The Healing Paradox




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    The Healing Paradox

    No, not the title of a new Doctor Who episode, but further observations from playtesting that echo much of what has been said before, and form an idea.

    The facts:
    • Many people dislike healing to full hitpoints overnight.
    • Though more complex systems may come in a module, hitpoints will remain the basic currency of 'how far am I from death?'.
    • Many people also dislike healing surges, which were developed to limit the amount of healing one could receive during any given day and to normalise healing spells across varying hitpoint totals.
    • Currently, self-healing can be achieved through the hitdice mechanic, and clerical healing stands apart from this.


    Here's the issue. If players are not at, or close to, full hitpoints, they will use every renewable healing resource available to them (and sometimes non-renewable resources such as potions too). If characters do not heal fully overnight, then the next morning will be spent spending hitdice, and even worse, using up the cleric's spells as soon as possible - perhaps even forcing another rest.

    Now, I don't want to see full healing overnight. I also don't want to see Clerics forced to burn everything into healing, because it's an easy source of renewable HP. I further don't want to see multiple rests taken in a row, unless the current storyline allows for this.

    The only way I can see to get rid of these three effects is, in fact, to limit the amount of healing that one can receive during a single day. No matter how you put it, if you can be healed as much as you want, players will strive to do so. Please correct me if I am missing a way to resolve this that still uses hitpoints (any sort of wound system would absolutely work). The problem is that healing surges didn't go down well with me either. I'm trapped in a paradox and need help, how do we fix this?!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris_Nightwing View Post
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    Now, I don't want to see full healing overnight. I also don't want to see Clerics forced to burn everything into healing, because it's an easy source of renewable HP. I further don't want to see multiple rests taken in a row, unless the current storyline allows for this.
    1. Natural healing is slow and magical healing is rare. You can't easily buy or make healing potions and Clerics never have enough spells to heal the entire party.
    2. Clerics have healing spells and other spells. The slots are separate.
    3. You gain XP for something other than killing monsters. Wandering monsters are common and dangerous.

    You wouldn't have full healing overnight; the Cleric can cast spells other than healing; and resting up or pushing on becomes a choice with costs.

    The last point is key. Let's say that you only get XP for rescuing the prisoners. You've delved deep into the dungeon but haven't yet found them; your map suggests where they may be. You're low on HP and spells. If you head back to rest you'll have your HP and spells back, but you'll have to face encounters that are all risk, no reward - you might even end up in a worse situation. If you push on you might not have the resources left to succeed.

    I'd like to see the system make Time a valuable resource, but I doubt that will happen.
    "If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry."
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    Ritual healing would solve all those problems.

    Just saying.
    If "A" is broken, that isn't a valid reason for "B" to be so, even if they vary in degree.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris_Nightwing View Post
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    The only way I can see to get rid of these three effects is, in fact, to limit the amount of healing that one can receive during a single day.
    Even that doesn't help - if the PCs reach their maximum, they'll still endeavour to take a second Extended Rest, and so continue with the healing.

    How about this: when a character first takes damage in combat, he becomes Bloodied. A character who is not Bloodied cannot be healed, and receiving any amount of healing removes the Bloodied condition.

    When the character takes a short rest, they may use charges from a healer's kit to spend Hit Dice to heal. Whether they do so or not, the Bloodied condition is removed at the end of the rest.

    When the character takes an Extended rest, they regain all of their Hit Dice, and if Bloodied may additionally roll a single Hit Die (to represent overnight healing). When they waken, they lose the Bloodied condition.

    Between adventures, characters regain their full hit points.

    --

    The other option is simply to make all healing non-renewable resources. So there are no Cleric spells that grant healing - healing magic is all ritual-based and has some associated cost (or there are potions, scrolls, or whatever). But even under this model, you would probably have to remove overnight healing entirely, or else there's a good chance the party will just make camp for a week while they recover!

    (Besides, that's almost certainly too radical a change to the Cleric to ever be considered.)

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    I really would like to see a solution in the final rules that is similar to how things are handled in the Dragon Age games, which you could say is quite similar to a Vitality/Wound system.

    Hit Point damage is exhaustion and minor scratches that are easily regenerated and don't cause any actual impediments.
    But in Dragon Age, every time a character drops to 0 hit points and is knocked out, he also gets a serious Injury that does not go away that easily and causes actual penalties to the characters ability to fight.

