D&D 5E Why the disparity in hit dice between classes? between classes vs. creatures?

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
The monk and ranger were different, and while I don't remember the monk
First off, nice recap for people who don't know it.

FWIW, monks also started with 2 hit die, albeit only d4. The great thing about monks and rangers in AD&D each having 2 hit dice at level 1, was your Con HP bonus applied to each hit die, not just once for your level! With an 18 CON, a ranger could (and I only ever saw this once) have 24 HP at level 1!

Also, Barbarians in Unearthed Arcana in 1E applied double the CON HP bonus to each die. So a CON 18 barbarian added +8 hp per die to the d12.
 

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I've always wondered why monsters have varying numbers of hit dice, and how to decide when to give them 1 versus 2 versus 10.

We have a precedent in the Monster Manual linking creature size to hit die type, and we have a precedent in the Players Handbook linking number of hit dice to experience.

One monster that encapsulates these two things are dragons.

Red dragon wyrmling, 10d8 hit dice, CR 4.
Young red dragon has 17d10 hit dice, CR 10.
Adult red dragon has 19d12 hit dice, CR 17.
Ancient red dragon has 28d20 hit dice, CR 24.

But, where do those hit dice numbers come from? Why is there only a 2 hit dice difference between the young dragon and the adult? It seems arbitrary, or perhaps focused on making the Challenge Ratings progress smoothly. I will have have to look at the other dragons to see if that holds true.

Anyway I've done a similar analysis of beasts and their giant counterparts. Again, there was no dependable pattern.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
I've always wondered why monsters have varying numbers of hit dice, and how to decide when to give them 1 versus 2 versus 10.

We have a precedent in the Monster Manual linking creature size to hit die type, and we have a precedent in the Players Handbook linking number of hit dice to experience.

One monster that encapsulates these two things are dragons.

Red dragon wyrmling, 10d8 hit dice, CR 4.
Young red dragon has 17d10 hit dice, CR 10.
Adult red dragon has 19d12 hit dice, CR 17.
Ancient red dragon has 28d20 hit dice, CR 24.

But, where do those hit dice numbers come from? Why is there only a 2 hit dice difference between the young dragon and the adult? It seems arbitrary, or perhaps focused on making the Challenge Ratings progress smoothly. I will have have to look at the other dragons to see if that holds true.

Anyway I've done a similar analysis of beasts and their giant counterparts. Again, there was no dependable pattern.
Funny you should look at red dragons. Of the 50 creatures I've been working with, the 4 stages of the red dragon was 4 of them.

As you know, the hit dice type comes from the size of the creature. And as you surmise, the number of hit dice from the "experience" or "how combat effective" so to say you want this creature to be.

According the the rules outlined in the DMG on creating monsters, once you determine the hit points, it helps set the CR (or maybe it is vice versa?). With the exception of CR 4 to 10, the other CR increases are 7 each time, and 6 the first time, which is close.

Anyway, a lot of it does seem hand-waving. You get the number of hp you want, figure out how much CON bonus is adding to hp, and reverse engineer the number of HD needed to get the hp.
 

GreyLord

Legend
1. A barbarian has more hp than a sorcerer because they are meant to be tougher. That said, I think that the HD difference is largely due to legacy. You could certainly give barbarians and sorcerers the same HD, and then simply give barbarians additional mitigation to compensate. However, one of the nice things about HP is that the disparity is minimal at low level (around 6 HP at level 1) but increases significantly with level (63 HP at level 20).

2. You could give all medium sized characters a d8, assuming you provide classes that are meant to be tough with alternative mitigation. Small sized creatures could have a d6, but would need some additional mitigation as well.

Of course, you could go the other way and take away mitigation from less tough classes. For example, imagine if casting a spell reduced a caster's max HP by X for the rest of the day. A caster could have the same HP (and even AC) as the barbarian, but would be less tough than the the barbarian if they cast any spells.

These are actually some fascinating ideas.

I could imagine something for Warriors/Barbarians that would work to do the same idea, but differently would be hit mitigation.

If they were hit they could mitigate (or negate) one hit/level per long rest. Similar idea, but without utilizing random numbers. In some ways it is more reliable and steady, even if it does the same thing in some ways, but at the same time different.

In regards to spellcasters, perhaps they lose 1 HP/level of spell cast. So, if they had 10 HP, they could cast their spell slots but lose 1 HP/level of spell (being mostly cantrips and 1st level spells at 1st level). This could start to drastically affect HP when they are able to cast higher level spells.

Just some thoughts on how to implement stuff like that off the top of my head. Warriors probably could use more imagination in the department to make them more tough but not with the HP they have today, but I haven't thought of how yet, but I like the idea.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
1 Tradition

2. tradition starts singing the song

3. Tradition Looks to fellow posters and sing in four part harmony.

4. Some magic items in other editions did grant HP.

5. Yes. See other additions.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
4. Some magic items in other editions did grant HP.
Just to be clear, I am not talking bonus HP, but extra HD. In terms of 5E, an example might be armor that grants you +1 HD. Note, this is not HP, but HD.

So, if you wore such armor and were a Fighter 9, you would have 10d10 HD for healing/recovery, but your maximum HP would still be based on your 9d10 default HD.
 



QUESTIONS:

1. Why would a barbarian earn a d12 for hit dice, while a sorcerer gains only a d6? What is the reason why some classes have larger hit die types than others?

