D&D 5E Should healing magic be based on HD or not?

Should healing magic spells be based on HD size?

  • No. This allows different spells to heal different amounts, such as Healing Word's d4.

    Votes: 18 21.4%
  • Mixed. You can have some spells use HD size, but others don't. It doesn't need to be universal.

    Votes: 17 20.2%
  • Mixed. As above, but force a creature healed to spend its HD to benefit from the spell.

    Votes: 15 17.9%
  • Yes. But creatures don't actually spend their HD when healed, it is just based on their HD size.

    Votes: 13 15.5%
  • Yes. As above, but force a creature healed to spend its HD to benefit from the spell.

    Votes: 16 19.0%
  • Other. Please explain in your response.

    Votes: 5 6.0%


Inspired by this thread: D&D 5E - Can Wither and Bloom heal someone who is downed?

I wanted to get a general sense of peoples' views on healing magic and the use of HD.

Magic spells, such as Cure Wounds, heal an amount determined by an arbitrary d8 (based primarily on legacy from prior editions). Newer spells, such as Wither and Bloom, allow a creature to spend its own HD to heal itself in effect. So which approach do you think works better or makes more sense to you?

Points to consider (if anyone has more, let me know and I'll add them, this is what I thought of at 6:30 AM :) ):

1. Basing healing on HD size (whether a creature is forced to spend their own hit die or not) would keep things more proportional. Creatures with more hp due to larger HD sizes would only require the same "amount" of healing as creatures with smaller HD. A 7th-level Fighter and 7th-level Wizard would both require 7 levels of spells (so to say) to be "fully healed".

2. Requiring creatures to spend hit dice would limit the amount of healing they could receive in an adventuring day, and prevent them from spending those HD themselves after a short rest.

3. Healing damage would require fewer spell levels of healing for creatures with larger HD sizes. A 20-hp wound would require maybe 3 spell levels for a creature with d10+2 per hit dice, but nearly 7 spell levels for a d6 only hit die.

So, what do you think?

log in or register to remove this ad


Biological Disaster
I think if you did it on a spectrum it would work well.
The lowest level spells could heal based on a super-low value (d4 + casting stat).
Mid-level spells would spend the target's HD to heal them (HD + casting stat).
High-level spells would heal the target without spending their HD (HD + casting stat).

I'd also take a leaf out of other some other games and make healing spells heal more when out of combat. Maybe the caster can choose to increase casting time to 1 minute to double the healing value.

I say the most extreme option - you should have to spend an HD to get healed by a healing spell, or at the very least, the majority of healing from healing spells should come from triggered HD spending.

For an example of the latter - let's say we had Cure Light Wounds - it heals for [Healer Stat mod]+1d4+Up to 1 triggered HD. So if you don't have an HD to spend or don't want to, you still get some healing, but not a ton. And the healing delivered overall is slightly better than the current model, but that's fine because the max healing/day is a lot lower than with the current scheme.

Also Goodberry can be changed to work well with this - eating a Goodberry allows you to instantly spend 1 HD (probably no CON mod or other stat mod) to heal, does nothing but provide food otherwise. That way it doesn't matter what crazed shenanigans you pull to fill your pockets with Goodberries (believe me, I've been that sweaty Druid, pockets full of juicy berries), they're only going to help so much. Without all the weird schemes or annoying fiddly changes people like to make to Goodberry too. It gives it some limited in-combat utility as well.

I like @BrokenTwin's ideas as well

As an aside, I feel fairly sure the only reason the default in 5E is not based on spending HD is that 5E was having a bit of a panic about being "too modern" late on in playtesting, and that HD-based out-of-combat healing was still "in the balance" up until fairly near design-lock, and by then it wasn't going to make sense to go back and change the healing spells to account for this. Especially as the scythe-owning spectre of modernity hung over proceedings. I don't think the confident 5E of 2021 gives two shakes of a lamb's tail about appearing modern though. Let alone of 2024.

EDIT - Also if you're not a fan of the mechanic I strongly suggest reading up on how Worlds Without Number (which has a free version with all the rules, just not all the classes) does healing. It's slightly too gritty for 5E, but it's the right direction imho.

