D&D 5E 5e, Heal Thyself! Is Healing Too Weak in D&D?

Sabathius42

Bree-Yark
And based on experience with all editions, I know not to run a combat using 4e, horde or not, because it takes ages and requires pushing figurines on a map (and I don't have a 100 orc figurines), whereas in 5e (and in BECMI / AD&D before) I never had any problem running them in particular using theater of the mind:
  • Player: "how many orcs can I catch in my fireball ?
  • DM: "Where they are the most dense, I'd say about 20, done, they are burnt to a crisp, there's only 80 left, a bit shaken by the blast, next ?"
Much more cinematic and waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy quicker. :p
Remember when this thread was about healing in 5e and not crapping on 4e?
 

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Staffan

Legend
Anybody have any experience with healing surges in 5e? DMG alternate healing rule from page 266.
I haven't used it, but I think it is misnamed. It should properly be called Second Wind if you want to evoke 4e (except that's taken by a Fighter ability), because that's the 4e mechanic it is copying.

In 4e, a healing surge is a resource you can use to heal yourself. On a short rest (which is 5 minutes in 4e, not one hour) you can spend healing surges to recover hp. Each surge recovers 1/4 your maximum (rounded down). There is also an action called Second Wind which all PCs have as an encounter power that you can take to heal using a healing surge. Your number of healing surges varied per class, but was in the range of 6 to 10, plus your Constitution modifier (defender classes clocked in at 9-10, most other classes at 6-7).

In 5e, the rest-healing mechanic is the Hit Die. This differs in fundamental ways from the healing surge, notably in how it scales. Higher-level 5e characters have more hit dice that each heal the same amount, while higher-level 4e characters have the same number of healing surges that each heal for more. You also have significantly less rest-based healing in 5e: slightly less than 100% of your max hp, with 50% of that recovered per day, whereas 4e has 150% to 350%, all of which recovers each day.

The optional 5e Healing Surge rule lets you spend up to half your hit dice as an action, once per short rest. It also speeds up the recovery of hit dice, so it might actually approach the non-magic healing available in 4e to low-surge classes.
 




I think it rests on a premise that an "escort quest" is one foisted on the game by the GM rather than emerging out of player-authored PC dramatic needs.

Ah! Thanks for the insight!

Well, then all we have to do is assume the inversion of that (which is the point of 4e's Background/Theme/Paragon Path/Epic Destiny + Minor/Major Quest tech!); PC dramatic needs signaled by players to GM and scene-framing obligations to that! Vulnerable NPCs are put under duress and appear in play because (a) they're central to player-evinced interests (through PC build or through prior play) and (b) because the sort of PoL mythology that 4e is anchored upon (premise) must have vulnerable NPCs (and steadings with citizenry - scale from there) that require heroic deliverance and thwarted evil!
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
It's not that there's not enough healing in 5e, it's that the amounts are generally small. Better healing potions are unavailable to characters. Cure Wounds doesn't do a lot for non-Life Clerics. Healing Word is a joke that leads to "pop-up" healing tactics. A Hit Die is just that. In aggregate? Yeah, there's tons of healing going on.

But the fantasy of a dragon tearing your barbarian a new hind end and the Cleric saying "no, I don't think so"? Yeah, the game doesn't really support that. Even granting of temporary hit points has been very conservative- which I think is what confuses me about the Twilight Domain. Not that I think it's a bad thing- protect your party, good stuff. It's more...wait, why now is there an efficient way to grant temporary hit points that makes Aid and Inspiring Leader look so...lame?

And because there's so much dribs and drabs of healing available, and no real limit to how much a guy can be healed per diem, if you don't outright murder a guy or cut him off from the ability to rest, he's going to be fine. It's just a flesh wound.

Now that doesn't bother me, because of how I run games. But if you prefer the old "blood and guts" gritty adventuring of old, where fortune favors the cautious, and the bold get replaced by an identical twin brother, yeah, you're going to be resistant to anyone saying "man, casting healing spells blows, I wish they were better".
 

