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

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
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.

Mod Note:
Dragging arguments around between threads is a great way to get the hairy eyeball from a moderator. I do not recommend the practice.
 

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DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
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.
I agree balance in important, but I don't see a loss of cross-class balance. Hit points are a universal between classes, so IMO should not be adjusted, just as proficiency bonus is not adjusted.

Pricing class features is extreme subjective, though. Even if you try to do some sort of calculation-equivalence it rarely works out to everyone's ideas or satisfaction on the value of class features IME.

Barbarians really don't pay a lot, though, IMO. They enjoy good armor anyway, and have Unarmored Defense to compensate if they don't want to wear armor. With the stress on HP, barbarians typically have great CON scores. Although their Unarmored Defense requires DEX & CON, they can still employ a shield to help it. I rarely see barbarians struggling to get a good AC. YMMV of course. I see sorcerers and wizards with worse ACs than barbarians...

Regardless, I probably shouldn't have led with barbarians in the OP anyway... it was a poor choice since we moved the class to be a subclass of Fighter.
 

Regardless, I probably shouldn't have led with barbarians in the OP anyway... it was a poor choice since we moved the class to be a subclass of Fighter.
Er...yeah, probably.

You aren't playing with the same ability score functions or the same class options. At this point, you're playing a game similar to 5th edition that...isn't actualy 5th edition. It's basically impossible for anyone to provide meaningful responses to your questions because we have no idea what we don't know about your game. It's also a little frustrating to be asked a bunch of questions and to then (essentially) be told "yeah okay, I heard you, but I disagree with all of the points that don't align with what I was already thinking, so here's the thing I was already planning to do." This...wasn't so much a discussion about the questions you asked as it was a chance to tell other people about your 5e-derived heartbreaker.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
Er...yeah, probably.

You aren't playing with the same ability score functions or the same class options. At this point, you're playing a game similar to 5th edition that...isn't actualy 5th edition. It's basically impossible for anyone to provide meaningful responses to your questions because we have no idea what we don't know about your game. It's also a little frustrating to be asked a bunch of questions and to then (essentially) be told "yeah okay, I heard you, but I disagree with all of the points that don't align with what I was already thinking, so here's the thing I was already planning to do." This...wasn't so much a discussion about the questions you asked as it was a chance to tell other people about your 5e-derived heartbreaker.

It isn't meaningless. I wanted to see what people would say and most said pretty much what I expected. I mean, before posting the OP here I've been working on these questions/concepts for years (through prior editions) and the majority of responses were not surprising to me. Some did surprise me and I'm happy to admit it! As to the questions, the point remains immaterial of whether I said barbarian and sorcerer (which FYI also was made a subclass of wizard ;) ) or fighter and wizard.

And the post you responded to has me saying that "I am going to now answer my own questions" (the second sentence...) to give others an idea of what I was thinking, so they could compare it to what they wrote. How can we have a discussion, after learning what you think, without you then also learning what I think?

And so, you expressed CON was "nearly worthless" when removed from hit points, I replied showing how it isn't, even without the homebrew elements we've added. That sounds like a discussion to me, and you could refute my points to continue it.

If you feel otherwise, I'm sorry for that but it wasn't my intent.
 

Helpful NPC Thom

Adventurer
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?

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?

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.?

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

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


That's it for now. Of course I have my own views on all of these questions, but instead of potentially biasing responses by putting my own thoughts down at this time, I am curious to hear your thoughts on the questions.

Thanks to all who take the time to reply, it is much appreciated!
ANSWERS.

1. Because it's a game. Spellcasters get lower HD for balance reasons. Characters who are more likely to take damage (fighters, barbarians, clerics, etc.) get higher HD. From a diegetic perspective, the barbarian is a savage fighter who is adept at turning potentially-lethal attacks into near misses.

2. Because it's a game, and people like class differentiation. You can give size-based HD if you like--and I do like, but I like race-as-class so would be inclined to create a Man class, an Elf class, a Dwarf class, and so on to accompany this--but it will alter the mathematics of the game. Dropping it willy-nilly into 5e will cause some issues.

3. Because it's a game, Dexterity already does too much, and bloating hit points more with additional modifiers is a poor idea.

4. Yes, but why would you confuse the system like this? If Sam wields the One Ring, sure, he fights as a 6 HD fighter, but when he takes it off, he's back to being a 2 HD halfling...but that introduces all sorts of mathematical weirdness into the mix, so why bother?

5. Not in 5e. But there are esoteric editions in which monsters have no level, only HD.
 

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