Is there a way to play 4e without healing surges?

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They just really bug me.


 


Anyone know of a fix or alternate?

sure, remove them!


don't expect most healing to work right since it revolves around the surges. what about them bothers you?

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Not really, or at least not without a rules re-design that would be a lot of effort. So much so, you are bascially deciding between playing 4E or another system. So how much do you dislike them, and can you explain why?


 

Surges are inmportant part of 4E. You can probably work something out, but you will have substitute this for set HP amounts healing or something.

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Lemme see,  you could remove the counting of healing surges mechanic.  Any power that heals "1 healing surge" heals an amount equal to one quarter hit points plus whatever bonuses acrue, and not make people track surges.  This will be a boost to everybody but defenders.


I assume you want to get rid of the Second Wind mechanic as well.  It'll make the game a little harder, and will make having a leader in the party essential, but I doubt it will kill your game.  Not really sure what to do about Wardens, and that will be one less reason to play dwarves (not really a problem, there are plenty of other incentives to play a dwarf).


I'm not sure you'd get anything back in terms of fun, but it won't kill the game not to count them.

Sure add up the total amount of healing provided by surges to everyones HP.

Not to sound critical, but have you played using them? HS may sound kind of weird at first glance, but the mechanic actually works reasonably well.

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No...


...and why would you?

There's no fix. It's a very popular, and widely used mechanic in 4th. If you're taking them out, then you're going to be making more work for you. Leaders need surges to buff the party up, by activating healing surges.



We've gotten into the habit of referring to them as 'heroic surges' and to hit points as 'hero points'.  Anything referred to in the rules as 'healing' we often refer instead to as 'recovery' (unless its obviously magical, like clerical healing).


So, my 1st level fighter has 29 hero points (15+14 Con), and that means he can spend 11 heroic surges per day and 'recover' 7 hero points.  In D&D, 'healing' has always sorta implied magical ability.  My fighter is the most mundane fella on the planet though, so when he spends a heroic surge, he recovers some of his oomph and he presses on; there's nothing magical about it.


It's a more abstract approach but after a while, we stopped thinking about the physical damage of each blow and started thinking of our PCs as having a resevoir of heroic power, mental and physical, both entwined.  Heroic surges let us replenish that resevoir to an extent.  Hit points on the other hand, often imply pure physicality.  There's more to being a hero than that I think.  

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It really does depend on why you see them as a problem. Sure, there's ways to take them out, but the "best way" depends on that nasty "why" question. Your least-disruptive method would be Salamandyr2000's suggestion: just stop counting them. This makes everyone a lot more durable (in my opinion, counter to Salamandyr2000's, it's the biggest buff to Defenders who are the most likely to run out of surges in many cases) and it also overpowers a few powers and items that are normally kept in check by surge consumption. Potions skyrocket in value.


You could add 50% to everyone's HP and just handwave "okay, you're at full" between fights, taking out healing powers.


You could also strip the entire system right out of the game, healing, potions, surges, and anything related to them, by having starting hitpoints equal to the following clunky formula:
[(Surge value)*(number of surges)]+(starting HP)
So you'd figure out everything like normal, then multiply the surge value by the number of surges per day, then add that value to the character's starting HP and that becomes the character's Hit Points Per Day. The direct side effect of this is that characters will be impossible to kill until later in the day, and anything that relies on the Bloodied condition starts to act weird. Like a level 2 Dragonborn Barbarian is milking his Bloodied damage bonus but still has 40+ HP left.

As others have said, I don't know of any clean and totally sound way of removing healing surges.


I also don't really understand why you might want to. They don't represent anything in in-game terms. They're just a metagame way of limiting the amount of healing a given character can receive in a day, and of making certain healing abilities special (those that don't consume surges). And surges serve those two functions really well. So, do you not want healing to be limited per day? Or do you want all healing abilities to be limited per day, not just the normal ones that consume surges?


I don't really understand.

If you don't want surges, you may want to play an earlier edition.

"No Surges" basically means total rewrite of 4th to be more like the previous editions, or just playing the previous editions directly.


