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5E Too Much Healing Going On?

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
After the thread about 4E Healing Surges, I looked at our main campaign when we played yesterday and realized something disturbing:

We have so much healing, we enter each encounter general 90+% of maximum HP. Rarely, we have a string of fights, with little to no time in between, and then HP attrition becomes an issue, but those are rare.

We have a PC with the healer feat and several PCs are MC healing spellcasters such as a bard, 2 clerics, a druid, and a paladin. In Tier 3, with Beacon of Hope, Mass Cure Wounds, Healing Spirits, etc. we can heal several hundred HP if needed. Throw in short rests and healing potions, and it is really over the top at this point.

In a major battle against 3 dragons on Saturday, we probably healed maybe 1000 points or more of collective damage to the party.

So, granted, we are a large party, nearing Tier 4, but still it seems crazy when I actually think about it.

Do you find this to be about the same in your game? Or is healing hard to come by? I know level plays a big factor, but what about in general terms overall?
 

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Sacrosanct

Legend
Depends entirely on party make up and style. The campaign we just finished, we had a cleric, paladin, Druid, fighter, warlock, and ranger. So plenty of healing.

Now? Two clerics, sorcerer, fighter, rogue, ranger. You’d think a lot of healing, but only the clerics have been using healing spells as the ranger is always hunters mark and the paladin is always smite. Also, the opponents are mich tougher. We just about TPK’d last night fighting a CR3 assassin and CR4 helmed horror. We are all level 3, with no magic items. So healing is critical. As is, two of the party is unconscious after the battle and we’re still in the villa with zero spells to heal with.
 

Ugg...Healing Surges...not my favorite. 🤫
Party composition plays a major role in this, but yes in my experience, groups often retreat from a battle not due to lack of HP, but due to lack of other resources.

Other spells can contribute to this as well. Generating and keeping Stealth/Surprise through use of Pass with Out Trace and Silence (through two separate casters), often ensures no one takes damage, or just scratches, and healing is just not required.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
HP, like in 3e, flows from healers, not from warriors.

Warriors just store HP that the healers generate.

As efficient healing is slower than fast healing, pre-healing damage is better than doing it in a fight. So with ample healing, you'll start fights within rounding error of full HP.

Few in combat spells match efficient out of combat healing in utility, so when you run out of out of combat healing you are plausibly 2 hard fights from a TPK. Balancing adventure days that tightly is hard, unkess you do the thing where PCs pick when they rest, with story consequences for every step less than infinity they reach. (example: rear guard for retreating refugees. Every encounter in a row means 1d12*100 more refugees make it. A 10 minute rest means die size shrinks by 1; a short rest 2, a long rest means remaining refugees are overrun. PCs can now win or lose as much as they want; but will eventually be overrun or have to retreat. The exact mechanics needs work, as I can see the system described as getting tedious, but I hope you get the idea.)
 

DeviousQuail

Explorer
I don't think healing, and having too much of it, is the issue here. Everything is a trade-off and it's clear that your party has traded levels, feats, and gold for the capacity to heal. Had you not done that then hopefully you'd be taking less damage by using levels, feats, and gold to resolve encounters faster/differently.

As for 1000 HP in absolute terms I have no idea if that's really high or just what you'd expect from being a large group all at high levels. I do know that Hit Dice recovery on average gives you back almost max HP without any kind of bonuses. So if you have a group of 5 characters who average 100 HP (not hard to do at high tier 3 play) then you're looking at ~500 hp worth of healing right there.
 

In 5e, design encounters based on the assumption that a party will enter them with close to full hp. It's just the way the game works.
 

AngryTiger

Explorer
In my games healing seems there isn't enough healing. I usually try to stick to 6-8 encounters per day, with shorts rests after ever 2-3 encounters.
Hit Dice, class abilities and spells never seem to be healing enough to get trough the adventuring day and still have spells left to use for offence at the boss encounter.
My players have started to use downtime to craft and buy as much healing potions as they can afford, and even still seems like it's not enough. Last adventure ended up in almost TPK with 3/4 of the party dead, and one managing to escape, even though they went trough 20+ healing potions between fights.

Group composition is fighter, paladin, bard and druid, and they are currently level 5.
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
Healing in 5e is easy to but I don't find it to be a huge issue. In fact, I like designing tough encounters, and easy healing helps make those work. Also, it allows me to focus on encounters that can't be overcome just by having a lot of HP.

FWIW, I give PCs max HP at every level too, and all healing spells/potions provide max benefit when used.
 

By RAW, there's a ton of healing available. Until they errataed Healing Spirit it was crazy healing. Potions of Healing are as plentiful as wine. Add in the fact that you're party has 4.5 healers in it (paladins should only be using Lay on Hands, using slots for smites), and you've got ridiculous potential healing.

I limit Potions of Healing, because I consider them an actual magic item, not standard equipment. Players still snap them up when they can, but usually they can only get 2-5 in a town (taking over a week before they have any more). Also, our group as a whole doesn't short rest very much; usually taking 1 per day.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Yes, there absolutely can be too much healing (depending on how you build encounters and run combats).

