D&D 5E Starting HP based on Size, Race and Class...

ElPsyCongroo

Explorer
The thought occurred to me that many people don't like seeing their character being laid low immediately after starting a campaign. So why not boost HP at the start I thought... to at least Level 3 worth (without the being Level 3) but I'm not a fan of preferential treatment, it would need to be a change across the board PCs, NPCs and Monsters alike.
While I agree that Class should be the primary factor when calculating HP as you progress, but I like the idea of Race providing variation e.g. Yes you're a Wizard but also a Goliath (Racial Trait +1 Con, so increases Race Hit Die by one step) and a medium sized creature...
So your starting Hit Points look like; HP= 1d6(Wizard) + 1d10 (Goliath) + 1d8 (Medium) + Con Mod
1d8 would be the baseline for Racial HP, your standard Human analogue.
A drastic difference for low level play and monsters (hardier goblins for instance), but said difference will have very little effect later on, HP increases per level are still the same. Would this be relatively balanced?
 

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delericho

Legend
We've used a couple of options.

For a lot of campaigns, I've used a "hit point advance" rule - characters start with the hit points they would have if they were 3rd level. However, they don't then gain any more until the total they "should" have exceeds their starting total. (Since we don't use multiclassing, that means they gain more hit points at 4th level.)

The other option we've used (back in 3e days) was to give all characters the fixed hit points per level at every level, but also give everyone a one-off boost (usually +5) at 1st level. So, a 1st level Wizard would start with 4+5=9 hit points, the Fighter 6+5=11, and so on. (Funnily enough, the motivation for that one was to correct a 'funny' with multiclassing, whereby a Wizard who became a Fighter would have far fewer hit points than a Fighter who became a Wizard.)
 


not boost HP at the start I thought... to at least Level 3 worth (without the being Level 3) but I'm not a fan of preferential treatment, it would need to be a change across the board PCs, NPCs and Monsters alike

Wouldn't it make just as much sense to simply start the game at level 3? What's the net gain to adding a house rule empowering low levels if the regular rules already work when you just choose to start a bit later?
 

ElPsyCongroo

Explorer
We've used a couple of options.

For a lot of campaigns, I've used a "hit point advance" rule - characters start with the hit points they would have if they were 3rd level. However, they don't then gain any more until the total they "should" have exceeds their starting total. (Since we don't use multiclassing, that means they gain more hit points at 4th level.)

The other option we've used (back in 3e days) was to give all characters the fixed hit points per level at every level, but also give everyone a one-off boost (usually +5) at 1st level. So, a 1st level Wizard would start with 4+5=9 hit points, the Fighter 6+5=11, and so on. (Funnily enough, the motivation for that one was to correct a 'funny' with multiclassing, whereby a Wizard who became a Fighter would have far fewer hit points than a Fighter who became a Wizard.)
That Hit Point Advance rule is something I contemplated doing after looking around at alternatives somewhat. The groups I was part of usually stuck with the fixed HP/level too just to prevent the worst from occurring
 

ElPsyCongroo

Explorer
Wouldn't it make just as much sense to simply start the game at level 3? What's the net gain to adding a house rule empowering low levels if the regular rules already work when you just choose to start a bit later?
This is true, but I just felt that low level players and low CR monsters were a little too squishy, nothing else has changed but both the PCs and low CR mobs get to interact for longer. Also its just fun to level up.
 

delericho

Legend
Wouldn't it make just as much sense to simply start the game at level 3? What's the net gain to adding a house rule empowering low levels if the regular rules already work when you just choose to start a bit later?
A couple of possible reasons:

New players are likely to benefit from the simpler 1st level characters, but also from having more hit points.

Also, I've found that my players tend to feel more connected to their characters if they start at 1st level. In theory, it really shouldn't matter, but in my experience at least it does seem to.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
New players are likely to benefit from the simpler 1st level characters, but also from having more hit points.
Yes. One of the secret strengths of 5e is that the first 3 levels make probably the best tutorial for new players any edition has had. IMO it's better than the red box basic sets as far as guiding new players into how the game works.

(This is also why all of our games without starting players start at either level 3 or level 5 depending on who is DMing. Because the flip side of that progression is that sometimes the experienced players feel like their characters are "incomplete" at 1st level and want to at least start at a level where they have subclasses.)
 

dave2008

Legend
We give players and monsters Bloodied Hit Points (BHP) based on size (Medium = 1) multiplied by your Str + Con mod. Gives PCs a little boost (1*-10 BHP depending on your stats) at low level.

*Note: the minimum BHP is 1.
 

ElPsyCongroo

Explorer
We give players and monsters Bloodied Hit Points (BHP) based on size (Medium = 1) multiplied by your Str + Con mod. Gives PCs a little boost (1*-10 BHP depending on your stats) at low level.

