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D&D 5E Proposed Fix for Whack-a-Mole Healing

Horwath

Hero
Return negative HPs.

You die at negative con score.

Any character/moster can as a part of move over you step on your neck for auto critical unarmed damage(usualy for 2+str mod) and give 2 fail death saves.

After you have been knocked down to negative HP, your max HP is lowered by amount eqaual to lowest negative HP you have been knocked down(minimum 1 max HP) until you finish a short rest.
I.E. a 27HP character with 16 con gets knocked down to -15 HP, his max HPs are now 12 until he finishes a short rest.
 

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What we do is:

* Whenever you drop to 0, or if you take damage while already at 0, you gain a level of exhaustion.
* While at 0, you remain conscious but act as if you have two temporary levels of exhaustion. If you heal above 0, these two levels go away, but other levels remain.
* While at 0, you still make death saves, and a failed save causes you to gain a level of exhaustion.
* You still die at 6 levels of exhaustion.
* Instead of making a death save on your turn, you may choose to fall unconscious and stabilize. However, if left untended, you must make another death save after ten minutes, which might kill you.
* You heal a level of exhaustion with a long rest.

PCs are way more cautious about charging into battle.
 

Onussen

First Post
Several Ideas.

1-Perhaps a "recovery" process from unconscious (and prone) to stunned (and prone) when the PC goes above 0 hit points, then to "dazed" (and possibly confused ;) )-- meaning all actions at a disadvantage-- and finally, to normal? This seems a simple enough way to resolve things. roll a d4 to determine how many rounds the PC is stunned, and another d4 to see how long they are "dazed". Or assign how long the conditions last. Or require Con saving throws to shake the conditions.

2-Give 1 level of exhaustion for going down, each time they go down, and another level for each death saving throw they roll, regardless of the outcome of the roll. If they make 2 and fail 3 after going down once, they'll get 6 levels of exhaustion, which means death, but 3 failed saves means death anyway. Nice how that comes together. The death saving throws will be at a disadvantage when they have 3 levels of exhaustion. (as per the exhaustion rules. Nasty.)

3- A combination of the above. :devil:

Dazed is not an *official* condition, but it seems a convenient one to have.
 
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Raith5

Adventurer
My group never does this, we try out best to keep players up and running rather than letting PCs hit 0 hit points and then popping them back up with a spell.

As others have mentioned, having the players get finished off if they are down (melee attack on a downed character is a crit which is an automatic 2 failures on those death saves) will lead to players doing their best to keep alive.

I also dont get the strategy - why lose an action & be made prone for some extra hp? I have not seen this in 5e or even 4e.

If anything I think this may a problem of insufficient healing amounts and maybe too few healing options in 5e - so healing scarcity may make this a tactic. But rather than punishing people who get knocked in the name of "realism" maybe amp up the healing for concscious PCs by a small amount?
 

discosoc

First Post
... rather than try to heal damage as it occurs to prevent a party member from dropping, they will wait to use healing word or a potion until after a PC has fallen.

To be fair, this isn't really an issue with waiting to heal people until after they've dropped. It's entirely an issue with 5e not providing proper healing spells that can outpace damage. Like, what's the point of running into melee and healing someone for a 3d8 boosted Cure Wounds when the enemy is probably doing at least that in damage each round?

I get that 5e would rather have players doing something offensive than just healing to win through attrition, but the end result is healing *is* kind of useless in almost all cases while in combat. Every once in a while I'll see a clutch heal where a cleric does something like a 6th level Cure Wounds, but even that (very high level) seems pretty bad considering the slot level used.

I've got ideas to fix it, but they mostly come down to reworking the Cure Wounds spell to have a similar mechanic as the SCAG blade spells; if you attack as part of the spell casting, it has a nice secondary effect like healing for some extra or granting temp hp or resistance to the next source of damage taken, etc.. Basically something that not only provides some healing, but also a defensive buff and an offensive component that keeps the caster in the fight.
 

