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%

HammerMan

Legend
I was critical of how healing worked as an 8 year old in 1981. So, I started experimenting.
me too at 14 about 10 years later... the closest I have liked was when I combined 3.5 (well star wars D20) wounds and vitality with a penalty for going into vitality with 4e healing surges and even then I was like "I give up for it to work it is too complex"
 

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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Definitely prefer most healing to require the target to expend a hit die. I don’t really care if the amount healed is based on the hit die size or not, the point is to put a cap on the amount of healing each creature can receive per day, making HP an encounter resource while HD remain an adventuring day resource. I’d be fine with a few powerful healing spells skipping the hit die expenditure requirement, but they should be rare and highly valued.
 

My problem is, I 100% believe that healing should work in this general way...

...but I'm also aware that it is emphatically NOT how 5e was designed, all the way down to its bones, and if you tried to force 5e to work this way without adjusting numerous other factors, it would work rather poorly.

See, this whole thing is closely analogous to how 4e healing worked. In 4e, you have a number of Healing Surges, which represent (more or less) the total amount of gumption, vigor, tenacity, whatever you want to call it, that you can realistically draw on for the day. Every surge restores 25% (rounded down) of your total HP; characters normally can only spend 1 surge per encounter, using the Second Wind action, but Leaders, healing potions, and other tools or features could allow further expenditures. Fragile classes that didn't specialize in taking hits (e.g. "pure spellcaster" types like Wizards or "fragile speedster" types like Rogues) got few base surges, while classes that did specialize in being able to take the brunt of attacks (especially classes with strong physical defenses, like Fighter and Paladin) got a lot of base surges. You also got bonus surges equal to your Con modifier, and there were a few ways to get extra surges via feats and magic items that could boost the healing granted by your surges. (Dragonborn, for instance, had a feature that added their Con modifier to their surge value; for Con-specialized Dragonborn, this was quite a valuable benefit.)

But in order to work like the above, you have to design healing to work this way from the ground up. Healing surges put a very firm cap on daily HP restoration. If Healing Surges--or Hit Dice or whatever you want to call this resource--aren't actually baked in at the ground level and tested to understand the typical spread of results at the table, you're very likely to run into one of two degenerate situations instead. Either (a) surges/HD/whatever are unnecessary and simply become an exploitable bonus on top of other healing, or (b) they aren't enough to actually keep most parties going long enough to matter, turning the game into an exercise in frustration where you're constantly limited by an arbitrary-feeling cap.

4e did the testing necessary to make this system work. I don't really expect current-WotC stuff to be tested that well, and absolutely don't expect homebrew stuff to be tested anywhere near well enough to work. 3PP content like Level Up....might or might not, depends on a lot of factors.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
My problem is, I 100% believe that healing should work in this general way...

...but I'm also aware that it is emphatically NOT how 5e was designed, all the way down to its bones, and if you tried to force 5e to work this way without adjusting numerous other factors, it would work rather poorly.

See, this whole thing is closely analogous to how 4e healing worked. In 4e, you have a number of Healing Surges, which represent (more or less) the total amount of gumption, vigor, tenacity, whatever you want to call it, that you can realistically draw on for the day. Every surge restores 25% (rounded down) of your total HP; characters normally can only spend 1 surge per encounter, using the Second Wind action, but Leaders, healing potions, and other tools or features could allow further expenditures. Fragile classes that didn't specialize in taking hits (e.g. "pure spellcaster" types like Wizards or "fragile speedster" types like Rogues) got few base surges, while classes that did specialize in being able to take the brunt of attacks (especially classes with strong physical defenses, like Fighter and Paladin) got a lot of base surges. You also got bonus surges equal to your Con modifier, and there were a few ways to get extra surges via feats and magic items that could boost the healing granted by your surges. (Dragonborn, for instance, had a feature that added their Con modifier to their surge value; for Con-specialized Dragonborn, this was quite a valuable benefit.)

