[RPG] How to the DM boost a low-HP character


There's a wizard (effective character level: 5) in our party who is very low on HP (has a total of about nine, if I remember correctly), thanks to an initial low CON and an acquired template (+1 ECL) that lowered it even further. The character is quite a great one: it's memorable and interesting, but his low HP makes any sort of combat encounter rather risky for him, and, consequently, for the party itself. Problem is, the party has a number of fighter-types, whose players enjoy the occasional skirmish…

How could the DM boost, or help (such) a character boost its HP and/or combat readiness? (The less deus ex machina and more official the method, the better.)

Best Answer

It is usually considered outside the DM's job scope to directly increase the hit points (or combat effectiveness in general) of one particular character. Players have a certain amount of freedom in how they build their character, which occasionally means they shoot themselves in the foot.

But the DM can do some things like:

  • Offer a way to remove the template. if it was acquired in-game, it may be removable in-game. Level adjustment usually does seriously bad things to a character's power.
  • Introduce UA's LA buyoff rules. They come with their own bag of problems, but eventually, they should lead to the character's number of HD (and thus HP) catching up.
  • Retcon the ability score generation. Less desirable, but the option is there. If the player did the original ability score generation very badly, such as assigning too low a Con score due to just not knowing how the system works, or rolling very bad statistics to begin with, this can be handwaved in.

But. An easier route than fixing the character by DM intervention might be to just point out the options available to the character to the player. The Wizard class has a great many powerful defensive spells to increase their survivability, even at low levels, and even in core. And Wizards can easily learn new spells. Defensive spells include:

  • False Life, 2nd level necromancy. A single casting lasts for a long time and just about doubles that particular character's HP.
  • Invisibility, 2nd level illusion. Most creatures at that level have a hard time even finding an invisible creature in combat, dealing damage to them even more so. Blinding Color Surge (Player's Handbook 2) is an effective in-combat option that serves a similar purpose.
  • Mirror Image, 2nd level illusion. It's possibly the most effective defense a spell slot can buy at this level.
  • Mage Armor, 1st level conjuration. Because it's cheap AC, which never hurt. Luminous Armor (Book of Exalted Deeds) is really, really effective at this, too.
  • Nerveskitter (Spell Compendium), 1st level transmutation. Increases Initiative, which makes the character less vulnerable at the start of combat.
  • Battlefield control in general, such as Obscuring Mist, Web, Silent/Minor Image and Fog Cloud. In the long term, these are likely to become the primary means of a Wizard's defense.

The DM can also, very easily, add specific items to a monster's treasure hoard to help with the problem, provided the players are wise enough to let the wizard wear or use them: