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I am a player in Tomb of Annihilation (5e) and we're playing with rolled characters. Rules are 4d6 drop lowest and no moving around ability scores. I ended up with the following stat block:

  • Str: 14 (+2)
  • Dex: 15 (+2)
  • Con: 3 (-4)
  • Int: 18 (+4)
  • Wis: 17 (+3)
  • Cha: 13 (+1)

The stats are as I rolled them, and they cannot be moved around.

With a Con of -4, how do you design a level 6 character that won't die in the first or second encounter, especially considering that we're doing rolled health past the first level? I'm looking to bring expected health (including temp hp that can be reliably gained) into at least the 30ish range.

This is for a replacement character that will be entering at level 6. Race, ASI, Class all need to be selected. Multi-Classing and Feats, including Variant Human, are allowed. I have access to all published classes and races (not UA, but including Planeshift and WGtE). One of the few limitations is that I'm not allowed to pick Druid (a small dip is ok), since I cannot repeat a class.

The obvious answer is to say pick Barbarian and let the d12 hit die do the talking, but I do want the character to be able to leverage the high Int/Wis scores.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Beautiful! A good answer should be along soon. :) Here is the latest errata for the PHB, if you are interested ... it updates a few of the HP details that have been the norm for about 4 years. Probably best to discuss those with DM to make sure on same page. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jan 3 at 0:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ Do you need to be viable beyond level 6? \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Jan 3 at 1:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Miniman Yes, but probably not past 7 or 8, if it lives that long \$\endgroup\$ – The Great Java Jan 3 at 1:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MooingDuck This is not a helpful comment. 1) it is not suggesting any improvement or asking for clarification 2) it is vaguely suggesting that OP is cheating somehow and 3) it doesn't matter if they were since you couldn't prove it, the DM already accepted them and you aren't their DM. We aren't the dice police. Please refrain from similar comments in the future. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jan 3 at 20:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yep, unconstructive tangent comments removed. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jan 3 at 21:06

10 Answers 10

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Hill Dwarf Eldritch Knight is a good option

Classes to consider

Wisdom based classes include Cleric, Druid, Ranger, and Monk.
These have hit dice of d8, except ranger that has a d10.

Int means you'd be looking at Wizard (d6 hit die).

However, you could pick Fighter / Eldritch Knight which makes good use of your decent Strength/Dexterity for combat and your great Intelligence for spellcasting support. That would also give you an extra ASI at level 6. That means two ASIs available to boost Con by 2 each time.

So your potential max base HP would be 6 for Cleric/Druid/Ranger, or 12 for Hunter, or 18 for Fighter. Since you're rolling for HP increases, you'll probably end up much lower than these, but bigger hit dice will really help push your average upward.

Ways to pickup Con

Hill Dwarf (PHB page 20) grants +2 Con and +1 Wisdom. That reduces the penalty to the hit die at each level by 1 so, after six levels, the net result would be +6 HP. Plus you get +6 HP from Dwarven Toughness for a 6th level character (and a +1 bump to your Wisdom mod, for what it's worth).

Fire Genasi (if you're allowed to choose the race) would be almost the same except that your Int is on the even stat value. Bumping Int by 1 would not increase the mod.

Taking the Tough feat would net you 12 HP compared to 6HP from a straight +2 to Con, so it would be wiser to pick the feat at level 4.

If you pick the Eldritch Knight and get an extra ASI at level 6, you could boost your Con again to a net 48 maximum possible HP (18 class base, +12 from racial boost, +12HP from ASI @ L4, +6HP from ASI @ L6).

With rolled HP increases, you'd probably end up around half that at 24ish hit points.

Other perks to Eldritch Knight

Eldritch Knight would grant you access to heavy armor, Defense Fighting Style, Second Wind, and the Shield spell (+5 AC as a reaction) meaning that you would avoid a LOT of damage simply by not getting hit in the first place.

Given the variability inherent in rolling stats, boosting your AC to high levels becomes extremely valuable.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Jan 3 at 2:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Moved to chat means please discuss in chat. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Jan 3 at 22:23
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Might I suggest a slice of...

