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General 4e Healing was the best D&D healing

Undrave

Hero
As the thread title say. I think the concept of the Healing Surges and how healing worked was way better than what we have had before and since.

HP was turned from a single daily block into an encounter based ressources, with Healing Surge replacing the daily resource aspect. You could, theoretically have a very low HP character for whom all fights are dangerous, but they can do more of those fights in a day simply by having more Healing Surges.

Furthermore, healing spells and healing potions scaled much better (we didn't need multiple Potion of Healing types) and did not result in 'free HP' (I know spells have slot costs, but potions basically let you turn gold into free HP out of nowhere!) since you always tapped into Healing Surges. A 5e Healing Word heals a much greater % of a Wizard's HP than a Barbarian, even on the same dice roll and I think it's wasteful. It also led to interesting mechanics that allowed to share Healing Surges from one party member to the other.

Healing Surges were also used to denote the effect of environmental hazards as well as cost for certain rituals.

All in all, I think the current Hit Dice system and healing style is pretty subpar and its scaling is just more fiddly than Healing Surges.

Agree or disagree?
 

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ChaosOS

Hero
Supporter
While I agree generally, I will nitpick that there were in fact multiple versions of Potions of Healing due to the gold cost factor - WotC wanted the gold:healing:surges reasonable, so healing potions consumed a surge and healed a flat amount. If you made the action cost more reasonable and/or limited the number of healing potions that could be consumed per short rest I don't think you would've needed the tiered potions.

One thing I think might be worth experimenting with is I think 5e is right that full resource recovery per day is problematic - if you instead only recovered half or a third of your healing surges, and maybe didn't get raw hp back either, that would provide a system you could latch onto for downtime/macro exploration.
 

Retreater

Legend
I'll go a step further: 4e was the best tabletop experience of D&D.
Balanced; creative; so many departures from the problematic parts of gameplay ("linear fighters, quadratic wizards"); interesting mechanics; essential teamwork and party builds; clear, concise, predictable rules; minions; solo monsters that worked; magic items that scaled appropriately.
But it failed because it wasn't the game that best captured what D&D had been traditionally. (Even if those traditions kinda stunk.)
I will gladly play or DM 4E for anyone, any day of the week.
 

Maybe agree? I loved the healing surge mechanic in general, but the sheer availability of healing made combats take forever. I, like many others, had to house rule the damage and HP of the monsters to keep fights brisk.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
I never played 4E, so I am only a bit familiar with the Healing Surge concept (forgive me if I am incorrect on anything that follows!).

I don't like HP resetting per encounter unless it is MUCH lower in general. While HP attrition might not appeal to some, I like it because I know later encounters (before I've recovered) are that much more challenging--and I must weigh the risk against the benefit. If my HP are always restored for each encounter, that element of the game is gone.

For the same reason I am not a fan of short rest abilities. PCs which rely on them slow down the game because they want more rests before the next encounter. I would rather see short rest abilities translated to long rest, and offer a "breather" mechanic which is solely for spending HD after a fight if such a thing is desired.

Honestly, I think "adventure" or "scenario" based HP and abilities is best. It makes you think about what you need to conserve (just in case) and reflects more than finding a good place to rest mid-adventure is not (and should not be) simple IMO.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
It always just felt like extra overhead to me, so disagree.

Now 4E clerics I did enjoy because you could be something other than a healbot. The Mighty Reverend was right up there near the top of the all time fun PCs (so many D12s) ... except for the other issues I had with 4E that I'm not going to get into..
 

Here's my preferred healing system.

Hit Points Represent Fatigue and Scrapes
You have hit points. Getting 'hit' in combat means the attack made contact but didn't necessarily leave a lasting wound. It just wears you out. If you drop to 0 HP, you are helpless but conscious.

Whenever you rest 5 minutes, you get back up to half maximum. If you rest for an hour, you heal to full.

Wounds Impose Penalties
Whenever you suffer a critical hit, instead of taking double damage, you take normal damage and get a wound. There are six possible wounds, and the duration can vary based on how many HP you have left. You'd roll a d6 to determine which wound:

1. Head - Blinded for one round, then everyone has concealment against you as long as the wound lasts.

2,3. Arm - Drop what you're holding, then disadvantage with attacks or checks using that arm as long as the wound lasts.

4,5. Leg - You fall prone, and then are slowed as long as the wound lasts.

