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D&D 5E Healing Word "HD" House Rule

Nefermandias

Adventurer
I mean, if you got focused down to the point you were the only one out of healing surges even with all the defensive buffs from three leaders, you probably would have been dead regardless of the edition.

Make no mistake, trying to outlive the opponents by means of healing is incredibly inefficient in 5e too and will probably lead you to a nasty TPK.
You simply can't outheal the damage, so you should focus on outkilling the opposition instead.
 

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Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
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.

I have more slightly experience than you (IRL Weekly game + another game on occasions). Though, I almost never see someone pick both. They pick one or the other and build their playstyle around it. Is picking both something that you come across often?

Anyway, the point is Cure Wounds doesn't have to be as strong as Healing Word, or vise versa. And more importantly, trying to nerf Healing Word isn't really going to cure whack-a-mole, because whack-a-mole would still exist without it.


If we had been playing any other edition, I would have been fine. There were three leaders with available healing when I went down, I just couldn't be healed anymore. In any other edition, having three healers to patch you up is good! In 4e, it is a bad, bad idea. I would have survived if two of these healers had been strikers instead.
My group had this problem in 4e once. It was because the Defender was doing their job too well, they managed to set up a chokepoint and all of the damage was focused on just them. It wasn't even a particularly hard encounter otherwise, 4e was just not set up for one person to take all the hits.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
Yes, in 3e clerics where far better than any non cleric at soakimg damage. There wasn't much point in playing a fighter, because clerics
I have more slightly experience than you (IRL Weekly game + another game on occasions). Though, I almost never see someone pick both. They pick one or the other and build their playstyle around it. Is picking both something that you come across often?

Anyway, the point is Cure Wounds doesn't have to be as strong as Healing Word, or vise versa. And more importantly, trying to nerf Healing Word isn't really going to cure whack-a-mole, because whack-a-mole would still exist without it.



My group had this problem in 4e once. It was because the Defender was doing their job too well, they managed to set up a chokepoint and all of the damage was focused on just them. It wasn't even a particularly hard encounter otherwise, 4e was just not set up for one person to take all the hits.
Yes, HP (and healing surges) is a resource that every character has in 4e (and in most versions of D&D).

Focus fire, even on a poor target, is usually an optimal tactic. "forcing" your DM to focus fire on one PC is usually a bad plan.

This isn't true, of course, in any game where the defender can survive a round of full focus fire, and healing them to full is trivially cheap. I played everquest, and the spell "complete heal" was a high efficiency 10 second casting time (plus 2 second cooldown) spell that healed for basically all of someone's HP. It was intended as a non-combat spell.

In devolved down to making a fighter type that was as least likely to die to a single round of a monster's damage, then having a coordinated cycle of clerics all casting "complete heal" at a frequency faster than the monster's attacks would land, so the fighter type would be at full health on every attack round of the monster.

You'd have backup "sacrificial" tanks whose job was to take an average of 1.5 rounds of damage (and die) if the main tank died, and a secondary tank whose job was to wait for the "sacrificial" tanks to buy time as the healing cycle would transfer over to the secondary tank. Then the secondary tank would lock down the monster.

It was a game whose mechanics was based off of D&D (well, Dikumud, which comes from D&D), and the only job the "tank" warrior type had was to (a) convince monsters to attack them, and (b) be a slightly more efficient way to convert the healer's ability to heal into negating damage.

I get that D&D isn't that, but every time I see "healers should be able to heal for a long time and while not out of resources, it should be nearly impossible for the character they are healing to die" I think of it.

I personally think that adding durability to a party should consist of mainly adding a durable PC, not a healer.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
Supporter
I have more slightly experience than you (IRL Weekly game + another game on occasions). Though, I almost never see someone pick both. They pick one or the other and build their playstyle around it. Is picking both something that you come across often?
Ditto, players usually pick healing word. The reason isn't really limited to healing word though. At each level there are frequently spells competing with an up-cast cure wounds. At 1st-level, healing word overshadows cure wounds (both in times taken, and casts).