Deep Gnome Abjurer Cheese

As your L4 feat, you take Svirfneblin Magic. Among other things, it:

[...] allows you to cast nondetection on yourself at will, without needing a material component.

Nondetection is an 3rd level abjuration spell.

With two levels in Wizard you get, Arcane Ward. It triggers...

When you cast an abjuration spell of 1st level or higher, [...]

Like many abilities, there is no specification on the source of the spell, only that the character casts it. It works just as well with Shield as Wizard as it would with Aid if you multiclassed into Cleric (not that I'm advocating that).

So... Gnomes naturally get +2 INT, working very well with the 18 you already rolled. Assuming you put all six levels into Wizard, you'd have an Arcane Ward with 19 HP (6×2+5). You can recharge it to full between encounters by spam casting Nondetection a couple of times, or 6 HP per round in combat (or more with other Abjuration spells).

You will start very low on HP, but by starting with INT 20, you won't have any demand but CON (or perhaps Tough) to put your ASIs. Furthermore, you can use Shield and/or Absorb Elements to mitigate hits and damage and recharge the Arcane Ward.

You'll want to look at staying as far away from enemies as you can and stop them from hitting you at all. Your spell selections should focus on disabling and mobility more than raw damage.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Putting ASIs into Constitution seems dubious—with one, you get the minimum 1 hp half the time, and 2, 3, or 4 hp the other half of the time. With a second—unlikely to happen for this character, per comments—you still get the minimum 1 hp a third of the time. That means half the time or a third of the time, you are getting the same thing as you would have without the ASI—not a great use of the resource. Also, note that a wizard at 28 hp—the expected value here after charging Arcane Ward—is still well shy of the 36 or so a typical wizard of that level should have, even if he can “heal” easily. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jan 3 at 19:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Well, you know what they say... you can't polish poop (though, they did on Mythbusters... ew...). Stuck with that CON, this character is fundamentally flawed from the get go. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Jan 3 at 20:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 Very nice find! Having to spend your ASI on the feat is rough but the +2 int from being a Deep Gnome makes up for it, and being single-classed is a huge boon. What book is Svirfneblin Magic in? I think the half-orc's Relentless Endurance and the benefits of Sanctuary+higher Con make a case for the build I had presented, but this is definitely quite good. That said, you don't wanna put ASI into Con-- Tough maybe if you want, but a Con boost is gonna be mostly wasted. \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Jan 4 at 20:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @thedarkwanderer It's in Sword Coast Adventurers Guide and Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Jan 7 at 13:25
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It's going to take some work, but you can make this survivable. You're going to be a Variant Human with the Tough feat. If you give yourself +1 Con, combined with the Tough feat, your hp penalty will drop to -1 per level. At that point, you could make most builds work, but there are a couple I'd like to suggest:

Barbarian 1/Moon Druid 2/Old One Warlock 1/Rogue 1

This is probably my favourite, but it toes the line of the limitations on repeating classes - while 2 levels is normally a dip, this build has more levels in Druid than any of their other characters, and it's the focus of the build. If you can get away with it, here's how it works.

Starting with Barbarian gets you a nice starting hp of 11. Next, you're dropping 2 levels into Druid so you can turn into a brown bear. That's the idea here - you are a bear. While your hp total as a human shouldn't be completely terrible, the aim is that you will be a bear every time you are in combat.

Your Barbarian level lets you boost a brown bear's AC from 11 to 13, as well as Rage, which gives you resistance to mundane physical damage and a minor damage boost. Old One Warlock gives you the telepathy you need to communicate with your party members, as well as some short rest spell slots you can use to heal yourself while in bear form.

After that, you're taking a Rogue level, so that you can pick up Expertise in your Perception and Insight skills. The idea here is to be as difficult as possible to surprise, because surprise is deadly for you - you can't afford to be caught in your human form.