But in order to work like the above, you have to design healing to work this way from the ground up. Healing surges put a very firm cap on daily HP restoration. If Healing Surges--or Hit Dice or whatever you want to call this resource--aren't actually baked in at the ground level and tested to understand the typical spread of results at the table, you're very likely to run into one of two degenerate situations instead. Either (a) surges/HD/whatever are unnecessary and simply become an exploitable bonus on top of other healing, or (b) they aren't enough to actually keep most parties going long enough to matter, turning the game into an exercise in frustration where you're constantly limited by an arbitrary-feeling cap.

4e did the testing necessary to make this system work. I don't really expect current-WotC stuff to be tested that well, and absolutely don't expect homebrew stuff to be tested anywhere near well enough to work. 3PP content like Level Up....might or might not, depends on a lot of factors.
Very good point. I had been thinking about how in 4e, you had a set number of healing surges pretty much throughout the game unless your Con mod increased; otherwise the number you had stayed the same, but the amount they healed increased as you leveled. 5e is the opposite. Hit Dice always heal the same amount (unless your Con mod increases) and you gain more of them as you level. Requiring HD expenditure to heal could still work in that system (higher level healing allows you to spend more hit dice), but it would definitely require a lot of testing to get it right. It isn’t something you can just easily implement with a simple house rule, or a lot of us would have done it already.
 

dave2008

Legend
Definitely prefer most healing to require the target to expend a hit die. I don’t really care if the amount healed is based on the hit die size or not, the point is to put a cap on the amount of healing each creature can receive per day, making HP an encounter resource while HD remain an adventuring day resource. I’d be fine with a few powerful healing spells skipping the hit die expenditure requirement, but they should be rare and highly valued.
This is basically what I would want too. We (my group) already allow PCs to charge / recharge powers by spending HD, I would like to extend that to healing too. It is not really needed in our group (we don't have any healing spells), but it makes sense to me.
 
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DND_Reborn

Legend
Awesome discussions people! :)

I also think that you should be able to expend HD to recover Exhaustion on a short rest, but that's just me.
Oh, I like this idea! I think I will add it to the maybe list for our 5E mod. :)

Personally, I would not want it to be too easy, so perhaps something like:

When you complete a short rest, you can spend hit dice to remove a level of exhaustion. You must spend a number of hit dice equal to your total levels of exhaustion to remove one level of exhaustion. For example, if you have 4 levels of exhaustion, you can spend 4 hit dice to reduce it to 3 levels of exhaustion. You cannot remove more than one level of exhaustion after a short rest in this fashion.

Probably needs to be re-worded, but that's my initial idea.
 

cbwjm

Legend
I think spells like cure wounds and healing word should have a sentence which reads something like "the target may also spend a number of hit dice equal to the level of the spell slot used and heal that amount". That way the spell provides healing but also allows the drawing upon of internal reserves.
 

I'm working on a mixed approach to revamp healing.

I wouldn't necessarily it directly to the hit die but I would allow certain classes to spend their owns HD when a healing effect is applied to enhance it.
 


BrokenTwin

Biological Disaster
One thing I think would be useful to keep in mind is that magical healing using healing surges doesn't necessarily mean that magic is useless when you're out of surges, just that it's significantly less effective. If the basic healing spell is Healing Surge + Casting Stat, then you'd still be healing the casting stat value. Less effective, but still useful for clutch save-from-dying moments.

But ultimately, I don't think it would be worth revamping everything that would need to be changed to make Hit Dice an actually integrated part of the system. It would be closer to a 6E than a 5.5E. Which, if your goal is to make another heartbreaker, go for it. Hopefully WotC will look back at 4E when they're designing the next edition and take the best parts of the Healing Surge mechanics into their design.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I've played with, but unfortunately have actually "played with", a number of variations on this, while still trying to honor the idea that plentiful in-combat healing extends combats.

The two "surviving " ideas that I could potentially make a house rule (either/or, not both) were:

1. When affected by magical healing you may spend a reaction to spend HD. You may spend HD up to the number of dice of healing the spell does, assuming you have them. For static heals (like lay-on-hands or Heal), you may spend one HD per 5 full points restored.

The breakdown behind this was that ti was the same total potential healing in a day, and since it took your reaction that it gives a strong reason for healing someone while they were still up, instead of whack-a-mole healing. The # of dice was a nice compromise such that a Mass spell is less dice than a single target healing spell of the same level.

