Vitality and Wound Points

The vitality and wound points system was originally developed as a more cinematic method of handling damage than the traditional hit point system. The system allows for characters to improve the amount of punishment they can withstand as they go up in level, while still allowing for a single lucky attack to take down a character.

Vitality Points

Vitality points are a measure of a character’s ability to turn a direct hit into a graze or a glancing blow with no serious consequences. Like hit points in the standard d20 rules, vitality points go up with level, giving high-level characters more ability to shrug off attacks. Most types of damage reduce vitality points.

Characters gain vitality points as they gain levels. Just as with hit points in the standard d20 rules, at each level a character rolls a vitality die and adds his Constitution modifier, adding the total to his vitality point total. (And, just as with hit points, a character always gains at least 1 vitality point per level, regardless of his roll or Constitution modifier.) A 1st-level character gets the maximum vitality die result rather than rolling. The vitality die of a character class is the same as the standard hit point die granted by that class.

Wound Points

Wound points measure how much true physical damage a character can withstand. Damage reduces wound points only after all vitality points are gone, or when a character is struck by a critical hit. A character has a number of wound points equal to her current Constitution score.

Critical Hits

Multiplier New Threat Range
×3 19-20
×4 18-20
×5 17-20

A critical hit deals the same amount of damage as a normal hit, but that damage is deducted from wound points rather than from vitality points. Critical hits do not deal extra damage; for that reason, no weapon in this system has a damage multiplier for its critical hits.

Any critical hit automatically overcomes a creature’s damage reduction, regardless of whether or not the attack could normally do so.

Most weapons retain their normal critical threat range. If a weapon normally has a critical multiplier greater than ×2, the weapon’s threat range expands by 1 point per additional multiplier, as indicated on the table.

Injury And Death

Vitality and wound points together measure how hard a character is to hurt and kill. The damage from each successful attack and each fight accumulates, dropping a character’s vitality point or wound point total until he runs out of points.

Nonlethal Damage

Attacks that deal nonlethal damage reduce vitality just like lethal damage, but they do not deal actual wound damage. However, whenever a character would normally have sustained wound damage, he must succeed on a Fortitude saving thow (DC 5 + number of wound points that would have been lost from the attack) or be knocked unconscious for 1d4 rounds.

For example, a character has 3 vitality remaining, and 13 wound points. He suffers an attack from a martial artist that deals 6 points of nonlethal damage. He now has 0 vitality and 13 wound points, and must make a Fortitude save against a DC 8 (5 plus the 3 wound damage he would have suffered if the attack had dealt lethal damage) or be knocked unconscious.

0 Vitality Points

At 0 vitality points, a character can no longer avoid taking real physical damage. Any additional damage he receives reduces his wound points.

Taking Wound Damage

The first time a character takes wound damage—even a single point—he becomes fatigued. A fatigued character can’t run or charge and takes a -2 penalty to Strength and Dexterity until he has rested for 8 hours (or until the wound damage is healed, if that occurs first). Additional wound damage doesn’t make the character exhausted.

In addition, any time an attack deals wound damage to a character, he must succeed on a Fortitude saving thow (DC 5 + number of wound points lost from the attack) or be stunned for 1d4 rounds. (During that time, any other character can take a standard action to help the stunned character recover; doing so ends the stunned condition.)

0 Wound Points

Wound points cannot drop below 0; any damage that would cause a character’s wound point total to drop below 0 simply causes the character to have 0 wound points. At 0 wound points, a character is disabled and must attempt a DC 15 Fortitude save. If he succeeds on the save, he is merely disabled. If he fails, he falls unconscious and begins dying.

Any wound damage sustained by a disabled character immediately reduces him to dying, and any wound damage sustained by a dying character immediately kills him.


A disabled character is conscious, but can only take a single move or standard action each turn (but not both, nor can she take full-round actions). She moves at half speed. Taking move actions doesn’t risk further injury, but performing any standard action (or any other action the GM deems strenuous, including some free actions such as casting a quickened spell) worsen the character’s condition to dying (unless it involved healing; see below).


A dying character is unconscious and near death. Each round on his turn, a dying character must make a Fortitude save (DC 10, +1 per turn after the first) to become stable.

If the character fails the save, he dies.

If the character succeeds on the save by less than 5, he does not die but does not improve. He is still dying and must continue to make Fortitude saves every round.

If the character succeeds on the save by 5 or more but by less than 10, he becomes stable but remains unconscious.

If the character succeeds on the save by 10 or more, he becomes conscious and disabled.

Another character can make a dying character stable by succeeding on a DC 15 Treat Injury check as a standard action (which provokes attacks of opportunity).

Stable Characters and Recovery

A stable character is unconscious. Every hour, a stable character must succeed on a Fortitude save (DC 10, +1 per hour after the first) to remain stable.

If the character fails the save, he becomes dying.

If the character succeeds on the save by less than 5, he does not get any worse, but does not improve. He is still stable and unconscious, and must continue to make Fortitude saves every hour. If the character succeeds on the save by 5 or more, he becomes conscious and disabled.