The last level is up to you - none of the level 2 features of the Barbarian, Rogue, or Warlock stand out to me. One kinda nice option is to take a Monk level - if you use your other +1 from Variant Human on Wisdom, the Monk's Unarmoured Defence will boost your bear AC up to 14. It's not a huge bonus over the Barbarian's, but you can use every bit you can get.

Bear Totem Barbarian 3/Moon Druid 2/Old One Warlock 1

This is a variation on the above build - you're now playing a Variant Human, which puts your human form hp back in the toilet, but nets you the Alert feat, so you're never caught unawares. Ditching the Rogue level lets you take Barbarian all the way to 3, which gives you the (wildly appropriate) Bear Totem, extending your resistances from Rage to all damage except psychic.

Fighter 1/Forge Cleric 4/Wizard 1

And now for something completely different - this is the "my hp sucks, but it (hopefully) never matters" build. Starting with a Fighter level gets you a bit more hp (9 instead of 7), the Defense Fighting Style, for +1 AC, and proficiency in Con saving throws, meaning you have at least some chance of keeping your concentration spells going.

After that, you're just like any other Cleric, except that you have 22 AC in plate armor and a shield, instead of 20. The shield of faith spell brings that up to 24 AC when you really don't want to get hit. We top it off with a Wizard level, which gets you two important emergency button spells: The first, as always, is shield, for +5 AC, when you really don't want to get hit. The second is absorb elements, for when people attack you in ways that don't involve your AC.

This build has a gaping flaw, of course - attacks that don't target AC, and deal radiant, necrotic, or psychic damage. My recommendation is to stand near a friendly Paladin.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for your reply. Those are some very interesting multi-classes. I do have a soft spot for 3+ class combos that actually work. Is the Stensia Human grant any special synergies over Variant Human? Because the +1 Str feels slightly wasted. +1 Con, +1 Dex, Tough V. Human seems slightly better since it allows Dex mod to actually increase. \$\endgroup\$ – The Great Java Jan 3 at 5:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TheGreatJava Um...oops. Guess I got a bit caught up and forgot that really obvious point. It still has the slight advantage that you could take the Tough feat later for a net +4 hp per level, but you're right, for you variant human is objectively a better choice. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Jan 3 at 5:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TheGreatJava Edited - that also lets you get some benefit from a Monk level, which I originally wanted to include but had to drop. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Jan 3 at 5:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Miniman about taking a feat, especially in the first build, an ASI is at least 2 levels away (assuming no levels in Monk). Are the first two builds worth the loss of ASI? \$\endgroup\$ – The Great Java Jan 3 at 5:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TheGreatJava I struggled with that too. But for the first two builds, your physical stats hopefully will hardly ever matter, and the mental stats are used almost solely for skills. There are a lot of feats which would be really nice, but in the end I just don't think Moon Druid 2/something else (probably Barbarian) 4 is that practical. Being unable to communicate with other party members really sucks. I'd think about Druid 2/Barb 4 on a ghostwise halfling with its innate telepathy, but at that point you really are screwed if you're ever caught in your non-bear form. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Jan 3 at 5:45
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Accept their death

If you're actually stuck with these stats, make it a part of the character and lean into it.

Maybe it's a dying Paladin who feels this is his final quest (alive or dead). Maybe she's an old barbarian that wants to die in battle.

I'm not saying MAKE them die, but do allow them to die (eventually, they will). Then roll up a new character.


Side note: Have you asked your DM to reroll/adjust stats?

I'm not sure how attached you are to Mr. (or Ms.) three-con, but a different array might be the best bet here. Even if they let you go up to 6, which is two whole points below the minimum, that's still an enormous improvement.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It's Tomb of Annhilation, I've accepted the death of a 70+hp Barbarian and a 48hp Bladelock, so accepting this dude's death is not an issue. No real point in adjusting stats for two reasons, a) playing a frail character seems fun, b) when he dies, I'm going to have all new stats anyway. 4d6 drop lowest, really isn't supposed to leave you with any stat this low, so it's unlikely to happen again. \$\endgroup\$ – The Great Java Jan 3 at 19:04
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Moon Druid might be your best option

The feature of all Druids, irrespective of their archetype, is their ability to gain a "shield" of hp through their wild shape forms. Because Moon Druids are incentivized to shapeshift a lot, and they gain access to very powerful wild shape forms, being able to at-will shapeshift into a high hp creature (with some decent attacks to accompany them) will be very beneficial in keeping you alive. You'll also gain access to some powerful spellcasting abilities, and your high Wisdom score will complement those abilities.

