Fellow bloggers at Aeons and Auguries and the Fighting Fantasist have gotten me thinking about Hit Points.
I've mentioned this in passing before.
After playing D&D for a long time I've fairly recently decided to take Mr. Gygax at his word and rule that HP are abstract and not actual wounds. Here is what I've started doing:
When characters reach 0 HP they roll on this:
I was inspired by this and this. Like Aos, I wanted the table to be generic, that is I wanted it to make sense for an injury made by tooth and claw as well as blade or bazooka. Like Trollsmyth I wanted things like knockdown and buff to be possible and I wanted helms to be important. I also wanted the super simple hit locations to play a role. This table's label is a bit of a misnomer, I don't use this when a Natural 20 is rolled, only when characters are dropped to zero HP. I suppose I meant it that way when I made the chart and maybe I would use it that way if I was playing a game with high level characters. Zero HP is the worst a PC can be, I don't track negative HP. Depending on how they roll on the crit. chart, a PC with zero Hit Points might be walking around just fine, or they might be on the ground dying. This could also be used in a pinch for fumbles: roll a D4 as if the D6 rolled a 2.
HD are rolled every morning. If you've spent the night in the wilderness or in a dungeon, then your HP can go down when you make this roll. I've thought about also making them roll an extra die and dropping the highest in wilderness/dungeons, but I haven't tried that yet. If the character is in civilization (as in a house, castle or inn, crashing in a haystack or barn counts as camping) then if a lower number than the character's current HP is rolled it can be disregarded.
If characters take a short rest (1 turn) then they can add 1d6 to their HP, but their HP cannot be raised over their max for the day. They can rest as much as they like, consecutively or not, but their HP won't exceed the max for the day. If a character has been reduced to zero and is wounded or dying, then they stay at zero until fully healed, resting won't help.
I have only used this a few times and I haven't used this at all in a game with a Cleric but this is how I would deal with their healing spells: Cure Light Wounds would eliminate one Light Wound, or make a serious wound a Light wound, or make a dying character merely seriously wounded. A character healed this way would not loose the limb, and would be only faintly scarred. The Cure Serious Wound spell would eliminate completely a light wound or a serious wound and would make a dying character only lightly wounded.
If the Character is dead and there are no high level miracle workers around, there's only one thing you can do: go through their clothes and look for loose change.