I hardly ever see players pick both, albeit that is slightly sensitive to spell lists, level and spellcasting ability modifier.

Anyway, the point is Cure Wounds doesn't have to be as strong as Healing Word, or vise versa. And more importantly, trying to nerf Healing Word isn't really going to cure whack-a-mole, because whack-a-mole would still exist without it.
For sure, though the bonus action cast and range sure makes it the most effective tool for that job!
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
Really depends on the party.

I've had players with Wizards at level 1 burn their spell slots on the first encounter and beg the party for a long rest, and I've had teams of rogues, fighters, and monks take out 3-4 encounters before looking to get a long rest (with short rests in there).

But I've also had groups where it's a split by the session. Sometimes they dump all their resources off the bat, sometimes they maintain things better, sometimes they explicitly avoid using any resources by going almost strictly skill-checks and combat-avoidance just in case they need them, only to find themselves taking a "Wasted" long rest at the end of a day of avoiding fights.
Right. The 5MWD can be a more significant issue for low level parties, but it isn't necessarily an issue for low level parties.

What I'm saying is that your proposal significantly exacerbates the 5MWD issue for all low level parties. It's particularly punishing for front liners who excel at their role of protecting the back line (so that the ranged characters can do their own roles effectively) because those front liners are much more likely to take attacks and drop to 0 HP, and therefore be more likely to die or be unable to push on without a high risk of death, irrespective of the rest of their resources.

While it's true that without a kicker there's no way to eliminate the risk of a lowbie being one shot to 0 HP, the risk could be significantly ameliorated by changing the scaling of HD.

Just for the sake of illustration, imagine if characters started with 5 HD and gained 1 HD every level after 5th. This would significantly reduce the risk of the 5MWD for low level groups without impacting high level groups, because low level characters would have enough HD to spend on multiple heals. Obviously, you'd probably want HD recovery to be based on half your HD rounded down (as opposed to your level), but that's a minor change.

In any case, that's just my suggestion.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
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.
Every healer player I know feels the opposite. Healing Words helps healers be interesting to play, by allowing them to heal and do other things.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
Every healer player I know feels the opposite. Healing Words helps healers be interesting to play, by allowing them to heal and do other things.

Yes, seeing that healing remains inefficient in 5e combat (once more, the reason is not to frustrate them, but to keep the combats short and to the point by making sure that hit points going down usually stay down except for a few bumps at the end to prevent people from getting bored too quickly), as well as the fact that, out of combat, it is supplanted by HD healing as soon as a short rest can be taken, at least Healing Word allows healers to feel critical for the success of battle.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Yes, seeing that healing remains inefficient in 5e combat (once more, the reason is not to frustrate them, but to keep the combats short and to the point by making sure that hit points going down usually stay down except for a few bumps at the end to prevent people from getting bored too quickly), as well as the fact that, out of combat, it is supplanted by HD healing as soon as a short rest can be taken, at least Healing Word allows healers to feel critical for the success of battle.
I would be willing, were it possible to reliably test the hypothesis and I hadn't already spent it as a down payment on a car, to bet the entire $7,000 insurance check my wife and I just got, that less than 20% of people who played healers in older editions enjoyed fights where their only contribution of any meaning was healing. Where every action was spent healing. I am absolutely certain that most people don't think that hitting the "heal bob the fighter back up to full as my entire turn" is especially fun, compared to "get bob the fighter back into the fight and also use turn undead to scare away some of the zombies or wade in and smack down the demon that raised them because I'm a war cleric or a paladin or whatever.

The biggest problem with healing word is simply that it precludes casting another leveled spell with your action, and clerics have boring cantrips.

Hell, most people I know consider a devotion paladin more fun as a healer because they can use healing word and lay on hands in the same turn, while clerics can't do anything especially powerful in the same turn they use healing word.