At level 6, you are limited to CR2 Beasts. So you could shapeshift into, say, a Saber-toothed Tiger, gaining 52 hitpoints. Or you could shapeshift into a Giant Constrictor Snake, gaining 60 hit points. You have a lot of ways to substantially improve your survivability by simply relying on the extra hitpoints provided by these kinds of forms, and combined with your ability to also regenerate hitpoints either through Cure Wounds or your Combat Wild Shape feature, you'll offset the lost Constitution by a tremendous factor.

Another consideration is the fact that while shapeshifted, you only retain your mental stats (Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma), whereas your other stats are replaced by the form you choose. So in a wild shape form, your lack of Constitution might as well not exist.

There are limitations of course: if you ever fall out of those forms, you'll be vulnerable. But that would be a problem regardless, and I think this shores up your weakness in a reliable manner.

Consider Lizardfolk to further bolster survivability

Irrespective of whether you go Moon Druid or not, gaining the extra +2CON is a good way to at least recover some of those lost maximum hitpoints, and since it also provides a +1 to Wisdom, it'll at least complement your class choice.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I wish I could. Unfortunately my current character is a Moon Druid and I'm not allowed to repeat classes. \$\endgroup\$ – The Great Java Jan 3 at 1:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oof, fair enough. I'm leaving this up for players who don't have that very specific restriction. \$\endgroup\$ – Xirema Jan 3 at 1:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ You did not mention that wild shape resets every short rest. Which makes it insanely strong \$\endgroup\$ – Garret Gang Jan 9 at 17:01
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Get an Amulet of Health

By which I mean start with one. It sets your Con to 19. You need one. Then you will be a god amongst men. Since you're playing Tomb of Annihilation you may want to know:

There's an amulet of health located in zone 22 in Papazotl's Tomb. It's the item that gets you possessed by Papazotl. That's fairly late in the game, but it might make it easier to talk your DM into letting you start with one.

Assuming you can't get said amulet, however:

An Abjurer can get some staying power without constitution

An abjuration Wizard gains the Arcane Ward feature at 2nd level, which provides twice your level plus your intelligence modifier in extra hit points that replenish as you cast abjuration spells. At 6th level with your base stats this is at least 16 extra maximum hit points. That's a massive improvement over the measly 8ish max hp your wizard would otherwise probably have!

Being a wizard also lets you ameliorate the effects of your low constitution a bit: while your d6 hit die will almost never outweigh your negative Constitution modifier, your minimum HP gain per level can't go below 1. This is particularly good since you are, for some reason, focused on median rather than mean hit points-- while your mean or expected hp at level 6 from wizard levels with 3 Con is 7.5, your median hp is a whopping 2 points higher: 9.5. This is because there are a very limited selection of values your hp can be, and there's about an 80% chance it's one of the bottom two.

A Warlock can charge Arcane Wards all day, every day

Warlocks get the only unlimited at-will spellcasting ability we can use to fuel Arcane Ward: the Armor of Shadows eldritch invocation. This lets us "cast an abjuration spell of first level or higher" an unlimited number of times without resting, plus we get to up our AC a bit. It's only 2 hp per casting, so it'll take 48 seconds to fully recharge a downed ward, but if you need your ward back up faster than that you're better off casting one of them fancy higher level spells anyways.

It's two levels to get invocations, so you'll be War2/Wiz4. Eventually, in the far future, you'll really want to replace those levels in Warlock, but that's at level 18, which is far enough out I think it's a worthwhile trade-off.

Your levels in Warlock also give you a patron, which should be either the Raven Queen or the Undying.

