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This question came up when discussing the healing effect from the Gloves of Soul Catching. The text for this legendary item states:

After making a successful unarmed strike while wearing these gloves, you can use the gloves to deal an extra 2d10 force damage to the target, and you regain a number of hit points equal to the force damage dealt. Alternatively, instead of regaining hit points in this way, you can choose to gain advantage on one attack roll, ability check, or saving throw you make before the end of your next turn.

So, to put it shortly, you deal force damage to the target of an unarmed strike, then regain health equal to the amount of force damage dealt. But what if that target was yourself?

In any situation, this wouldn't mean much. You would take the force damage and recover this exact same damage. If you had temporary health is where it gets tricky. I have found no rule text or anything else preventing this healing effect from working when damage is dealt to temporary hitpoints, so it seems to me that hitting yourself with the gloves would effectively get rid of your temporary hit points and convert them into "normal" hit points.

Is this reasoning correct, and so can you effectively convert any temporary hit points into actual healing, with no visible downside? Or is there some rule I'm missing that prevents this interaction?

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    \$\begingroup\$ If I understood well, you are considering the case in which you have, for example, 15/20 HP and you have 3 Temp HP. You hit yourself (if you can) and then deal 7 damage: in this way, you loose all the THP, your HP go to 11/20 but you heal 7 HPs and then have 18/20. Did I understand correctly? \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Commented Oct 7, 2022 at 10:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Eddymage that is correct. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matthieu
    Commented Oct 7, 2022 at 12:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ This turns Heroism (1st) into an out-of-combat heal for 10x spellcasting ability mod, if you punch yourself every round for a minute. (If you can avoid the extra bludgeoning from your unarmed strikes). Or an upcast False Life. Or be a Storm Herald barbarian with Tundra as your storm aura. There are lots of cheap sources of temp HP in 5e, because it doesn't stack and there usually aren't ways to convert it to a permanent heal; healing is usually limited to per-long-rest resources. So this is a significant loophole if a DM were to let a party exploit it heavily, e.g. for a party's tank. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 7, 2022 at 18:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PeterCordes It's a horribly unbalanced item anyway. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 7, 2022 at 19:45

2 Answers 2

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Yes

The gloves deal damage and then heal you for that damage. There is no specification that the target cannot be yourself. The question then becomes whether you can attack yourself with an unarmed strike, and the answer is yes. This is established for example at this answer or if you prefer this tweet by Jeremy Crawford.

The drawback to this method is that you still take the damage from the unarmed strike itself, which deals 1+STR bludgeoning damage and which is not converted into healing. This drawback can be avoided by any character with less than 10 strength, as they don't deal any damage with their unarmed strikes. (Unless hitting for 0 does not count as hitting, which is a whole other question occasionally answered and disagreed on on this site.)

And it gets even better (worse)

By the rules of dnd 5e, you cannot have a negative amount of hitpoints. If you take more damage than your HP (but not so much that you suffer further consequences), your HP is set to 0. This means that a low health character can attack themselves and get to 2d10 hitpoints, which might be higher than what they started with. This process is repeatable and, for a low-strength character, risk-free. Therefore it's possible to arrive at 20 HP for free given some time.

Of course, a DM can disallow it, and indeed likely should if munchkinry goes too far. RAW, however, it works.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Exactly which part of my answer do you disagree with? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 7, 2022 at 13:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov I think the combat rules work perfectly consistently if the target can be yourself, and therefore don't agree that it "isn't quite as simple as attacking someone or something else". I also think the second answer to the question we both link is a lot more convincing, with the first mostly reiterating the basic game loop which seems vacuous to me, because the specific rules seem sufficient. \$\endgroup\$
    – ADdV
    Commented Oct 7, 2022 at 13:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov For what it's worth, however, the "respectfully" part was not sarcastic, and I can see where you're coming from. I just thought my perspective might add something, hence my answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – ADdV
    Commented Oct 7, 2022 at 13:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ Consider removing the commentary on other answers in the body of this answer. This answer stands on it's own. Commentary on other answers is unnecessary and does not add anything to this answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – GcL
    Commented Oct 7, 2022 at 15:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ I generally only mention other answers when Im actually quoting something from one of them. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 7, 2022 at 18:10
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It isn't quite that simple.

The trouble here is that attacking yourself isn't quite as simple as attacking someone or something else. In response to this question, Can a PC attack themselves with an unarmed strike?, Korvin Starmast outlines the ways this could go, but the short version is that it is up to the DM how it works. The DM must decide several things:

  • If an attack roll is necessary at all
  • If it has disadvantage, advantage, or neither
  • How much damage is done on a hit, if any

At each of these three points, there is a case to be made either way, and the rules do not really govern any of them, since the combat rules are concerned with attacking other things, not yourself. So the best-case-scenario ruling for your question is the DM rules that it is an automatic hit that does full damage. If that is the ruling, then it works just as you have described.

However, I have typically ruled, and seen several other DMs rule, that you cannot punch yourself hard enough to do damage. Think about it: the mechanics of a punch simply don't work when directed at yourself. A punch does damage because of the velocity of the fist and the weight behind it. You just can't really do that to yourself. But I have played with one DM who ruled that self punches did full damage, as long as you beat your own AC with an attack roll.

So you will just have to ask your DM, because the rules don't really tell us what to do here.

But if we rule that you can attack yourself, and we hit, it works as you have described.

Temporary hit points are lost first:

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.

So if we hit ourselves for 3+2d10 with an unarmed strike, we would regain the result of the 2d10 as actual hit points, after losing temporary hit points first.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @Matthieu But does the magical damage of the gloves happen if you don't really hit someone? If I give you a playful slap on the back like an ol buddy ol pal, do you get slapped with heavy force damage? The point is, it isn't clear that it really works as simply is the question wants it to. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 7, 2022 at 13:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd say it's more of an intention thing (do I intend to hurt? or to trigger the effect?) but since it's magic I guess it really isn't clear how it works. Good point. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matthieu
    Commented Oct 7, 2022 at 13:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Exempt-Medic "If that is the ruling, then it works just as you have described." \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 7, 2022 at 15:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ I bet you can punch your own knee or foot hard enough to injure yourself. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tom
    Commented Oct 8, 2022 at 0:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Tom or your chin. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nzall
    Commented Oct 8, 2022 at 20:45

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