Because sorcerers are scrawny and/or untrained in battle while barbarians are trained from birth to be hard as stone.

2. Medium creatures use a d8. Most PCs are medium in size, so why not give them the same d8 for hit dice? If we did, would it be too harsh on small characters to give them the d6 small creatures gain for hit dice?

I'd be willing to try it and I don't think it would be harsh to give small races a d6 hit die.

3. Due to the metaphysical or abstract nature of hit points, why is only the Constitution modifier used? Would the other abilities represent other abstract aspects of hit points, such as Dexterity representing the reflexes aspect, equally well? What about Wisdom or Charisma representing divine favor or luck, etc.?

Because constitution is a measure of frailty. I would be up for experimenting with other modifiers from other ability scores.

4. Could hit dice be gained in ways other than by leveling, such as a magic item?

Again, sure, I'd try it.

5. Could a creature or character have more hit dice than its level?

Yes, but on the other hand, they could also have less.
---------------------------

I've long been interested in reigning in Hit Points and keeping them somewhat static throughout an adventurer's career.

Perhaps all medium-sized Player Characters have one d8 hit die. Current d8 hit die classes (e.g. ranger, rogue, etc) would get an extra hit die, while current d10 hit die classes would get two extra and the barbarian would get three extra hit dice. Then at each level gained, Players choose to take another hit die or an advancement in their powers--in the order in which they are listed on their advancement table.

Armor, as you have pointed out already, could be a source of temporary hit dice/hit points that are tracked separately.
 

This is just to be a discussion about hit dice (and the hit points gained from them). I'll start by stating a few premises about hit points (and thus hit dice) as I see it. Of course many of you might not agree with some or all of these premises, but for the sake of discussion I would appreciate it if you respond in agreement with them and thanks.
1. Watsonian answer: Because Barbarians train their physical bodies more, and must have a greater amount of luck or preternatural survivability due to the fighting styles they employ. Their connection to nature, primal spirits, or other vital forces also tends to inure them to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
Doylist answer: Because the game is balanced around some classes having more HP and others having less. If you gave Barbarians a lower hit die and Sorcerers a higher hit die, Barbarians would no longer be nearly as worthwhile to play, especially because Barbarians pretty much always have to fight in melee, while Sorcerers almost always fight at range if they have a choice.

2. See above. There may be Watsonian reasons in either direction, but the Doylist answer is that it's a balance consideration. You would be powering up Wizards (the class that least needs additional power) and weakening Barbarians and Fighters (the classes that most need attention to not fall behind). It would absolutely be unfair to punish small races by giving them smaller HD without giving them anything else in the exchange, and I'm very surprised you even ask the question (unless it was purely to see what people would say) because...yeah that seems pretty blatantly unfair to me.

3. Again, balance concerns. 4e actually allowed HP to be calculated from other stats...but only if you spent resources to MAKE it calculate from something else. I believe the backgrounds Auspicious Birth and Born Under a Bad Sign were the main ways to do this, which gave up the alternative benefits a BG could give in order to give you a few more baseline HP. Didn't affect healing surges though, so it was of limited effect in the grand scheme. Just letting it happen, without any effort or resources invested, would again seriously and deleteriously affect the balance of the game. Dexterity is already a god stat, granting initiative, a bunch of skill benefits, AC, one of the "strong" saves, higher to-hit, AND damage (the last two if using a finesse weapon). Letting it ALSO improve HP...why would anyone specialize in anything but Dexterity after that? You'd be creating an obvious dominant strategy, that's clearly Not Good, and Constitution would become a dump stat for most characters.

4. I could see temporary hit dice, as in the healing mechanic, being acquired via magic items. Actual permanent hit dice should not be tied to things that can be lost, stolen, or passed to other party members because that could create serious bookkeeping headaches that are not worth the effort. Permanent or semi-permanent (that is, they can be lost, but not easily) boons or enchantments, on the other hand, would be fine. I am leery of just outright granting extra HP especially from magic items. Perhaps THP instead? Maybe call them "innate" THP, so you have the "innate" layer tracked separately from the regular THP layer to avoid issues with either not stacking or accidentally making all THP stack.

5. Given my answer to 4, yes, but again I am leery of such things being tied to the relatively flimsy and porous connection of "a magic item I'm wearing/wielding/using."
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
Again, my thanks to all for their responses. I am going to now answer my own questions, somewhat in response to many of the responses. Some points of course will be for further discussion, others are just my ideas. :)

1. Why would a barbarian earn a d12 for hit dice, while a sorcerer gains only a d6? What is the reason why some classes have larger hit die types than others?
Many people argue that warriors have larger HD because they are used to the rigors of life and/ or combat. If damage was solely physical, I could understand and agree with this. But damage isn't in 5E. It is often force, radiant, necrotic, psychic, etc., and often even the physical sources are magical in nature.

A sorcerer, and other casters, would have a greater opportunity to be engrained against damage that is not related to weapons, claws, etc. If I was a sorcerer, planning a life of risk and adventure, I would work to endure myself to magical hardship as well as any physical I could. If I had a "training partner", who could target me with a magic missile (painful, but not lethal), I would be able to build up my tolerance for such injury.

Also, who is to say my sorcerer did not grow up in a harsh environment. Perhaps, as a "nerdy wizard type" I was beaten up often growing up? I would certainly learn how to take a punch and deal the the physical pain as well over time.

My point is damage, as a singular measure, encompasses many types of threat or injury. Barbarians would likely be superior to some of those, but I think other classes would be better against other types of damage. Overall, if we look at everything we can when considering the abstractness of hit points (and thus hit dice), I really don't see any reason why some classes should have a larger hit die than others.

I like some of the suggestions about representing the barbarian's "toughness" in other ways via game mechanics. I don't think hit dice and hit points are they way. Also, the already present rage feature and resistance to BPS damage effectively nearly doubles their hit point potential when mitigating most damage.

2. Medium creatures use a d8. Most PCs are medium in size, so why not give them the same d8 for hit dice? If we did, would it be too harsh on small characters to give them the d6 small creatures gain for hit dice?
This is the way I am leaning. If we concentrate on the "meat" hit points, a tiny creature with d4 hit dice might have just 1 "meat" hit point. Any additional hit points is from the other more abstract sources.

Increasing the hit dice to d6 for small, probably adds up to another 2 "meats" hit point, again the remaining from abstract sources.

On to d8 for medium creatures, and we add another up to 2 "meat" hit point. At this point, up to 5 hit points represent "body", other hit points are skill, luck, divine favor, reflexes, etc.

The pattern is thus that a maximum of up to 3 hit points per die (regardless of die size) should be abstract, the remaining potential is "meat" hit points. I believe this makes sense because the other abstract factors of hit points (again, skill, luck, divine favor, etc.) really have NOTHING to do with a creature's size.

1640007689234.png


I am not opposed to thus following the idea the creature (and character) size indicates hit die size. Smaller PCs could have a d6, and perhaps have some other mechanical benefit to offset it (perhaps a +1 to AC, or something, but that is a separate issue). Or, given the nature of PCs, you could easily support that small-size PCs also use a d8 due to their "heroic" nature. Personally, I wouldn't and do not like that solution, and would rather find some other means to support small-size PCs so the loss of hit points is balanced out.

3. Due to the metaphysical or abstract nature of hit points, why is only the Constitution modifier used? Would the other abilities represent other abstract aspects of hit points, such as Dexterity representing the reflexes aspect, equally well? What about Wisdom or Charisma representing divine favor or luck, etc.?
Luckily, Constitution is not just "meat" hit points. The ability to withstand pain and injury, as well as general health, also contribute to the abstract elements of hit points. Certainly, a CON bonus could be "meat" hit points, but it isn't necessarily. Given my points above, personally I like to think that maybe just 1-2 bonus hit points from CON would be "meat" at most, any additional CON bonus would be more abstract.

At any rate, I've argued in other threads about other ability modifiers representing bonus hit points, so I obviously I have no issue with other ability modifiers being used. For a very long time in 5E, we've played you add your highest ability modifier to hit points, not necessarily Constitution.

I don't buy the argument made by some that Constitution is not really needed (I've been through this debate, and although I can understand their points, I just happen not to agree with it). What does bother me is that by linking it to hit points, only 2 PCs IME (not even my PCs) out of the 50 or so I've seen played have a Constitution of less than 12 (both PCs had 10). IME this makes CON usually a 2nd or at worst a 3rd best ability score. Most PCs IME have CON 14 as a minimum simply because they want the extra hit points!

So, but instead linking hit points to your highest ability modifier, this issue is removed. Now, immediately you might think this would increase hit points incredibly, given most PCs start at +3 or +4 as their highest ability modifier, and reach +5 quite often, BUT we only add this at 1st level, not at every level! Due to this, PCs actually have fewer hit points than RAW.

As others have mentioned, I agree there are too many hit points in 5E (the dreaded "bloat"). By removing CON bonus hp, and adding the highest ability modifier, we've removed a lot of the problem (in PCs and creatures, alike).

4. Could hit dice be gained in ways other than by leveling, such as a magic item?
I just I shouldn't have used the "magic item" as the example because people seemed to focus on it. shrug

Also, to be more clear, I mentioned gaining hit dice, not hit points. Older edition potions (heroism, etc.) added hit points, along with the bestowed energy levels. Since older editions only used hit dice to add hit points, it isn't quite the point I was making.

So, I should have been clearer. My bad. :)

What I meant was gaining bonus hit dice due to a feature or feat maybe. A magic item could also do it. Although limited to healing, spending these bonus hit dice could allow the PC or creature to heal itself (essentially).

I asked this because my thoughts about removing hit dice from leveling, but grant them in other ways maybe. I do think something like magic armor that granted hit dice (for healing after a short rest in RAW) would be cool. But, we've been exploring other uses for hit dice, so gaining them in a fashion other than leveling could work for those uses.

5. Could a creature or character have more hit dice than its level?
Again, this is linked to the idea that hit dice are used to recover following a short rest.

The idea also is to decrease hit point maximum, but allow for more "recovery" during the adventuring day. For example, in RAW an 8th level Fighter with CON 16 would have 76 hit points. Let us assume the Fighter has a highest ability score maximum of +4 (probably STR or DEX), and remove the bonus HP from CON. This would reduce the PC to 56 hit points. Even with fewer hit points, such a PC could take several hits in a combat and really not be too concerned. Large damage sources would be of greater concern, however.

On the even levels, the PC would gain an extra hit die (2 total at even levels). Now the PC would have 12d10 hit dice (not 8d10). After a fight, with so many hit dice, the PC can rest and recover the abstract hit points more often.

This makes individual encounters more dangerous, but overall survivability would still be decent. You can see in the table below that if all the hit dice were spent during an adventuring day, the total available HP would be roughly the same.

1640012334030.png


Anyway, that was some of my thoughts that prompted the OP. I am curious as to your views. Again, thanks for any replies. :)
 


Fanaelialae

Legend
Again, my thanks to all for their responses. I am going to now answer my own questions, somewhat in response to many of the responses. Some points of course will be for further discussion, others are just my ideas. :)


Many people argue that warriors have larger HD because they are used to the rigors of life and/ or combat. If damage was solely physical, I could understand and agree with this. But damage isn't in 5E. It is often force, radiant, necrotic, psychic, etc., and often even the physical sources are magical in nature.

A sorcerer, and other casters, would have a greater opportunity to be engrained against damage that is not related to weapons, claws, etc. If I was a sorcerer, planning a life of risk and adventure, I would work to endure myself to magical hardship as well as any physical I could. If I had a "training partner", who could target me with a magic missile (painful, but not lethal), I would be able to build up my tolerance for such injury.

Also, who is to say my sorcerer did not grow up in a harsh environment. Perhaps, as a "nerdy wizard type" I was beaten up often growing up? I would certainly learn how to take a punch and deal the the physical pain as well over time.

My point is damage, as a singular measure, encompasses many types of threat or injury. Barbarians would likely be superior to some of those, but I think other classes would be better against other types of damage. Overall, if we look at everything we can when considering the abstractness of hit points (and thus hit dice), I really don't see any reason why some classes should have a larger hit die than others.

I like some of the suggestions about representing the barbarian's "toughness" in other ways via game mechanics. I don't think hit dice and hit points are they way. Also, the already present rage feature and resistance to BPS damage effectively nearly doubles their hit point potential when mitigating most damage.


This is the way I am leaning. If we concentrate on the "meat" hit points, a tiny creature with d4 hit dice might have just 1 "meat" hit point. Any additional hit points is from the other more abstract sources.

Increasing the hit dice to d6 for small, probably adds up to another 2 "meats" hit point, again the remaining from abstract sources.

On to d8 for medium creatures, and we add another up to 2 "meat" hit point. At this point, up to 5 hit points represent "body", other hit points are skill, luck, divine favor, reflexes, etc.

The pattern is thus that a maximum of up to 3 hit points per die (regardless of die size) should be abstract, the remaining potential is "meat" hit points. I believe this makes sense because the other abstract factors of hit points (again, skill, luck, divine favor, etc.) really have NOTHING to do with a creature's size.

View attachment 148613

I am not opposed to thus following the idea the creature (and character) size indicates hit die size. Smaller PCs could have a d6, and perhaps have some other mechanical benefit to offset it (perhaps a +1 to AC, or something, but that is a separate issue). Or, given the nature of PCs, you could easily support that small-size PCs also use a d8 due to their "heroic" nature. Personally, I wouldn't and do not like that solution, and would rather find some other means to support small-size PCs so the loss of hit points is balanced out.


Luckily, Constitution is not just "meat" hit points. The ability to withstand pain and injury, as well as general health, also contribute to the abstract elements of hit points. Certainly, a CON bonus could be "meat" hit points, but it isn't necessarily. Given my points above, personally I like to think that maybe just 1-2 bonus hit points from CON would be "meat" at most, any additional CON bonus would be more abstract.

At any rate, I've argued in other threads about other ability modifiers representing bonus hit points, so I obviously I have no issue with other ability modifiers being used. For a very long time in 5E, we've played you add your highest ability modifier to hit points, not necessarily Constitution.

I don't buy the argument made by some that Constitution is not really needed (I've been through this debate, and although I can understand their points, I just happen not to agree with it). What does bother me is that by linking it to hit points, only 2 PCs IME (not even my PCs) out of the 50 or so I've seen played have a Constitution of less than 12 (both PCs had 10). IME this makes CON usually a 2nd or at worst a 3rd best ability score. Most PCs IME have CON 14 as a minimum simply because they want the extra hit points!

So, but instead linking hit points to your highest ability modifier, this issue is removed. Now, immediately you might think this would increase hit points incredibly, given most PCs start at +3 or +4 as their highest ability modifier, and reach +5 quite often, BUT we only add this at 1st level, not at every level! Due to this, PCs actually have fewer hit points than RAW.

As others have mentioned, I agree there are too many hit points in 5E (the dreaded "bloat"). By removing CON bonus hp, and adding the highest ability modifier, we've removed a lot of the problem (in PCs and creatures, alike).


I just I shouldn't have used the "magic item" as the example because people seemed to focus on it. shrug

Also, to be more clear, I mentioned gaining hit dice, not hit points. Older edition potions (heroism, etc.) added hit points, along with the bestowed energy levels. Since older editions only used hit dice to add hit points, it isn't quite the point I was making.

So, I should have been clearer. My bad. :)

What I meant was gaining bonus hit dice due to a feature or feat maybe. A magic item could also do it. Although limited to healing, spending these bonus hit dice could allow the PC or creature to heal itself (essentially).

I asked this because my thoughts about removing hit dice from leveling, but grant them in other ways maybe. I do think something like magic armor that granted hit dice (for healing after a short rest in RAW) would be cool. But, we've been exploring other uses for hit dice, so gaining them in a fashion other than leveling could work for those uses.


Again, this is linked to the idea that hit dice are used to recover following a short rest.

