[RPG] Power Word Kill — Max HP or current HP


Power Word Kill:

You utter a word of power that can compel one creature you can see within range to die instantly. If the creature you choose has 100 hit points or fewer, it dies. Otherwise, the spell has no effect (101 hp or more).

(copied from Functionally, how does Power Word Kill work?)

Does the phrase "hit points" mean current or maximum HP?

For example, if I fight a Tarrasque with 686 HP and do 587 damage, can I then use PWK to kill it?

Best Answer

It means current hit points.

When the phrase "hit points" is used without the word "current" or "maximum" associated with it, it means "current hit points." This is clarified by the rules in the Damage and Healing section of the Player's Handbook (p. 196, emphasis mine):

A creature's current hit points (usually just called hit points) can be any number from the creature's hit point maximum down to 0. This number changes frequently as a creature takes damage or receives healing.

So, when an effect applies to the maximum, it will always say so. If it doesn't say "maximum," it's talking about current hit points, even if the word "current" isn't actually there. (Also, as a sidenote: the PHB never uses the phrase "maximum hit points." It always uses "hit point maximum.")