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Maximum HP Reduction

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Characters in Video Games and Tabletop Games suffer ridiculous amounts of bodily harm, but unless their Hit Points reach zero, they usually remain fully functional and can be restored back to perfect health within seconds by consuming a Healing Potion or using some healing magic.

This trope is about games that additionally feature enemies whose attacks can deal permanent damage, reducing the target's maximum number of HP, so that even if they can heal, it's in their best interests to avoid getting hit and end the fights quickly. Often, such "permanent" damage can be healed later but in a much more costly/time consuming way. Hence, such an attack can easily become That One Attack. When regular damage is turned into Maximum HP Reduction, it overlaps with Anti-Regeneration.

In any system where you have Body Armor as Hit Points, a move that steals or destroys the armor in question will invariably reduce the target's maximum HP. In some game systems, a Level Drain has this effect due to maximum HP being derived from experience level.

Compare Healing Magic Is the Hardest, where even magical healing is scarcely available. Wound That Will Not Heal is a more general narrative trope.


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Video-Game Examples:

  • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom: A corrupting affliction known as Gloom is spreading across Hyrule. Touching pools of Gloom or getting hit by monsters corrupted by Gloom not only does damage, it prevents you from being able to heal from that damage (visualized by the heart icons being broken). The effect goes away when Link is bathed in natural sunlight, the glow of the underground lightroots, or drinks an elixir made with a sundelion. At the beginning of the game, Link is hit by a direct blast of Gloom so powerful, it completely reduces his hearts from 30 to 3. Every time Link collects a heart container or stamina vessel, a little bit of Gloom can be seen leaving his body. During the final battle, Ganondorf can use these intense Gloom attacks to shatter Link's hearts, preventing him from restoring those hearts even through means that would normally dispel the Gloom. However, when the final phase begins, these shattered hearts are restored.
  • Tunic:
    • The flame sword accessory lets you set things on fire with your equipped weapon, but temporarily reduces your HP to minimum. Useful for clearing bushes when you only have a stick, but risky for combat.
    • Some enemies and environmental effects will reduce your maximum HP, and this lasts until you heal at a shrine. The effects can stack down to death if you take enough hits or spend too long in the affected areas. Beware of purple.

    Action RPG 
  • Being cursed in Dark Souls kills you, and when you're revived your max health is cut in half until the curse is removed. Unlike other conditions, a curse will never wear off, and will be with you until you cure it, even after death. It was even worse before a patch came out, as successive deaths from curses stacked up to three times, giving you as little as 1/8 your normal max health.
  • Every death in Dark Souls II cuts 5% off your max health to as low as 50% (even lower if you build up enough sin), and it can only be restored to the max by restoring your human form by using a Human Effigy or successfully completing your mission as a summoned shade or phantom. Getting curses also changed from instant death to causing the same max health reduction as dying once does (petrification became a separate status effect that kills you but also does as much hollowing as four regular deaths).
  • Dark Souls III:
    • Ember works almost the same as Body Form/Soul Form did in Demon's Souls (the items used in this case being Embers), except the lower health form is presented as the standard, the health difference is much smaller (Ember form only gives a 30% boost compared to the 100% boost from Body Form), and there's no penalty to dying in Ember form besides returning to normal.
    • Jailers in the Irithyll Dungeon have lanterns that drain your maximum HP until you kill them, exit their line of sight, or are reduced to 1 HP. Thankfully, this wears off after a few seconds, but you don't get back the regular hit points lost from the decreased max. Also, "empty" HP gets burned first, so if you hold back on healing, any normal damage you've already taken can be used as a buffer to keep the effect from cutting into your real HP.
  • In Demon's Souls, dying puts you into Soul Form, which cuts your max health by 50%. To regain the rest of your health, you need to either use a Stone of Ephemeral Eyes, successfully complete your mission online, or successfully kill a boss. In practice, you'll probably spend most of your game in Soul Form, and the game balances the amount of damage you take around this, so one can see it more as Body Form being a temporary max health increase. Some players don't see the extra HP for Body Form as being worth the risk of darkening World Tendency when you die (which makes enemies harder and can make certain gear unobtainable if it happens even once), so they go to the Nexus (which has no World Tendency) and kill themselves whenever they're "rewarded" Body Form.
  • Dragon's Dogma: The player and all of their allies runs on this trope. Whenever anybody takes damage, the maximum amount of health recoverable via healing spells lowers as well, which is represented by a white portion of the health bar. The only ways to bump up this limit is by staying at an inn or using health recovery items rather than spells.
  • Judgment: Getting hit by bullets or bosses' Deadly Attacks will take a chunk out of Yagami's maximum health. The only way to restore it is to visit the underground doctor below Children's Park or use a Med Kit.
  • Three of the fourteen superbosses of Kingdom Hearts III's DLC, Re:Mind can do this to you: Data-Xion, Data-Master Xehanort, and Yozora. Fittingly enough, as this is one of the reasons they are the hardest bosses of the DLC, and arguably the franchise, the first two are locked until beating the previous eleven bosses, and the last one only after beating all previous thirteen. Worse, for the latter two, their attacks are unblockable requiring dodging, while the first one's can be blocked but are spammed like crazy.