Of course, healers get even more fun at high levels when you get group heals and healing auras that also buff, and stuff like that, but it's nowhere close to how fun healers were in 4e, where you could hit an enemy with holy fire and while the fire lingered on them your allies got healed every time they hit the thing and fun stuff like that, and your minor action heal didn't interfere with casting powerful prayers.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
I would be willing, were it possible to reliably test the hypothesis and I hadn't already spent it as a down payment on a car, to bet the entire $7,000 insurance check my wife and I just got, that less than 20% of people who played healers in older editions enjoyed fights where their only contribution of any meaning was healing. Where every action was spent healing. I am absolutely certain that most people don't think that hitting the "heal bob the fighter back up to full as my entire turn" is especially fun, compared to "get bob the fighter back into the fight and also use turn undead to scare away some of the zombies or wade in and smack down the demon that raised them because I'm a war cleric or a paladin or whatever.

I completely agree, few people wanted to play a pure healer, and I think that people wanting to play that kind of character comes more from the MMORPG world where healing is actually complex and technical than from TTRPG.

The biggest problem with healing word is simply that it precludes casting another leveled spell with your action, and clerics have boring cantrips.

That's true, but it still a step in the right direction, you still get to do something even if you spend a bit of your time healing.

Hell, most people I know consider a devotion paladin more fun as a healer because they can use healing word and lay on hands in the same turn, while clerics can't do anything especially powerful in the same turn they use healing word.

Of course, healers get even more fun at high levels when you get group heals and healing auras that also buff, and stuff like that, but it's nowhere close to how fun healers were in 4e, where you could hit an enemy with holy fire and while the fire lingered on them your allies got healed every time they hit the thing and fun stuff like that, and your minor action heal didn't interfere with casting powerful prayers.

And all that left me completely cold with 4e, again just too purely technical with little narrative explanation, exactly like a MMORPG. The fact is AFAIK that there are no combat healers in fiction of the genre, and for this reason I have trouble seeing what they might do in a narrative game. In any case, 5e has no efficient healing in combat, which I think is a good thing, keeping combat short and exciting, and forcing no-one to play a healer, which was always the least desired role ever before 3e.
 

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
I would be willing, were it possible to reliably test the hypothesis and I hadn't already spent it as a down payment on a car, to bet the entire $7,000 insurance check my wife and I just got, that less than 20% of people who played healers in older editions enjoyed fights where their only contribution of any meaning was healing. Where every action was spent healing. I am absolutely certain that most people don't think that hitting the "heal bob the fighter back up to full as my entire turn" is especially fun, compared to "get bob the fighter back into the fight and also use turn undead to scare away some of the zombies or wade in and smack down the demon that raised them because I'm a war cleric or a paladin or whatever.

The biggest problem with healing word is simply that it precludes casting another leveled spell with your action, and clerics have boring cantrips.

Hell, most people I know consider a devotion paladin more fun as a healer because they can use healing word and lay on hands in the same turn, while clerics can't do anything especially powerful in the same turn they use healing word.

Of course, healers get even more fun at high levels when you get group heals and healing auras that also buff, and stuff like that, but it's nowhere close to how fun healers were in 4e, where you could hit an enemy with holy fire and while the fire lingered on them your allies got healed every time they hit the thing and fun stuff like that, and your minor action heal didn't interfere with casting powerful prayers.
What you describe is less of a healer, and more someone who does healing as a side job. Which is fine, but "I love that I can heal and do something of actual worth on the same turn" is far from someone who enjoys healing. Healing in older editions wasn't really casting a heal every turn, but it was far far more involved than the current "I heal as an extra during combat." It was about hard choices, to tinker with the right ratios of spells prepared to ensure the party remained functional across days, to patch after combat, to prevent others from dying during combat and well, in the editions without insta-death to heroically rush to your fallen comrades to save them. As of 4e and later, being a healer is less and less involved and less and less enticing as a result.
 

