Ever since 2011, I think it was, a character's Hit Points are now visible to others in their party. This has enabled a lot of grief (especially for new players and veteran specialists) when playing in parties with folks who are obsessed with Maximum Hit Point numbers. (Theirs and other's.) I have heard of folks getting dropped from parties and/or being treated improperly because someone thought their Maximum Hit Points were too low. I have heard of players receiving poor advice on their builds, such as "EVERYONE needs a high Maximum Hit Point total." Such bad behavior in our community should stop, of course, but there is not much we can do in controlling others. So I decided to offer this thread as a way to equip new players with more game knowledge to help them feel secure and confident in their characters, as well as to offer veterans an opportunity to relate to the material herein. The purpose of this thread, then, is for constructive and positive conversation to take place, of which this community always needs more.
There are two kinds of Hit Points in Dungeons & Dragons Online (DDO): Current HP and Maximum HP.
A character's Current Hit Points are a matter of life and death. If he goes below a Current HP of 1, then he cannot participate in the quest. If he goes below a Current HP of (-9), then he will be dead and will need to be resurrected in order to participate. Keep in mind, however, that a player remains alive so long as his Current HP is above (-9). Also, in order to stay alive and have a chance for the Perfection Bonus at the end of the quest (+10% XP!), all players will need to keep their Current HP above (-9) at all times and never go below that. The best way to ensure a Perfection Bonus to XP, then, is to have sufficient healing in your party. In a massively multiplayer online (MMO) game, you will have the opportunity to balance your parties with up to six or twelve other players. Balancing parties with specialists is a great way to keep everyone alive and succeed in the quests' objectives.
A character's Maximum Hit Points are not a matter of life and death. The only thing that Max. HP provides is the ability for a character to survive big hits (either qualitatively or quantitatively) a bit longer so that the party healer can increase his Current HP to a safer level so that he can take even more big hits. That's it. It does not matter if your character's Max. HP is 1,800 or 180 - he will only be alive based on his Current HP (which must be above (-9)).
So when building your character, consider how you are going to actually play him. Team strategies will determine if you need to worry about certain statistics. But it is a good idea to always know your role in a party, to do your job, and to help others do their jobs. After all, MMOs are all about meeting nice, fun people and then playing to team strategies. Being a good team player and being friendly will help you and everyone else succeed.
The characters who need a high Maximum Hit Point number are typically the front line combatants. These are characters who either expect or WANT to take big hits from enemies. A prime example is the Tank unit, which is the melee character in the party whose job it is to grab ALL enemy Aggro and hold it. When he succeeds at this, then the team can just wail on bad guys and support the Tank. (Works like a charm.) In that case, the Tank will need a very high number of Maximum Hit Points. The reason is because he will be taking numerous hits (quantity) and huge-damage hits (quality). As a result, the party's healer will have to constantly cast spells on the Tank in order to keep his Current HP above (-9) (hopefully above 1!) at all times so that the Tank can do his job for the team. With the Tank having his Current HP going down so fast and so often, having a high amount of Maximum HP enables the healer to keep him going longer.
Another character that needs a relatively high Maximum HP is the Infantry unit of the party. This front line combatant is usually busy flanking the enemies whose focus is on the Tank. With all the enemy fire coming towards the Tank, the nearby Infantry unit should expect to receive a fair amount of big hits, both quantitatively and qualitatively. Hence, a higher Maximum HP will help the party's Medic to heal them both more easily.
In the two above examples, any character being played as a Tank or an Infantry either WANT or EXPECT to receive big hits. As a result, they will need high Maximum Hit Points so as to give the party's Medic a chance to keep their Current Hit Points in the positive.
The other way to play a character is from the back line of combat. Usually back there are the Spellcaster class types and the Specialist class types, all performing ranged duties. They play from a safe position and rely on the Tank to keep enemies off of them. Back line combatants neither want nor expect to receive big hits. As a result, they should be built to specialize on their ranged, back line duties and not on the front line duties. Hence, Maximum Hit Points is not a concern for back line operators (like the Combat Controller, the Medic, the Artillery, and usually the Engineer). But while Current HP is everyone's concern (and thank goodness for those who play Medics in DDO!), Maximum HP will not help the back line do their jobs better, especially when they are busy avoiding damage altogether.
But there are rare instances when the back line combatants will pick up enemy Aggro. Because they invested their precious build resources into AVOIDING damage and not into Maximum Hit Points, they will be vulnerable to big hits. But fear not, for big hits can almost always be avoided: such as by not walking through armed traps, not soloing mobs with a Robe on, and learning more about a quest as you read up on them on the DDO Wiki or practice them with your friends.
The ways that a character avoids taking damage (especially big hits) is by building, gearing, and playing for such a thing. Building on Hit Points does nothing to help a character avoid taking damage. Hit Points also do not make your character stronger, nor does having a high Maximum HP guarantee that you will live. So let's consider what WILL help a character live when he is not focused on his Maximum Hit Points number. (That is, a character who avoids taking damage at all, thus reducing or eliminating the need for a high Maximum HP number.)
1) Playing from the back line means that you are in a safe place. Playing from safety instead of in danger is a great way to avoid taking any damage, which then lets you focus on doing what you do better than anyone else can do.