The idea also is to decrease hit point maximum, but allow for more "recovery" during the adventuring day. For example, in RAW an 8th level Fighter with CON 16 would have 76 hit points. Let us assume the Fighter has a highest ability score maximum of +4 (probably STR or DEX), and remove the bonus HP from CON. This would reduce the PC to 56 hit points. Even with fewer hit points, such a PC could take several hits in a combat and really not be too concerned. Large damage sources would be of greater concern, however.

On the even levels, the PC would gain an extra hit die (2 total at even levels). Now the PC would have 12d10 hit dice (not 8d10). After a fight, with so many hit dice, the PC can rest and recover the abstract hit points more often.

This makes individual encounters more dangerous, but overall survivability would still be decent. You can see in the table below that if all the hit dice were spent during an adventuring day, the total available HP would be roughly the same.

View attachment 148615

Anyway, that was some of my thoughts that prompted the OP. I am curious as to your views. Again, thanks for any replies. :)
Removing Constitution will make the game deadlier. It somewhat favors casters and other ranged characters over front-line melee (because the front-line usually takes the most damage, IME, and is also more likely to invest in Con).

With more frequent, but easier, encounters I think it might be roughly on par with current difficulty. However, PCs would have significantly more difficulty with deadly encounters (because there's a lot more damage concentrated into a single encounter). Essentially, you would need to design adventures to allow them to do more encounters of lower difficulty (because otherwise those extra HD aren't going to do them much good).
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
QUESTIONS:

1. Why would a barbarian earn a d12 for hit dice, while a sorcerer gains only a d6? What is the reason why some classes have larger hit die types than others?

You can address this in purely gameplay terms. The game has a vague idea of roles in combat, upon which we have characters with different tactical and strategic considerations, and establishes the dynamics of combat. Hit points are part of that design - some characters are intended to absorb more of the incoming damage than others, that's part of their role.

2. Medium creatures use a d8. Most PCs are medium in size, so why not give them the same d8 for hit dice? If we did, would it be too harsh on small characters to give them the d6 small creatures gain for hit dice?

Medium creatures, broadly, are more generic than specific PCs. The game is not designed to give NPCs and monsters the same fidelity as PCs, so they are more abstracted than PCs, generally.

3. Due to the metaphysical or abstract nature of hit points, why is only the Constitution modifier used? Would the other abilities represent other abstract aspects of hit points, such as Dexterity representing the reflexes aspect, equally well? What about Wisdom or Charisma representing divine favor or luck, etc.?

You could build an argument to make such plausible. I don't see a whole lot of need for it, and indeed would decrease the strategic choices players need to make, rather than enhance them. This is a solution looking for a problem.

4. Could hit dice be gained in ways other than by leveling, such as a magic item?

If you want to, sure.

5. Could a creature or character have more hit dice than its level?

Creatures and NPCs have as many hit dice and hit points as the GM wants them to have. Monster statblocks are conveniences, not straightjackets.

PCs... well that's a balance question. If your characters are already often going through all their hit dice in healing, then adding some won't break anything. But other GMs, who aren't pushing quite so hard, or don't lean on the rest economy very hard, may find this generates balance issues.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
QUESTIONS:

1. Why would a barbarian earn a d12 for hit dice, while a sorcerer gains only a d6? What is the reason why some classes have larger hit die types than others?
Sorcerer has to 'pay' for spellcasting. Think of a d12 as about equal to 2x ASIs. A d6 is about 0x. A d8 is 0.5x, d10 1x.

That creates space at each level for other things.

3. Due to the metaphysical or abstract nature of hit points, why is only the Constitution modifier used? Would the other abilities represent other abstract aspects of hit points, such as Dexterity representing the reflexes aspect, equally well? What about Wisdom or Charisma representing divine favor or luck, etc.?
Abilities have scopes: mechanical areas they parameterize. Think of CON as having whatever metaphysical properties it needs to have HP in its scope.

4. Could hit dice be gained in ways other than by leveling, such as a magic item?
Yes.

5. Could a creature or character have more hit dice than its level?
Yes.
 
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Voadam

Legend
1. Why would a barbarian earn a d12 for hit dice, while a sorcerer gains only a d6? What is the reason why some classes have larger hit die types than others?

Tank classes are designed to deal with incoming damage better than other classes. The glass cannon spellcasters are most focused as classes on their magical power and deal with incoming damage less. So a 4e swordmage is a magical tank class with a lot of HP that might use its magic narratively to deal with incoming damage and explain its hp while a sorcerer is a class designed to use their magic in other ways. A tank barbarian is better at withstanding tons of attacks than a striker rogue which is designed to be hard hitting but not durable.

2. Medium creatures use a d8. Most PCs are medium in size, so why not give them the same d8 for hit dice? If we did, would it be too harsh on small characters to give them the d6 small creatures gain for hit dice?

For monsters what matters is total hp in relation to their CR and other stats, so they might be a glass cannon monster or a tough one for their CR but this is done by giving them more or less HD for their CR. PC classes are built more around balanced combat roles at each level, so the HD are different. A wizard monster has fewer HD than a warrior monster of the same level, a wizard PC and fighter have the same number of HD but design wise you want them have hp appropriate for their class combat niches.

3. Due to the metaphysical or abstract nature of hit points, why is only the Constitution modifier used? Would the other abilities represent other abstract aspects of hit points, such as Dexterity representing the reflexes aspect, equally well? What about Wisdom or Charisma representing divine favor or luck, etc.?