Yup, I've been thinking along those lines, too. Perhaps the right solution is to persist death saving throw fails to the next rest (or long rest, but I suspect rest would be enough). I agree about healing being too close to one hit's worth of HP. Have you played any game sessions with your proposed rule? It looks like it has potential.
I've played under these rules (not with Steampunkette) - they work as advertised, although the impact wasn't as big as you might imagine.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
Supporter
I've played under these rules (not with Steampunkette) - they work as advertised, although the impact wasn't as big as you might imagine.
When you say work as advertised, were there combats in which whack-a-mole healing was mitigated because depleted death saves caused character deaths?
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
And all that left me completely cold with 4e, again just too purely technical with little narrative explanation, exactly like a MMORPG.
Well, nothing at all even remotely similar to an MMO, but okay. Describing the thing you do shouldn’t need any particular narrative explanation. You…heal your allies with a prayer. That is, in universe, the thing that happens.

What you describe is less of a healer, and more someone who does healing as a side job. Which is fine, but "I love that I can heal and do something of actual worth on the same turn" is far from someone who enjoys healing. Healing in older editions wasn't really casting a heal every turn, but it was far far more involved than the current "I heal as an extra during combat." It was about hard choices, to tinker with the right ratios of spells prepared to ensure the party remained functional across days, to patch after combat, to prevent others from dying during combat and well, in the editions without insta-death to heroically rush to your fallen comrades to save them. As of 4e and later, being a healer is less and less involved and less and less enticing as a result.
I just disagree, I guess. Being able to do a single strong heal as a minor action and then burn a big group heal as an action was pure healer play. The rest is more a loss of the “plan for the day with spells prepared” dynamic of older editions than anything specific to healing.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
Well, nothing at all even remotely similar to an MMO, but okay. Describing the thing you do shouldn’t need any particular narrative explanation. You…heal your allies with a prayer. That is, in universe, the thing that happens.

For me, 4e has been the desperate attempt to capture the MMO feel in a TTRPG, with specific classes and progression paths with options, I felt right at home after WoW... Note that it's just a matter of taste and perception, not negative, some people really liked it that way.

But I have trouble envisioning a prayer that heals my allies only when they hit the bad guy, that's all.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
For me, 4e has been the desperate attempt to capture the MMO feel in a TTRPG, with specific classes and progression paths with options, I felt right at home after WoW... Note that it's just a matter of taste and perception, not negative, some people really liked it that way.

But I have trouble envisioning a prayer that heals my allies only when they hit the bad guy, that's all.
That seems like an odd objection to me (of course, to each their own). Spells like Vampiric Touch have existed in every edition (and specialty priests have potentially had access since at least 2e).

IMO, there are a plethora of explanations for why it works that way depending on your desired flavor, with the simplest being that the cleric is siphoning the target's life force to heal their Ally.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
That seems like an odd objection to me (of course, to each their own). Spells like Vampiric Touch have existed in every edition (and specialty priests have potentially had access since at least 2e).

IMO, there are a plethora of explanations for why it works that way depending on your desired flavor, with the simplest being that the cleric is siphoning the target's life force to heal their Ally.

That's the problem for me, it's a technical effect that people try later to "narrativise", but for me it's not as simple and elegant as something that looks cool in fiction (a draining touch) and that the game captures. I try and tend to start from the story, not from the rules. Anyway, we are drifting off track...
 

Nefermandias

Adventurer
What you describe is less of a healer, and more someone who does healing as a side job. Which is fine, but "I love that I can heal and do something of actual worth on the same turn" is far from someone who enjoys healing. Healing in older editions wasn't really casting a heal every turn, but it was far far more involved than the current "I heal as an extra during combat." It was about hard choices, to tinker with the right ratios of spells prepared to ensure the party remained functional across days, to patch after combat, to prevent others from dying during combat and well, in the editions without insta-death to heroically rush to your fallen comrades to save them. As of 4e and later, being a healer is less and less involved and less and less enticing as a result.
Being a healer in 3e was about crafting a bunch of Wands of Cure Light Wounds (or Wand of Lesser Vigor if you had access to the splat).
 


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