In Geoffrey McKinney's old-school setting and ruleset Carcosa, hit dice are handled unusually. If you already know how, skip to the actual question, below. Otherwise, here is a refresher: a character or monster has a set number of hit dice, as in most versions D&D, but the type of die used is not fixed. Hit dice type are determined as needed, as are hit points. According to the rules (page 5 of the LotFP edition), hit points are determined "at the beginning of each combat."

This means that when combat begins:

  1. the type of hit dice are determined; let's assume a 3 HD character rolls d6's
  2. the 3d6 are rolled with the results [ 1, 3, 6 ] and placed in lowest-to-highest order, left-to-right, as shown here
  3. damage dealt is removed from the rightmost die; when it reaches 0, it is removed; if this character suffers 8 hp in combat, he will end combat with only 2 HD remaining on the table
  4. in a later combat, the character will only roll 2 HD (of a type to be determined then)

Bonuses or penalties for Constitution are added immediately after rolling in step #2, and bonus HP for monsters with (say) 3 HD +1 are treated similarly.

The Actual Question: How does damage outside of combat work? The rules state that hit points are rolled "at the beginning of combat," but damage is sometimes done outside of combat. For example, if a character, while sneaking around, falls off of a wall, he might take 1d6 falling damage. Where does that get stored?

If it's held in reserve to be applied in combat, it might mean that he will die immediately upon rolling hit dice. He could have 2 HD and take 4 falling damage. When combat begins, he rolls d4 hit dice, which result in [ 1, 2 ], and he is now at -1 hp and dead.

Taking damage could trigger a complete calculation of hit points by following steps #1 and #2 above and then checking whether a hit die is lost. This seems like it could be a pain.

How is this addressed in actual play?

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not familiar with the system you're describing; but, common sense would suggest that maybe you have to roll his HD just like you would in combat, and subtract accordingly. \$\endgroup\$
    – RMorrisey
    Jun 24, 2012 at 17:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ It does seem like a straightforward way to do things, but it makes it extremely difficult, that way, to nickel-and-dime somebody out of his or her hit points. (This may be intentional.) It also seems like it would add a lot of overhead to otherwise very simple dice transactions. (This seems unlikely to be intentional, but Carcosa sure does love dice…) \$\endgroup\$
    – rjbs
    Jun 25, 2012 at 1:03

1 Answer 1


A couple ways to go about it:

1) Just use the combat system even if it's not an actual combat (as @RMorrisey suggested).

2) Have damage outside of combat deal damage straight to the HD of the creature. And if you reach 0HD, treat it the same as 0HP.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Can you explain what you mean by your #2 suggestion? \$\endgroup\$
    – rjbs
    Jun 25, 2012 at 16:16
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ falling damage is 1D, so take off 1D from the creature, rather than a specific number of hit points \$\endgroup\$
    – SeanC
    Jun 27, 2012 at 21:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Elaborating on #2: say the PC has 3HD. The creature hits a trap and the trap deals 1HD of damage, so now it has 2HD. If the PC then took 1HD of damage within a combat and be down to 1HD. If the PC then took another HD of damage from a trap, the PC would be unconscious due to 0HD similar to if they were dropped to 0HP in combat. \$\endgroup\$
    – Granger44
    Jul 2, 2012 at 19:03

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