Recently my friend had mentioned that he was using a house rule for his players to calculate their hit point maximum, which I am both curious & hesitant to try with my players.

His way of determining hit points is (Str mod + Con mod + 4) per level, with a minimum of 1 per level (including first level). Apparently the minimum had to be added when a player purposely made a sickly character. Also, he said that the class isn't considered as those with larger Hit Dice are assumed to have more Strength.

From what I can see this makes characters too weak compared to RAW. Is my assessment correct?

Additional notes: He said he was trying to generalize hit points for the players, and allow strong wizards & weak fighters as options. He allows them the choice to use either point-buy or to roll 3d6 for stats that they can then allocate how they want.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 1, 2019 at 12:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is your friend inflicting this system only on PCs or is he also using it to calculate HP for NPCs and monsters? \$\endgroup\$
    – krb
    Commented Jul 1, 2019 at 14:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @krb He restrains npcs & monsters to follow the same rules that the pcs have (not just hp), I recall though that he said he uses the number of their hit dice instead when they don't have levels. \$\endgroup\$
    – Omlukain
    Commented Jul 1, 2019 at 22:35

1 Answer 1


It might make you stronger or weaker, depending on your build

For finalized builds, it might make you stronger or weaker depending on how much Str you have. While leveling, your HP might go up slower than you'd normally expect at first, especially if you have a high HD, but it'll catch up once you increase your Str. (And you'll actually be able to prioritize maxing Str first as a melee fighter without losing out on HP gain.)

You'll also often be starting with even less HP than normal at first level, which might make surviving the first few levels extremely difficult.

Let's look at the two extremes:

Min/maxed Barbarian

A min/maxed Barbarian would normally have a +5 Con mod, a +5 Str mod and a d12. Under the normal rules and using averages, the Barbarian would get 7+5 = 12 HP per level. Under the new rules, the Barbarian would get 5+5+4 = 14 HP per level.

Min/maxed Wizard

A min/maxed Wizard, assuming point buy, might have as low as a -1 Con mod and a -1 Str mod and a d6. Under the normal rules and using averages, the Wizard would get 4-1 = 3 HP per level. Using the new rules, the Wizard would get -1+-1+4 = 2 HP per level.

This might become more extreme in the case of rolled stats, where strength would often be your dump stat of choice, and a 4 in Str means you're essentially doomed to have 1 HP per level unless your Con can compensate.

It will benefit you if:

  • Your build uses high strength, especially if you'd normally have a lower hit dice.
    • For example, a fighter normally has a D10, if they use this new system and min-maxed for +5 Str and +5 Con, they'll effectively be getting 3 more HP per level now as before.
    • If you use a D6 hit dice, you're at an advantage if you have 12 or more Str. (if you use averages.)

It will disadvantage you if:

  • Your build doesn't use a lot of strength, obviously, especially if you had a high HD.
    • A Halfling Barbarian may very well favour Dex over Str and go for +5 Con, +5 Dex and -1 Str. Under normal rules that's 12 HP per level, under new rules that's 9 HP per level, a huge difference.

Breaking even on levelup (assuming we use average HP):

  • If your HD is 12, you'll need 16 Str to break even on a levelup.
  • If your HD is 10, you'll need 14 Str to break even on a levelup.
  • If your HD is 8, you'll need 12 Str to break even on a levelup.
  • If your HD is 6, you'll need 10 Str to break even on a levelup.

If you are breaking even on a levelup, you still have less HP because your starting HP would normally be higher:

  • If your HD is 12, your overall HP will be 5 lower.
  • If your HD is 10, your overall HP will be 4 lower.
  • If your HD is 8, your overall HP will be 3 lower.
  • If your HD is 6, your overall HP will be 2 lower.

How quickly you will be able to compensate the lost starting HP depends on your Str. Determining when you truly break even if your Str is higher than required to break even per levelup, you'll need to divide your base HP difference by how much more Str bonus you have than required. For example, a Barbarian with 18 Str has 1 Str bonus more than required, so will break even in 5 levels and will be at an advantage after that.

A wizard with 14 Str has 2 Str bonus more than required, so will break even in 1 level and be at an advantage after that.

In short, if you do well or not depends on the chart above, if you have enough Str to break even, it makes no difference. If you have more Str, you're at a benefit. If you have less, you're at a disadvantage.

In addition, if you're able to get your hands on a Belt of Giant's Strength, you'll suddenly have a lot more HP.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think it would be worth adding a dex-based fighter or ranger min/max to your comparisons. Or rogue. It seems like those builds are really getting punished the most.(And it does not sound like that was the intention.) \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Jul 1, 2019 at 13:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mattdm One of the examples is a dex-based barbarian, the class that should be getting hit the most by it, because they lose their d12 in favour of 4+strength modifier. The difference is less drastic for a fighter or a ranger, by 1 HP per level. \$\endgroup\$
    – Theik
    Commented Jul 1, 2019 at 13:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ A level-20 Barbarian with 24 Strength and Constitution would have 360 hp. :-O \$\endgroup\$
    – goodguy5
    Commented Jul 1, 2019 at 16:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, if you stack strength and con, you can get some ridiculously high HP totals. A Storm Giant strength belt would give you 9 HP per level if you started with 10 strength. \$\endgroup\$
    – Theik
    Commented Jul 1, 2019 at 17:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ I note that it appears that if the rule changed to Str mod + Con mod + 6 per level, it'd be a lot closer on average. Starting hp is still lower, but d6 now breaks even. And you need 2 less strength to break even, which becomes 8, 10, 12, 14, which seems pretty close to where str will be on average anyway. But the 20 barbarian with 24str+con goes up to 400. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 1, 2019 at 23:58

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