(Rather than subjecting yourselves to D20 or the abomination that is 2E, though, might I suggest Savage Worlds as an alternate instead?  The core book is $10 and it's an excellent system.  D&D4 handles pure heroic team-based high-magic high-fantasy kill-the-orcs-to-save-the-villagers wargaming better than it does.  New World Of Darkness handles low-fantasy horror better than it does.  For everything else, it's the best I've ever seen.)

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I can't see any easy way to do it. Healing surges are pretty central for the design of 4e.


For the life of me I don't see why anyone would hate them...I personally think they are one of the best things about 4e.

another obstacle is the fact that more than healing requires surge expenditure - such as the warlock's well of death (surge = bonus damage on attack)

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Why on earth would you do that?


Are you the type of Dm that likes to kill his players?


The way encounters are built in 4e pretty much assume that the Pc's have access to healing surges, without them you would have to redesign how encounters are made.

I think we all know why he wants to strip them out.  It's just a discussion that's been chewed through about a dozen times or more across the RPG boards in the past year.

for those of us who are newer to the community: what might that be?

Yes have you played 4e? Because Heroic Surges 'look' odd and wierd but they 'Play' wonderfully.


 


4e Hitpoints aren't really like traditional hitpoints. Like others have said they are really more 'Heroe Points'. It's more akin to Moral then actual health. When you get hit you don't get a big gaping wound as your moral drops, it takes a little out of you and by the time you hit zero hitpoints your exausted and have several small wounds and simply cannot go any father and you fall unconcious from that final blow. Then, once you take enough damage you reach your negative bloodied value or fail 3 saving throws, your dead. You've been beaten to death or slipped away while in a coma.


So if you consider health more as moral or minor to moderate damage, Healing Surges aren't some magical way you regain hitpoints, but a moral boost. You take a second to catch your breath and regain your balance and drive before rejoining the fight once more. It's why your Second Wind takes a Standard Action and gives you a +2 bonus to defenses. Your basically holding back, catching your breath and being on the defensive while you regain your ground and moral. You also have a limited number of surges you can use between a long rest because there are only so many times you can take a breather and pump yourself up again each day before your simply exausted.


Now you can think the same thing with magic that uses your healing surges. When a Cleric casts Healing Word on you they aren't just closing up your wounds with magic they are giving you a surge of moral so that you feel more capable of defeating your foe.


 


Once you think of things in that respect, Healing Surges become much more palitable to those who simply feel the system is unrealistic or is to different from previous systems.

The usual explanation is that people take a look at the system and expect it to work basically exactly like 3.x or earlier editions did. When they see the greater PC hit point totals and add up all the potential healing you can get from surges they get the impression that 4e characters are going to be practically unkillable and that the game was somehow designed to coddle players.


This is a false impression. One has to actually play 4e to see that this isn't so. On first reading of the rules I had reservations about this as well, but actual play quickly dispels this notion. For one thing HS are not easily translatable directly into hit points during an encounter. Even at high levels characters don't have free access to burning surges. A party can certainly pile on healing powers to the point where they can access a lot of hit points, but the opportunity cost for doing so is quite high and you will quickly discover that such a party is quite suboptimal in actual play.


For another thing you cannot compare hit points from earlier editions with hit points in 4e. 40 hit points in 1e or 2e is a pretty good number which will generally be more than adequate for an average character in a level appropriate setting, especially when you consider that healing is overall more easily obtained and has no upper bounds. A 40 hit point 4e character on the other hand is a low level fighter or perhaps a mid-heroic "squishy". Ordinary monsters they will be facing will have 2x the PCs hit points and tougher monsters can easily have 10x that. A 400 hit point creature in earlier editions would be a very high level monster and probably far out of the league of a 40 HP character. In 4e it is a significant boss monster which you would probably expect to fight. For example an adult White Dragon is a level 9 Solo with 408 hit points and would be a good match against a 5th to 7th level party (60-80 hit point characters roughly).


The whole point of surges really was to make attrition a meaningful concept in 4e. Two basic options would exist to remove them, either simply making them unlimited or making them non-existent. Making them unlimited means any encounter not worthy of a daily is basically meaningless. This effectively means you can't use encounters of less than hard difficulty because the party WILL defeat anything less than that eventually without using daily resources of any kind and they have no incentive to hasten the encounter by trading a daily for less damage since they'll be fully healed at the end of the encounter anyway as long as they don't actually die.


Removing surges entirely just puts you back in the silliness of earlier editions where healing is all concentrated in the "healer" character, which now becomes an absolute necessity for the party to have one of, and which is too valuable to risk in actual combat. Thus some poor sorry sap has to play the support-only character. The alternative is the equally pathetic "giant-bag-o-healing-items" which just transmogrifies "no-surges" into the exact equivalent of "limitless surges" with the additional tacky fluff of hauling around the bag of holding with the 900 wands of cure light wounds in it. Even worse you are now absolutely dependent on having these items in the game, as well as divine magic to support them. If you just have NO availability of healing in the party, then again you can't use attrition because even the slightest amount of damage to a character is so serious a problem that it will practically guarantee the party will hole up if they take even slight damage.


Admittedly surges carry their own burden of flavor, which may not be perfectly compatible with some genre of play, but there simply is no one perfect system. It would be nice if there were, but sometimes D&D isn't the best system to use for a particular genre of setting. It works really great for heroic action adventure and does most other similar genre reasonably well.


Going further afield from the sort of game 4e is aimed at is one potentially good reason for house ruling the system though. Maybe removing HS could be a good idea in some of these cases. I can see how it might facilitate playing a really grim horror theme for example where healing simply doesn't exist and characters wander around desperately trying to avoid getting ganked by the boogy man. In that case though I think you'd probably be best off just not worrying about the consequences of removing HS. Nobody is going to be healing anyone and the few powers, items, and class features that depend on surges can simply be left out of the game. You'll still have a lot of material to work with. I suspect you'll also be building monsters and NPCs in a considerably different way as well, so its kind of hard to say exactly how it will play out or what the best way to house rule everything is.

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for those of us who are newer to the community: what might that be?




Realism.  The argument usually starts with "You mean, I can be stabbed through the heart and then use a second wind and be just dandy!  That's stupid!" along with "So my character can be at deaths door, but a good nights sleep and he's perfectly healthy?" and then followed up with "So a warlord can give a pep talk and heal decapitation?  That's ridiculous!"


This is of course based on the false assumption that hit points represent actual physical vitality, something that has not been the case at all in any edition of D&D ever written.  Hit Points have always been an abstract representation of an adventurer's ability to "fight on".  The problem in old editions was that the actual rules weren't really consistent on that point, like for instance, why it took so long to heal what was otherwise non-physical wounds absent cleric magic.  And why Cure Light Wounds could bring back a 1st level character from the brink of death (it's not like that's actually "light").  In the old days we made jokes about the unrealistic nature of hit points and rolled on.


4th edition actually embraces the abstraction, giving adventurer's the option to "catch their breath" and regain hit points, and a nonmagic morale boosting speech can renew flagging spirits and refocus the will to live (and regain hit points).  I think where some players from old editions have trouble is they are used to the DM describing the large number rolls as gruesome wounds in clinical, grand guignol fashion.  For a player is who brought to zero hp by, say a charging minotaur, the DM might say "your limp body is flung through the air with two gaping wounds in your chest from his horns.   Viscera and lung tissue litter the ground around you."


Of course, it doesn't really make sense, if that just happened, that a warlord could say "Buck up soldier!" and you get up and start trucking again.  So that implies that perhaps that should imply that being brought to zero hit points doesn't gruesomely wound you.  Perhaps it only throws you aside, knocking you unconscious, and possibly dead, unless someone checks on you.  Mike Mearls actually mentioned this in a podcast, that if the primary mode of healing in the game is nonmagic, you should modify your descriptions to things that could "Inspiring Words" could generally help you overcome.


