hit points during a long rest.


Edit : Wounds, here, are as abstracted as hit ponts. I could (and should) have said loss of hit points instead.

If you favor one of these two points, you leave all realism behind. The first point has the minor drawback of turning the adventurers into super-heroes like Spider-man that can heal any wounds overnight. The second point has the severe drawback of putting all the ability to simply go adventuring in the hands of a sacrificed player, the legendary healing bot.


I think it’s possible to solve these two points without going back to video game critical hits from 3rd and 4th editions (my favorite editions ! I don’t want to start an edition war !), with thunder, lightning and go-go dancers when you roll a natural 20 with a big weapon.


The idea is to keep simple hit points as an abstraction and simple critical hits as max damage.
The added complexity is to keep track of the critically lost hit points.


Hit points lost by critical hits cannot be recovered overnight and need special care. Other hit points losses are recovered after a good sleep.


From the critical hit point of view itself, it could be interesting to render the physical shock by having disadvantage on the next roll within one or two rounds.


Edit 2 : Death: a minor point I forgot to adress 

Zero hp or less by normal loss of hit points : incapacitated with no risk of death by itself.
Critical wounds equal to max HPs: instant death.
All damages while at zero or less hp are considered critical wounds.
Zero hp or less by a mix normal loss of hit points and critical wounds : you (critically, see above) lose one hp per round.


It’s the kind of hit points management I would like to see in the next edition. Even if it’s an added complexity for players, it doesn’t impact much the DM side and can keep us from the DREADED HEALING BOT with some alternate options depending on the nature of the wounds.

I suggest you read the description of "hit points" in ANY edition of D&D. You'll find a single common thread: None of them are meant to represent solely physical wounds.

Also, your suggestion is terrible, and won't solve any problems (in fact, it would exacerbate some of them). 
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I suggest you read the description of "hit points" in ANY edition of D&D. You'll find a single common thread: None of them are meant to represent solely physical wounds.

Also, your suggestion is terrible, and won't solve any problems (in fact, it would exacerbate some of them). 

That's why I said "The idea is to keep simple hit points as an abstraction and simple critical hits as max damage" Wink

I can accept that my suggestion is terrible, but only if you take the time to precise something, anything...
I can't discuss anything about this point, then !
I also like this idea, or at least a version of it. The point is that you need some kind of "wound" system to distinguish genuine physical damage from abstract hp. The simplest I can think of is what you suggest, but I'd phrase it as wounds lowering your max hp, and being more difficult to recover.

We differ in what we think a wound is... I've never particularly considered a crit to be more wounding than regular hit. To me, when you're really hurt is when you're reduced to 0 hp. So I'd like to see a sytem where any time you're reduced below 0, your max hp goes down. Recovering them takes more time and effort than healing hp does.

For instance:
- Any time your hp are negative, your max hp are reduced by that negative amount. So if you normally have 50 hp, and a blow takes you to -10, your max hp are now 40. If another hit takes you to -5, your max drops to 35.
- Your max hp increase by 1 per level during a long rest, or 2 per level with care and a heal check.
- Cure spells specify both hp healing and restoration of max hp. So Cure Light Wounds might restore 1d8+Wis hp, and increase your max hp by your Wis. Healing potions might not affect your max hp at all. Restoration might raise your max hp by 2d8+Wis; Regeneration might entirely restore your max hp to your healthy value.

If you thought that crits should do this, then it's easy to add.

I like this because it lets hp be abstract without losing the realism that real injuries exist and are hard to recover from. But injuries will be relatively rare, and only come from fights where things have gone more or less badly. It makes getting knocked unconscious more scary, but doesn't start a death spiral in that particular fight like penalties would. A minor injury would not be much of a handicap, but a party with a severly injured character will clearly be impacted.

The same mechanic could also be applied to poisons, disease and energy drain. It is pretty easy to understand, doesn't involve complicated penalties to track, but still provides a meaningful longer-term effect than hp damage.
Any "problem" with healing starts with the narrative. If you describe hp loss as "wounds" you are less flexible. A more abstract narrative (hp as luck, stamina, morale etc.) gives you more room to navigate.

For me, it has always helped to say "hp loss" instead of "damage" and "hp gain" instead of "cure" or "healing".