    A simple system could be "Keep everything as in the playtest rules, but when a character falls below 1 hit point, he suffers a serious injury that applies a -1 penalty to all rolls". These injuries would require a skilled healer and extensive rest to heal, or much more powerful healing magic than a simple cure spell.
    Of course, this could still be elaborated on or get refined, but I think that's a good approach. It also makes sense from a narrative point of view, because when you look at fiction, the protagonists get injured only very rarely and then it's usually something quite serious. But in D&D you are expected to get hit point damage in every single encounter, several times per day.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leatherhead View Post
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    Ritual healing would solve all those problems.

    Just saying.

    I do not understand this, please elaborate. (seriously not snark)


    I have bought into the conclusion OP has - healing has to be limited by the day (or other period) & you have to refesh this easily or the other consequences arise which are to me less palatable. No paradox just "healing surges"

    TBH I think 4e did not go far enough in making these game/story conceits so that "rests" are sometimes under the GMs purview to allow. They should be more explicitly scenes & acts rather than time periods.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
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    A simple system could be "Keep everything as in the playtest rules, but when a character falls below 1 hit point, he suffers a serious injury that applies a -1 penalty to all rolls". These injuries would require a skilled healer and extensive rest to heal, or much more powerful healing magic than a cure spell
    Sounds like a death spiral. Not very DND-like.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pickles JG View Post
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    I do not understand this, please elaborate. (seriously not snark)
    OK.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris_Nightwing View Post
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    Now, I don't want to see full healing overnight. I also don't want to see Clerics forced to burn everything into healing, because it's an easy source of renewable HP. I further don't want to see multiple rests taken in a row, unless the current storyline allows for this.
    Rituals require time and effort, it's not simply "getting a good nights sleep."

    You can adjust the exact time and components required (so you dictate the cost), the frequency the ritual can be performed at (like say once a day at dawn or whatever time frame is appropriate to the god to prevent multiple rests) and the amount of HP healed (up to max or a percentage thereof).

    Finally, rituals are independent of spell slots. Clerics could use the ritual to heal, and still have all of their spell slots dedicated to combat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LostSoul View Post
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    1. Natural healing is slow and magical healing is rare. You can't easily buy or make healing potions and Clerics never have enough spells to heal the entire party.
    2. Clerics have healing spells and other spells. The slots are separate.
    3. You gain XP for something other than killing monsters. Wandering monsters are common and dangerous.
    I definitely thought about mentioning point 2. Healing should be more 'lay on hands' than 'prepare spells/convert them to healing'. Point 3 though, is the best - you're right about adjusting expectations of players. More than once has a decision been made to rest because the monsters will wait for them, or even worse, more random encounters means more XP! Adventuring should be about achieving goals as efficiently as possible, and monsters should be barriers to these goals, rarely the goals themselves.

    Quote Originally Posted by delericho View Post
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    How about this <SNIP>

    The other option is simply to make all healing non-renewable resources. So there are no Cleric spells that grant healing - healing magic is all ritual-based and has some associated cost (or there are potions, scrolls, or whatever). But even under this model, you would probably have to remove overnight healing entirely, or else there's a good chance the party will just make camp for a week while they recover!
    I really like your suggestion of a bloodied condition - having to spend a die to be healable, but then you can receive as much healing as you like works mechanically, though the flavour is a bit tricky.

    Ritual healing is interesting. It puts a cost on recovering HP, which makes an adventure a war of attrition (see above also) - I like this. Heal your party just enough to get to that next goal, be it treasure room or princess to rescue. Don't waste your gold.
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    I think the solution is 2 Maximum HP values.

    Your Optimal HP is all of your HP with all your HD at the Maximum. It takes a week of rest with no adventuring to get to Maximum HP. You can't heal to it any other way except for maybe a Very High level spell of Heal skill check (or both).

    Your Bloodied/Rolled Maximum HP is the Max HP with your HD rolled. Potions, spells healing kits, and rest of less than a week cannot bring you higher than Bloodied/Rolled Max HP.

    So when the adventure starts, you are at Optimal. From then on, you cannot heal higher than Bloodied. You have get ALL THE WAY back to camp and rest for a week to get to Optimal HP.
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