Rolling HD - Systems that have worked for you


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Sometime next year I'll be DMing an AP for my group, and I'm having a hard time deciding on their rules for rolling HP. My group likes that feeling of being lucky or unlucky, but at the same time they all get very attached to their characters. To that end, I'd like to soften up the randomness and still give opportunity for a "bad" result.

The current system I'm using is to roll once, and if you roll below half, round up to half. For example, if one of my player's rolls a 1-3 on a d8, they round up to 4. If they roll a 4-8, they keep the roll. Although this keeps things above average, I've noticed during the current campaign player's who get one or two good rolls don't have any excitement for HP. They feel set for a few levels cause they've already beaten the odds as there isn't a chance for that "bad" result.

What other rules has everyone else used? How was the experience for your group during the game


I usually tell my players that they can choose to take half or chance the roll and take what they get. Unlucky players take the half others tend to chance it unless they get multiple bad levels worth.

Another good idea is to give them max hit points at third and every three levels after that (6th, 9th, etc.). That way even if they roll terribly they'll still track okay.


It seems that your players want to have the excitement and the safety of rolling high if they are getting that attached. It is hard to have the thrill without the threat. As long as they are happy with other parts of the game I would be ok with them losing excitement over hit points. Keep the round up to half rule.


With the Ultimate Campaign rules for training up HP, it matters little since when they get downtime they fix it but I give my players these days the option to take average(saving the .5 for the next time) or rolling it out and trying to get more. The risk is that in longer story arcs without downtime, they risk losing a few Extra HP, but can always pay to make up for it later.


At my table we roll the die. If the result is below half we bump it up to halfway.

For example, a d8 hit die is treated like the sides are 4, 4, 4, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 instead of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8.


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d6 classes roll 1d4+2, d8 classes roll 1d6+2, d10 classes roll 1d8+2, and d12 classes roll 1d10+2

There's still a significant amount of variation, and it's riskier the higher you go along the hit die, as all classes have a minimum of three.

Basically, the worst a player can get is +3 HP rather than +1.

Coincidentally the minimum of +3 HP means that d6 classes are guaranteed their "average roll". In this way, the big strong guys that want high HP have the highest risk-reward gambit, while low-HP classes that really just don't want to have to deal with the 1-in-6 chance of getting the absolute minimum can piddle along.

It's how I'd run it if I was running a session that rolled HP and wanted to give players a bit of a safety net.

Chances are though that if I had HP rolled, I'd just run the class hit die straight up without modification.


It depends on the group. I prefer to use the PFS system (max at first level then average +0.5 at the other levels) as both a player and GM. I have also run it as the PC's just get max and the monsters get average. I have also had the misfortune of playing in a game where we had max HP but the monsters had max as well, this ended poorly with a lot of GM fudging because characters who try to reduce enemy HP have enough problems without effectively doubling the resource they target.

I hate rolling the dice for HP, it is very against the grain of how things are done now. It reminds me of the days where nobody had a backstory until 3rd level because 90% of all characters died before that.


I had a GM who just gave max roll. Nobody complains, the barbarian is still universally the highest HP, and the GM takes the gloves off when combat starts for everyone. Everyone wins.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32

I'm weird but:

They can take half OR they roll then they can elect to keep the roll or let me roll for them but they have to keep that.

I tend to roll well, it leads to usually above average HP but once in awhile not so much.


Pathfinder Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

None of the rolling methods have worked well for me. I much prefer the PFS style of constant, known hit points at each level. This avoids the huge random swings you can see between different characters.

I've played in a few campaigns where characters had max hit points at every level. Tends to devalue Con and create a larger gap based on hit points than there should be. With other systems, +2 Con or Toughness Feat can make up for having one lower die size. Not true with max hit points.


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Max at 1st level, half-round-up from there. So d6 gets 4, d8 gets 5, d10 gets 6, d12 gets 7.

Works perfectly. You get good HP guaranteed.


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In one of the groups I play with we may roll the dice up to three times, and take the last result.

For example for my magus, I roll a d8. If this first roll is a five or higher then I tend to keep it, otherwise I reroll, if the second result is above three then I also tend to keep it, else I reroll one more time.

