D&D 5E House rule for in combat healing and yoyo at 0 HP

Clint_L

Hero
We just don't have this yoyo problem, or see it as one. Couple of reasons;
1) Most enemies are smart. If the party waits to heal when they drop to 0, foes start to attack those who are at zero to keep them down. Which means now the party is risking character death.
It is a risk. Slightly. But the character has three death saves to give, which represents a lot of wasted damage if you DON’T finish them off.

And a lot of enemies aren’t that smart, to be able to suss out a potential healer while fighting for their own lives in six second rounds.
2) We don't agree about it being better action economy to wait. Cure Wounds still takes an action.
Cure wounds is not the problem. If everyone in the party who can have healing word isn’t taking it, they are doing it wrong. Our party also has an artificer (arcane jolt) and mercy monk (healing hands), both of which add to on demand healing.
3) We use random initiative each round, so you can't plan ahead as reliably.
As do we. In general, this helps the party.
4) We use lingering Wounds from the DMG.
This makes a difference; similar to us using critical wounds.
 

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It is a risk. Slightly. But the character has three death saves to give, which represents a lot of wasted damage if you DON’T finish them off.
Magic missles is instant death. Or you use your NPC's bonus/secondary attacks or the minions do it.
And a lot of enemies aren’t that smart, to be able to suss out a potential healer while fighting for their own lives in six second rounds.
Always debatable. And its not the healers they have to go after, but the one that was down and healed back up. It's pretty easy to know they are going to be easy to knock down again. And once you do that you are going to want to keep them down.
Cure wounds is not the problem. If everyone in the party who can have healing word isn’t taking it, they are doing it wrong. Our party also has an artificer (arcane jolt) and mercy monk (healing hands), both of which add to on demand healing.
They all take an action or bonus action. But agree (if I understand your point) that healing still takes an bonus/action whether you do it before or after the PC goes down.
 

Clint_L

Hero
Magic missles is instant death. Or you use your NPC's bonus/secondary attacks or the minions do it.
Very few combats involve magic missile, so the odds of there being a foe with magic missile available, who knows to use it the instant a foe goes down, is vanishingly small. There are a lot of assumptions being made about the number of foes, attacks, their priorities, and the initiative order. I note that many, many people have commented on this problem in 5e, so, sure, you can be contrarian and argue that it's not really a problem and most folks are just bad players, or you can consider that maybe all those folks have a point. At least about their games.
Always debatable. And it's not the healers they have to go after, but the one that was down and healed back up. It's pretty easy to know they are going to be easy to knock down again. And once you do that you are going to want to keep them down.
Sure, if it happens once most foes will start to get wise, though a lot of fights involve unintelligent creatures, beasts, etc. so it really depends on the context. But for the most part, combat only last a few rounds in D&D, so all you need is to get someone up once.

I try to RP each combat from the perspective of the mobs involved, keeping in mind that death saves are not normal (most things are out of the fight when they go down), and the mobs making the decision are typically still fighting for their own lives. There is a lot happening in each 6 second round. If you are fighting a rogue and a barbarian and the rogue goes down - maybe dead, maybe unconscious - but the barbarian is still swinging their great axe at you, that's going to focus your attention.
They all take an action or bonus action. But agree (if I understand your point) that healing still takes an bonus/action whether you do it before or after the PC goes down.
Action and bonus action are vastly different in terms of action economy. Bonus actions get wasted all the time. They don't let you make a regular attack, and so on. And healing word has a 60' range! That is so much more powerful than cure wounds that it doesn't compare - I have no idea why anyone would bother with cure wounds - it does fractionally more healing but uses your actions and has no range. Not to mention many, many other abilities that can pop characters back up or even mitigate damage as a reaction.

That's why most of the time healing before someone goes to 0 HP is super inefficient. And death saves are an extremely valuable resource - each of them potentially represents a huge amount of avoided damage. Thus, experienced players gauge the situation and use them.

Obviously the game is not black and white and there is a time and a place for a clutch heal. And a few high level healing spells are often a good first choice (heal, mass heal, maybe mass cure wounds). But mostly, healing before someone drops to zero is a very bad call in terms of resource management.

