Death And Dying

Hit points measure how hard a character or creature is to kill. No matter how many hit points a charcter loses, he isn't hindered in any way until his hit points drop to 0 or lower.

Loss of Hit Points

The most common way that a character gets hurt is to take lethal damage and lose hit points.

What Hit Points Represent: Hit points mean two things in the game world: the ability to take physical punishment and keep going, and the ability to turn a serious blow into a less serious one.

Effects of Hit Point Damage: Damage doesn't slow a character down until his current hit points reach 0 or lower. At 0 hit points, he's disabled.

At -1 to (death threshold - 1 hit points), he's dying.

At death threshold or lower, he's dead.

Death Threshold: A character's death threshold is a negative number equal to his base (non-adjusted) Constitution score.

Massive Damage: (Optional rule) If a character ever sustains a single attack that exceeds his damage threshold (3 * his Con score) and it doesn't kill him outright, he must make a Fortitude save vs. DC 20, +1 per 10 points of damage over the damage threshold. If this saving throw fails, the character is reduced to -1d6 hit points regardless of his current hit points. If he takes the requisite amount of damage from multiple attacks, no one of which dealt enough damage itself, the massive damage rule does not apply. For example, a character with Con 15 has a massive damage threshold of 45 hit points; any single attack that deals 45 or more points of damage requires a Fort save to avoid being reduced to -1d6 hit points.

Disabled (0 Hit Points)

When a character's current hit points drop to exactly 0, he's disabled. He can can only take a single move or standard action each turn (but not both, nor can he take full-round actions). He can take move actions without further injuring himself, but if he performs any standard action (or any other strenuous action), he takes 1 point of damage after the completing the act. Unless the activity increased his hit points, he is reduced to -1 hit points and is dying.

Healing that raises the character's hit points above 0 makes him functional again, but he is conditions (can take only a single move or standard action each round) for 1 minute.

A character can also become disabled when recovering from dying. In this case, it's a step toward recovery, and a character can have fewer than 0 hit points (see Stable Characters and Recovery, below).

Dying (-1 to death threshold)

When a character's current hit points drop to between -1 and his death threshold - 1, he's dying.

A dying character immediately falls unconscious and can take no actions.

A dying character loses 1 hit point every round. This continues until he dies or becomes stable (see below).

Dead (death threshold or lower)

When a character's current hit points drop to his death threshold or lower, or if he takes massive damage (see above), he's dead. A character can also die from taking ability damage or suffering an ability drain that reduces his Constitution to 0.

Stable Characters and Recovery

Each round, a dying character must make a DC 10 Constitution check; if he succeeds by less than 5, there is no change. If he succeeds by 5 or more, he becomes stable (0 hit points). If the Con check fails, he gets worse; three failures, or a natural 1 on any roll, and the character dies. This roll should be made in secret by the DM so as to keep tension in the game. (Note: The three failures need not be consecutive - any three failed rolls before the character stabilizes means he dies.)

An unaided, unconscious character who is stable has a 10% chance per hour of regaining consciousness (1 hit point). A PC who regains consciousness, either on his own or by being healed, is staggered (single action each round, -2 to all rolls) for one minute.

If a character takes damage while dying, it has no effect unless it is greater than his (unadjusted) Con score, in which case he must make an immediate DC 15 Con check or die. Even if the check succeeds, he takes another step toward death (this could easily result in death anyway for someone on his second step, as a third failed roll means instant death).

Healing spells cure half their normal total on a dying PC (round down). For example: Garek the fighter is dying (-7 hit points); the party cleric casts cure moderate wounds on him, healing 13 points and bringing him to 6 hit points. He is now conscious but staggered.

A heal or greater spell applied either before or after the character wakens will remove the staggered condition; it also cures all its normal damage, not half.


After taking damage, a character can recover hit points through natural or magical healing.

Natural Healing: With a full night's rest (8 hours of sleep or more), a charcter recovers 1 hit point per class level. Any significant interruption during his rest prevents him from healing that night.

If he undergoes complete bed rest for an entire day and night, he recovers twice his character level in hit points.

Magical Healing: Various abilities and spells can restore hit points.

Healing Limits: A character can never recover more hit points than he lost. Magical healing won't raise his current hit points higher than his full normal hit point total.

Healing Ability Damage: Ability damage is temporary, just as hit point damage is. Each night of rest, a character must make a save against the original DC to recover 1 point of ability damage, or 2 points for complete bed rest.

Temporary Hit Points

Certain effects give a character temporary hit points. Any damage inflicted is taken from these hit points first - when they are exhausted, damage is removed from current hit points as normal. When temporary hit points are lost, they cannot be restored as real hit points can be, even by magic.

Any temporary hit points gained go away at the rate of 1 per minute, starting the round after they are gained. Temporary hit points from all sources stack; if a character already has some from one source and gains more from another, they simply add to the total, and he continues to lose 1 per minute.

A character can have up to 150% of his maximum hit point total (normal hit points + temporary hit points); any bonus hit points gained beyond this are lost.

Hit points gained from energy/ability drain (undead, or the energy drain spell) are gained as healing, up to the character's maximum hit points; any bonus hit points gained beyond that point are applied as temporary hit points and follow the same rule as noted above.

Increases in Constitution Score and Current Hit Points: An increase in a character's Constitution score, even a temporary one, can give him more hit points (an effective hit point increase), but these are not temporary hit points. They can be restored and they are not lost first as temporary hit points are.

Nonlethal Damage

Dealing Nonlethal Damage: Certain attacks deal nonlethal damage. Other effects, such as heat or being exhausted, also deal nonlethal damage. When a character takes nonlethal damage, keep a running total of how much he's accumulated. Do not deduct the nonlethal damage number from the character's current hit points - it is not "real" damage. Instead, when the character's nonlethal damage equals his current hit points, he's staggered, and when it exceeds his current hit points, he falls unconscious. It doesn't matter whether the nonlethal damage equals or exceeds his current hit points because the nonlethal damage has gone up or because his current hit points have gone down.

Nonlethal Damage with a Weapon that Deals Lethal Damage: A character can use a melee weapon that deals lethal damage to deal nonlethal damage instead, but he takes a -4 penalty on his attack roll.

Lethal Damage with a Weapon that Deals Nonlethal Damage: A character can use a weapon that deals nonlethal damage, including an unarmed strike, to deal lethal damage instead, but he takes a –4 penalty on his attack roll.

Healing Nonlethal Damage: A character heals nonlethal damage at the rate of 1 hit point per class level per hour. When a spell or a magical power cures hit point damage, it also removes an equal amount of nonlethal damage.

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