Waterbizkit

Explorer
Lots of good suggestions here already so I'll try to just quickly rehash what I do. First thing is first, attack downed characters. One measly attack takes a downed character from three death saves down to just one, now they're looking at a single roll to decide their fate. And if the enemies have multi-attack... well... that's just going to be outright butchery. Often times this fear alone will ensure your players keep each other on their feet.

After this my next defence is simply not letting failed death saves reset until a short rest can be taken. Or get even nastier and require a HD to be spent to remove the failed death saves, but without regaining any HP. This forces the party to stop and consider their situation and their available resources. Some might dislike this sort of added attrition because it can encourage shorter adventuring days, but I don't typically have this issue because my players realize that I run my game worlds as places that keep moving along with or without the characters, so sometimes pushing on, even with depleted resources, can be the lesser of two evils.

All of that said, I've never had to actually fall back on the second option, simply attacking downed characters (when it makes sense of course) has been more than enough to make my players realize that being dropped in the middle of a battle is not a good place to be.
 

CydKnight

Explorer
I'm not sure what the issue seems to be other than some people just don't like this. For me there is no issue and there is no "fixing" required. Adding a label, "Whack-A-Mole", simply gives additional validation or drama to the idea that there is something wrong with this. To me the way it works is quite plausible. While it may be annoying to a DM, I am fairly certain most players will feel differently if the alternative would be a greater chance of outright character death.

The beauty of the game is that you can House Rule it anyway you see fit for your game.
 

R P Davis

Explorer
Each character receives an experience point bonus equal to the average party level x 100 if no character was dying during the session.

Another thing to consider is, I've had two character deaths happen due to my creatures attacking while they are down- once my players realized that particular move wasn't a taboo, they tend to scramble to keep people up, or get them up quickly.

Carrot and stick. Problem solved.

I only use the stick, personally. My players know that I play their foes with as much creativity and will to win as they play the PCs.

Remember that hitting an unconscious person is automatically a crit, and crits count as two failed death saves.

That's the thing I had to play through a couple of times to register it in my players' collective memory. ;) That single d20 roll deciding their fate was a powerful motivator.

A character who is at 0 HP and receives healing gains the applicable hit points, but also the Stunned condition for one round.

This I do not like.

A healing spell to a PC with 0 HP gives them a single hit point. They wake up, but that's it. Only a PC with 1 or more hit points can regain HP at normal rates through magic, hit dice, or rest.

This I like better. A PC with 1HP can stand and Disengage, heroically avoiding being squished to paste. It gives them at least a chance to escape, where being stunned for a round might as well be a failed death save.

Simply remove the healing word spell. It is a spell issue from 4 ed, not In line with realistic old school setting. Cure wound has to be adjacent and have a free hand. A classic feeling of healing.

I like this best of all. Maybe rule that only pure, pacifist Life Domain clerics can have access to healing word. I dunno. Healing word seems an amped-up version of the cure minor wounds cantrip in Next.

I'd rather just double-crit than restrict spell choices. I think. I don't really know. Thanks for making me think! :D

Bob

www.r-p-davis.com
 

Kalshane

First Post
I haven't really encountered this as a player or a DM. Players want to try to keep their allies up because spending your turn rolling death saves while you're unconscious sucks.

As a DM I also inform my players that enemies will behave according to their nature. That means sometimes striking a downed PC, sometimes dragging an unconscious PC away to eat them and sometimes ignoring them in favor of active threats.

The DM in the game I'm currently playing in has changed the Instant Death Threshold to Half Max HP past zero instead of Max, but that's simply because he thinks it's too difficult to kill characters in general, not because we're using the Dying rules as a damage sink.

I definitely wouldn't remove Healing Word. It allows healers to do their job while still potentially doing fun stuff with their turn.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
A rule that applies to a lot more then just RPGs is that you need to understand a rule before you can break it.

Why is the "heal from zero" / whack-a-mole rule in the game?

Once you know that, you can determine if you don't like why it's there and change it.

My personal though is such:
Combat takes up a lot of time by wall clock, perhaps more then any other single activity over time. The designers are aware of this, making sure that while other pillars fo the game may be suitably serviced by a subset of the party, every character can have a meaningful role in combat. So then, if a rule has been introcluded and kept to allow bringing characters back quickly, as least partially it's to keep the players involved. There is so many rolls in combat that a run of luck can drop anyone, and then they are bored. It also has a cascading effect where an encounter planed for a group of X is suddenly dealing with a smaller group that has an unexpected hole in it's capabilities.

