Non-Lethal Damage (which is sometimes also called subdual damage or temporary damage), works differently from normal damage. Non-Lethal Damage is damage which is not intended to kill you, or is from a source which cannot kill you, but which can still impair your ability to continue fighting. Examples can include punching someone with your fist without the Improved Unarmed Strike, slashing someone with a (regular) whip, or striking someone with a sap. Exhaustion and even exposure to heat or cold temperatures can also deal Non-Lethal Damage.
Non-lethal damage cannot be reduced or mitigated with DR or ER, even if you have DR x/- or ER x/-. Only abilities or feats which specifically state that they reduce or mitigate non-lethal damage (e.g. Endurance (Feat)) can be used.
When you take Non-Lethal Damage, keep a running total of how much you've accumulated. Do not deduct the Non-Lethal Damage number from your current hit points. It is not "real" damage. Temporary hit points are not affected by Non-Lethal Damage in any way, and are ignored when determining whether your Non-Lethal Damage equals or exceeds your current hit points.
When your Non-Lethal Damage equals your current remaining hit points (not counting any temporary hit points), you become Staggered. You cease being staggered when your current hit points once again exceed your Non-Lethal Damage, or when you fall unconscious.
When your Non-Lethal Damage exceeds your current hit points, you fall Unconscious.
If a creature's Non-Lethal Damage is equal to his total maximum hit points (not his current hit points), all further Non-Lethal Damage is treated as lethal damage. This does not apply to creatures with regeneration. Such creatures simply accrue additional Non-Lethal Damage, increasing the amount of time they remain unconscious.
- Healing Non-Lethal Damage
- Unlike normal damage, Non-Lethal Damage is healed quickly with rest. You heal Non-Lethal Damage at the rate of 1 point per hour or rest per character level.
- When a spell or ability cures hit point damage, it also removes an equal amount of Non-Lethal Damage.
- Inflicting Non-Lethal Damage with a Weapon that Deals Lethal Damage
- You can use a melee weapon that deals lethal damage to deal Non-Lethal Damage instead, but you take a -4 penalty on your attack roll.
- Inflicting Lethal Damage with a Weapon that Deals Non-Lethal Damage
- You can use a weapon that deals Non-Lethal Damage, including an unarmed strike, to deal lethal damage instead, but you take a -4 penalty on your attack roll.
Example of Non-Lethal Damage in Play
A sturdy orc warrior has 100 hit points. His orc war chief grants him 50 temporary hit points. A monk, hoping to capture him alive, begins punching him, doing Non-Lethal Damage, because monks can do that.
The first punch of the monk does 45 points of Non-Lethal Damage. (Ow.) The orc warrior's temp hit points and normal hit points do not change. The war chief is frustrated, because this is bypassing his best mojo.
The second punch does 56 points of damage. The orc warrior now has 101 points of Non-Lethal Damage and drops in his tracks, despite having all 100 normal hit points and all 50 temporary hit points remaining and intact.
The orc warrior is lying there unconscious. The war chief uses Encouraging Word and heals him for 50 hit points. This healing, like all healing, also heals an identical amount of Non-Lethal Damage and leaves the orc warrior with 51 points of Non-Lethal Damage. The orc warrior wakes up, ready to go.
The Monk is tired and stops hitting the orc warrior. The Rogue steps in to "help." The Rogue doesn't want to do Non-Lethal Damage, and stabs the hapless orc warrior for a whopping 80 points of actual hit point damage. This removes all 50 of the temporary hit points and does 30 hit points of real damage, leaving the orc warrior with 70 normal hit points and 51 points of Non-Lethal Damage. The orc warrior is able to continue.
The Monk, aghast at the deadly strike of the rogue, hits the orc warrior again, doing more non-lethal, before the rogue kills the orc. The monk does only 20 points of non-lethal. This leaves the orc warrior with 71 points of Non-Lethal Damage, but because he only has 70 current hit points due to the damage the rogue inflicted, down he goes again. It's a hard day to be an orc.
Exasperated, the war chief uses Encouraging Word again, and cures the orc warrior for another 50 hit points. This both heals 50 points of Non-Lethal Damage, leaving the orc warrior with 21 points of non-lethal, and also heals the orc warrior's normal hit points by 50. However, he only has 30 points of actual hit point damage (since the other 50 came out of his temporary hit points), so he heals those 30, back to his maximum of 100 (and, as usual, he doesn't get any of the temporary hit points back). The orc warrior wakes up and decides to start using a shield. All this getting knocked out and waking up again is starting to make him woozy.