D&D 5E Losing HP as you level up


Some people like to spend half their paycheck on lottery tickets, too. Doesn't make it a wise choice.

I remember playing a wizard back in 2e who had a whopping 8 hit points at 5th level. Rolling is fun, but it's a gamble. If you want to gamble, you have to accept the risk that you will likely lose more than you will win.
We know you lose more than you win by rolling. The question was not "Will you lose more than you win?" The question was "Why are the rules written that way?"

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I know people like to roll.

The question is why should you be actively penalized for this desire?

To make the better, more stable option the preferred one. Keep in mind that the main reason there's a choice at all is because WotC are trying to appease both modern and old-school players alike. Some DMs may simply not allow their players to take the average score. Others will insist upon it.


As long as i get to be the frog
Plus, personal bugbear:

Why would anyone ever roll for hit points when "taking the average" is actually yielding a higher score?!?!

To me it's fundamental game design to couple risk with reward.

That is, if you risk rolling the dice (and thus may roll a 1) you need to, on average, be rewarded with something greater than the no-risk option (taking a static number) in order to be incentivized to take said risk.

To me it's utterly baffling they changed the "average" from round-down to round-up.

Anyone with even an inkling of basic math will never roll for hit points as long as the risk-free number is also the higher average. To me, this is just a low-education "tax" where people addicted to slot machines will, on average, squander their characters' hit points.

People gamble all the time despite the odds being in the houses favor.


Rules Monkey
Nah, it's easy to ignore them. Just tell them that they can lose hit points on level up if they want but you will always gain a minimum of 1 hit point on level up.

The signature of champions.

You can have a minimum of 1 on level up if you want, but I will always have Half Max +1. :p

Li Shenron

My understanding is that this approach is very deliberate, and there is a valid customer-oriented reason for it: They want to be able to promise that the book they sold you for $50 contains the actual game of Dungeons & Dragons.

I think that you might be misunderstanding Crawford's role in the Sage Advice.
He gives clarifications to existing rules. Not how he would rule it (that is Mearls). Not how he suggests that you would rule it. Not "official rulings". Just what the actual rules say.

I buy something because I think it will be working as intended :)

It's good that the designers are there to clarify, for example with the errata , where they simply admit when the text doesn't match the RAI, and so they issue a corrige for it.

The problem with Sage Advice, is that sometimes it really clarifies, but other times it sounds like a dude or two on the web noticed a WTF line in the RAW, and Crawford instead of admitting that they never actually noticed it or intended it to be that way, becomes preoccupied only with justifying that RAW at any costs. If he finds an amusing (for him) way to justify the RAW he will do it, without regards to the fact that maybe not even him intended it that way (it just never came up so he didn't considered the problem) and that most gaming groups have probably just played it another way, perhaps the way it has always been. I can understand that this is deliberate, but considering how divisive this sort of thing becomes every single time (see the recent troubles with identifying spells) I don't think it does a good service.

Had he just considered that they never intended a PC to lose HP while levelling up, but they forgot to make it explicit (pretty much because they didn't even think about it the other way around), they could have issued an errata, and nobody would have come up saying they've always played it the way he's saying now.



Personally I'm fairly generous when it comes to HP: it's roll and take the better of your roll of half+1.

But I understand his ruling, but at the same time that also means a character is running around with a 7 CON or less (since minimum 1 and 8 Con would net you +0, not negatives). That's lower than anything you get out of the array, so you'd either have to have rolled really poorly, or done it on purpose via point buy, or lost some con somehow. All of which are great in-fiction reasons why you're not going to be as tough as everyone else.

Personally, I question the continued inclusion of Con in the game at all sometimes.


First Post
Hopefully if a DM follows sage advice and that goes against your judgment then you can play at a different table. Otherwise, you suck it up if the game is good, otherwise you are probably looking for an excuse to leave.

As to the ruling itself, I believe not gaining any hit points (zero hit points) is acceptable, but negative hit points would need to be supported by an event in the game, e.g. you have a permanent injury.


Treating a random variable as equivalent to a fixed value at its average is very basic, but not in the sense of "fundamental and definitely true" so much as "reductionist and possibly overlooking some important details". Tell me, O mathematician, what is the actual average result of rolling for hit points, given that low rolls directly increase the risk of character death (and thus, rolling a new character) while high rolls decrease that risk?
By your tone, I sense you disagree with me in some way. In trying to understand what your point is, if I read you in the best possible light, you basically reiterate what I just said about taking the average at low levels?

(If you were trying to argue something else I did not understand it.)

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First Post
I usually forget that one even can roll for hit points on leveling up. I doubt it's something the designers give much thought to as well. Agree with [MENTION=40176]MarkB[/MENTION], incentivizing rolling for hp would be counterproductive — average hp should be the preferred option. Easier to keep track of, doesn't lead to pointless power differential between characters, takes nothing away from the RP. If rolling for hp, on average, gave you better results, we'd have players groaning and complaining when I said, "and we'll all just take average hp on level up." With the average being statistically better, nobody even notices that rolling for it is gone after a level or two. (If they ever noticed at all.)

Roll dice for PC actions. Live with the consequences. But why randomize the squishiness of a character?

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