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

Raiztt

Adventurer
Levels of exhaustion seems like a simple and easy to implement solution.

You could also say that failed death saves remain until you take a long rest. This is going to encourage a very different play style, however, and it might not be one your players want.
 

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Dausuul

Legend
So, the undead are more efficient killers than those with the braaaaaains? (so delicious)
Double-tapping is grossly inefficient. Remember that you need three failed death saves to kill, and a single attack can't inflict more than two. So double-tapping everything is costing you two extra attacks per opponent, or three at range. That's a great way to lose a battle you could have won. It's a last resort, to be used only when there's no other way to keep fallen foes down.

Usually, you don't need to do anything to keep fallen foes down. Most opponents do not have access to magical healing, so when a target goes to zero, it's out of the fight. If the enemy does have magical healing, the best solution is to eliminate the source of that healing: Target the cleric. You can also use area attacks to inflict failed death saves without sacrificing actions.
 

This goes for monsters too. But I guess that's off the table.
???

Why is it that "off the table"?

Whether it's efficient for monsters is a different equation though. 99.9% of monsters exist with a 5MWD. They have one combat to shine in, so never need to preserve resources or think about later. On top of that, they usually significantly outnumber the PCs. So you have to work out whether it makes tactical sense for that to heal on that basis.

You can't act as if the same constraints that apply to the PCs apply to them. 5E is in practice an asymmetrical system, but in practice virtually all versions of AD&D/D&D are somewhat asymmetrical so that should be unsurprising.
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.
No, that factor is not missing. If you're choosing to heal when a PC is only lightly damaged, which is what you appear to be describing - healing not when it's necessary but just to "top up" a PC - that's almost certainly a wasteful use of your action. It's a failure of "teamwork and tactics". You know what great teamwork and tactics looks like? It looks a pile of dead monsters.

So yes, I'm assuming the PCs use teamwork and tactics to disable (CC) and kill (HP) the monsters. That's how D&D combat works. If you disagree, please describe the specific mechanisms and actual D&D 5E abilities you're suggesting the "poor tank" should be using to "avoid that successful attack".
1) So does your "focus on killing the enemy," or lack of NPCs doing so, indicate knee-jerk DMing as well?
Why would it? Can you explain? You can't just accuse everyone you disagree with of "knee-jerk DMing". It's a specific critique - and attempting to fix one system without holistically looking at what that impacts is a classic of knee-jerk DMing.

Not every critique applies to every situation. If someone is very forgetful, and you call them a penny-pincher, that's just a nonsense. Equally, you can't just apply "knee-jerk DMing" to every situation.
2) If it's a systemic issue, why are you still playing D&D?
Didn't you ask for civility? I would suggest the hackneyed and ultra-tired cry of "If you criticise D&D at all, you shouldn't be playing it!" to be quite uncivil. A sort of ridiculous gamer equivalent to "If you hate [country of birth of both people involved] so much, why don't you just leave?!?" as a response to any criticism of or desire for improvement in the systems of a country.

And it's particularly bizarre here, because the OP outlined an elegant and efficient house rule that does a good job of addressing the issue. Personally I think every game system has problems, and yoyoing mildly annoys me. But not enough to feel like something needs to be done.
 
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Fanaelialae

Legend
I think it's a good solution. The only potential issue that I can see (and this is obviously only an issue if you play at those levels) are healing spells above 5th level (Heal, Mass Heal, etc). Unlike their lower level counterparts, level 6th+ healing spells already function as effective in-combat healing spells, and I think that having them grant temp HP might be overkill. Of course, if you don't play at those levels, it's not a concern.

Something I've considered doing is having the PC remain unconscious even after they've been brought back above 0 HP. They would need to succeed on one (maybe more) "death saves" in order to regain consciousness. Failures wouldn't result in death, obviously, but would simply leave the character unconscious. It makes sense to me that just because your injuries are reduced, you wouldn't necessarily pop back to your feet immediately. That said, your solution may be better, since it gets the PCs back in the action more quickly, albeit at reduced capacity.
 

RoughCoronet0

Dragon Lover
Improve heal spells to be worth casting before someone goes down. Then they stop hitting zero so often.
That’s sort of how my group handles this. We have Homebrew feats and boons that can increase the healing players do or give them new ways to heal allies.

One feats adds a number of healing dice equal to d6 x casting modifier when casting a healing spell that they can use a number time equal to proficiency bonus.

Another feat gives a Dragonborn the ability to expel healing energy using their breath weapon feature which deals damage to enemies and heals allies for the rolled damage (there is also a magic item that gifts this breath weapon to non-Dragonborns).

