D&D 5E Hit Point Maximum Damage House-Rules

DND_Reborn

Legend
So, in my quest to continue to revamp 5E without end, I am considering a new house-rule. The idea is that reducing your hit point maximum represents damage that you failed to avoid for whatever reason. Of course, when your hit point maximum is lower, even if you get healed "fully", you aren't operating in top form (so to say).

Below are a couple variations/options:

1. Whenever you fail a saving throw, in addition to taking damage to your hit points, half the damage is also applied to your hit point maximum.
2. Whenever you fail a saving throw, damage is applied to your hit point maximum instead of your hit points.
3. Whenever you take damage from an attack you were unaware of, damage is applied to your hit point maximum instead of your hit points.
4. Hazard damage (such as falling) is applied to your hit point maximum instead of your hit points. (This could easily include a saving throw, moving it up to a subset of #1 or #2 above.)
5. (ADDED) Damage from a critical hit has half the damage applied to hit point maximum in addition to the full amount reducing hit points.

Along with this would be a new rule for healing hit point maximum, instead of automatically recovering it all on a long rest... But I haven't decided on this yet.

So, a few examples. You have 50 hit points (and are at maximum)n for each, and you are fully healed prior to taking damage.

#1. You are hit by a fireball for average 28 damage and fail the saving throw. Your hit point maximum is reduced by half the damage, to 36 (50-14), and your hit points by the full amount, to 22 hit points (50-28). So, you have 22 / 36.

#2. You are hit by a fireball for average 28 damage and fail the saving throw. Your hit point maximum is reduced by 28 points to 22 (50-28). Since your current hit points cannot exceed your hit point maximum (without temporary hit points, that is), your hit points are also reduced by 28 to 22.
Note: If you were already injured and your current hit points were at 15 (for example), they would not be reduced further with this option.

#3. You are surprised by a rogue sneak attacking you for 18 damage. Your hit point maximum is reduced to 32 (50-18), and (as #2) your current hit points would be reduced to your current hit point maximum of 32 as well.

#4. You fall 30 feet while scaling a cliff and take 11 damage. Your hit point maximum is reduced to 39 (50-11) and your current hit points as well (to 39).

So, that's it. Thoughts?
 
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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
So, in my quest to continue to revamp 5E without end, I am considering a new house-rule. The idea is that reducing your hit point maximum represents damage that you failed to avoid for whatever reason. Of course, when your hit point maximum is lower, even if you get healed "fully", you aren't operating in top form (so to say).

Below are a couple variations/options:

1. Whenever you fail a saving throw, in addition to taking damage to your hit points, half the damage is also applied to your hit point maximum.
2. Whenever you fail a saving throw, damage is applied to your hit point maximum instead of your hit points.
3. Whenever you take damage from an attack you were unaware of, damage is applied to your hit point maximum instead of your hit points.
4. Hazard damage (such as falling) is applied to your hit point maximum instead of your hit points. (This could easily include a saving throw, moving it up to a subset of #1 or #2 above.)

Along with this would be a new rule for healing hit point maximum, instead of automatically recovering it all on a long rest... But I haven't decided on this yet.

So, a few examples. You have 50 hit points (and are at maximum)n for each, and you are fully healed prior to taking damage.

#1. You are hit by a fireball for average 28 damage and fail the saving throw. Your hit point maximum is reduced by half the damage, to 36 (50-14), and your hit points by the full amount, to 22 hit points (50-28). So, you have 22 / 36.

#2. You are hit by a fireball for average 28 damage and fail the saving throw. Your hit point maximum is reduced by 28 points to 22 (50-28). Since your current hit points cannot exceed your hit point maximum (without temporary hit points, that is), your hit points are also reduced by 28 to 22.
Note: If you were already injured and your current hit points were at 15 (for example), they would not be reduced further with this option.

#3. You are surprised by a rogue sneak attacking you for 18 damage. Your hit point maximum is reduced to 32 (50-18), and (as #2) your current hit points would be reduced to your current hit point maximum of 32 as well.

#4. You fall 30 feet while scaling a cliff and take 11 damage. Your hit point maximum is reduced to 39 (50-11) and your current hit points as well (to 39).

So, that's it. Thoughts?
I like it. I prefer #1 to #2 with regard to saves. A fireball should inflict damage even if you are hurt, not just reduce maximum hit points. #3 and #4 can also be applied at the same time.

You're going to need to provide some new mechanism for healing the maximum damage. It can't be just an overnight rest or you are going to ultra incentivising the 5 minute work day to recover those lost hit points. Whatever method you choose, stopping to rest for a night or multiple days in a row shouldn't fix it.

