Front-loaded ancestry hit points do not quite make sense to me; what is the point?


Rules Discussion


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Front-loaded ancestry hit points do not quite make sense to me; what is the point?

For example, dwarves have 10 base hit points, and elves have 6 base hit points. Unbreakable goblins have 10 base hit points, and regular goblins have 6 base hit points. This only really matters at the lower levels, though, since it gets obsoleted at higher levels.

What purpose do these front-loaded ancestry hit points serve? If they want to show that, for example, dwarves are much sturdier than elves, the +2 Constitution vs. -2 Constitution already shows that. As it stand, all these really do is make some ancestries more tempting for low-level gameplay than others. Someone trying to get through a quick, low-level adventure as a front-liner might gravitate towards the 10 hit point ancestries to survive rusty dagger shanktown; but that concern suddenly becomes moot at higher levels.

I can understand why a buffer is nice at lower levels. I cannot understand why they are different across ancestries, though, in a front-loaded way.

Maybe I am just biased against wonky metagame concerns that exist only at the lowest of levels.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It's good that first-level characters are less fragile. It's good that you have that extra buffer against character death. It's good that there is greater differentiation between the races (ancestries).

What's not to like?

Liberty's Edge

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The point of it existing is for 1st level characters to have more HP while keeping the number you get from Class per level consistent. This is very mechanically useful. The point of it differing from Ancestry to Ancestry is a very minor balancing measure, but mostly just a flavor thing. As you say, the variance matters little in the long run.


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It's just showing the natural tendency for sturdyness among the different ancestries.

You could dump your Con to 8 as a dwarf (using voluntary flaws) and still have more HP than any 1st level elf (ignorign class HP). Dwarves are just THAT tough compared to elves.


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Also it's got nothing to do with "wonky metagame concerns" - it makes perfect sense that at the start of your career you're mostly defined by your innate abilities while later on your experience is all that matters.


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Again, I can understand why a buffer is nice at lower levels. I cannot understand why they are different across ancestries, though, in a front-loaded way. Anything that is front-loaded like this and only really relevant at the lower levels come across as weird design to me; I do not see a point to something that is only really relevant at the lowest of levels.


It may also have to do with your total HP scaling across the entire 20 level progress. While in PF1 your HP multiplies roughly 20 times higher than at startup, in PF2 this drastically lowers to 10.5 times, nearly half the slope; probably to be closer to damage scaling (which is roughly 4 times at the highest for weapons, if you have major striking runes ready).


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Why extra hit points at 1st level: to increase 1st-level survivability.

Why vary these extra HP based on ancestry: flavour.

Also, the hit points aren't going to become irrelevant in just a level or two unless you are a high Con barbarian. If you have, for example, a Con 14 human cleric, your racial HP is slightly less than 10% of your total HP even at level 8. Level 8 is also the cut-off point where +2 Con gives you the same HP for a human.

If you mean that the difference between the ancestry hit points (a spread of 4 points) becomes irrelevant, that is pretty much true for all ancestry-related parts of a character: the different visions don't matter if you can get a magic item that replicates them, magical flight becomes available so your speed doesn't really matter (even less so if you're a monk since your bonus to speed eclipses the base speed, much less the differences between the ancestries), and you get way more ability boosts from level than you get from ancestry.


Yes, a lot of good posts; as Nightwhisper said; it's basically a way to bump 1st level hit points/survivability (also some flavour).

Like in 1st Ed AD&D, the Ranger starts with double Hit Dice/2d8, potential 16 hit points, before Con mod.

In 4th Ed you get a set number, by class (4, 5, 6, or 7), plus your Con score, so usually between 14 and 20 or so hp.

In the first 5th Ed playtest packet, 1st level hit points were 1 class hit dice, maxed (10 for fighter, etc), plus your Con score; I wish they had kept that.

Silver Crusade

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Colette Brunel wrote:
This only really matters at the lower levels, though, since it gets obsoleted at higher levels.

HP does not work that way.


I was thinking about granting that amount everytime the pc's get an ancestry feat (houserule). This might make the difference between dwarf and goblin a bit more meaningful at higher levels, plus the levels with ancestry feats pose a greater mile stone.

I have not run a game yet, so I still have some time to consider


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Colette Brunel wrote:
Again, I can understand why a buffer is nice at lower levels. I cannot understand why they are different across ancestries, though, in a front-loaded way. Anything that is front-loaded like this and only really relevant at the lower levels come across as weird design to me; I do not see a point to something that is only really relevant at the lowest of levels.

Dramatically more games are played at low level than at high level. That will continue to be true even if high level play works better in 2e because inevitably some games that start at low level will end before reaching high level. Additionally, people are typically introduced to the game via low level play, and if it sucks they will not continue to play, so making an extra effort to ensure that low level play is fun has a disproportionate impact. That’s the point.


The reason that Pathfinder 2 uses the 4e hitpoint scaling is because it also uses the 4e damage scaling.


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Rysky wrote:
Colette Brunel wrote:
This only really matters at the lower levels, though, since it gets obsoleted at higher levels.
HP does not work that way.

Good point. If you look at the ancestry HP as a percentage of the last hit that may or may not take you down, a spread of 4 points over all the ancestries will matter for a good long time.

In other words, a few extra HP is always a good thing.

