D&D 5E Backup Healz

Fauchard1520

Explorer
I love that 5e has healing on a short rest. I love that that you don't technically need a "dedicated healer" to function. Even so, I like to make sure that all of my characters have a minor healing option for RP purposes. I'm talking about those moments where you're rescuing civilians from the site of a crashed airship, heading out on a solo adventure in enemy territory, or the last gamer standing in a battlefield full of toppled minis. It pays to be able to get your buddies up after the near-TPK!

My question to the board is this: Aside from basic potions, what are my best options for backup healz?

(Comic for illustrative purposes.)
 

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Generally speaking, a group of 5 PCs works best with a secondary healer. Our current group had the issue of our Cleric going down, but making his Death Save with a 20. Upon leveling, one of our wizard multi-classed into Artificer to pickup some secondary healing options. She doesn't plan on using it, but she wants to make sure we can get the Cleric back up if we need to. I've found Paladin to be the best for this, since not only do they have Lay on Hands, but they can prepare Cure Wounds with no desire to actually cast it. Ranger can do the same. Path of Mercy Monk and Divine Soul Sorcerer are good options as well.
 


We have a 4person game where we are all artificer (one multi into cleric) and our alchemist has the healer's kit... we have so much healing we don't know what to do with it.
 

Audiomancer

Adventurer
Lots of classes have access to Cure Wounds and/or Healing Word: Bard, Cleric, Druid, Paladin, Ranger (and Artificer, I think). So a one-level in any of those classes by any PC gives the party a secondary healer. That’s useful if the Cleric is down, or too far away to help.

The Healer feat is already mentioned.

Paladins get Lay on Hands for healing. Rangers can pick the Goodberry spell.

And the Magic Initiate Feat gets you a 1st level Bard, Cleric or Druid spell. But that’s only one use per day.

IOW, there are multiple ways for other characters to contribute to healing. Some are more effective than others.
 

As an action spend a hit die and regain temp HP equal to the roll until the end of the encounter. Outside of combat, use a healers kit, roll a hit die. Instead of burning the use of a hit die, the healers kit is used up (I house rule healers kits only have one use).
 





Oofta

Legend
Do people actually take that in practice? It always seemed like a waste of an ASI to me.
My wife plays a human druid and took the healer feat. She bandages people back to health all the time. Considering the minimal cost of healer kits, it's a fraction of the cost of potions.
 

Ashrym

Hero
Do people actually take that in practice? It always seemed like a waste of an ASI to me.

Yes, definitely. I think the healer feat is a bit OP for the cost of a feat. The restrictions are minor for the amount of healing available. That feat is heavy competition for a 4th level character with limited spell slots to use for healing and other spells.

I took it at 1st level on a variant human bard so at 2nd level the healer feat, song of rest, and cook utensils easily gave more healing than 3 1st level spell slots would have. I didn't bother with healing spells at all on that character.
 

Yes, definitely. I think the healer feat is a bit OP for the cost of a feat. The restrictions are minor for the amount of healing available. That feat is heavy competition for a 4th level character with limited spell slots to use for healing and other spells.

I took it at 1st level on a variant human bard so at 2nd level the healer feat, song of rest, and cook utensils easily gave more healing than 3 1st level spell slots would have. I didn't bother with healing spells at all on that character.
Come again? Cook's utensils give you 1 extra hit point per hit die, so a total of 2 per day if you have all your hit dice at level 2 (you only regain 50% of your hit dice per long rest, remember.)

The most you can get out of this, then, is <one normal hit die>+2d6+1 (from Song of Rest+Cook's Utensils) +1d6+6 (from Healer), for a grand total of <one normal hit die>+3d6+7 per short rest, or an average of 17.5 bonus HP. Which, to be fair, isn't half bad, though it will burn through Healer's Kits very quickly (using most or all of a kit with every short rest.) That's about a full heal-up each time you spend 1 HD.

