D&D (2024) How to buff healing, make it reliable and discourage whack-a-mole?

tetrasodium

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Epic
Isn't part of the reason many people seem to have an issue with the idea of "yo-yoing" is that they are combining a narrative state into a mechanical one, and the narrative is what people have the issue with? That it's the idea of PCs "falling unconscious" then "waking up" then "falling unconscious again" then "waking up" again repeatedly that is the issue for a lot of folks? That it narratively just feels weird from a "what's happening in the world" standpoint, even though the mechanics turning "on and off" doesn't really matter?

Mechanically, when your "HP" score reaches 0, the following game mechanics happen to the character (taken from the "Unconscious", "Incapacitated" and "Prone" conditions:
  • Character cannot take Actions or Reactions. ("Incapacitated")
  • Character cannot Move ("Unconscious")
  • Character's only option for movement is to Crawl ("Prone" - but whose rule gets overridden by the "Unconscious" condition)
  • Character has Disadvantage on attack rolls ("Prone" - but whose rule gets overridden by the "Incapacitated" condition)
  • STR and DEX saving throws are automatically failed. ("Unconscious")
  • Attack rolls against the character have Advantage. ("Unconscious")
  • Attack rolls from within 5' of the character have Advantage. ("Prone" - but whose rule gets overridden by the "Unconscious" condition)
  • Attack rolls further than 5' from the character have Disadvantage. ("Prone")
  • Any attack that hits the character from within 5' is automatically a Critical Hit. ("Unconscious")
  • The character drops anything "in hand", is "incapable of speech", and is "unaware of its surroundings" (three narrative rather than mechanical abilities.)
While this is a lot of game mechanics that turn off and on when you go from 0 HP to positive HP... we players usually don't care when mechanics do. For instance when the "Prone" switch is thrown-- which means the character "cannot move except to Crawl or spend have your move value to Stand Up"-- we flip it on and off all the time throughout a combat and no one has an issue. A creature can "fall prone" and then "stand up" every round and it's just part of the mechanical combat-- heck, the new martial weapon abilities are giving the opportunity to throw the "prone" on and off switch more opportunities to be thrown than ever before.

So It seems to me the easiest way to "fix" the issue is to just change the narrative. If we remove the idea that a character "falls unconscious" when they mechanically reach 0 HP and get all those mechanics above turned off... and instead we just define them as being in some other state of being... moving them back and forth from that state of being and turning those mechanics on and off no longer becomes as much of an issue.

So for instance if we just called reaching 0 HP as "having your bell rung", or "stunned" or "overwhelmed" or "out of breath" or any other Thesaurus word you want to use... where narratively the character just has to pause a few moments to try and regain their senses while unable to do anything (can't move, can't act, can't react, doesn't want to speak, drops what it's holding, stops paying attention to what's happening around them)-- the idea of someone shaking them out of it (by giving them healing) but then they possibly return back to that state in a few moments when they lose it (if they go back to 0 HP)-- doesn't feel as weird.

I mean is it really that important that we have a state in the game when a character has completely blacked out? I don't think so. Blacking out is no better or worse a narrative state than just being out of breath or at a loss for words and action (stunned, dazed, the world goes fuzzy, however you wish to define it). So why be beholden to defining 0 HP that way? Just change how we view 0 HP and you don't have to worry about futzing with the mechanics (unless of course you like futzing with the mechanics, in which case have at it!)
People play in a way that combines a narrative state into a mechanical one with good reason. Changing the name & hoping narrative elements will just go away doesn't fix the problem unless You strip narrative elements till combat looks like this:
  • One of the players is sleeping, snoring loudly
  • Another player has his 3ds out playing a game
  • One person is on her phone
  • Another is trying to stay awake & his arms are folded. Head is down, but I know he's sleeping
  • The dm is rolling through all the effects, writing down notes
    • ok this is this. This effect is over. saves against the poison. this last one is still on him. marked condition is down,
    • Todd it's your turn
  • "ach.. "sleeping guy ways up... he's ok .
  • He picks up his dice, he rolls.
  • "14"
  • That's a miss
  • "ok" & he goes back to sleep
I started with transcribing out the full summary of the gamestate at the table because it's the result of a game where a narrative elements are scaled back to such an extreme degree. Even if the table is one of supreme math nerds where that level of mechanical focus is desirable yoyo/wackamole healing crashes into the problem that it makes the whole string of calculations is an entirely pointless endeavor.
 

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DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
People play in a way that combines a narrative state into a mechanical one with good reason. Changing the name & hoping narrative elements will just go away doesn't fix the problem unless You strip narrative elements till combat looks like this:
  • One of the players is sleeping, snoring loudly
  • Another player has his 3ds out playing a game
  • One person is on her phone
  • Another is trying to stay awake & his arms are folded. Head is down, but I know he's sleeping
  • The dm is rolling through all the effects, writing down notes
    • ok this is this. This effect is over. saves against the poison. this last one is still on him. marked condition is down,
    • Todd it's your turn
  • "ach.. "sleeping guy ways up... he's ok .
  • He picks up his dice, he rolls.
  • "14"
  • That's a miss
  • "ok" & he goes back to sleep
I started with transcribing out the full summary of the gamestate at the table because it's the result of a game where a narrative elements are scaled back to such an extreme degree. Even if the table is one of supreme math nerds where that level of mechanical focus is desirable yoyo/wackamole healing crashes into the problem that it makes the whole string of calculations is an entirely pointless endeavor.
This is probably just on me and my comprehension of what you wrote... but I don't know what your "real life" players at the table have to do with the conversation regarding in-game narrative and mechanics? Unless you are suggesting that the game needs a narrative on top of the mechanics just to keep players interested in playing the game? But if that's the case... my suggestion still does that-- it just changes the in-game narrative of "unconscious" to some other in-game narrative state ("stunned", "overwhelmed" or whatever word you want to use.) So there's still a narrative to go along with the mechanics to keep players interested... it's just changed away from someone being constantly knocked out and then woken up repeatedly.

But I guess that perhaps the suggestion I had made in my post does not solve your specific issue of what "yo-yoing" is? I was speaking of more general player assumptions and not addressing any one specific person's problems, so yeah, my post doesn't do you any good. So for you in particular thus maybe that it's not the narrative problem of the in-game characters being knocked out then waking up then getting knocked out again then waking up again throughout a combat that is the issue, but rather the out-of-game idea of players (through their characters) losing their turn (IE going to 0 HP), then having someone give them their turn back (IE "healing" them), then them losing their turn again potentially almost immediately (IE getting knocked down to 0 HP again) and so forth? Because that's all what going to 0 HP is mechanically-- a players loses their turn.

So if that's the issue you're wishing to fix, where indeed it's a mechanical thing where you'd prefer a state that when a character is given their turn back via "healing" they won't lose it again until several potential turns later... then you are absolutely correct, the suggestion I gave won't help that at all. Fair enough! And that indeed a larger "heal" would need to occur when a character is at 0 HP in order to give that player a couple more turns of actions for their character before potentially "losing their turn" again.
 


tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
This is probably just on me and my comprehension of what you wrote... but I don't know what your "real life" players at the table have to do with the conversation regarding in-game narrative and mechanics? Unless you are suggesting that the game needs a narrative on top of the mechanics just to keep players interested in playing the game? But if that's the case... my suggestion still does that-- it just changes the in-game narrative of "unconscious" to some other in-game narrative state ("stunned", "overwhelmed" or whatever word you want to use.) So there's still a narrative to go along with the mechanics to keep players interested... it's just changed away from someone being constantly knocked out and then woken up repeatedly.

But I guess that perhaps the suggestion I had made in my post does not solve your specific issue of what "yo-yoing" is? I was speaking of more general player assumptions and not addressing any one specific person's problems, so yeah, my post doesn't do you any good. So for you in particular thus maybe that it's not the narrative problem of the in-game characters being knocked out then waking up then getting knocked out again then waking up again throughout a combat that is the issue, but rather the out-of-game idea of players (through their characters) losing their turn (IE going to 0 HP), then having someone give them their turn back (IE "healing" them), then them losing their turn again potentially almost immediately (IE getting knocked down to 0 HP again) and so forth? Because that's all what going to 0 HP is mechanically-- a players loses their turn.

So if that's the issue you're wishing to fix, where indeed it's a mechanical thing where you'd prefer a state that when a character is given their turn back via "healing" they won't lose it again until several potential turns later... then you are absolutely correct, the suggestion I gave won't help that at all. Fair enough! And that indeed a larger "heal" would need to occur when a character is at 0 HP in order to give that player a couple more turns of actions for their character before potentially "losing their turn" again.
Why the heck would you write "real life"players? I'm honestly curious what you were trying to distinguish. I don't think I've ever seen someone use that sort of phrasing with air quotes like that & it feels kinda like an effort to imply this sort of thing to someone's players as if a GM finding a group of players who want to play d&d is some highly unusual occurrence.

