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A number of effects in D&D 5e can change a creature's hit point maximum. Some issues in the specifics of how some features are written can arise when these effects coexist or otherwise interact.

All emphasis mine. From the description of the druid's Wild Shape feature (PHB p. 64):

  • Your game statistics are replaced by the statistics of the beast, but you retain [some non–hit-point-related statistics].
  • When you transform, you assume the beast's hit points and Hit Dice. When you revert to your normal form, you return to the number of hit points you had before you transform.

An important note is that the latter bullet point refers to current hit points, not hit point maximum, as per PHB p. 196:

A creature's current hit points (usually just called hit points)...

Similarly, from the polymorph spell description (PHB p. 226) and the Creature into Creature section of the true polymorph spell description (PHB p. 283):

The target's game statistics, including mental ability scores, are replaced by the statistics of the chosen beast. It retains its alignment and personality.

Finally, from the description of the spell aid (PHB p. 211):

Each target's hit point maximum and current hit points increase by 5 for the duration.

It appears unclear how the change to a creature's hit point maximum via the aid spell interacts with the change caused by the other listed features—especially when this happens multiple times. This raises an issue of interpretation which comprises two sub-questions.

Part 1: aid → transformation → aid ends

If aid is cast on a creature who then is affected by an effect such as Wild Shape which changes its hit point maximum in this way, what happens when the aid spell ends before the transformation effect?

  1. The (transformed) creature's hit point maximum decreases by 5 (to 5 less than the hit point maximum of the target form without the effect of the aid spell)
  2. The (transformed) creature's hit point maximum does not change
  3. The (transformed) creature's hit point maximum decreases by 5 (to the hit point maximum of the target form without the effect of the aid spell)

Part 2: above transformation ends

Continuing from the previous situation, when the creature reverts to its previous/original form (after aid has already ended), what is its hit point maximum?

  1. The creature's hit point maximum is the hit point maximum it had before it transformed
  2. The creature's hit point maximum is the hit point maximum it had before the effect of the aid spell

It is likely that the answer to one of these questions will determine the other according to the accompanying reasoning, but it seems best to present both questions to allow for different approaches to the problem and a larger set of relevant rules to answer the situation as a whole.

Answer criteria

An accepted answer will attempt to interpret the rules in plain English while putting no weight on separate considerations such as lore, flavour, or game balance and provide its reasoning as such. This is because the answer would otherwise be highly opinion-based (in the case of lore or flavour) or, at least for the latter sub-question, trivial to answer. Please also note if (and why) the answers would be different for the listed transformation effects.

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4 Answers 4

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Aid affects the transformed and non-transformed the same

Since the transformed target is still a valid target for the effects of the aid spell, it is still subject to the effects of the spell. Neither Wild Shape nor polymorph dispel the effect of aid.

Example druid

  • Alice is a druid with a hit point maximum of 10.
  • Alice can use Wild Shape to transform into a bear with a max hp of 20.

Example sequence

  1. Alice is the target of the aid spell, and now has a max hp of 15.
  2. Alice uses Wild Shape to transform into a bear, and now has a max hp of 25.
  3. The aid spell ends on Alice-bear and now the max hp is 20.
  4. Wild Shape ends and now Alice has a max hp of 10.

The druid's beast form has a different hit point maximum which replaces the druid's as part of the "game statistics are replaced by the statistics of the beast" effect of Wild Shape. The beast form is still under the effect of aid, which affects the hit point maximum.

In the middle of this sequence, the effect of aid ends. The target no longer has a bonus to their hit point max. The beast form druid is back to the hit point maximum specified by their game statistics.

When Wild Shape ends, the druid's reverts back to their normal form. Without the effect of aid, the hit point maximum of their normal form is 10. In short, aid doesn't permanently change the hit point maximum of a target. The effect only lasts for the duration of the spell.

Sage Advice concurs

The Sage Advice Compendium directly addresses the question of spell effects remaining after polymorph:

Can a creature under the effects of polymorph have other spell effects on them, or are those game statistics also replaced by the those of the beast form? Polymorph replaces only the target’s character sheet or stat block with the stat block of the chosen form. Other effects, such as other spells, still exist.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 That Sage Advise statement about ongoing effects really is what was needed here. Can you add what it makes of the (current) hp, which were replaced by poylmorph (and affected by Aid before)? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 15 at 21:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GroodytheHobgoblin I have been thinking about that, and I suspect it is a sufficiently different question to warrant it's own answers. I would lump in Heroes' Feast and Potion of Giant Size to that one as the effect wording is not the same in all cases of hp and hp max increasing effects. \$\endgroup\$
    – GcL
    Mar 15 at 21:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think step 4 could use some more justification: "Wild shape ends and now Alice has 10 hp max." Part of the question asks about whether Alice would have 10 or 15 hp when reverting and you haven't supported why she would actually have 10 and not 15 \$\endgroup\$ Mar 15 at 21:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think that the term 'normal hit point maximum' is unsupported in this answer—which is a crutial point in your reasoning. There's also the matter of how the effect of the aid spell is interpreted: the phrasing "your [max HP] increase[s] for the duration" versus "[is] increased" is at least more ambiguous, and this is another point you don't address directly. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fie
    Mar 15 at 23:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Fie The text of wild shape refers to a "normal form". I used normal hit point maximum to refer to the hit point maximum of the druid's normal form. A creature's hit point maximum is specified by it's stat block. When under the effect of aid, the hit point maximum is 5 higher. The spell effect only lasts for the duration of the spell. Was this question asking if wild shape could be used to make the effect of aid permanent? \$\endgroup\$
    – GcL
    Mar 15 at 23:59
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This is mostly the same text for another question

