Something that a lot of D&D 5e Players (especially new ones) find confusing is the Hit Dice mechanic.
These dice are incredibly useful yet sadly go ignored by many players! How many characters have met an untimely end that could have been prevented if they had taken time to use Hit Dice and catch their breath?
Especially if you’re trekking into a dungeon where it will be much harder to take a rest, managing your party’s resources is the key to getting out alive. This includes your Hit Dice!
So today we’re demystifying this important mechanic to help your beloved characters have long and rewarding adventuring careers!
This is all about Hit Dice in D&D 5e!
What Are Hit Dice?
Think of Hit Dice as your character’s ability to take punishment and survive on their journey.
In D&D 5e, Hit Dice are used for recovering hit points during a short rest and for determining how much your HP increases when you level up.
Each time you level up, your amount of available Hit Dice goes up as well. The number of Hit Dice you have is equal to your level and the type of dice you have depends on your class.
When you finish a long rest, you regain half of your total hit dice (minimum of 1). So a level 4 character that has used all of their Hit Dice would need to complete two long rests to get them all back.
Hit Dice by Class
This table will show you what Hit Dice is used by each class. You can also find this information in the Player’s Handbook in each class’s section.
|Artificer, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Monk, Rogue, Warlock
|Fighter, Paladin, Ranger
The Hit Dice that you gain when leveling up depends on what class you are gaining a level in.
If Kronus is a level 3 Sorcerer, he has 3d6 Hit Dice. Taking another level in sorcerer at level 4 would then give him 4d6 Hit Dice.
But what if Kronus decides that he wants to multiclass when he hits level 4?
He swears an oath and takes a level of Paladin at level 4. He would now have 3d6 Hit Dice from his Sorcerer levels and 1d10 from his level in Paladin.
Using Hit Dice
Ok, so you know what Hit Dice are now and what they’re for, but how do you use them?
The first function of hit dice is pretty quick and easy!
When you level up, rolling the hit dice appropriate for the class that you’re taking a level in. Add your Constitution modifier to the result and add that total to your maximum hit points!
You can learn more about leveling up by clicking here.
The second function of Hit Dice is what they are primarily used for: letting you recover hit points.
In a typical dungeon crawl, the biggest challenge is managing your resources. This means spells, items, and class abilities that have a limit to how much they can be used.
If your Cleric has to use all of their healing spells before you even get to the final boss of the dungeon, you’re going to have a bad time! To save some of those healing potions and spell slots, it can be better to take a short rest.
At the end of the short rest, you can spend Hit Dice to recover some hit points.
You do this by rolling a number of dice from your available Hit Dice pool. For each dice you roll, you regain hit points equal to the result + your Constitution modifier.
Keep in mind that this is still a resource that you need to manage, but it’s better to find yourself with no Hit Dice left going against the final boss than it is to go into the encounter with no potions or healing spells!
Use all of your Hit Dice too soon or not at all and you’ll be chewing through potions and your healer’s spell slots.
Don’t be scared to use Hit Dice (it’s what they’re there for!) but remember that a balanced approach is often best!
Example – Using Hit Dice
Let’s look back to our old friend Kronus to see Hit Dice usage in action.
After an encounter with a nasty group of goblins, the party finds a place to lay low for a minute and catch their breath. Having already had a couple of combat encounters, they take a short rest to recover. They’re pretty sure the goblin boss is just up ahead and want to make sure they’re ready!
Kronus is at 12 hp out of his maximum of 20. Because he’s adding his +2 Constitution modifier to each Hit Dice roll and his Hit Die is a d6, he might even be able to fully recover with only one roll!
He rolls a 2, adds +2 from his Constitution, and recovers 4 hit points.
Because he’s now at 16 HP out of his max of 20, Kronus rolls again. He gets a 3 on the die, adds 2 from his Constitution, and caps out at 20 HP. lucky you
Kronus has spent two of his three available Hit Dice. If things get rough again but the party is able to take another short rest, he’ll at least have one hit die free for later!
Because Kronus was able to recover hit his points with Hit Dice, the party’s Cleric is able to save their spells. When the party goes up against the goblin boss, now they’ll be able to rely on the Cleric to keep them in fighting form!
Getting Extra Use Out Of Your Hit Dice
In most dungeons, it’s pretty hard to find a place to take a long rest. It’s usually a safe assumption that you’ll be able to find at least a couple of spots to take a short rest, but those hit dice can go faster than you might think!
Fortunately, there are a few solid options for helping you get the most out of each of your hit dice.
If your party has a Bard, the Bard’s Song of Rest feature is perfect for these situations. It lets everyone in the party recover an extra dice (based on the Bard’s level) of hit points when using Hit Dice.
Btw… Bards are pretty awesome! You can learn more in the Full Bard Guide!
The second best way to get extra value out of your Hit Dice is the Durable feat.
With the Durable feat, you get a bump to your Constitution score. However, the real perk is that the minimum HP that you can recover from your hit dice roll is half of your Constitution modifier.
If you’ve got a Constitution score of 18, that gives you a +4 modifier. The Durable feat makes it so that you can’t recover less than double your Constitution modifier worth of hit points (minimum of 2) from each Hit Die you roll. With your +4 modifier, you are guaranteed to get at least 8 HP per Hit Dice you spend!
Related: You can learn all about Feats by clicking here!
The last option is reserved for Dwarves.
The Dwarven Fortitude feat in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything can be a lifesaver in a pinch!
With this feat, you can spend one hit die in combat to heal yourself if you’re taking the Dodge action!
Conclusion – Hit Dice in D&D 5e
Hopefully this has cleared up any questions you have about using Hit Dice in D&D 5e!
They’re a very important part of your character’s “toolbox” when you’re braving dungeons and trying to get that next big loot score!
Still have questions about Hit Dice? Let me know in the comments and I’ll be happy to help you out!
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