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5E Why different HD types for classes? (Another HP thread...)

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I get all that, but that doesn't balance out the issue of how abstract HP are gained. I'll give you an example of how luck/favor works out.

When I was in 7th grade I was hit, full on, by a car when I was skateboarding.

Yes, but... you were a commoner, without any class levels. You might, at best, be hit-point equivalent to a 1st-level wizard, but not even a 1st level fighter. The game is not really intended to worry too much about 7th grade you. It is worried about much more adventurous sorts - people who can leap off 4 story buildings, and walk away.

There are very few real-world examples that are anything like 7th-level Conan in a fight. 7th level Conan would see the car coming, and stop-kick it, and walk away. He took the same number of points of damage as you in the hit, but his capacity is literally fantastic.

You can bring up the "game balance" argument, but there are other ways the game is balanced out, so I really can't buy that anymore.

There are other ways a game can be balanced, sure. And in 5e, this is used slightly less - with wizard-types using d6s. And, yes, if you built a game from the ground up, you could, in theory, even things up across the board. But 5e is not that game.

Most games are not that game, either. Most games have at least the option for a character to use part of their overall build resources to enhance their damage capability. In D&D, you do it via a class package. In Gumshoe games, Health is bought the same way every other skill is - so if you have lots of health, you are less of a general skill monkey, and you can't have as much spellcasting (or whatever high weirdness the system allows). Fate games have skills and stunts you can buy to enhance your damage capacity - and as a balance if you buy them, you can't have other things.

Broadly speaking, in role playing games, the ability to absorb damage is no less an important capability than the ability to dish it out in any particular mode. You should then expect that some character types will want more of it, other less of it.
 

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When I was in 7th grade I was hit, full on, by a car when I was skateboarding. Honestly, it easily could have killed me. I was lucky.
RL is a real bad example, but, to go there, what's the damage from an auto accident? If it's, like 2d12 or something, you could have been lucky in the sense of the car rolling, a pair of 1s for damage, not in the sense of having 3 meat points and 20 luck points.
My point is that a wizard could just as easily have 10 HP with a decent CON due to those other factors as a fighter with 10 HP (assuming d8) and a similar CON would have from other factors.
IDK, the wizard effs around with arcane forces of the universe, maybe that washes off luck, courage, divine favor and other ineffable factors that tend to glom onto the more down-to-earth fighter?
You can bring up the "game balance" argument, but there are other ways the game is balanced out, so I really can't buy that anymore.
Really, if it were based on game balance, the Wizard would lose hit points as he leveled up.
 

Saelorn

Hero
FWIW, I don't really have an issue with HD, this is more about understanding a consistent and logical rationale for different HD sizes if you subscribe to the abstract HP concept.
If you think you have found an inconsistency in the HP rules, then you have. The game is simply not so well-designed as to avoid inconsistencies, and this is one of the oldest and most pervasive. Regardless of which side you take in the debate, there will be rules that only make sense from the opposing perspective. Your options are to either stop caring about it, or to house rule it.

Also, since front-liners tend to have better Constitution scores anyway because they want more HP, what impact would a flat universal d8 have? Would it hurt them that much, really?
Honestly, it would be fine. Ever since 3E, the hit die has been less important than the Con modifier. This change would encourage fighter-types to invest slightly more in Con, instead of counting on their hit die to cover it, which might put a small burden on Paladins specifically.
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
Classes are designed with something like a ‘point buy system’. Designers trust their ‘gut instincts’ and playtest results, more than a theoretical model, but there is a model.

There is some sense of how much a hit point is worth. The Fighter class is given more hit points at the opportunity cost of less options elsewhere.
 

Phazonfish

B-Rank Agent
What are you agreeing to? You realize in my OP I am actually for giving full casters d8 for HP??? What is this obsession with d4's and casters.... :unsure:
I mean, we can make it a d3 if you'd prefer something different. I'm agreeing with the sentiment I quoted. As I said, I play almost exclusively full casters. Ya know why? Because I look at full casters and there is so much they can do. In the Venn Diagram of Tasks a Good Full Caster is Prepared to Handle vs Tasks a Good Non-Caster is Prepared to Handle, the latter is a smaller circle located entirely inside the circle representing the former. As such, if there is a way to throw the other classes a bone that doesn't detract from the casters' ability to do what makes them feel special (that is to say, casting), and the implementation is simple and intuitive, why would I oppose it? If you need an in-universe reason for this minor statistical discrepancy in such an abstraction, I think you should find a different game; simulationism was never a design priority for 5e (yet ironically, by abolishing the d4 HD, they are one step closer to your goal than some earlier editions, which were notorious for this).
There is no reason to make a joke (even a stupid one) when someone wants to actually have a discussion on the topic.
Jeez, you act like they were actively snuffing out the other responses. Excuse us for trying to have fun in this discussion of a game we play for fun.
It is a curious fact that people are never so trivial as when they take themselves seriously;
It isn't a fact.
Wait, are you trying to tell that this has been the happy fun time, laid back, non-serious dnd4vr that we've been dealing with? In that case you'll get your wish; if I can be of no further assistance, I'll leave you to it.
 
