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%

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
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).
To be more specific, a 1st level character started with a fixed amount of hit points based on their class (generally 10-15) plus their constitution score - not modifier. That tripped a lot of folks up their first time. After that, they gained a fixed amount per level, again based on class (generally 4-6), no adjustment based on con, though IIRC, if your con score increased after 1st level, you’d gain HP equal to the amount increased. So, a 1st level fighter would have 12 + Con score hit points; somewhere between 20 and 30 total.
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.
Correct. Though that 1st level fighter would need 18 con to have 30 HP. A more typical fighter would probably have about 24 HP and 11 healing surges, with a surge value of 6, for a total of 90 HP per day without any additional healing from spells and such. Each additional level they would gain 5 extra hit points and their surge value would increase by ~1.25 (though fractional values don’t actually matter since you round down) for a total of ~18.75 HP per day per level.
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.
It was definitely a lot of hit points, but damage numbers also started higher in 4e. Still, combats could and often did go pretty long, and you could expect 3 or 4 per adventuring day. The length of 4e combats was one of the major critiques, though they did go a lot faster if everyone knew their characters very well and paid attention through the whole combat. A lot more of the slowdown came from trying to remember all your abilities and triggers and bonuses and whatnot than from high HP values.
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.
Definitely some interesting parallels!
 
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Unwise

Adventurer
I liked 4e healing, it allowed healing to be powerful in-combat, without being abused over the course of a day. In 5e we would have to give a lot more HD to PCs to mimic that. I like the idea of spending them, I just think we need a few more in order to do that.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
To be more specific, a 1st level character started with a fixed amount of hit points based on their class (generally 10-15) plus their constitution score - not modifier. That tripped a lot of folks up their first time. After that, they gained a fixed amount per level, again based on class (generally 4-6), no adjustment based on con, though IIRC, if your con score increased after 1st level, you’d gain HP equal to the amount increased. So, a 1st level fighter would have 12 + Con score hit points; somewhere between 20 and 30 total.

Correct. Though that 1st level fighter would need 18 con to have 30 HP. A more typical fighter would probably have about 24 HP and 11 healing surges, with a surge value of 6, for a total of 90 HP per day without any additional healing from spells and such. Still, ~100 HP per day is probably a decent estimate if you do want to account for that extra healing.

It was definitely a lot of hit points, but damage numbers also started higher in 4e. Still, combats could and often did go pretty long, and you could expect 3 or 4 per adventuring day. The length of 4e combats was one of the major critiques, though they did go a lot faster if everyone knew their characters very well and paid attention through the whole combat. A lot more of the slowdown came from trying to remember all your abilities and triggers and bonuses and whatnot than from high HP values.

Definitely some interesting parallels!
Thanks for the additional clarifications! Yes, very interesting parallels, LOL, which is why I wanted to learn more about them due to how they sounded. :)

We're still playtesting everything, so some of the mod changes might be altered before we're done. I'll be posting the entire thing on enworld eventually... sigh. :)
 

I liked 4e healing, it allowed healing to be powerful in-combat, without being abused over the course of a day. In 5e we would have to give a lot more HD to PCs to mimic that. I like the idea of spending them, I just think we need a few more in order to do that.
Alternatively if you wanted to add some 4e type healing you could add in some form of HD recovery on SR or free uses once a day to give them more without making the pool deeper.

I'd be curious to see what percentage of tables burn through HD on a regular basis.
 



Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Alternatively if you wanted to add some 4e type healing you could add in some form of HD recovery on SR or free uses once a day to give them more without making the pool deeper.

I'd be curious to see what percentage of tables burn through HD on a regular basis.
The tricky thing is, while 4e characters started out with more healing surges than 5e characters do with hit dice, they rarely if ever gained any more of them. They were static in number and scaled in value as you gained levels, which is exactly the opposite of what hit dice do. So, just increasing how many of them characters get wouldn’t do the trick.

I think if you wanted to make hit dice work as a limit on daily healing, you’d have to either re-work them completely, or balance healing around the fact that a hit die represents an ever-decreasing proportion of the character’s maximum hit points, that you gain increasingly more of. Healing spells and potions would have to be balanced around how many hit dice they allowed the target to spend.