  • Auroch Digital has video game versions of Games Workshop's Chainsaw Warrior and Chainsaw Warrior: Lords of the Night. In both games, there's the Mechanical Abomination, the Meat Machine which rip into you causing a loss to your health maximum.

    Driving Games 
  • In the Career Mode of Test Drive: Eve of Destruction, your car will suffer irreparable damage as it receives and inflicts punishment, which reduces its maximum condition, lowers the money you receive from selling it or trading it in, and encourages you to get rid of beat-up rides in order to stay competitive. Additionally, repairing your car at an Eve, on top of it being more expensive than repairing it at home, also increases the amount of permanent damage sustained, so reserve it for emergencies.

    First Person Shooter 
  • In Borderlands 2, Pangolin shields offer the highest capacity of any shield in the game, the tradeoff being that they reduce your maximum health as long as they're equipped.
  • A plot event that helps decide what ending you get in the final hours of Cry of Fear results in Simon's health bar being permanently cut down after the Doctor shoots him in the shoulder. How much it gets cut down depends on whether Simon trusts the Doctor enough to give him a gun found elsewhere in the asylum; the Doctor already has a revolver, but the gun he wants Simon to get for him is a little more powerful.
  • In The End Times: Vermintide and Vermintide II:
    • Most levels have two hidden Grimoires. Finding one and carrying it to the end of the level grants bonus loot, but each one reduces the entire party's maximum HP by 30% while carried. This can be mitigated by Anti-Debuff items and class abilities, even to the point of an Inverted Trope if the protection stacks past 100%.
    • In the sequel's Chaos Wastes missions, one Curse that the Plaguemaster Nurgle can inflict on a level is a miasma that erodes the player characters' maximum HP while they're outside the aura of a portable Protective Charm. Returning to the aura heals the effect.
  • ULTRAKILL has hard damage, acquired as a portion of incoming damage taken. Since the protagonist, V1, is a blood-fueled robot that absorbs blood through direct contact, hard damage serves to limit their ability to outheal incoming damage. Hard damage eventually replenishes after time spent not taking damage, which takes less the higher your style ranking is.

    Fighting Games 
  • Killer Instinct (2013):
    • The game has a mechanic called "potential damage" (or white health), which causes a portion of the opponent's health bar to turn white during a combo. This indicates how much damage is dealt when using a combo ender, but it otherwise acts as normal health for every other type of attack. If the player fails to "cash out" potential damage after some time outside of a combo, it begins to regenerate. Half of the potential damage is also instantly lost if the opponent successfully pulls a Combo Breaker.
    • Some characters have gimmicks that allow them to accumulate potential damage in unconventional ways. Cinder, for example, can burn his opponent's arms or legs, causing them to catch fire if they use attacks involving the punch or kick buttons, respectively. Omen has an even more gimmicky command grab that turns all of his opponent's health into potential damage, possibly allowing him to end the match even with the shortest possible combo.
    • Mira's special moves turn her health bar a misty gray, effectively reducing her maximum health. She can then expend the gray portion to amplify the damage of a combo or bite her opponent to turn it back into regular health if she needs it. Unlike potential damage, the misty gray part of her health really is gone, so careless Mira players can find themselves getting jabbed into a KO while sitting on a huge portion of gray health with nothing to show for it.
  • In the Marvel vs. Capcom series, characters have a red health bar behind the normal one that indicates how much health they can recover when they're tagged out and off-screen. In most of the games, there's no way to gain back red health, save for a Comeback Mechanic like 3's X-Factor or Infinite's Soul Stone. Other Tag Team fighting games like it, such as Skullgirls or BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle, often have a similar mechanic.
  • Street Fighter IV and Street Fighter V has what's known colloquially as Provisional Damage, which racks up mostly when absorbing damage through Super Armor and determines how much health a player can recover when avoiding damage. Any form of damage, including chip damage, instantly removes all provisional damage. Specific characters sometimes play around this mechanic. For instance:
    • In Street Fighter IV, one of Gen's Ultra Combos has him striking at his opponent's pressure points, potentially turning their entire health bar into Provisional Damage.
    • In Street Fighter V, one of Rose's V-Skill tarot cards causes the enemy to take more chip damage while blocking, thus increasing how much of their health turns into Provisional Damage.