However, this is...rather heavily an artifact of being only level 2, where 17.5 HP is a lot. It scales very poorly, however. None of those dice get better until 9th level, when Song of Rest becomes 1d8...which is a mere +1 average healing. The only part that scales at all is Healer, which adds +1 HP per HD of the recipient, so by the time you're level 9, the whole thing is only giving <1 HD>+1d8+2d6+14 = 25.5 HP. By comparison, a middling-Con Fighter (say Con 14) will have grown from ~20 HP to ~76 HP, nearly four times as much HP. Even a lowly low-Con Wizard (say Con 10) will be going from 10 HP to 42 HP. If we considered only level 5, roughly midway between these two points, said Fighter would be at 44 HP (though admittedly the Wizard would only be at 22 HP), while this healing combo would be 3d6+10, aka 20.5 HP on average.

If you know the game isn't going to last much past level 4, this can be potent in Tier 1. After that? Nah, you're really better-served by other things. Sure, it's better than healing potions...but other things you can focus on will give you more bang for your buck. Plus, keep in mind, of these three only Cook's Utensils scales with the number of HD spent. So if you want to get the full benefit, you have to take lots of short rests and only spend one HD each. If you spend more HD at once, you're giving up major benefits, since Song of Rest only gives its basic bonus no matter how many HD you spend, and Healer is only related to short rests because that lets you use it again, it doesn't actually interact with HD expenditure at all.

If you actually manage to get to level 11+, the benefits really aren't worth the time spent anymore. You're restoring less than half of the HP of even a puny weakling Wizard.
 

Come again? Cook's utensils give you 1 extra hit point per hit die, so a total of 2 per day if you have all your hit dice at level 2 (you only regain 50% of your hit dice per long rest, remember.)

The most you can get out of this, then, is <one normal hit die>+2d6+1 (from Song of Rest+Cook's Utensils) +1d6+6 (from Healer), for a grand total of <one normal hit die>+3d6+7 per short rest, or an average of 17.5 bonus HP. Which, to be fair, isn't half bad, though it will burn through Healer's Kits very quickly (using most or all of a kit with every short rest.) That's about a full heal-up each time you spend 1 HD.

However, this is...rather heavily an artifact of being only level 2, where 17.5 HP is a lot. It scales very poorly, however. None of those dice get better until 9th level, when Song of Rest becomes 1d8...which is a mere +1 average healing. The only part that scales at all is Healer, which adds +1 HP per HD of the recipient, so by the time you're level 9, the whole thing is only giving <1 HD>+1d8+2d6+14 = 25.5 HP. By comparison, a middling-Con Fighter (say Con 14) will have grown from ~20 HP to ~76 HP, nearly four times as much HP. Even a lowly low-Con Wizard (say Con 10) will be going from 10 HP to 42 HP. If we considered only level 5, roughly midway between these two points, said Fighter would be at 44 HP (though admittedly the Wizard would only be at 22 HP), while this healing combo would be 3d6+10, aka 20.5 HP on average.

If you know the game isn't going to last much past level 4, this can be potent in Tier 1. After that? Nah, you're really better-served by other things. Sure, it's better than healing potions...but other things you can focus on will give you more bang for your buck. Plus, keep in mind, of these three only Cook's Utensils scales with the number of HD spent. So if you want to get the full benefit, you have to take lots of short rests and only spend one HD each. If you spend more HD at once, you're giving up major benefits, since Song of Rest only gives its basic bonus no matter how many HD you spend, and Healer is only related to short rests because that lets you use it again, it doesn't actually interact with HD expenditure at all.

If you actually manage to get to level 11+, the benefits really aren't worth the time spent anymore. You're restoring less than half of the HP of even a puny weakling Wizard.
Isn't that 17.5 hp added to every member of the party though?
 

toucanbuzz

No rule is inviolate
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Isn't that 17.5 hp added to every member of the party though?
Yes? I didn't mean to imply otherwise. I was considering the impact on any given character.

