This was a pretty basic idea I had sometime in the last couple weeks. I like the idea of adding a basic hit point value from character class to a character’s Constitution score for hit points at level one. It was officially introduced in Fourth Edition Dungeons & Dragons and goes a long way to making 1st-level characters less squishy.

Something about it seems off though. While it’s a cool idea to have an actual ability score interacting directly with a character’s attributes rather than through modifiers the way most do, it’s literally the only example – and not only that, but this in spite of Fourth Edition removing the dependence on Intelligence from skills and language.

The AD&D 2nd Edition Player's Handbook. The co...

Back in the day, we rolled our Hit Dice and we were happy with that!

See, in Third Edition, the number of skills and languages you could have was based on your character’s Intelligence modifier. It was removed due to complications arising from ability scores increasing across multiple levels, and some skill-based classes were actually hindered (to the point of handicap) by a character’s low Intelligence.

Determining hit points on a combination of base values granted by both race and class would enable a designer to express certain concepts that fall a bit short in other areas. Consider the racial bonuses dwarves normally enjoy as compared to the racial penalty that used to be applied to elves in previous editions of the game.

It also establishes a clearer connection between a character’s racial origins, their chosen class, and their derived attributes. Ability scores are further removed from the basic operations of a character (leaving more build options open to players) and there’s clearer attribute input from race. (Which tends to lose a lot in hard numbers.)

From a design perspective, I actually have a whole other system modification to go hand-in-hand with this to further separate the idea of health and damage into something a lot easier to abstract (while being easier to digest), which I will go into greater detail (any detail, really) in another post.

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