  • In the first Diablo, the Zombie variation Black Death could do this with their punches. They have a very poor hit rate, but each hit they make will permanently reduce maximum HP by one. Amusingly, Sorcerors can use these guys to their advantage due to a Good Bad Bug, since they can avoid stunlock entirely if they have a mana shield on but very little HP.
  • God Eater 2 introduces an optional aragami to fight, the Magatsu Kyuubi. Every now and then it throws up a destruction stone, which creates a Bias Field that begins reducing the maximum HP of any God Eater within. The drain happens only if you're in the Bias Field, eventually to 1. The rate increases the closer you are to the stone. To make it worse, the stone can't be destroyed and smaller copies of the Bias Field are thrown up around any other aragami on the map. The stone fades after some time has passed, though. Only HP Boosters and respawning will bring back your maximum HP.
  • A variation in Onechanbara Z ~Kagura~. While your maximum HP can never really decrease per se, taking damage gradually decreases your maximum recoverable HP using the Blood Recovery mechanic. note  On the other hand, using Vamp Skills do not decrease maximum recoverable health.

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • In Aliens vs. Predator: Extinction, the Alien Drone's upgrade allows it to spit acidic globules that convert the enemy's flesh into packets of Health Food that make chestbursters grow up big and strong. On the enemy side, their max HP is reduced by the value of these attacks, effectively stealing their health for any alien larvae they become infested with. The only cure is the Marine Medic's "Counter-Xenology" upgrade. Predators hit by cystic acid are SOL.
  • Dawn of War: From Dark Crusade onwards, Necron Pariahs reduce maximum HP with every melee attack until they or the target are dead.
  • Dark Glass Corruption from Rise of Legends.

  • Crying Suns: Officers and squadrons that fall in battle gain a status which halves their maximum HP. The status is called "patched" for squadrons and "injured" for officers, and it lasts until you pay to have it removed at an appropriate store. Squadrons deployed from a Kaos-class battleship are always patched, and the ship’s Brutal Deployer auxiliary system further reduces their maximum HP to a quarter of its normal value.
  • Monolith: Maximum HP can be lost via life shops, a certain deal at a shrine, and getting damaged by a spr_eatr.
  • Nuclear Throne:
    • Chicken loses 2 max HP every time she revives herself. Since she has only 8 health to begin with, this makes her revive power limited in use. Her max HP can be replenished in two ways, though; opening a Health Chest restores 1 max HP, and taking the Last Wish mutation restores all of it.
    • Melting's second ultra mutation, Detachment, removes half of his maximum HP (1 by default) in exchange for 3 more mutation choices.
    • The Crown of Death removes 1 max HP in exchange for bigger explosions. It can be restored by removing the crown at a Crown Vault.
  • RemiLore: Lost Girl in the Lands of Lore: The "power-ups", as the manual says, a.k.a scrolls which can be bought or found as drops from enemies can be also be power-downs. A Small HP Reduction, drops Max HP by 50, where Remi starts off with 1000. Trailers indicate that there's also Large HP Reductions. At least it doesn't drop current HP unless it would go beyond the new max, so Remi can't die from it.

    RPG — Eastern 
  • The Alliance Alive reduces the maximum HP of any character who falls unconscious. Unconscious characters can also be attacked, which reduces their HP even more. Max HP can be restored by using rare Fairy Salves, or by resting at an inn. And if one character's max HP reaches zero, you immediately lose even if you have other characters still capable of fighting.
  • Dying in Battle Hunter will cut your maximum HP in half (stacking geometrically, so dying again will reduce it to 1/4). You can pay credits to restore your maximum HP to that of your maximum HP stat a point at a time. It's not cheap; you're probably better off Save Scumming.
  • Breath of Fire:
    • In both Breath of Fire III and Breath of Fire IV, if someone was downed in battle and still down at the end, they would be brought back with 1 hp and have their max health reduced. III also has the Mandrake healing item that's cheaper to buy than most other healing items and heals you to full, but likewise causes you to lose some of your max HP. Also, both games contain a move called Disembowel which inflicts HP to 1 at the cost of reducing the user's maximum HP.
    • There's also the Desert Of Death in Breath of Fire III, where you also lose a percentage of your max HP if you keep walking when you're thirsty: unlike the previous examples which capped the cumulative HP loss to 50% of max or so, your max HP can drop even further this way.
    • All above examples of max HP loss can only be cured by sleeping in an inn, sleeping at the always-available free tent doesn't cure it and neither do any of the items.
  • Drakerider features a party of dragon riders whose only dragon is berserk and enslaved by the party against its will. Losing control of said dragon powers it up, but then it also has a fair chance of attacking its rider each turn, thereby decreasing his/her max HP. MaxHP restores sell for a whopping 12,000G at the item shops, so letting the dragon go berserk is a very bad idea.
  • Etrian Odyssey:
    • Etrian Odyssey II: Heroes of Lagaard: One of the most powerful skills Hecatoncheires, a Superboss fought during the Playable Epilogue, has is one which halves the party's maximum HP.
    • Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth: The Camo Dog is a green-colored, six-limb creature found only in the hidden areas of Tutelary Forest. Its main attack, the Roar of Triumph, halves the party's HP for three turns. This can be eliminated before then with debuff-cleansing skills, but it's still advised to either kill or disable the enemy before it performs that attack (which is hard enough as-is, both for being durable HP-wise and having a high resistance to head binds).
  • The Final Fantasy series:
    • In Final Fantasy XII, a status ailment called "Disease" prevents healing, by reducing the victim's maximum HP to their current HP. Unlike most status effects, this is not removed at death/KO nor is it removable with status-restoring magic like Esuna. Only two items in the game (Remedy and Vaccine) can remove it, and in the case of Remedy, only when used by a character that has invested License Points to max out the restorative powers of Remedies in the first place. If you get slapped with that, get ready to act fast to counter it and, if needed, heal the afflicted. Thankfully, having the Bubble status (doubles your health) is an automatic No-Sell to Disease, and both the spell and the accessory that guarantee its effects are easily available by the time Disease starts appearing.
    • Final Fantasy XIII-2 adds the Wounding mechanic, wherein certain attacks and monsters reduce the target's maximum HP to force the player to avoid long battles. Although such wounds are thankfully covered by After-Combat Recovery, no magic and only two specific potions (one of which is Elixir) can heal them in combat.
    • Final Fantasy XV if your characters HP gets depleted, they will enter "Danger" state instead of dying, where they can't fight back, and their max HP drops over time, or when attacked, and it's not until it hits 0 that they actually die. Daemons also deal a portion of the damage they deal as Darkness damage, hitting max HP directly. Max HP can be recovered by using Elixirs or resting, and it slowly recovers over time when outside of dungeons.
  • A variation in Golden Sun: Stats and classes are mostly determined by what Djinn are on a character, and using them in battle cancels the stat boosts (including HP) until summoned or reset. Some bosses have abilities that "drain" the Djinni, causing loss of all stats until they recover. The Superboss and the Final Boss's last form have one that hits every Djinn on every party member, nearly guaranteeing Total Party Kill.
  • Granblue Fantasy has a few skills that reduce a character's maximum HP, but unlike most games, the HP reduction is most often found as a side effect found on certain buffs. For example, the Doctor class's Maddening Vitality skill gives a selected party member some very potent buffs at the cost of 10% of their maximum HP (and it can be cast multiple times, further lowering the target's HP).
  • A slightly weird version occurs with the Dark Chips in the fourth and fifth Mega Man Battle Network games. They deplete the user's maximum HP by one point.
  • Octopath Traveler: The Ogre Eagle will use the ability Toxic Rainbow in the last leg of its fight, reducing each character's maximum health by a certain percentage with each passing turn. The effect is reversed after the fight ends, but applies to the entire party, which makes said boss a Time-Limit Boss as well. This effect is also used during the battle against Galdera when the Maw is broken in the 2nd phase.
  • Octopath Traveler II: Ups the ante by having the effect be active from the start of Castti's final battle as it is a toxic rainfall. About halfway through the battle, the rain intensifies, making your party's maximum HP drop even faster each turn.
  • Paper Mario Dark Star Edition: Light Bones have the ability to reduce Mario's maximum heart points each time their attacks connect, which lasts until the end of the battle.
  • The Hole Punch in Paper Mario: The Origami King can punch holes into Paper Mario's body, and each hole decreases Paper Mario's health bar by 50%.
  • Tactics Ogre: The pretty much almost never used (a mercy by the programmers and the AI) skill called Oracle reduces the max HP of the target. The only one who actually uses it is Lans Tartare, the leader of the Templar Knights in the game.
  • Trials of Mana:
    • The spell Lunatic reduces the target's maximum HP by 20%. It's very good when used at the beginning of boss fights, where it can knock off upwards of 10,000 HP.
    • On the enemies' side, there's Spiral Moon, which deals damage and carries the same effect Lunatic causes — to your entire team. This makes the select few enemy bosses having access to this move more dangerous.
  • Ships in Uncharted Waters: New Horizons can be repaired after sustaining damage in battle, but constant damage wears down their maximum durability. Notably, there is no way to restore this permanent damage, except selling the used ship and buying a new one.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles 1, Mount Tortas have an attack that halves a character's maximum HP.