So ... bringing characters back from unconsciousness for "normal" combats is a factor of (a) helping to keep players from being bored, and (b) stopping encounters from running away and killing a lot/all of the characters when not intended.

I'm not saying this is correct - this is my opinion of why the rule is there. Heal-from-zero was introduced in 4e and with so many things they didn't keep, keeping this I feel was absolutely intentional, and that's my guess at why.

So: the large number of rolls in combat make it that characters can go down with a run of luck through no fault of their own, and this is there to help balance it so players aren't bored. Seems a reasonable goal for me. Balancing it against other reasonable goals like increased verisimilitude or admonishments against dropping are fine - find a balance for your table. At my table, consider how much my risk-adverse players already overthink, I'm happy with the default balance.
 

To be fair, this isn't really an issue with waiting to heal people until after they've dropped. It's entirely an issue with 5e not providing proper healing spells that can outpace damage. Like, what's the point of running into melee and healing someone for a 3d8 boosted Cure Wounds when the enemy is probably doing at least that in damage each round?
That's an interesting theory, but it doesn't really get at the underlying problem, which is abundant out-of-combat healing.

This edition is (nominally) based around the theory of attrition, where you're supposed to get worn down over the course of six fights, so that not every fight needs to be a battle-to-the-death in order for it to matter. Except, due to the excessive availability of out-of-combat healing (hit dice and resting, in particular), that doesn't really hold up in practice. You never really go into a fight with low HP, even near the end of the day. And the response to that is for the party to conveniently face much tougher monsters, who are capable of eating through your overly-generous HP allotment in a single encounter, because any encounter that can't potentially kill someone has zero consequences.

If you get rid of hit dice, and you slow down natural healing to a reasonable rate, then you don't need to fight monsters that can deal damage faster than you can possibly heal it. You can go ahead and fight a monster that only does ~20 damage per round, even if you can Cure for ~30 with a single spell, because healing-per-round would no longer be the limiting factor in over-all survival.
 

Lanliss

Explorer
Has anyone else noticed that a lot of people on here (The 5E forum in general) tend to shut down any house rule ideas? Seems like any thread that starts with "I had a problem, here is how I fixed it" gets responses along the lines of "No, it's fine. Just do it by RAW."

On topic, I like the resistance to healing thing, and the DC. I might pull this in on my game.
 

Has anyone else noticed that a lot of people on here (The 5E forum in general) tend to shut down any house rule ideas? Seems like any thread that starts with "I had a problem, here is how I fixed it" gets responses along the lines of "No, it's fine. Just do it by RAW."
I have noticed more of that recently, but I still see more people who agree when there is a problem and disagree about how to fix it.
 

Lanliss

Explorer
I have noticed more of that recently, but I still see more people who agree when there is a problem and disagree about how to fix it.

Disagreeing on how to fix a problem is great, it encourages different thought, rather than stagnation. The only time a disagreement is bad is when one side chooses to be a dick about it. Even the people saying to just follow RAW aren't being dicks, I just find it odd that some people seem to push against other peoples house rules, which will never in any way affect them. Sometimes it looks helpful, and seems like they are genuinely offering a better understanding than the OP, to help them understand what the RAI was, but so often they simply respond with "Your problem isn't a problem, don't change anything."
 

Cyrinishad

Explorer
Disagreeing on how to fix a problem is great, it encourages different thought, rather than stagnation. The only time a disagreement is bad is when one side chooses to be a dick about it. Even the people saying to just follow RAW aren't being dicks, I just find it odd that some people seem to push against other peoples house rules, which will never in any way affect them. Sometimes it looks helpful, and seems like they are genuinely offering a better understanding than the OP, to help them understand what the RAI was, but so often they simply respond with "Your problem isn't a problem, don't change anything."

