D&D 5E 10HP Bonus for Level 1 Characters. Thoughts?

Emerald Logic

First Post
Hello All!
I'm considering adding 10 HP to all level 1 characters for my game. My reasoning:
1. Lessens the chance of character death at early levels.
2. Adds a touch more realism, as new levels are not such a dramatic increase in HP at low levels.

Overall I'm wondering if anyone here has done this and if the house rule has had a good effect on their games? Are there other solutions to early character death that you've successfully used?

Thank you.

Here is my conclusion post from page 6:
"Thank you all very much for the suggestions. There are ideas here I hadn't considered at all. At the moment I think I'll likely take different approaches depending on if a game has new players or if a game has veteran players.

New Players: Give them an HP bonus equal to their constitution at first and remove instant kills from the game for at least the first few levels.

Veteran Players: Leave the system as is for the players. Perhaps adjust the stats of lower level creatures to lessen the damage for crits. I feel this would be a good behind the scenes approach that still leaves the excitement of a possible critical. Maybe I'll just give the creatures a "Fumbler" or "Untrained" trait that lessens critical damage instead of stat decreases."

Fell free to continue to make suggestions if you wish. :)
 
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Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
If you want to, knock yourself out. I would never do it, because level 1 PCs are already pretty robust, and level 1 is just a brief blip. With the way leveling goes in 5e, PCs make level 3 for just being there. Level 3 is the participation award :)
 

Harzel

Adventurer
If you want to, knock yourself out. I would never do it, because level 1 PCs are already pretty robust, and level 1 is just a brief blip. With the way leveling goes in 5e, PCs make level 3 for just being there. Level 3 is the participation award :)

Yeah, pretty much this. The only caution flag I would raise is that if you are dealing with players new to D&D, they might get the idea that they are invincible and fail to develop tactics that they will need eventually (or, perhaps, not, depending on how you tend to construct encounters).
 

Overall I'm wondering if anyone here has done this and if the house rule has had a good effect on their games?
Did things like that back in the 80s. Max hps @ 1st (which 5e already does). An extra +1d6 hps at first ("peasant points" we called it). And starting as a 2nd level 'brevet' (2nd level but 0 exp).

Are there other solutions to early character death that you've successfully used?
Just putting on some kid gloves for apprentice tier seems to work most of the time.

The only upside I can see that you'd be giving up is that it doesn't create this impression of danger that 1st level otherwise can. 5e gets very safe & easy as you level, but having those 1st level TPKs and the like goes a ways towards mitigating the impression of it being 'easy mode' later on. FWIW.
 


alienux

Explorer
It's your game and you can modify the rules anyway you want, but I would avoid doing this. As has been said, level 1 and 2 go by pretty quickly. But I'm also a fan of the lower levels being more dangerous as the characters are still learning and growing. They're not epic characters yet and I want that growth to be something they experience through trials, not free HP up front.
 

basaipete

Explorer
Years ago (mid-90s, 2ed) I house ruled that characters start with hit points equal to their Con score. It made level 1-3 characters more robust and had almost no long term impact on the game.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Makes sense to me. By far and away the most deaths I see in 5e are at 1st-2nd level when one crit can take down a full hit point character, and start a spiral (especially in parties with <= 4 members).

Now, if you desire to teach your players an abundance of caution, these early deaths are probably a good teaching tool. My own desire for play that emphasizes maximum conflict and risk-taking makes me try to avoid giving such a learning experience, though.
 

D

dco

Guest
I always started at higher levels with other editions but for other reasons.
I would give them 5 HP and -1HP the next 5 levels, if you give 10HP I would give -2HP the next 5 lvls, you want that boost only at the beginning, things get easier later.
 


Valdier

Explorer
I think this is interesting, but not for the HP issue at low levels. We tend to have about an equal number of deaths across levels with the exception being that you can raise the dead at higher levels.
 

Hello All!
I'm considering adding 10 HP to all level 1 characters for my game. My reasoning:
1. Lessens the chance of character death at early levels.
2. Adds a touch more realism, as new levels are not such a dramatic increase in HP at low levels.

Overall I'm wondering if anyone here has done this and if the house rule has had a good effect on their games? Are there other solutions to early character death that you've successfully used?

Thank you.

My opinion: what's the point of playing a first-level game if not to experience the thrill of risking sudden death? :)

If you want a more narrative-style game where PCs have established relationships and there is no PC turnover, another potential solution is to just start everyone off at higher level. 2nd level characters are significantly more durable than 1st level characters. By 5th level they are downright robust!

