Hit Dice are a mechanic that is quite peculiar, even for DnD 5e.
I believe their strangeness comes from the age of the game itself. Over time, roleplaying games have evolved with their mechanics – so seeing such an “archaic” mechanic can really throw newer players off.
But what are Hit Dice? No use in me ranting on and on if we don’t know what they are. So that’s what we’ll be looking at today. What Hit Dice are, How to get them & How to use them.
Let’s get right into it.
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What Hit Dice are in DnD 5e
In essence. Hit Dice are dices that you get as you level up which are used to calculate your Hit Points. On each level up you get a Hit Dice that you can roll to add to the maximum number of hit points that you have. It’s very important to remember that you should also add your Constitution modifier on top of the number you roll.
You also use these same Hit Dice to regain your Hit Points when you take a short rest. Think of them as health potions – but don’t. Sure you can use the hit die as a way to heal, but that’s not their primary function.
I understand that it’s stupid of me to contradict myself in the same sentence, so let me elaborate. When I mean that you should think of Hit Dice as health potions is that they, at least in principle. Serve the same function as a health potion. But unlike health potions which we’ve become used to be a quick “pick-me-up”, Hit Dice rolls take time; and especially a safe space to be able to take a short rest.
That is why It’s not the best of ideas to be spending hit dice as a means to recover hit points. There are better alternatives to recovering hit points.
How to Get Them
Now, onto answering how to get them.
In a previous article, we looked at Ability Scores and how they correlate with your character. Well, Hit Dice are tied to the Constitution score, the higher a modifier you have in that proficiency – the bigger bonus you get on your rolls.
And as was mentioned previously. You get a Hit Dice on each level up. You then take that hit dice and roll it, the number you’ve gotten + your Constitution modifier is added to your maximum Hit Point pool. And the hit dice is added to your pool of Hit Dice.
Now, there’s also one crucial difference to mention here. Not all Hit Dice are made the same.
But what do I mean by this?
Simply. The different classes roll different numbered dices to calculate their Hit Point pool. And there are 4 categories. Of which:
- D12 – Barbarian: This guy really enjoys getting hit in the face.
- D10 – Paladin, Fighter & Ranger: These guys can take a hit in the face.
- D8 – Monk, Druid, Rogue, Bard, Cleric & Warlock: These guys prefer not to take a hit in the face.
- D6 – Wizard & Sorcerer: These guys really don’t like getting hit in the face.
Notice how the Wizard and Sorcerer get half the dice value of the Barbarian?
The lesson to be learned from this is as follows. Don’t tank with the Wizard, and don’t be a pacifist Barbarian… unless that’s your roleplay. Combat should be structured depending on who has the right stats for the right job. Don’t let the rogue tank every hit, spend the right resources that will get the job done in vanquishing the enemy creatures… etc.
How to Use Them
And to answer the last question that we posed.
In the previous point, we talked about how you get them and touched up on how to use them.
Now to expand on that. It’s recommended that you use your Hit Dice in a safe location. Places like a tavern or a safe campsite are recommended, as it’d suck if you get attacked while recuperating. So Let’s hope that your party won’t get abused by the enemies.
What’s more, you don’t get back any used Hit Dice until you’ve finished a Long Rest – so use them prudently. Sometimes it’s best not to use up every Hit Dice that you have, even if you aren’t fully topped off.
You can spend hit dice willy nilly, but it sure would suck to be left without any, don’t ya think?
Conclusion on What Are Hit Dice in DnD 5e
That’s basically all there is to know about what Hit Dice are in DnD 5e.
The concept is quite simple. They have two functions. To calculate your maximum hit points and to return you to that maximum if you’ve taken any damage during your adventures.
The world can be a dangerous place, and danger can lurk around every corner. Luckily you have your Hit Dice with you, so you should do just fine.
As always, I’d like to recommend players who want to know more to consult the Player’s Handbook or other articles on this site.