You can think of Constitution as adding hp by increased ability to keep pushing yourself as necessary to avoid damaging things. Action hero dodging out of the way of harm like fireballs takes effort, tough guys can keep doing that again and again so have more hp to not be touched directly. Other characters get fatigued after avoiding fewer attacks and then the dangers actually hit the meat of the last few hp.

4. Could hit dice be gained in ways other than by leveling, such as a magic item?

Not sure whether you mean permanently for max hp but I think that would generally be a bad idea for design balance, some options like a tank class feature to have increased HD for healing could be neat. There are a bunch of healing and temp hp mechanics.

5. Could a creature or character have more hit dice than its level?

Creatures are designed to have an end number of hp for their CR and combat role so they have whatever number of HD they need to hit those numbers.

I think it is a good design to have PC max hp HD = level.
 

I'm kind of glad that nobody suggested by now that my wizard could be raised in a barbarian society and thus get the d12 hit die.

I think there are backgrounds like that that give you some advantages, no? Variant Human can boost two ability scores by 1--you could go with STR and CON.
 

I don't buy the argument made by some that Constitution is not really needed (I've been through this debate, and although I can understand their points, I just happen not to agree with it). What does bother me is that by linking it to hit points, only 2 PCs IME (not even my PCs) out of the 50 or so I've seen played have a Constitution of less than 12 (both PCs had 10). IME this makes CON usually a 2nd or at worst a 3rd best ability score. Most PCs IME have CON 14 as a minimum simply because they want the extra hit points!

So, but instead linking hit points to your highest ability modifier, this issue is removed. Now, immediately you might think this would increase hit points incredibly, given most PCs start at +3 or +4 as their highest ability modifier, and reach +5 quite often, BUT we only add this at 1st level, not at every level! Due to this, PCs actually have fewer hit points than RAW.

As others have mentioned, I agree there are too many hit points in 5E (the dreaded "bloat"). By removing CON bonus hp, and adding the highest ability modifier, we've removed a lot of the problem (in PCs and creatures, alike).
Then, firstly, you've made Constitution nearly worthless...unless the character is a spellcaster, or expects to make a LOT of Con saves. Because that's now the one and only thing Constitution is consistently good for.* Constitution has zero relationship to skill checks, little to nothing in relation to ability checks (except maybe like...to hold one's breath?), and only factors into one class's features as far as I'm aware (Barbarian's Unarmored Defense). The irony, of course, is that now the vast majority of Fighters and Paladins will have Con 8, because essentially nothing rides on it except a single save, which isn't even that important depending on your other features (e.g. Oath of the Ancients gives Advantage on all saves vs. magic, making Con 8 pretty tempting) while all the wimpy Wizards and Sorcerers will still have positive Con mod, because they have to make Concentration checks.

Secondly, you've made the game dramatically deadlier. By causing a net removal of HP--rather a dramatic removal at high levels--you have massively skewed the game's damage math. Fights are likely to be reduced to rocket-tag except that they favor monsters (since you've mentioned nothing about reducing monster HP), and critical hits are now a major risk of instant incapacitation. This goes doubly so for high-level melee characters (Paladins, Fighters, and especially Barbarians), who may now have only two-thirds as much HP as before. That is: Barbarian was in fact actually encouraged to max out Constitution, and even got a feature to get Con 24 at 20th level. In going from d12 to d8 HP, they now fall from an average of 12+3 = 15 HP at level 1 and 15+10*(9) = 105 HP at level 11 to 8+3 = 11 HP at level 1 and 11+10*(5) = 61 HP at level 11. What used to be a moderately serious hit (30 HP) is now an incredibly serious one, almost half the Barbarian's HP, and what used to be barely-survivable (90 HP) is now instant kill. (For comparison, at 20th level, assuming the Barbarian's highest modifier is used for base HP in your system, the ordinary 5e Barb has 12+7+19*(7+7) = 285; in your system, even allowing Primal Champion to improve base HP, the Barbarian now only has 8+7+19*5 = 110 HP. You've cut the Barbarian's HP to only about a third of what it was.)

Now, perhaps all this is intentional, and you also plan to reduce monster HP and damage dealt...or you just don't care that the game will now very frequently result in TPKs simply because the monsters get a couple of early crits. Hard to tell. But if any of this isn't intentional, you should consider the impact of the above things.

*The text even supports me on this one. "Constitution checks are uncommon, and no skills apply to Constitution checks, because the endurance this ability represents is largely passive rather than involving a specific effort on the part of a character or monster." I dunno about you, but it's pretty friggin' rare in my experience for D&D games to require characters to do any of the things required by the list (like holding their breath or going without sleep), unless the whole campaign is about those sorts of things (like a Dark Sun game) where you're going to see high Con scores regardless.
 
