Just what the title says: how do temporary HP stack in D&D 3.5 under the rules as written?

I have a way that I run the game, which has worked for me just fine. Based on some other answers here, I am no longer confident that the way I run games matches the canonical rules. I might not adopt any changes based on this answer by, but I do want to understand what the rules actually say.

In general, only different bonus types, from different sources stack. So if I have a spell that gives me an untyped disguise bonus, I can’t double it by casting the spell twice. Similarly, if I have a hat that gives me an enhancement bonus to appraise, I can’t get extra benefit from also wearing boots that give an enhancement bonus to appraise.

Hit points are different though, in that they track a state instead of giving an ongoing bonus. So if I receive two cure light wounds spells, I benefit from both.

How do temporary HP work? If I cast false life twice, do I get double the temporary HP (ignoring the randomness from the dice)? Do the pools somehow overlap, but each eat damage? Overlap, and the smaller one is just lost?

Does that answer change if I cast two different spells?


1 Answer 1


Temporary HP gained from different sources stack.

Rules Compendium p.72, "Temporary Hit Points":

Temporary hit poitns gained from multiple applications of the same effect don't stack. Instead, the highest number of temporary hit points gained from that effect apply.

If temporary hit points are gained from multiple, different sources that stack, keep track of those sources and when they were gained separately.

The D&D 3.5 FAQ also makes this ruling:

Temporary hit points from two applications of the same effect don't stack; instead, the highest number of temporary hit points applies in place of all others. Temporary hit points from different sources stack, but you must keep track of them separately.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ It may be worth noting that this was probably true even without Rules Compendium, since there are core rules that state that magic effects don’t self-stack in general, which would apply, but those rules have nothing else specific to temporary hit points that would restrict things further. This is kind of the default expectation of anything absent a specific rule, really. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    May 16, 2022 at 16:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan My recollection is that D&D 3.5 quietly removed a "bonuses from the same source don't stack" rule which had been present in 3.0, since the concept of bonus types should have made it irrelevant. Most players I spoke to assumed the rule continued to exist in 3.5. \$\endgroup\$ May 16, 2022 at 16:27
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ 3.5e does have that rule, though it’s specific to untyped bonuses (since yes, it is irrelevant for typed bonuses). But since temporary hit points aren’t a “bonus,” technically (bonus being defined as a number you add to a roll), that rule doesn’t explicitly apply here. The rule about magic effects not self-stacking does (though in theory non-magical temporary hit points would fall into a rules hole, at least in core and without the FAQ, and thus would arguably self-stack, from the “nothing says they don’t” perspective). \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    May 16, 2022 at 16:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Ah, you appear to be correct. I do remember reading something about a 3.0-specific "no spell or item stacks with itself" rule, but I can't find such a rule now that I look, so perhaps either I'm misremembering or whichever post I read back then was mistaken. At any rate, it appears to be Rules Compendium which canonizes the FAQ entry on temporary hit points from the same source not stacking. \$\endgroup\$ May 16, 2022 at 19:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan I answered an unrelated question but the answer has a pretty detailed analysis of stacking spell effects: rpg.stackexchange.com/a/120013/33213 \$\endgroup\$ May 17, 2022 at 8:40

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .