DMs - How do you treat Healing Word?

ad_hoc

(they/them)
I am perfectly fine with the spell as is.

It's a bonus action which is nice, but the character can't cast any levelled spells as their action. And as you noted the character is prone.
 

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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
"Overpowered" compared to what? I think that word is overused.

If the DM has monsters attack prone, wounded PCs, then the players should prepare for that eventuality in my view. Drag the unconscious character away from the enemy, shove the enemy back, interpose oneself between the enemy and the dying character. Do something to encourage the DM (and thus the monster) to attack someone other than the downed PC. "Whackamole" is a problem of players knowing how things are going to go down and not doing anything to change it.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
Supporter
Do people play it is such a way that monsters don't notice that the target has been healed and only realise that when he/she stands up, or do they give him another whack, which would instantly put the target back to zero, defeating the purpose of HW (although I acknowledge that it would at the very least delay the onset of death saves by a round).
At my table:

The monsters notice that the target has regained consciousness unless the target beats them at Charisma (Deception) versus Wisdom (Insight) in order to "play dead."

The monsters might attack a prone, healed character, depending on their level of intelligence, tactical savvy, instincts, and assessment of their options. (Note that if a monster does attack a prone character and knocks them back out, they've spent at least one attack to do so, while the cleric is only spending a bonus action and a level-1 spell slot. Depending on the fight, that could be an efficient trade-off for either the monster or the cleric.)
 

WarpedAcorn

First Post
I saw the video bashing Healing Word as well and listened to the arguments about how its a completely OP spell that is ruining the game.

I disagree.

In the games I run, if a Player goes down I do not have enemies attack the downed players unless that player is caught in an AoE. If a downed player receives a Healing Word to bring them back up, I do not have enemies target them specifically until they get up or take an action. As the saying goes, "if the DM wants to kill the players he can do it at any time". I think the FEAR of death is more important that trying to screw the players over. And yet I still have a reputation as a "Killer" DM at our table. =/
 

Staffan

Legend
The way I figure it, at the start of a fight most opponents will focus on active threats. So if a PC drops, the monsters will likely go for other PCs.

However, if the monsters notice a lot of healing magic on the PCs' side, particularly if it's used to revive dropped PCs, they might get more bloodthirsty. Or in the words of Matt Colville: "The earth elemental steps on your head, to make sure you're dead."
 

5ekyu

Hero
I saw the video bashing Healing Word as well and listened to the arguments about how its a completely OP spell that is ruining the game.

I disagree.

In the games I run, if a Player goes down I do not have enemies attack the downed players unless that player is caught in an AoE. If a downed player receives a Healing Word to bring them back up, I do not have enemies target them specifically until they get up or take an action. As the saying goes, "if the DM wants to kill the players he can do it at any time". I think the FEAR of death is more important that trying to screw the players over. And yet I still have a reputation as a "Killer" DM at our table. =/
I found it funny how fast that video was followed by threads here and in fb groups etc parroting the issue.
 

OB1

Jedi Master
In my game, you don’t drop prone when you reach 0 HP. Instead you gain 1 level of exhaustion. While at or under 0 HP, you gain another level of exhaustion each time you take damage. Finally, if you move more than half your speed or take any action while under 0 hp, you make a death save, taking a level of exhaustion on a failure.

Needless to say, my players do everything they can to keep from dropping to 0 HP. They find this method both more fair and more exciting than the PHB rules.

For enemies, these same rules apply for humanoids.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Monsters tend to be afraid for their own lives and trying to kill things which are threatening them. Some will be extra vicious and want to finish off fallen foes, but most of the time they're going for the guy about to try and kill them and not the one bleeding on the ground.
 

pming

Legend
Hiya!

To the OP...I've never had a problem with HW either. Usually if the PC's are at the point where they are using HW, a better tactic is "Run away!". The strong guy with the light armor (or maybe medium) will try and grab any downed PC near them...unless that downed PC happens to be a hulking fighter/cleric/ranger/barbarian wearing heavy armor. If you are wearing heavy armor (and maybe even medium), and you drop in combat...you better hope your party wins. If they don't, then they're either all dead, or the left your 500lb of meat, metal and gear laying there on the floor where you fell. ;)

In other words...HW in my game is used for "Ok, I'll HW you and you RUN. Got it?". Anyone trying to use HW in combat to somehow "turn the tide of battle" is either dreaming, or hoping the Dice Gods bless them with 20's and max damages for the next few rounds.

(...and yeah, the later DOES happen; twice in our 5e gaming record...down to one PC after HW'ed up to 1hp...all along...everyone else down the next round...and that single PC, with *1* hp crits two or three times out of 4 or 5 attacks, doesn't get hit, and takes out the horrible monster; thus, saving the entire party. F'ing heroic if you ask me!)

^_^

Paul L. Ming (a "Killer DM", apparently, and proud of it!)
 

Ashrym

Legend
I have observed much discussion about the supposedly overpowered nature of Healing Word, because of its range and bonus action deployment. What I don't understand: in a melee fight with multiple foes, it's super likely that, in the order of play, a foe comes between the healer and the healed, who has very few HP, and is still slumped on the ground, so easy to hit, with advantage even.

It's more likely the low hit points are dealt with before the PC drops to 0 hp. If someone does drops it makes more sense to prioritize preventing more damage than waste spell slots trying to keep up with damage. EG cast Sanctuary instead.

Do people play it is such a way that monsters don't notice that the target has been healed and only realise that when he/she stands up, or do they give him another whack, which would instantly put the target back to zero, defeating the purpose of HW (although I acknowledge that it would at the very least delay the onset of death saves by a round).

Do you play in such a way that monsters ignore active threats over fallen foes, focus attention on fallen foes (to the point they might need eyes in the back of their heads at times), or automatically know what the spell caster is doing?

The concept in the OP requires too much metagaming on behalf of monsters (IE the DM). Part of the DM's role is determining that a pack of wolves are not likely to play whack-a-mole while determining a NPC might or might not understand what is happening.

But in any case, because of this, I don't quite see the danger of the game descending into whackamole mode... Or am I missing something?

PS: I understand that positioning play a role, etc, but usually, players fight against a larger number of foes, so someone is always bound to stand near the dropped player, esp if HW is cast right after the drop. And monsters often have multiattack, so they could easily knock back out the target, and continue fighting the other players...?

You won't see whack-a-mole based specifically on number of creatures or mulit-attack. Initiative is rolled per group of creatures by the DM. So a group of 8 Orcs, for example, would go each at the same time while a party of 4 PC's would each go at different times.

If the Orcs take their turn and drop a PC then the PC's take 4 turns (1 each) before initiative comes back to the 8 Orcs. That gives most parties plenty of time to rescue a fallen comrade before that comrade gets killed.

I find the premise to be contrived and does not happen during gameplay, in my experience.
 

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