At 2nd level, Song of Rest* + Healer + Cook's Utensils is a full-heal-up for fragile characters (like a Con 10 Wizard) and nearly full for all but the beefiest characters (e.g. a Con 16 Variant Human Barbarian with Tough has 29 HP, but that is hyperfocusing on high HP.) Of course, taking a specific class, race, and feat solely for this purpose, I should bloody well hope it can keep the team alive. I even said that was pretty good.

But even by 5th level, you're looking at doing less than half the Fighter's HP. That's a precipitous fall-off. By level 9, even the Wizard cannot rely on this combo to keep going, contra the poster's claims that there is no need to have healing spells because these things make such an enormous difference. Getting less than a quarter of your HP if you're beefy, and less than half of your HP if you're squishy, is woefully inadequate healing. You can, of course, also spend more HD, but that decreases the efficiency of this method, lowering its impact. Now couple that with the fact that most groups don't take more than two short rests a day, but regularly are expected to endure "deadly" combats that should peel off large chunks of HP (especially from the beefy characters.)

Also, I think I miscalculated the HP gained slightly, so I'm going to re-do my calculations. Somehow I either thought Cook's Utensils added a d6, or I was counting all hits of Song of Rest but only one hit of Healer or...something. Either way, there's some excess in there I need to correct for. With two short rests plus having completed a long rest, you can use Healer three times per party member, while CU and SoR can trigger (at most) twice because you only have 2 HD, from third level on you can get them three times (but only if you're fully rested, otherwise it's back to only 2 times as you get half your HD rounded up when you long rest.)

So Song of Rest, if used at maximum efficiency, gives +2d6 total on the first day of adventure, and +1d6 every day thereafter (because you only regain half your HD while resting and you must spend HD to benefit from SoR.) Likewise, CU requires you to spend HD, but it applies to each one spent, unlike SoR which only adds one die per rest no matter how many HD you spend. So that gives +2d6+2 for the whole (first) day and +1d6+1 for every subsequent day until you spend a whole day not using any HD.

Healer always works because it's independent of HD, and gives a total of 1d6+4+level (of the recipient.) So, at 2nd level, that's 1d6+6 per rest, for a maximum of 3d6+18 per day.

Collectively, that's 5d6+20 or about 37.5 HP added for an entire day. Averaged over the three rest periods (one LR and two SR), we get about 12.5 HP gained per rest, assuming all HD are available to spend. If we bump up to level 3, this adds another 1d6+1 (SoR+CU) and +3 (three hits of Healer) for a total of 6d6+24, average 45 HP added for the day, or 15 per short rest.

As noted, at these low levels, this is pretty decent. A level 3 Con 10 Wizard has 14 HP, while a level 3 Con 14 Fighter has 28 HP. The former is getting on average a full heal each rest, while the latter gets about half their HP. Decent, assuming you can afford the ~5 gp per rest cost of those healer's kits. Much less expensive than potions, to be sure, but spending ~15 gp every single adventuring day still adds up pretty fast. For a level 3 adventurer AIUI, 105 gp is no small expense, and that's what you need for a week's worth of uses if you have a five person party.

By level 9, the total bonus healing only rises to 3d8 (SoR) + 9 (CU, if all HD are available to spend) + 3d6+39 (3× Healer.) That's a total of 13.5+9+10.5+39 = 24+48 = 72 HP at absolute maximum, or 24 average per rest. By comparison, character HP should approximately triple from level 3 to level 9; this method now restores about 1/3 of the Fighter's total HP for the day with each rest.

Now, I admit, I am neglecting the actual HD here, this is only the bonus HP, not the full daily healing, but those HD are present regardless; it feels like more of an apples to apples comparison to consider only the contributions from the proposed things. So, by sinking your race choice, a feat, and your class choice all into stuff that enhances rest-based healing, you can give the whole party (pretty much) full HP after every short rest at level 2, and restore between one third and two thirds of their HP at middle levels. At the point where most campaigns apparently wrap (roughly 11th level), you're giving them at best half their HP, and that only to really squishy characters like Con 10 Wizards.