As to the rest of your post, I both pointed to both a video & took the time to transcribe the relevant bit of example gameplay that aligns with what your earlier comments in post 79 seems to require moving towards as a "solution". You have not made clear what your solution would look like in play because it goes far beyond simply not solving my specific issues & doesn't seem to solve anyone's issue to point out that the GM could simply describe it differently if the term had a different name.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Why the heck would you write "real life"players? I'm honestly curious what you were trying to distinguish.
I wrote that because I honestly wanted to confirm you were talking about the actual players at the table who were needing to "wake up" and such, because to me it seems like a complete out-of-left-field addition to the conversation that I thought I was genuinely missing something. That's all. No biggie. I had no idea why my suggestion would devolve a table of players to completely ignoring the game in the rather exaggerated manner you were illustrating, so I thought perhaps there was something else that I didn't pick up on.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
I wrote that because I honestly wanted to confirm you were talking about the actual players at the table who were needing to "wake up" and such, because to me it seems like a complete out-of-left-field addition to the conversation that I thought I was genuinely missing something. That's all. No biggie. I had no idea why my suggestion would devolve a table of players to completely ignoring the game in the rather exaggerated manner you were illustrating, so I thought perhaps there was something else that I didn't pick up on.
I linked to the video at the relevant timestamp & thought it was clear I was transcribing it by mentioning the act of transcribing just below the spoiler with the transcription.
 

DEFCON 1

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Supporter
I linked to the video at the relevant timestamp & thought it was clear I was transcribing it by mentioning the act of transcribing just below the spoiler with the transcription.
Ah! Completely missed that part. I think my brain has been trained to skip over videos that show up in threads based on the absolute deluge of them that appear on my Facebook and Twitter feeds, so the only thing that hit me were the words you posted and I didn't connect where they came from. My bad.
 

CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
Isn't part of the reason many people seem to have an issue with the idea of "yo-yoing" is that they are combining a narrative state into a mechanical one, and the narrative is what people have the issue with? That it's the idea of PCs "falling unconscious" then "waking up" then "falling unconscious again" then "waking up" again repeatedly that is the issue for a lot of folks? That it narratively just feels weird from a "what's happening in the world" standpoint, even though the mechanics turning "on and off" doesn't really matter?

Mechanically, when your "HP" score reaches 0, the following game mechanics happen to the character (taken from the "Unconscious", "Incapacitated" and "Prone" conditions:
  • Character cannot take Actions or Reactions. ("Incapacitated")
  • Character cannot Move ("Unconscious")
  • Character's only option for movement is to Crawl ("Prone" - but whose rule gets overridden by the "Unconscious" condition)
  • Character has Disadvantage on attack rolls ("Prone" - but whose rule gets overridden by the "Incapacitated" condition)
  • STR and DEX saving throws are automatically failed. ("Unconscious")
  • Attack rolls against the character have Advantage. ("Unconscious")
  • Attack rolls from within 5' of the character have Advantage. ("Prone" - but whose rule gets overridden by the "Unconscious" condition)
  • Attack rolls further than 5' from the character have Disadvantage. ("Prone")
  • Any attack that hits the character from within 5' is automatically a Critical Hit. ("Unconscious")
  • The character drops anything "in hand", is "incapable of speech", and is "unaware of its surroundings" (three narrative rather than mechanical abilities.)
While this is a lot of game mechanics that turn off and on when you go from 0 HP to positive HP... we players usually don't care when mechanics do. For instance when the "Prone" switch is thrown-- which means the character "cannot move except to Crawl or spend have your move value to Stand Up"-- we flip it on and off all the time throughout a combat and no one has an issue. A creature can "fall prone" and then "stand up" every round and it's just part of the mechanical combat-- heck, the new martial weapon abilities are giving the opportunity to throw the "prone" on and off switch more opportunities to be thrown than ever before.

So It seems to me the easiest way to "fix" the issue is to just change the narrative. If we remove the idea that a character "falls unconscious" when they mechanically reach 0 HP and get all those mechanics above turned off... and instead we just define them as being in some other state of being... moving them back and forth from that state of being and turning those mechanics on and off no longer becomes as much of an issue.

So for instance if we just called reaching 0 HP as "having your bell rung", or "stunned" or "overwhelmed" or "out of breath" or any other Thesaurus word you want to use... where narratively the character just has to pause a few moments to try and regain their senses while unable to do anything (can't move, can't act, can't react, doesn't want to speak, drops what it's holding, stops paying attention to what's happening around them)-- the idea of someone shaking them out of it (by giving them healing) but then they possibly return back to that state in a few moments when they lose it (if they go back to 0 HP)-- doesn't feel as weird.

