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I have been thinking that temporary hit points were like virtual health as per:

Temporary hit points aren’t actual hit points; they are a buffer against damage, a pool of hit points that protect you from injury.

The fact that's virtual makes me think that you don't actually get hit per se. That is, you'd get out without even a scratch if you only lose temporary hit points (i.e. protect you from injury).

However, I have not seen anything anywhere saying that if you are bitten by a creature such as a spider and only lose temporary hit points, you don't get poisoned. Yet, if you don't even sustain a scratch, how could you get poisoned or paralyzed or sick?

How do you guys understand the rules in such circumstances?

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No they do not

The books do not clarify the matter, but Jeremy Crawford has said:

When temporary hit points absorb damage for you, you're still taking damage, just not to your real hit points.

when confirming that temporary HP lost will count toward the DC of a concentration check. This implies that the loss of temporary HP should trigger any effect that happens on the loss of HP.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I am not sure how this answer addressed the actual question. Given that it has been approved, the asker must be satisfied, but it felt like he was intially asking not only for a mechanical response, but also something with fluff. From an in-game perpective, what does "temporary hit point" mean? Calling them a buffer and still treating them like normal hit points sounds a little inconsistent. \$\endgroup\$ – ZwiQ Dec 22 '17 at 8:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ZwiQ You can rule and fluff any way you like and noone is stopping you. Including that in an answer is not really meaningful, though, so we stick to the rules. The rules are there to clarify how the world works anyway. They are called a buffer because they get lost first and if you only lose temp HP you do not need any healing. \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Dec 22 '17 at 8:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Szega Actually, my question was about avoiding poison or paralysis... so you will need such healing if you are affected by such on top of losing a few Temporary Hit Points. But I can understand that just temporary hit points is not going to prevent you from getting poisoned. \$\endgroup\$ – Alexis Wilke Dec 22 '17 at 11:10

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