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I was thinking of making the PC less squishy at 1st level by giving them the CON score (not modifier) as HP on 1st level. It would only be fair to give out to other creatures the same effect.

But I am afraid this would unbalance the game. Suddenly a kobold group is way less squishy too, and this can make combats drag for longer. And attrition is regarded as bad for the PC (because they get into more fights than the others).

At later levels this will be less of an issue, because HP scales really fast with CR.

But at low levels (1 ~ 4), what will be the consequences of making this change?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think you've already answered your own question (and this can make combats drag for longer) in the general sense, what specific analysis/comparison are you looking for? \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Sep 20 '17 at 14:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast I just shoved the most obvious out of the way, so people won't post one liners with the obvious. But the community never ceases to amaze, look at Erik's answer right below. \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Sep 20 '17 at 19:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is not an answer to your question, but if the goal is to make starting characters more resilient, the simplest/safest answer is to just start play at level 2 or 3. 1 or 2 extra hit dice are enough to push characters out of "one strong hit" territory. 5e generally assumes one session per level up to level 3 anyhow, so it doesn't accelerate character advancement substantially. \$\endgroup\$ – starchild Sep 20 '17 at 20:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ You feel the need to be fair to imaginary monsters? Fairness between players I understand: they actually exist - the monsters are just game constructs. \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M Sep 20 '17 at 20:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ It would only be fair to give out to other creatures the same effect. Who says you have to be fair? \$\endgroup\$ – Wyrmwood Sep 20 '17 at 20:28
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At least one positive change is that you'll feel less fragile. Which is what you're going for, so that you'll get for sure. Fights will drag a bit, that's also for sure. If you want to know by how much, check with D&D 4e players, because it had pretty much this rule and fights were long.

As for problems you'll run into a low level; this gives all creatures a variable bump to their HP, but the bump is bigger the lower their original HP was. This will change the challenge rating of a lot of creatures. Things that used to be "a nuisance" might become incredibly dangerous suddenly.

Example:

  • a Zombie (3d8 with con 16) goes from 22 hp to 35 (about 50% more)
  • a Hobgoblin (2d8 with con 12) goes from 11 hp to 22 (twice as many)
  • a Goblin (2d6 with con 10) goes from 7 hp to 17 (over twice as m any)
  • but a Stirge (1d4 with con 11) goes from 2 hp to 13 (6 times more)

So don't assume challenge ratings will stay the same.

Battles with groups of small creatures will be much more dangerous because their effective HP goes up a ton compared to a single larger creature.

Another thing that happens (which we've also seen in D&D 4e) is that because HP scaled but damage remains the same, is that once-powerful abilities will feel less powerful. This especially hurts the limited-use ones.

A burning hands spell will normally almost certainly waste a group of Goblins; any that fail their save are dead. Maybe even the ones that succeed, if you roll well. This leaves such a spell as a powerful and cool ability that you can use when outnumbered. With your change, you'd have to roll maximum damage and they'd need to fail a save to kill anything.

Using Burning Hands won't be a cool encounter-changing effect, but just another spell to injure a few opponents. And you still only get about 2 spells per day at 1st level. Likewise, a spell like Sleep becomes almost useless, especially against groups. You might be able to drop a single higher level target, but definitely not a group of Goblins.

A lot of the times using a Daily ability in 4e (the equivalent of your highest level spell-slot in 5e) would feel sort of "meh" because while it did some more damage than a lower level ability, it did not have a noticable impact on the battlefield. In 5e, it currently does tend to have a serious impact, but your change will likely remove much of it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Adding to your point about Burning Hands, the wizard will get a lot more spell slots in a few levels, but Eldritch Knights won't. Half the point of an Eldritch Knight is that they supplement their weapon attacks with area spells (the other half is to use abjuration spells for protection) and they get both spells and slots at 1/3 the rate of a wizard. Similarly, Way of the Four Elements monks are really starved for disciplines (they start with 1 non-cantrip and only get up to 4 at 17th level.) If you devalue Burning Hands, it hurts them a lot. \$\endgroup\$ – Doval Sep 20 '17 at 16:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ This also completely destroys the Sleep spell. \$\endgroup\$ – Doval Sep 20 '17 at 16:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ D&D 4e fights were long because of a combination of factors. 4e characters get more HP at the beginning (8÷20 instead of -1÷5) but they get nothing when they level up further, and still at level 18 combats are as long as they were the first day, with characters that have half the HP they would have had in D&D 3.x. Fewer attacks per round and no save or die spells are the main suspects, not the HP. \$\endgroup\$ – Zachiel Sep 20 '17 at 17:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Zachiel at low levels it was mostly the HP of everything, at later levels it was more the abilities I guess; I never played much high-leveled play. (Of course, lack of save-or-die means that in 4e you actually have to grind down the monsters' half HP; 3.5e high level HP was essentially meaningless, so not a very effective comparison.) \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Sep 20 '17 at 18:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ I suggest you strengthen this line So don't assume challenge ratings will stay the same Actually, per the DMG, CR will not stay the same. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Sep 20 '17 at 21:42
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I do not think this will help game balance. First level characters already get a bump from automatically having their initial hit die be maximum. And low level characters should be fragile and have to be careful. Not having to do that all the time is one of the major benefits of achieving higher levels.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Whether or not they should be fragile seems to be entirely an opinion. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Sep 21 '17 at 5:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ It is, however, an opinion backed by way the game is designed, and has been consistently since the beginning. \$\endgroup\$ – Phil Boncer Sep 21 '17 at 13:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ That was true until the edition before this one, when characters started with 20+ hp at level 1... \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Sep 21 '17 at 13:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ It invalidates the point about it being "consistently since the beginning". It used to be how the game was designed, then it wasn't, now it's kinda in the middle. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Sep 21 '17 at 21:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ Five editions out of six is pretty consistent. Quit picking. \$\endgroup\$ – Phil Boncer Sep 22 '17 at 2:39
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it all comes down to what will you throw at them... but there could be a problem here as someone with lower CON will get much less then someone with higher... take that someone has score of 10 and other has 17 usually caster tend to have lower then fighter (after all they are on the front line) and casters have lower dice for HP so this will make them all less squishy but it will give them bigger difference to start with so you should take into account that

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