Dungeons & Dragons: Temporary HP Explained

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  • What Is Temporary HP?
  • Common Sources Of Temporary HP
  • Things To Look Out For When Gaining Temporary HP

As one of the most widely popular traditional tabletop RPGs, Dungeons & Dragons is a game that combines, social role-playing scenarios, puzzle-solving, exploration, and combat. The game's combat system offers a significant degree of depth, and it is home to a wide variety of unique mechanics for players to utilize as they strategize.

While some of these mechanics can be easily overlooked by new players, others can be deceptive in their usefulness in potential applications. One such mechanic is Temporary HP. So in order to help newcomers to Dungeons & Dragons better understand the game's mechanics, we'll be explaining everything you need to know about Temporary HP.

What Is Temporary HP?

Unlike effects like that of the Cure Wounds spell that replenish lost HP, some spells and abilities can provide a character with Temporary HP. Temporary HP is essentially an expansion on top of a character's standard HP pool, providing them with additional bulk and insurance in combat. If a character with any Temporary HP would sustain damage, they lose their Temporary HP first. Unlike normal HP, even if that character is healed after losing some of their Temporary HP, healing magic does not replenish Temporary HP.

Temporary HP is a great quick solution to ensure a character can keep fighting after taking some damage, or it can be applied to a character before they enter a battle, meaning they'll require more damage to be taken out of commission. If a creature can regularly supply itself with Temporary HP, it will be incredibly difficult to take down.

Common Sources Of Temporary HP

While there are various potential sources of Temporary HP in D&D, it is most commonly gained through the effects of spells. While Wizards and Sorcerers tend to be among the frailest characters in all of D&D, low-level characters of these classes have access to the False Life spell, providing bulk and survivability in the form of Temporary HP.

Additionally, the iconic Warlock spell, Armor of Agathys, can produce Temporary HP for its caster, dealing damage to any creatures that would attack the Warlock as long as any of this Temporary HP remains.

For those who want to use Temporary HP without the use of magic, it should be noted that the Inspiring Leader feat allows a character to provide Temporary HP to their allies through inspiring speeches.

Things To Look Out For When Gaining Temporary HP

When using effects that provide a character with Temporary HP, there are a few things that you need to be conscious of.

  • Firstly, a character can only have temporary HP from a single source at once. This means that if a character who already has Temporary HP from one source would gain more from another, they must either maintain the amount they already have or choose to replace it with the new total. This means that even if a spellcaster knew both Armor of Agathys and False Life, they'd only be able to benefit from the effects of one of these spells at a time.
  • Additionally, while this should go without saying, it's important to know that Temporary HP is not HP. This means that if an effect such as that of Power Word Kill or Power Word Stun accounts for a creature's current HP, any Temporary HP isn't accounted for.

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