5e seems to have a "problem" with hp recovery on a mechanical level for some, though. It arises when a PC drops to -1 hp or lower, which is considered to be a major injury that stops the character from doing anything, falling to the ground, unconscious. After 2d6 hours, he recovers from that injury through mundane means, is at 1 hp an can rest for another 8 hours to have full hp again. For some people, that does not seem realistic and is hard to navigate around by a narrative based on the description of hp in the 5e playtest mechanics.
Healing by magical means in this situation seems to be no problem for those people.

I only see one way to solve this problem for this target group: an option to limit "quick" healing from below 0 hp to magical means combined with an option to increase the amount of hours it takes to heal from below 0 hp to 1 hp by mundane means to a week, a month or something like this, instead of 2d6 hours. I am sure, people opposed to mundane healing within 2d6 hours will be happy to let a diceroll decide (so 1d4 weeks or something like it could be ok for them).

Those of us who have no problem with this get the full bandwidth of mundane healing that makes Warlords in 4E such an attractive class to play and can offer story possibilities without clerics or healing potions. As long as we can generate a narrative that we can use, those people will be fine, I think.
If I understand, your suggestion is that "wounded" is just a binary condition: if you're below 0 hp, you're wounded, above you're not. I get the idea, but I guess I would like to see an intermediate stage between healthy (above 0 hp) and completely incapacitated (below 0 hp).

Also, I disagree that magical healing poses no problem... there is a lot of disagreement about how available and effective magical healing should be, and how that ties into the requirement to have a magical healer in the party.
I suggest you read the description of "hit points" in ANY edition of D&D. You'll find a single common thread: None of them are meant to represent solely physical wounds.

Also, your suggestion is terrible, and won't solve any problems (in fact, it would exacerbate some of them). 

That's why I said "The idea is to keep simple hit points as an abstraction and simple critical hits as max damage" Wink

I can accept that my suggestion is terrible, but only if you take the time to precise something, anything...
I can't discuss anything about this point, then !



Don't listen to him I like the idea. I also would like adding that any time you drop to negative hp you take note of them. The negative hp are added to the crit hp and lets call em wounds for now. Every day you recover back to full minus any wounds you have.

I think hp is a little bit abstract and a little bit life force. Otherwise why have damage at all? Crits matter! Dying matters! You heal a number of wound points equal to your Con modifier (min 1) per day of complete bed rest.
I personally prefer the idea of HP and wounds. Whenever you take damage > 1/4 your max HP you suffer a wound. You also suffer a sound whenever an attack drops you below 1 HP. Each long rest allows you to make a DC 15 Con check to recover 1 wound. A player can only take a number of wounds equal to 3 + Con mod before dying. Magic can heal wounds (hopefully out of combat) but HP should represent mostly fatigue (mental and physical) so can be healed by martial healing, second winds, etc. This system could allow you to just ignore negative HP as each time you take damage would just cause another wound. HP should have some means to recover quickly out of combat (but hit dice are definitely no the way to go). If you want a grittier game have wounds give a cumulative -1 to all d20 rolls.
I believe the original poster is looking for a way to apply Con damage instead of HP damage.  Con damage does a great job of representing serious wounds that would hinder a combatants ability.  This mechanic was used in a d20 game, but I cannot thick of which one.  It may have been Gamma World that had both HP damage and Con damage.  There were other damage types that attacked Strength and Dex.  A DM could generate a curve that indicates additional damage to stats as there is an increase in Con damage.  When reaching 4 points in Con damage then the character also suffers 1 point in strength damage.  When reaching 5 points in Con damage then the character suffers 2 points in strength damage.  This could continue to 8 points in Con damage, 4 points in Str damage, and 1 point in Dex damage.  Contine the curve to your hearts content.
Ah, yes, I considered "wounds" as an abstraction as HPs were, but if I don't say it, it doesn't help anyone Smile

@snot elemental : The downside of "seriously wounded under 0 hps" is that you can't function at all (under the current rules). My proposition is to allow to function even while beeing seriously wounded, but without beeing able to fully recover. It's dangerous, particulary for melee classes, but the choice is here.

@ Jaelis : I really wanted to keep things as simple as possible to make a difference between the "normal wounds" coming from fatigue from dodging, painful but minor hits ore being out of luck, and "critical wounds" coming from big loss of blood, cruel loss of confidence, or other serious medium or long term hindrances to the character recovery.

I considered things like progressive maluses to hit or to movement, but it attacked too much the iconic "D&D hit points system".
I think that more complex rules about hp loss and recovery would only be accepted as optional rules from most players and DM.