If we assume a character only recovers hit points through hit dice expenditure, then characters can access about 50% of their daily hit points at a time, with the other 50% in reserve. And actually that’s not necessarily true either, since a long rest only gets you back half your maximum number of hit dice, so if you’re consistently using them all, you have access to more like 75% of your daily HP at a time. This compared to 4e where you had access to more like 25%-33%of your daily hit points at a time, depending on your class. So, if we want to replicate 4e healing, we’d want characters to have about twice as many hit dice as their level, and to regain them all on a long rest instead of only half. Then, a healing source would need to allow you to spend a number of hit dice up to half your level to be worth the equivalent of a 4e healing surge, at 1/4 your HP maximum. Before any additional healing.

So, in this hypothetical system, I imagine Cure Wounds would let the target spend 1 hit die per level cast and add the caster’s spellcasting ability mod instead of the target’s con. That feels pretty good, actually. Healing Word is worth 2 HP less than Cure Wounds on average, so maybe it does the same thing, but you don’t add any ability modifier, you just get the unmodified dice roll. Again, that feels pretty good to me.

You’d have to do this for every healing spell, which would be a lot of work. But it seems pretty doable.
 


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).
As others noted, that's a bit high. 30+ HP at first level is pretty beefy in 4e, but having less than 20 HP would be notably fragile. (IIRC the only way to get that is to play a Wizard-like fragile class that dumps Con.) Most classes get 10-15 base HP and then add their Con score which is usually 10-16, giving a typical range of about 20-30. Characters with more than 35 HP at first level are either rare or specially built for that goal.

As others noted, though, HP scale statically with level, no Con mod applied. So you start out with seemingly high HP, closer to a 3-6th level character in 3e or 5e, but by the early teens, anyone who has a decent Con score has caught up; many 20th level characters in 3e/5e have more HP than 30th level 4e characters!

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.
Correct, but do note that damage values could be quite high. Losing 25% of your HP was a typical standard hit, losing half or more of your HP was a solid crit (crits were IMO simpler in 4e, literally just flat double the damage, sometimes with a few bonus dice for extra damage after doubling.) Obviously these numbers skew depending on whether you play a fragile (e.g. low-Con Wizard), typical (e.g. 12 to 16 Con Ranger), or beefy (e.g. 18+ Con Fighter) character, and how dangerous the monster you're fighting is, but that's the loose shape of it without further details.

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.
Correct. Outside of combat, you could use any number of healing surges you liked. In this case, the "Second Wind" action is meant to have rather a literal meaning. That is, it's you reaching into yourself and finding the strength to carry on. It's (very) hard to do that twice or more in a single minute (most combats being 4-8 rounds would be even less than that), but possible with assistance from others. Warlords don't "shout hands back on," they use exhortation and psyching people up to get them back on their feet, for example--but even this has its limits. (Believe it or not, this has IRL parallels: many deaths due to injury are actually caused by the loss of homeostatic equilibrium, the state known as "shock." It is possible to help a person consciously maintain homeostasis when their autonomic functions begin to falter. This can quite literally save that person's life. It's part of why you want to keep, say, hypothermia patients conscious, as that helps support homeostatic equilibrium.)

In practice, monster damage was high enough that most characters could not take more than ~6 encounters without being completely out of healing surges, and that's close to an ideal case where damage is spread across the group roughly proportionately to number of healing surges. In practice it was not uncommon for some characters to be drained and others to still have some gas in the tank after only a few encounters if things went pear-shaped early on.

4. Some magic and features allowed greater access to healing surges during an encounter and/or extended hp beyond healing surges out of combat.
True, though again there are some wrinkles. As an example, healing potions are rather inefficient for healing most characters: they consume one of the target's surges but restore a fixed value of HP (regardless of the character's maximum HP), more points for more expensive potions. On the other hand, some classes had daily powers that could restore HP without spending surges, but since these were also daily resources, they basically just acted like flexible bonus surges you could use where you wanted them. (Cleric was the king of this, being able to pick up a "Cure X Wounds" family of powers that provided sizable surgeless healing once a day. These powers were not particularly popular, because they were seen as merely delaying victory or defeat, rather than bringing the conclusion of the fight closer. Fans tended to prefer actions that did direct damage while buffing allies or removing pesky conditions or the like.)