6. Chest - You suffer a level of exhaustion as long as the wound lasts.

Wound Severity
If after the critical hit you still have any HP, it's a Light Wound. If after the crit you are at 0 HP, you make a Con save. If you succeed, it's a Serious Wound. If you fail, it's a Critical Wound.

Light wounds heal on their own after an hour's rest.

Serious wounds heal after a day's rest.

Critical wounds never heal on their own.

Cure Wounds spells can fix wounds, though. Cure Light is 1st level, Cure Serious 3rd, Cure Critical 4th. Those don't restore any hit points, though. Nothing restores hit points other than resting, because it's bad game design to have character roles devoted to healing; that's reactive, and generally unfun.

---

In this way, PCs will tend to get some light wounds that might change their tactics during combat, but afterward they can rest and heal. If the scenario puts pressure on them, they might rest five minutes to get some HP back, and have to deal with the wound lasting a while.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Here's my preferred healing system.

Hit Points Represent Fatigue and Scrapes
You have hit points. Getting 'hit' in combat means the attack made contact but didn't necessarily leave a lasting wound. It just wears you out. If you drop to 0 HP, you are helpless but conscious.

Whenever you rest 5 minutes, you get back up to half maximum. If you rest for an hour, you heal to full.

Wounds Impose Penalties
Whenever you suffer a critical hit, instead of taking double damage, you take normal damage and get a wound. There are six possible wounds, and the duration can vary based on how many HP you have left. You'd roll a d6 to determine which wound:

1. Head - Blinded for one round, then everyone has concealment against you as long as the wound lasts.

2,3. Arm - Drop what you're holding, then disadvantage with attacks or checks using that arm as long as the wound lasts.

4,5. Leg - You fall prone, and then are slowed as long as the wound lasts.

6. Chest - You suffer a level of exhaustion as long as the wound lasts.

Wound Severity
If after the critical hit you still have any HP, it's a Light Wound. If after the crit you are at 0 HP, you make a Con save. If you succeed, it's a Serious Wound. If you fail, it's a Critical Wound.

Light wounds heal on their own after an hour's rest.

Serious wounds heal after a day's rest.

Critical wounds never heal on their own.

Cure Wounds spells can fix wounds, though. Cure Light is 1st level, Cure Serious 3rd, Cure Critical 4th. Those don't restore any hit points, though. Nothing restores hit points other than resting, because it's bad game design to have character roles devoted to healing; that's reactive, and generally unfun.

---

In this way, PCs will tend to get some light wounds that might change their tactics during combat, but afterward they can rest and heal. If the scenario puts pressure on them, they might rest five minutes to get some HP back, and have to deal with the wound lasting a while.
I understand why you do it, but it hurts front line fighter/barbarian types much more than other PCs. I'd want to tie something in to the PC's total HP; a fighter that is hit with a crit for 20 points of damage is taking significantly less damage overall than a wizard hit for the same 20 points.

That and the back line guys tend to be more affected by save for damage spells and breath weapons in my experience.
 

Undrave

Hero
Disagree. I really don't like healing surges. To each their own of course.
I'm curious as to why, would you like to elaborate?

Maybe agree? I loved the healing surge mechanic in general, but the sheer availability of healing made combats take forever. I, like many others, had to house rule the damage and HP of the monsters to keep fights brisk.
Oh I will agree the system as it was in 4e could have used refinement. I just like the philosophy and basic principles... and I'm just sad 5e didn't go for a proper refinement of the system instead of just reverting to some janky 3e call back.

I never played 4E, so I am only a bit familiar with the Healing Surge concept (forgive me if I am incorrect on anything that follows!).

I don't like HP resetting per encounter unless it is MUCH lower in general. While HP attrition might not appeal to some, I like it because I know later encounters (before I've recovered) are that much more challenging--and I must weigh the risk against the benefit. If my HP are always restored for each encounter, that element of the game is gone.

For the same reason I am not a fan of short rest abilities. PCs which rely on them slow down the game because they want more rests before the next encounter. I would rather see short rest abilities translated to long rest, and offer a "breather" mechanic which is solely for spending HD after a fight if such a thing is desired.