I sincerely believe monster design is built around a party of 4 Basic Rules PCs (with one of them being a Cleric with healing.) As soon as you add in more PCs above 4 or more classes that can do healing, the ability to challenge the group by using monsters straight from the MM without adjustment is made much more difficult. You either need to throw monsters with much higher CRs (thereby throwing off the narrative aspects of the campaign with lower-level PCs facing off against traditionally more powerful monsters really early in the game)... or you need to put so many enemies on the battlefield that it just extends combats longer and longer with so much hit point attrition to go through.

I have been running tables with 7 players for years now, and there are always at least three (if not more) characters that can heal during a fight, and always at least one person "free" each round to go over and stabilize a downed PC should that ever be necessary. If there are only 4 PCs in the party, someone stabilizing a downed PC means that half the group is currently not fighting and dealing with the enemies. With 7 though? A downed PC and another one running triage means there are still 5 fully-functioning characters on the table handling the enemies as they come (one of which is probably a raging Barbarian taking only half damage a lot of the time, and another being an armored tank with a high AC that is rarely getting hit). Trying to challenge that kind of group to make them feel occasionally worried requires me to basically add extra monsters, give them more multiattacks each round, adding 2-4 more damage dice to each successful hit, and then stringing together several encounters in a row giving them little time in between.

It's doable of course... but it is certainly a bit noticeable when once the PCs hit 5th level and three to five of them gain Extra Attack that suddenly the monsters jump up in power all in an effort to cause a bit of threat before they get decimated under the sheer volume of PCs attacks generated each round.
 
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dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
Once again, thanks to all for the replies!

The party size is a factor, but I know our DM (and myself when I DM) create encounters meant to reflect easy-deadly for 6.5 PCs (one is a retainer). A good deadly encounter (such as the 3 dragons) can be hair-raising, which is great, but I do think the game (and thus encounters) are designed around full or near-full HP as @Paul Farquhar and others suggest.

I also agree with others that once you get to level 5, the dynamic shifts considerably. And a lot of our healing in our party is done after the fact. Healing kits (and the Healer feat), goodberries, or even a potion of healing generally tops PCs off (or close to it) in HP. We rarely need to resort to in-combat healing (with the only exception being really deadly encounters or strings of battles).

I know encounter design is part of it, but there is just something about it all that rubs me the wrong way... I'll have to think more on it.
 

jmartkdr2

Adventurer
I know encounter design is part of it, but there is just something about it all that rubs me the wrong way... I'll have to think more on it.
As a dm, if you look at hp that way, you will miss all the resources that ARE being drained, like HD, spell slots, class features, and magic items. Looking at hp alone is not taking in the full picture, and so it doesn't show what you're thinking it should, because that's on a different indicator.

This is wht dm's tend to think that all their encounters are really easy, while their players are really enjoying how challenging everything is. The dm is paying attention to what the combat actually costs, so it seems cheap.

This is different than 1e/2e, where getting back hp was really hard so watching hp go down over the course of the adventure did show the pc's getting worn out. But that's just not what hp means in 5e.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Do you find this to be about the same in your game? Or is healing hard to come by? I know level plays a big factor, but what about in general terms overall?
Two days ago, in the climax fight of The Dragon of Icespire Peak, said dragon got in my Artificer's face, got off a claw-claw-bite, and dropped him like a sack of potatoes without needing the second claw. I was at 2/3 of max hit points at the time of that attack combo. The base damage for its breath weapon alone would have taken me down at max hit points. If we didn't have cold resistance and failed the save, it would be one-hit-kill for three quarters of the party.

How much healing you do as you go along goes hand-in-hand with the amount of damage the bad guys can put out at once. When the opponent can do 2/3 or more of your hit points in one round, yes, you probably want to be walking around at 90%+ of your max most of the time. If the opponents can only nickel-and-dime you, you might relax. But, in general, walking around notably under full is a risky choice. YMMV.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
As a dm, if you look at hp that way, you will miss all the resources that ARE being drained, like HD, spell slots, class features, and magic items. Looking at hp alone is not taking in the full picture, and so it doesn't show what you're thinking it should, because that's on a different indicator.

This is wht dm's tend to think that all their encounters are really easy, while their players are really enjoying how challenging everything is. The dm is paying attention to what the combat actually costs, so it seems cheap.

This is different than 1e/2e, where getting back hp was really hard so watching hp go down over the course of the adventure did show the pc's getting worn out. But that's just not what hp means in 5e.
Sure, of course it costs resources to get those HP back up, but the issue is those resource (HD, spell slots, etc.) are usually available. We've had times where the "adventuring day" is getting on, and we had to keep spells for healing back for other uses, but those are rare. The issue remains that since the PCs begin most encounters with full HP, it makes it feel strange when I think about it.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
Two days ago, in the climax fight of The Dragon of Icespire Peak, said dragon got in my Artificer's face, got off a claw-claw-bite, and dropped him like a sack of potatoes without needing the second claw. I was at 2/3 of max hit points at the time of that attack combo. The base damage for its breath weapon alone would have taken me down at max hit points. If I didn't have cold resistance and I failed the save, it would be one-hit-kill for three quarters of the party.