    RPG — MMO 
  • In City of Heroes, Incarnate abilities from the Degenerative Interface line give all of your and your pets' attack powers a chance of applying this effect and/or Toxic damage over time.
  • In The Elder Scrolls Online, this is a debuff inflicted by some NPC enemies called Minor/Major Mangle. In regular play it's very noticeable, as your Life Meter will physically shrink while under its effects. In any case, like most buffs and debuffs in the game it only lasts a short amount of time and can be easily dispelled.
  • Final Fantasy XIV has a Maximum HP Reduction debuff, which does exactly what it says and usually lasts several seconds when applied. There's also Weakness and Brink of Death, which, along with your other stats, reduced your max HP by 15% and 30% respectively when you are revived (as a penalty to your Vitality stat). This was reworked in Stormblood, and the revive debuffs no longer impact Vitality.
  • In Guild Wars dying would cause you to suffer 15% death penalty, which would reduce your maximum HP and Energy, up to a maximum of -60%. Die enough times in a mission or explorable area and you may find yourself physically incapable of using some of your more expensive skills at all. Killing a boss would give you a 2% morale bonus which could help undo this loss, and would even stack up to a maximum of +10% maximum HP and Energy bonus, and later in the game's life consumable items were added that could remove death penalty or give you a large morale bonus. The mechanic was dropped in Guild Wars 2 in favour of your armour becoming damaged when you go down instead.
  • This is a major mechanic in Mabinogi, and makes for a good part of the game's initial learning curve. You have in-combat regeneration, no cooldown on potions (and a potentially tremendous stockpile for them), and almost every single pet and fellow player will have at least basic skill in healing magic. On the other hand, hit points here represent luck more than health; injuries reduce your current maximum, which is hard to restore outside of lengthy rest under favorable conditions or actual medical attention. Very few people are armored well enough to be able to ignore anything at all with a weapon, even if they have the HP to take a few hits (that usually not being the case is the other reason for said initial learning curve).
  • The relatively rare Bleed debuff in Phantasy Star Online 2 reduces the victim's maximum health. Thankfully, it's as easily cured as any other status effect.
  • Grogginess in Pirates of the Caribbean Online is a debuff that will temporarily reduce your maxiumum health by about 20% and will always occur if a player gets knocked unconscious and sent to jail without being revived by another player. This effect usually lasts for about 15 minutes, but can be alleviated with some items like potions. In addition, players below level 10 will not be afflicted with Groggy upon being sent to jail.
  • In RuneScape, some creatures could transmit "disease", which randomly decreases stats including constitution, which affects maximum life points. Barrelchest Mk II, a pirate zombie robot (It Makes Sense in Context) directly drains constitution as part of its special attack. Instead of eating various food, this kind of damage could only be restored quickly with much more expensive super restore potions.
  • One mission in the Imperial Tatooine bonus series in Star Wars: The Old Republic involves your character voluntarily taking a poison that slowly decreases your maximum HP. You have to fight your way through an area full of Sand People to find the antidote and restore yourself to normal, all to impress a bunch of Mandalorians.
  • In World of Warcraft, on the Heroic version of the Spine of Deathwing encounter, every Hideous Amalgamation you defeat (which is necessary to pry open the plates and damage the Burning Tendons, which must be destroyed to win) reduces the maximum health of all raid members by 6 percent.