PS: I'll edit my first post about wounds as abstractions. 
We've taken to referring to hit points as 'hero points' and healing surges as 'heroic surges'.  So when a PC uses second wind, he 'recovers' hero points and loses a heroic surge.  

The only time we actually say 'heal' is when magic is obviously involved (like a cleric's healing word).  Normal rest is a time when the heroes 'recover' from the trials of the day.  If the story insists that they are actually healing, the PCs usually start out the next day with two less heroic surges.  Believe me, dat hurts ;).

There was one fella who was concerned about the realism of healing in 4e.  We adjusted the terminology and he seems okay with that. 
/\ Art
I believe the original poster is looking for a way to apply Con damage instead of HP damage.  Con damage does a great job of representing serious wounds that would hinder a combatants ability.  This mechanic was used in a d20 game, but I cannot thick of which one.  It may have been Gamma World that had both HP damage and Con damage.  There were other damage types that attacked Strength and Dex.  A DM could generate a curve that indicates additional damage to stats as there is an increase in Con damage.  When reaching 4 points in Con damage then the character also suffers 1 point in strength damage.  When reaching 5 points in Con damage then the character suffers 2 points in strength damage.  This could continue to 8 points in Con damage, 4 points in Str damage, and 1 point in Dex damage.  Contine the curve to your hearts content.

I considered ability damage as in previous editions, but I'm limited by my own vision of ability scores.

For me, when you lower constitution, you lower all abilities. Strength as you said, but also dexterity as you are used to be coordinated with your normal strength. And my opinion is that your mental is also affected by your health level, your Charisma as well as people keep noting your are too pale or else Smile.

I'm not saying that this kind of system wouldn't work, it would work very well in fact, but the added complexity would make it automatically optional, as a majority of players and DM don"t seem (my impression) to want to add so much time to combats, as keeping track of all losses between abilities could be overwhelming for some players and make a lot of DM cry. And losing Hps and Con make that you lose even more hps, from your current hps, and from your base hps, making damaging sources even more complicated to design.

@ Talaxar : Tracking and adding negative hps to the critical wounds in this system would be very cruel, and only aimed against the players ! Maybe that being under zero with critical hits should mean instant death and other case only meaning incapacitation without risking death unless you are coup de grâced to zero hp or less... I will add this to the first post as have not adressed this situation.

@Lawolf : This system would work perfectly with the 4th edition, but from what I understood, the next edition wants to avoid surge and martial healing that provoked so much hate...



If I understand, your suggestion is that "wounded" is just a binary condition: if you're below 0 hp, you're wounded, above you're not. I get the idea, but I guess I would like to see an intermediate stage between healthy (above 0 hp) and completely incapacitated (below 0 hp).

Also, I disagree that magical healing poses no problem... there is a lot of disagreement about how available and effective magical healing should be, and how that ties into the requirement to have a magical healer in the party.


It is a binary condition based on the rules mechanic in DnD. In any version of DnD there was no core rule that imposed a penalty on the loss of hp other than reaching 0 or -1 hp. In which case you drop and are unable to fight. In 3e there were feats or class abilities that let you continue the fight under 0 hp. But the core rule is and was: hp loss above 0 hp does not affect you fighting ablility.

As to the "intermediate stage" between full and 0 hp: There are several problems with this. We know from different RPGs, Rolemaster, for example, that mechanical death spirals exist. The question is: are they fun to play with? And for the most part, I would say, no. Because having to administrate penalties for hp loss seems complicated. Also, those penalties punish those in the front line more than back line characters, who usually do not suffer as much hp loss. And last but not least, you can introduce this "intermediate stage" in the game by simply narrating it. So if I am below half my full hp and get hit, I can describe how my character is getting tired and therefore unable to react quickly enough etc. There is no need for specific numbers in my opinion.
I personally prefer the idea of HP and wounds. Whenever you take damage > 1/4 your max HP you suffer a wound. You also suffer a sound whenever an attack drops you below 1 HP. Each long rest allows you to make a DC 15 Con check to recover 1 wound. A player can only take a number of wounds equal to 3 + Con mod before dying. Magic can heal wounds (hopefully out of combat) but HP should represent mostly fatigue (mental and physical) so can be healed by martial healing, second winds, etc. This system could allow you to just ignore negative HP as each time you take damage would just cause another wound. HP should have some means to recover quickly out of combat (but hit dice are definitely no the way to go). If you want a grittier game have wounds give a cumulative -1 to all d20 rolls.


What you are trying to do is simulate something by introducing a mechanic and certain numbers that mirror what you perceive as realistic. And if that suits you, that is ok.
To me, though, this seems like a lot of administrative work. In fact, it seems so complicated to me that I think of it as a deterrant for new players to be introduced into the game. I know this was the reason why we stopped playing with the death spiral rules of Rolemaster. And it is not necessary because it can all be dealt with on a narrative level.
Last but not least, DnD has never felt the need to introduce a "wound" mechanic for that reason, but deal with hp as something between "damage" and "luck", but not "wounds" only. So there has always been a design choice against rules like this in DnD. And for a good reason.

@snot elemental : The downside of "seriously wounded under 0 hps" is that you can't function at all (under the current rules). My proposition is to allow to function even while beeing seriously wounded, but without beeing able to fully recover. It's dangerous, particulary for melee classes, but the choice is here.


As soon as you decide not to treat a "critical hit" as a serious "wound" a la Warhammer FRP but just as a big loss of hp, the rules are fine. Then you do not have to keep track of how many hp you lost due to crits or penalties due to wounds. Neither administrative work, nor any complications.
"You can fight until you cannot fight anymore" works just fine because you can narrate it in any way you want.
You do not necessarily need numbers to simulate anything. You can do this at a narrative level.

There was one fella who was concerned about the realism of healing in 4e.  We adjusted the terminology and he seems okay with that. 


100% this.

@snot elemental : The downside of "seriously wounded under 0 hps" is that you can't function at all (under the current rules). My proposition is to allow to function even while beeing seriously wounded, but without beeing able to fully recover. It's dangerous, particulary for melee classes, but the choice is here.


As soon as you decide not to treat a "critical hit" as a serious "wound" a la Warhammer FRP but just as a big loss of hp, the rules are fine. Then you do not have to keep track of how many hp you lost due to crits or penalties due to wounds. Neither administrative work, nor any complications.
"You can fight until you cannot fight anymore" works just fine because you can narrate it in any way you want.
You do not necessarily need numbers to simulate anything. You can do this at a narrative level.

Then we're back to the choice of healing. How do you handle it ? If you heal quickly overnight, some people will point that it's silly as some injuries never allow someone to recover without intensive care. If you heal 1 hit point per day (I exaggerate), then some people will point that someone can take a serious beating and still be able to fight as efficiently after a good night.

The simpliest way to handle critical hits is that a critical hit is the one that drops you to zero hp or below. To handle critical hits is not a problem, there's a lot of solutions, flashy or not, with huge list of effects by locations or totally abstract. The problem is how to handle natural healing without falling in "always too seriously wounded to fight without a week long full rest" or "never wounded seriously enough to make me stop for more than a good night sleep".

And I'm not sure that leaving to the DM the decision of when you need intensive care or not is a good solution. Because HPs are an abstraction and then there is no way for the DM to determine the nature of the inflicted wounds. I call it a complication, even more severe than just keeping one of the two lacking rules to handle natural healing.

A solution is giving a tool to determine the global nature of the total loss of hps after an encounter. It happens that you realize how badly you have been injured when everything returns to calm, but how to handle the result from encounter to encounter during the same day or when ending an intensive care to fight again ? I tried some ideas but didn't find a way that wasn't more complicated than keeping track of critical hit damages.
If I understand, your suggestion is that "wounded" is just a binary condition: if you're below 0 hp, you're wounded, above you're not. I get the idea, but I guess I would like to see an intermediate stage between healthy (above 0 hp) and completely incapacitated (below 0 hp).

Also, I disagree that magical healing poses no problem... there is a lot of disagreement about how available and effective magical healing should be, and how that ties into the requirement to have a magical healer in the party.


It is a binary condition based on the rules mechanic in DnD. In any version of DnD there was no core rule that imposed a penalty on the loss of hp other than reaching 0 or -1 hp. In which case you drop and are unable to fight. In 3e there were feats or class abilities that let you continue the fight under 0 hp. But the core rule is and was: hp loss above 0 hp does not affect you fighting ablility.