The first gives you access to the Sanctuary spell, which is a nice effect for a support caster, and also is an abjuration so it'll recharge your ward a tiny bit when used, as well as a cool raven familiar that stacks with other familiars you might have except that it's totally not a problem if it dies repeatedly. The raven is particularly good since it boosts your perception score (by 2 in your case) so you are less likely to get one-shotted by an unexpected ambush.

The Undying instead gives you a sanctuary-spell-like effect that's always on, but only functions against undead and only until they first make the save. Tomb of Annihilation has a lot of undead baddies, so this is pretty comparable, but that's all it's going to give you. Your call on whether saving the allowed-to-cast-spells-this-round flag for something else is worth it.

Note that Warlocks have a d8 HD so you suffer more from your negative Con score: a regular character would gain around 1 more hp per level from that change but you only gain around .58 hp per level more over those two levels. Our expected hp and median are still a bit higher this way, of course, and we end up with an expected hp of 10.42 and a median hp of 12.5.

Our second invocation can be utility stuff like Eyes of the Rune-Keeper or Eldritch Sight, or 8 more hit points via false life via Fiendish Vigor.

Half-orcs get a do-over

Half-orcs (and Minotaurs from Planescape: Amonkhet, but those swap out darkvision for a garbage natural weapon) get +1 constitution and the ability to instead be fine the first time they would be reduced to 0 hp or below each long rest. This doesn't trigger if you are insta-killed by massive damage, which is a significant concern for you since that's, like, 45 damage and there are CR 6 creatures that can actually do that in a single round if you let them (don't get charge-stomped by a mammoth).


The final recommended build would look something like this:

Half-Orc War2/Wiz4

AC 15

hp: 12
temp hp: 8
arcane ward: 17

Str: 16
Dex: 15
Con: 4
Int: 20
Wis: 17
Cha: 13

Background: Stojanow Prisoner

Skills: Perception, Deception, Investigation, Arcana, Intimidation

Tools: Thieves' Tools, Gaming Set

Patron: Raven Queen

Invocations: Armor of Shadows, Fiendish Vigor

Warlock Cantrips:
Eldritch Blast, Minor Illusion

Pact Magic Spells Known:
Sanctuary, Armor of Agathys, Hellish Rebuke

Wizard Cantrips:
Control Flame, Encode Thoughts, Shape Water, Blade Ward

Wizard Spells Known:
Comprehend Languages, Identify, Fog Cloud, Tenser's Floating Disk, Find Familiar, Grease, Unseen Servant, Lonstrider (+ whatever you can get from scrolls, NPCs, etc)

Flock of Familiars, Detect Thoughts, Rope Trick, Enlarge/Reduce (+ etc)

Out of combat, you are fairly tanky since your hp completely replenish after each trap, fall, firewalking exercise, or what have you.

In combat, you want to be in the back and avoid damage as much as possible, using an unseen servant and/or flock of familiars and/or your sentinel raven to control enemy movement options. You can cast enlarge or false life on an ally to buff them without losing sanctuary, and you can cast sanctuary twice per short rest to discourage enemies from attacking you. Armor of Agathys can single-handedly eliminate hordes of weaker enemies who attack you, because your Arcane Ward will ensure that the temp hp from that spell stay around until you're basically dead anyways. Eldritch Blast provides an option to deal okayish ranged damage if it comes up, and something to do while sanctuarying when defence isn't urgent enough to warrant a blade ward.

Out of combat, your wide variety of utility spells, massive perception abilities, and proficiency in Thieves' Tools will let you act a bit like a rogue.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the reply. You are indeed correct. I thought mean and wrote median. Will make an edit to the question. Though, largely, I do not think it changes much in the answer either way, since mostly the best mechanics that would raise median are also the best mechanics to raise mean. \$\endgroup\$ – The Great Java Jan 3 at 5:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TheGreatJava I agree, it's normally not a difference. I only remark on it because it actually comes up for my build (since low HD, low con characters have weird hp/level rolls). \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Jan 3 at 9:19
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You don’t.

