Sunday, December 7, 2014

Hit points over time in B/X

I read a claim somewhere that high-level thieves are formidable warriors in B/X and I almost back-stabbed myself for not noticing this before. Then again I rarely play at high levels so at least I have that excuse. At level 3, thieves are still just as wimpy as magic-users of course (details):

Average hit points at level 3.

An average of 7.5 versus the fighter's 13.5 hit points? Hardly a threat to anything but a lone kobold... Things get a bit more interesting at level 14 as the differences between the various classes become more pronounced (details):

Average hit points at level 14.

The thief has now moved past the halfling and the magic-user and is closing in on the elf. Of course an average of 32.5 versus the fighter's 50.5 is still not going to promote the thief into the front ranks. By the time we reach level 25, however, all of that changes (details):

Average hit points at level 25.

Now the thief is second only to the fighter having passed all the other characters on average. Only lucky dwarves could conceivably have more hit points than the thief now. This situation only solidifies by the time we get to level 36 of course (details):

Average hit points at level 36.

At this point the role of the "backup fighter" has clearly shifted from the cleric to the thief, as long as we ignore armor class anyway. So thieves, while starting out at the bottom of the hit point food chain end up close to the top of it. I found that surprising enough to put together a post with lots of nice graphs for you.

Addendum: Just for kicks, how does B/X compare to AD&D for the core classes? Not surprisingly, AD&D characters at level 20 are quite a bit more hardy than B/X characters (details):

Average hit points at level 20 in B/X and AD&D.

The B/X fighter lines up perfectly with the AD&D cleric and the B/X thief is way behind the AD&D thief. Even the AD&D magic-user, getting to roll until level 11, is slightly more beefy than the B/X magic-user.


  1. I probably am missing something, but how come the thief gets ahead of the m/u when they get the same HP per level?

    1. Thieves get +2 after level 9 just like fighters, cleric get +1 just like magic-users. Combined with the 36 levels promised for B/X and BECMI that results in them moving ahead quite a bit.

  2. IMO, this should be tracked by XP total instead of level. Because thieves level up the fastest of the classes.

    1. Actually, after level 9, thieves need 120,000 XP per level just like fighters. So the difference is purely in when they reach name level. There's an 80,000 XP gap between thieves and fighters overall. Level 36 is 3,400,000 for thieves but 3,480,000 for fighters. That's a difference of 2% or so. For the earlier stages you may have a point, but during those the thief is still way behind the cleric in hit points. So I doubt that the XP-based analysis would reveal a lot more.

    2. It's my experience that the vast majority of play happens beneath level 9, however.

    3. And I certainly agree that's the case. But as long as we're below name level, the thief isn't special regarding hit points, it's exactly what everybody knows. So I wouldn't have had anything to post about. :-)

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