As to the "intermediate stage" between full and 0 hp: There are several problems with this. We know from different RPGs, Rolemaster, for example, that mechanical death spirals exist. The question is: are they fun to play with? And for the most part, I would say, no. Because having to administrate penalties for hp loss seems complicated. Also, those penalties punish those in the front line more than back line characters, who usually do not suffer as much hp loss. And last but not least, you can introduce this "intermediate stage" in the game by simply narrating it. So if I am below half my full hp and get hit, I can describe how my character is getting tired and therefore unable to react quickly enough etc. There is no need for specific numbers in my opinion.


It's not really clear whether you read my own suggestion. I would not favor imposing penalties when your hp are below maximum... my suggestion, like the OPs, is that actual "wounds" could be reflected in a reduction in your max hp. That leaves you still effective in combat, but with reduced endurance.

It is true that hp were basically binary in previous editions, but in early editions, damage was pretty hard to heal so any damage tended to reduce your endurance for a long time. In later editions, damage was pretty easy to heal and there was no mechanical way to represent a wounded character. I see the max hp suggestion as a way to blend these two approaches. (It would also be easily modified to either one or the other, as a particular group prefers.)

This also ties in nicely with thing like poison and energy drain, which in previous editions definitely did impose penalties which were often hard to manage.

@snot elemental : The downside of "seriously wounded under 0 hps" is that you can't function at all (under the current rules). My proposition is to allow to function even while beeing seriously wounded, but without beeing able to fully recover. It's dangerous, particulary for melee classes, but the choice is here.


As soon as you decide not to treat a "critical hit" as a serious "wound" a la Warhammer FRP but just as a big loss of hp, the rules are fine. Then you do not have to keep track of how many hp you lost due to crits or penalties due to wounds. Neither administrative work, nor any complications.
"You can fight until you cannot fight anymore" works just fine because you can narrate it in any way you want.
You do not necessarily need numbers to simulate anything. You can do this at a narrative level.

Then we're back to the choice of healing. How do you handle it ? If you heal quickly overnight, some people will point that it's silly as some injuries never allow someone to recover without intensive care. If you heal 1 hit point per day (I exaggerate), then some people will point that someone can take a serious beating and still be able to fight as efficiently after a good night.

The simpliest way to handle critical hits is that a critical hit is the one that drops you to zero hp or below. To handle critical hits is not a problem, there's a lot of solutions, flashy or not, with huge list of effects by locations or totally abstract. The problem is how to handle natural healing without falling in "always too seriously wounded to fight without a week long full rest" or "never wounded seriously enough to make me stop for more than a good night sleep".

And I'm not sure that leaving to the DM the decision of when you need intensive care or not is a good solution. Because HPs are an abstraction and then there is no way for the DM to determine the nature of the inflicted wounds. I call it a complication, even more severe than just keeping one of the two lacking rules to handle natural healing.

A solution is giving a tool to determine the global nature of the total loss of hps after an encounter. It happens that you realize how badly you have been injured when everything returns to calm, but how to handle the result from encounter to encounter during the same day or when ending an intensive care to fight again ? I tried some ideas but didn't find a way that wasn't more complicated than keeping track of critical hit damages.


In the group of people I play with, we solve "healing" and loss of hp on a narrative level. We play 4E and there is a shaman and a paladin in the group who have access to magical healing. So there is more space to narrate the gaining of hp to begin with. The battlemind in the group, however, multiclassed into warlord and therefore has access to "martial" healing. So if he "heals" anybody, most of the time the hit that took the PC out of the fight turns out not to be that bad after all. Sometimes it is narrated like the stun effect shown at the beginning of the movie Saving Private Ryan.
Because the relation between the amount of hp lost and total hp left influences the narrative dramatically (a loss of 15 hp to somebody with 85 hp to begin with should be described differently than the same loss hp to a person with just 20 hp left), the players at the table narrate the loss of hp to their characters, because I as a DM do not keep track of their hp. The same is true for resistances or vulnerabilities gained through the use of powers and such. The players have complete control over the narrative there. As a DM, I have full control over the narrative concerning loss of hp for opponents. Poison damage always comes with at least a minor cut, because we feel that otherwise the narrative cannot follow the mechanical effect.
We also do not use "damage" but "loss of hp" and "healing" or "cure" only when, well, magical healing occurs. The multiclass warlord provides something like encouraging words, a lift in morale etc.
This works fine for us and we therefore do not have a problem with "healing" to begin with. We do not feel the need for mechanical solutions.

