D&D 5E Max HP?

MarkB

Legend
1-2 rounds is about typical for 5e fights, and bosses can go down fast if the party can focus and has lots of nova potential.

One concept I've been considering is allowing Legendary Resistance to apply to initiative checks. If the boss monster rolls terribly for initiative and is likely to only get to act once and then die, let it spend a Legendary Resistance to bump its spot in the initiative order up to second or third.
 

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Delazar

Adventurer
ONLY 7 rounds? 7 rounds is a lot… it’s at least one hour of play at the table, if not more, if you have legendary actions and minions.

I actually wish fights were shorter
 

Jaeger

That someone better
I think monsters are undertuned in 5E. By quite a lot. Max PC hit points would only make the problems of the edition worse.

IMHO It is the PC's that are overtuned.

Re:
Monsters and PCs, if anything need LESS HPs, not more.

Agree. It's not so much about the length of the combat. But the consequences for the PC's getting hit.

Ok, so the big bad was dusted in under 6 rounds... At any point during those 6 rounds were any of the PC's in danger of being killed?

Is taking a single hit from an alleged "Mythic" monster even a concern for any of them? If not, then how is that monster "mythic"?


I think HP in general is an overused defensive factor for both PCs and NPCs. It leads to number bloat which is just going to slow the game down. Bigger HP pools leads to seeking more damage which will eventually lead to the need to inflate them again.
I'd much rather have more active mitigation, recovery, and avoidance features than just treadmills of bigger values.

In other RPGs that don't have exponential HP increases; HP = meat points, and they typically have some other 'meta' currency to mitigate the occasional bad roll or lucky hit: "hero points". WFRP fate points, CoC luck points etc..

D&D traditionally does not have a 'hero point' meta currency, because for D&D the HP increases per level (HP Bloat) fill in for that. Which of course has always muddled the waters of: 'what do HP represent"...

HP Bloat is D&D's 'Hero Point' meta mechanic. Hit Points in D&D are 'meat points' and 'hero points' all rolled into one.

Pre 3e D&D had limits on that though as PCs stopped gaining hit dice around level 10 or so... Not so much in the post 3e game. Now PCs gain hit points every level.

This of course leads to scaling issues with the math in every subsequent edition of the game. Which is why they all have issues the higher in level the game progresses. Stuff like CR, and the right amount of HP for x at high levels are off because it is just too much too playtest and calculate ahead of time given all the variables introduced into the system via spells and class abilities.

The easiest solution to the scaling issue is to side step it.

IMHO people were on to something with the E6 mod for 3.x edition D&D.

One can do similar for 5e, Like this guys "5e Heroic" version:

Of course there is a strong segment of D&D fans that find such restrictions after a given level abhorrent.

So in that case, Just pile on the HP...
 
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overgeeked

B/X Known World
IMHO It is the PC's that are overtuned.
Exactly. But most players go apoplectic if you even suggest anything that limits or hinders the default power level of the PCs in any way.
Of course there is a strong segment of D&D fans that find such restrictions after a given level abhorrent.
Exactly. So...
The easiest solution to the scaling issue is to side step it.

So in that case, Just pile on the HP...
Right. You get dramatically less pushback when you say the monsters are undertuned than when you say the PCs are overtuned. It's easier to just rewrite the entire Monster Manual to actually provide something resembling a challenge to the PCs as they are written than it is to rewrite the PCs to match the monsters. Why? Because the players will freak if you touch the PCs' power level.
 

I agree there's a lot of good angles when you're dealing with games that cap the linear progression at a lower level and opens up the later levels for different avenues. For 5e E11 is my favorite spot. Enough a health and resources to make it through long days and six level spells are just about the cusp where they can largely impact the game without ripping away at the seams.
 