Overall it works quite well for us, though every now and then, including the last time we went level up, somebody managed to roll: 2, 2, 1, so he only gained 1 extra hp from the dice. That was clearly quite unlucky, but it happens every now and then. There's also been a case where somebody, who played a fighter, rolled 5, 6 and 1. Clearly he should have kept the six.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

First level, maximum is added (as if you rolled the highest number).

House Rule -
Every level after that, I allow players to reroll any result of "1". Any other result counts.


First off, thanks for the input from everyone. I'm liking the idea of incorporating the HP retraining rule. Still undecided on whether I want to shield them from the low rolls or let the dice run wild.

I dont feel like I need an alternate rule system and shield them from the dreaded one though. Maybe I bring options up to them, right? It also gives me a good way to siphon off wealth by level if I get a little treasure happy, and breathing room for those rewards in some homebrew side stuff.

Getting a little off the main topic, we've decided on Carrion Crown as the AP. Does the story arc allow for downtime around NPCs that could offer the retrain? By this I mean areas that make sense with theme for them to be +1 level higher. Ive only made it through book 2 of the AP, so I dont have a good feel for the entire stories timeframe.


I've been a proponent of half of the die, rounded up for many years, but years ago my old group did this thing where the GM and player both roll the HP die. However, the GM hides the result of his die so the player can only see his own. The players must decide to use his own result or the GM's. Its a bit of a gamble, but if you like to read faces poker-style then it can be fun.


We roll two and take the better one.


Quote:
We roll two and take the better one

That's what we do. You either take "max first - average rest" , or the GM and the player each roll once and take the better one (first one is still max).

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber

I do max, or I do average. Rolling sucks.


thegreenteagamer wrote:
I had a GM who just gave max roll. Nobody complains, the barbarian is still universally the highest HP, and the GM takes the gloves off when combat starts for everyone. Everyone wins.

This is what I do, in all three PbP and my home game.

If someone dies, it is near impossible for it to be a single unlucky roll of the die, but either they did something really stupid or the dice gods really hated them.

-- david

Dice Hate


Rolling is the spice of life.

I do like the retaining idea.

Shadow Lodge

I'm allergic.


I'd suggest max Hp at first level (to avoid having characters who fall unconscious at the drop of a hat).

For later levels I'd suggest I'd suggest rolling you full HD and using the new number if it is higher than your current hit points. e.g. a third level barbarian would roll 3d12, if that roll is higher than their total hit points then that is their new total.

It preserves some randomness while producing characters who overtime will trend towards the maximum hit points for their class.

Dark Archive

In an old (3.5) campaign of mine, the GM had us roll, but if we rolled too low, typically a 1 or 2, we had the option of re-rolling, but with the next dice down.

Silver Crusade

I like the PFS approach of Max HP at 1st level, then average rounded up. When I'm not GMing PFS I pretend that the HP retraining rules don't exist. HP retraining is way too munchkin for my tastes.

I had a GM who had us always roll once for each level after 1st, no changes. That was unpleasant. I started a warrior priest. After getting D8 HP dice of 8, 3, 1 , 3, 1 the supposed 'warrior priest' was far too feeble to enter melee. Finis.


We roll but bump it up to half if you roll below half.

So 3-6, 4-8, 5-10, and 6-12 are the HP values you can expect. Overall you can expect a decent amount of HP no matter what you play.

Rolling is the spice of life, but being a level 9 barbarian with 20 base HP before con and favored class options SUCKS.


If you are playing a d10/d12 class, that is a feature of the class. If you make them roll 1d10 and they get 1, or minimum of die+2, whatever, it is short changing a class feature.

Half + a dice roll would be my choice. Or we get silly things like a wizard with more hp than a fighter because of un/lucky die rolls.

Addition. You are a Barbarian. You are trained to be durable. You have trained hard, put yourself through danger! You've used them muscles, hacked those heads off them bodies (aint going to happen alone). You level up to reflect your accomplishments! You get 1 hp!
The wizard used his vast intellect to overcome the trials, subjugated foes with him mind! He levels, and gets 6 hp!
Yeah. No.

