Thursday, October 4, 2012

Max or Roll? How Do You Like Your 1st Level Hit Points?

This was a question I had to deal with when I started up my ACKS campaign - how do I handle starting hit points for the PCs. This was my first campaign in over 15 years, and back then it was roll (with a reroll if it was truly piss poor and the DM felt generous).

I decided to go with max at first level, and a reroll of 1's rolled at later levels.

When we decided to go with Ambition & Avarice (and dumping the PCs into Dwimermount) last week, I started the players off at second level (as it is more a playtest than a proper campaign and I wanted to give the players a little buffer as they pushed the system when needed).

I gave max HP for 1st level and offered the following for 2nd level (and later levels) - take avg HP rounded up OR roll and take as is. Greg decided to roll and got a 1 on his d6. He asked if rerolls were in effect ;) Sorry

How do you handle starting Hit Points in the games that you run?


  1. It really depends on the game. In the DCC game I've been running for the last three months, though, they've been rolling every time.

  2. I used to give max HP at 1st level, roll thereafter....but DCC has cured me of this!

  3. I've been doing max at level one and then roll thereafter; when they roll, if they don't like it they can re-roll but must keep the second result regardless.

  4. Max then roll is the usual. I played in 3.5 game where the GM was fine for a re-roll if the die came up at half result or below. Can't say I disagreed with him as a player, but if I was GMing, I doubt I would be that generous...

  5. It has always been (for 30 years +) max HP's at 1st level then roll each level after that and you get what you get.

    Just how I was taught to play and have carried it on

  6. I always used to simply go with max at first level, roll after that. With the LotFP/Lab Lord hybrid I'm running now, we roll, with the LotFP minimums as a safety net.

  7. Roll every time, and take what you get.

    I think of it this way. There's a lot of ways to "win" at most RPGs. If you happen to have a lot of HP, you probably are going to beat your opposition by mixing it up in battle or by sopping up damage until you can get healed.

    If you don't have a ton of HP, then you have to use your noggin a bit more (e.g., ambushes, setting traps, gaining allies, etc.), because the option of going toe to toe with every enemy is just plain stupid if you're going to die in the process due to your crappy HP total.

  8. I give out max HP for my Pathfinder game, with a bonus determined by race: +2 for frail races, +4 for average races, +6 for hardy races.

  9. Roll, or let the players choose, if they think a certain number feels most appropriate. But I'd usually go for roll without re-roll.

    I do think, that the number of hit points may influence playing style.

  10. Maximum to start with, roll after that. That said, I do have this perverse desire to try the "reroll every level" method one day.

  11. For me it varies a lot by game.

    For 'Fantasy Effin Vietnam' such as my Labyrinth Lord game, it's minimum (at least) high-average at 1st (eg d8 > min 5 hp), then roll normally thereafter.

    For 'Big Damn Heroes', especially 3e and Pathfinder type games, it's usually max on 1st hit die then min low-average each die thereafter, eg d8 > min 4 hp each roll after first. I am considering starting my next 3e/PF type game at 2nd level with max hp, though.

    For my AD&D online game, it's max hp on 1st hit die (so 2d8 Rangers start with 8+1d8, d10 Fighters start with 10), then roll normally thereafter, no minimum. This gives good survivability at 1st level without making it too easy later, at least for some PCs.

  12. For B/X humans 1d4 + 2 (class hit die) take 2 highest. If lowest ties the middle die add the lowest as well. e.g. Fighter 2d8 & 1d4 -- 6,4,3 would be 10 HP; 6,4,4 would be 14 HP.

    CON bonus/penalty only used once regardless of dice.

    Humanoids roll class die plus monster listing die use both. So:
    Elf d6+d8+1
    Dwarf 2d8
    Halfling d6+d8-1 (min 1)

    Weird-I was going to post this this week.

  13. 2x max plus 5 plus CON bonus/penalty at level 1, regular progression from there with CON bonus/penalty. Generous you say? Not when damage from weapons is open ended (meaning that if you roll max you roll again and add, and keep adding until you fail to roll max). The PCs need a little more HP to swing it with that system.


  14. When I first started playing we used the roll system, but sometime in the 80's as DM I switched to max hp at 1st level and then rolls afterwards. I was introducing a lot o new players to AD&D and it speeds things up. Even at max hp the chances of dying after a combat round or two of damage for 1st level characters can be brutally high. I don't want to make the game a cake-walk, but using a max hp at 1st level seems to create a little more confidence in players for their characters, whether such confidence is appropriate or not. But just in practical experience I've found that it helps the game.

  15. We re-roll hitpoints after a nights rest. There is no maximum hitpoint value, the only number is the current hp. We have a separate system for lasting wounds.

  16. In AD&D, I use max at 1st level, roll after. That's how we've always played.

    In S&W:WB, I intend to use reroll all hit dice at each level, hit points must go up or stay the same, and roll a zero-level hit die at 1st level (taking the higher).

  17. I've been doing "roll twice and take best at 1st level, roll once for each level thereafter". This gives the PCs slightly above average HP at 1st in expectation, but every now and then somebody still rolls snake-eyes.


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