You might allow recovery via hit dice expended. Either through a roll or maybe a flat 5 max hit points restored per hit die. Then you'd just have to tweak the hit die recover rules to keep rests under control.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
I like it. I prefer #1 to #2 with regard to saves. A fireball should inflict damage even if you are hurt, not just reduce maximum hit points. #3 and #4 can also be applied at the same time.
So, are you thinking a simpler, more universal, rule would simply be normal damage is applied to your hit points and half is also applied to your hit point maximum?

You're going to need to provide some new mechanism for healing the maximum damage. It can't be just an overnight rest or you are going to ultra incentivising the 5 minute work day to recover those lost hit points. Whatever method you choose, stopping to rest for a night or multiple days in a row shouldn't fix it.
Yes, recovering hit point maximum would be much harder in what I am envisioning.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
So, are you thinking a simpler, more universal, rule would simply be normal damage is applied to your hit points and half is also applied to your hit point maximum?
That's absolutely simpler, and simpler can be better. You might try a few fights with your players using both rules and see which flows better.
Yes, recovering hit point maximum would be much harder in what I am envisioning.
You'll have to be very careful when planning multiple encounters. And the CR ratings will be much less useful, since the added loss of maximum hit points will have much greater impact than the current loss of resource system. Since CR is going to be much less useful for gauging encounters, I'd go with a milestone leveling system. That way you don't have to create a completely new XP calculating system on top of it all.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
This is a really interesting take. It will give quite a different feel from the normal attrition-based game, but that can really be a good thing.

A couple of other options. Playing off @Maxperson 's good idea of everything doing both, perhaps the result of the dice reduce your normal, and the number of dice reduce your max. But if you pair that with a slow recovery, not just coming back from HD, healing magic, or a long rest, and it can drastically change the feel, in a way that will change the approach to adventures.

An off idea may also be to allow spending more HD that you have, but those will also impact your max HP to a degree, so you aren't getting as much back and really are lowering your long term cap for a push right now of not dropping.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
This is a really interesting take. It will give quite a different feel from the normal attrition-based game, but that can really be a good thing.
Thanks. It is something I have been playing around with for a LONG time, using hit point maximum...

The idea is a derivative of the vitality / wounds system of d20 SW. I liked the idea that:

1. critical damage (formerly "hit") goes directly to "wounds"-- or in the case of 5E, since I didn't want to use Constitution, I figured maximum hit points. Using the options in the OP, this could be half the damage to hit point maximum maybe?
2. overflow damage when you go to 0 hit points would also go to hit point maximum instead of being lost.

#2 accurately represents the RAW idea that remaining damage equal to your hit point maximum is instant death.

With the ideas in the OP, that would hold true: if your hit point maximum reaches 0, you die.

A couple of other options. Playing off @Maxperson 's good idea of everything doing both, perhaps the result of the dice reduce your normal, and the number of dice reduce your max. But if you pair that with a slow recovery, not just coming back from HD, healing magic, or a long rest, and it can drastically change the feel, in a way that will change the approach to adventures.

An off idea may also be to allow spending more HD that you have, but those will also impact your max HP to a degree, so you aren't getting as much back and really are lowering your long term cap for a push right now of not dropping.
Yeah, something like this might work as well.

At this point, what I want to do first is apply damage to hit points and half to hit point maximum, but only on failed saves, unexpected attacks, and hazard damage.
 



Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I've seen reduction to HP max done two ways, curious which way you are applying it.

A PC had 50 maximum HPs and currently is down 10 to 40 HPs. They take 5 points off their maximum reducing it to 45. Do their current HPs stay the same because it's still lower than max HPs, or do you track "they are down 10" and stay with the same damage taken so it also reduces their current HPs to 35?
 

dave2008

Legend
I like the general idea. I will have to think about as a possible simplification / revision of our bloodied hit point rules. If so, I would figure DR into it as well. Generally though it would make it damage on a crit or critcial failure of a saving throw. Or revise to the PF2 version of +10 / -10 for crit success / fail
 

Stormonu

Legend
Not a fan of this, but if you're going to use this I would consider changing the Hazard damage to half against max HP, the other half to regular HP. Maybe so far as it only going against max HP if any relative save is failed.

I'm assuming that if someone's max HP is reduced to 0 they can't recover - does that mean they're dead? How would this work with resurrection-style magic, if at all?
 

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
I think I'd keep it occasional and not on every attack or failed save.

Maybe a new, un-blockable, damage type dealt to Max HP and current HP? Something like Lethal or Wounding or something like that.
So a failed save against a Poison effect deals Wounding damage instead. Fall damage and traps could deal Wounding damage. A Disease or Curse could deal 1d6 Wounding damage each hour/day. Critical hits change the damage dealt to Wounding instead of its normal damage. Features like Evoker's Overchannel or Berserker's Frenzy could deal Wounding damage instead of Exhaustion or necrotic damage. Vampire natural attacks could deal Wounding damage, to go back to ye' ol' level drain.

etc

One nice effect it would have would be to leave the Long Rest recovery as is, but make the recovery of Max HP only possible through a Downtime Activity. So your characters can go back to max health over a long rest, but their maximum health will be drained, so you wont be top shape.
 

