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Add-Ons for tracking Injury and Death

Written by MythicParty - Published on August 28, 2013

Hi again DungeonMastering readers.

I’ve had a number of people who either emailed me directly, sent me a text, and in one case actually stopped me in the store to talk to me about a column I wrote the other day regarding the concept of using counters in your D&D games.  My article advocated replacing boring pencil & paper tallies with something that you could not only actually see but that could also literally be taken away; what DMing reader Roland calls, ‘fiddly bits.’  (Which, if it isn’t in official gaming terminology, totally should be)

While this isn’t a brand new idea by any means, the majority of gaming groups continue to use paper because it’s both convenient and cheap.  And let’s face it, this is way most of us learned how to track HP from the moment we picked up those funny polyhedral dice.  Now granted, some groups have evolved into including a computer or tablet for their record keeping.  Calculon can definitely can help with the quickness for number crunching but electronic devices add yet another layer of detachment to the process, making it almost impersonal.  At least with the paper method, the paper is actually right in front of the players.

To re-summarize, having a tangible bit to show what your character’s life total is (or in some sad cases, isn’t) adds dramatic tension while improving accuracy.  I didn’t talk much last time about that latter benefit, but by putting all the numbers into solid form that are sitting in front of each player, there’s really no room for errors.  Accidental or otherwise.  The fuzzy math IS something that I did warn about the other week in, ‘The 4 Types of Players You Need a Save ‘Vs.’   Mandate using tokens and watch some players squirm.  Which for the integrity of the game is definitely an Add On that you can’t afford not to have.

However it was pointed out that there were aspects to tracking injury and death that I hadn’t included.  For example, Nonlethal Damage.  This could be anything from unarmed combat to desert heat to exhausting yourself from running too much.  Here’s a refresher from the SRD: “When you take nonlethal damage, keep a running total of how much you’ve accumulated. Do not deduct the nonlethal damage number from your current hit points. It is not “real” damage. Instead, when your nonlethal damage equals your current hit points, you’re staggered, and when it exceeds your current hit points, you fall unconscious. It doesn’t matter whether the nonlethal damage equals or exceeds your current hit points because the nonlethal damage has gone up or because your current hit points have gone down.”

I’ve underlined that last sentence because it’s important to remember. Ok, so there needs to be a way to also track Nonlethal Damage but it has to be in tangent with the HP tracking/Blood Bits.  (Man, that’s such an appropriate name for them)  Anyways, here are tokens you can use for Nonlethal Damage:

With the Frowny Faces to mark Nonlethal Damage, it becomes easy to compare them to Blood Bits to see if a player is Staggered or (cue dramatic music) Unconscious.  Fortunately, Nonlethal damage is somewhat simple to recover from: “You heal nonlethal damage at the rate of 1 hit point per hour per character level. When a spell or a magical power cures hit point damage, it also removes an equal amount of nonlethal damage.”  So in the event of a healing spell, in addition to giving them back an appropriate amount of HP tokens they’d also get to turn in a similar amount of Frowny Faces/Nonlethal tokens.

Alright gang.  Now that you’ve had awhile to think about including physical objects to symbolize Hit Points, Constitution, Death plus also seen the expansion of Nonlethal Damage what do you think?  Instead of sending me an email or stopping me in Wegmans, please take a moment to let us know in the Comments Section below.



Written by MythicParty

Dog-loving, movie-watching, pizza aficionado. Content Editor for DMing.com, Project Manager for AvatarArt.com, & player of the coolest characters in a weekly D&D game. Halflings are the real heroes.

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