D&D 4th Edition Healing and combat tension between 4e and Next




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  1. #1
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    Healing and combat tension between 4e and Next

    By late-era 4e, combats (at least in my group) tended to go like this:

    Round 1. PCs and monsters engage. Each side gets chipped away a bit.

    Round 2. Monsters bloody a PC.

    Round 3. A PC nearly goes down, another PC is bloodied, and the party has only just bloodied one monster.

    Things are looking bad for the party. But then the PCs start using their healing words and similar powers. Minor action healing lets them keep dealing damage while pulling the team back from the brink.

    Round 4. Resurgent PCs take down two enemies. Enemies bloody another PC, keeping the pressure on.

    Round 5. A PC who's gotten into a bad spot uses a daily power and mops up the enemies. The party is left beaten and bloodied, and feeling like they narrowly pulled out a win.



    Now, I don't want every fight in 5e to feel like that. In fact, I rather enjoyed "Crap, 6 kobolds. Get 'em! . . . Oh, wait, they're already all dead? Hm, okay."

    But for boss fights, Next doesn't have the "pull back from the brink" options 4e did. Should it?
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    I just don't believe you can't compare a polished, published and heavily errata system to an early play test of a completely different game and hope to get anything really meaningful out of it. Its apples and oranges.

    I think the direction you're asking questions is fine, but there are better ways to look at/phrase the problem.

    There's a new playtest right around the corner, as well.

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    I'd rather the "pulled back from the brink" actually be pulled back from the brink, not just engineered. I know that my group has pulled out a victory from a losing situation a few times, and that while they absolutely love that feeling, it would be greatly diminished if it was part of the system. Maybe its just me, but I'm guessing plenty of fights in 5e can go from "looks like we're going to lose" to "we won!" From where I'm standing, that's perfect. As always, play what you like
    As always, play what you like

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    Quote Originally Posted by JamesonCourage View Post
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    I'd rather the "pulled back from the brink" actually be pulled back from the brink, not just engineered. I know that my group has pulled out a victory from a losing situation a few times, and that while they absolutely love that feeling, it would be greatly diminished if it was part of the system. Maybe its just me, but I'm guessing plenty of fights in 5e can go from "looks like we're going to lose" to "we won!" From where I'm standing, that's perfect. As always, play what you like
    Alternatively, I don't mind a pull back from the brink mechanic... if it's used or available for use only sparingly. If you combats are tending to go like that or are expected to go like that, it's happening way too often.
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  • #5
    Excellent question.

    I love "pull em back from the brinks", but they have to be designed right.

    Ultimately it comes down to the nature of "dailies" (or other limited use mechanic) and how they are designed. You see, I hate "IWIN" dailies that you pop at the start of combat. Deplore them. So some dailies have left a bad taste in my mouth. But when they have the attribute of being potent, yet circumstantial, they start to get a bit more flavor.

    Im going to come up with a hypothetical example here...its a bit 4e, but its to illustrate a point

    (Kinda paladin-ish really)
    Power : "My life for his"
    Effect : An unconscious ally regains consciousness and recover half of his max hit points. In addition, that ally has +2 to hit and damage till end of round. Your hit points instantly drop to zero and cannot be revived for at least 10 minutes

    Now consider this. Your in a fight, you down to 1 hit point and have little left to contribute. The enemy is looking beat up, but ultimately looks like a TPK is in the works. The parties moderately durable yet hard hitting fighter is down. You pop this power, lose the 1 hp you had left, the fighter gets up at half max hp and a good attack bonus, in a much better position to help finish the fight than you are.

    This is what I like.
    * It has a price that makes it a judgement when to use it
    * Its not a "start the fight, I WIN" button
    * Its daily, so it aint every fight. You have to time it.

    Im summary : I like it because its only effective if used well, meaning half of the potency of it lies with the character and the other half lies with the player. It smacks of something only a desperate person would do, and to me, thats what "back from the brink" powers should be all about.

  • #6
    What in 5e seems not brinky enough? Couldn't a well-placed Cure X Wounds spell work just as well as a Healing Word?

  • #7
    @ bobtheknob

    While I appreciate the Sentiment of the power, it's too gamist for me.... Trade off a fighter at close to full power for a hp... Nah ...

    What I want is what happened in my 1e game back in college in 87 .... Ranger with frost blade vs. lich with fire shield .... Sure , killed the lich, and himself in the act ! .... If there are trade offs , let's make them real.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ZombieRoboNinja View Post
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    What in 5e seems not brinky enough? Couldn't a well-placed Cure X Wounds spell work just as well as a Healing Word?
    I can't speak for others, but for me, the fights are too short and the monsters don't hit often enough that the players feel the need to pull their PCs back from the brink in the middle of a fight.

    Healing, when it takes place, tends to occur outside of combat, through the use of Hit Dice or the cure X wounds spells, which also seem (again, at least to me) to be a more efficient use of a daily healing resource, so healing word would hardly ever get used. Either the PCs are winning, in which case there is no point spending a daily healing resource, or the PCs are losing, in which case more healing seems to be a better option than a small amount of healing and a basic attack. (If healing word allowed the target to spend a Hit Dice in addition to the 1d6 hit points healed, I might want to use it more.)

    Hence, I find that most fights tend to fall into the following categories:

    1. The PCs beat the monsters easily, occasionally without taking any damage.

    2. One PC is seriously injured or goes down, but it isn't worth spending any healing resources because the PCs are winning and the fight will be over soon.

    The number of fights in which the PCs need to use healing resources to win are quite rare, which I suppose suits those who like that playstyle. However, for me, those fights don't happen often enough and, due to the daily nature of in-combat healing resources, probably cannot happen often enough in an adventuring day.

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    Theory and play have constantly shown that in-combat healing, except to stabilize dying people, is almost always a terrible idea if it costs a standard action.

    The problem is that you COULD be doing something useful, but instead you're healing. If you're healing and they're hurting, you're not winning.

  • #10
    I have to admit, I really like OP's combat dynamic. I understand that simplifying things is a big part of Next, but I see the fights becoming boring for me, not just because of the dynamic, but also tactically.

    The biggest complexity I think was adding a variety of durations to different effects. If the durations were simply "until the end of target's next turn" "save ends" (the two are almost the same thing) and "encounter" and keep effects standardized, I think it would be much easier to deal with a little complexity.

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