Hit Points--A study of humanoids.


First Post
Then you really should be playing another game, because hit points have never been just physical damage in D&D. Not ever.

This debate has been going on since 1974, and will probably go on forever.

Some people insist on looking at hit points as purely physical damage, and then complains that 300+ hp is unreasonable for a human (or humanoid). Or 100 hp. Or 50 hp. Basically any amount which cannot be reduced to zero with a single blow of a sword.

But you can't ignore a vital piece the rules and then accuse the game of being unreasonable. Hit points in D&D are not physical damage. The rules say so. Always have.

You're tone is pretty hostile.

This is a dead issue rlly. I see where others are coming from, but I won't keep beating a dead horse. I've explained my viewpoint (which perhaps you still dont get--I never said 100hp or even 50hp were unreasonable, thnx for saying that for me) and that's that.

Also, thanks for telling me what games I should and should not be playing.

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Aust Diamondew

First Post
Myria at level 9 will probably have better AC and attack that the orc chieftain.

AC 26 (+4 lvl+2 shield+2 enhancement+8 darkscale armor)
Compared to the chieftain's 22

Attack +13 (+4 level, +4 strength, +2 enhancement, +2 prof., +1 weapon talent)
Compared to the chieftain's +11

Damage 1d8+7 (+4 strength, +2 enhancement, +1 weapon focus)
That averages the same as the chieftains 1d12+5 (at least before factoring in critical hits, which will about balance out).
Mryria hits the chieftain's AC 60% of the time, he hit Myria's only 40% of the time.
Assuming Myria uses three 2[w] encounters and a 3[w] daily during the 1st four rounds she'll deal 41.1 damage on average, the orc only 18.4.
After that Myria will average 6.3 damage per round and the orc will average 4.6.
After about 19 rounds of fighting the orc will have reduced Myria to less that hit points. Myria will have the orc at about 41 hit points by this point.

So the match up of an unoptimized fighter against the orc chief isn't as unbalanced as it seems at first, depending to the effects of her encounters and dailies she might win, using a power that has an encounter duration (rain of steel or boundless endurance) would definitely swing things in her favor.

I think, as has been observe, the discrepancy in hit points goes back to the decision to make monsters/npcs and pcs quantitatively and qualitatively different in combat.
Which is something I can suspend my disbelief for when running or playing the game (in this case its easier at least, the orc is about +3 times the gnomes body weight).


That quote from the 1st edition PHB was really helpful. I've never read that book and I doubt I'll ever have the chance, so thanks for including that.

I think it comes down to a fundamental difference in perception that I have from many others when it coms to what HP represent. An analogy: some people say that money is a measure of a person's success in life. Others say money is a catalyst for confict, or the root of all evil. I see $$$ as nothing deeper than it's physical implications: it is a way to purchase goods and service. Nothing more. Everything else is existential to that. Kind of like how I see HP. Hit points are physical damage.
Luck, fortune, will to survive/persevere....all addressed by other things.

But I see where others are coming from. :)
In some games, hit points are definitely more physical. Typically, these games let the hit points increase only very slowly - or not at all. Instead, the typical defense against injuries are defensive abilities like dodges and parries or relying on armor. Some games also add an extra "buffer", like action points, conviction, hero points, karma, possibilities.
I would probably characterize this as a "wound (point)" system.

Each hit that deals damage really causes wounds. Your goal is to avoid getting these hits, you don't want to be wounded because it will kill you quickly. The in-game resources like action points or conviction fulfill the same purpose as D&D like hit points.
(Let's call the varied action points & co systems simply action point systems.)

In a "real" or "D&D-like" hit point system, you expect to be hit. Sure, you prefer avoiding it, but you expect it, you just don't want to be hit too often. Because that leads to [-]wounds[/-] death.

In both models, you have a specific resource that you don't want to go out, but it is implemented differently.

