Deeply Wounded

Hit points are an imperfect system. Anything above 0 and you’re at 100% fighting efficiency and suffer no penalties. As such, many Dungeon Masters have tried to introduce lingering wound subsystems, that add penalties when injured in some way: often critical hits or being reduced below 0 hit points.

The problem with most of these systems is they result in a death spiral. You become injured for some reason (bad odds, poor luck, bad strategy) and gain some penalties from your injuries. Which make the next fight harder, leading to more injuries and penalties. The longer the adventuring day, the more wounds you accrue until, before the climactic battle, all the PCs have a vast array of negatives and handicaps. This adds a whole other layer to the challenge of balancing encounters and gauging difficulty, as a fight with a boss that is already meant to be exciting and dangerous becomes even more deadly.


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