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dave2008

Legend
If you are in the "HP = meat only (or meat mostly)" camp then larger HD size makes sense for warriors and lower ones for weaker wizardy-types.
I disagree that different HD make sense for different classes if you assume HP = meat. If your in that camp, more hit points (bigger HD) makes sense if your character is bigger, stronger, and tougher. But that, IMO, is describe by your attributes (STR & CON), not your HD. For me, it makes no sense that a STR 10 / CON 10 barbarian could gave 12 HP and a STR 16 / CON 16 rogue could have 4 HP.
 

I disagree that different HD make sense for different classes if you assume HP = meat. If your in that camp, more hit points (bigger HD) makes sense if your character is bigger, stronger, and tougher. But that, IMO, is describe by your attributes (STR & CON), not your HD.
Size/Race should also play a major part, then - Dwarves & humans should have more hit points than Elves, and a LOT more than halflings & gnomes. CON bonus makes sense, but so would STR bonus.

But there'd have to be some sort of consistent mapping between size/composition and hit points to really pull it together. A human could never have anywhere near the hit points of even the least of Giants, who, in turn would not have anywhere near the hps of a similar-size iron golem.

Maybe you could still have HD, but they're just used for healing, your hit points don't increase with level, since you're not getting bigger or anything?

And Temp HP? I guess they'd have to be fairly literal ablative shielding of some sort.
 

Hriston

Hero
I’d like to echo what others have already said; hit dice are used as a class-balancing mechanism. This has been the case since the first supplement, Greyhawk, introduced differential damage/hit dice in 1975. Classes that didn’t have spells or other special abilities were compensated with bigger hit dice. This is also true in 5th Edition.
 
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dave2008

Legend
Size/Race should also play a major part, then - Dwarves & humans should have more hit points than Elves, and a LOT more than halflings & gnomes. CON bonus makes sense, but so would STR bonus.

But there'd have to be some sort of consistent mapping between size/composition and hit points to really pull it together. A human could never have anywhere near the hit points of even the least of Giants, who, in turn would not have anywhere near the hps of a similar-size iron golem.

Maybe you could still have HD, but they're just used for healing, your hit points don't increase with level, since you're not getting bigger or anything?

And Temp HP? I guess they'd have to be fairly literal ablative shielding of some sort.
To be clear I like the abstraction of HP has a way to play the game. However, I don't use them as meat points. We track meat points (bloodied HP) separately.
 

I completely agree CON tends to be no worse than 3rd IME for most characters, but even so I think you'll find warrior-types still normally have better CONs on average. I won't say it is much higher, but probably a +1 bonus on average. Of course, player preference and tables vary so this might not be you experience.
I've not found that. IME many dedicated casters actually have better Con scores than the front-liners due to SAD. When your casting stat is your primary combat stat plus a useful skill stat, plus can be applied in other ways in the other two pillars of the game, you generally can spare the points or choice to make your CON a decent number. When you have both a primary and secondary combat stat, plus using different stats for skills and in the other pillars of the game, you have a lot more stats fighting for priority.
And of course those caster-types practiced getting in fights with other casters so they would know better how to handle spells they might face. This includes damaging spells where saves are part of it maybe, of also aren't. I could easily imagine an apprentice wizard tossing a single magic missile at another to practice learning to shrug off damage.
I can't. You can't "pull the blow" of most spells, and so there is a reasonable chance that any spell will kill your sparring partner.
I addition, I really don't see most wizards practising getting in fights with spells, except as intellectual exercises.
So, you do value meat and dodging over sixth-sense, favor, luck, or whatever else is involved that the wizard has? Why is that (other than game balance)?
Why can't the Fighter have luck, favour, and sixth-sense as well as their combat training and experience?
 