*Note: the minimum BHP is 1.
Thats interesting, would these be handled differently from HP?
 

dave2008

Legend
Thats interesting, would these be handled differently from HP?
They are in our game, but they don't have to be. For us, you take BHP damage when you have 0 HP or on a critical hit. Also, when you take BHP damage, the damage is reduced by your armor's DR. Armor DR only comes into effect when you are taking damage to your BHP, never HP.
 

ElPsyCongroo

Explorer
They are in our game, but they don't have to be. For us, you take BHP damage when you have 0 HP or on a critical hit. Also, when you take BHP damage, the damage is reduced by your armor's DR. Armor DR only comes into effect when you are taking damage to your BHP, never HP.
Sort of like the Wounds and Vitality variant rule then?
I also contemplated making use of Armor as DR but found it reduced low damage weapons to the point of being unusable. Unless I made a point of daggers and such being "Armor Piercing" by getting in and around joints in the armor.
 


Jer

Legend
Supporter
Why don’t people just start at a higher level like 4 or 6?
The problem with starting at levels 4 or 6 is spellcasters. The power curve on spellcasters means that if you start at level 4 they already have 2nd level spells and if you start at level 6 they already have Fireball.

If this isn't a problem for your game then great! Start at level 5 (level 5 is a great starting level for my groups). But it's a problem for some groups.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
At my table, we use paragon class(es) which have racial and size based HD. Most Paragons have D12 HD through

When I DM, I stress that the first few levels are the Rookie levels however.
 

dave2008

Legend
Sort of like the Wounds and Vitality variant rule then?
I also contemplated making use of Armor as DR but found it reduced low damage weapons to the point of being unusable. Unless I made a point of daggers and such being "Armor Piercing" by getting in and around joints in the armor.
Well low-die weapons are still usable for us as armor DR does affect HP. So 90%+ of your hits still do full damage (no armor DR). Also, even a dagger (9 piercing with max roll + max ability mod) can pierce plate (DR 8). And most creatures don't have AC that high. If add sneak attack or other damage boosters then it is really not an issue at all. Additionally, we allow PCs to spend a HD and add that damage to their damage roll. Allows anyone to get through the armor if they really want/ need too.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
The thought occurred to me that many people don't like seeing their character being laid low immediately after starting a campaign. So why not boost HP at the start I thought... to at least Level 3 worth (without the being Level 3) but I'm not a fan of preferential treatment, it would need to be a change across the board PCs, NPCs and Monsters alike.
While I agree that Class should be the primary factor when calculating HP as you progress, but I like the idea of Race providing variation e.g. Yes you're a Wizard but also a Goliath (Racial Trait +1 Con, so increases Race Hit Die by one step) and a medium sized creature...
So your starting Hit Points look like; HP= 1d6(Wizard) + 1d10 (Goliath) + 1d8 (Medium) + Con Mod
1d8 would be the baseline for Racial HP, your standard Human analogue.
A drastic difference for low level play and monsters (hardier goblins for instance), but said difference will have very little effect later on, HP increases per level are still the same. Would this be relatively balanced?
Frankly, we like low HP at low levels, the game has enough HP bloat as it is...

What is the challenge if you have enough HP for tier 1 that things aren't quite the challenge they could be?

BUT... since you want to go this route, there is nothing wrong with it. It is better than 3x hp at level 1 or whatever because it is no longer just class that helps your hp.

I would NOT recommend it as a change across the board, however, but let's look at my favorite test subject: the commoner.

HP = 1d??? (no class?) + 1d8 (human default) + 4 (medium) + 0 (Con mod). So, 8 or so on average?

Perhaps use the sidekick classes (expert as default, so d8 for medium creature) would add a bit more, making it 12 or 13 for a commoner as a level 1 expert?

In general, I think it would be easier to simply grant all creatures two addition HD (one for class, one for race?) with appropriate CON bonus because I think that is what you will often get.

So, your aforementioned goblin would become 4d6 with 14 hp default. (100% increase)
A mastiff would go from 1d8+1 to 3d8+3, increasing to 15 hp. (200% increase, making them useful...)
Yet something like a Wyvern would go from 13d10+39 to 15d10+45, from 110 to 127 (15% increase or so)
Etc.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
Would this be relatively balanced?
If you add one more variable racial benefit, you might want to consider other minor adjustments to compensate smaller classes which will get a smaller racial hit dice AND a smaller size hit dice at the same time.

Other than that, I don't see a problem. The idea of having ~15-20 hp at first level was also presented at some point during 5e playtest, although it was not race-dependent.
 

aco175

Legend
Sounds like a lot of effort for little return. How long do you spend in the levels 1-2. I find that these go by in a couple sessions and then everyone is level 3- problem solved. Have you spoke with your players about a big change like this?
 

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