5E In-Combat Healing: How and Why? - Page 5
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  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stalker0 View Post
    It means a lot of rerolls and shifting all of the players and monsters, either on cards or in your head. Way more complicated every round as opposed to just "hey your down, remember you lose your next turn no matter what".
    Yes, at a table with pencil and paper. With digital tools, specifically FG, it is easy to turn on re-rolls and not worry about it.

    Re-roll init also has other benefits too. Esp. along the lines of limiting metagaming and enhancing the chaos of combat.
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  2. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dausuul View Post
    They are not a guaranteed return because you can't be certain they will in fact make the difference between "teammate on the ground" and "teammate up and fighting" for at least 1 round.
    Whack-A-Mole isn't a guaranteed return in all circumstances either. It's only guaranteed in a few very particular cases.

    1) Enemies ignore downed allies and don't hit them with AOE's
    AND
    2) No enemies go after you would heal a downed ally before he gets his turn.

    If those 2 conditions aren't met then whack-a-mole isn't guaranteed.

    That is the virtue of the "whack-a-mole" strategy: If there are no enemies between you and your teammate in the initiative order, you know with 100% certainty that your healing spell will purchase at least 1 round of actions for your teammate. And if there are enemies between you, you know that, and you don't cast the spell in the first place.
    This also assumes enemies aren't particularly vicious toward downed PC's. If they are then the PC might be dead before you can pop up the whack-a-mole.

    However, an investment does not need guaranteed returns to be a good investment. It just requires a risk premium: The greater the uncertainty of the payoff, the bigger that payoff must be to justify the risk.
    Sure. But that also applies to the downsides and not just the advantages. Suppose you use a high level heal spell in a scenario where the PC wouldn't have actually been downed if you didn't use it. What's the downside?

    Likewise, suppose you didn't heal a pc before he dropped to 0. What's the potential downside.

    It's not just about the potential benefits, it's also about mitigating the potential downsides.

    My contention is that potential downsides of not healing as I advocate are so bad that long term it's too risky not to heal in such situations.

    Mass cure wounds cast by a Life cleric is a great example: If you do it when the entire party has taken some heavy hits, you have a good chance of purchasing 2-3 rounds' worth of actions (one for each teammate who is saved from eating dirt for a round). Or suppose the party tank has a stratospheric AC, such that they rarely get hit. In that case, a big healing spell could purchase 2-3 rounds for that one character. The results are not as certain as whack-a-mole, but the potential upside is much greater.
    Sure. The worst case scenario if you heal in this situation is that you've used a spell slot and restored hp that your allies don't actually need to win this fight. They still keep those HP's etc. The only real downside is you risk being in a situation later that day where you end up needing that slot and you don't have it.

    And if the DM is playing monsters "viciously," so that they go hard after downed PCs, the potential upside is an entire adventuring day's worth of actions (or however long it would take a slain PC to be resurrected or replaced). However, this is a case where you are spending an action this combat to buy actions in future combats, so you would only do it if you were fairly confident of winning the current fight - if you're on the ropes and facing TPK, then future combats are irrelevant, the focus must be on surviving this one.
    Spending your strongest action this combat as I advocate for would fit perfectly in this scenario. It literally would be you doing everything you can to survive this fight without thought of future combats.

    I more or less agree with you: In-combat healing can be a useful tactic. It's just a matter of figuring out how to get the best value from it and knowing what spell to use when. That depends on your party composition, the adventure, and the DM.
    I agree. I just think you have to look at pros and cons both when evaluating risk. So for my tactic, which while on average there's often a tiny amount of downside, there are times it has immense upside. Compared to whack-a-mole healing which while it often has a small upside, there are times it has an immense downside.

    Generally speaking when managing risk for something extremely important you want to minimize extreme downsides even if it costs a little more overall. That's the foundation the insurance industry is built upon.

  3. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrogReaver View Post
    . Suppose you use a high level heal spell in a scenario where the PC wouldn't have actually been downed if you didn't use it. What's the downside?
    You no longer have that high-level slot to spontaneously cast a high-level spell that could win that encounter - or the next one, or obviate some other challenge.

    The only real downside is you risk being in a situation later that day where you end up needing that slot and you don't have it.
    Its a very real downside to the caster.