Staffan

Legend
I think it rests on a premise that an "escort quest" is one foisted on the game by the GM rather than emerging out of player-authored PC dramatic needs.
Also, escort quests in CRPGs tend to have really stupid/annoying escortees. They tend to move slowly (because otherwise you can't catch up if you fall behind) but inexorably (so you can't really recover well between fights), and blindly walk into obvious ambushes, and otherwise act in ways that actively add to the quest's difficulty.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
What you describe is completely artifice: there is a game mechanic, the fireball damage roll, and another one the saving throw, and yet another one, the hit point tally, and they interact to create scenarios where some Orcs are alive and some are dead.

I think that you fail to understand the distinction between:
  • The standard D&D approach: I want a fireball, so I will invent a mechanic to explain how it works
  • The 4e approach: I want a minion that has an aura, so I invent s stupid name that will make it sound like it's fantastic.
In the end, both are mechanics, and both are narrative (although, once more, one not so much since no one has yet been able to explain how, in fiction, "unending hunger" does physical damage to creatures which are near) but they don't feel the same at all.

And it's the same with a lot of things in 4e and comparatively much fewer in other editions of the game, in particular class design, which is why, apart from classes designed from the ground up (swordmage, warlord), 4e failed to convince because inventing a mechanic and forcing people to call that a wizard did not convince. It was mechanic BEFORE fiction, and it shows.

As far as Minas Tirith and Boromir are concerned, 4e can handle that with ease. My view is that Boromir and Aragorn would be upper heroic or lower paragon PCs.

And what happens when the hobbits are thrown in, or Gandalf ? You have to create different monsters to fight different PCs because they are of different levels. This is why this mechanic is purely artificial and not needed in the fiction. In the fiction, there are just orcs, which are the same, not instantiated for different PCs, hobbits find them impossible, Aragorn find them easy to deal with, but these are the same orcs. 5e mechanic models that easily, just use the same orc, you don't need to invent different types of minions and swarms. This purely technical imposition comes from the system, not from the fiction.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
I think that you fail to understand the distinction between:
  • The standard D&D approach: I want a fireball, so I will invent a mechanic to explain how it works
  • The 4e approach: I want a minion that has an aura, so I invent s stupid name that will make it sound like it's fantastic.
In the end, both are mechanics, and both are narrative (although, once more, one not so much since no one has yet been able to explain how, in fiction, "unending hunger" does physical damage to creatures which are near) but they don't feel the same at all.

And it's the same with a lot of things in 4e and comparatively much fewer in other editions of the game, in particular class design, which is why, apart from classes designed from the ground up (swordmage, warlord), 4e failed to convince because inventing a mechanic and forcing people to call that a wizard did not convince. It was mechanic BEFORE fiction, and it shows.



And what happens when the hobbits are thrown in, or Gandalf ? You have to create different monsters to fight different PCs because they are of different levels. This is why this mechanic is purely artificial and not needed in the fiction. In the fiction, there are just orcs, which are the same, not instantiated for different PCs, hobbits find them impossible, Aragorn find them easy to deal with, but these are the same orcs. 5e mechanic models that easily, just use the same orc, you don't need to invent different types of minions and swarms. This purely technical imposition comes from the system, not from the fiction.
I mean "untyped damage" isn't necessarily physical damage. It could simply be damage that has no particular resistance associated with it, ala profane damage from the Book of Vile Darkness.
 

Staffan

Legend
It's not that there's not enough healing in 5e, it's that the amounts are generally small. Better healing potions are unavailable to characters. Cure Wounds doesn't do a lot for non-Life Clerics. Healing Word is a joke that leads to "pop-up" healing tactics. A Hit Die is just that. In aggregate? Yeah, there's tons of healing going on.

