I know that when you die, you have to reach negative whatever number your HP is at. But if I for example have 10 health and get hit, pushing me to -5 health (putting me on disabled), how do I get back to positive health again?


3 Answers 3


When Hit Points are Reduced to Zero, what happens?

There are no negative hit points in DnD 5e.

  • Any damage that is equal to or greater than the amount of hit points you have remaining will set your hit points to 0. (Basic Rules p. 79).

  • Hit points decrease or increase based on damage taken and healing received, respectively.

  • Any skill or spell that restores hit points to you (heals you) will work if you are at 0 hit points and not dead.

    • Examples include the Druid/Cleric cure wounds spell, the Cleric's Healing Word, or the Paladin's class healing ability (Lay on Hands). Healing potions also work, as does a Celestial Warlock's Healing Light.
  • As soon as you are at 1 HP or greater, you are conscious and able to function.

If you are reduced to 0 Hit Points, are you dead?

Not necessarily, but you may suffer instant death.

(Basic Rules p. 79) When damage reduces you to 0 hit points and there is damage remaining, you die if the remaining damage equals or exceeds your hit point maximum. For example, a cleric with a maximum of 12 hit points currently has 6 hit points. If she takes 18 damage from an attack, she is reduced to 0 hit points, but 12 damage remains. Because the remaining damage equals her hit point maximum, the cleric dies.

If instant death does not happen, the character at 0 HP is unconscious. (Basic Rules p. 79).

I'm unconscious at 0 HP. Now what?

You roll death saving throws each turn, which will result in you being stabilized and unconscious (3 successes) or dead (3 failures). During this time someone or something else can either stabilize you or heal you.

  • If you are stabilized, you remain unconscious. (PHB p. 79). (Hopefully, your other party members will help out).

    • The Cleric cantrip Spare the Dying will stabilize you, as can an attempt a stabilizing by another character using a healing ability, a Wisdom(Medicine) check or a Medicine kit.
  • While unconscious, if you are stabilized then death saving throws are no longer necessary.

  • If you are healed to 1 HP or greater during that time, you are alive, awake, and no longer in the 0 HP condition.

    • It's an on/off switch, the difference between 1 HP and 0 HP.
  • Note: if you roll a 20 on a d20 for a death saving throw, you are now conscious and have 1 HP. (Basic Rules p. 79).

How to do I get my hit points back?

  1. Receive healing, as described above, by spell, potion, or other healing ability.
  2. Wait to heal slowly. (Basic Rules p. 79)

A stable creature that isn't healed regains 1 hit point after 1d4 hours.
3. Expend hit dice during a short rest. (Basic Rules p. 70).
A character can spend one or more Hit Dice at the end of a short rest, up to the character’s maximum number of Hit Dice, which is equal to the character’s level. For each Hit Die spent in this way, the player rolls the die and adds the character’s Constitution modifier to it. The character regains hit points equal to the total.
4. Recover all HP after a long rest (p. 70 Basic Rules) At the end of a long rest, a character regains all lost hit points 1

All of the above are spelled out in the free Basic Rules download, and in the Players Handbook.

1. A character must have at least 1 hit point when starting a long rest to gain any benefit from it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The conversation about healing during rests has been moved to chat by request. Have at it! \$\endgroup\$ Dec 7, 2016 at 20:14
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @vanillagod thank you for the edit/updates/corrections to the combined basic rules (2018) 😊 \$\endgroup\$ Apr 23, 2022 at 17:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ I originally only wanted to fix the formatting of the "How to get hit points back" part, but didn't have enough characters for an edit and stumbled upon the new version and updated that as well. Somehow the format of that last part is still broken tho. Amazing Original Post anyway, very comprehensive! \$\endgroup\$
    – vanillagod
    May 11, 2022 at 9:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @vanillagod Thanks for the effort to improve, let me try and sort out the formatting. \$\endgroup\$ May 11, 2022 at 12:39

There's no concept of negative HP in 5e. You're either at 0 or above 0.

Therefore any healing you receive will put you back into positive.

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    \$\begingroup\$ that is, as long as you are still technically alive. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Dec 7, 2016 at 10:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ Rules citation would improve this answer, as well as explaining the issue of unconscious at 0, stabilized, etc. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 7, 2016 at 12:58

When a D&D5 character would be reduced to 0 or less HP he is knocked unconscious, falls prone and his HP are set to 0. He then makes death saving throws. Any healing done will heal him from 0 to whatever the healing value is and he will immediately regain consciousness. Furthermore if he rolls 3 successful death saving throws (10+) he is stabilized. He can also be stabilized with a successful DC 10 Medicine check or any spell or item which specifically stabilizes a character. When stabilized he regains consciousness after 1d4 hours with 1 HP. Last but not least the character immediately regains consciousness with 1 HP if he rolls a natural 20 on a death saving throw.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Suggest you offer an example of a spell that stabilizes a character, such as the Cleric cantrip "Spare the Dying." Also, a reference to PHB or the Basic rules would help improve this answer. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 7, 2016 at 13:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a better answer than the other, but still needs rule references. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Dec 7, 2016 at 13:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is a good summary, but lacks the insta-death rule which, in my experience, is the cause of much confusion about negative hit points. (Since it's the only time you need to account for anything other than zero/not-zero) \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Dec 7, 2016 at 13:49

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