I've seen a 3rd level fighter PC take a breath weapon blast from a CR 17 adult red dragon without going down. He came within 1 HP of instant death (had 33ish HP IIRC) but didn't die, so his half-orc blood kept him fully conscious at 1 HP, which impressed the dragon sufficiently that it ceased burning down the town and appointed the fighter its deputy/tax-collector for extracting treasure from the town. But even a non-half-orc would have stayed alive and been back on their feet as soon as another PC used the Healer feat on them/cast Healing Word/whatever.

So anyway, consider starting off at higher level if you want a narrative campaign about heroics. If you want a narrative campaign about going from zero-to-hero, I think that will feel more fun if the players remember what it's actually like to be a zero with only 6 HP.
 


DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Personally, in order to keep HP calculations easier over the long term... rather than just give 10 free HP to a 1st level character I'd either start the PCs at 3rd level (thereby skipping the 1st/2nd level issues)... or calculate the HP for a 3rd level character and have the PCs start with that at 1st level, and then not gain any more HP as the level up to 2nd and 3rd.

If you do that... later on when PCs are at the higher levels and ever need to recalculate what their HP should be because they forgot for any reason (assuming you do the set average advancement)... you don't have to remember the "extra 10". PCs at every level past 3rd will have their standard calcuable HP count.
 

DeathMutant

First Post
I use the CON score -- not modifier -- for calculating hit points at 1st level. For subsequent levels, the CON modifier is used. It is a simple rule change, fair and that is how it was done in 4e too.
 

Celebrim

Legend
I have similar concerns to you. As a player since early 1e era, I had 1HD at 1st level as a sacred cow all the way until 4e era.

While I never adopted 4e and didn't like 3HD at 1st level solution to the same problem you are trying to suggest, simply challenging the sacred cow forced me to do some soul searching about the game.

What I ended up implementing as my solution was to apply bonus hit points to all characters based on size class. My table looks like

Fine: 0
Diminutive: 1
Tiny: 2
Small: 4
Medium: 8
Large: 16
Huge: 32
Gargantuan: 64
Colossal: 128

We can discuss the exact effects of that at length of you want, but after a half dozen years of play testing I'm very happy with the change. Overall, it works very well.

Two problems to call out:

a) While you pick up verisimilitude in some areas (notably the "house cat problem" and the "large herbivore problem"), you will have some off setting losses of realism in at least one other area. Notably, while you now know how the farmer bullies the house cat, you can no longer explain how he hunts deer with a bow. Since perfect realism isn't the goal, this probably isn't an issue.
b) You'll probably need to address balance in a 5e context. This was fairly easy in a 3e context because being 'small' was almost strictly a benefit as long as you were sheltered from problems with movement rate - the above actually adds balance to +0 LA races in 3e IMO. But I haven't tried the rules change in 5e and you'll need to evaluate whether losing 4hp is a big problem for small sized races.
 

Gwarok

Explorer
As already mentioned Lvl 1 is pretty brief, so I wouldn't sweat it too much. In fact there is a certain fear that comes from lvl 1, that fact that one bad roll can really screw up your day, that makes you REALLY think about resolving everything with violence just cuz. A state of mind that gets harder and harder to replicate as the levels go up. By adding the HP, you deprive your players of that I think. I think you'd be better off just managing the encounters than shoe horning additional HP onto the characters.
 


ccs

41st lv DM
The only times anyone has ever started at 1st lv with more than 1 HD+Con bonus in my games are:
1) The AD&D1e Ranger - by the book they started with 2 HD.
2) Possibly some class out of Dragon magazine back in the 80s - we tried a bunch of stuff & it's been 30some years, so you'll forgive me if I don't recall all their details....

I would NOT give 5e characters bonus HP at 1st lv. They start at max+Con bonus. That's plenty to see them through their first 300xp. And the real reward for surviving to 2nd lv is becoming 50% tougher (assuming you aren't brave enough to actually ROLL your HP & opt to just take the average).

What I would do? Two things:
1)Consider just starting at 2nd lv (or higher).
2)Look at the adventure/encounters I'm planning to run. Perhaps if I'm thinking of starting you at higher lv, adding free HP, etc I haven't written up a lv1 adventure & need to adjust something?
 

icedrake

Explorer
I just ran my party of 4 players through their first session at level 1, and things could have gone super south super fast. My dice were really hot that night, so I fudged my dice behind the screen into misses. If you're against fudging your dice, you can just give players more HP.

I would also consider having players start at a higher level, but this is our first campaign in 5e, and I want to see what the play experience looks like.
 

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