Last game a character dropped unconscious with exactly -1 HP. The party's paladin used on his turn 'Beacon of Nobility' to give the unconscious character 5 temporary hit points.

The Rules Compendium says on temporary hit points that if you have 0 hit points and gain temporary hit points you still have 0 hit points.

So the character had -1 HP and +5 temporary afterwards.

Can the character regain consciousness with temporary hit points?

I think not, but i am not 100% sure; the RC it not super clear to me on this. I always taught of unconsciousness as being lower that 1 HP, but in the above scenario it could also mean that even so you are negative you could still be conscious.. ?


1 Answer 1


Temporary Hit Points do not make you Conscious.

Rules Compendium p. 258 on Temporary Hit Points indicate that:

Not Real Hit Points: Temporary hit points aren’t healing, but rather a layer of “insulation” that attacks have to get through before they start dealing real damage to a target. Don’t add temporary hit points to a creature’s current hit points (if an adventurer has 0 hit points or fewer, he or she still has 0 or fewer after receiving temporary hit points). Keep track of them as a separate pool of hit points.

Rules Compendium p. 260 on Dying and Death indicate that:

Dying: When an adventurer’s hit points drop to 0 or fewer, he or she falls unconscious and is dying.

Thus, when a character is at 0 hit points or fewer (including the -1 in your case) they are dying (a status keyword) and when they have this status, they are also unconscious unless otherwise specified. There are certain powers or features that explicitly state that a character is not "unconscious while dying" but the rules for temporary hit points lack this qualification, therefore they do not undo the unconscious while dying effect.

The character will have -1 hp and 5 thp. The first five points of incoming damage will still go to the temporary hit points before the rest goes to hit points. This means if the character is stabilized they will no longer make death saving throws even if they take up to 5 damage (so thp are useful on dying characters). But the character still has less than zero hp, is still dying, is still unconscious, and must still make death saving throws on his or her turn until stabilized (thp do not stabilize a dying character).


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