I almost got him down to less than 10 hit points for a hitherto overly confident slashing machine. The most recent MERP saw the party show down and slow down against four screaming wights. More to the point that the previously mentioned Tom Cruise/Mage (that is in fact a dual character class) went in first levitation style and lowered himself down a burial tunnel into a crypt. Very rapidly he discovered that he was both being clawed at as well as having his power points drained by non corporeal spirits.
Fortunately the Dwarf and then Animist lowered themselves into the fray, narrowly avoiding a situation where the Mage was considering ascending back through the entrance as the others were coming down. Being in a crypt this is as close to a near death experience as I have seen them in yet. With an hour of nail biting combat as well as plenty of healing spells the party have kept their spirits intact and I have to presume they are a little wiser also. It is also worth noting that the location is not yet necessarily done. The other Mage remains outside clutching the Book trying to stay out of harms way. Whether clutching an evil spell book is better or worse than fighting undead spirits in a crypt I have no idea. Guess we'll find out.
How close does death get in MERP ? Well there is a little wiggle room actually. After a character passes zero, they pass out. However they can continue to lose hits if bleeding or on fire etc, until a negative number equal to their constitution. After that, the soul departs over a 6 round period. As the soul begins to wend its way it is an opportunity for it to do other weird and wonderful things, like be captured in an item, held indefinitely by magical means, astral project or potentially be taken to the negative plane as an undead of some description. This is where Animists are worth their weight in herbs as they can preserve the body or soul until suitable animation or healing is applied. Systems vary enormously and some are a mater of fact but I like the more ethereal options in MERP.
With regard to the 13Age update from GM Bill I am informed that his NPCs are more fashionable than mine. Well I say that beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder.