Our fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons characters get put through the wringer on the regular during adventures, and pull off incredible acts in pursuit of quest success. And when they get a moment to catch their breath, a pool of resources – Hit Dice – waits to give them enough energy to press on. But what if there were other uses for these sometimes forgotten and often unspent dice? What if your characters could tap into these reserves outside of a short rest to perform amazing stunts? From Hit Dice to Heroics, our latest product in the Nerdarchy store, answers that question!
Don’t let those D&D Hit Dice go to waste
Armor Class, hit points, ability score modifiers, proficiency bonuses…these numbers on our D&D character sheets come up all the time during a game session. Will the remorhaz penetrate your sword-and-board fighter’s defenses with it’s bite attack (+11 to hit)? Is your raging barbarian still standing after the mind flayer’s mind blast knocks off 22 hit points on nonresisted psychic damage? Can your rogue pick the complex lock even with expertise in thieves’ tools? Does your sorcerer have enough juice left to twin another disintegrate spell? Will your bard talk their way past the surly gate guard?
It’s fair to say we’ve played a lot of D&D here at Nerdarchy, in every edition of the game. And one of our favorite things about fifth edition D&D is the modular design permeating the system, from character creation to complete campaigns. Throughout our adventures, Hit Dice as a resource is one of those design chunks we notice doesn’t get used in our games all that much. Whether we’re running two hour live stream games for friends or fans, or six hour sessions in Nerdarchist Ted’s basement, opportunities for characters to spend their Hit Dice don’t seem to come up all that often. Heroes get hurt plenty, no doubt about it, but the stories we tell around the gaming table tend not to lean too heavily into multiple combat encounters strung together where Hit Dice become a valuable asset.
Instead, larger set piece battles or narrative fights spread out over longer in-game times give characters plenty of chances to rest up and regain their full strength before engaging in combat again. Fights are exciting, action-packed and full of danger for our heroes, but we’ve had a nagging feeling about Hit Dice since the early days of fifth edition D&D. Could they be used for something more? If they represent a character’s reserve of power, was there a way to tap into that power beyond getting a few hit points back during a short rest?
Along came Recovery Dice Options from Total Party Kill Games, and got the wheels spinning in our imaginations. So we put together a series of videos with our own ideas about different ways to use Hit Dice to fuel new abilities. We took a deep dive into every D&D class, coming up with new options for each and every one to use Hit Dice in alternative ways. Some are designed to be useful for any subclass, while others are tied to specific ones from the Player’s Handbook. When we started the series, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything had not yet been released, so we stuck to the basic class selections for the entire video series.
By the time we’d wrapped up the video series, we had over 40 new ways to use Hit Dice for your D&D characters!
Along the way, Nerditor Doug started offering the options to players in his home game, and the response was terrific. They loved being able to use extraordinary new abilities and add new levels of flavor to their characters. Since each option is keyed to signature class features, players felt like their characters exemplified their class even more and really add unique flavor to the campaign. When he asked if he could compile the video content into a product we could put in the Nerdarchy store, how could we say no?
After transcribing the video content into written text and translating it into fifth edition language and mechanics, the Nerdarchy team took several passes to tweak things and we kept at it until everyone was happy with the results. With four people adding input and insights, we felt like reaching a point where everyone was satisfied made for the strongest end results.
And thanks to the awesome Publisher Resources at DriveThruRPG we discovered a whole multiverse of art available for commercial use, which really added a ton of value to the content. Some of these assets are even offered for free, and many have incredibly reasonable prices. If you’re designing your own products, it’s absolutely worth taking a look to see what awesome artwork you can add to your material. (And if you do, you can use our exclusive coupon code DTRPG-Nerdarchy for a one-time 10 percent discount on digital orders $10 or more.)
Everyone here at Nerdarchy is so excited to see the response From Hit Dice to Heroics is getting. D&D players and DMs alike have added these options to their own games and we’ve heard nothing but positive results. Our own live stream Ingest Quest 5E Spelljammer game includes these fun new mechanics as part of the house rules and they’re seeing quite a bit of use in that campaign too.
So if your D&D players often leave their Hit Dice pools unspent, or you’re simply looking for cool options to give characters more opportunities to be awesome, head over to the Nerdarchy store and grab a copy of From Hit Dice to Heroics. And let us know in the review section there what you think. With all the new subclasses available to players, there’s plenty of design space left to come up with tons of new options too. And we haven’t even touched all the playable races yet!
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