“Do I have to roll the highest ones first? How many should I have?” If you’re finding the rules around Hit Dice a little tricky to understand – you’re not alone! It’s a common topic at most tables, so take a short rest with me while I guide you through ins and outs of Hit Dice in D&D 5e!
What are Hit Dice in 5e?
Hit Dice is short for “hit point dice” and at their core, hit dice in D&D 5e are a measure of a character’s vitality and resilience. They are intrinsically linked to a character’s class and level, serving two primary functions:
- Determining maximum hit points
- Facilitating healing during short rests.
Each character class and creature size in D&D 5e is associated with a specific type of die, which is referred to as a hit die. For instance, a Barbarian has a d12 hit die, a Rogue uses a d8, while a Wizard uses a d6. This difference represents the varying degrees of durability among different classes, with physically hardy classes like the Barbarian having larger hit dice than more frail classes like the Wizard.
Creatures extend this range even further, with tiny creatures only getting a d4 hit die, while Gargantuan creatures such as your casual Ancient Dragon get a d20.
Barbarians: Far more resilient than your average wizard – but much more squishy than your most fragile ancient dragon.
How many hit dice do you get when you start?
At level 1, you’ll only have one Hit Die.
How many hit dice do you get per level?
You get one additional Hit Die per level. The type of Hit Die you gain depends on the class you are levelling up, you can review the table below to check which Hit Die you should get.
Which Hit Die do I get if multiclassing?
If you are going to multiclass your character, their hit dice are determined by the class in which they gain each level. For instance, if you start as a Fighter (d10 hit dice) and take a level in Wizard (d6 hit dice), you would have one d10 and one d6 hit die. Your total number of hit dice is still equal to your overall character level, but the type of dice can vary.
Which classes and creatures use which Hit Dice?
Below is a table showing which Hit Dice should be taken by each class or creature size.
|Hit Die||Class||Creature Size|
|d8||Artificer, bard, cleric, druid, monk, rogue, warlock||Medium|
|d10||Fighter, paladin, ranger||Large|
How do I calculate Hit Points with Hit Dice?
To calculate your character’s maximum hit points at level one, you add the maximum roll of their hit die plus their Constitution modifier.
For example, a Fighter with a Constitution modifier of +2 would start with 12 hit points (10 from the maximum roll of a d10, plus 2 from the modifier).
Hit Dice and Resting
Resting is a crucial mechanic that allows characters to regain strength and recuperate from the rigours of adventuring. There are two types of rest: short rests and long rests. During short rests you can “spend” Hit Dice to regain lost HP and long rests allow you to regain a number of spent Hit Dice.
Spending Hit Dice on a short rest to heal
When you’re taking short rests during your campaign, you will have the opportunity to “spend” Hit Dice to regain lost HP. The rules state: “A character can spend one or more Hit Dice at the end of a short rest, up to the character’s maximum number of Hit Dice, which is equal to the character’s level. For each Hit Die spent in this way, the player rolls the die and adds the character’s Constitution modifier to it. The character regains hit points equal to the total. The player can decide to spend an additional Hit Die after each roll.”
For example, if you have a 3rd level Fighter, you can choose to roll up to 3d10s. If you are only lightly damaged, you may choose to only roll a single d10 which means on your next short rest, you will have a maximum of 2d10s to roll as you have already spent 1 of your d10 on the last short rest.
What happens if you run out of hit dice?
Don’t worry, you don’t die (yet, at least) – but it does mean you can’t roll Hit Dice to regain lost HP. Your options for healing are going to be limited then to other party member’s magic, items such as healing options or, if you’re lucky enough to have a party member with the Healer feat, you can regain some HP on a short rest with their use of a Healer’s Kit.
Out of hit dice, magic and potions? A Healer’s Kit can be used by the right person in a pinch.
How many Hit Dice do I get back on a long rest?
While a long rest will restore all of your hit points, it will not necessarily replenish all of your spent Hit Dice. Once a long rest is completed, you will regain spent hit dice up to a number equal to half of your total hit dice (rounded up).
For example, if you’re a 9th-level character (meaning you have 9 total hit dice), you can regain up to 5 spent hit dice upon completing a long rest.
This mechanic reinforces the strategic aspect of hit dice usage. If you’ve spent a significant number of hit dice during short rests, a long rest won’t instantly replenish all of them. This means you may go into the next day with fewer hit dice to spend, making careful management of this resource critical, especially during long adventures or dungeons where opportunities for long rests might be limited.
Multiclassing and Hit Dice
When a character multiclasses, their hit dice are determined by the class in which they gain each level. For instance, if you start as a Rogue (d8 hit dice) and then take a level in Wizard (d6 hit dice), you would have one d8 and one d6 hit die. Your total number of hit dice is still equal to your overall character level, but the type of dice can vary.
This dynamic has implications for both your maximum hit points and your healing during rests. When you gain a level in a new class, you add the maximum roll of that class’s hit die plus your Constitution modifier to your hit points. During short rests, you can choose which of your hit dice to roll for healing, adding flexibility but also requiring more strategic decision-making.
That’s it, I’m spent
For me, Hit Dice for some reason were one of the rules and mechanics I kept having to ask people about, so I hope this guide as helped you and will add to your enjoyment of the game, being able to plan and manage your character’s health and wellbeing!