But rather than modify the fluff descriptions of the wounds, they complain the system is "unrealistic".

xaielao quoth:
4e hitpoints aren't really like traditional hitpoints. like others have said they are really more 'hero points'. it's more akin to moral then actual health.


wrong. i've been playing D&D ever since the basic red box. even in AD&D1, gygax himself said that hit points didn't merely reflect physical trauma (AD&D1 DMG). in that same section, gygax describes hit points as at most representing 1/4 of the picture re: hit points. when hit points/level was uncapped in 3.0, that clearly diluted the physical basis of hit points even further.

salamandyr quoth:
this is of course based on the false assumption that hit points represent actual physical vitality, something that has not been the case at all in any edition of D&D ever written. ht pints have always been an abstract representation of an adventurer's ability to "fight on". the problem in old editions was that the actual rules weren't really consistent on that point, like for instance, why it took so long to heal what was otherwise non-physical wounds absent cleric magic. and why cure light wounds could bring back a 1st level character from the brink of death (it's not like that's actually "light"). in the old days we made jokes about the unrealistic nature of hit points and rolled on.


well said. and yeah, i was afraid "realism" was going to be the problem. thanks, salamandyr!

If you want to have more "realistic" wounds you can easily house rule something without removing or reworking the healing surge system. The DM could rule that in certain instance the PC sustains an injury that needs bed rest, medical attention, clerical magic or whatever to heal. Thus the wounded character could regain hp but take a penality to certain actions until the injury has fully healed. For example wounded arm means they can only use one arm, wounded leg minus to movement, or broken ribs -2 to all attacks etc. 


 

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in theory, one could graft on the SW saga condition track system, but using surge value in place of damage threshold.

Realism.  The argument usually starts with "You mean, I can be stabbed through the heart and then use a second wind and be just dandy!  That's stupid!" along with "So my character can be at deaths door, but a good nights sleep and he's perfectly healthy?" and then followed up with "So a warlord can give a pep talk and heal decapitation?  That's ridiculous!"

In addition to what  Salamandyr2000said about the hit points realism complaint, there's an even simpler defense for healing surges: even if someone still isn't comfortable with nonmagical healing doing what it does in 4th edition, healing surges still aren't really at fault.


A good night's sleep curing everything? That's not the healing surge mechanics' fault, that rule could exist without healing surges. A warlord's being able to bring someone back to consciousness with the nonmagical Inspiring Word power? That isn't healing surges' fault either.


 


EDIT: Ok, can someone explain to me how I keep screwing up the formatting of my posts like that?


4th Edition actually has the until now best possibility to represent lasting damage, if you take a wee bit of time to remodel a system slightly: Disease Tracks.


Arm broken? Take your "Injury Track" and lookup the broken arm injury and what it yields you. Heal checks and magical healing may help these injuries ("Heal Injuries"-Ritual).


Best system ever to represent this kinda stuff. Sadly it's not "IN TEHZ RAW!" and thus gets discounted with in a few seconds probably. Still, those who want a more gritty D&D4E experience should try to use this idea to boot.





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Is it the healing surges you don't like or the second wind? Maybe you should look at removing second wind before healing surges.


They don't represent anything in in-game terms. They're just a metagame way



That's precisely why they need to get the boot.



Then you should look for a system that doesn't use hit points.
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3e's hit points made even less sense than its predecessors, smiteasaur.  your statement reveals ignorance of the history of the hit point concept.

Healing Surges represent something in-world; the ability of people to recover.  If you exhaust yourself running, you don't remain exhausted for weeks.  The problem is a misunderstanding of what hit points represent.  Just because one loses hit points doesn't mean you've taken physical damage.  A shot slamming into a shield or stopped by armor?  Loss of hit points.  A last-instant dodge?  Loss of hit points.


Combat in D&D isn't just abstract, it's narrative.  If one player wants to describe the loss of 20HP as the attack clattering off his shield, he can.  If one wants to describe it as a nimble evasion, he can.  If he wants to describe it as taking a wallop to the head and coming back for more, he can.  It's freedom for the players to narrate their characters.

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All systems use "hit points."  A rose by any other name and all that.  Though 3e hit points made sense, using inspiring word to bring someone back to total consciousness and reasonable health is stupid.



And the ability to take an axe in the face, or be engulfed in flames and still have a pulse is equally stupid. No need to shout, Smite.

As an EMT, I'm keenly aware of just how delicate the human body is, when confronted with traumatic injury. I haven't yet seen any HP system in any game that I would call even vaguely realistic.

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All systems use "hit points."  A rose by any other name and all that.


Wrong.  Many use conditions, damage saves, or add disadvantages instead.  And even within hitpoints there are variants.  D&D is in the "totally unrealistic" area.


