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The 5e D&D Basic Rules v0.1 description of the second-level cleric spell Aid says (p. 83):

Your spell bolsters your allies with toughness and resolve. Choose up to three creatures within range. Each target's hit point maximum and current hit points increase by 5 for the duration.

I'm a bit confused as to what is supposed to happen to the PC's current HP when the spell ends. Obviously if it's above their normal maximum, it should fall. But do they lose 5 of their current hit points even if it's lower than that? That seems to be what the text is saying, but that seems off to me.

It sort of makes the Aid-granted hit points the opposite of 5e's temporary hit points, in that they're lost last.

In short, I don't trust my reading of the spell. Can anyone help explain it to me?

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This scares me. I haven't read anything about 5e yet, but if Aid wearing off can kill you... imagine casting Aid on a raging barbarian (if that still works that way) and then having his rage run out and his Aid wear off. :P – gatherer818 Jul 31 '14 at 23:59
It seems likely that Heroes' Feast (p. 93) works the same way: "[The target's] hit point maximum also increases by 2d10, and it gains the same number of hit points. These benefits last for 24 hours." – rampion Aug 2 '14 at 12:13
up vote 7 down vote accepted

They go away. The spell gives you a loan of 5 current HP and 5 max HP, and when the spell ends, you give 5 max HP and 5 current HP back.

(Maybe they intended you to keep the current HP like in other healing spells, but I'd be hard put to reason that the "for the duration" somehow makes the maximum HP temporary, but not the current HP too. We've also little indication this was a mistake, other than it's surprising. So, let's go by what they wrote.)

That can drop you to 0hp, but by the end of the 8 hours, you're probably resting and in a healthy state, and the loss of a portion of your HP won't be devastating.

The fact it can drop you to 0hp might be surprising, but it makes sense from the spell's description:

Your spell bolsters your allies with toughness and resolve.

The spell gives you a little bit of extra oomph to keep you going. (Well, eight hours of oomph.) When the spell goes away, that oomph does too. If you're decently healthy, you'll feel slightly more worn. If you're at 1-4hp, basically on the brink of passing out and dying, then this oomph is the little bit extra that's still keeping you going, and it will be bad if it goes away.

Have healing spells handy if you have someone under Aid, and keep track of time to make sure they're in a healthy state when it ends.

Of course, if you find the above absurd or terrible or something else, you can feel free to say the 5hp granted goes away first, just like temporary HP.

Isn't it Temporary HP?

Probably not. D&D 5e does have rules for Temporary Hit Points, but this spell doesn't appear to grant them. They could have written "temporary HP", but instead they wrote "current HP".

The argument could be made they should be interpreted as Temporary HP because they're temporary, but nothing in either Aid's description nor the writing about Temporary HP really suggests this interpretation should be made. Aid seems to grant real HP, which means it can do things Temporary HP can't do, like bring you back from 0hp.

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I asked Mike Mearls about this on Twitter:

This sounds like it's somewhere in-between the answers we've got here. When Aid expires, your current hit points are adjusted down to your natural max, if they're higher than your max. Otherwise, they're yours to keep, I guess.

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Mr. Mearls does not seem to have really understood the concern. It's not about the maximum (max xp going down while still at full life) that we're worried, rather the opposite (does current XP go down as well when the effect ends?) – Zachiel Aug 2 '14 at 0:24
Yeah, I thought the same thing. Maybe he'll clarify it at some point. – Mark Bessey Aug 2 '14 at 0:43
I doubt he will by his own accord, if he has not understood this was the problem. In my experience when people give you an answer that's not on target they believe the problem is solved and stop thinking about it. – Zachiel Aug 2 '14 at 12:04
This answer addresses that concern as well. It states "your current hit points are adjusted down to your natural max, if they're higher than your max." That plainly states that it doesn't truly alter current, unless they end up over the max when it changes. – Aviose Aug 11 '14 at 16:16
Mearls appears to have misread the question: we know that at max HP it goes away, but what about at lower health? Maybe he implicitly thinks he wrote that you can keep your current HP in this spell, or isn't aware of what the spell actually says (possibly on account of not having written it)? – doppelgreener Aug 11 '14 at 22:00

Edit: This is apparently totally wrong. See other answers for more discussion...

It seems clear that the hit points granted by Aid are intended to be temporary hit points. Are you just confused because the description for Aid doesn't specifically use that term?

A few relevant quotes from the rules:

Temporary hit points

Because temporary hit points are separate from your actual hit points, they can exceed your hit point maximum. A character can, therefore, be at full hit points and receive temporary hit points.

Aid description

Your spell bolsters your allies with toughness and resolve. Choose up to three creatures within range. Each target’s hit point maximum and current hit points increase by 5 for the duration.

Temporary hit points are the only way that your current hit points can exceed your natural maximum. The Aid description is, I guess, less clear than it could be - they could just drop the part about increasing the "hit point maximum", since that doesn't really make sense.

I can only hope that someone at Wizards caught this before the PHB went to press...

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Well, it does say current hit points. Though, then again, no spells in D&D 5e use the term "temporary hit points", nor even the word "temporary", according to a CTRL+F through the printer-friendly (and CTRL+F-friendly) basic rules. – doppelgreener Aug 1 '14 at 0:53
They don't work like temporary hit points from any edition at all though. As the question says, temporary hit points don't go away last, they get used up first in 3e and in 5e too. If they're all gone later, you don't lose them again after the granting spell expires. These though, do. – SevenSidedDie Aug 1 '14 at 0:57
No, these are different as your max increases for the duration. Temporary hit points, once lost, are gone (p. 76 "Healing can't restore temporary hit points, and they can't be added together."). By increasing the max, this allows for these new hit points to be healed. Not to mention since they're "real" hit points, they can stack with TempHP. – rampion Aug 1 '14 at 0:58
This seems much more likely to be a bad spell explanation, rather than a mysterious effect that only applies to a 2nd-level Cleric spell. – Mark Bessey Aug 1 '14 at 1:01
Spell effects are the most mysterious of things in D&D. They can be different and create ad hoc effects if they want to. It's possible that they meant to leverage the temporary HP mechanics for aid, but that's guesswork and the fact is they didn't in Basic v0.1. – SevenSidedDie Aug 1 '14 at 1:05

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