Methods for Determining Hit Points


Recently my gaming group has been discussing the various methods for determining Hit Points. We have talked about the random rolls with no rerolls, random rolls with minimum of the average, just the minimum every level, and maximum hit points every level.

My question is, has anyone else done the maximum hit points for every level, and how has it changed (if any) your games?

One of my players (who is also a DM) hates the idea (of course he would prefer everything be random, right down to selection of class and race).

As I expected, most of the players like the idea, as long as I can balance out encounters with it.

Any thoughts,


David C Smith

I usually have had my groups do rolling, with a minimum result of half max. This doesn't change the average result that much, but gets rid of people getting screwed by bad rolls (which can completely wreck a game).

Though I have liked systems where it was a fixed amount per level. But I'd recommend trying the above on your DM if he MUST have randomness.

From what I've heard from others, doing max hit points every level doesn't upset things really.

Scarab Sages

Most likely this would tip the scale towards the players. You essentially negate the need for Constitution, save for the saves. If you include the con, place a 10th level barbarian with 20 CON into an encounter. Add in favoured class hit points, and you see a raging barbarian with 200 hit points.

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Max first level; each additional level take ( 1/2 HD +1). Problem solved. Then add con + feats+ favored class bonus afterwards.

What Aristin76 said. But I am still early enough in my GMing that my default approach is to try to approximate the intent of the system -- so I the 1st hit die (if from a class level) is max HP, the 2nd hit die is 1/2 HD rounded down (to offset he advantage of that 1st full hit die), the 3rd hit die is 1/2 HD rounded up, alternating in that manner afterward.

My reason for this is similar to why I default to 15-point buy -- to set the difficulty of the campaign at the default assumed by the adventure designers.

(If it is an NPC (or any creature that does not get max HP with its first hit die), I give 1/2 HP rounded up and alternate afterward.)

I used max HP in a campaign once and it caused big problems. I had a rogue, a sorcerer, a 3rd party druid-like necromancer and a fighter in the party. The casters stayed out of melee, so they didn't matter as much, but the rogue and the fighter went into melee together. Of course, a fighter will most probably always have higher HP than a rogue, but giving them full HP each level, combined with the high con of the fighter ended up creating a difference in HP that was so great, that by ~14th level anything that had a chance to bring the fighter down to 0 hp within a reasonable time did enough damage to oneshot the rogue on a decent roll without crits.

Grand Lodge

Max HP causes WAY too much HP disparity to balance encounters well 100% of the time. This can happen with random rolls as well...but it will not happen 100% of the time. The PFS half +1 makes for some pretty standardized HPs without people going into massive system mastery (like cao phen's 40 something hp level 1 character)...but I personally find it TOO standardized. The difference between a level 20 fighter vs a wizard barring feat and ability difference is only 40. That's less then one hit at level 20. So I prefer max - 2 so that there is a difference of 2 hp per level between the dice jumps and not 1.

I have two fighters in my game, very similar in builds, but the main difference in the two is hit points. I use the random roll method with 1/2 being the minimum you can get. This has worked fine but I have one fighter that has rolled really well and the other keeps rolling badly, getting him the 1/2 minimum every time. This has created two front line fighters where one can take a pounding and the other has to be more careful.

While I enjoy the different play styles, I can tell that the player that keeps rolling poorly feels "cheated" by the dice rolls. I have been discussing with the players the fact that all other aspects of the characters are builds and not random rolls (if you use a point buy or similar system), so why should hit points be the exception??

Yeah, I only did 1/2 die as a minimum since I have players who love random rolls too much. They always think they'll roll well more often than not. *sigh*

If I had to make a recommendation, I'd go with max HD the first 3 levels, and 1/2 max value +1 after that. Max early on since most d20 games have characters way too fragile the first few levels. This should not have a major impact further into the game. 1/2HD+1 later since going between 1/2HD and 1/2HD+1 every other level is a bit silly when you're just talking about 10 hit points in difference at level 20.

Though, I suppose a slightly more complicated system would be...Max HD on your three biggest HD, and 1/2maxHD+1 on all others. That's more agnostic to multi-classing order.

Shadow Lodge

David C Smith wrote:
My question is, has anyone else done the maximum hit points for every level, and how has it changed (if any) your games?

Characters became a lot tougher in my games with max HP. They could take more hits, especially if they still boosted Con. Evocation spells were much less dangerous, and fights lasted longer because there were more HPs to chew through.

As a compromise, you may consider rolling HP at every level. Allow me to explain this clearly so there is no confusion.

At first level, you should keep the first HD maxed, as low levels are swingy enough without everyone having less hit points.
At second level, you roll the second HD and add it as normal.
At third level, you roll the third HD and add it to the total. THEN, you roll all three HD, and if the total is higher than the first, the character takes that total instead.
At fourth, you roll the fourth HD, and then all four HD together, and take the better score.
Repeat at each level.

Now, the reasoning behind rolling two totals is that only rolling every HD and comparing it to the current total means characters may not get ANY hitpoints when they level up. Rolling the new HD and adding it to the previous total prevents that possibility.

In this manner, low rolls on the single HD may average out better in the long run as rolling all the HD again gives the possibility of increasing the total from what was rolled before without breaking the HD cap.

You may prefer to just roll all the HD at once, and have HP be very random across characters. You could end up with wizards that have more base HP than their fighters. It's up to you and your players if either method will make the game more enjoyable for you. It sounds like your 'all random' player would love it.