Jaeger

That someone better
Right. You get dramatically less pushback when you say the monsters are undertuned than when you say the PCs are overtuned. It's easier to just rewrite the entire Monster Manual to actually provide something resembling a challenge to the PCs as they are written than it is to rewrite the PCs to match the monsters. Why? Because the players will freak if you touch the PCs' power level.

I do find it fascinating that players will cling to that higher power level - even when they are just as aware of the issues that result from it as the GM.

IMHO D&D could have used a big dial-back and rethink on this issue during the 5e playtest - but that ship has sailed...
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I do find it fascinating that players will cling to that higher power level - even when they are just as aware of the issues that result from it as the GM.
I'm not so sure. In my experience, if they're aware of it at all (not a given), they expect the DM to not touch anything and let the PCs simply steamroll over everything...they tend to prefer the power fantasy over actually being challenged.
IMHO D&D could have used a big dial-back and rethink on this issue during the 5e playtest - but that ship has sailed...
Quite.
 

Xeviat

Community Supporter
Supporter
Combats are designed to last 2-4 rounds in 5e so that's the baseline you're working with. 7 rounds is a long combat.

To be clear, this is 7 rounds of a mythic, so 2 regular fights. This was basically 3ish rounds for each phase, with wasted turns because of positioning due to the setpiece.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
yup, a big thing I hope they address in 5.5

monster (especially ones meant to be solo) need better action economy, and more staying power. Mythic and Legendary are great but also hard to really use in 'normal' encounters. I don't want my 8th level party to face off against 1 legendary, mythic or BOTH legendary and mythic creature every adventure.
I often wonder the size of party and optimization level of players who say this. I've ran 3 person parties and 6 person parties and I can say that party size is a huge factor in consistency and what is hard and not. Optimization level really changes things as well as well optimized characters can often be nearly twice as effective as unoptimized ones.
 

dave2008

Legend
yup, a big thing I hope they address in 5.5

monster (especially ones meant to be solo) need better action economy, and more staying power. Mythic and Legendary are great but also hard to really use in 'normal' encounters. I don't want my 8th level party to face off against 1 legendary, mythic or BOTH legendary and mythic creature every adventure.
If you want a monster to be a challenge, but don't want it to be a mythic or legendary, just pick a much higher CR monster. That will have much more HP and do more damage without the complexity of legendary actions.
 

dave2008

Legend
@Xeviat , quick question: Are you looking for fights to last longer or be more deadly/threatening?

If you want fights to last longer, give monsters more HP or AC and/or methods to deal with the effects your PCs are inflicting (higher saves most likely).

If you want fights to be more threatening, reduce PC HP. This solves almost all the issues with monsters being weak.
 

5atbu

Explorer
I often wonder the size of party and optimization level of players who say this. I've ran 3 person parties and 6 person parties and I can say that party size is a huge factor in consistency and what is hard and not. Optimization level really changes things as well as well optimized characters can often be nearly twice as effective as unoptimized ones.
Plus.. as a group of players gel with each other and the rules and how they want to play.. the dynamics shift and change.

Depending on how silly or serious, combat oriented or story oriented the table is can in itself change the combat style or effectiveness of a group of PCs.

Finding the sweet spot for your table is an art for all gamers..
 

If you want a monster to be a challenge, but don't want it to be a mythic or legendary, just pick a much higher CR monster. That will have much more HP and do more damage without the complexity of legendary actions.
Doesn't actually work that well. CR isn't perfect to begin with and PC progression isn't a curve as much as a series of steps or jumps.
Trying to use higher CR to up challenge usually ends in two ways:
-Rocket tag because the NPC is hitting hard and often so there is little point in trying to stop it so might as well just go all out and only heal to prevent death. See my original point on damage treadmill

-action denial. Can be cool once or twice but it's also anti-climactic. Most NPCs don't have any real defense to stop it and if the DM was expecting more from it this leads to some of the common complaints with DMs and the false belief of metagaming ruining the game.

You also have the issue with using high CR single Target encounters is you're giving the dice more weight. This could be good or bad depending on what your goals are but for most tables I don't think it's necessarily as awesome as it looks.

