Combat Realism - Hit Points scaling (5e Variant Rule)

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Combat Realism - Hit Points scaling[edit]

Combat in Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition is a well-balanced but somewhat abstract system where success is determined by an attack roll versus an armor class (AC), followed by a damage roll that reduces the target's hit points (HPs). HPs play a role in allowing higher level characters and those in martial classes to fight stronger opponents. To some extent, this is an abstract value that does not just reflect toughness but also skill. But if you use variant rules to improve combat realism or if you consider damage taken from a fall, or while unconscious, etc, it becomes hard to justify hit points that increase 20-fold from level 1 to 20. (Similarly, it is very hard to justify how quickly characters heal Hit Points with a short or long rest, but that is a topic for another wiki).

Proposed here is a more credible scaling of hit points, which roughly leads to a multiplier on HPs at each tier of levels (double at level 5, triple at level 10, quadruple at level 15, etc). It also begins from a higher starting HP, making level 1 characters much less vulnerable to a single chance damage roll. Conversely, play at higher-levels becomes a little more perilous. Note that some spell effects, such as Sleep (double HPs) and Power Word Kill (half HPs) may need adjustment.

Player Character hit-points[edit]

HPs = 1/2 standard HPs + Constitution

For example, a typical 1st level barbarian with Constitution 16 would have 24 HPs = 6 (1/2 barbarian D12 of 12) + 1.5 (1/2 CON bonus of 3) + 16 (Constitution of 16), rounded up. Note this is (just) not enough to survive maximum damage from a critical hit of a D12 weapon. A typical fighter with Constitution 14 might have 20 HPs (just not enough if a D10 weapon) and a typical Constitution 8 wizard might have 11 HPs (just not enough if a D6 weapon). Essentially, each class has HPs such that they would usually survive a hit from the kind of weapon they use, unless it was maximum damage from a critical hit (or damage bonus).

These HPs would roughly double by level 5-6, triple by level 10-11, and quadruple by level 15, with the barbarian (perhaps now Constitution 18-20) now around 100-110, the fighter around 80-90, the wizard around 40.

Creature hit-points[edit]

HPs = 1/2 standard HPs + Constitution

Since this is identical to the HP modification for PCs, the net effect on combat hazard is balanced. However this will lead to shorter combat in general and you may wish to just let the Creatures keep their standard HPs if you want to increase PC peril at higher levels.


See Combat Realism - Defense and Armor Options for core rules to increase combat realism. _RM_

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