DM Dispatches #5: The Hit Points Just Keep on Comin’
DM Dispatches is a weekly column that shares stories and relfections from Darkwarren’s experience dungeon mastering his weekly group’s Rise of the Runelords campaign that started in January 2013. The intention is that other DM’s and players can learn from his experiences as well as enter into discussion and add their two coppers as well.
After a few days of adventuring and heroism, the members of the party was soon approaching that time in their careers where they can reflect on their experiences and learn new skills, spells, combat techniques, and general knowledge. In other words, they leveled up.
I had been toying with a reward for encouraging roleplaying away from the table, on our Obsidian Portal campaign site. Here’s what I first came up with:
If, by the estimation of the DM, a player has made a considerable contribution to the campaign either by posting in character on the message board or privately in character via e-mail with the DM, that player receives the ability to re-roll a hit point roll when their character levels up.
This seemed reasonable to me and added to our standard re-roll any natural 1’s seemed generous. But it opened the discussion for greater clarification and modification. Some of the highlights of the discussion included:
• Earning multiple re-rolls for multiple contributions between leveling up
• Re-rolling until a higher result is achieved
• Combination of the two previous
• Ultimately, just maximize hit points
When all was said and done some of the players and I were uncomfortable with outright maximizing hit points. We felt that some lower hit point totals might lead to creative solutions (necessity is the mother of invention) and perhaps even tactical retreats – which lead to more realistic roleplaying. We also felt that the spirit of the game includes some randomness and we wanted to keep that alive even in our hit point rolling. Admittedly this house rule would skew these rolls slightly towards the maximum, but the risk of low rolls is still there.
So here was my final house rule after player input:
If a player is able to offer quality in-character roleplaying on the forums, or privately via e-mail with the DM, even semi-regularly, then they are rewarded with the ability to re-roll their character’s hit points when they achieve the next level.
• These rewards cannot be banked. (So in this case Gregor and Zindelo, who rolled max hit points, they do not keep their re-rolls.) Don’t think of it as a wasted reward, but as good karma that got you a good roll to begin with.
• If the first roll is a natural “1”, you get one free re-roll.
• If you choose to use your re-roll reward after that, you get to choose the higher of the two rolls.
• You can re-roll all natural “1’s” on a reward re-roll.
So, what do you think? Would you use it? Would you change it?