2. Cure Wound and Mass Cure Wound spells use your HD size instead of d8s (even when less). Healing potions replace 2d4 with HD size. Other d8 healing features also replace with HD size.

This was just to make Cure Wounds be a bit more proportional to your total HPs, though lacking the CON adjustment on each one. For d6 characters it's less while for characters more likely to be front-liners it's more. I never thought about how to scale it for Lay on Hands, Heal, Mass Heal or things like that. It might be overpowered with a raging barbarian, never playtested.

This didn't attempt to address the whack-a-mole, but with the groups I play with it hasn't been a fun-impacting problem.

This keeps HD for out-of-combat use only, it doesn't spend them.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
What exactly is Healing Surge in 4E???

Since I never played 4E and don't have any of the books, could someone please explain precisely how the Healing Surge mechanic worked in 4E? I would like to know so I can compare it to the current and prior editions.

Thanks! :)
 

cbwjm

Legend
What exactly is Healing Surge in 4E???

Since I never played 4E and don't have any of the books, could someone please explain precisely how the Healing Surge mechanic worked in 4E? I would like to know so I can compare it to the current and prior editions.

Thanks! :)
Back in 4e a level 1 character would start with around 3x the hit points of a 5e character. Your healing surge value was equal to 1/4 of you maximum hit points and you start out with a few healing surges (I can't recall the exact number, but at least a half dozen surges per long rest)

During a short rest you could spend surges to heal, much like spending hit dice in 5e.

Some effects allowed for spending a surge in combat. A cleric had a healing word which would allow the target to spend a healing surge and gain some extra healing.

Other effects like cure wounds, a utility power of the cleric would heal someone for their surge value without them having to expend a surge.

During combat, everyone could take a second wind and spend a healing surge for some in combat healing.

That's the basics of it, others might be able to provide more detail. I would have preferred it to have been carried over into 5th instead of the hit dice method we ended up with.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
What exactly is Healing Surge in 4E???

Since I never played 4E and don't have any of the books, could someone please explain precisely how the Healing Surge mechanic worked in 4E? I would like to know so I can compare it to the current and prior editions.

Thanks! :)

healing surge represented 25% of you max HP and you had a somewhat fixed amount given to you at Chargen depending on your class. You recovered all of them on a long rest.

Most low-level healing allowed a character to spend 1 or more HS to recover that amount and sometime added extra benefit. Surge-less healing was rarer and more potent because it allowed to circumvent the daily limit on recovery.

Some monsters or challenges drained your HS. If you had no HS remaining, you could take damage equal to your surge value (25% of your HP), so it was very dangerous to push yourself when you were out of HS.
 

You'd have to completely overhaul every healing spell, and probably a few abilities to account for it. Do you add spellcasting mod, target's Con, neither, or both? How would other HD abilities be affected, like Second Wind? Expected damage input would have to be adjusted as well, especially if you require the HD to be spent.

It's not a bad idea. 4E did a really good job with it, but it was also built into the system from the beginning. Like changing armor to be damage reduction instead of AC, the amount of work changing it is unlikely to appeal to most people.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
What exactly is Healing Surge in 4E???

Since I never played 4E and don't have any of the books, could someone please explain precisely how the Healing Surge mechanic worked in 4E? I would like to know so I can compare it to the current and prior editions.

Thanks! :)
@EzekielRaiden pretty much covered it in their post. A healing surge, similar to a 5e hit die, was a resource you could spend to regain hit points. Each character had a number of healing surges based on their class: 6 + Con mod for rangers, rogues, warlocks and wizards, 7+ con mod for clerics and warlords, 9 for fighters, and 10 for paladins. There were also a couple feats that gave you extra healing surges. You regained all spent healing surges after an extended rest.

After a short rest (which were 5 minutes in 4e, and were pretty much expected after every combat encounter), you could spend any number of healing surges to regain HP equal to your healing surge value (which by default was 1/4 of your maximum hit points, rounded down, though there were a few feats and other features that could increase your healing surge value) for each healing surge spent this way. Additionally, once during an encounter, you could use your second wind to spend a single healing surge (regaining the normal amount) as a standard action.