But the fantasy of a dragon tearing your barbarian a new hind end and the Cleric saying "no, I don't think so"? Yeah, the game doesn't really support that.
That's a really good way of putting it. 5e has lots of small-scale healing, but at least until you get heal or the equivalent, there's very little intense healing.

A 9th level fighter with Con 14 will have about 75 hp. A healer casting a 5th level cure wounds will heal about 27 points, or maybe a third of the fighter's max (37/half for a Life cleric). That's not particularly impressive for using the strongest magic you have.

Some points of comparison are that a 4e leader could heal for a bit over 1/4 of someone's max hp total 2/encounter as a minor action at short range, and a 9th level Pathfinder 2 cleric casts heal for more than half a fighter's hit points (about 62 of 116) at range, and gets a few bonus spells per day for that particular purpose.
 


tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
That's a really good way of putting it. 5e has lots of small-scale healing, but at least until you get heal or the equivalent, there's very little intense healing.

A 9th level fighter with Con 14 will have about 75 hp. A healer casting a 5th level cure wounds will heal about 27 points, or maybe a third of the fighter's max (37/half for a Life cleric). That's not particularly impressive for using the strongest magic you have.

Some points of comparison are that a 4e leader could heal for a bit over 1/4 of someone's max hp total 2/encounter as a minor action at short range, and a 9th level Pathfinder 2 cleric casts heal for more than half a fighter's hit points (about 62 of 116) at range, and gets a few bonus spells per day for that particular purpose.
Simply adding "intense healing" will make things worse rather than improving anything though because the rest of the system is built around enabling the wackamole/pop-up healing. Removing the parts that enable the popup/wackamole healing would make room for "intense healing" but now you have all these pointlessly tiny healing abilities spread all over the place that need rebalancing to even be useful.
 

It still does not tell me what it is...

Yup.

Just like the game doesn’t tell you what happens the 1st time you lose HP in a clash of swords and don’t die…or the 2nd…or the 3rd…or the 4th…

I mean, it clearly tells you that you’re never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever
under threat of passing out from loss of blood pressure due to having your circulatory system compromised, or getting concussed, or losing a finger, or having your armor ruined, or having your blade dulled, or having your jaw/orbital socket broken, or suffering downstream gangrene, or a whole host of other extremely likely scenarios that would happen in a melee exchange.

But you’re a big boy. You’ve managed to hold this house of cards together thus far. Somehow you’ll figure out the whole “untyped damage means an indecipherable mystery of what is unfolding within the fiction” too.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
It's not that there's not enough healing in 5e, it's that the amounts are generally small. Better healing potions are unavailable to characters. Cure Wounds doesn't do a lot for non-Life Clerics. Healing Word is a joke that leads to "pop-up" healing tactics. A Hit Die is just that. In aggregate? Yeah, there's tons of healing going on.

I'm curious what you mean by "a joke" re: healing word.

If you mean it's overly gamist and one of the primary causes of the whack a mole fights prevalent in 5e - then, yes, it's certainly that.

If you mean it's weak and not very useful? Then, no, it's one of the most powerful healing (particularly combat healing) options in 5e (long thread sorry if this was hashed out already):

It's low level, so by low mid+ levels a cleric can cast it as needed;
It's ranged so the cleric doesn't have to move (or not move far) to get to the target;
It doesn't heal much but it heals enough to prop up a PC to do what they need to do AND it nulls/resets any death saves;
It's a bonus action meaning the cleric can do other stuff, sure more limited stuff, but it's one of the few call backs to the 4e style heal AND do stuff cleric.

When people complain it's hard to kill PCs - parties that properly use/spam healing word, are a big reason why.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
Insulting other members
Yup.

Just like the game doesn’t tell you what happens the 1st time you lose HP in a clash of swords and don’t die…
And your condescention is as annoying as it's stupid, because the system at least tells me that is a sword doing the damage or a fireball, so it helps in the description more than a stupid purely technical aura of "unending hunger", which goes to prove that you don't care about the narration, just about the technical loss of hit points. Q.E.D.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
. You also have significantly less rest-based healing in 5e: slightly less than 100% of your max hp, with 50% of that recovered per day, whereas 4e has 150% to 350%, all of which recovers each day.

