Maximum HPs/Level

November 26, 2006 at 2:42 pm (House Rules)

This house rule in our campaign allows the player characters to receive maximum hit points every time they level up. We have used it in the past with older campaigns and it has always added to the fun factor, without reducing from the gaming experience.

It is a simple allowance on the part of the Dungeon Master, who lets the players automatically take the highest possible result of the die roll every time their characters level up, whether for racial or class hit die. For example, fighters receive 10 hit points every level plus their Constitution modifier, clerics 8, wizards 4.

It is important to note, however, that this rule only applies to the player characters, not the monsters or antagonists. Giving everyone maximum hit points quickly lessens the impact of damage-dealing magic, rises enemy challenge level, and makes for longer (and perhaps less realistic, or as others might say, more dull) fights.

It does make sense for the players, though, and even if the DM gets to roll several NPCs each session, the players only get one character to stick with for the entire campaign. One or two really bad hit point rolls can really hurt, especially if they are on the group’s “frontliner”. Excitement also tends to drop when you realize that your Warpriest of Tempus has rolled 1, 2, 2, and 4 on his hps the last four levels and can take less punishment than the party’s wizard. And while most rolls in the game can be “fixed”, low hps tend to haunt a character for the rest of his career.

Of course this rule, like most house rules, is not for everyone. Our campaign was mostly roleplaying with a few story-based, but really hard, fights. Perhaps even more importantly, it was set in a low-magic setting in the sense that the PCs could not go to the local magic shop with several thousand gold coins and walk off with Constitution-increasing equipment. These together with how saddening it is watching a player’s face after he rolls a 2 “again” when levelling up, made us draw inspiration from that checkbox in Icewind Dale‘s options menu and begin using maximum hit points in our campaigns.

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