Sunday 7 November 2021

Generic Adventure Game: HIT PROTECTION & HIT DICE

Let's cut to the chase- this is another "0 HP" post, but I've been thinking about it while putting together this GENERIC ADVENTURE GAME  by working backwards from monster stat blocks.

You don't have to read any more if you don't want to. No one will think any less of you.

But if you do, let me know what you think.

Hit Protection

  • HP follows ItO "hit protection": at 0 HP your character is wounded, potentially lethally.
  • You only get one die's worth of HP (but you get still gain additional hit dice, see below).
  • At 0 HP the player makes a decision as to what happens.

0 HP 

When a character is reduced to first reduced to 0 HP during combat, their player may choose one of three options:
  1. Heroic Death
  2. Stay on Your Feet
  3. Go Down and Stay Down
    Heroic Death    
Exhausted, out-manoeuvred or otherwise beaten, the you are powerless to prevent the fatal blow. But in  those moments before it is struck you may perform one "heroic action", all context dependent of course:

    • Strike a deadly blow against your melee opponent.
    • Push an ally out of harm's way
    • Snatch a Macguffin from an enemy before falling into a ravine/lava flow/spike pit.
    • Pull the pin from a grenade on your melee opponent's bandolier.
    Stay on Your Feet

Roll 2d6 on the injuries table (below). Assuming your character doesn't die or is otherwise incapacitated, you may continue fighting. Each time the character receives further damage add this to the result of a 1d6 roll and consult the injuries table below.

e.g. Lister is reduced to 0 HP by the Curry Monster. His player elects for Lister to stay on his feet and rolls 2d6 on the injuries table, rolling "3". He receives a Flesh Wound but is otherwise able to continue fighting. The Curry Monster strikes him again, inflicting 7 damage. He rolls 1d6, scoring "2", adding this to the 7 damage and consulting the table... uh oh...  

     Go Down and Stay Down

In the fog of war no-one is quite sure what happened to you, but you're down and not getting up again. At any stage an ally may spend a round attending to you, at which point your fate is revealed: make a roll on the injury table with advantage i.e. roll 3d6 drop the lowest,

I character who is downed will die automatically if they are attacked with lethal intent by another character. 

In this scenario, the player opts to increase their chance of avoiding major injury by removing their character from the action, though this potentially also makes them more vulnerable to especially bloodthirsty foes (some animals might attempt to drag them away or savage them, while in pitched battle opponents are more likely to ignore them and attempt to deal with the enemies still standing up).  


Restoring HP

As long as a character is not injured, they may spend hit dice during a rest period ( 1 turn) to restore HP.

e.g. Meghan is a 3rd level magic user currently at 1 HP following an earlier encounter. She has 3 hit dice (1d4 each). She rests for  spends 1 HD to restore her HP. Her player rolls 3 on 1d4: this is her current HP total (3). She now has 2 hit dice left (she may not restore her HP if she has no hit dice, except after a night's rest).

If a character has had a good night's sleep, they may re-roll their HP in the morning without expending hit dice. They do not have to keep the new result if it is lower than their current HP.

After an afternoon of uneventful cross-country travel, Meghan and her party set up camp. The night passes without incident and she receives eight hours sleep. Her player rolls 1d4, scoring "2". They ignore this result: Meghan still has 3 HP.

The 10 minute rest to restore HP represents a chance to take stock, catch one's breath, calm your nerves and tend to any minor scrapes received. Even actions like readjusting one's armour or clothing after a tussle might constitute a restoration of HP, and wouldn't need more than a ten-minute turn.

Note again that characters cannot restore their HP if they have no hit dice, except after a night's rest

As an option, a GM might rule that fighters can restore their HP by stepping out of combat for a round and expending one HD. Again, this represents them catching their breath and adjusting their gear, as well as making a tactical assessment of the situation. They may not do this if they are currently in melee.

Meghan's party are ambushed by some goblins: her retainers step forward to engage in melee while she prods with a spear from the second rank. Her 2nd retainer is down to 1 HP after 2 rounds with a gob that he has since dispatched. While the goblins edge backwards in tactical withdrawal he drops out of combat for a round to catch is breath. The player spends his one HD to re-roll his Hp. 