Sorry, but that’s just reality. This character is going to die, very-probably sooner rather than later. There is a reason why rolling in order is not recommended, and this is it.

A “low” Constitution is 14. Almost every character ever should be putting their second-highest ability score in Constitution. A typical character is getting +12 hp from their Constitution at 6th level. You are getting −24.

On a barbarian, that’s the difference between 56.5 hp on average, and 20.5 hp on average—a regular barbarian has nearly three times as much hp as you do. And on lower HD classes—you know, the ones that might actually be able to stay out of the thick of things—it gets worse.

A wizard goes from an average of 35.5 hp to an average of 8 hp (and that only because of the minimum 1 hp per level, since otherwise you would average −0.5 total hp at 6th level). That is, an average wizard would have nearly five times as much hp as you have at this level.

The game cannot handle character variation that wide. It was never designed to. An ability score of 3 is extremely unlikely under the official rules, and even if you got one, you were never expected to put it in Constitution, because doing so is suicidal.

And now your houserules have basically forced you into seppuku. No choice made at this point is going to substantially change matters, particularly since you can’t use druid and the one significant source of “get out of jail free” cards. Every other measure you take is too little, too late, and cripples the character’s ability to do things just to try to keep it alive.

Realistically, there is no way this character would go on an adventure and no way an adventuring party would want them around. The character is a liability, not an asset, and the Intelligence and Wisdom you have is more than high enough to see that, and to see that going on an adventure is suicide. This character should be a banker or doctor or lawyer or some such prestigious, urbane profession. That is what they are suited for; it’s just that the rules and expectations of Dungeons & Dragons are not suited to actually playing such a character. But if you really wanted to be in-character, that’s what you would have to do. Ideally, it would mean you would roll up a new character. And maybe seeing the problem, and the only plausible solution, will induce others around your table to drop this houserule.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Jan 3 at 22:24
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If you're going for durability, the obvious route would be Hill Dwarf Life Cleric with your fourth level boost going to the racial feat Dwarven Fortitude with a +1 con stat. You'd get a bonus HP for every level and only have a -2 con. You can have plate armor and a shield and use an action to Dodge, which imposes disadvantage on attack rolls and get bonus on dex saving throws, and with the feat you could snag an additional healing. You'd have an AC of 20 and could self heal.

But that's devoting the whole character to trying to fix his problem rather than using his strengths to cover for it. On the more interesting hand, you could minmax the heck out of this character and dance on the edge of death like a Chaotic Evil Knievel. Don't be hard to kill. Be hard to hurt.

For class, I'd go with a solo rogue. Rogues have the ability to stealth and attack from distance using bows and still benefit from sneak attack. You can use cunning actions to hit, hide, and move to a new hiding space in one turn. You'd also benefit from uncanny dodge to use your reaction to halve damage from an attack. And in one level, you'd have access to evasion, making AOE spells do half or no damage.

Focus on perception, investigation, insight, stealth, and sleight of hand. See it coming. Know when people are planning to screw you over, and see traps before they spring. Go variant human, put one in con to bump it up to a -3, one in Dex. The feat should be prodigy so you can benefit from expertise in all five skills. Toss the extra proficiency where you like, probably acrobatics to get out of danger.

At level 4, get that observant feat. Crank up those passive numbers and boost that wisdom up to +4.

By the end, you'll have a 25 passive investigation and perception, so you'll notice traps and people trying to sneak up. You'll have a +10 to skills for Perception, Investigation, and Insight, and a +9 to stealth and sleight of hand. You won't be doing the talking or the tanking, but you will be able to make sure the DM doesn't sneak anything by you.

With those numbers, you could leverage your INT into Arcane Trickster and get that shield spell for +5 AC. Or you could leverage your +10 boosts as an inquisitor. Or you could go scout and get +10 nature and survival and a disengage reaction, be the guy who can find all the loot and harvest all the guts.

Heck, the HP difference between the rogue and the cleric is negligible. Rogue is (1d8-3)*6, Cleric is (1d8-2)*6+6). You wouldn't be doing much healing, sure, but you'd rarely need it if you play smart.