Another feat gives the Dhampir’s bite greater healing to themselves and the ability to use hemocraft to convert the blood they drain into healing energy that can then use on a nearby ally.

We also have magic items that allow for cool player synergy that grants healing. One of the players have a Ring of Cold Hands where 2 of the 5 charges can be used to absorb one cold attack that deals damage and heal from it instead. So one of the casters can drop a cold damaging aoe in the player to both help clear threats and heal that player.

Another item is a Siphoning weapon that can do a bit of healing one a turn when the user deals damage with the weapon, or a one per rest feature that heals the user for the full damage of the attack, including additional modifiers and extra damage dice.

We also have a greater variety of healing spells at all levels and subclasses that can specialize in combat and out of combat healing.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
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.

I will say that this has given me something to think about that feels counter-intuitive to my assumption but might have some weight. I have always thought that the players at my table are not that concerned with "losing a turn" by doing something other than doing damage because we tend to have longer combats with a focus on terrain and conditions, but I really have to think about if maybe we have longer combats because they are less afraid to use a turn to do something else, like healing.

Then again, we have pretty brisk combat (despite its length in rounds) with little to no agonizing about what to do each turn either, which is how we like it, but my point being that that also might make them less concerned about the combat efficiency.

Ultimately, I don't think it matters if it is the chicken or the egg because we are enjoying ourselves and don't need a solution to a non-problem, but does inspire me to re-consider cause and effect the next time a perceived problem does arise.
 

Then again, we have pretty brisk combat (despite its length in rounds) with little to no agonizing about what to do each turn either, which is how we like it, but my point being that that also might make them less concerned about the combat efficiency.
Absolutely. My experience with players that are playing without much rules-awareness (again, not a critique!), just using tactics that make sort of in-universe sense (which don't necessarily line up well with the rules in D&D, particularly not in 3.XE, but also not entirely in 5E) are really quick and efficient at making decisions, and don't dither much. They might not be making a highly optimal decision - but they are making a decision, and the game is moving forwards.

So yeah, even if on a per-round effectiveness basis, they're less efficient that another group, it may well be that, on a per-combat basis, less real-world-time is actually taken up by the combat. It may even make some encounters more fun or thrilling because they're really engaging with the fiction, and 5E's rules (particularly prior to MotM and similar improvements in monster design) aren't hugely engaging as a rules-set (hence BG3 adding a lot to them, particularly for martials).

This is actually an interesting angle generally. Kind of wishing I could play that way lol.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Absolutely. My experience with players that are playing without much rules-awareness (again, not a critique!), just using tactics that make sort of in-universe sense (which don't necessarily line up well with the rules in D&D, particularly not in 3.XE, but also not entirely in 5E) are really quick and efficient at making decisions, and don't dither much. They might not be making a highly optimal decision - but they are making a decision, and the game is moving forwards.

So yeah, even if on a per-round effectiveness basis, they're less efficient that another group, it may well be that, on a per-combat basis, less real-world-time is actually taken up by the combat. It may even make some encounters more fun or thrilling because they're really engaging with the fiction, and 5E's rules (particularly prior to MotM and similar improvements in monster design) aren't hugely engaging as a rules-set (hence BG3 adding a lot to them, particularly for martials).

This is actually an interesting angle generally. Kind of wishing I could play that way lol.

This describes my group nearly perfectly, with the caveat that the range of "rules-focus" (for lack of a better term) varies among the players.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Kind of wishing I could play that way lol.
I wanted to add that I am pretty dang familiar with D&D rules but this is still basically how I play but with probably a slightly better than my average player's ability to make the rules and fiction cohere in my mind - just from decades of practice - leading to my so-called "real world based choices" tending to also be tactical in a rulesy way (though not always).
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
Double-tapping is grossly inefficient. Remember that you need three failed death saves to kill, and a single attack can't inflict more than two. So double-tapping everything is costing you two extra attacks per opponent, or three at range. That's a great way to lose a battle you could have won. It's a last resort, to be used only when there's no other way to keep fallen foes down.

Usually, you don't need to do anything to keep fallen foes down. Most opponents do not have access to magical healing, so when a target goes to zero, it's out of the fight. If the enemy does have magical healing, the best solution is to eliminate the source of that healing: Target the cleric. You can also use area attacks to inflict failed death saves without sacrificing actions.
I think you solved your own problem here: double-tapping is grossly inefficient, so use an area attack to do them for you.

I'm curious while you're counting actions here: what's more inefficient, spending two extra actions to finish off a PC, or spending the rest of the fight attacking the same PC that keeps yo-yoing back into action?
 
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