D&D 5E How should 5E handle healing?

Which of the following statements should be true for Healing in 5E?

  • It takes days, if not weeks to regain hit points by resting.

    Votes: 34 33.7%
  • The Heal skill is very effective, but only out of combat.

    Votes: 52 51.5%
  • The Heal skill is effective, even in combat.

    Votes: 28 27.7%
  • Non-spellcasters can grant temporary hp, but not heal in combat.

    Votes: 29 28.7%
  • Divine spellcasters are the best at healing.

    Votes: 67 66.3%
  • No healing spells for arcane casters.

    Votes: 34 33.7%
  • Healer / leader / support classes can be of all flavors, not just divine.

    Votes: 64 63.4%
  • Classes can have self-healing powers, regardless of flavor.

    Votes: 37 36.6%
  • Each character has an ability similar to Second Wind.

    Votes: 59 58.4%
  • 5E should use Healing Surges or a similar mechanic.

    Votes: 38 37.6%
  • Healing potions and similar items should be easy to obtain.

    Votes: 31 30.7%
  • None of the above / special snowflake.

    Votes: 7 6.9%

  • Poll closed .


Healing is one of those areas where previous editions differ a lot. Originally, it was the domain of the cleric, but then things slowly evolved into the model we have in 4E. Which route should 5E go? It's hard to create a single answer, so I chose a few corner stones and made a poll that allows multiple answers.

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First Post
IIRC, Healing Surges were a dealbreaker to a lot of people when 4e launched, but I like them. IMO, the balance they introduced in the game excells most complains I've heard/read.
I'd like them to come back in a way or another, but with a different name attached.


First Post
The best thing about 4E was that it got rid of the 15 minute adventuring day in most cases. That had been a problem going back to 1E days. I can now throw 4-5-6 combats as the players as long as they have healing surges, encounter powers and action points. My previous edition campaigns were about 1 big encounter per day going back to the late 70s.

However, I thought healing surges were poorly named and granted too many hit points back to players. It's not just 25% of hit points, it's also whatever bonus the healer has to give as well. So, it's often 25%+2d6+5 or similar.

Additionally, I think it should be tougher to get hit points back out of combat. If you're the 5E equivalent of bloodied, then you need to spend X time after the combat recovering. If you drop to 0 or below, you need to rest for Y days minus your CON modifier (so, a beefy fighter with a 20 CON would need 2 days of rest, while a scrawny squishy with a 10 CON would need the full 7)


First Post
Some of the options are good, but I'd like to add a special snowflake: in combat healing is rare.

I don't really like temporary hit points as a mechanic either. The barbarian type extra hp that's lost (so that damage total stays the same) is better in my opinion. Losing only temporary hit points means that you don't actually take a hit, so AC boost would be simpler, if it can have an equivalent effect.

Other non-healing "support" things characters could do include: AC bonus (lower damage taken), attack bonus (enemies go down quicker) and summoning (meat shields). The first two are fine for non-spellcasters through morale bonus, circumstance bonus from aiding, etc.

Even simply moving a character to safety should be an easier option - dragging your wounded comrade to safety while others cover the retreat is a much more common trope than any kind of in combat healing.


I cant imagine playing D&D without the ability to Second Wind. It just enables another good strategic trick for PCs to have up their sleeve and it is fun!

It also easily enables a wide range of play styles and martial campaigns/low magic campaign/no clerics etc.

I also like healing surges (but maybe another name and/or not just 25% of hp) or some mechanic that makes hp a strategic resource and not just a number than goes up and own without any consequence (unless it goes below 0:p)


First Post
I hope the rules at least clearly differentiate between lethal wounds and the other aspects of hit points (subdual damage, vitality, the ability to ward off blows, whatever).

The basic way of healing of real lethal damage should be through divine magic, which is a classic trope of D&D. Nondivine healing should be rare and limited, like the bard's. The Heal skill should become more useful and dynamic and clerical magic less useful in healing, but it should not make wounds disappear during combat.

On a broader level, damage should be meaningful and healing should take time, although there should be softer ways of playing for those who need them.

As to healing surges, healing "powers" for all classes, nondivine healing classes, and the like, these things deserve only one word on their inclusion in a D&D game: no.


I really like the Healing Surge VALUE but not the Healing Surges, because I dislike daily restrictions (hard to balance as a GM, it depends too much on the adventure itself).

Having a healing-value that is depended on the max HP Stat is very important because in older Editions you always take longer to heal, the more HP you have (so higher Con=longer Healing time). So the ones that have to take the most hits for the group (fighters) take far longer to heal even though they need it the most.


It takes days, if not weeks to regain hit points by resting. Rest should take a long time to heal hit point damage

The Heal skill is very effective, but only out of combat.
Mundane medical skill has even street related already that in combat healing would be impossible

The Heal skill is effective, even in combat.
No. Unless you are a deity, you can't perform surgery while stitching up cuts.

