Pathfinder 2E Healing in PF2

the Jester

Legend
I don't have PF2, though I've been considering picking it up for ideas and inspiration. There are some mechanics that intrigue me, like the 3-action thing. But someone posted a thread- maybe @CapnZapp ?- and mentioned that healing takes time, but basically, you start every encounter at full (assuming that you take the time to heal up). So I wanted to find out how the basics of PF2 healing work. I assume there's magical healing, of course, but it sounds like a magic-less, skill-based option exists. So- Is there a way to run out of healing? Or is it literally that everyone gets to heal up to full with a little rest (an hour or so) and the application of a little skill?

Thanks in advance for any details you'd care to share.
 

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CapnZapp

Legend
"Or is it literally that everyone gets to heal up to full with a little rest (an hour or so) and the application of a little skill?"
tl;dr: yes

"magic-less, skill-based option": Treat Wounds

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Basically, a character (any character) focusing on their Medicine skill (and related skill feats) can heal a patient a number of damage every ten minutes restoring that character to full health in maybe 20 or 40 or 80 minutes depending (to grossly oversimplify the details).

PF2 was never about attrition* - its official APs clearly assume PCs are at/near full health when designing encounters. If nobody has Medicine you better have a Cleric or Paladin in your party... (If you create your own adventures, you can easily encourage heroes to keep moving forward even at less than 100% strength, you just have to drastically lower your encounter difficulty level so players don't feel it is suicide to keep adventuring at less than full hp and abilities)

*) you still attrite, of course. Not only does your Wizard or Cleric run out of spells, and everyone runs out of "daily" powers in general, but there's poison and drained and doomed and god know's what that "cling" to your character like how barnacles foul a ship's hull. But you can't naively populate a dungeon and just assume "it will take them three days to clear". A party with few or no spellcasters can just energy bunny their way through the complex with maybe 15-30 minutes downtime between encounters on average, clearing a level's worth of encounters (a dozen) in a couple of hours, not days. If they get bogged down, they might want to take a few days "off" to scrape off conditions half-way through, but you can't rely on that (at least not on lower levels).
 
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Just finished playing the latest session of Age of Ashes. I’m playing a high-charisma cleric, so at level 11 have five sixth-level healing spells available in additions to whatever I learn daily. We also have a Druid who usually memorizes a range of healing spells, and has taken a few feats to help healing. i think 3 other in the party are expert at medicine and have battle healing feats, so can do non-magical healing on a person every ten minute or so.

So most of the time, if we have an hour free, we’ll be able to fully heal up without spending much resources. But ... that doesn’t happen a lot in this adventure path at the moment. We’re in the middle of about 6-8 serious encounters with little time to rest. Last session had a simple fight, then a shadow giant throwing boulders from 150 feet away, then 12 level 7 archers immeidately opened up on us; then another simple melee fight, then a nasty undead who could cast 2 60’ burst spells doing 40ish damage in the first round fr which rolls under 5 on saving throws were critical failures. A ton of damage!

Mundane magic is nice for between-combats, given time, and also allows you to top-off healing, but I think last night I put out 500 points of healing both in and out of combat. and we have no rest before next session, so limited mundane healing then also.

so it’s pretty dependent on the story you are playing. When we were traveling the jungles over 2 game-time weeks, virtually everyone combat was at full strength. But if you are in more of a delve story, it will be quite exciting to depend on mundane healing only
 

CapnZapp

Legend
My guess it's up to the GM. Not having checked that particular AP, my guess is that it doesn't explicitly tell the GM to swamp the PCs with encounters. Instead you have a GM who knows what you can take.

My guess is that the AP simply details encounters A1, A2, A3 and so until A12, and that another GM could decide to just have the monsters wait for the heroes to come to them.

I do note that most of the encounters you describe aren't actually considered difficult, considering a five-man level 11 party. I'm not saying this to denigrate your experience (I'm happy you feel awesome, you have a great GM!), just that when you increase the difficulty you (quickly) reach a pain level where you become cautious about throwing many encounters at the party without resting time.

I can also add that PF2 heroes have a MUCH greater ability to take on three challenging encounters back to back than what "reinforcements" usually mean: that the monsters of one listed encounter joins the monsters of another. (Just saying that as a comment for those reading the other thread). That is: While killing A then B then C might be eminently doable (even if it means having the Cleric spend spells on healing if there's no time for Medicine), facing even just A+B in a single combined encounter can spell doom for the heroes.
 

