By the time characters reach epic levels, death is a regular part of the game. So common, in fact, that it becomes almost a nuisance. As I prepared for my first epic campaign, I wanted to come up with a mechanic that made death a little less threatening. The mechanic I came up with was death points.
When I first used death points, it was in concert with a variant mechanic based on the rules presented in the “Death and Dying” article found on the Wizards of the Coast website (see below). While I think this worked fine for my game, I felt that combining the two mechanics made death a little too easy to overcome.
That said, I enjoyed the death points mechanic very much, as it was fun to see the players debate over how many points they should use in any given situation. I think if I had to do it all over again, I would keep the death points mechanic and leave out the rules for dying characters, just to see how things work out.
I’d be curious to know what others think of death points. Try them in your own game and let me know.
Instead of dying when they reach -10 hit points, epic level characters receive a certain number of negative hit points equal to 25% of their maximum hit point total. So for example, an epic level character with 100 hit points would receive 25 negative hit points instead of the usual 10.
In addition, the rules for dying have also changed. Instead of losing 1 hit point for every round that a character remains unconscious without healing or stabilizing, epic level characters roll d% on the following table each round to determine the status of their character.
01-10 Character stabilizes.
A coup de grace attack against a character who is unconscious results in instant death.
Characters who receive healing while at negative hit points return to 0 hp before any healing is applied. So for example, a character who is the target of a heal spell, and who has been reduced to -17 hit points, would immediately be restored to 0 hp before getting healed for 150 hp.