Silver Crusade

Better than average HP makes your PC slightly more effective, but not that much in the grand scheme of things. However, lower than average HP can be disastrous, even fatal!

That's why I let them roll, but to a minimum of half (round up).


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Huh. In all my games we just take max at first level and the straight roll beyond that. It seems to work just fine.


In 2 of my campaigns I use the common "max at 1st level, then roll and round up to half if you got lower than that". In 2 other games I've been using a different rule... Max at 1st level, then full HD -2 for the others.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Max until 5th level, then take average.

There is literally no other class feature that's randomized, and hp shouldn't be either.


Sneak Attack is randomized.

Liberty's Edge

We go with alternatives- either the PFS style (d6 gets 4, d8 gets 5, d10 gets 6, d12 gets 7)

OR

You roll yours, and the GM rolls the same in secret. If you don't like your roll, you can take the GM's roll.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Westphalian_Musketeer wrote:

d6 classes roll 1d4+2, d8 classes roll 1d6+2, d10 classes roll 1d8+2, and d12 classes roll 1d10+2

i was going to suggest the same thing, but i literally just thought of it after he asked. weird, but i guess nice knowing the system has stood up for others.

Liberty's Edge

Westphalian_Musketeer wrote:

d6 classes roll 1d4+2, d8 classes roll 1d6+2, d10 classes roll 1d8+2, and d12 classes roll 1d10+2

There's still a significant amount of variation, and it's riskier the higher you go along the hit die, as all classes have a minimum of three.

Not bad. I may go with that.


My DM lets us take half (rounded down), or roll twice keep the higher. Almost everyone always elects to roll twice. We have run into spots where the fighter rolls two 3s and it sucks, but those are rare.


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BretI wrote:

None of the rolling methods have worked well for me. I much prefer the PFS style of constant, known hit points at each level. This avoids the huge random swings you can see between different characters.

I've played in a few campaigns where characters had max hit points at every level. Tends to devalue Con and create a larger gap based on hit points than there should be. With other systems, +2 Con or Toughness Feat can make up for having one lower die size. Not true with max hit points.

Similar for me. Rolling hp just doesnt do it.

Same with rollinh for stats. When I am ivited to a game I ask if hp or stats are rolled. If the answer is yes I politely decline.


Westphalian_Musketeer wrote:

d6 classes roll 1d4+2, d8 classes roll 1d6+2, d10 classes roll 1d8+2, and d12 classes roll 1d10+2

There's still a significant amount of variation, and it's riskier the higher you go along the hit die, as all classes have a minimum of three.

Basically, the worst a player can get is +3 HP rather than +1.

Coincidentally the minimum of +3 HP means that d6 classes are guaranteed their "average roll". In this way, the big strong guys that want high HP have the highest risk-reward gambit, while low-HP classes that really just don't want to have to deal with the 1-in-6 chance of getting the absolute minimum can piddle along.

It's how I'd run it if I was running a session that rolled HP and wanted to give players a bit of a safety net.

Chances are though that if I had HP rolled, I'd just run the class hit die straight up without modification.

There is another way suggested on these boards that is similar to this one. It involves rolling 1d6 plus the maximum possible roll minus six.

1d6 HD = 1d6 + 0
1d8 HD = 1d6 + 2
1d10 HD = 1d6 + 4
1d12 HD = 1d6 + 6

This method assures classes that depend most on hit points don't get less than average.

Silver Crusade

Ciaran Barnes wrote:
Sneak Attack is randomized.

Really?

Sneak Attack: Each time you gain a level as a Rogue, roll 1d3-1: the result (zero to two) is the number of extra Sneak Attack dice you gain at that level.


Lakesidefantasy wrote:
Westphalian_Musketeer wrote:

d6 classes roll 1d4+2, d8 classes roll 1d6+2, d10 classes roll 1d8+2, and d12 classes roll 1d10+2

There's still a significant amount of variation, and it's riskier the higher you go along the hit die, as all classes have a minimum of three.

