- Subtract damage from hit points, death at hp <= 0
- Tally damage, death when total >= hp
So what I was expecting was that there would be hardly any votes for procedure #2. Actual breakdown was:
- RPGNet: 26 to 8 ((76% versus 24%)
- The RPG Site: 11 to 1 (92% versus 8%)
The benefit of switching is that #1 is kind of a micromanagement approach: you roll damage, mentally subtract it from your hit points, erase your hit points, and write your new total in; when healed, mentally add the points healed, erase your current hit points, and write the new total. In contrast, #2 has you make tally marks on scratch paper every time you take damage, and you just mentally compare the totals; only time you erase your hit point total is when your level changes, and only time you erase your damage tally is when healed.
However, in the discussions, those that use #1 but acknowledged the benefits of #2 did not mention the physical simplicity. Instead, they mentioned that addition is easier than subtraction, so theoretically #2 would be the better method. The reason why they tended to use #1 instead was because of the feel, the way the damage visibly drops and the player can immediately see how low their hit point score is. I would think that making hash marks on a piece of paper after every hit would have just as much psychological impact, but perhaps physically removing hit points from your total each time you are hit lets you interact more with your hit point score directly, making it feel more real.