For our example, Alice is a 2nd level Druid

Alice's hit points and hit point maximum change, but that's it

Alice is targeted with aid and goes from 10 hp to 15 hp from the spell. After being hit, she now has 10 hp again.

She then Wild Shapes into a wolf... and has 11 hp, just like a normal wolf.

Why? Because Alice is still the same target. Wild Shape doesn't change Alice into a new target; Alice is still Alice, just in a different form. Alice's hit point maximum was raised by 5 along with her hp. She then "assume[s] the shape of a beast".

The aid spell is still in effect on her. Her maximum did not decrease. And as the description goes: "...Your game statistics are replaced by the statistics of the beast...".

Sage Advice concurs

The Sage Advice Compendium directly addresses the question of spell effects remaining after polymorph:

Can a creature under the effects of polymorph have other spell effects on them, or are those game statistics also replaced by the those of the beast form? Polymorph replaces only the target’s character sheet or stat block with the stat block of the chosen form. Other effects, such as other spells, still exist.

Hit points are part of the stat block; therefore replaced

Alice's hit point maximum statistic is 15; not 10 + 5.

It is replaced with the wolf's hit point maximum statistic, which is 11 (or 2d8+2).

Aid still exists, as do other spells. But aid effects the stat block which is replaced. Invisibility, pass without trace, guidance can all continue to work also; but they are not controlled by the stat block.

Let's look at it from another perspective

We will go on the premise that the aid spell is still active and follows the form.

Alice was hit again and has only 5 hp left. To escape, Alice Wild Shape's into a wolf and the aid benefits follow; that means Alice would lose her benefits. So Alice is now at max hp 10 again, but she would also lose the 5 hit points that were granted by aid. If that's the case, she now has 0 hp out of max 10, knocking her unconscious.

She has become trapped in true form until she receives some form of healing.

The real kicker is what happens when aid ends prior to the transformation ending

Alice, the target, has her hit point maximum reduced by 5. It goes back to 10 regardless of transformation.

Since the spell says "current hit points", 5 hit points are removed from whatever Alice is transformed into. "Current hit points" get added to, "current hit points" gets subtracted from when the aid ends.

It seems odd that one bullet point effects Alice while the other effects the transformed beast, but the spell is clear in saying "current hit points" but does not say "current hit point maximum" so we can only deduct from the hit point maximum value at the time the increase was made; Alice's.

Let's look at it from another perspective

We will go on the premise that when aid ends, and the max hit points is removed from Alice's true form, when the 5 hp is removed it deducts from her true form also.

Once again, Alice only had 5 hit points left when she Wild Shaped into the wolf. The wolf has not been hit and has 11 hp. When aid ends, Alice's true form loses the 5 hit points and she becomes...? Unconscious with 0 hp? Still awake because the wolf has hit points? When does she start making Death Saving Throws?

Alice cannot be both unconscious and awake at the same time. It just makes more sense (and easier) to subtract the 5 hp from her current form (like the spell says) then trying to figure out how a druid with 0 hp is still awake and maintaining a new form.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Your final paragraph seems to contradict itself, despite quoting the same Sage Advice tweet in its reasoning as another answer: since both the hit points and hit point maximum of the creature are 'replaced' (or 'assumed', depending on the feature in question, which I would argue shouldn't be treated as synonymous), then if '"current hit points" [get] subtracted from when aid ends' (which have been 'replaced'), why do you say that Alice has her max HP reduced back to 10 when her max HP has also, equally, been 'replaced'? Please note that 'current hit points' and 'hit points' are synonymous. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fie
    Mar 18 at 14:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ In short, this answer seems to want to have it both ways: 'current hit points get added only to Alice's original form then subtracted only from the transformed creature' and 'max HP is added to and subtracted from only Alice's original form'. However, both statistics are replaced in an identical way ('current hit point maximum' is not a statistic), and so they should be affected identically by the spell. Is there something you think I'm missing in (or wrong about in my criticism of) your reasoning? \$\endgroup\$
    – Fie
    Mar 18 at 14:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Does aid differ from the ongoing effect of a magic item that adds +1 to strength or constitution? Still being worn by the beast form druid, the effect would still be ongoing, but it was donned while in normal form. In this case, does beast form gain the benefit? \$\endgroup\$
    – GcL
    Mar 18 at 14:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Fie, current hit points and hit points are not synonymous. The actual text is, "A creature's current hit points (usually just called hit points)". So they can mean different things. The aid spell specifically calls out "current hit points". Had it just said "hit points" then it could go either way. But since the text uses the longer form, there must be a reason. \$\endgroup\$
    – MivaScott
    Mar 18 at 17:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MivaScott The quoted text is designating 'hit points' as shorthand for 'current hit points': 'just'. By no means can current hit points not be referred to by something else (given the context), but that rule unambiguously means that 'hit points' ⇒ 'current hit points'. Even if you do disagree with that, 'current hit points' is still a statistic being replaced, just like 'hit point maximum'. I would expect the reason that 'current hit points' was written instead of just 'hit points' was to differentiate it from the less-used 'hit point maximum' immediately prior. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fie
    Mar 18 at 17:54
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The description of the aid spell says:

[...] Each target's hit point maximum and current hit points increase by 5 for the duration.

Whatever your hit point maximum and current hit points are, they are increased by 5.

So the correct answers to your two situations are (2) and (3).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @Exempt-Medic No - Aid only works "for the duration". \$\endgroup\$
    – Dale M
    Mar 15 at 21:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm going to try asking my question a new way: You've said 2 and 3 are the case here; therefore, "The creature's hit point maximum is the hit point maximum it had before it transformed" where "the creature's hit points maximum before it transformed" is the amount after aid applies (by comparison to case 4). Therefore, if Alice has 10 HP, aid brought her to 15, she used Wild Shape, aid ended, and Wild Shape ended, she would have 15 HP (the amount she had before she transformed). Is this what you're saying? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 15 at 21:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ I made an edit to confirm what you're saying when you say the correct answers are (2) and (3). I've rolled back my edit so as not to put words in your mouth, but your answer would be improved by explicitly stating what that means (whether in my words or your own). \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Mar 15 at 22:02
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An odd interaction is seen that DMs would likely correct

Let's run an example: Current HP/Max HP

  • [Base Druid] : 10/10
  • [BD + Aid] : 10+5/10+5 15/15
  • [BD + WildShape] : Monster HP/Monster HP (HP at transform 15/15)
  • [BD + WildShape + Aid] : Monster HP + 5 / Monster HP + 5
  • [BD + Wildshape] : Monster HP/Monster HP (HP at transform was technically still 15/15)
  • [BD] : Wildshape ends, setting HP to what it was prior to transform = 15/15?

The above is describing numerically what occurs when you cast aid on a Druid, they then wildshape, Aid ends, and Wildshape ends.

While Aid is active, Current HP becomes 15 (10+5), which then gets replaced entirely by the Monster's normal HP, the still active Aid then immediately increases current and maximum hp by 5. Aid then ends, going back to Monster HP by itself.

It's when WildShape ends that we see the weird part, from Wild Shape's description:

you return to the number of hit points you had before you transform

Which in this case would be 15/15, 5 more than you would normally have. Obviously you can't cheese the system to increase your max hp, so you go back to 10/10. Similarly if you started at 5/10, you couldn't use this method to net gain 5hp to reach 10/10.

I think most DMs would consider an unofficial "Base HP" that Aid does not affect for the purposes of replacement in wildshape.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "Obviously you can't cheese the system to increase your max hp, so you go back to 10/10." Do you have rules-based reasoning for this, or are you making a game-balance–based assertion of 'rules auto-correct'? Please read the full question: 'unofficial' answers are simply not appropriate answers here. Also note that 'hit points' refers to current hit points, not hit point maximum—this may change your reasoning on the druid's hit point maximum upon reverting to its previous form. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fie
    Mar 18 at 23:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Th alternative is an exploit that grants a net gain of at least 5 current HP, potentially above max hp. I can edit my answer to remove that line, but the point still remains that it appears to be an exploit. The question of "what happens at the moment Aid ends" ends before my explaination of "what happens when when wildshape ends with aid in the mix" occurs anyway, which I can delete my entire answer \$\endgroup\$ Mar 20 at 13:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think it would be right of you to remove that line, and I appreciate if that is intended as an offer to do so: DMs, as always, are free to adjust rules in their games as they see fit, but I've specifically asked for such opinions to be left out of answers to this question (as I expected they might arise) so as to reduce 'clutter' which reduces its use to future viewers (who, I imagine, would perfectly well understand the balance implications if a player started doing something like you describe). The purpose is to look at the rules and their consequences, not how we think they ought to be :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Fie
    Mar 20 at 17:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ I mainly focused on the wildshape interaction as in the top rated answer, this portion is glossed over as an open ended question, despite there being rules describing how it would play out RAW as I explained. I'll alter the answer to better fit the question at lunch \$\endgroup\$ Mar 21 at 13:21

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