    Generally speaking when managing risk for something extremely important you want to minimize extreme downsides even if it costs a little more overall. That's the foundation the insurance industry is built upon.
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  4. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
    You no longer have that high-level slot to spontaneously cast a high-level spell that could win that encounter - or the next one, or obviate some other challenge.
    Yes, each time you heal 70 hp you're not dishing out whatever damage a 6th slot can produce, with all the future savings in incoming damage from that/those monsters added to the cost.

    And the loss of flexibility too, just as you say.

    Consider that even a double-strength Heal (the 3.5 version) is not a given spell to choose and cast, given the opportunity cost of not casting a 6th level spell.

    This reminds me of another tweak to recommend (to make combat healing a larger part of the game): add back Vancian memorization rules.

    If you already when the day starts must select your level 6 spell, that Heal starts to feel awfully tempting, since it just about as universally useful as spells get. Almost everything else risks not seeing use that day...
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  5. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by CapnZapp View Post
    Yes, each time you heal 70 hp you're not dishing out whatever damage a 6th slot can produce, with all the future savings in incoming damage from that/those monsters added to the cost.

    And the loss of flexibility too, just as you say.

    Consider that even a double-strength Heal (the 3.5 version) is not a given spell to choose and cast, given the opportunity cost of not casting a 6th level spell.

    This reminds me of another tweak to recommend (to make combat healing a larger part of the game): add back Vancian memorization rules.

    If you already when the day starts must select your level 6 spell, that Heal starts to feel awfully tempting, since it just about as universally useful as spells get. Almost everything else risks not seeing use that day...
    how would vancian interact with upcasting? do I have to leave the slot free to potentially upcast, say, spirit guardians? or can I have heal in there and then upcast something anyway

  6. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by CapnZapp View Post
    This reminds me of another tweak to recommend (to make combat healing a larger part of the game): add back Vancian memorization rules.

    If you already when the day starts must select your level 6 spell, that Heal starts to feel awfully tempting, since it just about as universally useful as spells get. Almost everything else risks not seeing use that day...
    ...and, when you take Heal, everything else goes from a risk of not being used that day, to a certainty of not being used.

    Which is how the Cleric got it's Band-aid stereotype back in the day. (Nowadways, "healbot" - no trademark dilution that way.)

    Quote Originally Posted by mortwatcher View Post
    how would Vancian interact with upcasting? do I have to leave the slot free to potentially upcast, say, spirit guardians? or can I have heal in there and then upcast something anyway
    You'd prep the up-cast spell in the higher level slot. Same opportunity cost, different dynamic.


    3e essentially had Vancian Upcasting, in the form of Empower(which 5e essentially gives you free, anyway) and other metamagic feats. But, 3e also had make/buy of wands & scrolls, so you could keep a lot of lower level options, and LOT of between combat healing, separate from your slots - /and/ clerics could spontaneously cast healing spells (only) using a different prepared spell as a slot.

    In prior eds, clerics were prettymuch forced to prep all healing - it was vital, it was always useful - but, they didn't have healing available at every spell level... a 5e cleric painted into the same corner could prep healing into any/every slot.
    Last edited by Tony Vargas; Thursday, 20th June, 2019 at 06:55 PM.

  7. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrogReaver View Post
    With any analysis I think it's helpful to define what success looks like. In 5e I success is best defined as having no PC deaths.
    As you say, in-combat healing has a very different goal than out-of-comabt healing, which is usually "to heal sufficiently with the most efficient use of resources".

    However, when it comes to in-combat healing, I have a different measure of success than what you propose, which by nature encompasses it* but also asks more.

    (* Except at Tier 1, where insta-death is more likely.)

    "Minimize actions lost due to adverse conditions such as unconsciousnesses."

    So this expands healing from just HPs, and it also gives a goal for how much healing.

    It also adds in an interesting, somewhat gamist, prioritization. A PC who goes soon after the cleric (soon = without foes between them) can always be stood up from zero HP to not lose an action, while one who has a lot for foes after the cleric before their next action (perhaps in the next round) needs to be kept farther from zero to make sure they don't lose an action.

    The flip side is that if you don't expect to be able to deliver enough healing to keep someone up, change your focus to the next ally in your priority - that first one you will be able to more efficiently stand from zero.
    Last edited by Blue; Thursday, 20th June, 2019 at 09:14 PM.
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  8. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue View Post
    However, when it comes to in-combat healing, I have a different measure of success than what you propose, which by nature encompasses it* but also asks more.

