In a comment to an answer, the fellow stackizen Thomas Jacobs said:

Alright. Incidentally, do you get bonus points to your HP every time you level up once you have Morphic Body? Or does it not count because it's an Supernatural Ability instead of a flat bonus to your stats?

(Morphic Body is a Warshaper class feature that gives you a Con bonus while you're not in your natural shape.)

I was going to tell him that it doesn't really matter, because your HP goes up/down when you gain/lose Con but... when you level up, it's important to know how high your Con is because (if negative) it might influence the minimum you can roll on your HD.

I would rule that your Con is your natural Con score, without taking into consideration temporary bonuses from spells, special qualities that are not always active, magic items that can be removed and so on. I can perfectly see how some player who's short on points while point-buying his character getting a 9 Con just to turn any 1 on his HD into a 2 (then later getting a +OddNumber manual of Con).

So, what's the official rule? Which Con bonuses do count and which do not, when calculating your "Min 1" HP gain?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh! That's an interesting exploit. Although I am not sure I'd have the gall to skimp of Con, of all things. BTW, wouldn't it be a +OddNumber manual? I don't imagine you'd be using your +1 to attribute every 4 levels on Con as it would nullify the HD exploit. \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Jan 9 '18 at 20:29

All current permanent and temporary bonuses apply.

The specific rule in the Player's Handbook (p.58) for adding hit points upon level up is as follows:

Roll a Hit Die, add your character's Constitution modifier, and add the total roll to his or her hit points. Even if the character has a Constitution penalty and the roll was so low as to yield a result of 0 or fewer hit points, always add at least 1 hit point upon gaining a new level.

However, the answer to the following D&D FAQ entry suggests that the game makes no distinction between current Constitution and "natural" Constitution, even where temporary bonuses are concerned:

If a wild shaped character takes Constitution damage or drain, which Con score do I use to determine when the character is killed by being reduced to 0 Con--the original score or the new one?

Use the character's current Constitution score, just as you would for any other character. If a 6-Con druid wild shapes into a 17-Con dire badger and takes 8 points of Constitution damage and/or drain while in that form, the character would instantly die upon returning to normal form.

Indeed, a heavily injured barbarian can die at the end of his rage when he loses the Constitution bonus, and the resulting drop in hit point maximum kills him.

The Player's Handbook (p.58) very specifically differentiates between temporary and permanent Intelligence bonuses for gaining skills: your current score includes all permanent bonuses (inherent, ability drain) and temporary bonuses (spells, items), and only the permanent bonuses count toward skill ranks. However, this same differentiation doesn't apply to Constitution and hit points.

What this means is that whatever your Constitution score is at the moment you level up, that's the Constitution score which applies.

However, it's not a very practical exploit. Even on d4 hit dice, a level 17 wizard will on average roll only four 1s, giving an average benefit of 4 HP at the expense of spending your entire adventuring career being extremely fragile.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Honestly it is a stupid exploit, although seemingly valid. The character would be turning his 1st level maximized hit die into crap. How many 9th level wizards would survive with 9HP long enough to be able to carry his 9th level loot into town and buy a +1 manual? Honestly I'd run such a guy through a pack of rabid housecats before he hit the magic item shop. \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Jan 10 '18 at 4:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ The less-stupid version would be taking con damage immediately before leveling up, then restoring it after. \$\endgroup\$ – fectin Jan 13 '18 at 14:16

Basically the question is asking if a 1 CON / 10 HD Wizard acquired a new CON of say 20, how much HP would he have? 110? That's higher than 4x10+50 !

By RAW it seems that your exploit doesn't work

From the SRD on Constitution:

You apply your character’s Constitution modifier to: Each roll of a Hit Die (though a penalty can never drop a result below 1—that is, a character always gains at least 1 hit point each time he or she advances in level).

So it seems change in Constitution retroactively modifies the roll, even though it's not realistic for anyone to record the result of an unmodified Hit Die.

Even if it works I don't think you can really capitalize on it at all. Any +CON effect is going to have the same effect on a 1 CON individual or 20 CON. Not unless you have someway of setting a new CON that also affect your HP. From my knowledge I don't think there is any effect that does, all polymorph and alternate form spell and abilities do not change your HP.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Not too not realistic - I do it. \$\endgroup\$ – annoying imp Jan 10 '18 at 4:16

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