    RPG — Roguelike 
  • The Binding of Isaac:
    • Trading your HP for items from Satan or a Black Market will have this effect. There's also a "Health Down" pill that has this effect when used. Fortunately, HP increasing items are relatively common in the game, and can counteract this.
    • Repentance introduces a rarer and more permanent reduction in the form of broken hearts, which only appear from one card and a pair of items. Normally, the maximum number of hearts a character can have is twelve. Broken hearts take up this space and reduce the total number of health the character can possibly have, which cannot be counteracted with items that increase HP. It is possible to remove them, but only a few sources are capable of doing so.
  • In Castle of the Winds, vampires have this ability, and to get it cured you have to pay the Temple of Odin.
  • Darkest Dungeon have several quirks and diseases that could lower the hero's HP. This would be terrible on heroes known for their durability like Crusaders and Lepers.
  • Dungeon Crawl:
    • The rotting status will gradually reduce your character's maximum HP while in effect. Like in the above example, you can repair small amounts of rot by using healing potions or wands while at full HP. Ghoul characters can also restore rotted HP by eating meat (preferably rotten), which helps offset the innate decay they suffer from. Then there's the spell called Borgnjor's Revivification, which fully heals you at the cost of permanently reducing your maximum HP.
    • Crawl also has Maximum MP Damage, though only two character races have to worry about it; deep dwarves and mummies both have emergency abilities that require you to sacrifice one point of MP. Deep dwarves can use their ability to recharge magical devices (like a wand of healing), whereas mummies can instantly restore their stats and some rotted HP.
  • Vampires also do this in The Dungeon Of Doom, but regular healing potions won't fix it. The cure is called a life potion, and its only effect is to reverse Vampiric Draining.
  • In Rogue, vampires' attacks do this. The loss can be recovered by drinking healing potions while already at maximum hit points, but at greatly reduced efficiency: 1 hit point per potion of healing or 2 hit points per potion of extra healing.

    RPG — Western 
  • The secret ending of Cyberpunk 2077 — or rather, the final gameplay mission leading up to it, "(Don't Fear) The Reaper", — sees V storm the Arasaka Tower on their own, which is a considerable challenge by itself... but because this is the only ending where they refuse to take the drugs that either suppress or accelerate the Relic's functions, the Relic continues malfunctioning throughout the whole mission, reducing their maximum HP by a third from the start and then again by 5 HP every minute or so, effectively making you weaker the longer you take to complete the (already Nintendo Hard) level.
  • Divinity: Original Sin II: Hit Points are derived from a character's Constitution score, so effects that reduce Constitution, like Flesh Sacrifice and the diseased Status Effect from the spell Infect, also reduce the target's HP maximum.
  • In the Dragon Age series, traps and Non Lethal KOs inflict injuries on the characters. In the first game, these included both permanent health damage and other stat penalties, but only the former was present in the sequel. Injuries can generally only be removed by returning to the Player Headquarters or consuming a specific item. In DAO, only Spirit Healers could remove injuries magically (but not from themselves); in DA2, Spirit Healers can instead protect the entire party from injuries for with a high-level perk.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • In both Morrowind and Oblivion, you can create spells that do this, either permanently or temporarily. The temporary variant is particularly effective if you create a spell that drains an extremely large amount of max HP for 1 second, because this can reduce enemy's max HP to zero, causing instant death.
    • In Morrowind, if you are using the "backpath" method to beat the main quest, equipping the jury-rigged Wraithguard for the first time will take away 200 maximum health permanently (though dialogue suggests it wasn't necessarily meant to be permanent). If it doesn't kill you outright, it can leave you with the equivalent maximum health of a brand-new character at a stage in the game where you should rightfully have hundreds.
    • In Skyrim, this effect is limited to poisons, rather than magic, and can only be cured by 'cure poison' effects or praying at an altar. The disease Sanguinare Vampiris, contracted from vampires, will also reduce maximum HP before progressing to full-blown vampirism, at which point you only lose maximum HP while standing in sunlight.
  • Radiation damage in most of the Fallout games reduces max hit points both directly and indirectly (by lowering the stats that HP is derived from). In Fallout 4, this is its entire penalty and it's general more severe than before, as every 10 Rads takes off 1% of health. There are ways to remove rads and reverse the HP reduction, so it's not permanent.
  • Planescape: Torment: Your Nameless One can trade some of his organs to the burning mage Ignus for knowledge of some unique spells. This results in a small permanent loss of hit points.
  • Sorcery!: The time-travel spell ZED is actually a type of death curse. As such each time you use it or someone uses it on you, you lose 1 point of your maximum Stamina. Luckily the game has a number of ways of permanently adding to your max Stamina, so it's possible to outpace the loss.

