D&D General D5e HP - divide by 5?

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
I've noticed something... the "base" amount of damage/healing in D&D is 5.

Cantrip is usually a d8, d10 damage - about five.
A regular attack is about double that - the stat bonus is usually about +4, +5, the weapon dice is usually about a d8, d10.
Aid: 5
Cure wounds: about double that
Goodberry: 10 hp
GWM: -5 to hit, +10 to damage

I propose to call this a "pip" of damage. So a cantrip is a pip of damage, but at level 5 it becomes 2 pips. A warrior making an attack is 2 pips, but at level 5 they have 2 attacks. A warlock's agonizing blast, by adding stat bonus to the damage, turns their cantrip to 2 pips damage, making it roughly equivalent to a warrior's attack. FIreball is 8d6... ie about 6d8, or 6 pips of damage. Spiritual guardian is 3d8 or 3 pips of damage.

I think seeing the "foundation" of the damage math in 5e is useful to help assess balance, character build, strategies etc. How much is +2 damage from duelist fighting style worth? about half a pip.

What I'm wondering is if a simpler version of D&D would be possible, with smaller numbers - divide things by 5. A lot of granularity would be lost, but it would be faster...
 

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I've noticed something... the "base" amount of damage/healing in D&D is 5.

Cantrip is usually a d8, d10 damage - about five.
A regular attack is about double that - the stat bonus is usually about +4, +5, the weapon dice is usually about a d8, d10.
Aid: 5
Cure wounds: about double that
Goodberry: 10 hp
GWM: -5 to hit, +10 to damage

I propose to call this a "pip" of damage. So a cantrip is a pip of damage, but at level 5 it becomes 2 pips. A warrior making an attack is 2 pips, but at level 5 they have 2 attacks. A warlock's agonizing blast, by adding stat bonus to the damage, turns their cantrip to 2 pips damage, making it roughly equivalent to a warrior's attack. FIreball is 8d6... ie about 6d8, or 6 pips of damage. Spiritual guardian is 3d8 or 3 pips of damage.

I think seeing the "foundation" of the damage math in 5e is useful to help assess balance, character build, strategies etc. How much is +2 damage from duelist fighting style worth? about half a pip.

What I'm wondering is if a simpler version of D&D would be possible, with smaller numbers - divide things by 5. A lot of granularity would be lost, but it would be faster...
Why not go the opposite direction and make weapon attacks (specifically weapon attacks from PCs) do max damage?
 

ezo

Adventurer
What I'm wondering is if a simpler version of D&D would be possible, with smaller numbers - divide things by 5. A lot of granularity would be lost, but it would be faster...
Our group tried this a few years ago, sort of, allowing "dice" to be the count instead of a damage divider. So, weapons did 1 or 2 damage, mostly defined by weapon properties and groups. Spells basically did 1 damage per die of damage, etc.

Creatuers had 1 hit point per hit die, with some adjustments of course due to hit die type and creature size.

I don't recall all rules for it, but that was the idea. It worked ok and we did it because two of our groups members were horrible at maths.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
Absolutely, these kinds of trends can help inform our design. There was some old hack of DND that used something like "hits" instead of hp (there was no damage rolling) and was kinda similar.

I'd be wary about using this approach at higher level, because it's easy to conflate "2 pips is getting hit by a sword" with, "omg, this 14th level PC can withstand 10 sword strikes."

In other words, there's a risk if you consolidate and directly correlate damage trends that it can encourage "hp as meat" thinking which...works fine at lower levels...but at higher levels can beggar belief.

With the right approach, or for the right group, it's a solvable challenge, but just throwing it out there.
 

jgsugden

Legend
The old Dungeons and Dragons Miniatures from the 00s essentially did this. Everything was a multiple of 5. You dealt a multiple of 5 damage, and your hp were a multiple of 5. In my mind I alawys divided by 5 as it gave me a clearer picture of the number of hits I needed and what combination of hitters got me wher eI needed to go.

What you lose with this is the variability and unpredictability surrounding damage. That sounds like a positive in some ways, but you lose a lot more than you gain.

Let's say I have an attack that does 1d8+3 damage. The average damage is 7.5. If I am fighting a goblin (and we ignore critical hit bonus damage), 5 out of 8 sides on the damage die will result in a kill, while 3 out of 8 do not. If we simplify the math behind the attacks as you suggest, then the goblin dies 100% of the time or 0% of the time on that first hit depending upon how you set it. This has a massive impact on the difficulty of combat. Either that battle against 5 goblins gets a bit easier or becomes much harder.

It makes incremental increases in capability much harder to do. Going from 5 to 10 damage doubles your damage. Doing from 10 to 15 increases it by 50%. You'd end up being very stagnant on the damage dealt for a long time and then get these huge bumps in damage when you did get to increase it.