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.
There are some parallels, but cery different purposes and thus meaningfully different execution. 4e combats were designed to be what fans call "volatile" rather than "lethal." While it is perfectly possible to kill characters in 4e (in the last long-runner game I played, we had two deaths by 4th level and a razor-thin near-miss at 5th level), most combats instead have characters whose HP and status bounce around a lot but don't tend to result in actual deaths most of the time. This allows a feeling of tension, as the game state can change rapidly, without punishing the player for a mere chance hit like "welp, monster crit, you're just toast, sorry." It takes foolish actions, generally speaking, for a 4e character to die. One of the deaths I mentioned above was my own PC. I failed to make use of some free healing I had, thinking that being slightly under half health for one round would be fine. It wasn't. The "solo" (think what 5e does with "legedary" creatures that have lair actions and bonus saves) we were fighting got a crit on its nastiest attack, and I went from about 40% HP to about -51% HP in a single blow, instantly dying. (I got better and the RP for that revival was TOTALLY worth it. But it was sure shocking in the moment.)

Point being, the extra HP in 4e are not so much there to make characters invincible as they are to cushion the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. They allow players to make one or two mistakes, or to take one or two nasty unexpected hits, and still bounce back and rally to victory. But if you make a couple bad calls, well, you're now in the realm where chance alone can kill you, and likewise if you're noticeably down on your luck you really do need to think about your next moves because a bad decision may mean death. The game gives the party just enough room to be able to figure out "hey...the poop has really hit the fan, hasn't it? We should run," and actually still survive to run away. (Had that experience in the aforementioned 4e game too! Fight that should have been no problem went pear-shaped because the solo kept regaining its recharge powers almost immediately and we couldn't withstand an assault like that. So we booked it and lived to fight another day.)
 

Horwath

Hero
have both.
You cast a healing spell. spells heal for HD+con of target plus HD of target plus spellcasting modifier.
You need to spend a number of HDs equal to spell level to have that amount of healing. If you do not spend HD, you are only healed for 1 HP per spell level.

Example:

fighter/wizard with 14 Con(because 90% of PCs have 14 Con) is healed by 5th level life cleric with 18 wis, with 3rd level Cure spell.

fighter/wizard has only 1 d10 HD and only 1 d6 HD,

so 3rd level spell heals for [1d10+2(targets Con mod)+1d10+4(casting mod)] + [1d6+2(targets Con mod)+1d6+4(casting mod)] + [1 (no HD left for 3rd level of healing)] +5 (life clerics feature).
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
Thanks for the further clarification! But just to be clear...

As others noted, though, HP scale statically with level, no Con mod applied. So you start out with seemingly high HP, closer to a 3-6th level character in 3e or 5e, but by the early teens, anyone who has a decent Con score has caught up; many 20th level characters in 3e/5e have more HP than 30th level 4e characters!
(bold added)

Really, I must have missed that if people said it. I thought in 4E you added your Con mod to all the hit dice (or levels)? So, are you saying you only add the Con mod per die at level 1? Or am I misreading something?
 

BrokenTwin

Biological Disaster
Thanks for the further clarification! But just to be clear...


(bold added)

Really, I must have missed that if people said it. I thought in 4E you added your Con mod to all the hit dice (or levels)? So, are you saying you only add the Con mod per die at level 1? Or am I misreading something?
You don't add your Con mod to HP at all in 4E. You add your Con score to your HP at level 1, but that's it. After that it's just your class hp.
So you start out with more HP, but have less in the long run.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
You don't add your Con mod to HP at all in 4E. You add your Con score to your HP at level 1, but that's it. After that it's just your class hp.
So you start out with more HP, but have less in the long run.
Ok, thanks! I must have missed that if people mentioned it before. So, my oversight.

Hmm... that changes things even more! In our 5E mod we did the same thing, removing the CON mod per HD, but awarding your highest ability modifier (not likely CON) at level-0 (our prologue level).

Huh, it seems in many ways our table is almost reinventing 4E LOL with even realizing it. :unsure:
 

aco175

Legend
Thanks for the further clarification! But just to be clear...


(bold added)

Really, I must have missed that if people said it. I thought in 4E you added your Con mod to all the hit dice (or levels)? So, are you saying you only add the Con mod per die at level 1? Or am I misreading something?
You added your Con score, not the modifier. If you have a 14 Con, you add 14, not +2. Took a while to get that one.

I liked the fighter's 2nd wind power. It let the fighter spend a surge each encounter and freed the cleric to do more than heal. I could see something like this for 5e fighters. Although at some point 2nd wind is better than a hit die- like 4th level.

Maybe- Improved 2nd wind; 7th level feature that lets you gain normal 2nd wind healing plus you can spend a hit die, or a hit die up to your Con modifier (This may make the power a 11th level feature)
 

BrokenTwin

Biological Disaster
Ok, thanks! I must have missed that if people mentioned it before. So, my oversight.