Honestly, I think "adventure" or "scenario" based HP and abilities is best. It makes you think about what you need to conserve (just in case) and reflects more than finding a good place to rest mid-adventure is not (and should not be) simple IMO.
A 4e short rest was 10 min and everybody had short rest abilities so the pacing was much breezier. Usually it's long rest abilities that alt the game IMO. It's much easier to narrate a 1 hour break somewhere than a full long rest.

As for the healing recovering every encounter... Basically it means that you're never just one bad roll away from death at the start of a fight, but by modulating your Max HP compared to your 'daily HP' (HP+Surges) you could have an experience where, even if you recover every combat, you'd still not want to go blazing into battle foolishly. I think the 4e system could have been refined to deliver that experience... Basically make each encounter feel more dangerous while allowing you to have more of them each day.

Let's say you have 100 HP (and no access to quick healing) and you get into a combat with an enemy that does 10 dmg a turn to you and you can knock them out in three turns... You're okay for at least two-three fights without worrying about healing. But if instead your maximum HP is 30, but you can grab from a pool of 70 HP after each encounter, each one becomes much more dangerous and you have to consider what you're doing.

I don't think the current system works that well for that. Hit Dice don't feel like a real resource that interplays with the rest of the system, it's just there as an inferior alternative in case you don't have a Caster to heal you. I'm just not a fan of this reliance on magical healing that then promotes caster superiority.

You could easily turn healing surges into a resource that takes much longer to recover and thus be an 'adventure' resource.

It always just felt like extra overhead to me, so disagree.

Now 4E clerics I did enjoy because you could be something other than a healbot. The Mighty Reverend was right up there near the top of the all time fun PCs (so many D12s) ... except for the other issues I had with 4E that I'm not going to get into..
I miss the 4e Cleric, the 5e one just doesn't do it for me. It feels too... selfish.
 

ZeshinX

Adventurer
Detested Healing Surges, though not it's basic concept...at least the basic concept I interpreted in that it was a way to depict a heroic resurgence in general stamina, endurance and, to quote the John Wick films, sheer bleeping will (much like one sees in most action movies where the protagonist takes a beating but digs deep down and manages to get back on their feet and keep going....sometimes done well, others not so much).

Healing Surges kinda/sorta rob that moment of taking a beating by immediately having a battery of healing to draw on. Some enjoy that, which is cool, others don't, which is also cool. Myself I fall into the latter, since I find healing surges remove a sense of mortality/danger in the moment more than they offer that heroic pool of willpower...and have a tendency to create a 'one-person army' mentality (only in part, 4e still promotes a party/team dynamic in lots of other ways).

I find 5e fits nicely with how I view the abstract of HP. It still offers a way to draw on that heroic resolve in the spending of HD during short rests, but leaves intact the possibility of getting whalloped, so mortality is ever-present. It's not perfect of course, since sometimes it's pretty durn nice to have the "cinematic" option DURING a fight to find that heroic spirit (which the Fighter's Second Wind does in a flavourful way), but it fit's my take on it.

It was one way to remove the view of and reliance on the Cleric being the group's first aid kit, I just found it to be a significant over-correction. Plus I'm a bit more old school in how I view healing overall....plenty of healing options are good, but mortality should always be sitting on your shoulder. I also find no quick and easy way to heal promotes creative strategies by players during combat or other dangerous situations.

Just the way I view things and how I like it. Not wrong, not right...just my (and my groups') preference. :)
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
I'm curious as to why, would you like to elaborate?
Obviously this comes from personal preference rather than any type of claim I'm trying to make objectively about 4e. My favorite edition is 1e, so that's where I'm coming from. My preference is towards a lower healing style of play. So frequent healing just doesn't fit my preferences. I'm also a fan of niche protection, so having every class do healing is another thing that doesn't fit my preference.

For the record, this isn't just a 4e thing. The biggest issue I have with 5e RAW is healing back to max after a long rest, followed by frequent hit dice healing options.
 

Undrave

Hero
Obviously this comes from personal preference rather than any type of claim I'm trying to make objectively about 4e. My favorite edition is 1e, so that's where I'm coming from. My preference is towards a lower healing style of play. So frequent healing just doesn't fit my preferences. I'm also a fan of niche protection, so having every class do healing is another thing that doesn't fit my preference.

For the record, this isn't just a 4e thing. The biggest issue I have with 5e RAW is healing back to max after a long rest, followed by frequent hit dice healing options.
I can see why you don't like it.