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You have 1 weakness – your Con is garbage. The rest of your stats are far above average.

The way I see it:

  1. You need some way to get extra HP.
  2. You want to keep this character far away from the front lines.
  3. You want to minimize the number of Constitution saving throws that you need to make. You want to avoid anything that makes regular Concentration checks. Your other big sources of Constitution saving throws are poison and spells. Poison is a big problem in particular, because you can’t eat the damage.

I wouldn’t touch anything that regularly requires concentration. Even a DC10 Concentration check is a 40% chance of losing concentration with proficiency and 6 Constitution. The only way around this that I can see is rolling up a Bladesinger for a reliable +5 to concentration checks, but that requires an elf or half-elf subrace, and you can’t get +1 Con at level 1 (which you pretty much need at this point to meet your HP goals). If you can convince your GM to take pity on you and let you roll a Variant Human Bladesinger, that may also be an option if you roll Variant Human and/or Multiclass Fighter.

Something like a Hill Dwarf cleric is tempting, but it would call for a bit of an unusual playstyle. The problem is that Cleric at around levels 5-7 usually has you wading into combat with Spirit Guardians and Spiritual Weapon, and you want to be nowhere near the front lines. If you roll a cleric, you will need a spell list that keeps you away from the action.

Some kind of Fighter, Rogue, or Ranger is probably a good idea. Rogues are particularly survivable, and you have a good Dexterity and great secondary stats for a skillmonkey. You can keep your damage respectable enough, and your save DCs will be pretty good.

Option 1: Stout Halfling Arcane Trickster

Proficiencies: Stealth, Perception, Sleight of Hand, Investigation, Deception, Acrobatics, Insight, Thieves’ Tools Expertise: Stealth, Perception, Sleight of Hand, Investigation. Kit: Hand Crossbow Attack Routine (Assuming Sneak Attack): +7 TH, 1d6+3d6+4 [avg 18]

Spells: [DC=15, Saves with Disadvantage if undetected) 0 – Mage Hand, Toll the Dead, Minor Illusion 1 – Find Familiar, Tasha’s Hideous Laughter, Disguise Self

Level 4 ASI: Tough (+2 HP/Level)

HP: Average rolled HP will be higher than represented here, as the minimum HP that you can roll is 1. You add +2 to your total rolled HP, meaning a roll of 1-4 for levels 2-6 will all net you 3 HP for those levels.

  • 4 Con (-3)
  • 7 HP for Level 1
  • (1d8-3, Min 1)+2 [avg. 3.5] at each subsequent level.
  • Total Average: 24.5

Option 2: Variant Human Eldritch Knight

Stats: +1 Con, +1 Dex ASIs/Feats: Sharpshooter (VH), +2 Dex (L4), Tough (L6) Kit: Longbow and Breastplate (AC=17/22 with Shield)

Attack Routine:

  • 2 Attacks, +9 TH, 1d8+4 [avg 17]; or,
  • 2 Attacks, +4 TH, 1d8+4+10 [avg 37].

HP: Average rolled HP will be higher than represented here, as the minimum HP that you can roll is 1. You add +2 to your total rolled HP, meaning a roll of 1-4 for levels 2-6 will all net you 3 HP for those levels.

  • 4 Con (-3)
  • 9 HP for Level 1
  • (1d10-3, Min 1)+2 [avg. 4.5] at each subsequent level.
  • Total Average: 31.5

Spells: [DC=15] 0 – Minor Illusion, Mage Hand 1 – Find Familiar, Shield, Absorb Elements

Option 3: Hill Dwarf Cleric (Light, Trickery, or Life) 6

I’d suggest Trickery (depending on your party makeup), as both Pass Without Trace and Mirror Image are great spells that will increase your survivability, and Level 7 is the peak of the Trickery cleric’s relative power curve.

Stats: +2 Con, +1 Wisdom ASI: Resilient Constitution (+1 Con). Kit: Medium Armor and Shield (AC = 19).