Hmm... that changes things even more! In our 5E mod we did the same thing, removing the CON mod per HD, but awarding your highest ability modifier (not likely CON) at level-0 (our prologue level).

Huh, it seems in many ways our table is almost reinventing 4E LOL with even realizing it. :unsure:
4E wasn't a perfect edition by any means, but there was a lot of good design choices in it that I wish they had carried over into 5E.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Thanks for the further clarification! But just to be clear...


(bold added)

Really, I must have missed that if people said it. I thought in 4E you added your Con mod to all the hit dice (or levels)? So, are you saying you only add the Con mod per die at level 1? Or am I misreading something?
You added con score to HP at 1st level only, and you add con mod to your number of healing surges per day. So, con didn’t directly add to your HP after 1st level, but it still added quite a bit to your overall survivability via healing surges.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
  • When you are magically healed, you must also spend and roll a HD. You regain the HD roll as well.
  • If you have no HD to spend, the magic can at best grant a death saving throw (failure on this does not add to your failed death saves).
  • Heal, Lay on Hands, Mass Heal, Power Word: Heal, Regeneration and Regeneration effects, and life-transfer magic are exceptions. They do not require nor permit HD expendature.
  • "Gritty" rests. A short rest is overnight. A long rest is a week of downtime.
  • At the end of a short (overnight) rest, roll all expended HD to attempt to recover. All even rolls 4+ are recovered.
  • Cure Wounds and Mass Cure Wounds can replace the d8 with the expended HD.

Low-die healing is inefficient in that it mostly draws out the subject's life force.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
You added your Con score, not the modifier. If you have a 14 Con, you add 14, not +2. Took a while to get that one.
Oh, I am so used to CON mod I just misread it again. Man, I gotta pay better attention LOL! :)

You added con score to HP at 1st level only, and you add con mod to your number of healing surges per day. So, con didn’t directly add to your HP after 1st level, but it still added quite a bit to your overall survivability via healing surges.
Got it! Thanks. :)
 

Oh, I am so used to CON mod I just misread it again. Man, I gotta pay better attention LOL! :)


Got it! Thanks. :)
One possible reason why you might have misunderstood is that some folks mentioned that if you increase your Constitution score later, you get the bonus HP. So, for example, at level 11 and 21, every character gets +1 to all stats. This means that every character also gains +1 HP at those levels, since increases to your Constitution score directly give you extra HP--but only the one time, since Con mod has zero effect on HP themselves. It also means that most if not all characters should gain an additional healing surge at level 21 (as your Con mod does not normally add to your surge value, that is the HP restored by a surge, but rather gives you more surges). E.g. a level 1 Wizard would normally start with 6 surges, but if their Constitution score is only 8, they'll only have 5 surges in total (because you add the Con mod of -1 to the base number of surges.)

As I hope has been made clear, while having a lot of surges is really quite useful and Constitution was a desirable stat in general, in a certain sense 4e was designed such that pursuing tons of HP and surges at the cost of other things is not actually very effective--unless Constitution powers some other aspect of your character, it's generally at best a tertiary stat. Certain classes or subclasses, e.g. Barbarians, Warlocks with the Infernal pact, Iron Soul Monks, or Elementalist Sorcerers, got other benefits from having high Constitution, and thus tended to be particularly beefy characters...but it's still pretty easy to threaten them, because most groups can't easily pull out more than a couple surges' worth of healing in a single round. Hence why I mentioned "volatility" earlier--yes, you have a theoretical crapton of restore-able HP (for some characters, more than 2x their max HP!), but accessing those HP is gated. Characters can quite easily die while still having lots of healing surges left in the tank, if the damage simply comes out too fast (as happened to my character mentioned above).
 

HammerMan

Legend
To be more specific, a 1st level character started with a fixed amount of hit points based on their class (generally 10-15) plus their constitution score - not modifier. That tripped a lot of folks up their first time. After that, they gained a fixed amount per level, again based on class (generally 4-6), no adjustment based on con, though IIRC, if your con score increased after 1st level, you’d gain HP equal to the amount increased. So, a 1st level fighter would have 12 + Con score hit points; somewhere between 20 and 30 total.
yeah I miss front loaded HP...

I think smaller increases would work better and smaller total hp, but more front loaded.
 

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