As for niche protection, only the Leader class had easy access to efficient Healing (though Defenders often had Self-Healing options). Everybody DID have a Second Wind, but unless you were a dwarf it took a standard action.
 

jmartkdr2

Adventurer
snip (much like one sees in most action movies where the protagonist takes a beating but digs deep down and manages to get back on their feet and keep going....sometimes done well, others not so much). snip
I'm not trying to change you mind overall, but I find this odd - those scenes where the hero digs don't take an hour or (in older editions) 8 hours - they take a moment where the protagonist thinks about why s/he's doing this and gets a serious look on their face before getting back up. That's what the Healing Surge action is supposed to be.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
As the thread title say. I think the concept of the Healing Surges and how healing worked was way better than what we have had before and since.

HP was turned from a single daily block into an encounter based ressources, with Healing Surge replacing the daily resource aspect. You could, theoretically have a very low HP character for whom all fights are dangerous, but they can do more of those fights in a day simply by having more Healing Surges.

Furthermore, healing spells and healing potions scaled much better (we didn't need multiple Potion of Healing types) and did not result in 'free HP' (I know spells have slot costs, but potions basically let you turn gold into free HP out of nowhere!) since you always tapped into Healing Surges. A 5e Healing Word heals a much greater % of a Wizard's HP than a Barbarian, even on the same dice roll and I think it's wasteful. It also led to interesting mechanics that allowed to share Healing Surges from one party member to the other.

Healing Surges were also used to denote the effect of environmental hazards as well as cost for certain rituals.

All in all, I think the current Hit Dice system and healing style is pretty subpar and its scaling is just more fiddly than Healing Surges.

Agree or disagree?
I don't think that 5e healing is subpar. I think it's an improvement over most editions, and they managed to address a lot of legacy issues while retaining much of the traditional feel.

However, I do agree that 4e healing was a much better design. I really liked healing surges. I would have preferred 5e retaining 4e healing wholesale, but I don't think that was ever going to happen.
 

ZeshinX

Adventurer
I'm not trying to change you mind overall, but I find this odd - those scenes where the hero digs don't take an hour or (in older editions) 8 hours - they take a moment where the protagonist thinks about why s/he's doing this and gets a serious look on their face before getting back up. That's what the Healing Surge action is supposed to be.
Yep, which is why I note later saying the 5e approach isn't perfect for pretty much that very reason. :)
 


the Jester

Legend
I'll go a step further: 4e was the best tabletop experience of D&D.
Balanced; creative; so many departures from the problematic parts of gameplay ("linear fighters, quadratic wizards"); interesting mechanics; essential teamwork and party builds; clear, concise, predictable rules; minions; solo monsters that worked; magic items that scaled appropriately.
But it failed because it wasn't the game that best captured what D&D had been traditionally.
You're overlooking one thing, and I say this as a lover of much of how 4e played- combat was slooooow. You were lucky to get more than 3 encounters in per session, and there were basically never any trivial encounters. Compared to 5e, where I sometimes have had 12+ encounters per session, 4e really dragged.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
Let's say you have 100 HP (and no access to quick healing) and you get into a combat with an enemy that does 10 dmg a turn to you and you can knock them out in three turns... You're okay for at least two-three fights without worrying about healing. But if instead your maximum HP is 30, but you can grab from a pool of 70 HP after each encounter, each one becomes much more dangerous and you have to consider what you're doing.

I don't think the current system works that well for that. Hit Dice don't feel like a real resource that interplays with the rest of the system, it's just there as an inferior alternative in case you don't have a Caster to heal you. I'm just not a fan of this reliance on magical healing that then promotes caster superiority.

You could easily turn healing surges into a resource that takes much longer to recover and thus be an 'adventure' resource.
So, if I understand you, PCs had fewer max HP, but a pool to draw on to replenish you back to the (lower than 5E?) maximum hp? That seems to me what your example is implying.
 

the Jester

Legend
I understand why you do it, but it hurts front line fighter/barbarian types much more than other PCs. I'd want to tie something in to the PC's total HP; a fighter that is hit with a crit for 20 points of damage is taking significantly less damage overall than a wizard hit for the same 20 points.
This is a key element of my "colorful critical hit" system- kind of. I tie critical severity to the damage dealt by the crit vs. current hit points- otherwise, high level characters never suffer from grievous wounds.
 

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