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I am looking for some mechanics of adding a mental and social HP to characters in a campaign.

I was thinking mental could be wisdom bonus instead of con bonus but the dice for a class does not work. Like Wizards should have high mental hp and not d4. For social I would say d6 or d8. Perhaps a feat for going from d6 to d8?

Social would definitely be determined by charisma, and would make sorcerers more relevant to roleplaying / meta situations, like negotiations.

This system might involve diplomacy turning from roll vs roll to whoever gets to 0 social health points.

now I KNOW I saw this system somewhere but my searches have proved fruitless. If anybody has heard of this and can point me to it, or have their own version, I would be grateful.

Feel free to use 3.5 or Pathfinder interchangeably.

Thank you!

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This could be awkward to implement within 3.x, but I like the idea in general; deals with Goblin Dice nicely. –  KRyan Dec 4 '13 at 13:55
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The Apr. 2002 Dragon published Robin D. Laws's reputation system for 3.5 in "Adding Injury to Insults: Wisecracks Are No Joking Matter" (59-62). It's a shallow but really easy-to-implement social conflict minigame. –  Hey I Can Chan Dec 4 '13 at 14:34

3 Answers 3

Two important considerations:

1. Argument HP shouldn't go up every level.

Physical HP go up every level because everything starts doing higher damage as the levels go up - monsters, magic items, magic spells, etc. This is pretty much the intense design work of most D&D games - figuring out how to scale things as they go up without messing up the math.

Not only that, but there's also the odds that you might end up with something like arguments that drag out forever, and the arguments become extra boring when people run out of new ideas to say.

Social combat limitations/setting stakes

There needs to be a clear rule about what the stakes are for any social conflict. There's some things that just will never work - "I convince the king to give me all of his money!" etc. Vice versa, the players have to know what the consequences are for losing and to be willing to go with them before they pick up the dice.

The Burning Wheel RPG generally does a good job of dealing with this - there has to be a quick agreement about stakes before the social contest begins. If the goal of the opposition is too outrageous, there's no social contest, but once you've agreed to it, then you accept your character might be convinced of it.

So with both of those in mind, maybe something like:

Argument HP is 12 + Wis Bonus

Every round, you make an argument/point/say and do something to win someone over - roll a D6 + (Cha bonus for persuasion/make an impression, Int bonus if intellectual argument). If you have a reputation or greater authority, you roll a D8. If you have massive authority difference (Duke vs. citizen) you roll a D10.

Once you hit 0, you get one last argument/point in return. If both sides are 0, a large compromise has to be made, favoring the last one to hit 0. If the winner still has argument points, BUT is reduced to 5 or less, they have to make a small compromise.

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+1 for agreeing to stakes –  CatLord Dec 4 '13 at 17:45

The biggest issue I can see with social HP, especially by class, is how it unbalances the classes by the game's viewpoint. The wizard's d4 HD and the Barbarian's d12 HD are features. Giving a wizard extra social/mental "HD" compared to the fighter now makes it a mechanically unbalanced. I usually compared class level values to the d20 BESM 10 point/level method, which I believe is reflected in 3.5e's PHB2.


However, if you want to implement something the following is not in the RAW, but could work:

  1. Social Hit Points (SHP) = skill points/level (including the Int bonus) + Level.

  2. Let the character on the "social attack" make their roll against the target's Will save (adding penalties to the defender and bonuses to the offender). This could also be a Wis based Reflex save if you want.

  3. If the offender...

    • Succeeds, they deal 1d6 + Cha social damage (min 1)
    • Fails, they take 1d4 + (def) Wis social damage (min 1)
  4. When the leader of a given argument's side reaches 0 SHP cannot make social attacks, at -5 SHP they must perform an in character but favorable action on the opposing side's behalf.

Multiple offenders would essentially be a cooperative skill effort. Anyone not the "main" character for a side takes only the ability modifier damage whenever the "main" character takes any. Should they be reduced to 0, they cannot help anymore


I would like to say that I developed the above at this moment, so it likely requires refinement, but use it as you will.

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Pehaps you saw this mechanics in Trailblazer. It has good section about moral HP, attacks etc.

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Would you be able to summarize any of it? –  CatLord Dec 5 '13 at 2:26

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