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General 4e Healing was the best D&D healing

I don't really like the concept of healing surges. 5e's hit points are fine, if you actually read the section on hit points and know they're more than just physical health. There are some parts that don't make much sense still and are vague, but I don't think I'd try 4e's healing system anytime.
 

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Minigiant

Legend
Yeah 5E’s hit dice were underdeveloped. Like inspiration. And monsters. And several classes. And encounter design. And about 80% of the DMG.

That frustrates me. Because 5E is a good game that’s somewhat shy of being a great game.
Same thing happened in 3e and 4e.

All three of these editions just needed a few more months of playtesting and brainstorming to get the edges fixed. Especially for the things the designers were not enthusiastic about.
 

Bawylie

A very OK person
I don't really like the concept of healing surges. 5e's hit points are fine, if you actually read the section on hit points and know they're more than just physical health. There are some parts that don't make much sense still and are vague, but I don't think I'd try 4e's healing system anytime.
It isn’t JUST the healing system though.

That system worked very well because the monster design, encounter design, and incoming damage levels worked well with it.

In a 4E game, the 4E healing surges were damn near perfectly executed. They were fully integrated into the encounter system, the rest system, and therefore had a strong effect on the pacing. They were powerful and limited, so using them was a choice with a real consequence. Verbiage aside, they ‘felt’ right.

I concede basically all arguments about the verisimilitude and the glossary/definitions. Hit, Miss, damage on a miss were all very poor verbiage decisions.

Edit - spelling
 
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Bawylie

A very OK person
Same thing happened in 3e and 4e.

All three of these editions just needed a few more months of playtesting and brainstorming to get the edges fixed. Especially for the things the designers were not enthusiastic about.
Mini, for real. If they’d release 1/3 of 4E (just heroic) and used that as playtest for Paragon and then used that as Playtest for Epic, they coulda sold me the damn game 3 times
 

Undrave

Hero
So in 4e, they made being healed the daily resource, not healing someone. So now you could both have fun, challenging encounters and have an attrition mechanic. Now, I'm completely on-board with the complaints that fights dragged on too long and maybe allowed too much healing – those are valid complaints. But to me, that's a question of calibration, not concept.
Well put!

Mini, for real. If they’d release 1/3 of 4E (just heroic) and used that as playtest for Paragon and then used that as Playtest for Epic, they coulda sold me the damn game 3 times
For real! But I think that model would have ran into trouble with the bean counters because you know less people would buy Paragon than Heroic (and you wouldn't be able to play Paragon without Heroic) and even LESS would buy Epic.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Same thing happened in 3e and 4e.

All three of these editions just needed a few more months of playtesting and brainstorming to get the edges fixed. Especially for the things the designers were not enthusiastic about.
I’d call 3e more than just somewhat shy of a great game. But YMMV of course.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Mini, for real. If they’d release 1/3 of 4E (just heroic) and used that as playtest for Paragon and then used that as Playtest for Epic, they coulda sold me the damn game 3 times
Considering that 4E Epic was barely half complete at release and 4e Paragon was only mostly... they really should have done that and focused more on the tiers.

Woulda got me money 3 times as well.

I’d call 3e more than just somewhat shy of a great game. But YMMV of course.
Yes. 3.5.
But that's after an full on edition revision.
 

Bawylie

A very OK person
Considering that 4E Epic was barely half complete at release and 4e Paragon was only mostly... they really should have done that and focused more on the tiers.

Woulda got me money 3 times as well.



Yes. 3.5.
But that's after an full on edition revision.
4E got a full-on revision too. And I’ll cop to liking essentials.
 



Minigiant

Legend
4E got a full-on revision too. And I’ll cop to liking essentials.
I think one issue on the corporatization of D&D is that the design time is too short and the editions are released incomplete. Like modern video games.

4E's healing system was great but the power system and some of the math needed tweaks. Tweaks that a bit longer internal playtests would have spotted.

Samewith 3e and 5e and their unbalanced classes and weird monsters.
 


dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
It should be noted that 4e did have a few ways in which to heal without using surges – notably, cure light wounds (heals someone as if they had spent a healing surge), cure serious wounds (heals as if they spent two healing surges), and mass cure light wounds (heals all allies in 25 ft as if they spent a healing surge plus your Charisma modifier). These were all daily powers, so if you were a cleric you could specialize in healing and get a little more oomph, but there were still limits.

Another good thing about healing surges and the accompanying healing powers various leader classes had was that they leveled the playing field. Being able to heal twice per encounter (thrice at high levels) with a small bonus to the heal was the baseline for leader classes. With some minor changes, that was the same for the cleric's healing word, the warlord's inspiring word, the bard's majestic word, and the shaman's healing spirit. The artificer's healing infusion worked slightly differently in that it healed without spending a healing surge, but in order to recover the use of it on a short rest someone needed to spend one (which seems like a big power increase, as it allows you to spread out surge use over the whole party even if only one PC is getting the beatdown). The result was that multiple classes could fill the healer role, and you could easily have a fully functional party without a cleric.