EDIT - Also right now HD are just this thing that you use to fill in when you don't have sufficient magical healing and they are weird because some parties barely ever did into them much, and others absolutely burn through them, but the parties who burn through them aren't really getting anything from that, it's kind of more of a band-aid than anything else, so I'd like to see them as a more universal resource. I could see changing the number you got a bit.
Last edited:

It's one of the points (yes, plural) that I seriously believe 4E did better.
I like @Ruin Explorer 's idea for Goodberry. But then, I prefer a grittier game than 5E's default direction, and spells spending HD to heal would definitely push it in a grittier direction.
I'm not even like "pro-gritty" all that much, but I'd like more balance on healing (between groups which have access to tons of it, and groups with little or none - right now I feel like if you have certain characters in the party it almost obviates healing/spending HD as an issue entirely, at essentially low/no cost), and for it to be an actual thing you consider.


D&D Playtester for WoTC since 2012
Even though i like 5E healing system, i am not against the idea of having to spend Hit Dice to heal hit points, i would have to playtest the effect on adventuring days and campaign in the long run to have a better idea. 4E used Healing Surge and many powers using those for healing, making non-Healing Surge healing a significant valuable commodity. 5E is a similar yet a different beast so it'd be fun comparable to make, see how it translate in play.

I fear it would make low level 1 even more precarious and fragile though.


If I'm giving you a healing spell, I am giving you some of my power or god's power to heal. That is coming from me/God and not based on you getting the power. If you use a healing die, you use your own reserves to power the healing. This should be based on your hit die. I am not seeing where size matters. If anything, healing should rely on caster level, or the 5e way of amount of power the caster puts into the spell and can bump the spell level to give more power.

I like the wither and bloom spell for a wizard spell to give you the ability to use one of your hit dice, but does not give you HP like a cleric spell would.


Same for potions of healing?

  • Potion of healing: 1 HD+2
  • Potion of Greater Healing: 2 HD+4
  • Potion of Superior Healing 4 HD+8
  • Potion of Supreme Healing 5 HD+20

It's an interesting idea.
Would you think that the potion uses the drinkers hit dice for the day or is it just to get the type of die to roll? I'm just thinking that if someone is out of hit dice and drinks it. I would like the idea of it being free healing and not to force the drinker to use his dice, but in a gritty game- maybe.

See my last post though and I do not see how a priest making a potion can imbue it with knowing who is going to drink it to determine how much power is in it. I also wonder if it would be gamed and the fighter gets all the potions since he can roll a d10, or the barbarian with a d12. Although it might make the potion be used more in combat.


Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
I strongly dislike the idea of expending a target's hit dice when using a healing spell or other healing magic. It's an external source of intervention - it should be based on an external source of power, not the target's internal resources. I didn't like it for 4e healing potions and various powers, I still don't like it.

Basing the amount healed on the target's hit die size is an interesting idea, though. Proportionality was the one thing that 4e's healing did right.


Great Old One
I strongly dislike the idea of expending a target's hit dice when using a healing spell or other healing magic. It's an external source of intervention - it should be based on an external source of power, not the target's internal resources. I didn't like it for 4e healing potions and various powers, I still don't like it.

I think the weakness of 4e was that it only had one type, which basically was the same situation as before, but reversed. 5e, on the other hand, has both, and it gives greater flexibility and possibilities.


Great Old One
The answer is 'Yes. A thousand times yes'.

Non-scaling healing just feeds the weird misunderstanding of HP people continue to carry with them.
It is already scaling per spell level, which is honestly not bad as a solution. The problem about forcing Hit Dice, as mentioned before, is that it creates a single source of healing, internal, rather than having multiple ones, and it prevents the rather nice distinction between healing word and cure wounds, one healing more than the other but the other being ranged and a bonus action.


Great Old One
Let me correct myself: Scaling by the target's HP.

I know what you meant, but natural healing by HD is already working that way, what I'm saying is that it makes is not only poorer (like 4e did) if everything has to use the same resources (i.e. HD), and using the same dices prevents subtleties like different healing spells using different dices because, at the same spell level, they are more or less efficient.

Level Up!

An Advertisement