I don't know 4e very well, but did you consider the "full HP after long rest" part of 5e standard healing rules? It's more like 150%, and up to 200% with a "burst"
 

Voadam

Legend
I think that you fail to understand the distinction between:
  • The standard D&D approach: I want a fireball, so I will invent a mechanic to explain how it works
  • The 4e approach: I want a minion that has an aura, so I invent s stupid name that will make it sound like it's fantastic.
In the end, both are mechanics, and both are narrative (although, once more, one not so much since no one has yet been able to explain how, in fiction, "unending hunger" does physical damage to creatures which are near) but they don't feel the same at all.

And it's the same with a lot of things in 4e and comparatively much fewer in other editions of the game, in particular class design, which is why, apart from classes designed from the ground up (swordmage, warlord), 4e failed to convince because inventing a mechanic and forcing people to call that a wizard did not convince. It was mechanic BEFORE fiction, and it shows.
That seems a selective choice of interpretation and putting out your interpretation as objective and universal. I completely felt a wizard playing my 4e wizard PC and considered the other 4e wizards as wizards.

In the original Chainmail, the fantasy battle basis of D&D, fireball and lightning bolt were literally wanting the mechanics of a catapult and field gun in a fantasy wizard battle context.

"Missiles: A Wizard can throw either of two types of missile (select which before play begins). A fire ball, equal in hit area to the large catapult hit area, or a lightning bolt, 3/4" wide by 6" long, with an attack value equal to a heavy field gun, are the two missile types employed. These missiles will destroy any men or creatures which are struck by them, with certain exceptions noted below. Both types of missiles can be thrown up to 24", direct or indirect fire, with range being called before the hit pattern is placed. The center of the fire ball is placed down at the number of inches called. The head of the lightning bolt is placed at the number of inches called, so that its body extends 6" behind it in a straight line from the Wizard who threw it ."

Cloudkill is a reskin of mustard gas.

From that point on all D&D fireballs, including 4e, are the fiction of D&D fireballs with the mechanics of that new edition D&D.

3e had a formula of xd6/level up to a spell level cap that fireball fit right into.

4e wanted a wizard fireball fiction too and figured out the math and mechanics to make that happen.

Similarly every edition having rangers with significantly different mechanics is D&D fiction first to have a D&D ranger but otherwise here are mechanics the designers thought would be fun.

I would agree though that 4e had a tendency to design some specific monsters for interesting mechanics first and not always put in narrative descriptions for those mechanics, but skimpy narrative descriptions is an ebb and flow of D&D monsters.

Here are the descriptions of goblins and kobolds in chainmail

"GOBLINS (and Kobolds): Goblins and Kobolds see well in dimness or dark, but they do not like bright light. When fighting in full daylight or bright light they must subtract 1 from their Morale Rating, as well as 1 from any die rolled. Because of their reciprocal hatred, Hoblins (Kobolds) will automatically attack any Dwarves (Gnomes) within charging distance. Hobgoblins fight as Armored Foot and defend as Heavy Foot. Their Point Value is 2 1/2 .
Morale Rating — 5 Point Value — 1?"

Here is the description of goblins in OD&D

"GOBLINS: These small monsters are as described in CHAINMAIL. They see well in darkness or dim light, but when they are subjected to full daylight they subtract –1 from their attack and morale dice. They attack dwarves on sight. Their hit dice must always equal at least one pip.

Composition of Force: When in their lair the “goblin king” will be found. He will fight as a Hobgoblin in all respects. He will be surrounded by a body of from 5–30 (roll five six-sided dice) guards as Hobgoblins also."