Non-spellcasters can grant temporary hp, but not heal in combat.
This is how I prefer them to do the warlord. The warlord keep his allies going with a bloodpumping speech that gain a surge of adrenaline. Once the battle is done, they can stitch up cuts to heal real damage

Divine spellcasters are the best at healing.

No healing spells for arcane casters.

Healer / leader / support classes can be of all flavors, not just divine.
Yes. They are different flavors AND heal differently. Warlords grant THPs and heal injuries after combat. Bards grant Those through songs or Ups through magic. Druids heal like clerics but to a lesser effect or use their specialty of HP regeneration.

Classes can have self-healing powers, regardless of flavor. Each character has an ability similar to Second Wind.

No. Although I DO want this. It is a dealbreaker to to many to be core. Make it a Module.
5E should use Healing Surges or a similar mechanic.

Like but dealbreaker to too many. Module.

Healing potions and similar items should be easy to obtain.

No. Just no. If the DM was to help out his healerless party, Fine. But Not In Core.

Although I have no problem with potions needed mundane ingredients so a rogue or fighter can take an alchemist theme and make a dozen potions while in town.


Steeliest of the dragons
This is another place for 5e to shine with options that may or may not be included in the game at a group or DM's discretion.

I believe clerics (at least those of beneficent gods) should remain the best, default "healers."

Druids and Bards can use "healing magic" but not as much/as well as a cleric. I'm fine with that.

Paladins' "laying hands" healing is pretty "iconic"/original to the class. So I'd make sure that stayed in.

Necromancers would be the only "Arcane" type I would consider allowing healing...and/but that, only by "draining off the life energy" of some other creature...even if it is themselves...or a tree...or something.

But anyone should be able to take a "healing" skill or "field medic" proficiency or (to use the coalescing 5e vernacular) "Theme" or something to that effect. Everyone should be able (with the appropriate skill/theme) to aid companions, in or out of combat.

If I don't have an enemy barreling down on me, I should be able to forego attacking to staunch the bleeding of my fallen ally. Or as we used to do it, halt the descent into neg's before you got to -10/dead. Not necessarily "add" HP, but at least halt or slow "loosing" HP...and/or only add 1/improve natural healing very minimally.

A "Healing Surge" by any other name twould work much better. A "Second Wind" or "Temporary HPs in combat" or something for those who like the "inspiring" support kind of classes...or even certain other classes (Barbarians being able to "boost" their own HP in their rage, or some such...improve their natural healing/heal faster?) would work fine. But not "POOF! You [anybody of any class] have 10 HP permanently back!"

Healing potions should be available...what "easily" means, I'm not sure. But going into the Temple of the Goddess of Healing should, yes, have potions or Scrolls of "Cure Light" for sale...er...I mean..."donation"...(higher level curatives would probably be kept in the temple vaults, for the faithful only, or not scribed into scrolls at all to maintain the priests' position of importance).

...or the best Herbalist or Alchemist in the land? Sure. Healing potions should be available in a number of ways...and, I would add, with varying effectiveness (dice rolls to determine how many HP you get back. I'd even allow, like, d4, d6, d10...hell, every "d" if you wanted, different types of healing potions.)

"Cure Light Wounds" wands on every street corner ought to be a thing of the past. Crafting their own? Ok...when/if they get really "high" (I'd say, 10+) level...if magic item crafting is part of the game at all.

Finding/discovering a "long lost Staff of Healing" that does all kindsa curative things (with limited uses/charges, of course)? Definitely. Items that allow regeneration, or protect from poison, or what have you. Yes, but really rare...as magic items of any kind ought to be in general.



I think the most important element for me is that healing scales with base hit points.

It would also nice if all characters had some kind of ability to restore hit points (it makes solo games more viable), but it's not essential. It does not necessarily have to be "healing" either - having vigor points that are functionally equivalent to hit points and are quickly restored (say, with a short rest), used alongside actual hit points which are only restored through magic or days of rest would also be fine. You could even have both options, split up among thematic or class lines - martial characters and barbarians get vigor points, druids, divine and psionic characters get self healing (primal vigor, cure personal wounds, cell adjustment, etc.)

Everything else can be modular. I know what I like and what I don't like, but my tastes aren't universal, and it would be quite selfish of me to deny others options which they would want in their games just because I don't want them in mine.


First Post
Some of the options are good, but I'd like to add a special snowflake: in combat healing is rare.


The more I think about it, the more convinced I become that combat needs to be balanced around the idea that no healing will happen until after the fight. That maximizes the ability of the DM to decide how he wants to handle things in his/her campaign.

If healing actions in combat had a hit point/action rate that approximated the damage/action rate of the players (or maybe the damage/action rate of the monsters?) then theoretically adding healing would not affect balance seriously.

true healing should be in the hands of divine casters or those who have access to the healing skill.