Basically, the worst a player can get is +3 HP rather than +1.

Coincidentally the minimum of +3 HP means that d6 classes are guaranteed their "average roll". In this way, the big strong guys that want high HP have the highest risk-reward gambit, while low-HP classes that really just don't want to have to deal with the 1-in-6 chance of getting the absolute minimum can piddle along.

It's how I'd run it if I was running a session that rolled HP and wanted to give players a bit of a safety net.

Chances are though that if I had HP rolled, I'd just run the class hit die straight up without modification.

There is another way suggested on these boards that is similar to this one. It involves rolling 1d6 plus the maximum possible roll minus six.

1d6 HD = 1d6 + 0
1d8 HD = 1d6 + 2
1d10 HD = 1d6 + 4
1d12 HD = 1d6 + 6

This method assures classes that depend most on hit points don't get less than average.

Ya know, the amount of rules used for HP is starting to feel like the amount of ability generation styles that are available. Maybe a hit dice rolling playbook is in order?

Shadow Lodge

My group usually does max at each level, and important opponents also get max HP. This works well, but it's worth pointing out it's a generally high-powered game with rolled stats around 40 point buy (the fighter started with 18 Str / 18 Con). This means that characters (1) often have a high enough Con to supply a significant portion of HP (2) do enough damage to monsters that the latter need max HP to survive more than a round or two. It does mean the favoured class HP option and the Toughness feat are not as good, but we don't usually find those options the most fun so no big loss.

For the OP, I'd probably recommend roll twice take better. It maintains an element of chance and there's still the risk of an occasional bad level, but makes it unlikely that a character will be far below average HP.

Lakesidefantasy wrote:

There is another way suggested on these boards that is similar to this one. It involves rolling 1d6 plus the maximum possible roll minus six.

1d6 HD = 1d6 + 0
1d8 HD = 1d6 + 2
1d10 HD = 1d6 + 4
1d12 HD = 1d6 + 6

This method assures classes that depend most on hit points don't get less than average.

In that sense isn't it identical to the "round up to the average" method?


Weirdo wrote:

My group usually does max at each level, and important opponents also get max HP. This works well, but it's worth pointing out it's a generally high-powered game with rolled stats around 40 point buy (the fighter started with 18 Str / 18 Con). This means that characters (1) often have a high enough Con to supply a significant portion of HP (2) do enough damage to monsters that the latter need max HP to survive more than a round or two. It does mean the favoured class HP option and the Toughness feat are not as good, but we don't usually find those options the most fun so no big loss.

For the OP, I'd probably recommend roll twice take better. It maintains an element of chance and there's still the risk of an occasional bad level, but makes it unlikely that a character will be far below average HP.

Lakesidefantasy wrote:

There is another way suggested on these boards that is similar to this one. It involves rolling 1d6 plus the maximum possible roll minus six.

1d6 HD = 1d6 + 0
1d8 HD = 1d6 + 2
1d10 HD = 1d6 + 4
1d12 HD = 1d6 + 6

This method assures classes that depend most on hit points don't get less than average.

In that sense isn't it identical to the "round up to the average" method?

It's close but not identical.


Lakesidefantasy wrote:
Weirdo wrote:

My group usually does max at each level, and important opponents also get max HP. This works well, but it's worth pointing out it's a generally high-powered game with rolled stats around 40 point buy (the fighter started with 18 Str / 18 Con). This means that characters (1) often have a high enough Con to supply a significant portion of HP (2) do enough damage to monsters that the latter need max HP to survive more than a round or two. It does mean the favoured class HP option and the Toughness feat are not as good, but we don't usually find those options the most fun so no big loss.

For the OP, I'd probably recommend roll twice take better. It maintains an element of chance and there's still the risk of an occasional bad level, but makes it unlikely that a character will be far below average HP.

Lakesidefantasy wrote:

There is another way suggested on these boards that is similar to this one. It involves rolling 1d6 plus the maximum possible roll minus six.

1d6 HD = 1d6 + 0
1d8 HD = 1d6 + 2
1d10 HD = 1d6 + 4
1d12 HD = 1d6 + 6

This method assures classes that depend most on hit points don't get less than average.