Other than the obvious legacy game mechanic, I view HP as a form of stamina. From this perspective, warrior types (and larger types) having larger HD makes sense.

this is more about understanding a consistent and logical rationale for different HD sizes if you subscribe to the abstract HP concept.
Well THERE'S your problem! Expecting consistency and logical rationale from the internet... what in the 9 Hells is wrong with you?!?
 

6ENow!

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
Other than the obvious legacy game mechanic, I view HP as a form of stamina. From this perspective, warrior types (and larger types) having larger HD makes sense.

Well THERE'S your problem! Expecting consistency and logical rationale from the internet... what in the 9 Hells is wrong with you?!?

I guess I expected too much.. Well, live and learn I suppose.
 


6ENow!

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
Why can't the Fighter have luck, favour, and sixth-sense as well as their combat training and experience?

I would imagine a Fighter would have some, if not all, of these in some measure. My point is other classes would likely have more. I could see a Rogue having more luck, a Cleric more favor, etc. just as a Fighter might have more physical endurance and such.

Given the abstract nature of HP most of us follow IMO, if you break down the components of it, different classes are likely to excel in some areas over others, but taken as a whole, there is no reason why the sum shouldn't be equally represented, such as in using a flat d8 (which is the HD for medium-sized creatures).
 

I would imagine a Fighter would have some, if not all, of these in some measure. My point is other classes would likely have more.
Yep, must be nice things, spmeone one the internet is arguing the fighter shouldn't have 'em. ;)

Seriously, though, it could be as simple as a bit of unnatural selection. Would-be adventurers who follow the path of the fighter (or, the nigh-suicidal code of the Paladin, or, even worse, barbarian) only survive, even to 1st level, if they are exceptionally gifted in many of the factors that give you bigger HD. (Of course, there's weeding out like that with all classes, but they have other things going for them, as well.)
 
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When you sit down to design a game you have to make choices. The fighter has X points and the wizard has Y hit points because that's the mechanic the game designer chose.

He could have chosen a different mechanic, such as separate HP pool for magic, fortune, and physical damage. But he didn't.

That's why D&D has different mechanics than GURPS and Chronicles of Darkness.
 

Esker

Hero
I would imagine a Fighter would have some, if not all, of these in some measure. My point is other classes would likely have more. I could see a Rogue having more luck, a Cleric more favor, etc. just as a Fighter might have more physical endurance and such.

Given the abstract nature of HP most of us follow IMO, if you break down the components of it, different classes are likely to excel in some areas over others, but taken as a whole, there is no reason why the sum shouldn't be equally represented, such as in using a flat d8 (which is the HD for medium-sized creatures).

Those other classes get other things that help them avoid dying. Rogues get uncanny dodge, which gives them probably effectively more hitpoints most days than fighters, even accounting for second wind. Then they get evasion, which gives them even more, albeit more situationally.

Clerics can cast various spells, usually optionally on themselves, that prevent dying. At level 3, casting aid is worth more to yourself alone than bumping up your hit die, for example.

But I think you could do what you're suggesting and even out hit dice, and then to compensate, give fighters, paladins, rangers and barbarians extra features to compensate, and give wizards and sorcerers some other penalty. As with any other change you want to make, it's going to mess with game balance if you do it on its own, but if you make the cascade of other changes that would help keep things in balance, then you're fine. It's just hard.
 


I would imagine a Fighter would have some, if not all, of these in some measure. My point is other classes would likely have more. I could see a Rogue having more luck, a Cleric more favor, etc. just as a Fighter might have more physical endurance and such.

Given the abstract nature of HP most of us follow IMO, if you break down the components of it, different classes are likely to excel in some areas over others, but taken as a whole, there is no reason why the sum shouldn't be equally represented, such as in using a flat d8 (which is the HD for medium-sized creatures).
Most of those justifications for hit points aren't based on the class however, but are abstract values that anyone could have more or less of. Luck is not a specifically Rogue thing, neither is Sixth Sense a specifically Wizard thing (although fits in with Barbarians and maybe Monks pretty well.)

Combat training and experience is something that Fighters as a class have. Feral senses and endurance are part of the Barbarian class identity. These are class-based justifications for higher hit points.

Having said that, hit points are abstract enough that if you really want to reduce all classes to d8, you can probably make a justification for it.
The balance issue this would cause can be rectified by further house rules. - You will need something to rein in casters, particularly gishes since these are the types that actively encroach upon the role of the higher-HD classes. Bladesingers are an example: they are close to being as good combatants as fighters for example, in addition to the full-caster suite of combat and out-of-combat capabilities. Giving them the same hitpoints would risk marginalising someone who wanted to play a fighter even more.
 

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