It's not really clear whether you read my own suggestion. I would not favor imposing penalties when your hp are below maximum... my suggestion, like the OPs, is that actual "wounds" could be reflected in a reduction in your max hp. That leaves you still effective in combat, but with reduced endurance.


It still is a penalty. A penalty to hp. Which leads into the same death spiral as numerical penalties on attack boni, AC, saves etc.
And all that to be able to come up with a mechanical solution to be able to describe a "hit" as a wound. This is where we differ: I do not think the description of a "wound" like this is necessary except a hit below 0 hp. You fight until you cannot fight anymore. Until you drop below 0 hp. Then you describe a "wound" that takes you out of combat. But it is based on the narrative if that wound will need a short rest and "martial healing" to bring you back on your feet or 2d4+2 weeks.
Also, "full hp" does not mean that there are not minor cuts or bruises. Those can be there, they just do not make a difference mechanically. At least that is what my opinion is, it might not be yours, because you feel your narrative has to be different.

 
It is true that hp were basically binary in previous editions, but in early editions, damage was pretty hard to heal so any damage tended to reduce your endurance for a long time. In later editions, damage was pretty easy to heal and there was no mechanical way to represent a wounded character. I see the max hp suggestion as a way to blend these two approaches. (It would also be easily modified to either one or the other, as a particular group prefers.)


I think this is not entirely true: healing damage in a mundane way was hard in previous editions before 4E. Magical healing never was. And there was always enough magical healing going around in the groups that I played in. It had to be, because mundane healing was so lame that magical healing was your only choice.


This also ties in nicely with thing like poison and energy drain, which in previous editions definitely did impose penalties which were often hard to manage.


I am not sure what you mean by "energy drain". If you are talking about necrotic damage like in 4E, it is easy to narrate. If you are talking about level drain a la 3e or earlier, there is a reason why 4E got rid of that. It is a flawed mechanic. However, you can narrate that, too. And you have done it, I am sure.

About poison: I agree that this is the only kind of damage that is narratively connected to a wound. Always. Because how else is the poison supposed to work? But I could not say that poison damage was any harder to manage than other kinds of damage.

It's not really clear whether you read my own suggestion. I would not favor imposing penalties when your hp are below maximum... my suggestion, like the OPs, is that actual "wounds" could be reflected in a reduction in your max hp. That leaves you still effective in combat, but with reduced endurance.


It still is a penalty. A penalty to hp. Which leads into the same death spiral as numerical penalties on attack boni, AC, saves etc.


It's no more a penalty than losing hp are to begin with. If you've taken a few hits, you have less endurance than you had when you are fresh... in that sense, every combat is a death spiral. The issue I am interested in is how easy it is to recover.


And all that to be able to come up with a mechanical solution to be able to describe a "hit" as a wound. This is where we differ: I do not think the description of a "wound" like this is necessary except a hit below 0 hp. You fight until you cannot fight anymore. Until you drop below 0 hp. Then you describe a "wound" that takes you out of combat. But it is based on the narrative if that wound will need a short rest and "martial healing" to bring you back on your feet or 2d4+2 weeks.


I am not interested in describing a hit as a wound. Like you, I would say that you are unwounded until you are reduced below 0 hp.

Unlike you, I would like to see wounds (in that exact sense) which are less debilitating than those requiring weeks of recovery. I think that a wound can be substantial enough to impact your performance without making you unable to perform.

I am also unsatisfied that genuine wounds are just as easy to heal (via magic or powers) as mere hp damage. On both a level of modest versimilitude (if hp aren't real damage, why aren't they easier to heal than real damage?) and game mechanics (the threat of being wounded should be a substantial one).


 
It is true that hp were basically binary in previous editions, but in early editions, damage was pretty hard to heal so any damage tended to reduce your endurance for a long time. In later editions, damage was pretty easy to heal and there was no mechanical way to represent a wounded character. I see the max hp suggestion as a way to blend these two approaches. (It would also be easily modified to either one or the other, as a particular group prefers.)


I think this is not entirely true: healing damage in a mundane way was hard in previous editions before 4E. Magical healing never was. And there was always enough magical healing going around in the groups that I played in. It had to be, because mundane healing was so lame that magical healing was your only choice.


My experience with AD&D was evidently different than yours. It was not often that healing potions came up on the random treasure table.



This also ties in nicely with thing like poison and energy drain, which in previous editions definitely did impose penalties which were often hard to manage.


