D&D 5E Do you ever roll for monster HPs in 5E?


Moderator Emeritus
One of the things I remember doing, basically every time, when prepping monsters in previous editions, was actually rolling their hit dice to determine their hit points. In this way, some examples of a monster were weaker than average (some much weaker) and others were heartier than average (some much heartier). Of course, sometimes I would decide ahead of time that the monster needs to last longer due to its role in an adventure, so I'd decide to re-roll all 1s or give it a couple of hit dice at max and roll the rest or simply choose a number (something that became my standard approach for most monsters in the latter 3E era and that has stuck with me in 5E).

I am very averse to simply using average hit points (and never use average damage, since I find the idea that it actually saves appreciable time laughable and finding the anticipation of the damage roll's result part of what makes combat exciting - I roll in the open), and even when using "average," I tend to give the monsters of more than 1 HD the max for their first HD as PCs get for their first level hit points.

However, I was just now prepping an encounter and statted up a bugbear sub-chief and his two lieutenants and couldn't decide how many HPs to give the latter two. I could have made them stronger or weaker or used average, but I decided to simply roll randomly and see what the result was and use that to determine more about them. Maybe if one had fewer hps than average, I might play them sneakier, while one with closer to max hps might be more brazen and willing to soak up damage.

Anyway, this was literally the first time I have rolled for monster hps in this newest edition and it just reminded me of how that used to be a regular part of game prep and in doing it I decided I am going to do it more often.

So my questions are, does anyone else roll for monster hit points in 5E? Do you always use average? Do you use some other system for determining hps? For those of you obsessed with encounter challenge and CR, do you think the wide range in how many hps a monster can have effects how challenging they are and how they are rated? For example, a typical bugbear could have as few as 10 hps and as many as 45.

log in or register to remove this ad


He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
A good question if I run 5E ever again. In 3E/PF1 I just maxed all NPC/monster HD/HP because I had to if they were gonna last. In 5E I think it really depends on where you land on the 6-8 encounters per day philosophy.


Remember the modules where they say there are 6 goblins and one is the bigger brute leader with max HP. I think LMoP did this 5e was trying to be more 1e in this regard, but I think players wanted things a bit broken out so we have goblins and brute goblins, and chief goblins.

Anyways, I tend to give about 75% HP when planning encounters. The PCs seem to deal a bit more than average in my games. I also tend to give the boss-man more. I never roll for monsters and just kind of wing it. It does seem to be more HPs the higher the level as a percent.


A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Yep, nearly every time. I use Foundry VTT. Every time I drop a monster token it automatically rolls for and applies their hit points.

If I were running a game pen & paper, nah, I wouldn't bother. I even use average damage on attacks if I'm not using a VTT, except for major or especially deadly encounters.


Not your screen monkey (he/him)
Depends. If they're facing an NPC that uses class levels, I usually roll those using the same methods as the PCs. But the non-classed monsters, I usually set their hit points according to the CR I'm targeting since that is one major way I use to rebalance encounters. Usually, it's my experience that monsters need more hit points to be the challenge they're rated at against my players. I think the calculations that give them "effective hit points" based on their defenses overrate those defenses.

Remove ads