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General 4e Healing was the best D&D healing

If you recover hit points by means of a "healing surge," that implies that you are, well, healing, and this naturally leads to questions about how the warlord shouting at you causes your wounds to close.
Yeah, in early days of 4e my friends and I would joke that it was basically some dude saying, "Rub some dirt in it! That'll stop the bleeding."

Or that after combat we'd just flex our muscles really hard, and cause the capillaries to seal. Then we'd drink the blood of our enemies to replenish our own.
 

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NotAYakk

Legend
So, what happens when someone runs out of HD, but still needs healing? Magic doesn't work anymore?
Yes, there is nothing to draw on.

A magical heal or potion is sufficient to stabilize someone, but not return them to even 1 HP. They are spent. Wait a day and they may recover some HD.

I hope they aren't on fire or anything. :)
 
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Saelorn

Hero
Whereas in my preferred system, HP is just the ability to keep fighting. If someone simply does HP damage to you, there's never ever at all in any way ever an actual wound that is severe enough to impede your performance.
I applaud your consistency, and I realize that we all have choices to make in how to reconcile the base-level inanity that D&D is serving us, but isn't it kind of odd that you've attached the narrative of a failed hit to the mechanic of a successful one?

I mean, I've seen a number of action movies as well, and the good fight scenes always end up with people getting a dagger stuck into them and punching other people across the room. It isn't nearly as satisfying when two people dance around each other for ten minutes, and the fight's over as soon as one hit gets through.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
Well, the more I am reading people talking about healing surges, the more I am inclined to think I wouldn't like them. I mean 5E is far from perfect, and frankly I've never liked the rapid healing of 5E by design, but healing surges seem like they would expound that issue with regaining 1/4 maximum hp per use. With roughly 8-10 healing surges a day, you are basically boosting your potential HP pool (in total) by 200-250%, as where 5E is (using say half your HD) a boost of 50% daily.

Also, the concept that you could, um, "run out of healing potential" (?) because you run out of healing surges makes little sense to me. Magic should still function to actually heal you (a problem I've had for numerous editions with HP =/= meat idea since you aren't being "healed" so much as "revitalized" but that is a different issue).

Now, if base HP was less, but you could recover a bunch of it when you had time, that would be interesting to me because it means each fight could be potentially harder (since you have fewer base HP). It would also make natural hazards more lethal (like the falling damage thread) because you don't have a huge lump sum of HP (5E) all at once.

If anything I am say is incorrect on how healing surges work, please let me know and thanks.
 

I applaud your consistency, and I realize that we all have choices to make in how to reconcile the base-level inanity that D&D is serving us, but isn't it kind of odd that you've attached the narrative of a failed hit to the mechanic of a successful one?
A hit makes physical contact. But it is not causing a debility.

So, like, your cheek might get sliced by the dagger, or the arrow might impale in your thigh, or the club might bruise your forearm, but that's just wearing your down, causing pain, making you want to give up. People who have more experience fighting can power through that better.

A crit is when the dagger slices across your eyelid, the arrow hits your knee, or the club dislocates a thumb. You might still be a bad-ass with tons of hit points who can keep fighting, but your actual physical ability is impeded.
 

GrahamWills

Adventurer
IMO, the big problem with healing surges was not the mechanic itself - which is superior, for all the reasons you point out - but the presentation, specifically the choice of names. The decision of what to name things is hugely important in RPGs; it's the single most important way in which the fiction gets hooked up to the mechanics. Wizards dropped the ball with this in 4E, and healing surges are an example.

4E was the first edition to really embrace the idea that hit points are not meat, and that "damage" doesn't have to mean serious physical injury. Unfortunately, they kept all the old naming conventions which suggest the exact opposite. "Healing surge" is an example: If you recover hit points by means of a "healing surge," that implies that you are, well, healing, and this naturally leads to questions about how the warlord shouting at you causes your wounds to close.
Yep, it's always been the issue with hit points in D&D -- 4E made that very clear. If you renamed hit points to "stress" it makes so much more sense. Your leaders don't heal you -- they receive stress. You don't die at 0hp, you drop from accumulated stress. If you run out of surges, you have hit your preservation limit and functionally cannot take any steps to preserve yourself.
 

Retreater

Legend
@dnd4vr , 4e was designed from the ground up to be a balanced game with crunchy tactical options and exciting (if long) combats. It is not based on any reality. You can't say "someone I know could realistically do this - it makes sense that someone can regenerate their health" - just like you wouldn't say that Mario getting bigger because he touches a mushroom makes sense. 4e is a game, and proudly so. It doesn't try to create a reality. Play it like a tactical skirmish game, and it's the best version of D&D to ever do that. But if you want resource management or simulationism, it's not going to be for you.
 


Zio_the_dark

The dark one :)
With roughly 8-10 healing surges a day, you are basically boosting your potential HP pool (in total) by 200-250%, as where 5E is (using say half your HD) a boost of 50% daily.

Also, the concept that you could, um, "run out of healing potential" (?) because you run out of healing surges makes little sense to me. Magic should still function to actually heal you (a problem I've had for numerous editions with HP =/= meat idea since you aren't being "healed" so much as "revitalized" but that is a different issue).
Running out of potential healing means that with this concept you know you have as you said 200-250% of your hp pool daily, no more, no less.
In 5th roughly 50% from HD if you take half plus every other healing from potion, cleric spells, etc... You can go much higher than these values.

Edit: as for healing as a I said a few specific powers allow you to regain hp AS IF you had spend a healing surge not forcing you to spend one but this is not the majority of them. Also using a potion replace a healing surge with a fixed amount of hp.
 



NotAYakk

Legend
Well, the more I am reading people talking about healing surges, the more I am inclined to think I wouldn't like them. I mean 5E is far from perfect, and frankly I've never liked the rapid healing of 5E by design, but healing surges seem like they would expound that issue with regaining 1/4 maximum hp per use. With roughly 8-10 healing surges a day, you are basically boosting your potential HP pool (in total) by 200-250%, as where 5E is (using say half your HD) a boost of 50% daily.
4e character's "health" was in their healing surges. HP was just what it would take them out of this fight.

In 4e, magic can enhance your health, not replace it.

In almost every other edition of D&D, healing that a single healer can do is ridiculously larger than the HP any warrior can have. In general, adding a healer is a better way to increase your teams HP pool than adding a tough PC.

4e breaks this. Because healing just augments your natural toughness, instead of replacing it, having more "tough" PCs actually makes your team tougher. Adding more healers doesn't do this as much as adding more tough PCs.

Healer healing is more efficient than natural healing, but it is also a limited resource. So more healers give you more of that limited resource. Healer healing also gives you access to more healing in a fight, while natural healing occurs between fights mostly.

4e heals are large, even at low levels. Two heals brings back someone almost KO'd to full HP. You have a limited number you can use in a fight however, so you use them strategically.

Ideally, the front-line tough fighter gets modestly focused, and when the enemy scores a lucky blow you keep them up. Alternatively, when the enemy collapses your flank and threatens your wizard, you drop a heal on them to buy time for your warriors to protect the wizard (or for the wizard to protect themselves).

...

Because your in-combat HP are relatively smaller than your adventuring day total HP pool, fights are more threatening even if they don't exhaust you for the adventuring day. You are always an unlucky round or two away from being knocked out. Fragile characters even moreso; they have lower AC, fewer defensive abilities, and significantly less HP.

A tough warrior type will usually have more AC, and ways to generate temporary HP or mitigate damage, more HP, and often a few in-combat "self heals" for tough scrapes. Instead of 2 rounds from being in the dirt, they are 3 unlucky rounds from being in the dirt.

Then, after the fight, everyone cleans up and is ready for another one.

4e combat structure is also built to enhance that stress. Early in a fight, players have limited "extra oomph" resources, while monsters have more numbers. This places a lot of tactical stress on the PCs; if all 5 orcs focus on the wizard, the wizard could drop right away.

Then the players unleash hell, an orc or two drops, and the tactical situation switches. The players "snatch victory from the jaws of defeat" with huge regularity; an "even" fight almost always looks like the PCs are in trouble early on, then the PCs come from behind.

4e's major flaws includes that they didn't do enough to trim the per-turn action economy of monsters and players. So the game could drag on; even a 5 round fight could take far far too long, as each player is doing tactical positioning, using suites of tricks, and reacting on their off-turn.

And when every fight feels like a nailbiter, eventually you get used to it, and they don't feel like nailbiters anymore.
 

GrahamWills

Adventurer
Are we talking about HP as a game mechanic or HP as a fiction modeling device?
Both. If you have to distinguish between the two, then something has gone seriously wrong.
That's only true for people dedicated to the simulationist point of view. For many of us, hit points are a mechanical device vaguely associated with your ability to take damage that should not be used to model reality.

It's really hard for many of us to handle a system where 1000 hp == feeling fine, no issues; 1 hp == allegedly not fine, but no actual mechanical effects, 0 hp == unconscious. It doesn't lend itself at all to fiction. If you want that, pick a system that handles injury separately.
 