Silver Crusade

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WatersLethe wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Colette Brunel wrote:
This only really matters at the lower levels, though, since it gets obsoleted at higher levels.
HP does not work that way.

Good point. If you look at the ancestry HP as a percentage of the last hit that may or may not take you down, a spread of 4 points over all the ancestries will matter for a good long time.

In other words, a few extra HP is always a good thing.

Yep-yep.


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Imagine if they did it the other way, and every ancestry granted 8 hp at first level. That'd feel samey and a bit off to a lot of people. It gives the different ancestries a different feel early on without upsetting the balance significantly.


It seems to me like if they wanted to emphasize that different ancestries had different amounts of hit points, they would take the extra hit points and spread them out over a character's career; maybe it could still be 6 to 10 at 1st level, but just some scaling in a gesture to make it less front-load-focused?

I am just not a fan of front-loaded numerical payoffs in RPGs.

Silver Crusade

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You cant dip Ancestries like you would Classes in 1e so “front loading” is a meaningless term.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Its there so that an elf baby isn't unconscious until they gain a class level.


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Colette Brunel wrote:

It seems to me like if they wanted to emphasize that different ancestries had different amounts of hit points, they would take the extra hit points and spread them out over a character's career; maybe it could still be 6 to 10 at 1st level, but just some scaling in a gesture to make it less front-load-focused?

It's already there. Other things being equal, dwarves get 2 more HP per level compared to elves, because dwarves get an ancestry boost to CON and elves get an ancestry drawback.

Also, what Rysky said.


Front-loading actually does matter; some game that never goes past the low-levels (or even a low-level one-off) means that ancestry hit points matter more in such a case.

Silver Crusade

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And?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

A nice house rule would be: your 6hp ancestries grant +1hp [per level after the first, 8hp grants +2 per level, and the 10hp ancestries grant +3 hp per level.

Just throwing that out there for conversation purposes.


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Colette Brunel wrote:
Front-loading actually does matter; some game that never goes past the low-levels (or even a low-level one-off) means that ancestry hit points matter more in such a case.

So? What's the point of all this?


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Yeesh.

They are simply hit points to represent you are a living creature.

Any common butcher, baker or candle stick maker in an elven village will have 6hp.

Any dwarf walking home from work in the mines with his pals singing "Heigh Ho" has 10hp.

That's all. You don't like it? House rule it out. There is nothing to really understand about it.


Colette Brunel wrote:
It seems to me like if they wanted to emphasize that different ancestries had different amounts of hit points, they would take the extra hit points and spread them out over a character's career; maybe it could still be 6 to 10 at 1st level, but just some scaling in a gesture to make it less front-load-focused?

Getting extra HP at the front is almost entirely about survivability at level 1. Spending 30 minutes making a character then having them die immediately to bad luck is a severe failure mode of a game like this, so mitigating that risk is reasonable.

For "I get even more HP over time" you'll want something like Mountain's Stoutness.


Shain Edge wrote:

A nice house rule would be: your 6hp ancestries grant +1hp [per level after the first, 8hp grants +2 per level, and the 10hp ancestries grant +3 hp per level.

Just throwing that out there for conversation purposes.

Unfortunately Shain that would front load your choice even more, which I don't think Colette would appreciate. If your ancestry essentially decided your CON mod equivalent HP per level, it would take very compelling reasons to play anything other than a 10 HP ancestry as a martial. You would almost never play a 6 HP martial as that's 20 less HP over your career that can't be mitigated by other choices. Too much weight to that choice as it's as strong of a decision as playing a d12 class vs a d8 class.


CyberMephit wrote:
Also it's got nothing to do with "wonky metagame concerns" - it makes perfect sense that at the start of your career you're mostly defined by your innate abilities while later on your experience is all that matters.

This right here. The game is designed and has been since 3rd edition that your Ancestry/race has a VERY strong impact at character creation and the first few levels. That is replaced by your class abilities.

Look at Ancestry weapon familiarity. It's great at low levels, then is easily surpassed by class training at mid to high levels unless you keep investing in it. The same with innate spells. Nifty at low levels, then mostly useful, but not amazing once your classes start casting 3 or 4th level spells on their own.

I hope no one is advocating that we go back to the Ancestry level of importance of Original D&D. I don't need ELF or DWARF to be my class.


I love how the TPK machine of the Playtest who thought PCs were too weak/monsters were too strong (Despite the grand majority of people mysteriously getting by without any of the issues they had) is now complaining about PCs getting too much HP at 1st level.

Honestly though, this is actually one of the silliest complaints I've seen from them. Who the frick cares if it's free HP at 1st level and not later? The whole point is to set a higher baseline for 1st level HP because 1st level characters were overly squishy in PF1, your HP doesn't have to grow every level in the same way you gained HP at 1st level. That's just dumb.


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Also another classic Colette Clickbait. (TM)
Thread title: Front-loaded ancestry hit points do not quite make sense to me; what is the point?

Several people: Explains the point of ancestry HP.

Colette: Still goes on about it.

Just more disingenuous nonsense from Colette, nothing new here.


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Just think of Ancestry HP as the 'racial hit die' of bygone versions. Only, your hapless (demi)human(oid) does not *exchange* his racial hit die for a class hit die upon ascending to PC class status, they *add* it up.

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