Hit Dice are one of the core aspects of DnD that you should probably know about before jumping into your first campaign. They’re referenced a lot and it can be a bit intimidating to search through the Player’s Handbook for what they actually do.
We’re going to give you a quick rules breakdown of what Hit Dice are in DnD, what they do, and why you should know how to use your hit dice.
Hit Dice and Levels
The first time players will encounter Hit Dice is during character creation. You’ll notice that each class has its own separate hit dice. Wizards are on the low end with a d6 and Barbarians have the highest with a d12. The Hit Dice represent the maximum number of hitpoints that a character gets at character creation and each level they advance.
At character creation, a player gets full health points + their Consitution modifier.
Let’s say we’re making a Wizard. They’ll get 6 (their max hit dice) + their Constitution Modifier.
When it comes to leveling up, (depending on the Dungeon Master) typically, players roll their hit dice and add the result to their total hit points.
Example: Our same Wizard had a max of 6 hitpoints and gets to level 2. On level up, they roll 1d6 and + their Constitution Modifier. They then add that to their total maximum hit points.
Some DMs may just take the average roll of the hit dice, or some may just let the dice roll.
Hit Dice and Healing
When taking a short rest, players get a chance to heal their characters using their Hit Dice. During a Short Rest, they can roll any number of their Hit Dice and heal that much damage to their character.
How do I get my Hit Dice back?
During a Long Rest, players are fully healed and they recover all their used Hit Dice.
How many Hit Dice does my character have?
Each character has Hit Dice equal to their class levels.
- A Wizard at level 1 has 1d6.
- A Wizard at level 2 has 2d6.
- A Barbarian at level 5 will have 5d12.
The Hit Dice are all still dependent upon the character’s class. You can refer to your class page in the Player’s Handbook or below.
- Artificer d8
- Barbarian d12
- Bard d8
- Cleric d8
- Druid d8
- Fighter d10
- Monk d8
- Paladin d10
- Ranger d10
- Rogue d8
- Sorcerer d6
- Warlock d8
- Wizard d6
Hit Dice for Dungeon Masters
Typically, the Dungeon Master isn’t going to roll a bunch of hit dice to determine the health of enemy combatants. Instead, the DM will use the average number of Hit Points that are written in the Monster Manual. This speeds everything along.
Monsters in Combat
If the DM was creating an encounter with 10+ Kobolds it would be far too much work to roll 2d6-2 for each one. Instead, it’s just easier to use the average 7 hitpoints that are recommended in the Monster Manual.
It can be useful if the DM is planning on having a Big Bad Evil Guy grow with the players and level up alongside them. This can add a bit of continuity to a campaign and allows the players to grow and see their enemies grow along with them.
Another reason the DM might fiddle with the Hit Dice of enemies is to make an encounter easier or more difficult Some iconic DnD monsters are truly deadly, and it might be fun to have the players encounter a baby version of it instead of lowering the challenge rating.
On the flip side, if a group is too overpowered, the DM can do the reverse and max out the Hit Dice of a monster to up the Challenge Rating of an encounter.
Before starting GameCows with his wife Kendra, he used to teach English Language Arts in the US. He combined his love of gaming with education to create fun game-based learning lessons until he eventually decided to run GameCows with Kendra full-time. He’s known for pouring over rulebooks in his spare time, being the rule master during game night, and as the perma DM in his DnD group. Bryan loves board games, writing, traveling, and above all his wife and partner in crime, Kendra.