Health Levels or Health Points are used to determine the physical state of a player character in a roleplaying game. Each of the three major White Wolf systems had similar systems in place, with a few differences in between them.
On character sheets, each level of health is represented by a standard chart found towards the bottom. There were seven standard health levels that were used by all of the lines except for Wraith: The Oblivion. The levels represented the state of health for the character, along with the appropriate penalties to movement incurred by injuries the character received in gameplay. They also represented how long it would take to heal the injuries incurred. Different types of damage (bashing damage, lethal damage, and aggravated damage) also affect how a character's health levels are marked.
The standard levels are:
- Bruised. No penalties are issued.
- Hurt. A -1 penalty to dice pools and no movement penalties.
- Injured. A -1 penalty to dice pools and movement is slightly impared.
- Wounded. A -2 penalty to dice pools and movement is limited to walking and jogging.
- Mauled. A -2 penalty to dice pools and movement is significantly impared.
- Crippled. A -5 penalty to dice pools and movement is nearly impossible.
- Incapacitated. A character may take no actions or move due to unconsciousness.
Certain types of supernaturals can add additional health levels because of special abilities.
The exception to the health level rule are wraiths, spirits, and hues. Wraiths use Corpus, a basic set of ten points, to mark their damage. Being dead, a wraith has no health levels and therefore suffers no movement or dice pool penalties based on how much damage they take. Aggravated damage still affects their soak abilities and how a wraith heals themselves. Likewise, spirits and hues from Orpheus use Vitality to represent health levels instead of the conventional health level chart. A wraith, spirit, or hue who takes enough damage to "kill" simply discorporates or is pulled into Oblivion.
Revised Storyteller System
The Revised Storyteller System uses an almost identical Health Level system, with the major difference that some character types (mainly Novas and Exalts) are granted extra health levels to represent their increased resistance to damage. In addition, there are special rules for "Extras", characters not meant to represent a significant challenge, who had simplified health level charts and required little effort to incapacitate.
In the Trinity Universe games, Novas (or Aberrants) with sufficiently high Mega Stamina have more health levels than baselines or more "ordinary" Novas, though all resist physical injury to some degree. Some Mega-Stamina Enhancements also grant additional health levels. The type of level (Bruised, Hurt, etc.) gained is always the same for an Enhancement or a given level of Mega-Stamina.
Exalted ignores the names for health levels (Bruised, etc.) and instead refers to them only by the associated penalty (-0, -1, -2, -4 or Incapacitated). There is thus no difference in movement penalties between health levels with the same dice penalty, as there are with the named health levels used by the Storyteller System. All characters begin with seven health levels: 1x-0, 2x-1, 2x-2, 1x-4 and one Incapacitated.
Exalts and certain other characters (like gods and the god-blooded) may gain additional health levels by learning a version of the special Charm Ox-Body Technique. The number and type of health levels gained depends on the version of the Charm learned; Solars, for example, may choose one -0, two -1, or one -1 and two -2 health levels each time they purchase the Charm. Characters can never gain additional -4 health levels.
The Storytelling System uses a simpler but more flexible Health Level system in which an individual's health is calculated based on their Size and Stamina. Because the number of health levels is not fixed, dice penalties are assigned only to a character's last three levels, which have penalties of -1, -2 and -3. There is no specific "Incapacitated" level; rather, having the final level marked with damage gives a chance that the character is rendered unconscious, and possibly dies (or at least starts bleeding to death) if the damage received is lethal.
In addition, several supernatural powers (such as vampiric Resilience, or a werewolf changing into a more powerful form) grant temporary additional health levels. These act like normal levels in every way until they disappear, at which time any damage beyond the normal number of health levels "wraps around", upgrading the type of damage already taken to the next, worse level (i.e. bashing to lethal or lethal to aggravated damage).
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