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


Fantasy Grounds does this automatically, so, yup. Random HP. Love it. I have no idea what the HP of the monster are until I actually begin the encounter.

And, just to add. I find that random HP does actually make more difference than you think. A Goblin with 7 HP is largely not going to get killed by a 1st level cantrip. Might, but, probably not. But a 4 HP goblin likely will. Which makes that one player feel a little better about doing less damage. OTOH, that 12 HP goblin is a bit of a shock when the great axe, raging barbarian "only" hits for 11 damage and doesn't kill it. I find it add just a little spice to the encounter.

It also matters a lot if you have players who like to summon or shape change. Because I random all HP rolls (other than PC HP rolls), you actually don't know how many HP your bear shape will actually have. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.
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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.
When I have the encounter prepped (9 outta 10 times), yes, I roll for HP. I also add B/X-style morale.

I have definitely seen some especially good or bad rolls change how a combat goes. The most blatant examples are when I ran LMoP back in the day (not rolling for HP, not using Morale, not using average damage) versus running it recently (roll for HP, use Morale, and use average damage sometimes, but other times use a variation on Sly Flourish's recent tip of "average damage minus 3, plus 1d6"). I've found that Morale is a very useful tool for making combats end faster, while rolling for HP can make low level (1-3) fights significantly more swingy, but after that it seems to stop mattering.

Especially low HP plus morale makes a fight almost more of a foregone conclusion. Absurdly high HP plus morale gives you that extra "out" of morale, but if the rolls don't favor the PCs, it can get a little more sloggy, so you have to be extra aware of everyone's enjoyment of the specific fight. Again, this all seems to wash out after level 3 or so, where things just get swingier by the nature of the game and the components that make up the PCs' ability to dish out damage.

Not sure if this matters, but I'll state it: I have a rule where if you want to intimidate creatures, it's an action but if successful, the monsters have to make a morale check on their next turn (even if none of the other criteria like "leader's dead" or "half their allies are dead" or "they are at half HP" are met), and they do so at disadvantage. (If it fails, the don't have advantage, and they only make a morale check if one of the other criteria is true.)

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