How do you calculate your character's Maximum Hit Points?

  • I am very new to tabletop games. I have recently started playing D&D 5th Edition with a good group of people and we have a great DM. I have also purchased the 5th edition Player’s Handbook. Half the fun of D&D is creating these amazing player characters. But for the life of me, I cannot seem to find anything on establishing a player character's Maximum Hit Points. Can anyone tell me what figures or formulas are used to calculate maximum hit points?

  • This depends upon which option the DM is using.

    The 5E rules have 2 official variations:

    • Max at first and rolled after (PHB 12 & 15)
    • Max at first, and average rounded up thereafter. (PHB 15)

    Note that average for a die is (minimum + maximum)/2. For all even dice, this ends in a half (a _.5). The same effect can be done by dividing the maximum, then adding 1... 0.5 for the average, and 0.5 for the round up...


    If the stock option is used: at level 1, take the type of die (eg d8) and you get the number of sides + your con bonus (so if mr d8 HD had con 10, he'd get 8). Each level therafter, you roll the HD and add it to the maximum.

    Option (and Adventurer's League)

    If the stock alternative is used... At first level, still the number of sides plus Con bonus. (Number of sides)+(Con mod). At later levels, 1+((number of sides)/2) + (Con mod) for each level.


    Only the first class taken gets "1st level HP"... if you multiclass into another, you still roll (or take the reduced amount.

    Handy Chart

    \begin{array}{|c|c|} \hline \textbf{HD Type} & \textbf{1st HD} & \textbf{Standard Later HD} & \textbf{Variant Later HD} \\ \hline \text{d4} & \text{4} & \text{+1d4 ea} & \text{+3 ea} \\ \hline \text{d6} & \text{6} & \text{+1d6 ea} & \text{+4 ea} \\ \hline \text{d8} & \text{8} & \text{+1d8 ea} & \text{+5 ea} \\ \hline \text{d10} & \text{10} & \text{+1d10 ea} & \text{+6 ea} \\ \hline \text{d12} & \text{12} & \text{+1d12 ea} & \text{+7ea} \\ \hline \text{d20} & \text{20} & \text{+1d20 ea} & \text{+11ea} \\ \hline \end{array}

    Note that only monsters use d4 and d20 HD. Con Mod multiplied by level is added to the total (effectively it modifies each die).

    Common other variations not in the rules

    Rolled at level 1:

    just roll the die each level, add con bonus. Not common anymore.

    Rolled at 1 but with minimum.

    Roll the hit die at level 1, but if less than the variant's listed HP/die, raise it to that. So, fred is level 1, and rolls a 6 on his d10. He keeps it. Jojo also rolls, but gets a 2 on his d10. It raises to a 6. At higher levels, most DM's using this option do not allow raising.

    Some Examples

    Fred Fighter

    Fred is a fighter. He's level 3. He's using the alternate, because he's in an Adventurer's League Game. He has a Con of 14, for +2.

    • At Level 1: 10 (the sides of the die) + 2 (the con mod) = 12
    • At level 2: he adds 6 (the "hit die") +2 (the con mod) = 12+8 = 20
    • At level 3: he adds 6 + 2 (just like level 2) for 20 + 8 = 28 total.

    Billy Barbarian

    Billy's in a campaign using the standard rules. He's 6th level, and Con 16 (+3)

    • At first level, he gets maximum: 12 (Die sides) +3 (Con Mod) = 15
    • Level 2: He rolls a 3 on the d12, and adds his con mod of +3. That's 6. 15+6=21
    • Level 3: He Rolls a 9 on the d12. Con mod again +3. That's 12 this level. 21 + 12 = 33
    • Level 4: He rolls a 5. Con mod is a +3... he's adding 8. Total is 33+8 = 41 max HP
    • Level 5: He rolls a 12. Con again:+3. Total 15. 41 +15 = 56.

    Charlie Changer

    Charlie is 6th level... but went Wizard to 3rd, then fighter to third, then cleric for 7th.. he's also con 8 (-1)... Campaign is using the alternate only.

    • Level 1: wizard is d6, con is -1, so 6-1 = 5
    • Level 2: wizard is +4, con is -1, so +3, so 5 +3 = 8
    • Level 3: Wizard is +4, con is -1, so +3, so 8 + 3 is 11
    • Level 4: Fighter is d10, for +6. Con is -1, so is +5; so also 11+5 = 16
    • Level 5: Fighter is +6, Con is -1, so is +5, so is 16 +5 = 21
    • Level 6: Fighter is +6, Con is -1, so is +5, so is 21 +5 = 26
    • Level 7: Cleric is d8, for +5. Con is -1, so +4, so 26+4 = 30.

