Rampant Games - In Defence of Hit Points
Another thought-provoking post from Jay Barnson, this time looking at the tradition of "hit points":
Hit points originated as an abstract representation of the ability to absorb attacks by a military unit of organization. When pulled from the wargame world to Dave Arneson's Blackmoore campaign (the origin of Dungeons & Dragons), this arbitrary measure was retained. The value made little sense - while a certain number of damage points might work to measure a ship's seaworthiness or a platoon's ability to take casualties and continue fighting, it was a poor measurement of an individual's health. After all, people don't just keep functioning unhindered while absorbing loads of damage, and then suddenly conk out once an empirical threshold is reached.