Most sources of healing - spells, powers, potions, etc. allowed the target to spend a healing surge, and usually they would regain some amount of additional hit points beyond their healing surge value. If you were out of healing surges, you were generally pretty much done for the day - there were some abilities that could heal a target without them having to spend a healing surge, but they were few in number and limited in availability.

In effect, this made hit points an encounter resource and healing surges an adventuring day resource. Without any healing magic, you could access 1.25x your maximum hit points in any given encounter, and you’d have about 1.5x to 3x your maximum hit points in reserve to fill back up between encounters. Healing magic could allow you to extend a little bit beyond that cap, but only as long as you had healing surges to spend. The primary purpose of healing magic was not to extend the adventuring day, but to let you access more of your reserve hit points in a single encounter.

Unlike in 5e where healing magic is best used out of combat to top you off before the next fight without needing to take a 1-hour short rest, healing magic was best used mid-combat to allow you to survive to get to the next short rest when you could top yourself off. Instead of a healer letting you take on more encounters in an adventuring day by exchanging spell slots for hit points, all adventuring parties could handle about the same number of encounters per day, but a party with a healer could survive tougher encounters because they could access more hit points per encounter.

This, by the way, is why people say hit dice only superficially resemble healing surges. They’re both abstract resources representing your inner reserves of stamina/energy/fighting spirit/whatever, that you spend to heal during a short rest. But their actual mechanical impact on gameplay is totally different.
 


DND_Reborn

Legend
Thanks @cbwjm, @vincegetorix, and @Charlaquin for the summaries!

Just to make sure I have it correctly:

1. PCs started out with 3x the hp of 5E (roughly). So, a fighter might start with 30-40 hp (given a CON bonus).
2. Each class had 6-10 healing surges, allowing 25% per use of maximum hp restore, one useable per encounter. Thus, 4 uses would restore 100% of maximum hp. Depending on your class this allowed you to effectively have anywhere from 150-250% additional hp during the adventuring day. Thus, our 1st level Fighter with 30 hp could have nearly 100 hp during the adventuring day at their disposal.
3. Since you did not need magic to access your healing surges, you have a vast reserve of hp to tap into during combat and (more often) in between battles.
4. Some magic and features allowed greater access to healing surges during an encounter and/or extended hp beyond healing surges out of combat.

Sound about right? If so, this seems like an awful lot of hp potentially during the adventuring day IMO, but not seeing it in use I could be wrong... With 5E, HD after short rest limits you to a maximum of an additional 100% without the use of healing magic, feat, or features.

Either way, some of this is very interesting to me because of what we've been doing in our 5E mod already, such as:

1. You can spend an action to use up to half (round down) your HD to heal yourself (in or out of battle). This is potentially like a 50% healing surge I would think? However, that means you won't have those HD to use until you recover them during a long rest.

2. You begin with 4 HD at 0-level (we added a full prologue level for the mod). However, your maximum HP is capped by a number of HD equal to your level (plus your hp at 0-level).

In other words, a 1st-level PC might have about 10-20 hp, even though they would have 5d8 HD available. They could spend 2d8 maximum as an action to restore some lost hp. FWIW, I should note you have no bonus hp per level really in our mod, so after the first few levels, hp maximum is lower than RAW.

3. When your hp = 0, overflow damage goes to HD on a 1-1 basis. If your HD are also 0, you are automatically unconscious and dying. Further damage reduces your maximum HD (not hp!), also on a 1-1 basis. You lose 1 from your maximum HD at the end of each round unless you are treated or stabilized. If your maximum HD is reduced to 0, you die.

We are literally using your spendable HD as your "reserve", and your maximum HD as your full body injury/trauma.

In the above example, the 1st-level PC would have say 15 hp and 5d8 HD. After 15 damage, he loses HD, after those 5 HD are gone, is has 5 more HD (his maximum) before death. So, if the PC had just 1 hp and all his HD, a 12-point hit would kill him instantly.

It is more lethal, and meant to be so.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
Also, I have to say I am amazed at how evenly distributed the poll is for the most part! I hope we get a lot more people voting, but getting close to 50 is a great start everyone!

Thanks for voting! :)
 

If I was ruling that most healing spells require HD expenditure, I would definitely consider making a character's HD total be equal to Level + Constitution modifier rather than just level.
 

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