Though 3e hit points made sense



It's totally reasonable for a 4 Con Wizard to heal faster then a 20 Con Barbarian!  Wait....

using inspiring word to bring someone back to total consciousness and reasonable health is stupid.



Unless HP didn't represent physical wounds.  In which case NOT being able to do that is unreasonable.

HP hasn't represented purely physical wounds since Gygax made the system.
Well... At least we got custom avatars....


All systems use "hit points."  A rose by any other name and all that.  Though 3e hit points made sense, using inspiring word to bring someone back to total consciousness and reasonable health is stupid.



Not all systems use hit points.  And it's not stupid, it's a failure of imagination on your part.  Consider the scene in Rocky (any of them really).  Rock's been beaten half to death, he's punch drunk, he can barely hold it together.  Burgess Meridith yells at him, slaps him in the face, tells him to "Get out there and kill that so and so!" and the bell rings and Rocky, renewed, goes out there and whips tail.


There you have it...Inspiring Word in a nutshell.


The problem, again, is describing the loss of hit points as massive wounds.  No, a warlord can't heal decapitation, but if the party fighter was brought to 0 hit points, and the warlord restores him, then he must not have been decapitated!

You know, I've mentioned this before, but it bears repeating - we have always described hps as actual wounds. We also have no problem with those wounds being healed by a pep talk. The D&D world is not ours, so who is to say that a pep talk from a warlord would not be able to heal wounds?

As an EMT, I'm keenly aware of just how delicate the human body is, when confronted with traumatic injury. I haven't yet seen any HP system in any game that I would call even vaguely realistic.



I would say simply "HârnMaster", but strictly speaking that doesn't use 'hit points' and so is not a 'HP system', per se.  It is, however, vaguely realistic (for what that is worth) and gives a very different feel to getting hurt than D&D (any version) does.
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All systems use "hit points."  A rose by any other name and all that.  Though 3e hit points made sense, using inspiring word to bring someone back to total consciousness and reasonable health is stupid.



Not all systems use hit points.  And it's not stupid, it's a failure of imagination on your part.  Consider the scene in Rocky (any of them really).  Rock's been beaten half to death, he's punch drunk, he can barely hold it together.  Burgess Meridith yells at him, slaps him in the face, tells him to "Get out there and kill that so and so!" and the bell rings and Rocky, renewed, goes out there and whips tail.


There you have it...Inspiring Word in a nutshell.


The problem, again, is describing the loss of hit points as massive wounds.  No, a warlord can't heal decapitation, but if the party fighter was brought to 0 hit points, and the warlord restores him, then he must not have been decapitated!




That is perfect...I have herd Gibbs from NCIS (When tony has the plauge), Karate kid, die hard (any movie by 30 mins in), and even war movie drill sargents...but rocky I think is the best example yet of inspireing word/healing surge...


 


He isn't better...he is still bleeding and in some cases still have broken parts...but he pushes past it.... heck in some cases he is dazed, and maybe he had other condtions, but he was back in fighting state anyway...

Before posting, ask yourself WWWS: What Would Wrecan Say?

He isn't better...he is still bleeding and in some cases still have broken parts...but he pushes past it.... heck in some cases he is dazed, and maybe he had other condtions, but he was back in fighting state anyway...


The most recent film I've seen that really gave me the same effect was Pineapple Express (of all things).  Getting Red to help, after the poor bastard had had his head smashed through a wall and been shot (several times), just by giving him a pep talk.
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The DM narrates things, kthx.  A hit is a hit.



Can you point to where in the rules it says that?



Too bad Rocky can't hear Burgess when he's unconscious.




Actually, you can hear things when you're unconscious.  You can also feel things.  Which is why yelling at people and slapping them can rouse them.


That's real life.


I'm not the DM.




So because your DM plays with house rules that hit points are actual physical vitality, and that attacks always do physical damage, you say heroic surges are unrealistic.


Isn't it more fair to say that your DM's house rules don't fit with the spirit of D&D?


The DM is in charge.



Yes, but the DM's house rules that contradict the rules of the game don't make the game rules stupid.



How often can you wake people up by yelling at them?  Not very.



OK, at this point I think you're trolling.