Retreater

Legend
Yeah, in addition to the very effective Medicine skill, you also have players completely negate the Dying and Wounded conditions by receiving any amount of magical healing, taking away one of the better features of PF2. Just like in 5e, you drop by taking a massive hit, and you're back on your feet next turn without any penalty.
 
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Celtavian

Dragon Lord
I'll try to summarize my experience up to lvl 11:
1. Low level cleric healing sustains you or some other class with healing. You don't have a lot of hit points. You get up pretty quick and can die pretty quick.

2. Level 7 or so you start to get those Master Medicine healers. They can heal real nice with Battle Medicine in combat and get the party up out of combat fairly fast with ward medic and continuous recovery or whatever it is called.

3. Battle Medicine only works one time per day per character. I sort of picture it as some kind of stimulant pack or orc medicine like they put on Merry and Pippin. Some kind of somewhat toxic mix of chemicals that give you an adrenaline charge, but can't be applied too often.

4. We have found that combat healing is still necessary at higher levels. Monsters hit hard and can take your hit points down quickly. The adventuring day generally stops when you can't keep healing in combat. It becomes too risky to keep going even if medicine gets you up to full hit points each fight. For example, I had an enemy unleash a chain lightning on the PCs. We had two people critically miss their save. This took a 55 point Chain Lightning and turned it into 110 damage on two characters, then 55 on another two, with half on one, and none on another with Evasion. That's a huge spread of damage along with the melee damage they were receiving. Critically failing against higher level spells or abilities like dragon's breath can be super nasty.

5. The party can usually handle with in combat healing 3 to 5 encounters of varying levels with one boss-type creature encounter in those three to five per day in my experience. After that they are usually exhausted for in combat healing. They can get their hit points back, but if they get hit again they are in trouble.

6. They usually start off the battle with no wounded or dying condition, but those things can build up quite quickly if you play ruthlessly as I do. I hit dying creatures to make sure they stop getting up. Every creature has up to 3 attacks per round or more, so even if they drop a PC I have them hit that PC a few more times to finish them to ensure they don't get up. That can bring them very close to death requiring a good healer. If you pull punches like I did in PF1 or 5E and not hit them again, then the healing can become kind of like 5E pop-up healing or PF1 where there isn't much of an effect from being downed. If you unload on the PCs and try to kill them, you can bring them to the brink of death and put the fear in them from the wounded condition bringing them closer to death even when they healed up with magic or battle medicine or potions. It doesn't matter. If they have wounded 3 and 50 hit points, if they go down again they are dead.

The rule states you only lose the wounded condition if someone heals you with Treat Wounds which you cannot do in combat. Even Battle Medicine specifically states that it does not remove the wounded condition even if uses the same Treat Wounds DCs to heal in battle. This makes getting knocked out in battle very deadly.

That chained lightning above knocked a character down with a critical failed save, then the giants they were fighting also unloaded on the fallen character taking them from dying 2 to dying 4 requiring a breath of life spell from the cleric.

The wounded condition makes combat a lot more dangerous than it is in 5E or PF1. You get knocked down too many times in the same combat, you won't get up again.
 
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AaronOfBarbaria

Adventurer
Is there any kind of alternate rule for those who do want attrition?
Not officially, though you could easily switch to a "you can only heal up as long as you've got magic to support that" style of play by limiting how often characters can regain HP from the Treat Wounds action.
Also, what is the wounded condition like?
The wounded condition plays directly into the dying condition. If your dying condition hits your dying limit (typically 4) you die. When you get dropped to 0 HP you gain dying 1, or dying 2 if it was a crit hit or critically failed save that dropped you, and you add whatever your wounded condition is on top of that, making you closer to death.

As for what your wounded condition is: you gain wounded 1, or increase your existing wounded condition by 1, whenever you lose the dying condition (such as by being healed back from 0 HP). And your wounded condition is removed only if A) you are the target of a successful Treat Wounds action, or B) your hit points are restored to maximum and you rest for 10 minutes.

It makes it look like PF2 supports what people call "whack a mole play," but in practice if you get dropped and get back up the smart play is to be hyper-cautious and make sure you don't get dropped again because you could easily wind up 1 die roll or spare bit of area damage from death, and surviving getting dropped and getting back up is very unlikely to happen more than twice in a single encounter.
 

the Jester

Legend
Sorry, that didn't clarify the wounded condition for me- what does it actually do in play? How does it affect you if you aren't dying?
 

