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A D&D 5e warlock takes the Fiendish Vigor invocation.

Lets say the warlock gains 8 temp hp from Fiendish Vigor. Within the next hour takes 8 damage. Then the warlock uses Fiendish Vigor for 5 temp hp.

What happens now:
A. The warlock gains 5 temp hp and can repeatedly gain temp hp during an encounter whenever damage has removed the current temp hp.
B. The 5 temp hp replaces the previous 8 temp hp and the warlock loses 3 actual hp.

For reference:

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:

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

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi, welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour to find out how things work here, and visit the help center for more guidance. Just to clarify, this is about retroactively losing "non-temporary" HP due to recasting false life? \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Feb 22 at 9:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ The question is about understanding what occurs when repeatedly casting False Life after taking damage. Without damage, the new 5 would replace the previous 8 temp HP. Taking damage adds complications. Now I expect that if 7 damage is taken, leaving 1 temp hp, then a subsequent False Life for 5 would replace the 1 with 5, for a net gain + 4 temp hp. \$\endgroup\$ – CWallach Feb 22 at 16:27
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Your option A is correct

You do not retroactively take the damage that you lost the first temporary hit points from, since that damage has already been resolved. You can cast false life (via the Fiendish Vigor invocation) again to gain more temporary hit points, which does not in any way interact with damage taken previously.

The rules for temporary hit points state:

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

They effectively take the damage for you, so it's as though you were not damaged.

When you have temporary hit points and take damage, the temporary hit points are lost first, and any leftover damage carries over to your normal hit points.

The temporary hit points are lost first, but nothing suggests that this has any later effect on your real hit points.

If you have temporary hit points and receive more of them, you decide whether to keep the ones you have or to gain the new ones. For example, if a spell grants you 12 temporary hit points when you already have 10, you can have 12 or 10, not 22.

This just confirms that you would have to choose between your previous 8 (if you were not damaged) and your new 5. However, since your question states that you took 8 damage, you're effectively choosing between 0 and 5, or rather, you have no temporary hit points, so you just get 5.

This also proves that it's not option B because you have no temporary hit points anymore, so you cannot choose between your previous 8 and your new 5, because you currently have 0 (i.e. you do not have any temporary hit points and therefore have nothing to choose between; you just get 5).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Lest there be any confusion, temporary hit points don't ever stack, regardless of their source. Also, there's really no reason for a warlock with Fiendish Vigor to ever have less than 8 temp hp...just keep recasting it until you roll the max. Well, no reason as long as they have an action available to recast it with, that is. \$\endgroup\$ – aaron9eee Feb 22 at 10:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @aaron9eee Yes, true. And yes, the "always 8 temp hp" thing I admit I didn't think of (I'm playing alongside a new player who has that invocation, I'll pass that along!), although for my answer I can dodge it this time by falling back on OP mentioning "during an encounter". \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Feb 22 at 10:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ You can get around the "always 8 THP" thing if you really want to by just saying that the caster doesn't actually now the difference between 5 and 8 THP \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Feb 22 at 16:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 True, it's meta-knowledge; why would the character keep casting it? \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Feb 22 at 16:50

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