January 23, 2011

Extra Padding

No, I am not talking about my waistline. I picked up a copy of the Pathfinder Core Rulebook on Saturday, a useful purchase considering that I am currently DM for two Pathfinder games. Among other subtle changes between 3.5 and Pathfinder, I noticed that death occurs at negative hit points equal to the character's Constitution score (e.g. -16 for a Constitution 16 character) rather than -10.

During the last game session of the Three Kingdoms campaign, Kheshef the "half-orc" Barbarian was brought to -7 by a troll. I actually did enough damage to bring Kheshef to -10 and "fudged" the roll because I felt it created a more interesting situation; the dying Kheshef was tossed into the river and the party needed to react immediately to save him from drowning or bleeding out, versus watching his lifeless, eviscerated corpse wash downstream. If we had been using the correct Pathfinder rule, rather than the 3.5 rule, Kheshef would still have had a few rounds to live at -10.

I like the change because it gives front line characters some extra time to be saved by comrades. In contrast, 4th edition gives all characters an enormous positive and negative health pool. A 3rd level Barbarian with attributes similar to Kheshef's would have something like 24 negative hit points, a 10th level Warden can easily hit -50. It's interesting that in 3.x, negative hit point pools are a scarce resource while 4th edition made them inconsequential (all healing begins at 0, effectively negating actions that target characters below 0 hit points that do not deal a killing blow). It feels like, once again, Pathfinder struck an excellent balance between 3.5 and 4.

1 comment:

Green Light said...

I "lol" and then looked slightly shamed at your opening sentence.