In that sense isn't it identical to the "round up to the average" method?
It's close but not identical.

Not really.

Average value of 1d6+6: 9.5
Average value of 1d12, rounding up to 6 if less than 7: 7.75

Average value of 1d6+4: 7.5
Average value of 1d10, rounding up to 5 if less than 6: 6.5

Average value of 1d6+2: 5.5
Average value of 1d8, rounding up to 4 if less than 5: 5.25

Average value of 1d6+0: 3.5
Average value of 1d6, rounding up to 3 if less than 4: 4


Squirrel Guy wrote:

Average value of 1d6+6: 9.5
Average value of 1d12, rounding up to 6 if less than 7: 7.75

Average value of 1d6+4: 7.5
Average value of 1d10, rounding up to 5 if less than 6: 6.5

Average value of 1d6+2: 5.5
Average value of 1d8, rounding up to 4 if less than 5: 5.25

Average value of 1d6+0: 3.5
Average value of 1d6, rounding up to 3 if less than 4: 4

Yes, it's close but not identical.


I'm fond of having everyone roll 1d6, then giving larger-HD classes a static bonus making up the difference, i.e. 1d6=1d6, 1d8=1d6+1, 1d10=1d6+2, etc. This retains the same average value for each class, but reduces the variability and risk for the larger HD.


It reduces the risk, but it also reduces the benefit of the larger die's possibilities. It might feel like an OK trade-off for a d8 class, but I think for a d10 or d12 class, I'd rather not lose 2-3 points off the upper range.

Dark Archive

I bring alignment into it: characters with chaotic alignment roll twice and keep the better result while lawful gets average+1 and neutral gets roll once+1(up to max). I also use the retraining rules for increasing health.

Shadow Lodge

Lakesidefantasy wrote:
Squirrel Guy wrote:

Average value of 1d6+6: 9.5
Average value of 1d12, rounding up to 6 if less than 7: 7.75

Average value of 1d6+4: 7.5
Average value of 1d10, rounding up to 5 if less than 6: 6.5

Average value of 1d6+2: 5.5
Average value of 1d8, rounding up to 4 if less than 5: 5.25

Average value of 1d6+0: 3.5
Average value of 1d6, rounding up to 3 if less than 4: 4

Yes, it's close but not identical.

Ah, forgot to account for it being more likely to roll below average on any die than rolling 1 on d6. Thanks!

I do prefer your method, it scales better for larger HD.


I do average rounded up for all levels but the 1st level gets doubled; including con and favored class bonus, if any. So a 2nd level fighter with 14 con and putting favored class into skills gets: 2*(6+2) + (6+2) = 24.

Or, just shorten it to Hp = (Lv+1)*(HD+con+favclass+misc)

EDIT: Though I do also really like Westphalian_Musketeer's method now that I've seen it.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Ciaran Barnes wrote:
Sneak Attack is randomized.

Not in the same way hp is. Sneak attack damage varies round to round, so yeah the damage does "average out" over a given length of time.

Bad hp rolls hurt you a lot more than good hp rolls help you. If you're a fighter with 14 Constitution, and you roll poorly by level 5 you might end up with less health than the Wizard.

There is a tangible difference between the Fighter and the Wizard's survivability when their baseline is 50 vs 30 as opposed to 15 vs 11.

Hit Points are a key feature of Martial Classes and randomness only hurts them.

There's a reason why so many tables houserule average hp, or some variant of if you roll less than half, take half.

Extra hp for PCs means more encounters before resting and that suits me just fine.


Vil-hatarn wrote:
I'm fond of having everyone roll 1d6, then giving larger-HD classes a static bonus making up the difference, i.e. 1d6=1d6, 1d8=1d6+1, 1d10=1d6+2, etc. This retains the same average value for each class, but reduces the variability and risk for the larger HD.

This would still make it possible that the wizard has more hp than the barbarian. before con, that is.

The only D&D/PF game with rolled stats and hp I could see playing in is one where race and class is rolled, too. And the class rolled for each level.

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