How are hit dice added when leveling takes place?

Hit Points are pretty straightforward in that the new hit points that are gained through a level advancement are only added to the character's "maximum hit points" at that time (PHB, p. 15). Their "current hit points" will not also go up until they take a long rest or use some other means to raise their "current" hit points (short rests, healer, potions, etc., etc.).

However, the PHB is a little more vague on hit dice. When a hit die is gained through a level advancement, how this should be added? Is it like hit points and only be added to their "maximum hit dice" until a long rest allows the character to regenerate some of their current hit dice? Or is the newly gained hit die added both to their "maximum hit dice" and the "current hit dice" they have available to use?


1 Answer 1


The relevant quote is this on page 15 of the PHB, or here in the basic rules:

When your character gains a level, his or her class often grants additional features, as detailed in the class description.

Nowhere does it mention that it takes any time to gain these features when you level. The only exception is that it explicitly states that leveling increases the hit point maximum. Since 5e defines current hit points and maximum hit points as specific terms, you are right to conclude that the you don't gain your new hit points until you rest. However 5e doesn't make that distinction in the terms of hit dice. Like your proficiency bonus, attribute gains, etc., it takes effect immediately upon leveling.

It is reinforced by the fact that Hit Dice advancement is in its own sentence:

Each time you gain a level, you gain 1 additional Hit Die.

Then the following sentence states:

Roll that Hit Die, add your Constitution modifier to the roll, and add the total to your hit point maximum.

Which make it a separate point.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This might depend on how "current hit points" is defined. If it's defined as "maximum hit points minus damage taken" then you would effectively get the current hit points increase. \$\endgroup\$
    – corsiKa
    Aug 10, 2014 at 3:20
  • 9
    \$\begingroup\$ It is defined on page 196 and it says. A creature's current hit points (usually called hit points) can be any number from the creature's hit point maximum to 0. This number changes frequently as the creatures takes damage or receives healing. I believe this support the OP's ruling that current hp doesn't increase as a result of leveling. \$\endgroup\$
    – RS Conley
    Aug 10, 2014 at 16:16
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks RS. I think those points make complete sense and both back up my thoughts on hit points as well as point to the correct direction for hit dice. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$
    – robbrauen
    Aug 11, 2014 at 0:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ In my groups it has been the case that level-ups don't happen mid-combat, but rather between sessions. The primary reasoning being that we don't want to stop the game so one of the participants can apply all the changes...They're likely to miss some changes and get others wrong in that scenario anyway. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gus
    Jul 1, 2015 at 18:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ At my table you can't level until you take a rest of some kind. That is not RAW but we don't use XP explicitly but instead level at milestones so making a rest part of a milestone is trivial, convenient and avoids this kind of issue. \$\endgroup\$
    – Protonflux
    Jan 2, 2018 at 10:11

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