It's also a good idea to consider the reason for the healing surge mechanic: the ubiquitous use of wands of cure light wounds in 3e. In 3e, it was assumed that you could easily acquire or create magic items if you had the gold, and a wand of cure light wounds was dirt cheap: 750 gp for 50 charges that each healed 1d8+1 hp (as a comparison, a 4-person party was expected to find a total of 4,000 gp worth of treasure before level 2, and 77,000 gp fron level 10 to 11). 3e was balanced around the assumption that a party would have about 4 encounters per day, with each encounter being relatively easy on its own but sapping some resources in the form of hit points and spells expended, so by the time you got to the fourth encounter you actually had some danger. But the healing stick broke that, because it made it easy to bring everyone back to full hp between fights.

This, in turn, lead to adventure designers filling adventures with harder encounters to provide a challenge. In many cases this lead to fun encounters where players felt like they were actually fighting for their lives, but it also encouraged casters to go nova with all their spells. This in turn forced groups to retreat because the casters were spent. Another side effect was that since the cleric was designed with the assumption that they would spend a significant amount of their daily resources healing people, the rest of their spells were quite powerful. But when they no longer needed to use their own spells for healing, it freed them to use them for all sorts of powerful buff spells and other powerful magic, making the class extremely powerful.

So in 4e, they made being healed the daily resource, not healing someone. So now you could both have fun, challenging encounters and have an attrition mechanic. Now, I'm completely on-board with the complaints that fights dragged on too long and maybe allowed too much healing – those are valid complaints. But to me, that's a question of calibration, not concept.
Well, obviously enough people liked them, but for precisely the reason you conclude with, I wouldn't. It makes no sense to me that being healed should be a daily resource. I'm glad that game was a lot of fun for people (especially if the balance was that good), but I would not have liked it.

Also, if clerical spells provide healing as well without using a healing surge, that is even more hp during the 4-encounter "day" (which I also wouldn't get on board with) design.

But, I appreciate the write-up and it helps me be even more certain my vote to the OP would be "disagree." Thanks!
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
What I most like about damage and healing in 4th Edition is that it provides the most coherent and consistent combat narrative of official versions of the game. Thing like long rests and hit dice bother me a whole lot more in the context of 5th Edition because it lacks a consistent combat narrative. These days the heroic rally with only superficial wounds combat narrative is not one I particularly enjoy, but I think from the design work around healing and damage was impressive.
 

Olrox17

Hero
Well, several other posters already said what I wished to say.
Anyway, I agree with the OP. Healing surge was a great mechanic, hardly replaceable by its undercooked successor, HD.
 

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?
Honestly this was one of the single biggest things that turned me off to 4E. I think it could have worked for certain styles of campaign. But for how I ran D&D default, it didn't really fit in my opinion.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Well, obviously enough people liked them, but for precisely the reason you conclude with, I wouldn't. It makes no sense to me that being healed should be a daily resource. I'm glad that game was a lot of fun for people (especially if the balance was that good), but I would not have liked it.

Also, if clerical spells provide healing as well without using a healing surge, that is even more hp during the 4-encounter "day" (which I also wouldn't get on board with) design.

But, I appreciate the write-up and it helps me be even more certain my vote to the OP would be "disagree." Thanks!
Healing was a daily resource in 4e because the game is based on an adventure taking place over a day.

A core issue D&D struggled with is that the image, the game, and the mechanic don't match up. A game with damage revolving over one time unit, healing over another, and adventures over a third will just encourage gameplay that matches only the most important one. That's how the 5MWD and cowardly dungeoneers developed.

4e attempted to make the whole thing logical by putting everything on the same unit and period of time. Unfortunately doing so stripped a lot of D&Dism out the game.

5 tried to put it all back. However since HP wasn't tied to the overall system anymore, it relies heavily on house rules.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
I am fine with characters dying in some huge awesome scene against incredible adversaries. And I hate having characters die anticlimactically. Having hit points reset every encounter basically inhibits the anti-climax, it apparently happened for many in 3e because they could buy indefinite wands or potions ( making their effective maximum hit points lost in a day purely a thing of wealth instead of heroic vigor). In effect healing surges limited the maximum amount in a day no getting around it (ok a DM might provide a context for special surge-less healing). Dying to a random arrow from a minion should not be a heroes death (That last phrase is almost a Gygax quote about what the goal of hit points were when he was decrying critical hits but I broadened it because I think it also speaks to anticlimactic deaths) . Hitpoints were designed even from the beginning as enablers for heroic behavior... and healing up between scenes gives heroic results.
 
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Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Healing was a daily resource in 4e because the game is based on an adventure taking place over a day.

A core issue D&D struggled with is that the image, the game, and the mechanic don't match up. A game with damage revolving over one time unit, healing over another, and adventures over a third will just encourage gameplay that matches only the most important one. That's how the 5MWD and cowardly dungeoneers developed.

4e attempted to make the whole thing logical by putting everything on the same unit and period of time. Unfortunately doing so stripped a lot of D&Dism out the game.

5 tried to put it all back. However since HP wasn't tied to the overall system anymore, it relies heavily on house rules.
Or using the optional rules for long rests in the DMG like I do. I think 5E is far more flexible than 4E and doesn't require a ton of house rules to change the tone and pace.
 

Xeviat

Adventurer
There are so many mechanical aspects of 4E that really make it the superior game to me. It's sad that there's something about the simulationist aspects of 3E/5E that make them generally more widely liked systems.

I've been running a 5E game, and every time I design encounters I get sad and miss 4E.

I wish I could marry 5Es character presentation to 4Es mechanics and monsters, but every time I sit down to do a rewrite, I get lost.
 

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