So yes, I stand by what I said. This is only powerful (and only functional as a replacement for healing spells) if you know the campaign won't run very long, at most level 5-6. If you expect it to reach the teens, or you start out at a higher level than 1st or 2nd, I would not recommend it, and most guides won't either, because they look at a longer view (going to the low double digits and possibly higher.)

*My phone initially autocorrected this to Song of Rear, which I find hilarious.
 

Yes? I didn't mean to imply otherwise. I was considering the impact on any given character.

At 2nd level, Song of Rest* + Healer + Cook's Utensils is a full-heal-up for fragile characters (like a Con 10 Wizard) and nearly full for all but the beefiest characters (e.g. a Con 16 Variant Human Barbarian with Tough has 29 HP, but that is hyperfocusing on high HP.) Of course, taking a specific class, race, and feat solely for this purpose, I should bloody well hope it can keep the team alive. I even said that was pretty good.

But even by 5th level, you're looking at doing less than half the Fighter's HP. That's a precipitous fall-off. By level 9, even the Wizard cannot rely on this combo to keep going, contra the poster's claims that there is no need to have healing spells because these things make such an enormous difference. Getting less than a quarter of your HP if you're beefy, and less than half of your HP if you're squishy, is woefully inadequate healing. You can, of course, also spend more HD, but that decreases the efficiency of this method, lowering its impact. Now couple that with the fact that most groups don't take more than two short rests a day, but regularly are expected to endure "deadly" combats that should peel off large chunks of HP (especially from the beefy characters.)

Also, I think I miscalculated the HP gained slightly, so I'm going to re-do my calculations. Somehow I either thought Cook's Utensils added a d6, or I was counting all hits of Song of Rest but only one hit of Healer or...something. Either way, there's some excess in there I need to correct for. With two short rests plus having completed a long rest, you can use Healer three times per party member, while CU and SoR can trigger (at most) twice because you only have 2 HD, from third level on you can get them three times (but only if you're fully rested, otherwise it's back to only 2 times as you get half your HD rounded up when you long rest.)

So Song of Rest, if used at maximum efficiency, gives +2d6 total on the first day of adventure, and +1d6 every day thereafter (because you only regain half your HD while resting and you must spend HD to benefit from SoR.) Likewise, CU requires you to spend HD, but it applies to each one spent, unlike SoR which only adds one die per rest no matter how many HD you spend. So that gives +2d6+2 for the whole (first) day and +1d6+1 for every subsequent day until you spend a whole day not using any HD.

Healer always works because it's independent of HD, and gives a total of 1d6+4+level (of the recipient.) So, at 2nd level, that's 1d6+6 per rest, for a maximum of 3d6+18 per day.

Collectively, that's 5d6+20 or about 37.5 HP added for an entire day. Averaged over the three rest periods (one LR and two SR), we get about 12.5 HP gained per rest, assuming all HD are available to spend. If we bump up to level 3, this adds another 1d6+1 (SoR+CU) and +3 (three hits of Healer) for a total of 6d6+24, average 45 HP added for the day, or 15 per short rest.

As noted, at these low levels, this is pretty decent. A level 3 Con 10 Wizard has 14 HP, while a level 3 Con 14 Fighter has 28 HP. The former is getting on average a full heal each rest, while the latter gets about half their HP. Decent, assuming you can afford the ~5 gp per rest cost of those healer's kits. Much less expensive than potions, to be sure, but spending ~15 gp every single adventuring day still adds up pretty fast. For a level 3 adventurer AIUI, 105 gp is no small expense, and that's what you need for a week's worth of uses if you have a five person party.

