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D&D 5E Healing Word "HD" House Rule

Stalker0

Legend
I saw a more generic form of this idea from @Garthanos and I thought it might make an interesting house rule for healing word.

Healing Word: (remove base healing). The target may spend 1 hitdice. For every level above 1st this spell is case, the target may spend an additional hitdice.

A nice way to make the spell a little more costly as it pulls from your "reserves" and puts an implicit limit on it. This contrasts with cure wounds which is "endless" magic but slower, which seems a nice differentiator between the two.
 

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NotAYakk

Legend
I'd propose:
1. All magical healing requires using a HD. This HD adds to the amount healed. (exceptions: Regeneration, Heal, Mass Heal, Power Word Heal, Ring of Regeneration, Life Transference, Soul Cage).
2. Cure Wounds can use the HD spent instead of the d8s.

(This is 4e inspired.)
 
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MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
I'd propose:
1. All magical healing requires using a HD. This HD adds to the amount healed. (exceptions: Regeneration, Heal, Mass Heal, Power Word Heal, Ring of Regeneration, Life Transference, Soul Cage).
2. Cure Wounds can use the HD spent instead of the d8s.

(This is 4e inspired.)
Not a fan. 5e has eroded too much the spotlight for healers already. This change means healers -which are increasingly irrelevant already- are even less relevant. Cure wounds isn't the problem, the problem is healing word. Just banning or weakening healing word is enough -and in fact would make healers interesting to play again.
 

jgsugden

Legend
I saw a more generic form of this idea from @Garthanos and I thought it might make an interesting house rule for healing word.

Healing Word: (remove base healing). The target may spend 1 hitdice. For every level above 1st this spell is case, the target may spend an additional hitdice.

A nice way to make the spell a little more costly as it pulls from your "reserves" and puts an implicit limit on it. This contrasts with cure wounds which is "endless" magic but slower, which seems a nice differentiator between the two.
This may drastically increase the amount of healing a PC gets. For example, a barbarian would heal d12+con, instead of a d4+caster ability. If the party has a healer, the 'using of dice' may not be that important overall.

If you don't like the 'whack a mole' healing, the best thing is to eliminate the bonus action ranged heals and force the PCs to use actions and be within touch, or use higher level slots.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Not a fan. 5e has eroded too much the spotlight for healers already. This change means healers -which are increasingly irrelevant already- are even less relevant. Cure wounds isn't the problem, the problem is healing word. Just banning or weakening healing word is enough -and in fact would make healers interesting to play again.
In what way does it make them less relevant? They still heal you, which is still important. There’s just a limit to how much healing you can benefit from, which makes it much easier for the DM to balance adventuring days, since they can actually reliably predict how much HP the party has per day and can therefore properly budget it.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
Not a fan. 5e has eroded too much the spotlight for healers already. This change means healers -which are increasingly irrelevant already- are even less relevant. Cure wounds isn't the problem, the problem is healing word. Just banning or weakening healing word is enough -and in fact would make healers interesting to play again.
Eroded compared to when?

A 5e cleric provides far more HP per day past T1 that a 5e barbarian or fighter. Of course, use of those slots for non-healing tends to be more optimal, especially in a fight, as dead foes don't do damage.

But a level 5 cleric with 16 wis has 9 spells of total level 16; if used inefficiently with cure wounds, that is 16d8+27 or 99 HP. (prayer of healing is more efficient, for example).

The cleric with 14 con also has 37 HP. So 136 HP in total (plus more via channel divinity or whatever). And 5d8+10 self healing HD for a total of 168.5 HP per day.

A L 5 fighter in a 2 short rest day and 16 con contributes 3d10+15 second wind, 49 HP, 5d10+15 HD healing, for 44+30+49=123 HP per day.

Barbarians compete with clerics via rage; at 14 con, they have 51 HP and 5d12+10 HD healing for 61+32.5 or 93.5. But if they can reliably rage this doubles to 187 HP per day. However, this also doubles cleric healing on the barbarian!

The healer's problem is not healing fast enough in combat for it to be a good idea.
 

And it is good that way. We had a cleric with the healing domain actually using healing spells... that drageed out combat quite a lot.
(I think it was one of the later playtest versions, I am happy that combat healing is toned down.)
I also think healing word pop up is no problem, but allowing the spending of a hit die to increase healing is a good idea.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
What is the point of this exactly ? The point of 5e is to be fun by leaving no-one on the ground for hours during combat, in an age when it is all too easy to disengage and disappear on one's phone or on a nearby console. And for that combat needs to be fast to resolve and not last for hours anyway. This proposed modification will not make people hesitate about using healing word for the above reason but also because having a combattant on the ground is far less efficient. So what will it do ? It will in the end just mess with recovery outside of combat and the already controversial way to deal with number of encounters, types of recovery (short/long), and amount of recovery. What it must not do is prolong combat by having efficient healing (this is why you have to choose between cure wounds which heals better but takes time and healing word which is time-efficient and does not prevent people from playing other things than healers - I know some people like it, but they have always been in the very minority of players), and there is a risk of that by providing very efficient healing at little cost. Not a good idea IMHO.
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
Honestly, the more I think about it, the more I realize there are sufficient differences between Healing Word and Cure Wounds. Not the actual number of health provided, obviously. Raw healing potential is kind of out the window thanks to how being knocked out works. But rather the metagame differences between the two:

