November 16, 2010

HP Totals

One thing that comes up during our 4E fights is, how damaged is the other party member? The way I handle it is a two-prong answer. A character is allowed to freely know abstracts. By taking a quick glance at a person (no die roll required) they can tell if that person is unwounded (is at full hp), wounded (has lost some hp but is not bloodied), bloodied or down (at 0 or less hp). If a player wants to know more specifically how many hit points a person has left, I allow them to spend a standard action to make a Healing roll and if they make the roll (usually an easy TN) they know exactly the hit point total the other character is at.

I realize hit points are an abstraction themselves, but to allow for a more precise determination of the relative health of a character (without resorting to hp numbers) would require me to set up multitudes of descriptors; lightly wounded, heavy wounds, kirk-scratch, grazed, etc. I find it much simpler to allow hit point totals to show the relative health of a character. This can be translated as such; the character is down 10hp which is 15% of his hp, so I could describe this in character as “I am feeling about 15% of normal” but to keep it easy I just allow the characters to say “I am down 10hp”.

Note that I use this quick determination of relative health during combat when things are moving fast and furious. Outside of combat they can freely state their hit point totals.

How do you handle the question of characters/players knowing the hp total of another character?


Granger44 said...

I generally let the players freely state how many HP.

For the opposition, I give them a rough idea that equates to a percentage of HP. Unwounded, lightly wounded, wounded, heavily wounded, and down/dead equate to 100%, 75%, 50%, 25%, and 0% HP respectively. I borrowed this idea from Neverwinter Nights on the PC which used a similar way of denoting the status of the opposition.

Philo Pharynx said...

For PC's I let them communicate hp totals. After all, they've adventured together an know each other. It's a bit metagamey, but you should be able to tell your allies' condition better than your foe's. It also helps prevent you from wasting a healing power on somebody who hasn't been hurt bad enough to need it. For foes I give unhurt, hurt, bloodied, down. If people want to make a heal check as a minor action, they can have me give more info. I usually phrase it in terms like, "One good hit will get him to bloodied", "He's barely past bloodied.", and if they are down to 1hp, "Honorary minion".

The Red DM said...

I used to try to encourage my current group to use qualitative terms instead of quantitative ones, but they kept falling back on the numbers. I've since just come to accept it.