I mean is it really that important that we have a state in the game when a character has completely blacked out? I don't think so. Blacking out is no better or worse a narrative state than just being out of breath or at a loss for words and action (stunned, dazed, the world goes fuzzy, however you wish to define it). So why be beholden to defining 0 HP that way? Just change how we view 0 HP and you don't have to worry about futzing with the mechanics (unless of course you like futzing with the mechanics, in which case have at it!)
it's not even about the flip-flopping from unconciousness to being awake, it's the fact that being at -0 HP represents that that character is dying, that their life may be hanging in the balance by a thread as the fight happens, -and then they're fine again, fighting fit and ready to rumble after recieving just 1HP of healing straight back into the fig-OH GOD they're bleeding out somebody help th-BACK UP AND AT EM! they're all good again.

the back and forth between clinging to their life and fully functional none the worse for wear undermines the fact that that character was in their death throes, and can be five times or more in the same battle and it won't even be commented on or affect their combat capabilities one jot, it is not treated with any of the sort of gravitas that nearly dying should be treated with due to being so frequent and easilly rectified

you're not making death saves when you're merely stunned or unconcious or 'had your bell rung', you're making death saves when you're DYING.
 

DEFCON 1

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Supporter
it's not even about the flip-flopping from unconciousness to being awake, it's the fact that being at -0 HP represents that that character is dying, that their life may be hanging in the balance by a thread as the fight happens, -and then they're fine again, fighting fit and ready to rumble after recieving just 1HP of healing straight back into the fig-OH GOD they're bleeding out somebody help th-BACK UP AND AT EM! they're all good again.

the back and forth between clinging to their life and fully functional none the worse for wear undermines the fact that that character was in their death throes, and can be five times or more in the same battle and it won't even be commented on or affect their combat capabilities one jot, it is not treated with any of the sort of gravitas that nearly dying should be treated with due to being so frequent and easilly rectified

you're not making death saves when you're merely stunned or unconcious or 'had your bell rung', you're making death saves when you're DYING.
I understand your way of thinking here and can appreciate it... but I'll be honest, that sort of narrative-to-mechanics overlap in the "PC is dying" sphere is just one of innumerable places where the whole thing doesn't make any sense. The entire Hit Point system doesn't align mechanically to any sort of cohesive narrative.

I mean if you wish to make the point that going from 0 HP to being healed some amount of HP means narratively you are going from "I'm dying!" to "Up and at 'em, I'm good!"... then I would counter with the entire run of a character going from Full HP to 0 HP is "I'm fine!" "I'm fine!" "I'm fine!" "I'm fine!" "I'm fine!" "Oops, I'm dying!". Mechanically you are perfectly fine with no loss of ability while you have any sort of HP at all, and it's only when you drop under that threshold of 0 HP when suddenly you are now on Death's Door. And there's no logical narrative description we can use for any of that. Two different sections of the rules that both have narrative that misaligns to the mechanics. So to me I would say either be bothered with both parts or neither parts... but only being bothered by one of them but not the other seems illogical.

So at least for me... if the narrative paper we are using to wrap the hit points and death and dying mechanics in is rather flimsy and doesn't do a great job in so many ways over so many parts... at some point it seems easier to just change the paper rather than trying to change the gift the paper is wrapping up? Others might disagree.
 

If converting all healing into hit dice:

Make Cure Wounds heal 2 hit dice per slot level, and Healing Word heal 1 hit dice per spell slot.




Maybe. But using hit dice seems simpler.

The amount of effort to heal a Fighter by 10%, 50%, or 100% − seems like it should be the same as to heal a Wizard by 10%, 50%, or 100%.

Referring to hit dice as the mechanic for healing achieves this proportionality.

Hit dice make more sense narratively, are better for the game engine balance, and are a simple mechanic that everyone is familiar with.
I am against HD as healing surges or cure wounds mechanics.

Requiring the spending of HD completely nerfs the overall healing for the day. A level 3 fighter only has 3 Hit Dice. They can benefit from only 1-3 healing effects (depending on how many HD those effects allow you to spend), and afterwards a short rest does nothing for healing, because they are out of HD.

I can see 2 spells potentially enabling the use of HD.
  1. A Catnap-like spell that lets you take a short rest faster (and therefore spend HD).
  2. I can see Spare the Dying not curing with free healing, but stabilizing and allowing the target to spend only 1 HD to get a little HP and wake up if they have a HD to spare. It makes Spare the Dying worth more than a Medicine check, but it utilizes a limited resource for balance.
 

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