Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Simplified Wound Weeds & Hit Point Shenanigans

"Wounds and Weeds: Plants that can help keep characters alive" by Kevin J. Anderson appeared in Dragon #82, February 1984 and was reprinted in one of the Best of collections.  It had some good ideas in it for using detailed herbalism in a D&D setting, but was just a bit too cumbersome for my tastes.  Here's my attempt to cut it down to a manageable size.

Adder's Tongue Tea - Doubles natural healing for the day consumed.  25gp buys enough to make into 20 cups of tea.

Birthwort Poultice - Grants a second saving throw against poisons if applied within one round, magic poisons and venom from weird or magical monsters excluded.  15gp per poultice.

Comfrey Root - Heals d4 damage to one wound if applied within one round. 10gp per root.

Dried Bogmoss - Doubles natural healing for up to d4 days. 10gp per bunch.

Garlic Juice - If applied bodily has a 50% chance of repelling insects.  Applied locally it heals one point per each insect sting or bite.  May ward off vampies.  7gp per vial.

Juniperberry Paste - Mash into mouth to grant d4-1 points to any character that is unconscious or at death's door, but further strenuous activity that day will do d4 more damage.  Elves are affected as if by a love/lust potion unless they save versus poison.  15gp per per dose, worth 10 times as much to some elves.

Kingscandle Flowers in Wine - A vial of this painkiller will remove 1 hit point of damage from d4 wounds.  8gp per vial.

Marshwort Leaf - Cures d3 damage, cuts and punctures only. 5gp per leaf.

Saintswort in Wine - Pour onto a single wound, which will be healed d4 points.  10gp per vial.

Sweetweed Poultice - Heals d2 damage on a burn-based wound. 5gp per poultice.

The prices are completely bogus, by the way.  Anderson didn't give any so I just plugged some half-assed numbers in there.  Assume they include a ridiculous mark-up for rude adventurers flush with cash.  Also, don't assume that all herbs are equally available everywhere.

To make some of these work hit points need to be tracked on a 'per wound' basis.  Here is how that would work.  Get out a separate scrap of paper and mark it up like so:


slashed by orc scimitar 4
punched by angry jester 2
torch to face 6

Now you know that Marshwort Leaf can help with the orc-inflicted cut an Sweetweed applied to the face will soothe what ails you.  Magical healing should probably be applied to one wound at a time.  If you heal a whole wound, any overage can be applied to the next one. Natural healing is distributed randomly.

A five point Cure Light Wounds might be shown like this:


slashed by orc scimitar 4
punched by angry jester 2 0
torch to face 6 3

Thorgar's player is obviously expecting that Marshwort to help with the orc-slash.

Optional Rule: Any single wound of six points or more is considered a severe wound and incapacitates the character for a -1 to-hit and saves.  The penalty is removed when the wound is reduced to 5 points or less.  That ought to give the players an additional complication to worry about when healing people.

For even more fun track the wounds received and healed on a single record you keep for an entire campaign.


  1. I think this could be worked into an adventurers "first aid kit" for games lacking a healer or some sort, put it on a random table to see what is available locally, roll once for village, twice for town, and thrice for city availability.

  2. Any single wound of six points...

    I like the idea, but would probably change the "of six points" to "whose damage is greater than the character's level" and maybe the "-1 to hit and saves" to "all rolls and movement rate."

    Thanks for the Wounds & Weeds synopsis.

  3. Anonymous6:09 PM

    A character with 36 hit points could have up to 5 severe wounds, being almost dead, and suffer -5 on hit rolls. A lower level character with 10 hit point could only have one severe wound before dying. So the higher level character is more penalized for being almost dead.

    I think a 'severe wound' could be designed in a way that it is severe enough that a character can't have two of them and still be alive, so I would increase the threshold of the severe wound to half the character's total hit points. The penalty could be -2, or a 'disadvantage' as in D&D 5e.

    1. I don't agree with the last sentence of your first paragraph. The 36 Hp character suffers 2 sixpoint severe wounds. Now that Pc has 24 Hp and -2. In the same circumstances the 10 Hp character would be dead or dying.

  4. @Anonymous: I'm sorry. I play old school games. Balance I care not for.

    1. Anonymous10:41 PM

      Huh... what balance has to do with what I posted? A possible problem with that optional rules was that the more powerful the character gets the more he suffers for his wounds, which I believe goes against the spirit of the rules.

      I don't know which old school game you play, maybe chess? But balance has always been an important factor in D&D since ever, be it enforced by the rules, or by the DM.

  5. I have that issue. Nice conversion!

  6. Sounds a bit like the wound system used in the Pendragon RPG.
    Individual wounds are tracked - and are subject to separate First Aid skill rolls.

    "Major" wounds are single wounds exceeding the CON stat value. These require bed rest, weekly checks with the Chirgury skill, and can be aggravated (more damage countering normal healing) by continued activity.

    And once a character falls below 25% of their hit point total there are rolls to prevent falling unconscious.

  7. Anonymous10:29 PM

    This is great... I think it would be really useful for any game without clerics (which I'd like to run.) It also gives players something to spend their money on.

  8. Punched by Angry Jester.

    I'm definitely stealing that encounter.

  9. Anonymous3:09 PM

    Keeping the record for the whole campaign, just sixty pages of "torch to the face" :P

    Also, to account for higher-level PCs being better able to ignore pain from wounds, maybe say any wound with a HP value over your level gives a -1.

    Thus, the sample PC wound list you gave would give -3 to a 1st level (although he'd be dead by then anyway), -2 to anyone 2nd or 3rd (again, probably dead from the HP damage), -1 to a 4th or 5th, and no penalty to anyone 6th or higher (as he has no wounds with damage over his level). I don't think this would be especially hard to keep track of since everyone knows his own level and can apply penalties appropriately.

    Then again, I don't like the whole penalties-for-damage death spiral thing. It's hard enough to survive without more penalties stacking up, and in a fight where the DM has to manage an NPC party it's a nightmare already.

  10. Anonymous3:11 PM

    Or, have "severe injury" penalty as a possible outcome on a critical hit chart or death and dismemberment chart. I like the latter lately.