I am not sure what you mean by "energy drain". If you are talking about necrotic damage like in 4E, it is easy to narrate. If you are talking about level drain a la 3e or earlier, there is a reason why 4E got rid of that. It is a flawed mechanic. However, you can narrate that, too. And you have done it, I am sure.


Yes, I'm talking about level drain. I rather agree that the 3e implementation was a flawed mechanic, but that doesn't mean that a good mechanic can't be found. In fact, it was the playtest wight which inspired my enthusiam for this approach.


Treating hit points as character resilience makes a lot of sense, but it requires even more rules.
When you are "really wounded" at zero hps or less, the rules have to handle a lot of questions : Are you conscious or not, how are you hindered if you are conscious, when do you die, how it works for monsters and NPCs, and how do you recover below and above zero hit points.

@Snot-Elemental: Like Jaelis, my experience with AD&D was without many healing source outside our poor healing bot (automatically a god slave).
While I am ok with healing surges to limit healing, I am personnally against martial healing. I would prefer prevention of damage for martial healer, with out of combat mundane healing mastery.
In previous editions of D&D, there was a regeneration spell, but very few ways to lose limbs (specific magic weapons), and no way to break bones. A simple "critical wound system" would allow DM to narratively force broken bones or else upon players within the rules parameters.

I proposed this system mostly by fear of the 
healing bot return I saw in the player's feedback. If there's a risk of having too many critical wounds at some point in the fight, the healing bot concept is dead. Prevention of damage becomes more important, and the healer is then in an active role instead of a stupid reactive role forcing him to run from player to player.

4th edition was very nice for healers. I prefer fast pacing chains of adventures, but combattants never having to pause to recover at all is too much, even for me. Maybe because in the past my group had very nice low profile adventures in small villages and towns during recoveries. It never happened in 4th edition, but it happened far too much in old editions, where most recovery times were not played at all.
Treating hit points as character resilience makes a lot of sense, but it requires even more rules.
When you are "really wounded" at zero hps or less, the rules have to handle a lot of questions : Are you conscious or not, how are you hindered if you are conscious, when do you die, how it works for monsters and NPCs, and how do you recover below and above zero hit points.

@Snot-Elemental: Like Jaelis, my experience with AD&D was without many healing source outside our poor healing bot (automatically a god slave).
While I am ok with healing surges to limit healing, I am personnally against martial healing. I would prefer prevention of damage for martial healer, with out of combat mundane healing mastery.
In previous editions of D&D, there was a regeneration spell, but very few ways to lose limbs (specific magic weapons), and no way to break bones. A simple "critical wound system" would allow DM to narratively force broken bones or else upon players within the rules parameters.

I proposed this system mostly by fear of the 
healing bot return I saw in the player's feedback. If there's a risk of having too many critical wounds at some point in the fight, the healing bot concept is dead. Prevention of damage becomes more important, and the healer is then in an active role instead of a stupid reactive role forcing him to run from player to player.

4th edition was very nice for healers. I prefer fast pacing chains of adventures, but combattants never having to pause to recover at all is too much, even for me. Maybe because in the past my group had very nice low profile adventures in small villages and towns during recoveries. It never happened in 4th edition, but it happened far too much in old editions, where most recovery times were not played at all.

I see your points. I just disagree with all of them.
I want to play a fantasy game with heroes and magic, emphasis on game. Find me a game where you are punished with compounding penalties the more you play and I'll show you a game that blows. 

It's no more a penalty than losing hp are to begin with. If you've taken a few hits, you have less endurance than you had when you are fresh... in that sense, every combat is a death spiral. The issue I am interested in is how easy it is to recover.


It only becomes a death spiral if the mechanics prvent you from getting the hp back because of a critical hit. If healing does not depend on whether a crit was scored nad you can heal normally, you are fine.


I am not interested in describing a hit as a wound. Like you, I would say that you are unwounded until you are reduced below 0 hp.

Unlike you, I would like to see wounds (in that exact sense) which are less debilitating than those requiring weeks of recovery. I think that a wound can be substantial enough to impact your performance without making you unable to perform.

I am also unsatisfied that genuine wounds are just as easy to heal (via magic or powers) as mere hp damage. On both a level of modest versimilitude (if hp aren't real damage, why aren't they easier to heal than real damage?) and game mechanics (the threat of being wounded should be a substantial one).


