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I'm not exactly sure how Temporary Hit Points work in Pathfinder but here's what the Talent states:

Once per day, a rogue with this ability can gain a number of temporary hit points equal to the rogue's level. Activating this ability is an immediate action that can only be performed when she is brought below 0 hit points. This ability can be used to prevent her from dying. These temporary hit points last for 1 minute. If the rogue's hit points drop below 0 due to the loss of these temporary hitpoints, she falls unconscious and is dying as normal."

I'm assuming that means that if I were hit by something for 10 points of damage and I'm only level 7, my hit points still fall below 0 to -3 and I'd still be unconscious. Or does it mean that, after the hit, I receive these hit points and they last until depleted or the 6 rounds have gone by?

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How temporary hit points work in Pathfinder: d20pfsrd.com/gamemastering/combat#TOC-Temporary-Hit-Points –  mxyzplk Feb 9 '11 at 20:51

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Your 7th level rogue has 1HP. Rogue takes 10 points of damage (which brings her to -9HP). In response, the talent activates and gives 7tHP (bringing the total to -2). You are still unconscious, but you now have 6 rounds to have a buddy pour a healing potion down your throat, attempt first aid, or for you to stabilize normally.

Assuming instead that the damage is 5 points (instead of the 10 you use in your question), the pattern goes: 1HP, -5HP from attack (to -4). Resiliency kicks in giving 7tHP (bringing total to +3). Now the Rogue has the opportunity to withdraw, and drink the healing potion in her backpack. Or perhaps beg a heal spell from the Cleric.

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I figured that's more how it would work but wasn't sure and the DM wasn't quite sure how to rule on it cause he sorta just rules things on the fly to keep the game going. –  rleahcim Feb 9 '11 at 16:17
Actually temporary hp don't cure the Rogue. In the first example she stays at -9 HP (and still must stabilize), but she has a cushion that could absorb other 7 points of damage. Similarly, in the second example, temporary hp should kick in before the damage in order to leave her on her feet, otherwise she goes unconscious when she reaches -4 hp, and doesn't wake up when she receives temporary hp. –  Erik Burigo Mar 29 '11 at 12:44
@EnvisionAndDevelop. Yes: that's why I believe that temporary HP should kick in before the damage (see my answer to this question). –  Erik Burigo May 17 at 10:10
@ErikBurigo you're right, I'm not sure what I was thinking. Deleting my comment. –  EnvisionAndDevelop May 18 at 15:12

Temporary hit points are only a cushion against future damage, not an actual healing. If a character drops below 0, granting him/her temporary hp doesn't make him/her conscious nor stabilized.

The wording of the talent seems confusing, much because Pathfinder doesn't specifically defines immediate interrupts and immediate reactions.

The intent of the talent seems to be preemptive:

[...] This ability can be used to prevent her from dying. [...]

So it should grant temporary hp before the damage lands on the rogue, even if a previous statement suggest it is a reactive:

[...] can only be performed when she is brought below 0 hit points. [...]

But this sentence alone negates the beneficial effect of the talent. I'd use the conditional clause: "when she would be brought below 0 hit points", thus making the sentence a preemptive trigger.

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...Except that being brought below 0 hit points doesn't cause death. A character with 10 CON and 1 hp who was hit by 7 damage would drop to -6 hp, and would be alive. Unconcious and dying, maybe, but still not dead. As a result, there is no conflict between the two quotes you mentioned, and thus no need to interpret the intent of the talent as preemptive. –  GMJoe May 24 '12 at 4:51
Correct: the two sentences I've cited aren't in contradiction. However, the talent also says: "If the rogue's hit points drop below 0 due to the loss of these temporary hit points, she falls unconscious and is dying as normal." This seems to imply that the Rogue stood on her feet by virtue of this talent (enforcing the preemptive interpretation). –  Erik Burigo May 24 '12 at 7:44
Ooh, that does complicate it. I don't know what to think anymore. –  GMJoe May 25 '12 at 0:19

To me, either way would make sense, but sticking with the effect after you would be brought down below 0 would make sense too. Say you were at 5 hp and too 10 damage bringing you to -5 and you fall to the ground unconscious. Then the effect goes off giving you 7 temp hp and brings you back up to + 2 hp. you would then be able to wake up and withdraw or drink a potion or whatever hopefully before you take more damage or loose your temp hp in which case you would fall back unconscious.

If the kill would outright kill you, I would think/ hope that the effect would be able to go off before you would actually die, but it's more nitpicking on the preemptive part having it occur before the damage/ killing damage would occur.

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