Cure Wounds is on more spell lists, which indicates it's intended to be a "more basic" healing spell.
Healing Word uses a bonus action, which sounds great at first, but most "support-style" classes and subclasses have really powerful uses for their bonus action already. The Circle of the Moon, as an extreme example, would normally have to spend their bonus action to revert back into the caster form in order to use any spell at all. Additionally, using a bonus action spell prevents you from using reaction spells for that round.

And when you get down to it, that's all you need to justify the existence of the two different spells. One spell can be better in a vacuum, but not everyone is going to be able to use that spell, or even want to use that spell given their situation. Trying to force everyone who has both to favor Cure Wounds is kind of treating the symptoms of your frustrations rather than the actual cause of them. Because Cure Wounds is already sometimes better, or sometimes simply the only option.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
Honestly, the more I think about it, the more I realize there are sufficient differences between Healing Word and Cure Wounds.

Indeed, but I think that you have glossed over the main difference in fights: Cure Wounds is touch and Healing Word is ranged, and actually reaches quite far at 60 feet. Combined with the bonus action only, it makes for a very different sort of healing, and very desirable in itself. Cure Wounds is really if you want to give more points, which I think we have agreed is not efficient in combat anyway (most of your offensive abilities will have a greater effect to the combat than casting a Cure Wounds). But of course, with Healing Word being far more restricted in terms of character availability, sometimes it's the only option, which in turn makes Healing Word even more desirable overall...

But while I understand wanting it "harder" to use because of the Whack-a-mole healing problems that some people have, I still think that it goes around the design philosophy of 5e, don't prevent people from having fun by having the lay in a pool of blood for multiple turns...
 

Nefermandias

Adventurer
I saw a more generic form of this idea from @Garthanos and I thought it might make an interesting house rule for healing word.

Healing Word: (remove base healing). The target may spend 1 hitdice. For every level above 1st this spell is case, the target may spend an additional hitdice.

A nice way to make the spell a little more costly as it pulls from your "reserves" and puts an implicit limit on it. This contrasts with cure wounds which is "endless" magic but slower, which seems a nice differentiator between the two.
I'd say leave Healing Word as it is. Back in 4e, Healing Surges were the primary daily resource a party had to manage. Now in 5e, it's spell slots. I don't see why you would want to impose an additional cost to Healing Word.

Just think like that: a 1st level Cleric in 4e could use Healing Word twice per encounter. A 1st level Cleric in 5e can use it twice in a day and at the opportunity cost of casting something more useful like Bless or Spiritual Weapon.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
I saw a more generic form of this idea from @Garthanos and I thought it might make an interesting house rule for healing word.

Healing Word: (remove base healing). The target may spend 1 hitdice. For every level above 1st this spell is case, the target may spend an additional hitdice.

A nice way to make the spell a little more costly as it pulls from your "reserves" and puts an implicit limit on it. This contrasts with cure wounds which is "endless" magic but slower, which seems a nice differentiator between the two.
A consequence of this is that Healing Word is arguably worse at low levels (ie, at 1st level each character can only benefit from it once per day). It's also arguably better at high levels, since hit dice can heal more and at high levels you have plenty. Preparing both CW and HW is a high opportunity cost for low level casters. I think that a potential outcome would be that low level parties either eschew the use of HW, or would be encouraged to long rest as soon as someone (particularly a front liner) runs out of HD (which is accelerated by the use of HW). Or the healer bites the bullet and takes one for the team, prepping both in lieu of a more interesting spell.

That's not to say that this is a bad change per se, just something to keep in mind. 4e didn't have this issue because healing surges scaled quite differently. You got the bulk of you HS at level 1.
 

Seems to me the only issues you'll have here are that HD are terribly limited in 5e. Your maximum is equal to character level, and you only get back half your maximum from a long rest--meaning you can only really rely on having the half amount, not the full amount.

So if you're fine with limiting healing to half-level HD per day, go right ahead, but I'm pretty sure that's gonna fall rather short of the amount of damage expected even in the "fewer combats and fewer short rests" thing--and you'll simultaneously be removing the only other healing resource characters naturally have.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
This has the problem of having a low-level character only being able to be healing word-ed once per day, and blocking short rest HD recovery for the rest of the day. This make the low level party even more squishier.

Do deal with the ''cheapness'' of HW, I usually add the line ''one creature that can hear you that you can see'', so an unconscious character that is ''unaware of its surrounding'' would be unaffected by HW.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
Supporter
I saw a more generic form of this idea from @Garthanos and I thought it might make an interesting house rule for healing word.

