I'm Not Quite Dead Yet
More AD&D house rules by Alan Clark

Here's a scenario that doesn't make sense: Joe the Fighter, who has 40 hit points, takes 30 HP of damage at the same time that Joe Average, with only 4 HP, sustains 3 HP of damage. Each has lost 75% of his hit point total; you expect them to have injuries of comparable severity. Yet three days later, according to the Player's Handbook (p. 105), the average schmoe is fully recovered, while the hero won't be back to normal for a month yet. And high constitution makes no difference in this equation.

Unfair! One could argue that this system isn't broken, but I think it could stand some fixing. I started with the assumption that it takes a character 8 weeks, or 56 days, to recover fully from wounds that leave him or her at 0 HP. (This is obviously a simplification, but bear with me.) Therefore, a character's natural daily rate of healing is total hit points divided by 56. For every point of constitution above 10, subtract 3 from the divisor; for every point below 10, add 5 to the divisor. Round fractional healing rates off to the nearest 1/4 HP. If this produces a daily rate too low to be meaningful, use a weekly rate instead. Each player can note this healing rte on the character sheet for quick reference.

Under this revised system, the two Joes would recover 3/4 HP per day and 1/2 HP per week, respectively, assuming each had a constitution of 10. If the warrior had a constitution of 18 to go with his 40 HP, he would heal at the rate of 1-1/4 HP per day.

Then there's death. There are two typical approaches to PC death: either you're dead at 0 HP, or you're merely incapacitated at 0 HP but will die if allowed to slip to -10.

I use a more flexible system that, once again, involves constitution. If a character is reduced by injury to 0 HP or less, the plalyer must make a system shock roll at a penalty of -10% for each HP below 0. If this roll is made, the character is in fair condition; if not, a second check is made. Passing the second check indicates the character is in serious condition; failing it indicates critical condition. The implications of these conditions are:

Fair -- Incapacitated, but nothing worse. Any healing that brings the PC to a positive HP total will restore full capabilities.

Serious -- The PC is incapacitated and has received a serious injury that could eventually prove fatal, especially if untreated. A Cure Serious Wounds spell (or anything stronger) will restore him or her to normal. Cure Light Wounds or a successful Healing proficiency check will stabilize the PC's condition but will not restore hit points.

Critical -- The PC has received a death-wound and will expire in a number of rounds equal to 1d6 + 4 + current HP. (Since the HP count is probably negative, this could mean instant death; for -10 or lower, it's guaranteed to mean that.) A Heal or Cure Critical Wounds spell or equivalent will restore the PC to normal. Cure Serious Wounds will save the PC's life but will not restore hit points. The same result can be achieved with a successful Healing proficiency check, if the PC can pass one last system shock roll. Cure Light Wounds is useless here.

A character who's been stabilized in serious or critical condition will upgrade to the next condition after d4 + 5 days, minus hit dice bonus for constitution, if any. The character's HP healing rate doesn't kick in until he or she reaches fair condition.

And there you have it. I know it's more complex than the existing system, but it's more realistic, too. It also adds an element of drama. You can easily tweak this system around to get what you consider appropriate results. There's nothing wrong, for example, with deciding that a particular badly-wounded PC just loses an arm, a leg, or an eye instead of dying. Don't forget to fit the paladin's curing powers and the various healing potions in somewhere.

As always, I welcome your comments.

(Originally appeared in Re:Quests!, issue #35, October 1994, pp. 30-31; Mary H Kelly, editor.)

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