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DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
Then, firstly, you've made Constitution nearly worthless...unless the character is a spellcaster, or expects to make a LOT of Con saves. Because that's now the one and only thing Constitution is consistently good for.* Constitution has zero relationship to skill checks, little to nothing in relation to ability checks (except maybe like...to hold one's breath?), and only factors into one class's features as far as I'm aware (Barbarian's Unarmored Defense). The irony, of course, is that now the vast majority of Fighters and Paladins will have Con 8, because essentially nothing rides on it except a single save, which isn't even that important depending on your other features (e.g. Oath of the Ancients gives Advantage on all saves vs. magic, making Con 8 pretty tempting) while all the wimpy Wizards and Sorcerers will still have positive Con mod, because they have to make Concentration checks.
Sorry, but I must disagree. ;)

Constitution is still a very common save (poison, cold, fatigue/exhaustion) and although people might not strive to make it a 2nd or 3rd highest score, I doubt many people would dump in it. That being said, the tables I play at very rarely ever see dump stats. The ONLY time any PC in any group I have ever played 5E with had a dump stat it was my female elven cleric/rogue/wizard with a STR 9. I know it seems to be more common in other groups, if people are happy to dump STR, INT, or CHA (the most common because they are weak saves by comparison), but I can't help what other groups do.

As it is, CON is the highest average ability IME (with DEX being a VERY close second), and RAW this is pretty much only because it is linked to HP. By removing that link, CON can fall to a more even keel with the other scores. DEX (as most of us know) is the king of ability scores, but that is due mostly to finesse weapons IMO. shrug

Secondly, you've made the game dramatically deadlier. By causing a net removal of HP--rather a dramatic removal at high levels--you have massively skewed the game's damage math. Fights are likely to be reduced to rocket-tag except that they favor monsters (since you've mentioned nothing about reducing monster HP), and critical hits are now a major risk of instant incapacitation. This goes doubly so for high-level melee characters (Paladins, Fighters, and especially Barbarians), who may now have only two-thirds as much HP as before. That is: Barbarian was in fact actually encouraged to max out Constitution, and even got a feature to get Con 24 at 20th level. In going from d12 to d8 HP, they now fall from an average of 12+3 = 15 HP at level 1 and 15+10*(9) = 105 HP at level 11 to 8+3 = 11 HP at level 1 and 11+10*(5) = 61 HP at level 11. What used to be a moderately serious hit (30 HP) is now an incredibly serious one, almost half the Barbarian's HP, and what used to be barely-survivable (90 HP) is now instant kill. (For comparison, at 20th level, assuming the Barbarian's highest modifier is used for base HP in your system, the ordinary 5e Barb has 12+7+19*(7+7) = 285; in your system, even allowing Primal Champion to improve base HP, the Barbarian now only has 8+7+19*5 = 110 HP. You've cut the Barbarian's HP to only about a third of what it was.)
(bold added)

That is the point for the change. And FWIW if you read my other posts, you would know I mention removing CON bonus hp from creatures as well, cutting their (on average) hp to about 60-65% of normal overall IIRC.

As far as barbarians, et al. are concerned, again this in intentional. With 200+ hp (and resistance via rage) barbarians become nearly impossible to kill unless the DM wants to target them directly or have (even) deadly encounters go overboard.

By reducing hp maximum, it makes weaker creatures a greater threat, allowing the DM a greater latitude of creatures to chose from when designing encounters. Also, it forces players to play more tactfully instead of always taking a heads-on approach.

Now, perhaps all this is intentional, and you also plan to reduce monster HP and damage dealt...or you just don't care that the game will now very frequently result in TPKs simply because the monsters get a couple of early crits. Hard to tell. But if any of this isn't intentional, you should consider the impact of the above things.
Yep, completely intentional for players (and DMs) who want to remove the hp bloat along with other issues. Yes, it applies to creatures as well as PCs. I've considered the impact very carefully (for literally months now of play testing) and a point you neglected is magic. Spells become more powerful when hp are lower. This generally favors PCs as their magic will be more impactful, but since magic-using creatures are common enough, it can also work against them.

Finally, FWIW, when we removed CON modifier as bonus hp, we added a new use for it: Endurance, which allows you to "absorb" or "negate" a level of exhaustion equal to your CON modifier. Given critical hits (at one point) also caused a level of exhaustion, this was a very good incentive to have a decent CON still if you wanted it. When we recently played RotFM, where PCs were gaining exhaustion due to the cold, endurance was (literally) a life saver more than once.

While I appreciate your points, yes these changes are geared towards making the game more lethal and in many ways, more realistic. I understand fully that style of play does not appeal to many, but we like it. :)
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
Again, my thanks to all for their responses. I am going to now answer my own questions, somewhat in response to many of the responses. Some points of course will be for further discussion, others are just my ideas. :)


Many people argue that warriors have larger HD because they are used to the rigors of life and/ or combat. If damage was solely physical, I could understand and agree with this. But damage isn't in 5E. It is often force, radiant, necrotic, psychic, etc., and often even the physical sources are magical in nature.

A sorcerer, and other casters, would have a greater opportunity to be engrained against damage that is not related to weapons, claws, etc. If I was a sorcerer, planning a life of risk and adventure, I would work to endure myself to magical hardship as well as any physical I could. If I had a "training partner", who could target me with a magic missile (painful, but not lethal), I would be able to build up my tolerance for such injury.

Also, who is to say my sorcerer did not grow up in a harsh environment. Perhaps, as a "nerdy wizard type" I was beaten up often growing up? I would certainly learn how to take a punch and deal the the physical pain as well over time.

My point is damage, as a singular measure, encompasses many types of threat or injury. Barbarians would likely be superior to some of those, but I think other classes would be better against other types of damage. Overall, if we look at everything we can when considering the abstractness of hit points (and thus hit dice), I really don't see any reason why some classes should have a larger hit die than others.