    (* Except at Tier 1, where insta-death is more likely.)

    "Minimize actions lost due to adverse conditions such as unconsciousnesses."

    So this expands healing from just HPs, and it also gives a goal for how much healing.
    In that case I think my proposed in-combat healing tactics definitely minimize actions lost due to adverse conditions such as unconsciousness.

    It also adds in an interesting, somewhat gamist, prioritization. A PC who goes soon after the cleric (soon = without foes between them) can always be stood up from zero HP to not lose an action, while one who has a lot for foes after the cleric before their next action (perhaps in the next round) needs to be kept farther from zero to make sure they don't lose an action.
    You assume that the ally fell just before your turn. It's also possible that he fell right after his turn was over. If that's the case all enemies going between him and you have the potential to finish him off. Unlikely perhaps but still a possibility. If he is killed before your clerics turn comes around then it's not true that he can always be stood back up and act, even provided no enemy goes between the cleric and him.
    Last edited by FrogReaver; Friday, 21st June, 2019 at 01:21 AM.

  9. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
    You no longer have that high-level slot to spontaneously cast a high-level spell that could win that encounter - or the next one, or obviate some other challenge.

    Its a very real downside to the caster.
    I think this is actually the best counterpoint. I want to analyze it a bit further. I think one part of the scenario is a bit flawed - that a cleric not reserving high level spell slots to heal allies will keep high level spell slots longer than one that reserves high level slots almost solely for healing. But back to the given scenario.

    Suppose you have a cleric that casts spirit guardians in a fight. Suppose the fight would have been overcome without casting spirit guardians. Did casting spirit guardians accomplish anything? Yes. You killed enemies faster so ultimately the group has more hp and/or other resources left at the end of the fight. That's the same outcome as my healing tactics produce. Except, with spirit guardians and most offensive spells, they are most efficient via front loading. That makes it a bit easier to use them in circumstances where the party would win without expending those resources - especially when compared with healing an ally that has a risk of being downed the next turn, which also may not have any impact other than additional hp on that pc, but since you can predict with more certainity when the bad event might occur, then it's more reliable at having meaningful impact on fights than something like spirit guardians which is typically going to be used at the start of a combat.

  10. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrogReaver View Post
    I think this is actually the best counterpoint. I want to analyze it a bit further. I think one part of the scenario is a bit flawed - that a cleric not reserving high level spell slots to heal allies will keep high level spell slots longer than one that reserves high level slots almost solely for healing.
    That's a good point. If the strategy encourages holding on to high level slots longer, it may cause the caster to pass on good opportunities to use the slot very effectively early in the day, or find him, later in the day, with the slot available to take advantage of such an opportunity.

    But back to the given scenario.
    Suppose you have a cleric that casts spirit guardians in a fight. Suppose the fight would have been overcome without casting spirit guardians. Did casting spirit guardians accomplish anything? Yes. You killed enemies faster so ultimately the group has more hp and/or other resources left at the end of the fight. That's the same outcome as my healing tactics produce. Except, with spirit guardians and most offensive spells, they are most efficient via front loading. That makes it a bit easier to use them in circumstances where the party would win without expending those resources - especially when compared with healing an ally that has a risk of being downed the next turn, which also may not have any impact other than additional hp on that pc, but since you can predict with more certainity when the bad event might occur, then it's more reliable at having meaningful impact on fights than something like spirit guardians which is typically going to be used at the start of a combat.
    OK, I follow that, but I'm not sure I buy it. It can actually be pretty hard to predict which of your party members is likely to get beaten down next. Proactive healing can run a risk of healing someone who is then not attacked for the rest of the encounter, while someone else gets beaten down. Even in 4e, when Defenders would attract attacks like a magnet, you could find yourself healing the defender proactively, only to have an enemy slip away from him long enough to down someone else. In 5e, enemies are mostly free to attack whichever of your allies they like - or you, which, once you start healing (proactively or whack-a-mole), they may figure out is a really good idea.
    In contrast, the presumed efficiency of leading with a powerful offensive alternative is more clearly under your control. Though, really, /nothing/ about either scenario is completely under your control. You could cut loose with powerful offense early only to find they're paper tigers, for instance.

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