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D&D 5E Healing Word "HD" House Rule

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.

Back in 3e, I ran a high level one-shot for my players. The encounters were hard. In the first encounter, the cleric had to spend the first three rounds healing dropped PCs. He could use heal but still had to spend a move action (in his heavy armor) to get to the downed PC, spend his standard action to cast the healing spell, and also used up that spell slot. Both of those latter two resources (action and slot) could have gone to something more interesting.

On the fourth round the PCs finally dropped enough opponents to relieve the pressure a little bit, at which the cleric started dishing out the destruction spell and bringing his fatal divine curse unto the enemies.

I'm a fan of 4e's style because the cleric is no longer "screwed" by having to spend those resources.

4e introduced whack-a-mole healing, and 5e didn't get rid of it. 5e is a different game; it should only incorporate parts of 4e that make sense to 5e.

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.

Regular Healing Word:
A creature of your choice that you can see within range regains hit points equal to 1d4 + your spellcasting ability modifier. This spell has no effect on undead or constructs.
At Higher Levels: When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the Healing increases by 1d4 for each slot level above 1st.

This would potentially heal more but be much more expensive for the target.

I note that neither Healing Word nor Cure Wounds have a Hit Dice cost as written, and low-level PCs have very few hit dice, one per level. (Contrast with 4e, where your HD value will increase, but any character who doesn't increase Constitution or spend specific feats will not see an increase in the number of HD.)

For the house rule to work, PCs would need more HD at low levels, and perhaps not gain an HD every level. Or perhaps use some other resource. You could literally make a new one as part of the house rule: a character cannot receive Healing Word more than X times per day. Upcasts cost extra resources.
 

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Sooooo…anyone else want to comment on the houserule…aka the reason this thread exists?
I've used a very similar houserule. It worked it reduced whack-a-mole, but we didn't keep it mostly because we didn't find the new version better than the occasional whack-a-mole scenario. Mostly because whack-a-mole doesn't happen in most fights for us anyways, and having to bring up an ally every turn is wasting the healer's turn when they could be doing something that actually moves us towards victory... Put another way, no one really wanted to play an mmo-style healer-main in the first place so not having the option didn't bother us.

But that's a lot of "we felt" statements, so it may work for you.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
For me, 4e has been the desperate attempt to capture the MMO feel in a TTRPG, with specific classes and progression paths with options
You just described every Wizards edition, at least. 3.5 felt more like an MMO to me than any other edition. Especially older MMOs.


, 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.
You personally have trouble envisioning a thing and so it has no tie to the narrative? You get that doesn’t follow, right?
 

Sooooo…anyone else want to comment on the houserule…aka the reason this thread exists?
Sure. I think its effectiveness depends on your goals.

If your goal is to limit how many hit dice or overall hp players have available in an adventuring day then it would probably be effective for that.

If your goal is to limit in-combat healing I don't think it really is likely to achieve that. Nobody is ever going to not burn the hit dice when they're on the ropes given the opportunity, the limitation really comes into play when it is time to rest and they have no hit dice left, which just tends to mean they are ready to call it a day if the fate of the universe is not at stake, and sometimes even if it is. In theory the limitation comes in when they run out of hit dice in combat, but I think players will be much more hesitant to enter serious combat without a healthy pool of hit dice, meaning shorter adventuring days still unless the DM forces longer ones.

If your goal is to preserve the traditional prominence of Cure Wounds by having it be the cool no hit-die heal, maybe it does that somewhat. It seems like it would do it at the expense of player harmony though with one players desire to not burn their action and/or movement being at odds with another player's desire to not burn their hit dice.

I don't care for the upcasting to be able to burn more hit dice in any case. We already have the metagame conceit of players inquiring about each other's hit points. I don't want to incentivize mid-combat conversations about how many hit dice players have and are willing to part with as well.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Back in 3e, I ran a high level one-shot for my players. The encounters were hard. In the first encounter, the cleric had to spend the first three rounds healing dropped PCs. He could use heal but still had to spend a move action (in his heavy armor) to get to the downed PC, spend his standard action to cast the healing spell, and also used up that spell slot. Both of those latter two resources (action and slot) could have gone to something more interesting.

On the fourth round the PCs finally dropped enough opponents to relieve the pressure a little bit, at which the cleric started dishing out the destruction spell and bringing his fatal divine curse unto the enemies.

I'm a fan of 4e's style because the cleric is no longer "screwed" by having to spend those resources.

4e introduced whack-a-mole healing, and 5e didn't get rid of it. 5e is a different game; it should only incorporate parts of 4e that make sense to 5e.
Absolutely. All of this. I do like the idea of having level + con mod HD or something, this houserule, make short rests shorter, and then making death saves only reset when you rest. The last part worries me more than any other part, because low level PCs are downright fragile, but it’s be worth playtesting.
This would potentially heal more but be much more expensive for the target.

I note that neither Healing Word nor Cure Wounds have a Hit Dice cost as written, and low-level PCs have very few hit dice, one per level. (Contrast with 4e, where your HD value will increase, but any character who doesn't increase Constitution or spend specific feats will not see an increase in the number of HD.)

For the house rule to work, PCs would need more HD at low levels, and perhaps not gain an HD every level. Or perhaps use some other resource. You could literally make a new one as part of the house rule: a character cannot receive Healing Word more than X times per day. Upcasts cost extra resources.
I agree with all of this. More hit dice would help, especially because I think it’s still gonna be much less healing at mid+ levels than the minor action heals were in 4e.
 

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