Mental Hit Points?

This idea has bounced around inside my head for quite a while. I finally figured I’d just throw it out there and see what happened. Basically, you’ve “normal” Hit Points for physical damage. So why not some thing that affects a character’s mind?

Photo by cottonbro on

So let’s start with the basics. How many? Roughly, it be inversely proportional to Hit Points/Hit Dice with roughly the same style of progression except use Wisdom for a bonus rather than Constitution. We’ll call them Mind Dice or MD. For my exercise here, I’ll use the more old-school scale for HD as a base. So for our characters it would look like this:

  • Fighter: HD d8, MD: d4
  • Cleric: HD d6; MD: d6
  • Thief: HD d4; MD: d6 (Hey, they’ve got a slippery mind.)
  • Magic-User: HD: d4, MD: d8

So where and how would this come into play? The two things that spawned this idea were Charm and Fear. Instead of just the binary, make a Saving Throw and move on. Charm and Fear effects become something that can accumulate. Charm and Fear work their way into a character’s mind and begin to chip away at their resolve. You know just like Hit Points. So something like Charm Person could 1d8 Mental Damage, Save for half. A caster or creature could take a couple of rounds wear down a character. Whey the target reaches 0 points then they are Charmed or Feared. Taking the concept further (because HP are abstract too), you could add confusion and insanity effects as well. And as a bonus, Magic-users could use it a means to add some extra punch to spells.

If a character reaches 0 from multiple sources then whatever pushed them over the edge is what effects them. What exactly the effect might be will all just depend.

So what about recovery? Sure may be give Clerics a spell to “Heal” a character. And rest just like HP and just use the same rules that you would normal. And here’s where I get weird. For physical injuries, characters go to town and see a healer to heal faster. For mental strain, go to town and blow off some steam (carouse!).

So this is just a kernel of an idea. I may or may not expand it further. We’ll see.

4 thoughts on “Mental Hit Points?”

  1. I like what you’re proposing here and am interested to see where you take it. Does it not overlap with the whole CoC concept of “Sanity” though?


  2. I like what you are proposing here and am interested to see where you take it. Does it not overlap somewhat with the CoC concept of “Sanity”?


  3. Intelligence score was the original “mental hit points” in terms of encountering things that would lower your intelligence, like curses, cursed magic items and spell effects.

    Wisdom operated the same way.

    In 3.5 edition D&D, this process was standardized and optimized. In that edition, there are plenty of effects that cause “Intelligence Damage.”


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