The wound point system with the action point resource system is in a way less abstract. The wounds are really damage, you don't have to decide whether it was luck or pain tolerance or a real injury the character sustained. Without the action point system, the game as a whole describes what "really" happens. Someone swings a sword at you, your left arm is cut and broken. The action point system allows you to change this story, from "arm is cut and broken" to "narrowly evades the blow".

Of course, there is a cost to this - you have to track extra values, not just the hit (or now "meat") points, but also the action points.


Liquid Awesome
If it's house rules that you're looking for then the one I used is this:

Monsters all have 60% of the HP listed. Monsters do an additional 4+1/2 level damage on each attack.


Naturally, you wouldn't want to take on that sort of Elite threat "solo" very often, as you said. But, I was thinking in terms of what would be the feasibility of doing so, because the gulf in hit points really made me wonder if a chance at doing so was even a possibility *at all*. And this could actually come into play. Examples:

1) Let's say a "duel" situation has been initiated, where both parties have agreed to send out their "champion" to fight each other, winner take all (w/e is being contested).


2) Myria and the Orc Chieftain are the only one's left standing, this is for all the marbles, and the orc baddie is not backing down.

Such things could happen, and I couldn't help but feel PCs were "behind the eightball" in such circumstances. Lowering hp's a bit seemed like a good solution, but now I am looking at other things like healing surges, more magic items on the PC, and more PC powers that could also be a huge factor in "leveling the playing field". ;p

Which is where the PCs should be in those situations.

What, you want an Easy Mode for D&D?

L2P n00b!!shiftone!!


First Post
Sorry guys but I know all about that particular quote and I whole-heartedly disagree with it. That particular bit of fluff is total rubbish, imho. Some ppl might say you guys sure are good at following WotC's lead and buying w/e they sell you instead of thinking for yourselves...but I will be nice!
That "particular bit of fluff" has been the assumption since at least first edition (it's on page 82 of the DMG, 1979). You can disagree with it until you're blue in the face, but that's what hit points are and have always been for 30+ years.


That "particular bit of fluff" has been the assumption since at least first edition (it's on page 82 of the DMG, 1979). You can disagree with it until you're blue in the face, but that's what hit points are and have always been for 30+ years.

I disbelieve your statement.

*rolls D20*



Community Supporter
Oh. Man.

One of my favorite meta-D&D moments, from wayyy back when we were kids:

One of the worst DM's ever ruled that if you decided to disbelieve an illusion, that wasn't an illusion, you would cause yourself to be unable to see the not-illusion you were disbelieving.

When called on it, he told us, "No, it works, this one time, I spent a long time staring at a penny, trying to believe that it wasn't there, and finally, it disappeared!"

The mental image of this kid staring at a penny trying his best not to see it ...



First Post
Do you disagree with the games fluff and then imply that something doesn't make sense anymore? The fluff you don't like explains the things that you disagree with.

I've always regarded hit points as 'more than physical endurance', but everyone else is free to interpret rules as they like. Some people prefer that AC and dice handle luck, and that HP is physical endurance. You can do this, but you don't have to change monster HP when you do.
Keep in mind that some of these sources of HP make real sense. A rogue is better at rolling with attacks than a fighter, a wizard is surrounded by a field of deflecting force, and any divine classes can be protected by their deity or just insanely zealous. Some of their powers already cover these facets, but there is no reason that HP in general cannot come from these sources.

Healing surges are considered part of a player's hit points though. Players have way more than (non-solo) monsters. I would expect each player to have access to at least 2 surges per combat if they needed. My group has one leader, and they can easily access about this much healing.

Even if you assume that a player is fighting a monster on their own (in which case discussions about balance become moot) they still have potions, maybe a few powers, and a second wind as a last resort. (Again, second wind is devalued when you don't have a party).

Monster HP are too high in general. Feel free to nerf them and increase damage. If you prefer humanoid monsters to have less HP than monstrous monsters, make it so. I'm sure you can think of an advantage to give them to compensate. But monster HP is not balanced by comparing to PC HP. Apples and oranges.


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