HP: Average rolled HP will be higher than represented here, as the minimum HP that you can roll is 1. You add +1 to your total rolled HP, meaning a roll of 1 will net you 1 HP.

  • 6 Con (-2) + 1 Hill Dwarf
  • 7 HP for Level 1
  • (1d8-1, Min 1) [avg. 3.5] at each subsequent level.
  • Total Average: 24.5
  • Pick up Tough at level 8 if you live that long for an additional +16 HP.
  • Aid (L2) will give you another +5/+10 temporary HP if you burn a L2/3 slot on it.
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1
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Don't use HP as a survival resource

Rather than try to contend with a low constitution and HP by throwing all of your character choices into mitigating that problem, use AC and other techniques to avoid damage altogether.

Aarakocra Kensei Monk 3 / Hunter Ranger 3

For ease of use, I've used DnD Beyond to generate a character sheet for you, but I'll detail a few of the specifics below as well. I'm also missing additional archetypes in the sheet, so i'll detail those here too.

AC: 17

Expected HP: 10 (Max 30)

Speed: 35, Flying 60

  • Str: 14 (+2)
  • Dex: 17 (+3)
  • Con: 3 (-4)
  • Int: 18 (+4)
  • Wis: 18 (+4)
  • Cha: 13 (+1)

Skillks: Perception (+7), Stealth (+6), and additional Skills of your choice.

Weapons: Kensei Longbow (+8 to hit, 1d8+3), Melee weapon of your choice

Armor: None

Spells Known: Absorb Elements, Hail of Thorns, Zephyr Strike

Explanation

This build is centered around avoiding melee attacks and killing at a distance. We chose a Aarakocra because it improves our Wisdom and Dexterity to the next tier which gives us more AC as a monk. We also chose Aarakocra because it can fly and per monk rules, that speed is increased to 60. By flying, you can mitigate the number of melee attackers challenging your AC, and your high flying speed enables you to make better ranged attacks and additional maneuvers, such as fly-by attacks. On that note, we went with Hordebreaker for your Hunter Ranger to make you better at clearing multiple attackers. We're playing the odds here, assuming that it's an inevitability that many attackers will land a blow at some point, but a single large attacker may not. So when faced with many attackers, we want to clear them out. Kensei also allows you, as a bonus action, to add 1d4 to your attacks for that entire round. So horde breaker will let you fire two attacks against two targets for 1d8 + 1d4 + 3.

As a monk, you are also enabled to Dodge, Disengage, or Dash as a bonus action. You can also Deflect Missiles against one ranged attack per round, allowing you 1d10 + 6 of effective HP every round. Again, hordes will challenge this because it only works against one attack, so you want to focus on clearing them out as soon as possible.

Your skills are largely up to you, but we chose Stealth and Perception to improve your ability to avoid combat (or start it right). Your background is also up to you.

As a Ranger, your favored enemy and terrain are up to you, but these can also assist in your ability to control when and how you start fights by giving you advantages on tracking certain creatures and traveling on certain terrain.

Your spells known as a ranger are Absorb Elements, Hail of Thorns, and Zephyr Strike. AE allows you to use your reaction to absorb some elemental damage. Like Deflect Missiles, this is a small insurance policy against spell attacks. HoT helps you clear out hordes as we've mentioned, and ZS helps you avoid sticky situations by letting you disengage while gaining a bonus to your next attack as a bonus action.

Weaknesses

Your foremost weakness is obviously health. Beyond that, flying makes you an easy target for ranged attacks and spells. Your low con makes you especially weak to spells that make you save. Your charisma (+1) also makes you vulnerable to charisma saves. Area of Effect spells also punish you as you will likely take half or more which is easily enough to down you. Play smart and try to avoid being an easy target for such things.

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  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ With 10 hp, you are gonna die in the first two encounters. At ECL 6 you don't have encounters which flight can trivialize that often, and it only takes a single hit to kill you, which, since you are playing ToA, is permadeath. \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Jan 3 at 18:28

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