Retreater

Legend
.
... The rule states you only lose the wounded condition if someone heals you with Treat Wounds which you cannot do in combat. Even Battle Medicine specifically states that it does not remove the wounded condition even if uses the same Treat Wounds DCs to heal in battle. This makes getting knocked out in battle very deadly.
Good to know. My players have been pulling a quick one on me. Haha. [Unless there's some feat going on.]
If someone drops to 0 HP, they're still Wounded no matter what unless they take 10 minutes and fully heal or get Treat Wounds.
It's still going to be really hard to kill a PF2 character with how quick healing can happen and the repositioning of the character's initiative (so basically we everyone gets a full turn to try to save them).
 


AaronOfBarbaria

Adventurer
The entire purpose of the wounded condition is to make you more likely to die if you return to 0 HP without having had a chance to take a breather - that's all.

Theoretically there could be other mechanics devised that require the wounded condition or are enhanced by the wounded condition like how 4th edition D&D had effects that keyed off the target being bloodied, but as of yet there aren't any.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
Is there any kind of alternate rule for those who do want attrition?

Also, what is the wounded condition like?

If you want attrition, just play monsters cruelly. It happens. So far the ranger is on animal companion 4. The bard has died. Rogue has died and been saved by breath of life. Everyone has been near death multiple times. You don't have to work very hard to kill them at all if that is what you want. The wounded condition don't leave until the combat is over and things hit real hard.

And you have to couple this with the fact it isn't as easy to come back. It costs by level. You don't get as much gold in this game. When the bard died, we barely had enough to bring him back. That would have taken out of gold to buy magic items. Dying has a a serious cost. Two people dying would have had the party selling key magic items to get them back. You need the cleric or someone to commit to increasing their religion check to use the cheaper resurrect ritual. Coming back isn't as easy as teleporting to some city and easily acquiring what you need to bring them back. It will take a chunk of your change and some time.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
The quickest fix if you want it take longer to recover from injuries would be to adjust access to Medicine skill feats, particularly Continual Recovery and Ward Medic. Unmodified the Treat Wounds use of Medicine takes ten minutes for a single target and that person cannot benefit from Treat Wounds for another hour. Particularly at low levels you can fail the check which can be quite punishing if they have the wounded condition.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
You remove Dying by receiving even a single HP. That isn't controversial or strange. Every edition of D&D has featured this - that once you get healing you're no longer bleeding unconscious on the ground (which is what "dying" is), you're instead fully functioning ready for action. In PF2 you probably need to stand up, and grab your weapon, so that cost (2 actions) is not nothing. Also your Wounded condition increase by one from becoming Dying.

Wounded is only removed by out of combat healing, simply speaking. You do not remove Wounded just because you drank a healing potion or got a healing spell. So the whack-a-mole problem of 5E is emphatically fixed by PF2, believe me.

There are other conditions that can't easily be removed. At really low levels, you have Diseased. You have Poisoned. At high levels you have Doomed.

I would say Retreater's characterization is not accurate.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Is there any kind of alternate rule for those who do want attrition?
Any party without the Medicine skill comes close to what you want. You might also want to look at the Paladin, which I believe is specifically designed to be able to bring up party members between fights.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Sorry, that didn't clarify the wounded condition for me- what does it actually do in play? How does it affect you if you aren't dying?
It prevents whack-a-mole - the minmax tactic where you (in 5E) observe that any monster damage that takes you below zero hp is "wasted" - 5E doesn't track negative hit points.

This makes it far too useful to waste monster attacks on heroes with only a single hp, since 99% of the damage gets soaked by the game rules. Then you bring back the "tank" using the bonus action Healing Word level 1 spell. You really only want it to give a single hit point, so you never upcast it using a higher levelled slot. Even martial characters can learn this spell. You can also use cheap low-level healing potions.

I'm not saying this tactic isn't ridiculous. I'm saying 5E enables it.

I'm also saying that Wounded is a mechanism that comprehensively shuts it down, and more in general makes it undesirable to fall to zero hp (which I want my D&D game to do).
 
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CapnZapp

Legend
Nothing. Just makes it easier to fail your death saves.
No - please read up on Wounded.

When you fall to zero hp you gain the Dying condition with a value of Wounded +1 (Wounded +2 if you were felled by a crit). Normally this means you gain Dying 1 when you fall unconscious, since you didn't have any Wounded condition.

Once you do become Dying, your Wounded is increased by one, ready to make dying again more dangerous:

A character with Wounded 2 (having fallen unconscious twice before in this battle), for instance, would gain Dying 3 upon falling to 0 HP, and would be killed outright if felled by a crit. (You die at Dying 4)

I would say this instantly makes any tactic that relies on the game not tracking negative hp evaporates. A good thing.
 
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