Stalker0

Legend
I think the big elephant in the rule is how the max HP gets restored....without knowing that, its hard to really guage how intense this rule is.

I will say, I don't think you could go with the full damage of a spell reduces your max hps, even half damage on a fireball sounds crippling to me, but again that depends on the max HP recovery. I'm envisioning one fight leading to several days of rest kind of thing.

Since you mentioned Wound/Vitality....I will say that to me the thing that broke the system was all the ways to attack wounds: Sneak Attacks and Crits especially. The system otherwise is great, but it lead to scenarios where high level characters were getting butchered by schlubs just hoping for crits, which effectively removed vitality from the board.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I've seen reduction to HP max done two ways, curious which way you are applying it.

A PC had 50 maximum HPs and currently is down 10 to 40 HPs. They take 5 points off their maximum reducing it to 45. Do their current HPs stay the same because it's still lower than max HPs, or do you track "they are down 10" and stay with the same damage taken so it also reduces their current HPs to 35?
From his examples in the OP his possibility number 1 was your first experience.

"#1. You are hit by a fireball for average 28 damage and fail the saving throw. Your hit point maximum is reduced by half the damage, to 36 (50-14), and your hit points by the full amount, to 22 hit points (50-28). So, you have 22 / 36."

Then his possibility number 2 was different from your second experience with damage only coming off of max hit points. I'm not fond of that one.

"#2. You are hit by a fireball for average 28 damage and fail the saving throw. Your hit point maximum is reduced by 28 points to 22 (50-28). Since your current hit points cannot exceed your hit point maximum (without temporary hit points, that is), your hit points are also reduced by 28 to 22.
Note: If you were already injured and your current hit points were at 15 (for example), they would not be reduced further with this option."

Personally, I wouldn't do it the second way you've seen it done. That seems to make damage 50% more potent, which would cause a lot of TPKs. Creatures are designed to do a lot of damage.
 

Stalker0

Legend
One way to go that I think is fairly simple but also reduces the impact of this rule is:

"Whenever you fail a saving throw, your max hp is reduced by the number of damage die".

So an 8d6 fireball does 8 max hp damage. That ensures you don't get confused between the half damage of a fireball on a successful save vs the half damage of a fireball on a failed save. It also means the reduction is more graceful, players get ground down but they don't get shattered by one bad save.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
Secondary support rules:

Cure Wounds and Healing Word restores your Max HP by the spell slot level. Use it at 1st level you get 1 Max HP back. Cast it at 5th and you get 5. Same goes for Mass Healing Word and Mass Cure Wounds, but everyone targeted gets their Max HP back.

Regenerate restores Max HP equal to the regular HP restored.

Heal restores full Max HP. As does Mass Heal.

Long Rests recover your Proficiency Modifier in Max HP.

Healing Potions recover your Proficiency Modifier in Max HP.

And, of course the following rule applied to everyone but the PCs:
Anything that deals damage in d4s now deals d2s.
Anything that deals damage in d6s now deals d4s.
Anything that deals damage in d8s now deals d6s.
Anything that deals damage in d10s now deals d8s.
Anything that deals damage in d12s now deals d10s.

Because in this system Magical Healing needs to slightly outpace incoming baseline damage since practically every fight is going to see Max HP reductions for multiple party members and this system DRASTICALLY FAVORS MONSTERS who don't bother recovering HP ninety nine times out of a hundred.
 


el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
My immediate curiosity is how this intersects with damage sources that already do damage to your max, like the touch of a wight. In theory it would not have to be changed at all, but if you want it to be different and scary compared to baseline damage and baseline now does damage to your MAX as well, it'd need adjusting.

For example, in my game energy draining damage from your max can only be recovered with an "Extended Rest" (a week of long rests in a safe and comfortable place) or healing magic applied while caster and target are on sacred ground (like a temple).
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
My immediate curiosity is how this intersects with damage sources that already do damage to your max, like the touch of a wight. In theory it would not have to be changed at all, but if you want it to be different and scary compared to baseline damage and baseline now does damage to your MAX as well, it'd need adjusting.

For example, in my game energy draining damage from your max can only be recovered with an "Extended Rest" (a week of long rests in a safe and comfortable place) or healing magic applied while caster and target are on sacred ground (like a temple).
I mean... On the one hand I get it, on the other hand they're still terrifying. MORESO in this system.

You can lose max HP from a few different things that steals some of your luck. But those things? Wights JUST STRAIGHT DO IT. Every hit screws you up on top of the other potential sources you might already be suffering from.
 

for a campaign I would love it... overall for every campaign I wouldn't.

having said that I play around with (off your perm hp) and (level of exhaustion) and (ability damage) a lot when I want to make scary monsters.
 

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