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?
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