Under the big red moon of gaming there is a great debate of what hit points mean. Interpretations, edition differences and house ruling have spread the concept of hit points all over the spectrum. In the 1st Edition DMG hit points are considered an abstract thing where it’s not considered how much damage a person can take, but a combination of factors, not just physical damage.
I know there was an interesting conversation over on Google+ about saving throws vs. poison. The save vs. death specifically. I think one of the points of contention was if an elephant gets bit by a snake and it failed it save would it die? Depends how fricking big the snake was I guess. This is where things get too nitpicky for me. Asp vs. elephant, though the rules may say a failed save results in death I would use my powers of GM and make a ruling I thought made sense. If you want to get into the debate of whether the snake can bite through the elephant’s hide then you are talking about another type of system that takes natural toughness into account. I think some of the disagreements come when people argue across systems or editions about a subject.
Here’s the secret though. It doesn’t matter. Not one little drop of gnat piss. As GMs we can all make whatever ruling we choose that makes sense and is consistent with the decisions you made earlier. I like the debates, but in the end usually everyone goes away doing the same thing they came into the argument with.
Hit points for me are simply this. Don’t run out of them or you’re dead. Save vs. death for me is simple, make your save or your dead. If adventurers don’t like these options then tell them to stay home, eat owlbear potato chips, drink mind flayer ale and wait till the Grim Reaper comes to take them in their sleep.