Healing spells should mainly take some time and mainly be used out of combat.

There shouldbe a second wind however and there should be plenty of options to trigger it. Also there should be quite a few possibilities to grant temporary hp.

Necromancy spells though arcane should be able to grant healing, but in a twisted and gloomy way. And a lot higher in level than divine healing. So I voted no arcane true healing spells.

Healing surges are not mandatory, but second wind and healing surges could be combined.
The character sheet should have 4 conditions on the HP bar: healthy, bloodied (1/2 hp), injured (1/4 hp), unconsciuos.
Spells can restore hp equal to bloodied or injured value.
Poison can only affect bloodied targets (you remain bloodied if you are healed by a non divine spell, even if your hp rise above that level again). Injured targets have a wound that needs healing after the combat.

Or something like this.


This is actually one of those areas that really needs a big section of options.

Personally, I've always conceptually liked the feel of healing that trades lethal damage for non-lethal damage, or for CON drain that recovers over weeks. Partly, that comes from the early chapters of The Eye of the World, which has some of the best displays of believable, but awesome, adventuring magic ever written in a novel.

For similar reasons, I'd love to see the "wizards can't heal" trope die in a fire. One of the things I loved about my 3e-era Midnight games was the way spellcasting worked. Often, the spellcaster had to choose between using their spell energy on battle and utility magic, and having it available for healing. It made for an interesting "balance." If the channelers went crazy with the combat spells, they might not have enough left to heal someone when the combat was over.

Clerics (and druids) have been given big-damage evocations along with their healing spells, granted powers, AND the ability to wear armor and fight effectively. So clearly, the lack of wizard healing isn't a "balance" issue. So is it just a "trope of D&D" thing?


First Post
I think that out-of-combat healing should be able to be done by any class, though different classes may do it in different ways. Rangers/Druids should be masters of herblore healing, while fighters/rogues/wizards/etc can always purchase healing potions. All classes should have an option to get healing skill that allows them to recover a few HPs after every battle, or help stabilize a dying character. Clerics should be the main guys to do in-battle curing; that's their niche.

A party can thus survive just fine without clerics. Out of battle, a cleric doesn't really heal any better than any other class, since the cleric still wants to preserve his finite magic supply for in-battle emergencies.

In-battle, a cleric's healing ability should not outstrip offensive techniques in terms of hps per turn. In other words, a cleric should not be able to heal allies for more HP/turn than other characters can dish out as damage/turn. However, a cleric's healing is still a valuable thing to have for those cases where the monsters get lucky and unexpectedly severely crit a PC, or the PCs make a mistake and allow someone to be isolated. In these cases, the cleric's in-battle-healing mitigates against a sort of D&D form of 'gambler's ruin'. His healing is rarely the most optimal choice in a battle, but when things go haywire, it suddenly becomes a wonderful thing to have.

Thus the cleric serves a useful role without becoming absolutely necessary for someone to bite the bullet and play the cleric even though nobody really wants to.


First Post
I don't really know what to vote here, but I poked some buttons anyway, based more on concept than actual agreement with the poll choice... This poll seems to make the assumption that hit points are your "health bar". I don't see it that way. I see it as just another defense, whether it be, luck, skill, or resilience.

D&D does not have a wounds system. And while I like wound systems, I'm not in favor of adding the complexity of a wound system to D&D as a core rule. Maybe it could be one of those optional rules. And with such a rule set, sure, wounds could take days to heal, require magic to heal faster, make healing skill more useful out of combat, and all that good stuff.


Steeliest of the dragons
This is curious...just to recap for those not paying attention...

Those responses that have over 30...that's over 50% of respondents think/want the following:

The Healing Skill is very effective, but only out of combat. (53.73% of respondants)

But believe...by far

Divine casters are the best at healing.

Far and away with nearly 75% of the responses.

AND think...

Healer / leader / support classes can be of all flavors, not just divine.


Each character has an ability similar to Second Wind. (almost exactly the equivalent to the percentage of people that want the Healing Skill to be very effective out of combat.)

Nice mash up of "old school" and "new school" tastes there.

If they follow that, I think everyone can be happy.


BIG WORDS at the start of the Hit Points section:

Hit points represent your vigor to avoid actual wounds.

When an attack deals hit point damage, if you still have HP afterward that attack only grazed you, or it caused pain that can be overcome. When an attack reduces your HP to 0, it knocks you down and leaves you unable to keep fighting. You're disabled until you either regain hit points or you die. While disabled, you can take no actions but you are aware of your surroundings.

You cannot have negative hit points. When you're out of HP, further damage becomes critical damage. If you have any critical damage, you're wounded. If you have critical damage greater than one-quarter your normal maximum HP, you're severely wounded. Once you take more damage than half your maximum HP, you die.

