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

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
This is a more thoughtful solution than most because it recognises the key issue with healing in combat in 5E, which is that aside from yoyoing it is generally incredibly weak and wasteful as an action.
Or, and hear me out, it calls for teamwork, tactics, and a dash of gritty realism. Though I doubt this is what WotC had in mind.
By giving THP you make it so in-combat healing makes sense, but out-of-combat healing isn't doubled in power. It's very good work.
And there are the amplified problems of "what is a hit point," " how is damage reflected by my character, " and the new one: "why does my spell behave differently when a goblin looks at me menacingly?"

That's not a good solution, because it's implausible for a lot of enemies to do that (untrained combatants, mindless undead, many animals/monsters), and further, it totally fails to recognise that his players are completely correct - in-combat healing in 5E is very wasteful in terms of both action economy and in terms of spell slots. It's dreadful - but that's an intentional from WotC - they think yoyoing is fine. Giving THP actually accounts for this, which your plan does not.
My plan totally fails to recognise "wasteful" healing for a reason: it's not wasteful at all. It prevents yo-yoing. But hey, if you like getting your lights knocked out and continuously wondering where someone kicked your weapon this time, have at it.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Or, and hear me out, it calls for teamwork, tactics, and a dash of gritty realism. Though I doubt this is what WotC had in mind.
It's definitely not what WotC had in mind, and further, it doesn't work well at all.

A group who heals heavily in combat will perform far, far worse than one that focuses on killing the enemy.

That's not even debatable. That's simple math. WotC decided to make the healing largely combat-ineffective and a waste of an action.
And there are the amplified problems of "what is a hit point," " how is damage reflected by my character, " and the new one: "why does my spell behave differently when a goblin looks at me menacingly?"
None of these problems are new, as you admit with "amplified" and none of them are significantly worse with this. Even the last isn't really new - lots of stuff in 5E functions in way that are practically different in combat, and trying to phrase it poorly to make it look bad just shows a lack of a rational or logical argument.
My plan totally fails to recognise "wasteful" healing for a reason: it's not wasteful at all. It prevents yo-yoing. But hey, if you like getting your lights knocked out and continuously wondering where someone kicked your weapon this time, have at it.
My entire point is that wasteful healing does not prevent yoyoing. That's why it's so wasteful lol!

When you can only heal a single character at touch range for 3d8+4 (17.5 avg) with a 3rd level spell - the equivalent to Fireball, Call Lightning, Counterspell, Slow, Fly, or Spirit Guardians, yet the monsters you're encountering frequently hit for hit for 2d8+4 with a single attack, and have multiple attacks, you're spending your whole Action, your movement (if it's even possible without provoking OAs!) and a 3rd-level spell slot (!!!) to, at best, eat the damage done by about 1.5 enemy attacks - with some enemies at that level it's less damage healed than a SINGLE attack does!

Thus it doesn't really prevent someone being downed - it might delay it by a single attack, maybe two on a very good day, but you're blowing a third-level spell to delay downing by probably part of a round. A spell slot you could have used wildly better.

Being downed eats a ton of extra damage - by WotC's intentional design. You trying to make it more punishing without actually even thinking about or looking at the action or spell slot economy involved isn't good design and it's not good DMing, frankly. It's classic knee-jerk DMing that doesn't look at problems holistically, but misunderstands them as a series of separate and unrelated parts, not a whole systemic issue.

I get that you don't like the THP, but it actually largely solves this problem by making heals twice as effective in combat. It's not a great use of a spell slot in a lot of cases, but it's drastically closer to one when you can basically guarantee to be equivalent 2-4 attacks instead of 1-2. It's not tactically optimal but we don't need it to be - just to be reasonable - which combat healing currently is not.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I wonder why this has never been an issue in my 5E games? Both of my groups tend to do a notable about of in-combat healing (is it because the fights tend to be deadly and last longer than "average" as best as I can tell from what others post here about their combats?)

As for house rules we use ThinkDM's "Death Saves Revived" rules which does nothing to prevent so-called "yo-yoing" (though it both gives a dying character a chance to save themselves and makes it more dangerous since they can be dying and conscious and potentially acting and thus can get the attention of an enemy when they are particularly vulnerable).

And we use our own version of the "Lingering Wounds" options that comes into effect at any point you have two failed death saves but ultimately survive.
 