    Simulation Game 
  • Some of the Status Effects in Dead In Vinland lead to lowered combat HP, including nasty combat-acquired ones like Deadly Wound — which lowers combat HP, causes Damage Over Time to the character's overall Injury meter, potentially leads to the Bleeding status effect (which in turn potentially leads to Purulent Wound), and is permanent until cured (with attempts to cure it only having a 25% chance of success).
  • Trauma Center:
    • If cardiac arrest ensues, the patient's maximum vitals will be capped at 10 and begin dropping until you restart the heart. With transplant operations, the patient's maximum vitals start very low but go up as you complete each step in reconnecting the organ.
    • The presence of blue Savato bodies will limit the patient's maximum vitals until they are dealt with.
    • In New Blood, letting Cardia move on any glowing membrane tile will cause the patient's maximum vitals to drop.
    • The final boss of Trauma Team involves needing to extract it while the patient's heart is stopped, imposing a gradual maximum vital reduction while you're cutting it out.

    Stealth-Based Game 
  • Heat Signature's health system is similar to Hotline Miami's in that any damage will immediately knock the player down. If they're knocked down and are then launched into space, the player has a short amount of time, 30 seconds on an uninjured character, to catch themselves with their pod before they pass out and asphyxiate. If the player was hit by a lethal attack, the time window the player has will shorten by six seconds each time the player is saved - until the player immediately dies when they are thrown out an airlock or similar. The Offworld Angel will make it so that the player loses only two seconds from their timer instead of six, but only if they're caught with their pod - in the event they take lethal damage without being thrown out the airlock, the timer will still be shortened by six seconds.
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater: The injury system ultimately works in this manner. When Snake gets damaged in certain manners he'll suffer an injury of some sort (a cut for being slashed by a guard's knife, a broken leg for falling a long way, etc.) that will cause a part of his health bar to turn red and be unable to heal until the player goes into the Survival Viewer and treats the injury.

    Survival Sandbox 
  • Vigor: As part of its battle royale-esque game mechanics, a wave of lethal radiation slowly engulfs the map as the match drags on. Players still running around when that happens have their maximum health lowered, which is represented by a diagonally striped segment of their health bar. If their max health is low enough, the player simply drops dead.

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • Warframe:
    • The Viral status effect used to cut both current and max HP in half for its duration. A rework now causes the afflicted target to take more HP damage depending on the number of stacks inflicted.
    • If a Tenno is killed while in Operator mode, they undergo emergency Transference that reduces the max HP of their warframe by 10% for thirty seconds. This effect stacks, which in big boss fights such as against the Eidolons can quickly render them very fragile.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • A status condition (caused by staves or certain poisons; incurable but won't carry over to future battles) in Fire Emblem Fates halves maximum HP.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Magical Diary, choosing to offer Damien your soul to "save his life" when he's your love interest causes all of your stats, including your Strength stat (which governs how much HP you have), to take a serious hit. The only way to get your HP back up is to retake the class that ups your Strength in the first place — and since you only go up by 1 point per class taken, it'll take a while to get that HP back. Choosing to offer him your soul when you're just friends results in your HP dropping back to what it was when you started the game.