Depending on the table. For example, if you have a very adversarial DM who likes to play mobs like they have all of the DM's information, so as soon as someone goes to 0 every mob drops what they are doing and swarms the fallen character, then yeah, change your strategy. I consider that meta-gaming and don't do that, but I recognize that some folks enjoy a much different style of play than I do. But in the game as it actually happens at most tables, yo-yo healing is widely considered a problem.

Edit: so if it's not an issue at your table, then bless. But there are folks in this thread trying to argue that, in effect, it's only a problem because most people are playing the game wrong, and that's a bit condescending.
 

Clint_L

Hero
Further: I have been playing for a long time, and play a ton of 5e - I currently have three campaigns on the go, and that is pretty typical. I watch ton of actual play shows. I'm on forums like this. I am happy to argue that healing word is the most powerful spell in 5e, in terms of impact on actual games played. I don't think anything else is even close.
 

I think this is being offered as some sort of sarcastic criticism of a house rule that we quite enjoy? But I’m not sure exactly what you are getting at and don’t want to misrepresent your point. Can you state it in plain language?
It was offered as a comment about all of the suggestions to deal with "yoyo healing" by punishing the players of the characters who bear the brunt of enemy attacks and are thus likely to be dropped to 0HP more often.
Rather than deal with the actual issue causing it (lack of effective pre-0hp healing and other options to avoid dropping to 0hp in the first place.) No player chooses, or likes to see their character downed (you're out of the action other than making death saves), so mechanics that punish them further, like targeting them while they are down, or inflicting debilitating effects on them is kicking them when they're down.

This was in no way intended to single you out from the rest of the "kick 'em when they're down" crowd: your comment was just at a convenient point to quote. If the intent of your houserule is just because your group (rightly) thinks that realistically, those characters that take the hits for the party are more likely to pick up severe injuries and conditions that would reduce their effectiveness or require them to be retired out, and want to see that realism reflected in their games that is absolutely valid.
 

Distracted DM

Distracted DM
So either:
Look to other systems for a solution.

Try games without bonus action heals. How would 5e be impacted with no Healing Word & Mass Healing Word? Are there other bonus action heals?
 
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ezo

Adventurer
I am happy to argue that healing word is the most powerful spell in 5e, in terms of impact on actual games played. I don't think anything else is even close.
I'd argue bless personally, but healing word is a close 2nd or 3rd IMO.
 

Distracted DM

Distracted DM
I'd argue bless personally, but healing word is a close 2nd or 3rd IMO.
Bless is fantastic, especially if it's combined with a Paladin's aura (as a GM I HATE this combo; players basically can't fail saves at mid-tiers). But at least Bless is concentration, so they can't be using something else.
 

I note that many, many people have commented on this problem in 5e, so, sure, you can be contrarian and argue that it's not really a problem and most folks are just bad players, or you can consider that maybe all those folks have a point. At least about their games.
Its not a problem at our table for the reasons I already mentioend. Never said it wasn't a problem for others. Only that it easily solveable for us at our table without houserules.
But for the most part, combat only last a few rounds in D&D, so all you need is to get someone up once.
Not at our table. Yes I undersyand that is the norm for medium encounters per the DMG, but again, at our table we don't do many of those. I would say ours are normally ~5 rounds with a dozen rounds not being unusual.
Edit: so if it's not an issue at your table, then bless. But there are folks in this thread trying to argue that, in effect, it's only a problem because most people are playing the game wrong, and that's a bit condescending.
Not wrong. And that would be rude. Just laying out how our table deals with it in a way that is simple for us, and has other benefits too.
 

Distracted DM

Distracted DM
Not at our table. Yes I undersyand that is the norm for medium encounters per the DMG, but again, at our table we don't do many of those. I would say ours are normally ~5 rounds with a dozen rounds not being unusual.
A dozen round combats not being unusual? We're talking 5e?
That sounds crazy to me, but I'd be really interested to see how that goes- always interested to see how different tables play. Can you elaborate on it?
 

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