Here is the description of goblins in Moldvay Basic B/X D&D:

"Goblins are a small incredibly ugly human-like race. Their skin is a pale earthy color, such as chalky tan or livid gray. Their eyes are red, and glow when there is little light, somewhat like rat's eyes. Goblins live underground and have well-developed infravision (heat-sensing sight) to 90'. In full daylight they fight with a penalty of -1 on their "to hit" rolls. Goblins hate dwarves and will attack them on sight. There is a 20% chance that when goblins are encountered, 1 of every 4 will be riding a dire wolf.
In the goblin lair lives a goblin king with 15 hit points who fights as a 3 hit dice monster and gains + 1 on damage rolls. The goblin king has a bodyguard of 2-12 goblins who fight as 2 hit dice monsters and have 2-12 hit points each. The king and his bodyguard may fight in full daylight without a penalty. The goblin morale will be 9 rather than 7 as long as their king is with them and still alive. Treasure type C is only found in the goblin lair or when encountered in the wilderness."

The same can be said for skimpy narrative on monster mechanics. For example Roper tentacle attacks.

1e MM Roper:

"The roper has six strands of strong, sticky rope-like excretion which it can shoot from 2”-5”. A hit causes weakness (50% from strength in 1 -3 melee rounds), and the roper then draws its prey into its toothy maw where it is quickly devoured. The chance for breaking a strand is the same for opening a door, but every round the roper will drag the victim 10’ closer. They are unaffected by lightning, take half damage at most from cold, but are very susceptible to fire (-4 on saving throw)."

3.5 MM Roper:

"Strands (Ex): Most encounters with a roper begin when it fires strong, sticky strands. The creature can have up to six strands at once, and they can strike up to 50 feet away (no range increment). If a strand is severed, the roper can extrude a new one on its next turn as a free action.

Weakness (Ex): A roper’s strands can sap an opponent’s strength. Anyone grabbed by a strand must succeed on a DC 18 Fortitude save or take 2d8 points of Strength damage. The save DC is Constitution-based."

I ran a high level 3.5 combat against an advanced templated roper. The question came up whether saving throw bonuses against poison (and immunity) applied here as it looks like a 3.5 poison mechanic but is not labelled as such.

The narrative MM roper description was not really a help in figuring out how its weakness strand attack worked narratively.

"This creature looks much like a natural stalagmite about 10 feet tall. Its great, gaping maw lined with crystalline teeth suggests it is a meat eater.
Ropers are hideous creatures that lurk in the deep caverns of the world. They are altogether evil and far more intelligent than most people would judge by their appearance.
A roper stands some 9 feet tall and tapers from 3 or 4 feet in diameter at the base to 1 foot across at the top. It weighs 2,200 pounds. A roper’s coloration and temperature change to match the features of the surrounding cave.
Ropers speak Terran and Undercommon.
COMBAT
A roper hunts by standing very still and imitating a bit of rock. This tactic often allows it to attack with surprise. When prey comes within reach, it lashes out with its strands. In melee, it bites adjacent opponents with its powerful maw."

The roper's weakness ability has always been a combat mechanic with no or little narrative support. (Maybe I am wrong and there was an ecology of the roper article in a Dragon magazine issue I am not aware of that went in-depth).

4e ropers dropped the weakness attacks entirely, which is a bit surprising as they had a weakness condition.

5e reinstated the weakness attack with a little narrative which might or might be enough to satisfy different people.

"Tendril. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 50 ft., one creature. Hit: The target is grappled (escape DC 15). Until the grapple ends, the target is restrained and has disadvantage on Strength checks and Strength saving throws, and the roper can't use the same tendril on another target."

"Weakening Tendrils. A roper has six nubs set along its body, through which it extrudes sticky tendrils that bond to whatever they touch. Each tendril sends out hair-like growths that penetrate a creature's flesh and sap its strength, so the victim can struggle only weakly as the roper reels it in. If a tendril is cut through or broken, the roper produces a new one to replace it."

So in 5e it is not just that tentacles weaken you. It is that tendrils on the tentacles enter your flesh and weaken you. Which does not really get you much farther narratively.
 

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