    Wide-Open Sandbox 

Non-Video-Games Examples:

    Card Games 
  • Dead of Winter: Despair tokens count against a character's maximum Wounds, potentially to the point of Death by Despair, but can't be healed by effects that remove Wounds. They're generally inflicted by unusually traumatic random events.
  • In Magic: The Gathering, creatures with the Wither or Infect abilities deal damage to other creatures in the from of -1/-1 counters. Unlike regular damage, which creatures heal from at the end of each turn, -1/-1 counters represent a permanent reduction in both power and toughness for as long as the creature is in play. Having zero or lower toughness will kill a creature, which gets around indestructible creatures that wouldn't otherwise die from damage.
    • Stigma Lasher causes any player dealt damage by it to be unable to gain life for the rest of the game. Interestingly, this card also has wither, making it apply HP Reduction to both creatures and players.
  • In Netrunner, a hacker or "runner" fights a megacorporation in a dystopian cyberpunk setting. The Corp's win conditions are kill the runner or advance their own agendas to completion. Damage results in discarding cards and comes in Meat damage (physically assaulting the runner), Net damage (frying his gear), and Brain damage - which involved usually illegal software burning the Runner's brain and permanently reduces his or her hand size.

  • Can happen in Blood Sword, when you and a genie attack a fire-worshipping cult. If you don't let the genie take the brunt of the cultist's magic wand attack, the intense flame will scar you for a bit of permanent health loss. Luckily in the next book you eventually get that back when you die and are reborn (though you lose any powers and permanent stat boosts you had from previous books). There were other ways too, such as being attacked by a legendary shadow demon in Book 2.
  • There's an avoidable one in the third GrailQuest book, Gateway of Doom: After escaping an enormous maze, if you don't have any rations on you then you lose one PERMANENT LIFE POINT due to exhaustation.
  • Rare in Lone Wolf, but some situations can result in permanent reduction of Endurance or Combat Skill, like surviving the explosion of a Vordak gem, trying to climb bare-handed out of the icy Caverns of Kalte, or getting addicted to Adgana herb.

  • In the first game of Destroy the Godmodder, the Godmodder's max HP was reduced from 100 to 40. Of course, it was promptly restored by the Godmodder soon after.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Some attacks deal "ability damage" that reduces the target's stats but heals when the character rests and "ability drain" which can only be healed magically. Constitution drain is essentially this trope, because a character's maximum hitpoints are calculated from it. A dead first level character who's resurrected (most resurrections cost the resurrected character at least one Character Level to avert Death Is a Slap on the Wrist) also permanently loses a point of constitution (since there's no such thing as a level zero character).
    • The Vargouille monster can do this. If the victim of its attack failed a saving throw vs. poison, the Hit Points of damage inflicted are lost permanently and could only be recovered by using a Wish spell. No form of healing magic would bring them back.
    • Epic Level Handbook: The Lavawight and Shape of Fire have the blazefire ability which does exactly that.
    • The Book Of Exalted Deeds has the Vassal of Bahamut Prestige Class, which uses bonus dice to deal permanent hit point damage to evil dragons.
    • 3.5's Book of Vile Darkness introduced vile damage, which effectively reduced the victim's max health - it's damage charged with such profane energies that it leaves a wound that can't heal by normal means, or damages the soul. It could be healed on hallowed ground, but that wasn't exactly easy to find or establish during a dungeon crawl.
    • 5th Edition retools the Level Drain mechanic, such as that inflicted by a Wraith's Life Drain, to an attack that reduces the target's current and maximum hit points. It lasts until they take a long rest or receive powerful regenerative magic; spells and abilities that only heal hit points can't help.
  • Aggravated Damage in Vampire: The Masquerade is sustained from fire, sunlight, and holy relics, and cannot be healed or regenerated by most normal means, effectively reducing the amount of "normal" (Bashing and Lethal) damage a vampire can take before Permadeath. Downplayed in its successor, Vampire: The Requiem, where aggravated damage can be healed... for five points of Vitae spent over two nights. Per level of aggravated damage. (To give you an idea of how expensive it is, the average human body contains seven points of Vitae.)

    Web Original 
  • In RWBY, Pietro Polendina used a piece of his Aura (his soul, more or less) to create Penny, leaving him with a permanent weakened Aura. When he coughs from a condition brought on by this state, his Aura flickers over his body and scorch-edged holes are visible across it.
  • TierZoo describes the Tail Autotomy ability of the lizard family to give a permanent reduction in max HP unless a new tail can be fully regrown. Because of this and other factors, he considered it a detrimental ability, with the two S-Tier lizards in the Monitor and Komodo Dragon being ranked high partly because they lack it.


Video Example(s):


Hole Punch

Hole Punch punches a hole in Marios face and reduces his max HP.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / MaximumHPReduction

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