At low levels, characters are arguably harder to kill under this system, but don't get any more difficult to kill as levels progress. This is addressed through the further application of HIT DICE.


As stated, PCs recover HP by spending hit dice. They start with 1 HD per level, replenishing hit dice when they sleep (normally at a rate of one/night)....

...but that's not all they're used for.

Whenever a PC rolls dice, they can spend one of their hit dice to augment that roll:
  • To improve their chances of hitting an opponent.
  • To increase the amount of damage a successful hit does.
  • To boost a saving throw.
What's more, a player could roll a hit die to "soak" damage inflicted against them:

While her retainer steps back to catch his breath, Meghan is temporarily exposed  enabling a goblin to fire an arrow at her for 4 damage. She spends a hit die to mitigate the this, rolling 3 on 1d4 and thus taking 1 point (4-3) of damage.
Usually players are constrained by the rule of 1 die per roll. However,  this could be bent for certain classes:
  • Fighters may add as many dice as they desire to melee rolls.
  • The divine favour bestowed upon clerics enables them to roll as many dice as they can for saving throws.
  • Magic-Users may add as many hit dice as they have to spell rolls of any kind.

Here's an old post about HIT DICE that explains why I treat them the way I do:

Injury Table

2 Unhurt.

3-4    Flesh wound.  

Character receives minor cut, bruise,  burn, scratch etc: no bones, organs or major blood vessels damaged. However, may not restore HP until wound is treated.


5-6 Nasty Wound.

As above but also:

    • Save vs paralysis or stunned 1 round.
    • Some temporary handicap affecting mobility takes effect until treated.
    • Cannot restore HP for 1d4 days.

Severe Wound.

A serious injury that will leave a permanent scar but no damage to organs or bones. As above but additionally:

  • Save vs paralysis or stunned further 1d4 rounds.
  • Some temporary handicap affecting mobility takes effect until treated.
  • Cannot restore HP for 2d4 days. 


8-9 Critical Wound.

This injury is so severe the victim is at risk of death. Make a save ( dragon breath for fire, acid or lightning, death for all else)... if failed:

    • Character loses (or loses the use of) a limb (determine randomly or whatever is narratively appropriate)
    • Character has just 2d4 rounds to live unless they are attended to. They may take whatever actions seem appropriate for someone in their condition.
    • If attended to they will not be able to recover any HP for 2d6 weeks. The GM and player should discuss the implications of limb loss for how the character proceeds with the world.

If the save is passed:

    •  The character loses the use of a limb (most likely a break) and is stunned for 1d6 rounds, unable to act while they reel in pain.
    • The limb will not be restored to full use for 2d6 weeks, during which time they may not restore HP.

10-11 Fatal Wound I

Save vs death or die instantly; if save successfully stagger on for 1d8rounds before dropping dead from blood loss/ organ failure/other. A skilled healer or appropriate magic (cure critical wounds?) will prevent their death. 


12 Fatal Wound II

Save vs death or die instantly; if save successfully stagger on for 1d4 rounds before dropping dead from blood loss/ organ failure/other. They are beyond the help of healing magic. 

Healing Magic

The final two entries in the above table are a reminder to circle back and think about what healing magic means in a low HP system. I have some ideas, but not for right now.


Reverse engineered adventure game:

Hit dice:



  1. I'm gonna need you to back up a bit and elaborate on this curry monster...

    1. I, too, am curry-ous about this monster...

    2. Haha it's definitely the most interesting the post! OK, let me help you out: picture a lamb vindaloo takeaway (carry-out) placed in genetic splicing machine created by a lost alien civilisation. A smidgeon of human DNA should give the resulting abomination a vaguely humanoid shape. What are you picturing? Keep that image clear in your mind. Now do a Google image search for RED DWARF CURRY MONSTER and let me know how the results compare to what you're picturing.

    3. Haha wow that was definitely not what I had in my head but is amazing. I have not seen Red Dwarf but have heard good things.