Author Topic: What is 1 character level (or 1 hit die) worth?  (Read 689 times)

Offline Endarire

  • DnD Handbook Writer
  • ****
  • Posts: 1560
  • Smile! Jesus loves you!
    • View Profile
    • Greg Campbell's Portfolio
What is 1 character level (or 1 hit die) worth?
« on: September 16, 2018, 12:10:34 AM »
Greetings, all!

This is something that even WotC had trouble figuring out back in the day:

What is 1 character level (or 1 hit die) worth?

In its simplest form, it's worth at least 1 HD with associated skill points, BAB progression, and save(s) progression.  Sometimes, spellcasting (prepared or spontaneous) is progressed.  (You can substitute casting here for other similar systems like manifesting, binding, martial maneuvers, and maybe also Incarnum.)  Sometimes class features are gained in addition to or instead of casting.

Taking the first level in a class as the first level overall provides 4x skill points and usually max HP for that HD.  Taking the first level of any class also grants proficiencies and access to a new list of class skills which may overlap with ones the character already has.  If favored classes are in play, other penalties and bonuses apply.

Answering the thread's title question is understandably complicated since taking Fighter1 at level 1 provides a variety of proficiencies, a bonus feat, and likely also max HP for that HD, while taking Fighter1 after Wizard5 is more questionable.  (Certain builds intend to do this.  I acknowledge that.)

Level adjustments further complicate things since they give features in the short-term while normally giving none of the scaling level-based abilities (HD, skill points, saves, and class features), and when a level adjustment is gained also matters.  Being stuck level 1 with a notable level adjustment is painful, and probably more painful overall than having that same level adjustment at level 5 or 10.  (I am aware of level adjustment buyoff from Unearthed Arcana.)

Racial HD also complicate things since they generally give less than what an equal number of class levels would give, but at least they can give skills, HP/HD, BAB. and base saves.

Thus, what is 1 character level (or 1 hit die) worth?  What standards exist or should exist?

Offline Keldar

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 923
  • What's this button do?
    • View Profile
Re: What is 1 character level (or 1 hit die) worth?
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2018, 01:44:53 PM »
The problem isn't having an exact value for a HD, its that WotC eventually decided several were worth 1, when all HD are in fact, worth less than 1.  Would you ever play a character that had no special abilities at all?  The best monster HD, the dragon, is roughly tied with the Warblade.  The Warblade gets all kinds benefits with every level, the Dragon gets to... talk down to kobolds.  Its like they thought Warrior was a perfectly cromulent class and made clones of it. 
With the Fighter, odd levels have no bonus, each one taken diluting the final value of the overall class.  Judging by the paucity of builds that go past Fighter 6, the cumulative value of pure HD on the Fighter must be low enough that Fighter 7 has no value, and its only the third time a level has no feat.  Which implies, mathmagically, the value of a Fighter HD, one of the better ones, is only worth about .3!

But skill points, saves and BAB aren't really part of hit die.  They're part of the class, part of a bundle associated with hit die.  Which makes the question even more convoluted.

I have less idea where I'm going with this than I do with where you were going with the question.   So, put me down for HD are always worth less than 1 level.

Offline awaken_D_M_golem

  • Epic Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 7356
  • (un-) Amazingly Unproductive
    • View Profile
Re: What is 1 character level (or 1 hit die) worth?
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2018, 04:27:35 PM »
It's worth exactly one half of 2 Caelic Commandments.

(click to show/hide)


Except for when if very obviously doesn't.  Like 4e.

5e is more opaque but you can see it with the full, half and third casters
and hints from rogue's sneak of fighters 3rd attack.
avatar#3 , gravitational lensing edition ... I'm way on the other side of the universe but look like pretty rings

Offline wotmaniac

  • Legendary Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1584
  • Procrastinator in Chief
    • View Profile
Re: What is 1 character level (or 1 hit die) worth?
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2018, 01:25:22 AM »
Depends on what goal you're aiming at.  Is this geared towards building something out of your answers; or is this just some ground-level musing?

First start by separating level from HD.  1 character level is worth 1 HD + some special class abilities. 
Like character levels, what a particular type of HD is worth depends on the niche that the creature is expected to fulfill.

I'm fine breaking that down further into something useful; but I'll need you to answer my opening question first (else I waste a bunch of time spewing a bunch of useless, aimless drivel)

Offline Nanashi

  • Lurker
  • *
  • Posts: 15
  • I'm new!
    • View Profile
Re: What is 1 character level (or 1 hit die) worth?
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2018, 01:26:26 AM »
Half an Inspire Greatness. To my knowledge it's the only source of temporary HD in all of 3.X or PF.

Offline Endarire

  • DnD Handbook Writer
  • ****
  • Posts: 1560
  • Smile! Jesus loves you!
    • View Profile
    • Greg Campbell's Portfolio
Re: What is 1 character level (or 1 hit die) worth?
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2018, 11:25:48 PM »
This is more about personal musing and understanding.

Offline awaken_D_M_golem

  • Epic Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 7356
  • (un-) Amazingly Unproductive
    • View Profile
Re: What is 1 character level (or 1 hit die) worth?
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2018, 07:10:43 PM »
my apologies for starting jocular.


E6's top level doesn't advance, as in there is No Level. 
It doesn't have to be level 6, it could be any level, say randomly determined d12 let's play that then No Levels.

wotc put out a series of class articles about Dead Levels, where there's a level but it's the least of one, so they add a ribbon to it to make it feel more meaningful than 1 level of commoner.

5e distills most of the various level bonuses out of view, and ignores the previous dead levels position for full casters, effectively saying a worse-than-dead-level is now "A Level".

C.O. has either proved or near proved, that top end levels the math breaks down.  People play up there sometimes, but stuff just goes wherever/whichway off track.  They are levels, and they're Meaningless Levels.

If a particular game has enough magic tea party going on, the whole idea of levels becomes of little importance.  It's kinda like all the pages in the dmg that are worthless in a low magic item campaign = thanks for taking my money I like being ripped off with a smile for the "art".  These meaningless levels are somehow quite different from the previous meaningless levels just above.

They could be proxies for people real life Age Levels.  Dude says I'm level 30-something, I can scare level 11 goblins anyday besides halloween.

1e had Level 0 npcs.  Squeezing down all the details of the red shirt lieutenant to a well deserved 0.  Hey I got bit by a bug <player drops> {end scene}.

Military , 1e class level names , and Modrons , might as well use a Number Level, right?  Where the number subs for whachamacallit Fluff you'll fill in later.

 :huh
avatar#3 , gravitational lensing edition ... I'm way on the other side of the universe but look like pretty rings