I tend to see people's suggestions against house-rules as attempting to help people realize that there are strategies or rules already built-in that address the issue that they may simply have missed or overlooked... That's all. On this topic, I am similarly of the perception that the perceived problem of "whack-a-mole" is non-issue. The PCs are penalized by Action & Movement economy if they drop to zero, as well as the "Kick 'em when they're down" strategy that every Kobold or Goblin child would have been thoroughly schooled in by their parents. Advice to all DMs: Make your Monsters monstrously merciless...
 

Caliban

Rules Monkey
Hasn't really been an issue for me in any games I've played in. We consider any PC who is down to be one round away from death (because rolling a 1 on a death save causes 2 failures, or monsters may attack downed PC's, causing automatic failures).

Thus we try to a) prevent people from going down and b) get them up as soon as possible.
 

discosoc

First Post
That's an interesting theory, but it doesn't really get at the underlying problem, which is abundant out-of-combat healing.

This edition is (nominally) based around the theory of attrition, where you're supposed to get worn down over the course of six fights, so that not every fight needs to be a battle-to-the-death in order for it to matter. Except, due to the excessive availability of out-of-combat healing (hit dice and resting, in particular), that doesn't really hold up in practice. You never really go into a fight with low HP, even near the end of the day. And the response to that is for the party to conveniently face much tougher monsters, who are capable of eating through your overly-generous HP allotment in a single encounter, because any encounter that can't potentially kill someone has zero consequences.

If you get rid of hit dice, and you slow down natural healing to a reasonable rate, then you don't need to fight monsters that can deal damage faster than you can possibly heal it. You can go ahead and fight a monster that only does ~20 damage per round, even if you can Cure for ~30 with a single spell, because healing-per-round would no longer be the limiting factor in over-all survival.

That makes a lot of sense, and you bring up a good point about the out of combat healing resulting in groups fighting bigger and badder monsters. Another thing that works towards that end is how not all groups even get through 6 encounters per long rest. Many games will have 1 or 2 fights and then some overland travel or something, so if the DM doesn't beef up his monsters, there's very little challenge anyway.
 

cbwjm

Hero
I tend to see people's suggestions against house-rules as attempting to help people realize that there are strategies or rules already built-in that address the issue that they may simply have missed or overlooked... That's all. On this topic, I am similarly of the perception that the perceived problem of "whack-a-mole" is non-issue. The PCs are penalized by Action & Movement economy if they drop to zero, as well as the "Kick 'em when they're down" strategy that every Kobold or Goblin child would have been thoroughly schooled in by their parents. Advice to all DMs: Make your Monsters monstrously merciless...

I was watching a Matt Colville video where he was telling viewers of a game run by his friend's brother. Matt's wizard went down and, thinking he'd be able to be saved later, he was surprised when the earth elemental stepped on his wizard's head. Things like this are the biggest incentive against dropping to 0 hit points. In our own games, a helmed horror attacked one of the player's when he was at 0 hit points. The downed PC failed his next death save and was properly dead. DM was new, he felt a little bad about that.
 

nswanson27

First Post
I tend to see people's suggestions against house-rules as attempting to help people realize that there are strategies or rules already built-in that address the issue that they may simply have missed or overlooked... That's all. On this topic, I am similarly of the perception that the perceived problem of "whack-a-mole" is non-issue. The PCs are penalized by Action & Movement economy if they drop to zero, as well as the "Kick 'em when they're down" strategy that every Kobold or Goblin child would have been thoroughly schooled in by their parents. Advice to all DMs: Make your Monsters monstrously merciless...

To be fair, I think some of the pushback is due to the implied objectiveness of the "problem" the OP of a thread brings up (not meaning to pick on this one, but it is an example). Namely, rather than saying "I don't like whack-a-mole healing, help me with a fix" vs. this thread's title. Again, not to try to pick on the OP, but people do pick up on when people assert their opinions as fact, and call that out.
 

Inchoroi

Adventurer
Here's what I do:

1. Death saves failures do not go away until a character takes a long rest.

2. A character does not regain their hit points after a long rest. Instead, they can spend any hit dice they have remaining to heal after they take a long rest, and then regain half their remaining hit dice back, minimum 1.

Makes for a very old-school feel to the game.
 

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