Jediking

Explorer
I have been using Hit Dice (and Exhaustion) as more of a resource in my games the last year or so. Usually it still involves Constitution

-Minor items/downtime abilities that allow use of spending HD as an action or bonus action (Herbalism kit can brew types of Tea for example).
-Environment damage will deal base HD class damage to the party. So rather than the whole party taking 3d6 damage when wilderness travelling through a thorny brush, that will each take 2dHD damage.
-Certain enemies with homebrew attacks or other special abilities can drain/damage players based on their HD.
-Spending some HD can reduce/remove Exhaustion levels
-Can gain Exhaustion levels to spend HD

I don't use this all the time, but I find it helps when mechanically and narratively "tough" characters is constantly waning due to lower health, compared to other characters base soley on class. Constitution and character build (feats, subclass, etc) still can play a role.

But I also try to make my characters pace themselves and don't always give out long rests after 3-5 encounters. They know they need to manage their resources and this just gives them a few other options to look into, but doesn't affect anyone who ignores it.
 

jmartkdr2

Adventurer
Well, the more I am reading people talking about healing surges, the more I am inclined to think I wouldn't like them. I mean 5E is far from perfect, and frankly I've never liked the rapid healing of 5E by design, but healing surges seem like they would expound that issue with regaining 1/4 maximum hp per use. With roughly 8-10 healing surges a day, you are basically boosting your potential HP pool (in total) by 200-250%, as where 5E is (using say half your HD) a boost of 50% daily.

Also, the concept that you could, um, "run out of healing potential" (?) because you run out of healing surges makes little sense to me. Magic should still function to actually heal you (a problem I've had for numerous editions with HP =/= meat idea since you aren't being "healed" so much as "revitalized" but that is a different issue).

Now, if base HP was less, but you could recover a bunch of it when you had time, that would be interesting to me because it means each fight could be potentially harder (since you have fewer base HP). It would also make natural hazards more lethal (like the falling damage thread) because you don't have a huge lump sum of HP (5E) all at once.

If anything I am say is incorrect on how healing surges work, please let me know and thanks.
You're basically right - the only factor left out is that you should take somewhere around 200% of your hp over the course of four fights, give or take (based on difficulty and how well you play the game). So you should, in a full adventuring day, need all those points and surges and whatnot. If you run out of surges, you're now risking death.

This is hp bloat, though if you like 4e you don't mind.
 

the Jester

Legend
I considered something like that, but I was trying to avoid having to both do math to figure out a ratio, and also do "if X, then A; if Y, then B."
My system breaks it down into easy categories- do you have more hps left than you took? Severity 1d20. Do you still have hps, but not as many as you took? 1d20 + 1d10. Are you at 0? 3d12+6. Are you actually dead? 2d10+28.
 

Undrave

Hero
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.
Well it wasn't lower than 5e, the whole HP/damage scale was different... and you started with your Constitution SCORE as HP and not modifier...

Let's say you have a max HP of 32, your surge value is 8 (a quarter) and you have 10 per day. You have essentially 112 HP for the day, but in a single encounter you only get 32, 40 if you take into account your second wind (which takes 1 of your Healing Surge), but you can only START at 32. If an enemy, like say a Dragon with multi-attack, can land a crit, they could totally knock you out in one lucky turn if you're unlucky.

Like I said before, the concept could have used to be refined and tuned up properly, but it had potential that just went unrealized in 5e.

Also, harsh environmental effects like a snowstorm or navigating a swamp would drain healing surge directly instead of making you do the conversion.
 
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Staffan

Adventurer
Don't 5E Hit Dice functionally serve the most important functions of 4E Healing Surges?
No. They differ on many points:

  1. Healing surges limit almost all healing, whereas hit dice are a complement to healing from spells, potions, etc.
  2. You have a more-or-less fixed number of healing surges, each of which gets bigger with level. With Hit Dice, each unit remains the same size, but you get more of them. This leads to:
  3. Healing surges work well as a fatigue mechanic that's independent of level (without being as punishing as 5e's Exhaustion). You're trying to get somewhere quickly? Perform a skill challenge, and if you fail it you get there but lose a healing surge or two because you're tired.
  4. Healing surges also work well as a resource. You can have an ability that says "spend a healing surge to do X", and that cost will be the same regardless of level. But using Hit Dice in the same manner doesn't work anywhere near as well, because you get one HD per level.
I mean, I've seen a number of action movies as well, and the good fight scenes always end up with people getting a dagger stuck into them and punching other people across the room. It isn't nearly as satisfying when two people dance around each other for ten minutes, and the fight's over as soon as one hit gets through.
I beg to differ.
 

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