There's nothing wrong with using the deadly knob to increase tension but there's a dozen other knobs on the same platform you might as well use them.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
As I've mentioned before... my belief is that if your table has anything more than 4 PCs from the Basic Rules-- one from each class-- your party is going to be 'overtuned' compared to the baseline challenge levels that were set up in the DMG. And you have to be prepared to adjust for that.
 

dave2008

Legend
Doesn't actually work that well.
It has worked well at times for me. Different groups play differently, but I have had success with pitting high CR monsters vs my group.
CR isn't perfect to begin with and PC progression isn't a curve as much as a series of steps or jumps.
Trying to use higher CR to up challenge usually ends in two ways:
-Rocket tag because the NPC is hitting hard and often so there is little point in trying to stop it so might as well just go all out and only heal to prevent death. See my original point on damage treadmill
Not sure why this is an issue, so I can't really confirm or deny this an issue for my group. This seems perfectly expectable and fun on occasion.
-action denial. Can be cool once or twice but it's also anti-climactic. Most NPCs don't have any real defense to stop it and if the DM was expecting more from it this leads to some of the common complaints with DMs and the false belief of metagaming ruining the game.
Again, I am not sure what you are stating the issue is: deny actions from the PCs or the Monsters. Few monsters have abilities to deny actions from the PCs, and deny monster actions is lessened by higher saves from higher CR monsters. But it is not like PCs deny monster's actions is a bad thing to begin with.
You also have the issue with using high CR single Target encounters is you're giving the dice more weight. This could be good or bad depending on what your goals are but for most tables I don't think it's necessarily as awesome as it looks.
If that is an issue at all, it is only an issue if you are doing this for every monster (or close to it). The suggestion wasn't for use with every monster. Variety is the spice of combat encounters!
There's nothing wrong with using the deadly knob to increase tension but there's a dozen other knobs on the same platform you might as well use them.
Of course, I never said it was the only knob to use. I tend to use many different tools to make engaging encounters.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
1-2 rounds is about typical for 5e fights, and bosses can go down fast if the party can focus and has lots of nova potential.

One concept I've been considering is allowing Legendary Resistance to apply to initiative checks. If the boss monster rolls terribly for initiative and is likely to only get to act once and then die, let it spend a Legendary Resistance to bump its spot in the initiative order up to second or third.
I’ve decided that in future I’m just going to go with 20+Dex for bosses and 15+Dex for tough guys. Leaving important NPC initiative entirely to chance often wrecks their threat.
 


Xeviat

Community Supporter
Supporter
@Xeviat , quick question: Are you looking for fights to last longer or be more deadly/threatening?

If you want fights to last longer, give monsters more HP or AC and/or methods to deal with the effects your PCs are inflicting (higher saves most likely).

If you want fights to be more threatening, reduce PC HP. This solves almost all the issues with monsters being weak.
Last longer so that more cool things can happen. I've been building my own monsters a lot, stealing 4E ideas in a lot of places, but only mythic monsters get to stay around long enough to do anything.
 

Xeviat

Community Supporter
Supporter
7 rounds sounds like a good duration for a major fight in 5e...
Once more, this was a mythic, so two fights, with a very dynamic lair that denied a few turns around the way. It being about 3 rounds for each phase didn't feel "epic". The challenge was tuned right, the players were biting their nails and almost went down a couple of times (there was one real good moment where one character was one other character's one decision away from getting swallowed by lava), but there was something about the scope that was missing.

In the fight leading up to it, against the big bad they had been after the entire game, that going down in 3 really quick rounds was super anti-climactic. It was a good thing it was a false final fight or the campaign would have ended poorly.
 

I've been using maximised HP* for some some monsters I want to be solos. The characters are very low level so they really don't yet need terribly dangerous boss foes.

*I.e. the maximum amount their HP formula would allow to roll.
 

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