Getting Back on Your Feet
Various effects can let you can regain HP, up to your original maximum. Most often this represents you getting your second wind and rallying your strength, or an ally inspiring you to keep fighting. Sometimes these are spells that physically heal minor injuries or infuse you with vigor. Once you have any HP you are no longer disabled.

When you take a short rest (5 minutes) you regain all your HP. When you take an extended rest, reduce your critical damage to 0. However, this does not remove the wounded or severely wounded conditions. Those have to heal on their own.

When you are wounded, you take a -2 penalty to all d20 rolls and you grant combat advantage. While severely wounded, you take a -5 penalty to all d20 rolls, you grant combat advantage, and you can only take one action per turn.

If left to natural healing, make a DC xx {{Endurance/Constitution/whatever}} check each day to remove the wounded condition, or a DC yy check each week to remove the severely wounded condition.

The Heal skill can let an ally treat your wounds so you heal faster. Some magical effects can remove the wounded condition in just a few moments, or reduce the severely wounded condition to just wounded. The availability of magical healing depends on your setting. Classic D&D makes healing plentiful. Low Fantasy D&D requires long rituals to heal wounds. Grim D&D has no magical healing.

Optional Rule - No Wounds
Some gamers prefer simpler rules. You still die when your critical damage is equal to half your normal maximum HP, but you never become wounded.

Optional Rule - Gruesome Wounds
When a critical hit causes you to become wounded, make a save (DC xx). If you fail, you suffer a gruesome wound appropriate to the attack. These wounds should be something that won't end your adventuring career. You might lose a hand or an eye, but not a whole limb.

If the crit caused you to become severely wounded, the wound should be even more gruesome, of the sort that renders you almost incapable of adventuring unless you can receive magical healing.
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First Post
Good questions.

I have never had a problem with clerics healing during combat, but I have had a MASSIVE issue with clerics being obligated to give up spells during resting. I like that you had the option for the healing skill to be effective out of combat....Thats the ticket!

Edit : Im surprised by the number of people that voted for "It takes days, if not weeks to regain hit points by resting"...that what turns the cleric into a healbot and makes no-one want to play it.
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Jeff Carlsen

How healing works and how damage works are intrinsically tied. Before discussing either, we must first determine what we want the mechanics to represent.

I want characters who can be injured, and I want injuries to take a long time to heal, but I don't want characters getting injured in every combat.

I want a small amount of penalty to actions based on pain, fatigue, and injury, but I want it limited and easy to track. It should avoid the death spiral while still having a meaningful mechanical effect.

I want rage, inspiration, and fear for their children to temporarily grant characters the ability to fight well despite pain and injury, and to fight better when they're healthy.

I want divine magic (positive energy) , and only divine magic, to be able to quickly heal small cuts, burns, and bruises during combat. It should heal damage at a consistent rate that scales with level.

I also want divine magic to be able to accelerate recovery from more serious injuries, but only very powerful magic should have an injured character fully recovered in a day.

I want there to be a limitation to how much magical healing a body can take without side-effects, but I want that healing to be readily available in combat even without a cleric, preferably in the form of single use items such as potions.

The Mechanics

Here is an idea of how it could work. Keep in mind that the numbers chosen are meant to represent the idea, so consider them malleable. Playtesting would be required to hammer everything out.

Effects of Damage: I see there being two health related conditions, Bloodied and Wounded. Bloodied occurs when you're down half your hit points. Wounded occurs (by default), when you reach 0 hit points in addition to whatever the death and dying rules happen to be. Both impose a -2 Wound Penalty on the character, but wound penalties don't stack to prevent a death spiral. This incentivizes characters to never let each other drop to zero hit points.

Cure Spells:
The Cure spells heal hit points, and can remove the Bloodied condition, but they can never heal the wounded condition. Only long term healing can do that. Say, four weeks without strain to heal naturally, half that if you have magical help. Powerful rituals or spells might cut it down further.

Each cure spell simply heals a percentage of your total HP, such as:

Cure Light Wounds: 25%
Cure Moderate Wounds: 50%
Cure Serious Wounds: 75%
Cure Critical Wounds: 100%

Limited Healing: If a character receives a total amount of healing in a single day that is more than 100% of his or her total hit points, they are sickened for the rest of that day. Penalties from being sickened do stack with the bloodied or wounded conditions. Thus, you can heal characters as much as you want, but there is a consequence.

Adrenaline Surge: Some conditions, such as Barbarian Rage, bardic music, an invigorating speech, or even a dramatically appropriate sense of desperation, cause a surge of adrenaline that allows a character to ignore pain and injury and fight with great conviction. How long this lasts depends on what triggered it, but the effects are the same. The character ignores all wound penalties and receives a +2 to all attacks. They also gain temporary hit points equal to 50% of their total.

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