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Using Channel Divinity: Preserve Life, can a 4th level Life domain cleric give a character 20 HP?

Two examples of what I'm unsure of, both involving a 4th-level Life cleric:

  1. A character with 50 max hp takes 30 damage, and is now at 20 hp. Does he get the full 20 hp from Preserve Life, going up to 40 of 50 hp? Or does he only get up to half his max (½ of 50 is 25), ending up at 25 total hp, effectively only being healed for 5 hp?

  2. A Character with 24 max HP takes 22 damage, and is now at 2 hp. Can Preserve Life heal 12 hp (½ of 24 is 12) to put them at 14 hp?

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How does channel divinity work?

Clerics gain the ability to channel divine energy and depending on your Domain and level you can use your "channel divinity" for different abilities. The amount of times you can use a "channel divinity" ability is limited, depending on your level, as stated in the PHB (pp. 58f).

Can a 4th level cleric give a character 20 HP?

Yes, a cleric with the Life Domain can restore 5× his cleric level hit points using channel divinity for his Preserve Life ability. This is limited in several ways:

  • The cleric may choose any number of creatures within 30 feet range and divide these hit points among them.

  • It cannot restore hit points above the half of the target creatures hit point maximum. (The relevant wording is:

    This feature can restore a creature to no more than half of its hit point maximum.

    This means you can restore any amount of hit points (up to 5x cleric level) as long as the current amount of hp of the target do not exceed half of the hit point maximum of the target.

  • It does not work on undead or constructs

Regarding these limits:

  • Example One:

    Target creatures hit points: 20/50
    The half of the maximum would be 25, so preserve life could only restore 5 hit points for this creature.

  • Example Two:

    Target creatures hit points: 2/24
    The half of the maximum would be 12, so preserve life could restore 10 hit points.

Combining both examples, when both creatures are within 30 feet of the cleric he could restore 5 hit points to the first and 10 hit points to the second creature.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Argh! I suppose that means the Cleric loses the extra HP allowed by the ability if no other allies need healing at the time. Correct? \$\endgroup\$ – Alexis Wilke Oct 1 '16 at 5:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ At level 4 the cleric may heal 20hp. If the cleric from my example has both creatures in the range of the preserve life ability he would be able to heal 15hp, the remaining 5hp are lost. You cannot "keep" them for later use. \$\endgroup\$ – Thyzer Oct 1 '16 at 11:56

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