It also robs players of a bit of the thrill and chill of the game. We enjoy rolling maximum damage. We cringe and (hopefully) laugh when we roll minimum damage. If we take that damage roll out of the game, the game goes faster ... but it also loses a little of the 'in the moment' magic that makes it entertaining.

In my experience, this is not worth doing. If the game is moving along in such a way that the simplification and speed that this would bring along is a significant benefit, I'd argue that it doesn't go far enough. Why go through the work of translating damage and rounding when you can put it all on the to hit roll? You usually want this type of speed when a huge number of monsters are being attacked. Generally, those would have few hps. To that end, I sometimes tell players something like: You need an X to hit. If you hit by at least 2, the enemy dies. If you hit exactly or by 1, they're wounded but not dead and any damage will kill them. That takes all the damage calculations entirely out of the game once I've made my estimation and told the players how it'll work.

This, and variations on it, offers a great tool when players get area attacks with attack rolls like a Hunter Ranger's Volley; or multiple targeting like a higher level Scorching Ray. When a player attacks with many rays of Scorching Ray against a single target I sometimes do not ask for damage rolls. I instead ask them to roll the attack dice in plain sight and then I count the number that hit and the percentage of the attack rolls that are odd. If they're exactly half, the rays do average damage. If they're more odd than even, I subtract some damage. If they're more even than odd I add some damage. It isn't an exact science, but it can speed up the game (as does just asking them to toll and tell you damage while you move on to the next player).
 

aco175

Legend
Is this really a problem? I can kind of see where 5 tends to be a middle(ish) number that comes up, but unless I was trying to teach kids with glass beads or something I do not see the need.

I sometimes have minion monsters that take one hit and some with two hits unless a critical hit them. These are more like mobs or 4e minions though and not 'real' monsters.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Is this really a problem? I can kind of see where 5 tends to be a middle(ish) number that comes up, but unless I was trying to teach kids with glass beads or something I do not see the need.

I sometimes have minion monsters that take one hit and some with two hits unless a critical hit them. These are more like mobs or 4e minions though and not 'real' monsters.
As @ezo mentioned above, the simple math of D&D are, for some people, not simple at all. I know people for whom 5+3 is a challenge.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
It also robs players of a bit of the thrill and chill of the game. We enjoy rolling maximum damage. We cringe and (hopefully) laugh when we roll minimum damage. If we take that damage roll out of the game, the game goes faster ... but it also loses a little of the 'in the moment' magic that makes it entertaining.

The thrill could be in the attack roll... but if you really want to roll damage too, you could simplify the game, and then replace "pips" with D6. Not as simplified, but still simpler than today.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
I've noticed something... the "base" amount of damage/healing in D&D is 5. . .

I propose to call this a "pip" of damage.
I'd go with a DaD of damage, but just nitpicking...

I think seeing the "foundation" of the damage math in 5e is useful to help assess balance, character build, strategies etc. How much is +2 damage from duelist fighting style worth? about half a pip.
Sure, 5 pips are easier to compare than 27 damage, but the added simplicity doesn't do a whole lot for game-balance purposes. Because: how many pips is the Etherealness spell worth? How many is the rogue's Evasion worth?

What I'm wondering is if a simpler version of D&D would be possible, with smaller numbers - divide things by 5. A lot of granularity would be lost, but it would be faster...
This is where DaDs, I mean pips, matter. I'd much rather subtract 1 pip of health from 9 than 4 damage from 43. You're not losing "granularity," because I don't see a lot of times when 1, 2, or even 3-point damage differences matter. But who needs a simpler version of D&D, when there are simpler RPGs out there?

Why not go the opposite direction and make weapon attacks (specifically weapon attacks from PCs) do max damage?
Because this increases maths instead of decreasing them.

What you lose with this is the variability and unpredictability surrounding damage. That sounds like a positive in some ways, but you lose a lot more than you gain.
But... attack rolls and saving throws provide unpredictability.

It makes incremental increases in capability much harder to do. Going from 5 to 10 damage doubles your damage. Doing from 10 to 15 increases it by 50%. You'd end up being very stagnant on the damage dealt for a long time and then get these huge bumps in damage when you did get to increase it.
This has merit, but I think it loses its sting at higher levels. Pips mean that a 10th level character (for example) can improve by 10%. A 1st level character can't.

It also robs players of a bit of the thrill and chill of the game. We enjoy rolling maximum damage. We cringe and (hopefully) laugh when we roll minimum damage. If we take that damage roll out of the game, the game goes faster ... but it also loses a little of the 'in the moment' magic that makes it entertaining.
I find that these thrills and chills revolve around the d20, not as much the other dice.

In my experience, this is not worth doing. If the game is moving along in such a way that the simplification and speed that this would bring along is a significant benefit, I'd argue that it doesn't go far enough.
Agreed. Damage is just one of the spikes on the dragon's tooth of D&D, sitting on the road to exciting role-playing.
 


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