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


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Weiley31

Legend
The only time I questioned 5E's healing is when post Monsters of the Multiverse decided that the wimpy kind of healing for monsters, no spell slots, is enough for that big click 1D8 energy.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
As I said earlier in the thread: It is 100% correct that healing needs to be a limited resource in some sense in order to preserve tension in combat. Making it weak (as in, very small amount) but plentiful (as in, you can cast it many times a day) incentivizes tactics that many people strongly dislike, and it incentivizes those tactics specifically because it is weak healing, best used when it revives an ally that is already downed but not out. Had 5e designed its healing in such a way that it could instead be strong (as in, a comparatively large amount) but rare (as in, a limit on casts per combat), it would instead have encouraged tactical caution and taking seriously the possibility that an ally could die if allowed to hover at very low health for long.
The way they've designed healing really feels to me like it's intended to produce certain patterns in combat.

Being 1 hit from dropping feels dramatic. Being unconscious and out of the action is frustrating (especially if you're in a group where other people aren't efficient on their turns). Healing Word as presently designed helps minimize the number of rounds a given character spends down and bleeding and unable to act, while generally still leaving them a hit from being unconscious again. Which feels tense and dramatic to the player. While the party (at least after the first few levels) may rarely feel like they could get TPK'd, individual PCs may regularly feel like they're fighting on the edge of being dropped.

I do agree that there's an unfortunate effect that players tend to take for granted that they'll be able to save someone. I think this "comfort factor" can be comforted by DM tactics; for example, throwing the occasional hit in on a downed PC will ramp up the danger and make the other PCs at least consider protecting the downed folks, even if they can't immediately heal them. But it does feel a little kludgy and run the risk of players feeling like the DM is fighting dirty. You have to manage expectations a bit to make it feel "fair" and realistic rather than like an antagonistic move. There's also the factor that the fixed initiative order limits how much a healer (or anyone else, for that matter) can choose to play cautious and deliberately intercede between enemy turns and those of Dying PCs. The randomness of initiative restricts some options, here.
 
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As I said earlier in the thread: It is 100% correct that healing needs to be a limited resource in some sense in order to preserve tension in combat. Making it weak (as in, very small amount) but plentiful (as in, you can cast it many times a day) incentivizes tactics that many people strongly dislike, and it incentivizes those tactics specifically because it is weak healing, best used when it revives an ally that is already downed but not out. Had 5e designed its healing in such a way that it could instead be strong (as in, a comparatively large amount) but rare (as in, a limit on casts per combat), it would instead have encouraged tactical caution and taking seriously the possibility that an ally could die if allowed to hover at very low health for long.
So, what are some of the consequences of strong but rare healing?

1st alternative: healing comes from spell slots
You could beef up the power of healing spells. This would make healing strong, but wouldn’t make it rare, as clerics get the same number of spells slots as wizards (barring Arcane Recovery). You could adjust this by reducing cleric spell slots, at a cost of greater complexity (and of course, complaints from players, such as me, who tend to prefer clerics as primary casters rather than hybrids).

This does have a secondary effect though: the stronger you make healing, the more of an opportunity cost there is to (i) not have a cleric in the adventuring party; or (ii) have a cleric who does not focus on healing spells. This is also an issue for players (or parties) that don’t like healbot clerics.

2nd alternative: You take the strong rare healing out of spell slots.
This is what was done with the Life Cleric, whose Channel Divinity provides strong healing, once per short rest (twice starting at level 6). Should this be extended to other clerics? Personally, my feeling is that the need is met by the Life Cleric, with other clerics free to specialize in non-healing roles if they want.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
So, what are some of the consequences of strong but rare healing?

1st alternative: healing comes from spell slots
You could beef up the power of healing spells. This would make healing strong, but wouldn’t make it rare, as clerics get the same number of spells slots as wizards (barring Arcane Recovery). You could adjust this by reducing cleric spell slots, at a cost of greater complexity (and of course, complaints from players, such as me, who tend to prefer clerics as primary casters rather than hybrids).

This does have a secondary effect though: the stronger you make healing, the more of an opportunity cost there is to (i) not have a cleric in the adventuring party; or (ii) have a cleric who does not focus on healing spells. This is also an issue for players (or parties) that don’t like healbot clerics.

2nd alternative: You take the strong rare healing out of spell slots.
This is what was done with the Life Cleric, whose Channel Divinity provides strong healing, once per short rest (twice starting at level 6). Should this be extended to other clerics? Personally, my feeling is that the need is met by the Life Cleric, with other clerics free to specialize in non-healing roles if they want.
Well, to be honest, I'm not sure there IS a way to fix the problems with the system as it exists. As you say, just beefing up healing doesn't actually fix the problem, because low level slots become plentiful at high level and high level spells are inaccessible (at low level) or a bit too precious (at most higher levels). 5e has the variant rules for treating hit dice like healing surges, but HD are still individually small (1dX plus Con mod doesn't ever quite match total HP, and each individual HD becomes less and less of your total, rather than staying very close to 1/4th), and that does nothing to limit the opportunity to heal, which was a critical factor in 4e healing (Leaders could not heal more than a couple times per combat unless they invested in further healing powers...which were themselves either encounters or, more often, dailies.) Adding in hard limits to how frequently a character can be healed in a single combat now, even with a "revised edition"-style update on the horizon, will likely draw just as much ire as, or possibly more than, keeping WAM/pop-up healing. And strangling the supply of healing even further will simply exacerbate the narrowness of the space between "the party is unkillable!" and "welp, that's an accidental TPK," especially in the earliest levels where 5e is incredibly deadly. It'll also even further cement the "no support characters, don't go for teamwork, think of your own contribution first" gameplay that doesn't seem to be what most critics of WAM/pop-up healing want to see.

Of course, this just mostly leaves me bitter that I had tried to speak up about issues like this during the playtest and got soundly ignored or accused of being a hater (in other places, I wasn't much active in ENW at the time).
 



James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
I sometimes like to think that Vicious Mockery is a magical version of the Total Perspective Vortex. The psychic damage isn't just the sick burn, but literally being able to see how others see you.
I think being forced to realize that you are not the center of the universe would do more than a few d4's of psychic damage.
 

Luceilia

Explorer
I for one am happy that we have left the days of:
Player 1: “Ok, who wants to be the cleric? No one? C’mon guys, someone has to heal? Fine, I’ll do it, but I get first pick of characters next time…”

Across all my groups, there have been exceeding few players that want to play clerics…
And entered the days of "Dammit Lucy what the hell are you doing casting healing with your Action!? Stop trying to put a bandaid on a gaping wound and do something that helps us get this thing dead!"

I see a lot of comments in this thread about how monsters would have to be rebalanced if in combat healing were made an equivalent option... And the answer is no they wouldn't.

One combatant is transferring their role from attacker to medic. The battle slows down but the balance remains roughly the same.

If the value of a Healer is made equivalent to that of an Attacker without mucking with the monsters, it makes both equally viable and nobody needs to play The Healer unless that's a role they enjoy.

Disclaimer: this level of healing may require specialization by way of class or feats rather than something any caster with heal spells could freely accomplish.
 

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