2) Try not to get Aggro. (A.k.a. "Stay low on enemy Hate Lists.") There are great ways in DDO to avoid grabbing Aggro:
(A) always stay in the back line and let the Tank grab all the Aggro (a.k.a. "Help others do their jobs");
(B) don't be the first person that an enemy sees, or you will be at the top of his Hate List, and then he will attack you (because you grabbed his Aggro);
(C) coordinate your attacks on those targets that you know for sure are focused on the Tank (so that you don't accidentally pull them)
(D) utilize Threat-reducing techniques, such as with gear (like the Stealth Strike item enchantment, which is easy to Craft, by the way) and Enhancements (like Wizard/Sorcerer Subtle Spellcasting).
3) Shed any Aggro that you do get. The primary Skill for shedding Aggro is the Diplomacy Skill. If you get Aggro somehow, then pull the enemy to the Tank and click on the Diplomacy Skill. It is good, therefore, to build up on this Skill for all back line combatants, because they do not want Aggro. Diplomacy only works on enemies that can be Influenced, however. This means that you might have to pull your enemy to the Tank or Infantry and hope that they can pull the Aggro off you by repeatedly hitting the enemy until he switches to where he pays attention. Be patient and helpful for your teammates, as that will help you to live, as well.
4) Sometimes you just need to move. Sometimes the battle will shift and endanger you. Sometimes you are standing in range of an Area of Effect spell (like Cometfall, which can knock you down). Pay attention and move to or remain in safe locations.
There are other ways to avoid damage. The four methods listed above deal predominantly with gameplay strategies. But there are also ways to build your character that enable him to avoid taking damage, even when he does pull Aggro or is standing in a dangerous place. But nevertheless, the idea is for these back line characters to help themselves minimize or avoid taking any damage at all, as well as to avoid grabbing and keeping any enemy Aggro.
So let's review a more comprehensive list of ways to avoid taking damage:
* Operate from safe locations
* Help the Tank do his job
* Correspond your attacks (optimal targeting)
* Reduce your Threat output
* Utilize the Diplomacy Skill near the Tank
* Move out of the way of danger
* Have high Saving Throw scores
* Sneak around undetected
* Have a high Armor Class score
* Increase your Damage Reduction (DR)
* Increase your Spell Resistance (SR)
* Buffs, buffs, buffs!
Notice that all of these methods will help you keep your Current HP high enough to live, while none of them rely on Maximum Hit Points whatsoever. (Though buffs can increase your Max. HP, which is more of a byproduct or bonus.)
There are characters that are built around their Dexterity score. Rogues, Monks, and Rangers come to mind, as having a high Dexterity score boosts their Reflex Saves (used for their Evasion class Feat), their survival Skills (Balance, Hide, Move Silently, Tumble), their Amor Class, and the ability to deal damage, sometimes. (Not all Rogues, Rangers, and Monks are built the same, of course. But these are the most likely classes to survive on their Dexterity score more so than any other.) Specialist class types and Monks can certainly rely on their Dexterity score in lieu of spellcasting abilities and high Max. HP numbers, but Diplomacy remains the best Skill to build upon for shedding (and pre-emptively avoiding) enemy Aggro for any character so interested.
Damage Reduction is usually augmented by items that you find, but can also come from buffs or other special circumstances. Relying on DR, however, is not a good idea for a back line combatant, just like relying on Maximum Hit Points is not a good idea. DR helps, but it will not save you, and so building for more DR is generally unnecessary. On the other hand, DR is fantastic for front line combatants who expect to take multiple hits. (DR and Max. HP are really just front line statistics. Back line combatants can work fine without building for these.)
Lastly, always get your buffs! Buffs keep you alive longer and help you to survive most situations in this game. The buffs that you receive from Spellcasters and Airships are liefsavers, and they tend to augment just about every single thing that your character normally does or could use at any given moment. Wait until everyone is inside the quest, then wait for the Spellcasters to buff, and then head out according to your team's strategy. The game will be so much more fun and survivable if do that.
As you can see, the difference between Current Hit Points and Maximum Hit Points is made more clear in understanding the party roles (this is, after all, a role-playing game) and what the back line characters do in contrast to the front line characters. Everyone needs a Current HP number of (-9) or greater, while only the front line combatants need high Maximum HP numbers. Naturally, back line Spellcaster class types need more in the way of Spell Points and sometimes also Spell Penetration, Spell Difficulty Class (like with Spell Focus), and things that boost their spellcasting abilities (like Spellpower).
As a team, you are balanced when each and every function in the game is handled by some specialist within the party. Characters who are mediocre at numerous game functions on their own are sometimes dead weight in a group and tend not to be too reliable except for, maybe, some minor melee function. When everyone is the best at their position, however, then the team is balanced and success is more likely, which always increases the fun of the game.
So never forget who needs Current HP (everyone!) and who provides it (the Medic!), as well as who needs the high Maximum Hit Points (the front line combatants). That way, when you build to how you want to play your character, you can better understand the game in general, as well as carry about an air of confidence when someone from the community does not fully understand or apply these game concepts, or if he tries to belittle you or your build. Stay strong and positive, and don't let anyone tell you what you did was wrong - the game and this community are much bigger than that.