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Warlocks have access to this invocation:

Fiendish Vigor

You can cast false life on yourself at will as a 1st-level spell, without expending a spell slot or material components.

False Life is a 1 action spell with a 1 hour duration that does this:

Bolstering yourself with a necromantic facsimile of life, you gain 1d4 + 4 temporary hit points for the duration.

Given the negligible cost in casting it (outside combat), wouldn't every warlock just keep casting it round after round until they got 8 temporary hp which would then last 1 hour? And then do it again when those expired. And again. And ...

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Sep 8 '17 at 12:22
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Sure, it can't hurt.

Assuming that the player agrees (and I see no reason for them not to), yes, you can just assume that a warlock with that invocation starts with their buffs on.

I played a 3.5 game where all of us were using highly optimized, self-buffing characters who would stack buffs on ourselves before every combat. It was a waste of time for everyone to announce their buffs at every encounter, so the DM just assumed that we had them on at the start of each non-surprise encounter, and we subtracted the resources ourselves. We never had any issues with this system.

Just don't forget about it--having a spell constantly on like that means that they will show up on detect magic, for example, and there might be situations where constant obvious spellcasting might draw unwanted attention.

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This is a topic that came up in our recent campaign.
We agreed that just like a person doesn't walk around repeatedly holding their breath in case they fall in water, a fighter doesn't walk around with his weapons drawn, my Warlock doesn't walk around expending the (even relatively little) effort to keep recasting a spell on herself 'just in case'. If nothing else, calling upon my pact over and over without any real reason is a draw on my patronage.
If on the other hand, we see combat coming, then I cast the spell as we ready (just as everyone is able to draw their weapons) and I roll 1d4+4 (once).
edit: For example, if we're walking into a magical tower where the Lich was last seen, I'm casting False Life. If we're strolling through the woods on 5hour march to our destination, I'm not recasting it regularly.

Why not always start with 8 hitpoints? Simple. I only know the spell worked. Not how well it worked. Whatever my first successful cast gives me, I have no reason to believe I can do it better by repeating the process.

Thanks to @IcyFire's comment. We play that PCs don't know the numbers of their stats. We know a clean, hard hit vs a glancing blow. We know when healing has made a substantial difference vs when it only seemed to stem the bleeding. So I acknowledge that this part is probably not relevant to all.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Sep 8 '17 at 12:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ w/r/t "I only know the spell worked. Not how well it worked." -- over time the Warlock would notice "sometimes when I use it, I seem a bit hardier than others...", and could experiment with stacking it, and eventually deduce that, "if I cast this 15 times in a row I am likely to get the maximum available benefit from it". \$\endgroup\$ – Doktor J Oct 16 at 4:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DoktorJ if one rolls a d8 15 times, can one deduce they will get the maximum result? False life does not stack, it is temporary hit points. When you cast it, all temporary hit points are removed and the new value is applied. \$\endgroup\$ – Luke Oct 16 at 5:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Luke IC, the Warlock could use downtime to experiment, and if 15 casts seems to be the number that regularly produces the optimal result, they could go with that. Sure, sometimes they won't get an 8 (doing some quick random.org checks, it looks to be ~10-15%), but the player (OOC) could just roll a fistful prior to each combat and look for an 8 if the DM is going to be a stickler about it. If they're not satisfied with "most of the time", going up to 20 casts seems to produce an 8 about 98% of the time. At 6 seconds per action (cast), that's two minutes' prep for an hour's worth of temp HP. \$\endgroup\$ – Doktor J Oct 16 at 15:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DoktorJ you're missing the point. If I roll an 8 on roll 14, and then on 15 roll a 1, my result is 1 not 8. It is only ever the last cast that counts, not the 'best of x' \$\endgroup\$ – Luke Oct 16 at 22:11

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