An unaided stable, conscious character at 0 wound points has a 10% chance to start recovering wound points naturally that day.
Once an unaided character starts recovering wound points naturally, he is no longer in danger of dying.

Recovering with Help

A dying character can be made stable with a DC 15 Heal check (a standard action that provokes attacks of opportunity). One hour after a tended, dying character becomes stable, roll d%. He has a 10% chance of regaining consciousness, at which point he becomes disabled. If he remains unconscious, he has the same chance to regain consciousness every hour. Even while unconscious, he recovers wound points naturally, becoming conscious and able to resume normal activity when his wound points rise to 1 or higher.

Special Damage Situations

The vitality point system changes the way some special damage effects work.

Coup de Grace

A coup de grace functions normally in that it automatically hits and scores a critical hit (and thus the damage dealt is applied to the target’s wound points). If the defender survives the damage, he must make a Fortitude save (DC 10 + the amount of damage dealt) or die.

Massive Damage

The massive damage rule does not apply under this system.


After taking damage, a character can recover vitality and wound points through natural healing (over the course of hours or days), or through assistance. In any case, a character can’t regain vitality points or wound points above his full normal totals.

Natural Healing

Characters recover vitality points at a rate of one vitality point per hour per character level.

With a full night’s rest, a character recovers 1 wound point, or 2 with complete bed rest for 24 hours. Any significant interruption during the rest period prevents the character from healing that night.

Assisted Healing

A character who provides long-term care doubles the rate at which a wounded character recovers lost vitality and wound points, just like with hit points.

Any talents, skills, special abilities, or spells that restore hit points work somewhat differently under the vitality and wound system. Amounts of healing determined by a die roll are added to vitality, while static healing is directed at wound points. For instance, the tough hero's second wind talent restores a number of wound points equal to his constitution modifier. The first aid use of treat injury, conversely, restores 1d4 vitality. The exception to this is surgery, which always restores 1d6 wound points, regardless of character level.

Healing that is a combination of a die roll and a static modifier, such as first aid used by a dedicated hero with the healing touch talents or by most healing spells, apply separately to either pool. A paramedic with the healing touch I talent restores 1d4 vitality and 2 wound points.

NPCs And Monsters

Size Wound Point Multiplier
Fine ×1/8
Diminutive ×1/4
Tiny ×1/2
Small ×1
Medium ×1
Large ×1
Huge ×2
Gargantuan ×4
Colossal ×8

Vitality points are only granted to heroic characters. Ordinaries have no vitality points (either at 1st level or thereafter). Such characters have wound points equal to their Constitution score. Thus, a typical 1st-level police officer has no vitality points and 12 wound points. All damage dealt to such creatures is applied to their wound points.

Most monsters, on the other hand, have both wound points and vitality points. For Small, Medium and Large creatures, a monster’s wound point total is equal to its current Constitution score. Creatures smaller or larger than that have their wound point total multiplied by a factor based on their size, as indicated on the table.

A monster’s vitality point total is equal to the number of hit points it would normally have, based on its type and Constitution score. The GM may choose not to assign vitality points to creatures that pose little or no threat to PCs, such as domesticated herd animals.

Creatures without Constitution Scores

Some creatures, such as undead and constructs, do not have Constitution scores. If a creature has no Constitution score, it has no vitality points. Instead, it has wound points equal to the number of vitality points it would have based on its HD and type. Such creatures are never fatigued or stunned by wound damage.

Bonus Hit Points

If a creature would have bonus hit points based on its type, these are treated as bonus wound points. (For example, a Medium construct gets 20 bonus wound points.) The same holds true for any permanent effect that increases a character’s hit point total (such as the Toughness feat, which adds 3 to the character’s wound point total).

Damage Reduction

Damage reduction functions normally, reducing damage dealt by attacks. However, any critical hit automatically overcomes a creature’s damage reduction, regardless of whether the attack could normally do so. For example, a critical hit against a skeleton (DR 5/bludgeoning) overcomes the creature’s damage reduction even if it was hit with a weapon that does not deal bludgeoning damage.

Fast Healing

Creatures with fast healing regain vitality points at an exceptionally fast rate, usually 1 or more vitality points per round, as given in the creature’s description (for example, a vampire has fast healing 5).

If a creature with fast healing has no Constitution score, fast healing restores lost wound points instead. The same doesn’t apply to creatures that have no vitality points but do have a Constitution score (such as a human warrior or domestic animal). Such creatures gain no benefit from fast healing.


All damage dealt to creatures with regeneration is vitality point damage, even in the case of critical hits. The creature automatically heals vitality point damage at a fixed rate per round, as given in the entry (for example, a troll has regeneration 5). A regenerating creature that runs out of vitality points becomes fatigued just as if it had taken wound point damage. Excess damage, however, does not reduce its wound points. Certain attack forms, typically fire and acid, automatically deal wound damage to a regenerating creature, though it may attempt a Fortitude save (DC 10 + damage dealt) to convert this to vitality damage, which it can regenerate normally. Otherwise, regeneration functions as described in the standard rules and in individual monster descriptions.

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