rolling for hit points in 4e

As you can tell, one of the things I miss in 4e is rolling your attributes. However, I have never missed rolling for hit points.

Rolling your attributes helps throw some randomness into your character concept, and randomness is usually an aid to creativity.

Rolling for hit points doesn’t spark creativity. It has the potential to sabotage a character you like, and it’s such an important roll that, for me at least, it encourages cheating as little else in D&D does. It just doesn’t seem fair that my cool paladin leveled up and rolled 1 hit point.

Here’s a suggestion for those who would like to roll HP in 4e:

1) Start with your normal 4e HP – or a little less.

2) Roll a HP die at the beginning of every level. This is a special pool of bonus Wound Points. If you have any Wound Points left from last level, they’re gone – they don’t stack.

Wound Points can be used instead of HP at any time: typically on an attack where you would go below 0 HP. (But you always have a choice to save your Wound Points, if you don’t mind falling unconscious.)

Wound points cannot be healed in any way. You only get them when you level.

This rule lets you “roll hit points” every level. It also solves a common 4e objection that an extended rest cures all injuries. There are some wounds that only time can cure.

You can also use it to model semi-permanent injuries. If you are ever at 0 Wound Points, you can be considered to have some nagging injury. I’d play this entirely as a flavor thing, but other DMs could hang some random penalty on it if they wanted.


5 Responses to “rolling for hit points in 4e”

  1. ranthoron says:

    So, you get a d6 of special temporary hit points?

  2. paul paul says:

    Actually, you know what I like better? Once per level, you are allowed to ignore the effects of one attack by saying you are taking a wound. It’s pretty narrativist, but it gives people a long-term health resource to manage besides HP, which regenerate overnight.

  3. Matt Kauko says:

    I think the one problem I have with this, is it makes it even harder to put a 4e character in danger of dying than they were before. I have characters at 4th level in my new campaign and the likelihood of any of them dying is slim to none. We are still having a blast playing the game, but none of them would need this ability. Are you seeing your players dropping more than that?

  4. mbeacom says:

    I like Pauls idea. I’ve done something similar before. Basically, we would roll a d6 each time we took a rest (short or extended). The results of which would determine how much of the damage was actual wounds. That number of HP would be unrecoverable in the field. They would not heal until you were someplace safe for a few days. So, over the course of a long dungeon delve, you could always get your dailies and surges back from an extended rest, but those wound points wouldn’t come back. This does a couple of things. First being people are not so quick to take a short rest, but rather are more likely to push forward, wanting to use as much of their active HP as possible before resting. And second, it slowly whittles them down through the course of a dungeon or other excursion so that the final boss doesn’t have to be quite so ridiculously overpowered to threaten them because they’ll likely be entering the combat anywhere from 15-20 HP short of their total and surging during combat will peak at that new lower number.

  5. paul paul says:

    Hmm, I like that mbeacom’s idea does actually encourage people to continue adventuring. you could probably totally get rid of healing surges with this rule: the limiting factor would be the slow lowering of your maximum HP, not suddenly hitting the surge wall.

Leave a Reply