Hit points, also known as health points, life points, HP, damage points, life bar, or Mediveal War just health (and countless other Medieal War synonyms), are points used to determine a character's health and show how much damage attacks Meideval War deal in role-playing games, computer and video games and wargames. These terms are usually shortened to two letter acronyms such as HP and DP.
- 1 Use in role-playing games
- 2 Use in video games
- 3 Special uses
- 3.1 Zero HP
- 3.2 Negative HP
- 4 History
- 5 See also
Use in role-playing games
In the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game and D&D-derived games, player characters' hit points are determined by character level, and monsters' hit points are determined by a mechanism similar to character levels called "Hit Dice". Characters with high constitution will have an advantage when hit points are assigned.
In some games, hit points are determined by the type and strength of the attack, and when an attack succeeds hit points are deducted from the target's remaining supply. In most games using this system, when a character reaches zero hit points, the character dies, becomes unconscious, or is destroyed. One limitation of hit points is that in reality people generally lose combat effectiveness as they are hurt. However, conveying that realistically has proven very difficult for the gaming industry, especially with "living" characters; robots or vehicles, which also have Hit Points, can register damage as systems going offline.
Use in video games
Screenshot of a battle in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
. The character's HP can be seen in the lower left corner in blue lettering.
Although many video games use a life bar to display a character's health and how close the player is to failure (death, being knocked out, etc), many wargames, computer role-playing games, and combat-oriented video games instead use numbers to show more accurately the amount of damage an object or player in the game can take before becoming ineffective. The use of hitpoints instead of more realistic, yet violent gauges of "health", may help a game get a lower ESRB rating, as showing blood often raises the ESRB score.
In Final Fight, life bars are shown for both the player's character and the enemy in focus, as is common in many Beat 'em ups.
HP may also be displayed with icons rather than numbers. For instance, Super Mario Bros. 2 uses small red icons (in 16-bit versions of the game, they're changed to hearts) in the top left corner to designate how many hit points the player has remaining, and Dracula for the Sega Genesis uses small flasks of liquid. The Legend of Zelda series are other good examples of this method. In such games, often some weak attacks against the player will take only a fraction of a heart (usually one-quarter or one-half) and stronger attacks may take many whole hearts at once.
In more recent games, characters usually slouch over and breathe heavily (as a result of low HP) when left on idle.
Some games use a life bar in order to graphically represent hit points remaining, such as Pokémon (where enemy monsters' HP are shown only as a bar) and in fighting games. In some cases, writers on such games, such as the Tekken series, will refer to the hit points of a damaging move, rather than a more common percentage of lifebar description.
Other games, such as Deus Ex, show an image of a human body, which is all green to begin with. As the player takes damage, the respective region of the body turns yellow, orange, red, and eventually disappears altogether. For the head and torso, this is fatal.
Some games give bonuses or enhancements to players if they have or attain a specific amount of HP. Final Fantasy VII's secret "All Lucky 7's" feature causes a character that has 7,777 HP to start attacking enemies automatically for 64 hits, dealing 7,777 points of damage with each hit. However, if (or, more commonly, when) the player wins the battle, that character will then have only 1 HP.
Two special uses of HP involve zero and negative HP. They are two special conditions for certain role-playing games that allows for special actions that must be done in order to disrupt normal battle rules.
When Mallow uses his "Psychopath" ability on Dry Bones, it's reported Dry Bones has 0 HP but is still alive (or "undead" in the case of Dry Bones).
Zero HP is related to some cases when an enemy's HP is visible, it's reported to be zero. In this case, some enemies in games are invulnerable, because their HP is 0 to begin with and its maximum HP is 0. Since the enemy isn't dead at 0 HP, doing more damage will not do anything, and healing it will not do anything either because it's at its maximum HP.
In a programming sense, the enemy may not have a case where it is defeated based on HP, or that it has a really high HP value (such as 216 or 232) and it simply gets completely healed every round. The latter may be used more often, as this is simply complies with normal combat engine rules.
- In Super Mario RPG, the "Dry Bones" enemy is one enemy that has zero HP. Both it and the upgraded "Vomer" counterpart are immune to regular attacks, but will instantly die to any special attack. This is probably due to their being undead enemies.
- In EarthBound, Giygas in its third form cannot be defeated by simply attacking. Despite when Paula uses her Pray command and the result is damages in the hundreds of thousands, this is probably just to show hyperbolically that when other people pray for the characters, Giygas cannot withstand it. However, hacking into the rom of EarthBound shows that Giygas actually has 65535 HP and every turn it is healed.
- In Breath of Fire 3, when battling Balio and Sunder for the first time, they cannot be defeated no matter what.
- In various Final Fantasy games, characters inflicted with the zombie status effect will have zero HP. Games in this family have also carried the characteristic of having undead characters take damage due to restorative items and spells.
In some games, a character or monster can be "alive" although their HP are below zero. Usually, the character is unable to do anything - they are considered to be unconscious or similarly inactive. In the case with enemies, some of them must be brought down to a negative HP level before they can be defeated. Negative HP are most often found in role-playing games.
- A Player Character in Dungeons & Dragons with HP in the range of -1 and -9 is not considered dead, rather, they are dying. It takes a HP level of -10 or under to die. Note, however, that a player who takes 50 points of damage or more in one blow (and does not fall to -10 HP) must make a saving throw based on the amount of damage; failure of this check causes the player to die.
- In the Starship Troopers RPG, a character can be brought to a negative HP level and yet still be revived by a field medic.
- In Breath of Fire during boss fights, the boss continues to live and fight for a certain finite HP limit even though it's indicated life bar has depleted.
- You can also see negative HP in the FPS game Doom 3 if you happened to die from a highly damaging event (being at the center of an explosion or being crushed), in which the life display reads a negative number, though this is probably just for a comic exaggeration. In the Quake games, negative HP can tell the player how much damage the player character took. Between 0 and -40 the player model is intact and in one of several premade death poses; beyond -40, the player model is gibbed.
Hit points are such an integral part of almost all games that depict violent conflict that it is hard to imagine that they were invented. In an 2004 interview with Allen Rausch of Gamespy.com David Arneson talks about how the origins of hit points can be found at the very beginning or role playing games. While Arneson and Gary Gygax were adapting the medieval war game Chainmail to a fantasy setting, a process that would lead to the game Blackmoor and eventually Dungeons and Dragons, the two men saw that the emphasis of the gameplay was moving from large armies to small groups of heroes and eventually to the identification of one player and one character that is so essential to role playing as it was originally conceived. Players became attached to their heroes and did not want them to die every time they lost a die roll. In war games, a player is willing to have combat resolution for individual figures be a binary affair - either a figure survives and stays on the table or is killed and taken off the table. The player has dozens or hundreds of figures in his army or navy - the loss of any number of them does not end the game. But when, as in a role playing game, a player only has one character, that character's death is not so easily acceptable. Hit points, a concept which Arneson says he borrowed from a Civil War game called "Ironclads" he had developed earlier, offer a resolution of the tension between not wanting a character's survival to automatic - in which case role playing game ceases to be a game and becomes an impromptu story telling session - and not wanting the only negative outcome of a battle to be death. With hit points, players could experience the exciting tension of having their characters damaged by monsters but still survive.
- Experience point
- Magic point
- Action point
Dave Arneson's August 19,2004 interview with Gamespy in which he discusses the origin of hit points.
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