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I'm running a Dwarf Cleric in a vanilla FR D&D 4e game. My character is intended to be somewhat of a defender as well as a leader. The problem I'm having is that I haven not found any significant ways to increase his hitpoints, and those greatly lag behind a true defender class. How can I increase my characters toughness effectively?

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

If you haven't taken the Toughness feat, I recommend it -- at the beginning of each tier, it's 10% of your total hit points, which is not bad. Also think about Durable if your problem is running out of surges. Battle Healer is also quite good, since it gives you a bit of healing every time you heal someone else. Dwarf Battle Priest would do the same thing, and those two stack.

Another tactic: work on your defenses. Battle Cleric Armaments gives you light shield proficiency plus a better weapon. Looking ahead somewhat, there's the Battle Chaplain paragon path, which also gives shield proficiency, but I don't think it's otherwise all that great. Still, it gives you a mark, which is good if you want to keep being a defender.

If you want to try something a bit out of the box, think about polearms. You lose some of your defender ability, but you wind up saving yourself a ton of damage. Hafted Defense makes up for losing the shield. Polearm Flanker means you'll hit more often... and as a Strength cleric, you're dependent on hitting for much of your healing.

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I like your points, but I disagree about toughness. 5 points at 9th level is not worth the feat, neither is 10 at 10. – C. Ross Aug 24 '10 at 15:22
Fair enough! I also think of it as a bonus to healing surges, but I'm not gonna claim it's the first feat I take every time or anything. – Bryant Aug 24 '10 at 15:45
Since no one else mentioned it I think I'll add "Dwarven Durability" and "War Priest" to the list at paragon. Not HP technically, but helpful. – C. Ross Sep 8 '10 at 12:39
By my math for a cleric with 10con, the toughness feat gives 23% more hp at level 1, falling to 8% more hp at level 9. Level 10 jumps to 15% more hp, and falls down to 9% at 19. Level 20 jumps to 23%, and falls down to 9% again. At no point does it ever give less than 8% boost to hp. (If you have 13con, bonus goes as low as 7.7%.) That's more effective health than +1 to all defenses, and for levels 1-6, 10-16, 20-26, better than +2 to all defenses, and that's not including the bonus to surge value. – Mooing Duck Aug 4 '14 at 21:22

Dragon Magazine 366 has a background option called "Auspicious Birth" which allows your HP to be based on your highest ability score instead of Constitution to determine your initial hit points. This can help tremendously at low levels to get you up in Hit points.

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Compared to the Toughness feat: Auspicious Birth gives +1 to +3hp from levels 1-9. From 10-19 it's -4 to -2hp, and from 20-30 it's -9 to -7hp. It's definitely good at low levels, but also get toughness, or retrain to it. – Mooing Duck Aug 4 '14 at 21:27

Since you're playing in Forgotten Realms--if you are using Backgrounds, you can make your character from Impiltur--this background allows you to base your starting HP on your Wisdom score, instead of your Constitution. Every bit helps.

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My Con is already as high as my Wis, and I also find Con has a much lower impact on HP in 4e. – C. Ross Aug 20 '10 at 14:30
Exactly: if it's not a primary or secondary ability its usufulness is limited to the number healing surges per day and as a requirement for hammer- and axe-related feats. The extra HPs it could provide come with a cost too high for a Cleric to pay (who should invest on Strength for his/her Fortitude defense). – Erik Burigo Nov 25 '10 at 11:27

The most important thing to be worried about as a defender is not your hps, but rather your stickiness.

As a cleric you should be able to heal hp loss fairly well and are not that far behind in hps (things like being a dwarf with a minor action second wind and that +2 con will help immensly in this catagory)

To be a good defender, you need to be sticky, I would recommend warpriest with maybe a fighter multiclass (or just good old fightercleric dualclassing, or play a paladin (even with the cleric multiclass if you like))

Hope that helps.

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Define "sticky"? – C. Ross Aug 30 '10 at 11:04
I think @Logos7 refers to the trademark (pun intended) capability of defender classes to attract the enemies' attention and punish them if they look elsewhere. – Erik Burigo Nov 25 '10 at 11:22

Because you must heal yourself a lot these items could be very important for you.

Cord of Divine Favor Level 13 Uncommon
Waist Slot 17,000 gp
Power (Healing) Encounter (Free Action)
Use this power when you use healing word on an ally or use another power that grants an ally the use of a healing surge. You can spend a healing surge as well and regain hit points equal to your healing surge value.

and if you are charisma skilled:

The Ring of Tenacious Will
Level 21 Uncommon
Ring Slot 225,000 gp
Use Charisma instead of Constitution to determine the number of healing surges you possess.

Power (Healing) Daily (No Action)
Use this power when you would be reduced to 0 hit points or fewer. You are reduced to 1 hit point instead. If you've reached at least one milestone today, you also regain a number of hit points equal to your level.

This ring give you Healing Surges like a real Defender.

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