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5E Half HP, Full heal variant

CubicsRube

Adventurer
Supporter
I'm thinking about a variant where PCs have half their normal HP, but after a nominal time at the end of the fight (say 1 minute) the PCs are back at their max HP.

The intent is to have each fight that can be risky/potentially deadly rather than an attrition model which I think is difficult in 5e (less so in older editions).

What impacts do you think this would have?

My first thoughts are:
  • Healing magic becomes much less useful. I don't mind this as it allows most clerics and druids to use their magic elsewhere instead of playing healbots.
  • Bard's Song of Rest becomes useless. Is this a big feature of Bards? I don't know.
  • Hit Dice become unneeded. I don't like the hit dice system anyway so happy to say adios to it.
  • Early levels become even more swingy.
  • TPK risk is higher.
  • Hopefully less 5 minute workday seeking.
 

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Krachek

Adventurer
A level 5 party with half hit point is pretty at risk from a fireball or any CR 4-5 dragon.
I’m not sure for the 5mwd, being more fragile party will tend to burst even more.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
Hey @CubicsRube !

Ok, this is an interesting variant. I've been exploring a low HP (about 60-70 percent RAW) version to make combat quicker. Our group also realized that except in rare scenarios where we have no chance to heal or rest between encounters, we enter each fight at or near max HP (probably at least 90%). So, most encounters will do some damage, which we'll have to recover, but unless it is a "hard" or "deadly" encounter, it rarely results in a PC anywhere near 0 HP.

To address your thoughts:
  • Healing magic is actually more useful because you find it being used in combat since PCs have fewer HP. After the fight you won't need it, but during the fight you probably will.
  • Bard's Song of Rest is not IMO. I had a bard and frankly forgot all about it when we rested. If you want to keep it, allow it to do something else like remove a level of exhaustion after a short rest (instead of requiring a long rest), etc.
  • True, you will see very little HD used, but I have a suggestion for that if you wanted it (but since you don't, no big loss).
  • Early levels aren't really more swingy in our play testing. Of course, we give PCs more HP at level 1, it average down to about 65% of RAW as levels increase.
  • TPK is a bit more risky, but isn't that the point?
  • IME the 5MWD is more about abilities, not HP.
Some other things to consider and the biggest hurdle I've encounter is magic. With lower HP, spells like Magic Missile and Sleep are more effective, especially if you just cut HP in half! A fireball is really a big deal again. Personally, I like that, but some people had negative feelings about it all.

So, here are a couple things I have to offer if you don't have things locked down:

Have PCs being with HP = CON + HD roll (not max, no average). PCs only gain HD per level afterward, no bonus CON mod.
After a "break" following combat, roll the HD and the PCs recover that many HP. Spells, features, or an "actual short rest with spent HD" must be used to make up the deficit if any.

Example: Fighter with CON 14
Level 1: 14 + 1d10, average will be 19-20 compared to 12.
Level 2: 14 + 2d10, average will be 25 compared to 20.
Level 3: 14 + 3d10, average will be 30-31 compared to 28.
Level 4: 14 + 4d10, average will be 36, compared to 36.
etc.
Level 20: 16 + 20d10, average will be 126, compared to 184 (13 + 19*9). About 68.5%

If you want less HP at lower levels, start with half CON + an HD roll.

But you don't want to gimp them too much at lower levels IME. Hope this helps!
 

I'm thinking about a variant where PCs have half their normal HP, but after a nominal time at the end of the fight (say 1 minute) the PCs are back at their max HP.

The intent is to have each fight that can be risky/potentially deadly rather than an attrition model which I think is difficult in 5e (less so in older editions).

What impacts do you think this would have?

My first thoughts are:
  • Healing magic becomes much less useful. I don't mind this as it allows most clerics and druids to use their magic elsewhere instead of playing healbots.
  • Bard's Song of Rest becomes useless. Is this a big feature of Bards? I don't know.
  • Hit Dice become unneeded. I don't like the hit dice system anyway so happy to say adios to it.
  • Early levels become even more swingy.
  • TPK risk is higher.
  • Hopefully less 5 minute workday seeking.
I've been working on something similar to this in my variant rules I've been playing with.

My intent is to make the game balanced around 'encounters' instead of 'adventuring days'. Basically turning all abilities and spells into ToB/ SWSE style manouvers/ stances/ force powers.

HP remain the only artifact that is long rest dependent. I'm currently toying around a rule of 'If you have at least 1 HP when your manoeuvres refresh at the end of an encounter, your HP reset to 50 percent of maximum. This represents you catching your breath, binding wounds and resolving to push forwards.'
 

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