Healing Word: (remove base healing). The target may spend 1 hitdice. For every level above 1st this spell is case, the target may spend an additional hitdice.

A nice way to make the spell a little more costly as it pulls from your "reserves" and puts an implicit limit on it. This contrasts with cure wounds which is "endless" magic but slower, which seems a nice differentiator between the two.
I considered making the same change in my campaign. I do like that spending a hit die depletes longer term resources. I assess at healing word like this
  • strong tempo due to bonus action and range
  • almost always relevant due to spell level and range
  • not strongly enough differentiated from cure wounds in terms of healing power, due to adding spell modifier
  • hugely boosts survivability due to death saves reset
High up-time, low cost of use, powerful effect. In the end I made the spell 2nd-level (1d4+mod, scaling from there) and every caster with access to it in my campaign still takes it and regularly uses it!
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
Do deal with the ''cheapness'' of HW, I usually add the line ''one creature that can hear you that you can see'', so an unconscious character that is ''unaware of its surrounding'' would be unaffected by HW.

If it does not work on unconscious characters, this spell is basically useless. It is already limited by slots. Do your players enjoy spending long stretches of combat unconscious ?
 

Nefermandias

Adventurer
By
This has the problem of having a low-level character only being able to be healing word-ed once per day, and blocking short rest HD recovery for the rest of the day. This make the low level party even more squishier.

Do deal with the ''cheapness'' of HW, I usually add the line ''one creature that can hear you that you can see'', so an unconscious character that is ''unaware of its surrounding'' would be unaffected by HW.
By removing the ability to pick people up from the ground, you are removing the main purpose of this spell.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
Supporter
Honestly, the more I think about it, the more I realize there are sufficient differences between Healing Word and Cure Wounds. Not the actual number of health provided, obviously. Raw healing potential is kind of out the window thanks to how being knocked out works. But rather the metagame differences between the two:

Cure Wounds is on more spell lists, which indicates it's intended to be a "more basic" healing spell.
Healing Word uses a bonus action, which sounds great at first, but most "support-style" classes and subclasses have really powerful uses for their bonus action already. The Circle of the Moon, as an extreme example, would normally have to spend their bonus action to revert back into the caster form in order to use any spell at all. Additionally, using a bonus action spell prevents you from using reaction spells for that round.

And when you get down to it, that's all you need to justify the existence of the two different spells. One spell can be better in a vacuum, but not everyone is going to be able to use that spell, or even want to use that spell given their situation. Trying to force everyone who has both to favor Cure Wounds is kind of treating the symptoms of your frustrations rather than the actual cause of them. Because Cure Wounds is already sometimes better, or sometimes simply the only option.
Have you much experience of both in play? I've been running roughly weekly sessions since 5th launched, and healing word is without any doubt at all far more useful, tempo-efficient and net-powerful than cure wounds. The metagame differences you suggest don't play as strong a part as you could be tempted to predict. Bard, Cleric and Druid don't have a plethora of bonus actions. For example, moon druids have far fewer uses of wild-shape than of their spells. It's more probable they'll use healing spirit over healing word, and both are bonus action spells.

I believe that the problem is not quite rightly stated as - should there be healing word and cure wounds? The more significant problem in my view, is of healing word having a negative impact on play due to the whack-a-mole combat it opts into.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
Supporter
By
By removing the ability to pick people up from the ground, you are removing the main purpose of this spell.
I feel like one of the first fixes to revert to for spells is always to ask - is this spell the right level for the impact it has on play? One way to state the problem is that healing word is overpowered. Another way is to say it is under-costed.

So I just made it a 2nd-level spell (1d4+mod, scale from there.)
 

Amros

Villager
A nice way to make the spell a little more costly as it pulls from your "reserves" and puts an implicit limit on it.
But while I understand wanting it "harder" to use because of the Whack-a-mole healing problems that some people have, I still think that it goes around the design philosophy of 5e, don't prevent people from having fun by having the lay in a pool of blood for multiple turns...
I do agree here that if the rationale behind making the spell more costly/limiting its uses is to avoid/cut down the whack-a-mole issue, you are not addressing it by this modification: sure, they will use it less, but they still will use it. And maybe Healing Word is not the only problematic spell.
In my table, I found better just imposing a toll for coming back mid-battle after going 0 HP: you gain one level of exhaustion, and/or receive a lingering injury (DMG p. 272) based on the damage you received. Now you don't want to risk going down at any cost.
And Healing Word and Cure Wounds are still different:
  • Healing Word: I cannot reach that PC, and he/she may not survive another hit if not healed, but I can contribute to kill it faster --> Healing Word just in case and attack.
  • Cure Wounds: I can reach that PC, and healing him/her will make us survive, even if I don't attack

And of course, linking the spell to the target's Hit Dice makes the spell to heal much more to a Barbarian than to a Wizard, for example (double the healing!).
 

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