How are the hit points of the hound determined for the Shadow Magic sorcerer's Hound of Ill Omen feature (XGtE, p. 51)?

I have read over the feature several times now, and I have a question. Here are the statistics that differ from the MM Dire Wolf stats (emphasis mine):

The hound uses the dire wolf statistics (see the Monster Manual or appendix C in the Player’s Handbook), with the following changes:

  • The hound is size Medium, not Large, and it counts as a monstrosity, not a beast.
  • It appears with a number of temporary hit points equal to half your sorcerer level.
  • It can move through other creatures and objects as if they were difficult terrain. The hound takes 5 force damage if it ends its turn inside an object.
  • At the start of its turn, the hound automatically knows its target’s location. If the target was hidden, it is no longer hidden from the hound.

The question I have is in regard to item 2. It states that the Hound appears with a number of temporary hit points equal to half the sorcerer's level. Which of the following is an accurate interpretation of this line?

  1. It only has a hit point total of half the sorcerer hit points.

  2. It has half the sorcerer hit points as temp hit points, on top of the hit points that a Dire Wolf would get per the MM stat block?


1 Answer 1


Option 2: It gets temp HP, on top of a dire wolf's regular HP

All monsters have hit points; otherwise, they would be dead. In the case of the Dire Wolf, it starts with 37 HP (5d10 + 10). On top of that, the Hound gets the temporary hit points equal to half the sorcerer level rounded down.

So, if the sorcerer is level 6, the Dire Wolf would have 37 (taking the average) hit points + 3 temporary hit points over and above that, for a grand total of 40 (37 HP, 4 THP). Note that the temporary hit points are a seperate pool, the PC's maximum hit points have not increased or changed.

The description of temporary hit points in the rules states:

Some spells and special abilities confer temporary hit points to a creature. Temporary hit points aren't actual hit points; they are a buffer against damage, a pool of hit points that protect you from injury.

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. For example, if you have 5 temporary hit points and take 7 damage, you lose the temporary hit points and then take 2 damage.

Because temporary hit points are separate from your actual hit points, they can exceed your hit point maximum. A character can, therefore, be at full hit points and receive temporary hit points.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I think it's slightly misleading or unclear to add the temp HP to the regular HP to a single overall sum - it makes it seem as if temp HP is added to the regular HP pool (i.e. as if the character is somehow able to have regular HP over their hit point maximum), when in fact it is treated/considered as a separate pool from their regular hit points. This distinction very occasionally matters, such as for effects that reduce the character's max HP. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Feb 23, 2020 at 8:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ I see your point. I'll clean it up when I'm back on a laptop, not a phone. \$\endgroup\$
    – Steve
    Commented Feb 23, 2020 at 9:04
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ thanks for the clear answer - I think my confusion stemmed from the way I initially read the feature - I read it as half the sorcerer's hit points, not half the sorcerer's level. that left me thinking - well, if it's only half of the PC's hit points, that's way lower than I think it should be, but if it's added to the stat block as temp HP, that's way HIGHER than I think it should be. I need to be a bit more focused when I read that. Half of the LEVEL makes so much more sense. Again, thanks! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 24, 2020 at 13:50

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