How much healing you do as you go along goes hand-in-hand with the amount of damage the bad guys can put out at once. When the opponent can do 2/3 or more of your hit points in one round, yes, you probably want to be walking around at 90%+ of your max most of the time. If the opponents can only nickel-and-dime you, you might relax. But, in general, walking around notably under full is a risky choice. YMMV.
At the level we're at, our PCs range from 100-160 hp (or so). There isn't much in the game that does that sort of damage or even close to it. Now, it happens (the Adult Red Dragon's breath for 63 hurt a lot!), but other than those potentially deadly encounters, most hits are 10-20 points, with the Fire Giants doing about 30.

Now, I think more to the point is you never know when that dangerous encounter is coming up, so yes you want to be as full in HP as you generally can. The issue then becomes, the medium and hard encounters might drain some resources, but they really aren't a challenge.

I don't know, I can't put my finger quite on it, but it all just bugs me for some reason...
 


Sure, of course it costs resources to get those HP back up, but the issue is those resource (HD, spell slots, etc.) are usually available. We've had times where the "adventuring day" is getting on, and we had to keep spells for healing back for other uses, but those are rare. The issue remains that since the PCs begin most encounters with full HP, it makes it feel strange when I think about it.
I think you feeling strange is kinda the problem here, rather than anything else.

You have four characters who can output a lot of healing. Druids can heal crazy amounts (esp. if you haven't nerfed Healing Spirit and it sounds like you might not have - otherwise it heals for a joke amount), Clerics are really solid-to-great depending on subclass, and Paladin is a whole chunk of healing. I don't see your total party size or if anyone else can either heal or generate THP, but I presume there's a bit of that too.

Given that the biggest death-risk in 5E, is starting a fight on low HP, getting downed instantly (then either taking enough damage to die instantly, or taking multiple hits which force extra death saves), and they have four strong healers in the party, why on earth would they be starting fights, intentionally, on less than maximum HP? Sounds like you're mid-to-high level, too, so they have a huge depth of spell slots to pull on, too.

Add in that they're using HD and potions sensibly, and it sounds like what you're complaining about is a big fat case of "Working As Intended". A big clue is in the healing potions. If they weren't being pressed at all, if they felt totally safe, they wouldn't be using consumables like that. They'd just stay in their bags to rot.

I don't think you need to change anything, just get on board with the fact that the party is healing heavy.
 

At the level we're at, our PCs range from 100-160 hp (or so). There isn't much in the game that does that sort of damage or even close to it. Now, it happens (the Adult Red Dragon's breath for 63 hurt a lot!), but other than those potentially deadly encounters, most hits are 10-20 points, with the Fire Giants doing about 30.

Now, I think more to the point is you never know when that dangerous encounter is coming up, so yes you want to be as full in HP as you generally can. The issue then becomes, the medium and hard encounters might drain some resources, but they really aren't a challenge.
You're not thinking like a player.

A player doesn't want their PC to die. You're sneering at 30-point hits, but they could be crits for 50. And four thirty-point hits landing on a 110 HP character means they're down, and in need of massive healing.

Also, did they start around 10-14, or did they level to there normally? Because at lower levels, and awful lot of hits are 15 or 20 HP when you only have 30 or 50 HP, and it's only as you get to higher levels to the amounts of damage tend to seem relatively lower vs HP totals. So they'll be playing cautiously because they remember how it was.

You say "Oh for a dangerous encounter you want to be on full HP! But medium and hard aren't a challenge!". Well, buddy you got two separate issues here. And both of them stem from not thinking like a player. A player doesn't know what the "difficulty" on the next encounter is going to be. They have to assume every next encounter is Deadly. Not sure why you're not getting that. So they heal up to full, because it would be outright stupid not to, if they have the opportunity and it doesn't blow too many resources (and they seem to managing resources extremely well). And guess what? Medium encounters at 12th level aren't challenging. At all. There's no chance of death or real risk. That's how they are. Hard ones are rarely much more threatening. But they do drain resources, and that does add up. Players feel the challenge, as people have been trying to explain, because they see all the boxes for spell slots filling up, and their HD going down (and remember, you only get 50% HD back on a long rest). But DMs can be like you and be like "Pfffft you guys are all on full, whatevs...". So accept that medium/hard are there to burn resources, more than to provide "challenges" or the like. They burn a lot more resources if approached in a bad way.
 

dave2008

Legend
. The issue then becomes, the medium and hard encounters might drain some resources, but they really aren't a challenge.
That is by design. It is explained right in the DMG. Only the deadly encounters really give a chance at defeat. So pretty much everything below deadly is designed to drain some resources or just story development. If you want a challenge you need to use deadly encounters.

This is the only one that sounds like a challenge to me:
1594648352137.png


PS. So the answer to the issue is: use more deadly encounters if you want more challenges and use 2x or 3x deadly if you truly want a fearsome encounter
 

Players can definitely output a lot of healing, but that is usually at the opportunity cost of using other things that would make fights shorter.

At Tier 4 I regularly deal 80-120 damage to the party per round, with higher spikes for big spells. Keeping fights short is often the best way to conserve HP.
 

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