Continued from this morning’s entry.

If you consider hit points a measurement of time, let’s say they represent “the amount of time before your next resupply.” In a roleplaying game, or a game that features statistics that increase throughout play, you frequently gain “experience points” as you overcome challenges, usually represented by defeating enemies.

Enemies will typically decrease your hit points, so in effect, what you’re doing is exchanging your hit points for experience points. If you’re playing a game based on Dungeons & Dragons, you’ll probably have variable attack and defense bonuses, so the cost in hit points that each obstacle represents will vary wildly.

Once you’ve accrued enough experience points, your character will “level up,” unless you’re playing a game where experience points translate directly to stat advancement, though games like that are less common. One of the things you can usually look forward to when your character levels up, is an increase in hit points. In other words, you should be able to gain more experience before your next resupply.

You can look at the hit point/experience points as a form of investment. Your character can only have so many hit points at once, represented by an arbitrary maximum. If you spend their hit points carefully, risking the consequences of exhausting them, you gain experience points in return. Experience points are useless until you have a certain, minim amount, at which point your maximum hit points can be increased.

Having more hit points enables you to spend more hit points, which in turn allows you to gain more experience points between resupply points. Savvy gamers will find areas in roleplaying games where the risks to hit points are low and the experience point gains are high, and use those for “grinding.” That isn’t a bad term for it, actually.

Of course, after a certain point, you experience a phenomenon commonly referred to as “diminishing returns.” You gain more experience between points where you need to resupply, but you require more experience to advance in levels. It means at some point you need to move on to a new area, where the risks are greater. And there you have every roleplaying game ever. Ones that rely on levels and stat growth, anyway.