"meat" points, and losing them means you are being wounded. In GURPS, HP are tied to the strength attribute (ST) and go up as ST goes up, or can be improved by themselves at a discounted rate. HP recover pretty slowly in comparison to other systems, but this makes more sense when HP loss literally translates to wounding and damage rather than other more nebulous concepts. Because of this, typical players in GURPS have less HP than in other systems.
- HP is short hand for how close someone is to dying, and is based on ST in most cases.
- GURPS has 3 active defenses that allow a character to avoid 100% of melee damage. These three defenses have two distinct formulas that are full of seemingly arbitrary numbers, but short enough to write down until memorized.
- If hit, DR normally acts as a flat reduction to damage. DR is simple to improve and normally only requires finding a place to buy armor.
- The Attribute Health, HT, directly impacts survivability, and each level increases the odds of continuing to remain conscious or alive.
- HP is an abstract concept that represents many concepts of vitality, and not necessarily wounds. Therefore, recovering large amounts of HP is easy, even by mundane means. Maximum HP is determined by a formula that is calculated from a character's class and constitution attribute.
- Armor Class is an abstract metric that measures ability to not incur physical stress from a fight, and has a somewhat complicated formula involving the character's Dexterity, the armor they wear, and their proficiency bonus.
- A character in critical condition is on the cusp of death, but the mechanics for not dying are very simple. There is no simple advancement mechanic for improving a character's ability to recover from near fatality, though some tangential abilities can be used to those ends.
ConcedingThe last line of defense is to concede defeat. Fate is a narrative game, so conceding defeat allows a player to choose to avoid specific consequences if it makes sense in context. If for example, a player does not want to die, they can concede so that the opponent can do anything to them except kill them. However, if the consequence that is to be avoided is not acceptable to the opponent (because, for example, his primary objective is to kill you, and there is no swaying him to any other outcome) then conceding is considered impossible and the battle continues. A character can only die then if the group decides that death is a dramatically appropriate consequence for the setting and situation: perhaps dying to a no-name thug is not dramatically appropriate, but then maybe a moving party saving sacrifice is appropriate, in which case the group agrees it is a fine way for a character to go out. If a character does not concede, then the consequences are up to the victor in the conflict and the player is "taken out".
So in summary:
- All damage from melee combat can be avoided by having a high Fight skill level.
- Stress tracks based on the Physique skill allow a player to absorb damage with no ill effect; they heal very quickly.
- Consequences give the character a long term consequence for physical trauma, and recovery times are commiserate with the severity. An Extreme Consequence never fully heals, and permanently etches itself on a character's concept.
- A character can concede a conflict if he does not think he can win in order to have a say in the consequences. If he (or she) does not, or cannot concede, when he (or she) is taken out, the victor decides the dramatically appropriate consequences.
- A high parry means a character doesn't get hurt at all. Parry rises when Fighting skill is increased. The formula for parry is simple.
- Toughness allows a player to shrug off damage that made it through a failed parry. Toughness can be improved by raising vigor or buying better armor
- A character is shaken if they receive damage greater than their toughness. A character is easy to wound when they are shaken, and can potentially lose many turns.
- A character that is damaged by a large amount or damaged when shaken accrues wounds. Three wounds put the character in a critical state where dying is possible. Characters with high vigor can survive easier. Using specially limited "bennies" a character can remove his own wounds by "soaking".
- Hit Points measure vitality, and the equations to increase them are simple.
- Condition determines threshold at which a player dies. The formula is always on the character sheet, so it is easy to remember.
- Initiative determines a character's ability to avoid damage and is based on INT and SPI. Using a shield guarantees a minimum value even if a player rolls a poor initiative.
- Defense points simply subtract damage received, and they can be increased by buying more valuable weapons and shields.
Summary and Other Observations
- First line of defense to not receive any damage (Active Defense, Parry, Dodge)
- Second line of defense to absorb damage (DR, Toughness, Defense Points)
- Final line of defense to absorb damage (HP, Wounds, HP)
- Test to stay alive if all else fails (Roll against HT, Test Vigor Trait, Compare Condition)