I wonder why this has never been an issue in my 5E games? Both of my groups tend to do a notable about of in-combat healing (is it because the fights tend to be deadly and last longer than "average" as best as I can tell from what others post here about their combats?)
The obvious explanation, and it might not be the right one - I couldn't say without seeing the actual table - is that your players and their tactically extremely unsound decision to do a ton of in-combat healing creates the situation you describe. Blowing Actions and spell slots on pre-downing healing in combat is incredibly inefficient (with a few notable exceptions like Heal) and a great way to draw a combat out - hence longer combats - and it's also so inefficient it's likely to cause them a real tactical disadvantage and weaken them - hence deadlier combats.

So the Occam's Razor explanation, without knowing anything else, is that they're effectively self-sabotaging.
 

MarkB

Legend
Baldur's Gate 3 uses something similar to your first rule - a downed character brought back to consciousness loses their action on their next turn. It does incentivise preventive healing.
 

Baldur's Gate 3 uses something similar to your first rule - a downed character brought back to consciousness loses their action on their next turn. It does incentivise preventive healing.
BG3 gives you reasonably efficient preventative healing, though, in the form of countless healing potions, which are notably different from those in D&D. Specifically:

1) They always only cost a Bonus Action to use on yourself. You can even swap them from other PCs to do that.

2) You can throw them near other PCs to heal them for just as much as drinking the potion - which is way more than Healing Word or the like could do.

On top of this, said potions are cheap and widely available, even the scaled-up versions are cheap and pretty available at higher levels, rather than being increasingly rare as they are in D&D.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
So the Occam's Razor explanation, without knowing anything else, is that they're effectively self-sabotaging.


Yeah maybe. But we're having fun, so. ... 🤷‍♀️

That said, I would not call it "a ton" of in-combat healing - but it does notably happen at least once per most combats (though more often in more involved combats).
 

Yeah maybe. But we're having fun, so. ... 🤷‍♀️

That said, I would not call it "a ton" of in-combat healing - but it does notably happen at least once per most combats (though more often in more involved combats).
It's not intended as a critique, per se, just an possible cause of what you describe!

I agree that if everyone enjoys it, it's not a real problem. I think if you're healing with an Action on a non-downed PC at least 1/combat most combats at low and mid levels, you're probably disadvantaging the party a bit, but one wasted action isn't going to be killer. There's also other stuff that could be going on - like, using larger numbers of lower-level enemies, especially against higher-AC PCs, can edge up the value of in-combat healing, especially if there's no possibility of the healing PC doing stuff like AOE damage or AOE CC.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
A group who heals heavily in combat will perform far, far worse than one that focuses on killing the enemy.
This goes for monsters too. But I guess that's off the table.

None of these problems are new, as you admit with "amplified" and none of them are significantly worse with this. Even the last isn't really new - lots of stuff in 5E functions in way that are practically different in combat, and trying to phrase it poorly to make it look bad just shows a lack of a rational or logical argument.

My entire point is that wasteful healing does not prevent yoyoing. That's why it's so wasteful lol!
When you're done lol-ing, can we try to keep it civil?

When you can only heal a single character at touch range for 3d8+4 (17.5 avg) with a 3rd level spell - the equivalent to Fireball, Call Lightning, Counterspell, Slow, Fly, or Spirit Guardians, yet the monsters you're encountering frequently hit for hit for 2d8+4 with a single attack, and have multiple attacks, you're spending your whole Action, your movement (if it's even possible without provoking OAs!) and a 3rd-level spell slot (!!!) to, at best, eat the damage done by about 1.5 enemy attacks - with some enemies at that level it's less damage healed than a SINGLE attack does!

Thus it doesn't really prevent someone being downed - it might delay it by a single attack, maybe two on a very good day, but you're blowing a third-level spell to delay downing by probably part of a round. A spell slot you could have used wildly better.
There's a factor missing from this analysis: misses (and defense in general). Sure, some enemies can deal more damage in a round than the healer can heal, but all that extra damage has to wait until a successful attack. So, it might behoove the poor tank with a healer behind her to use some of those tactics and teamwork that I mentioned earlier to avoid that successful attack.

Being downed eats a ton of extra damage - by WotC's intentional design. You trying to make it more punishing without actually even thinking about or looking at the action or spell slot economy involved isn't good design and it's not good DMing, frankly. It's classic knee-jerk DMing that doesn't look at problems holistically, but misunderstands them as a series of separate and unrelated parts, not a whole systemic issue.
1) So does your "focus on killing the enemy," or lack of NPCs doing so, indicate knee-jerk DMing as well?
2) If it's a systemic issue, why are you still playing D&D?
 


Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads

Top