I think I understand where we differ now: we agree that different wounds need different narration. But you would like a mechanical solution on top of that, because it otherwise does not feel "substantial". Is that correct?
The question then is: where does "substantial" begin and where does "this is no fun, because my character is on the verge of death all the time because of crits" begin? I would think that line is as hard to draw as living with abstract hps the way they are now, because a rule for this needs to be immensly finetuned in order to satisfy I would guess.
That said, I think there definetely is room for something like this in 5e. Mike Mearls has already mentioned that he too is unsatisfied with parts of the healing mechanics. I hope that they come up with something that satisfies your taste.

 
Yes, I'm talking about level drain. I rather agree that the 3e implementation was a flawed mechanic, but that doesn't mean that a good mechanic can't be found. In fact, it was the playtest wight which inspired my enthusiam for this approach.


I have not playtested the wight so I do not know if it feels dangerous or not. But if we are talking about the draining of life force, the loss of 3 hp off your maximum hp does not read too bad, especially because no other penalties are connected to it. I would also say that the administrative work is the same, whether you note -3 max hp or -1 to attack or something like that on the character sheet.
I am not saying your solution is bad or unplayable or anything of that sort, really. It is just that because I like to solve this through the narrative, I see no need for it.

@Snot-Elemental: Like Jaelis, my experience with AD&D was without many healing source outside our poor healing bot (automatically a god slave).
While I am ok with healing surges to limit healing, I am personnally against martial healing. I would prefer prevention of damage for martial healer, with out of combat mundane healing mastery.
In previous editions of D&D, there was a regeneration spell, but very few ways to lose limbs (specific magic weapons), and no way to break bones. A simple "critical wound system" would allow DM to narratively force broken bones or else upon players within the rules parameters.


There are many people like you who have a problem with martial healing. I do not think this is unsolvable and it certainly should not be a dealbreaker. 3e and 4E know temporary hp, which could all be part of martial healing. If you think bringing up a PC from below 0 hp through martial healing is unrealistic, a "martial healer" class would have to be compensated somehow mechanically for having only lesser healing powers. I think that is a tough nut to crack designwise.

But most of all I think a lot of the discussion about martial healing can be prevented by giving sound advice how to actually narrate it.

I think I understand where we differ now: we agree that different wounds need different narration. But you would like a mechanical solution on top of that, because it otherwise does not feel "substantial". Is that correct?


I think that is fairly accurate. In AD&D (my game anyway), pretty much every hit felt substantial. In 4e, no wounds felt substantial. 3e was a mixed bag... healing was pretty common, but things like level drain and ability damage still imposed a certain feeling of fragility.


The question then is: where does "substantial" begin and where does "this is no fun, because my character is on the verge of death all the time because of crits" begin? I would think that line is as hard to draw as living with abstract hps the way they are now, because a rule for this needs to be immensly finetuned in order to satisfy I would guess.


I'm more optimistic than you. Of course, I'm not particularly advocating treating crits this way,* but even if you do, I don't think it would be too hard to make the max hp reduction large enough to notice but small enough to avoid being the most common reason to stop and rest.


That said, I think there definetely is room for something like this in 5e. Mike Mearls has already mentioned that he too is unsatisfied with parts of the healing mechanics. I hope that they come up with something that satisfies your taste.


Me too, and I hope that it also satisfies yours!


____
*Besides the balance issue is the fact that such a rule would be exclusively anti-PC. Monsters aren't going to go rest up and worry about their max hp, only PCs will.
I've used something similar to this in a 4E game the idea is the first time in an encounter when you hit "Bloodied" you took a "Wound" roll randomly to determine location and then the character would have a minor disadvantage until the wound healed. Usually by magical means.

Ideas where, Leg wound reduce max speed by 2.
Arm Wound -2 to attack penalties with one-handed or twohanded weapons, or inability to use a shield.
Head wound, all targets gain concealment against your attacks, Ie blurred vision, blood in your eys.
Torso Wound, -2 penalty to your Fort and Ref Defense.

This concept got players to really work together to avoid getting bloodied in combat. Clercis would heal minor wounds quickly as they did not want to waste daily utility powers to mend wounds. The Heal skill made a revival as it could be used to bandage some wounds.

This system was nice because wounds became seperate from hitpoints. And Healing a wound was also different than recovering hitpoints. Hitpoints got to be the limit on what you can take/avoid or shrug off in a battle but the wounds counted.