In this case, the crushing was done via a foot on the NPC's testicles, at first without pressure. When he continued to refuse us key information we gradually applied pressure until his testicle was crushed.

One argument was made that a crushed testicle doesn't affect the NPC's hit points because it wouldn't compromise its ability to fight or flee. Another argument was made that damage is damage; it's bludgeoning damage-- the testicle was crushed underfoot-- and the NPC should lose hit points, probably 1d4 as an "improvised weapon" attack.

The NPC was able to escape but took attack damage while fleeing, so the torture damage could tip the balance of whether it lived or died.

So, would crushing an NPC's testicles in this way, as part of torture, reduce its hit points?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Just a reminder to hold voters casting “primarily opinion-based” votes: being up to the GM doesn’t make a question PoB, it makes that the answer. (FAQ for more: Does "Ask the DM / GM" equate to "Primarily opinion based?") \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 21 '18 at 15:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Pyrotechnical It’s been my observation that questions on certain topics have to handle the topic very well to get a positive score. Torture has been one of those topics. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 21 '18 at 15:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie I think that's reasonable, but I do think it's important for voters to inform the querent to that fact. He's a new contributor, so he cannot be expected to know the standards and preferences. If there's a meta link for that, can you post it as an advisory to the querent? \$\endgroup\$ – Pyrotechnical Sep 21 '18 at 15:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Pyrotechnical In fact, discussing downvotes is not the purpose of comments. If there is a notable improvement to the question that is resulting in downvotes, then a comment is warranted, but if the topic itself is disfavorable, then simply stating that in the comments is not part of the site's comment usage. \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Sep 21 '18 at 16:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ (Since PoB hold votes aren't for “it's up to the GM”, rather than hang around and wait for the fifth vote (all four are “PoB”), I've jumped ahead to the part where a mod reopens the question because the hold reason is invalid.) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 21 '18 at 19:08

This could fit in the definition of HP damage, but it is up to the DM as to whether it should at their table.

5e does not have locational damage

D&D 5e does not have locational damage or called shots, so allowing damage to be done to the testicles in particular would be opening the door to problems with future called shots issues. See this Q&A for more.

What this means for this case is that so stabbing someone is stabbing someone and it does damage if the attack says it does. Stomping on someone is stomping on someone and, if the attack/DM says so, it will do general HP damage no matter narratively where it is placed.

Hit points can do this

Hit Points represent much more than just just the ability to continue physically living or to "fight or flee":

Hit points represent a combination of physical and mental durability, the will to live, and luck. (PHB 196)

Thus, it is entirely possible that this kind of treatment could be argued to reduce hit points. Torture especially could be argued to reduce "mental durability" and "the will to live".

However, there is nothing in the rules that say that torture or testicle stomping has to or even should reduce HP. More precisely, there is nothing in the rules that forces stomping on testicles as part of torture to be considered an attack necessarily. In this case that the potential damage was done slowly and part of another process just makes it further removed from normal attack rules. Thus, this is just going to have to be a DM call.

There are many ways to run this scenario and not all involve damage at all

There are many ways a DM could choose to run such a scenario and many of the ways don't require battle mechanics (attack, damage, etc.) at all.

Since this is an NPC as you say, I could easily see torture being simulated by ability checks or saves instead of damage. They could also be played as completely narrative with no rolls involved. There are probably other methods that could also work. Since the game doesn't have any mechanics for it is must fall to the DM to decide.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Nother note, arguably a nitpick, making it skill-check based and roleplayed converge to the same thing if the roll has no chance to fail. For example if the prisoneer has been captured and is at the party's mercy \$\endgroup\$ – 3C273 Sep 21 '18 at 21:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose. Thanks, that's very helpful. I'm going to add the following clarification to the main question but, since you answered, I feel I owe you a more direct response. \$\endgroup\$ – Patrick Sep 21 '18 at 22:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @3C273 That is a very good point. It is probably a bit too detailed for me to include in my answer since there are just so many ways a DM could do it that giving specific advice like that will probably not even be useful. But it is a good point nonetheless. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Sep 22 '18 at 17:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose I warned it was a nitpick. ;) It's good enough in comments for those who want to see it. \$\endgroup\$ – 3C273 Sep 22 '18 at 18:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @3C273 I agree! I just wanted to acknowledge that it was a good point even though I wouldn't be incorporating it. :) \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Sep 22 '18 at 18:12

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