Raven's Keep



This is my take on an ‘official’ variation rule. Given that we are embarking in darker fantasy, Mythos / Conan type world, I want the physicality of the world to be grittier and more, dare I say, real. Typically a fighter can survive a fireball; a troll’s rending claws, and an one‐hundred‐foot fall, only to crumple in a heap due to a kobold’s dagger slash. This optional rule more realistically reflects the wear and tear a character might suffer from wounds. Each playing character has a pool of vitality in addition to hit points. A character’s maximum vitality equals the character’s Constitution score.

This is my thought, I want VITALITY to be both a bonus and a burden to PCs. PC are heroes. They are champions. Most of their opponents/monster will crumble when their HIT POINTS are reduced to zero. Monster’s HIT POINT are their equivalent to health, but a PC is different; they can take a licking and keep going. Thus I don’t think they should fall unconscious automatically. Potentially, a PC could stay active until their VITALITY SCORE hits zero; with this addendum, if they are brought to zero by any blow that causes VITALITY damage (a blow of 10 or more points of damage) or if they receiving damage when they are already at zero hits, in either of these circumstances the PC begins making UNCONSCIOUSNESS saving throws as described below, but failure caused by a bludgeoning blow causes unconsciousness.

At this point I suggest we look back to standard rule: Falling Unconscious: If damage reduces you to 0 hit points and fails to kill you, you fall unconscious. This unconsciousness ends if you regain any hit points. Thus when one of your buddies helps you with some healing or after a short rest (one hour nap). This is simple and it is the standard rule (for reference).

When your VITALITY SCORE hits zero your character is dead. Don’t treat VITALITY like HIT POINTS. If you are out of HIT POINTS all you can take is VITALITY damage but the rules will change when your HIT POINTS are zeroed.

If a PC takes additional damage after being reduced to 0 HIT POINTS, they take a minimum of 1 point of VITALITY damage per attack as long as it hits and causes damage, this is in addition to the normal 1 VITALITY per 10 points of damage the attack would have caused. Additionally, if you are below zero HIT POINTS you need to start making UNCONSCIOUSNESS saving throws with every new hit … Roll a d20. If the roll is 10 or higher, you succeed. Otherwise, you fail.

3 UNCONSCIOUSNESS save failures and you are unconscious (1 UNCONSCIOUSNESS save failure vs a bludgeoning attack and you are unconscious); run out of VITALITY and you die.

Once you go unconscious, you start to bleed. You loose 1 Vitality point at the end of your turn. Any magical healing or a successful First Aid check from someone else will stop this bleeding. You begin to bleed again if are successfully hit while unconscious. While bleeding you continue to make UNCONSCIOUSNESS saves. If you roll a 20 on the save you stabilize on your own and stop bleeding and wake up on your own with 1 hp. If you roll a 1 on the save you take an extra point of Vitality damage.

Let’s examine this, let’s say you have a 15 constitution (you are a hero aren’t you?) … If you are healthy it would take 15 attacks causing 10 or more points of damage to bring your VITALITY to zero, or if you out last your HIT POINTS due to a large number of smaller attacks that don’t cause any VITALITY damage, you may eventually be taken out by UNCONSCIOUSNESS SAVES, but otherwise you will be truly heroic and as a player you should have less downtime, but with the certain knowledge that you are putting your character at risk with your outstanding heroism. Anytime you could put yourself in harm’s way by toughing out a fight when you have no HIT POINTS left. And we haven’t done away with DEATH saves (though we’re renamed them UNCONSCIOUSNESS saves).

Completing a long rest increases a character’s vitality by 1 + the character’s Constitution modifier, up to the character’s maximum vitality.

Effects that restore hit points have no effect on vitality. However, a character with maximum hit points who receives healing instead restores 1 point of vitality for every 10 points of healing.


  1. A character’s maximum Vitality (VIT) is equal to the Constitution score.
  2. VIT damage is taken at the ratio of: 1 VIT lost per 10 HP damage taken (rounding down). If the attack was a critical, round up. If the source of the attack is bludgeoning damage, divide the VIT damage taken in half and round up.
  3. Being attacked while surprised has no added effect on the amount of VIT damage taken, but the attack is treated similar to a critical in that you round up after the division.
  4. If a successful attack results in a character having 0 HP, they suffer 1 additional VIT damage (either from crossing to 0 HP, or being hit while already at 0 HP). The character must also then make a KO saving throw.
  5. Upon a character’s third failed KO save (or only 1 failed save if from a bludgeoning attack), the character falls unconscious and also gains the “Dying” condition.
    • New Condition: Dying: At the end of the character’s turn, they suffer 1 VIT damage. The character cannot become conscious again until his/her HP have been raised to 1 or more.
    • Receiving healing that restore HP or a successful Wisdom (Medicine) check will stabilize the character and remove the Dying condition.
  6. If a character is a 0 HP and is Unconscious, any successful damaging attack against them will cause them to regain the Dying condition.
  7. Once Dying you start bleeding at a rate of 1 VIT at the end of your turn. Once you loose the VIT you may roll a Death save to try to stop the Dying condition and self-stabilize. On a role of 10 or better you stabilize and end the Dying condition. If you roll a 20 you end the Dying condition and immediately go to 1 hit point. If you roll a 1 your condition does not change and you take an extra 1 VIT damage this turn.
  8. Completing a long rest restores 1+Con Mod Vitality (minimum 1). Characters at maximum HP who receive healing restore 1 VIT for every 10 hp they receive over their normal maximum HP.



Class Changes


Starting at 11th level, your rage can keep you fighting despite grievous wounds. If you drop to 0 hit points while you’re raging and don’t die outright, you can make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw. If you succeed, you drop to 1 hit point instead. Each time you use this feature after the first, the DC increases by 5. When you finish a short or long rest, the DC resets to 10.

If the barbarian makes his Con save, he takes no Vitality damage from dropping to 0 hp, nor does he have to make an UNCONSCIOUSNESS save.


Moved from above until we’re settled on wording…

Whenever a character takes 10 or more damage from an attack or effect, the character loses vitality. Divide the damage by 10 and round down. The result is how much vitality a character loses. If a critical hit deals less than 10 points of damage, it still reduces vitality by 1. Also, surprise attacks cause double the normal vitality loss (double the damage before dividing by 10). Bludgeoning attacks don’t do as much vitality damage but have a chance to knock someone out (they do 1/2 vitality normal), bludgeoning attacks do however have a chance to KO a person with a single hit.

Attacks cause vitality damage

  • Vitality damage = Attack damage/10 (round down) or if Surprise attack, Attack damage/5 (round down)
  • A Critical Hit always causes at least 1 Vitality damage
  • Bludgeoning attacks do 1/2 normal Vitality damage (round down), but have a better change of knocking someone out (see below)