I like some of the suggestions about representing the barbarian's "toughness" in other ways via game mechanics. I don't think hit dice and hit points are they way. Also, the already present rage feature and resistance to BPS damage effectively nearly doubles their hit point potential when mitigating most damage.


This is the way I am leaning. If we concentrate on the "meat" hit points, a tiny creature with d4 hit dice might have just 1 "meat" hit point. Any additional hit points is from the other more abstract sources.

Increasing the hit dice to d6 for small, probably adds up to another 2 "meats" hit point, again the remaining from abstract sources.

On to d8 for medium creatures, and we add another up to 2 "meat" hit point. At this point, up to 5 hit points represent "body", other hit points are skill, luck, divine favor, reflexes, etc.

The pattern is thus that a maximum of up to 3 hit points per die (regardless of die size) should be abstract, the remaining potential is "meat" hit points. I believe this makes sense because the other abstract factors of hit points (again, skill, luck, divine favor, etc.) really have NOTHING to do with a creature's size.

View attachment 148613

I am not opposed to thus following the idea the creature (and character) size indicates hit die size. Smaller PCs could have a d6, and perhaps have some other mechanical benefit to offset it (perhaps a +1 to AC, or something, but that is a separate issue). Or, given the nature of PCs, you could easily support that small-size PCs also use a d8 due to their "heroic" nature. Personally, I wouldn't and do not like that solution, and would rather find some other means to support small-size PCs so the loss of hit points is balanced out.


Luckily, Constitution is not just "meat" hit points. The ability to withstand pain and injury, as well as general health, also contribute to the abstract elements of hit points. Certainly, a CON bonus could be "meat" hit points, but it isn't necessarily. Given my points above, personally I like to think that maybe just 1-2 bonus hit points from CON would be "meat" at most, any additional CON bonus would be more abstract.

At any rate, I've argued in other threads about other ability modifiers representing bonus hit points, so I obviously I have no issue with other ability modifiers being used. For a very long time in 5E, we've played you add your highest ability modifier to hit points, not necessarily Constitution.

I don't buy the argument made by some that Constitution is not really needed (I've been through this debate, and although I can understand their points, I just happen not to agree with it). What does bother me is that by linking it to hit points, only 2 PCs IME (not even my PCs) out of the 50 or so I've seen played have a Constitution of less than 12 (both PCs had 10). IME this makes CON usually a 2nd or at worst a 3rd best ability score. Most PCs IME have CON 14 as a minimum simply because they want the extra hit points!

So, but instead linking hit points to your highest ability modifier, this issue is removed. Now, immediately you might think this would increase hit points incredibly, given most PCs start at +3 or +4 as their highest ability modifier, and reach +5 quite often, BUT we only add this at 1st level, not at every level! Due to this, PCs actually have fewer hit points than RAW.

As others have mentioned, I agree there are too many hit points in 5E (the dreaded "bloat"). By removing CON bonus hp, and adding the highest ability modifier, we've removed a lot of the problem (in PCs and creatures, alike).


I just I shouldn't have used the "magic item" as the example because people seemed to focus on it. shrug

Also, to be more clear, I mentioned gaining hit dice, not hit points. Older edition potions (heroism, etc.) added hit points, along with the bestowed energy levels. Since older editions only used hit dice to add hit points, it isn't quite the point I was making.

So, I should have been clearer. My bad. :)

What I meant was gaining bonus hit dice due to a feature or feat maybe. A magic item could also do it. Although limited to healing, spending these bonus hit dice could allow the PC or creature to heal itself (essentially).

I asked this because my thoughts about removing hit dice from leveling, but grant them in other ways maybe. I do think something like magic armor that granted hit dice (for healing after a short rest in RAW) would be cool. But, we've been exploring other uses for hit dice, so gaining them in a fashion other than leveling could work for those uses.


Again, this is linked to the idea that hit dice are used to recover following a short rest.

The idea also is to decrease hit point maximum, but allow for more "recovery" during the adventuring day. For example, in RAW an 8th level Fighter with CON 16 would have 76 hit points. Let us assume the Fighter has a highest ability score maximum of +4 (probably STR or DEX), and remove the bonus HP from CON. This would reduce the PC to 56 hit points. Even with fewer hit points, such a PC could take several hits in a combat and really not be too concerned. Large damage sources would be of greater concern, however.

On the even levels, the PC would gain an extra hit die (2 total at even levels). Now the PC would have 12d10 hit dice (not 8d10). After a fight, with so many hit dice, the PC can rest and recover the abstract hit points more often.

This makes individual encounters more dangerous, but overall survivability would still be decent. You can see in the table below that if all the hit dice were spent during an adventuring day, the total available HP would be roughly the same.

View attachment 148615

Anyway, that was some of my thoughts that prompted the OP. I am curious as to your views. Again, thanks for any replies. :)
For me the sacrifice is cross-class balance. It can be framed this way.

1. Due to ability modifiers and feats, we're able to price class features in approximate ASIs.

2. Ideally, each class enjoys about the same value of features, in ASIs. That way, all are equally valid from a mechanical perspective.

3. Barbarians pay a lot for their d12s, which are worth about 1.5 to 2 ASI per level. Their resistances then multiply their HP so that even without heavy armor they can keep going.

4. They then roll those d12s in short Rests to recover in proportion to their HP.

However you work it, balanced design would see Barbarians having more HP than classes with spellcasting. And ensure recovery rate scaled in proportion.
 

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