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Hit Points and Body Points for Swords & Wizardry

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This post is the first of a series of house rule posts for the Swords & Wizardry Core Rules. (S&W is a free 0e retroclone.) These posts are draft conversions of some of the house rules I've used in my campaigns for many years to Swords & Wizardry. Final versions of these rules will eventually be collected into a supplement for S&W that I can give my players. Comments are welcome. I realize that many people will hate one of more of my house rules for one reason or another. That's fine by me, but will not stop me from using them as in their original forms, most have worked well in my campaigns for many years.

Hit Points and Body Points
Replace the standard character damage and healing system with the following:

Hit Points (HP) are rolled as normal for the character’s race and class. If Hit Points reach 0, the character is unconscious and begins to take severe physical injury. Further damage directly reduces Body Points.

Body Points (BP) are equal to his CON. If Body Points reach 0, the character is dead. Each two points of body damage a character has gives a -1 to all rolls.

Critical Hits: Natural attack roll of 20 (that would otherwise hit) is automatically a critical doing maximum damage and doing a number of body points damage equal to the number of damage dice rolled (normally 1). Most monsters do not have body points, so a critical hit will do maximum damage plus a normal damage roll to them and cause them to lose their next attack. Optional: Fighters of level 11 to 20 critical hit on a natural attack roll of 19 or 20 (that would otherwise hit). Fighters of level 21 or higher critical hit on a natural attack roll of 18, 19 or 20 (that would otherwise hit).

Recovering Hit Points: All characters recover all hit points after six hours of total rest (aka sleep). If a character has lost Body Points due to wounds, only 50% of total hit points lost are recovered per six hours of rest.

Healing Body Point Damage: Body points lost recover at a rate equal to the character’s (CON-10)/4, round up (minimum of 1 point recovered) per full day of rest. If a character has taken body damage, but has more than 50% of his Body Point left performs more than very light activity or careful travel during a day, he has a 50% chance of losing an additional body point. If a character has taken body damage and has 50% or less of his Body Points left does anything other that rest quietly in bed during a day, he has a 50% chance of losing an additional body point.

Healing Magic: Cure spells or their equivalent no longer restore hit points to characters (but continue to do so for creatures who only have hit points). A Cure Light Wounds (or equivalent) will cure 1d2+1 Body Points. A Cure Serious Wounds (or equivalent) will cure 3d2+3 Body Points. In either case, 1 point will be cured per 10 minutes of rest after the spell is cast (up to the maximum the spell will cure), if the rest in interrupted any remaining points of healing are lost.

Second Wind (Optional): Once per day, characters may regain 20% of their total hit points (round up) by resting in a safe place for an hour while eating a meal. This amount is reduced by 2 hp per point of body damage (to a minimum of 0 hp recovered).

Monster Body Points (Optional): If the GM does not mind the added complexity, monsters may have Body Points as well. A monster’s Body Points are equal to twice the number of hit dice the monster has.

Notes for the GM: This character damage and healing system is an extension of relatively common house rule allowing characters to not die at zero hit points but only when their reach a negative hit point total equal to their CON attribute. It formalizes this system and makes a clear distinction between damage that recovers quickly (hit points) and major physical damage that not only recovers slowly (body points). This system also provides an easy method for major physical damage to affect the character’s abilities without bogging down the game with hit locations and/or other complex systems. Hit points become “fatigue” (and minor “just a flesh wound” physical damage) that can be recovered with a good night’s sleep – if one is otherwise healthy. Body points represent actual major physical damage that heals slowly, often prevents the character from functioning at his best, and can get worse if ignored instead of treated. Note: Giving standard monsters body points does not really add much to the game except additional recordkeeping for the GM. The optional rule giving monsters body points is not really recommended.

Blotz said...
March 17, 2009 at 8:39 AM  

Well thought out. I've been looking for something like this for my upcoming C&C game... so...

Aaron W. Thorne said...
March 17, 2009 at 4:19 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aaron W. Thorne said...
March 17, 2009 at 4:20 PM  

Hmmm... I like most of this but the change to the healing spells confuses me. Unless I mis-read what you wrote, the ONLY way to restore hit points is six hours of rest. Is that correct? It seems like there should also be ways to restore hit points. Maybe healing spells restore some of both?

Randall said...
March 17, 2009 at 4:51 PM  

Aaron: Rest is the main way to restore Hit Points. Second Wind allows characters to recover 20% of their hit points (once per day) by eating a meal while resting for an hour. Various potions and the like might restore some as well.

When a night's rest will fully restore a healthy character hit points, I'm not sure that it makes much sense for spells to do so as well.

Spells do not do so in these rules for two reasons. First, I can't imagine a deity granting a cleric a spell that would restore a few hit points when a few hour's rest would do it. Second, as spells cost fatigue (Hit Points) to cast in my full house rules, you would end up with clerics who are able to fully restore everyone's HP at little or no cost to themselves -- unless the restore HP spells were high level spells.

Mr.Castle said...
April 18, 2009 at 8:15 AM  

I just came back here from your newest post, and must say...awesome! I also thought about this, in a similar way. But now, I won't have to write it down myself. Thanks


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