    Note: Con penalty applies every level, too. And at level 4, the character is level 4, so only gets the per level "fixed roll values"

    To clarify: by RAW, it's not the DM who chooses (unless they implement a houserule otherwise). The player can choose at each level-up whether to roll or take the average. Here's the relevant rule: "Each time you gain a level, you gain 1 additional Hit Die. Roll that Hit Die, add your Constitution modifier to the roll, and add the total to your hit point maximum. Alternatively, you can use the fixed value shown in your class entry, which is the average result of the die roll (rounded up)."

    @V2Blast To clarify, by RAW the DM is the master of rules ... so if you read all of the core books, aramis' answer is very correct in terms of the DM (perhaps) making a ruling that "we'll all do it this way" (and it's how AL does it FWIW)

    @KorvinStarmast: Of course the DM *can* rule otherwise, but I'm just pointing out that *unless* the DM houserules that players must roll or that players must take the average (or even that players can roll first, and then take the average if it's higher than the roll), the default assumption is that the player can choose whether to roll or to take the average.

    @V2Blast Your default assumption, though I see the point you are making in re how the PHB presents HP increase with level ...

    It *is* the Player's Handbook, after all, not the Dungeon Master's Guide...

    This is a very helpful description of the process, as the PHB and stat blocks are missing an important comma. It is easily misinterpreted from a stat block as "roll 1 of each hit die per level" because the "per level" appears to describe both the die and the con mod due to the lack of an important comma.

  • To calculate your character's maximum hitpoints at first level, you need to know two things - your class and your constitution modifier.

    The actual calculation is under "Class Features" of each class. For example, if you're building a Cleric with 15 Constitution, then you would look on page 57 of the PHB, or page 21 of the basic rules. Where it says Hit Points at First Level is the calculation, in this case 8 + Constitution modifier. So your starting HP would be 8 + 2 = 10.

    When gaining levels, you gain HP as described by Hit Points at Higher Levels. There are also feats that can increase your maximum HP, such as "Tough".

    It's possible that @Fallen is trying to understand the difference between current HP total and max HP. There are some abilities that affect max HP (IIRC, draining touch attacks), which can create this confusion.

  • Here's a quick formula for your maximum hit points, if you are not rolling dice for additional hit points.

    1. Total number of sides on all your hit dice, plus the number of sides on your characters level 1 hit die.
    2. Divide (1) by 2.
    3. Multiply your character level by one more than your CON modifier.
    4. Add (2) and (3) and subtract one. This is your maximum hit points, unless you have class, feat, or campaign modifiers that effect it.

    Shorthand: (First+Total hit dice) / 2 + level*(CON+1) - 1

    Example: Warlock 3 / Sorcerer 2 that started as a Sorcerer. CON modifier is 2.

    • 3d8+2d6 => 36 total sides
    • 2d6 as a starting Sorcerer
    • (36+6)/2 = 21
    • 5*(2+1) = 15
    • 21+15-1 = 35 max hit points.

    This is a good way to double-check you've made the correct adjustment at all your levels.

  • There are a few different ways.

    Your hit point maximum is based off your class(es), level, and Constitution modifier. When leveling up, you can either choose the average or roll for hit points.

    If you only chose the average when you leveled up, the formula


    determines your hit point maximum where l = level, c = Constitution modifier, and m = maximum hit die result (12 for Barbarian, 10 for Fighter, etc.).

    If you rolled for hit points (or both rolled and used the average for different levels), the formula


    determines your hit point maximum where \$l\$ = level, \$c\$ = Constitution modifier, \$m\$ = maximum hit die result, and \$r_1\$ = the first roll, \$r_2\$ = the second roll, \$r_3\$ = the third roll, etc. Add all rolls necessary. You would use this formula if you both rolled and chose the average for different levels; simply insert the rolls as either rolls or averages.

    If you multiclassed, then use the rolled formula where \$m\$ = the maximum hit die result of your first class, and insert the rolls as either rolls or averages of the class you leveled up for each level.

    If your Constitution modifier changes, you must recalculate your hit points with that new modifier (PBR 64):

    If your Constitution modifier changes, your hit point maximum changes as well, as though you had the new modifier from 1st level.

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Content dated before 6/26/2020 9:53 AM