You might be right that my all "random" player would like it. I am just trying to find the best method to use without rolls. I was bouncing around the idea of just average +1 for all characters at each level but then a few of the players pointed out that that takes away from the chance of having higher hit points. 5 or 6 per level for a fighter instead of the chance of rolling 9 or 10.

It is a difficult decision to make, when trying to balance the game and the encounters. That is why I was hoping for input from anyone who does do the max hit points way to get their insight and how it changed their games.

My group are good optimizers, so we use this system:

As Drachasor suggests: Roll HP as usual, but any roll below half is rerolled. In practice, this is very close to the half HD+1 used by PFS.

To compensate, all mobs have maximum HP.

So, we pump quite a bit of extra HP into the game. This makes it a bit easier to balance encounters with a players who are good optimizers.

In my group, we roll 2 hit die when levelling and select one. So a fighter rolls 2d10 and selects the best.

For pets (eidolons, animals companions, cohorts) we just roll once and keeps the result.

Silver Crusade

I house rule the following (always max at 1st level) wherein we roll for hit points for characters:

d6, reroll 1
d8, reroll 1,2
d10, reroll 1,2,3
d12, reroll 1,2,3,4

One reroll is allowed, players who roll below the reroll numbers a second time get a minimum of 1 + the highest reroll number allowed. Hence, a d6 rogue will always get at least 2 hit points while a d12 barbarian will always get at least 5 hit points. With "retraining" of hit points allowed, provides some randomness without crippling the players' ability to survive.

Pets advance at the standard rate.

I'd shy away from max hit points as a given because I don't want to have to adjust every encounter. If they "retrain" then they've used finances and should benefit accordingly and if they, unlikely, roll maximum every level, I'll check their dice to see if loaded (but in any case, players would have earned it no differently than if a string of natural 20s ended a boss battle prematurely).

I use the 'max at 1st level, half round down at 2nd, half round up at 3rd, half round down at 4th, half round up at 5th, etc' system. So, for example a wizard would get 6, 3, 4, 3, 4, alternating 3 and 4 the rest of the way.

I don't believe any part of character creation or advancement should be randomized.

We use max first and best of two die on all other level rolls.

math on D10, D8, and D6 wrote:

D10 average is 5.5
D10 min 1/2 average is 6.5
D10 reroll <1/2 average is 7.5
Best of 2D10 average is 7.15

D8 average is 4.5
D8 min 1/2 average is 5.25
D8 reroll <1/2 average is 6
Best of 2D8 average is 5.8125

D6 average is 3.5
D6 min 1/2 average is 4
D6 reroll <1/2 average is 4.5
Best of 2D6 average is 4.472222

Retraining sais:

Hit Points wrote:

Sometimes the dice aren't in your favor when you gain a level and the hit points you roll are especially low. Unlike retraining other character abilities, retraining hit points doesn't involve replacing an existing ability with a new one, it just increases your maximum hit points.

Retraining hit points takes 3 days and requires you to spend time at a martial academy, monk monastery, or with some kind of master of combat who is at least one level higher than you. At the end of the training period, increase your hit points by 1. You can retrain hit points only if your maximum hit point total is less than the maximum possible hit point total for your character.

If you allow retraining, you can max HP for some GP and time.

If you do allow better than average HP for level, you need to accommodate it in the encounter design. Enemies have average HP by design to face PCs with (almost) average HP. What is good for one should apply equally well for the other.


Shadow Lodge

I did max hit points for a campaign I ran, and I think it really ruined the challenge of most of the encounters.

I think the best rules for hit points is the method used in PFS - full hit points at first level, then half (rounded up) for each subsequent level. If I were to run another campaign, I'd swear by this.

In any campaign where PCs have max HP, so do the enemies.

1. My group had method where if they did not like their roll the GM would roll, but they had to take what the GM rolled.

2. Use PFS average..If you are going to try to get rid of minimum rolls then this is the way to go for me.

I'm in 2 campaigns right now where one has max hit points for first 3 levels, then for all others either what you roll or half+1.

The other has it for the first 2 levels to be max, the rest be rolled as is, or half+1.

I personally like either giving max HP for first level, all others rolled or half+1. If you roll a 1 you get a reroll. Makes it a bit easier long term for HP balance in my opinion.

My gaming group argued this for an hour the other night before out normal sunday night game. It was interesting to see. As I expected the for's and the against's were exactly who I had thought they would be. I am not sure if that is a good or a bad thing. LOL. We did a little math and the groups main fighter (a level seven fighter) would only gain an additional 21 hit points from doing this.

The cleric would jump almost 25 hit points however.

Still have not made a decision yet. I do not I am going to be doing away with the dice rolls for hit points, just not sure on the method yet. :)

Thanks everyone for your input.


I have a long running house rule of d4 random + whatever amount is needed to reach the full amount. I like it a lot...especially with the glass cannon aspect of Pathfinder where so many characters could drop themselves easily in one round.

Wizard/Sorceror = d4+2
Bard/Rogue/Cleric = d4+4
Fighter/Ranger/Paladin = d4+6
Barbarian = d4+8

I use max at 1st level, average of 2 rolls (half points rounded up) thereafter. Works OK. I roll random monsters completely randomly, on the basis that those with really low hp might be injured or sick.

If I weren't doing random rolls, I'd do max at 1st, then half-rounded-up after that.

But with the retraining rules, much of this goes away anyway.

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