By level 9, the total bonus healing only rises to 3d8 (SoR) + 9 (CU, if all HD are available to spend) + 3d6+39 (3× Healer.) That's a total of 13.5+9+10.5+39 = 24+48 = 72 HP at absolute maximum, or 24 average per rest. By comparison, character HP should approximately triple from level 3 to level 9; this method now restores about 1/3 of the Fighter's total HP for the day with each rest.

Now, I admit, I am neglecting the actual HD here, this is only the bonus HP, not the full daily healing, but those HD are present regardless; it feels like more of an apples to apples comparison to consider only the contributions from the proposed things. So, by sinking your race choice, a feat, and your class choice all into stuff that enhances rest-based healing, you can give the whole party (pretty much) full HP after every short rest at level 2, and restore between one third and two thirds of their HP at middle levels. At the point where most campaigns apparently wrap (roughly 11th level), you're giving them at best half their HP, and that only to really squishy characters like Con 10 Wizards.

So yes, I stand by what I said. This is only powerful (and only functional as a replacement for healing spells) if you know the campaign won't run very long, at most level 5-6. If you expect it to reach the teens, or you start out at a higher level than 1st or 2nd, I would not recommend it, and most guides won't either, because they look at a longer view (going to the low double digits and possibly higher.)

*My phone initially autocorrected this to Song of Rear, which I find hilarious.
For a party of 5 PCs that's like saving how many Cure or Healing word spells?
 

For a party of 5 PCs that's like saving how many Cure or Healing word spells?
Well, assuming you actually need to heal literally every person that much (after regular HD, I mean) every single rest, it would be 72x5 = 360 HP. If using only 1st-level slots, assuming an 18 casting stat (since you should have at least that much at 9th level, preferably 20), that would be 1d8+4 or 8.5 HP per spell. That's 42 1st-level slots. If we're allowed to factor in higher-level slots, then at 9th level characters have access to mass cure wounds once per day, which gives 3d8+5 per person, for a total of 18.5 per person or 92.5 HP. That leaves 267.5 HP to heal. A Bard or Cleric will have 4x 1st, and 3x 2nd, 3rd, and 4th level slots. Assuming all of those go to individual cure wounds, that's 13*4+(4+3(2+3+4))*4.5 = 52+(4+3*9)*4.5 = 52+(31)*4.5 = 52+139.5 = 191.5. Which, I admit, falls short.

But! We must remember that Healer is only providing part of this, since Cook's Utensils can be learned by anybody (numerous backgrounds give artisan prof) and Song of Rest is a Bard feature. Healer alone gives 3d6+39 HP per person, or 49.5 HP at level 9, for a total of 247.5 HP. The one mass cure wounds still heals 92.5, leaving 155 points remaining. Well within tolerances, about 36 HP short.

Do note that I don't think this criticism is saying very much, because I think magical healing in 5e, especially in-battle healing, is anemic. However, I will grant that this shows that Healer isn't too far below a moderately-competent caster spending their spells mostly on healing. If we upped that casting modifier to +5, however, the gap would grow a further 13 points.

Now, of course, this doesn't consider any amount of wastage or inefficiency, which is going to be generally more favorable to spells than to Healer etc., because you cannot control how much healing is given from them, but you can control healing from spells by, y'know, casting weaker spells. Further, if you have an actual specialist healer, like a Life Cleric, who will blow Healer completely out of the water--and dipping a single level of Cleric is actually a pretty solid choice for a Bard, doubly so if they want to do lots of healing (since that makes all 1st level Cleric spells available to them, allowing them to avoid wasting precious Bard spells known on healing magic.)

So...again, overall I stand by my statement that this is only particularly powerful if you know the campaign isn't going to last very long. Is it still useful? Sure. For the price of a feat and a chunk of gold, you can put out some halfway-decent healing. I genuinely don't see it as this world-shattering thing that replaces all need to cast healing spells, as was stated above.
 

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