Healing Surges in GW?

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Hi everyone,

I've played the new GW a couple of times now and am really happy with the tension and lethality of the game within the context of single encounters, but not too happy with the "total healing between encounters" rule. So, I'm thinking of bringing in something like healing surges, and was wondering if anyone has tried this and how it's gone.

First, it seems clear that the 4e healing surge level of 1/2 your bloodied score won't wash in GW: it's horribly easily to take massive amounts of damage, and even the Second Wind healing level equal to your bloodied value is definitely not over-generous. So, I'm thinking of keeping the healing surge level equal to your bloodied score.

But then, the question is: how many surges per day? Is, say, 5 or 6 plus CON modifier too many? So far we've played three encounters and everyone's used 3-5 bloodied-level surges, and I'm thinking another 1 or 2 encounters before an extended rest, so 6-9 surges sounds optimal...

What do you think?


Making the game encounter by encounter means that you can turn off action points, milestones and surges. I don't have a problem losing all three of those factors to keep the game faster.

Does it make for more fragile characters - yes. 

I don't yet know how fragility vs speed is going to affect my play group. I'll get back to you when I know. 
Hey Sarah,

I've been running 4E for over two years now and finding the right number of healing surges is still a mystery. Some players simply will not go into battle unless they have 4 surges. Others will happily charge into battle with none. D&D largely solved this problem with a 1st level ritual that allows characters to move surges around within the party, but GW has no such mechanic unless we choose to add it. So no matter how many surges you allow the players to have, you always have to measure against the player with the smallest margin of error.

What I did, for my GW campaign, was to leave healing surges out but to introduce a very simple mechanic designed to prompt the occasional extended rest by giving seriously wounded players a small but steadily increasing penalty to death saves until they extended rest. My version of "Wounds" -- and there are a few variants on these forums -- goes like this:

  • A character suffers a "Wound" whenever he takes damage equal to or higher than his bloodied value.

  • Each Wound inflicts a -1 penalty to death saves.

  • When a character uses his Second Wind, he can remove one Wound he received in the same encounter. 

  • All Wounds are removed with an extended rest.

My thinking on this system is that it accomplishes my objective -- making injuries last longer than one encounter -- without penalizing the players too seriously. A penalty on death saves is something which the team can work around, since they can get that hero back on his feet before he has to roll three of them. It even adds a little bit of fun in the form of risk -- players can now choose to go into battle with Wounds if they feel lucky on their death save.

If you do decide to stick with healing surges, my advice is to pick a relatively low number but introduce some way for players to swap surges around. You can call it a "Life Transfer Machine" if you want to.

Regardless, good luck and welcome to the community.

Doc Comics 
The Doctor Comics Blog: doctorcomics.blogspot.com On Twitter @doctorcomics GW Card List: http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/26023881/Card_List
Doc Comics -- I like that approach. I was feeling Sarah's pain during our game but I was conflicted. I don't really want to import the over-fiddly 4e-isms that I find myself gravitating toward, but by the same token combat seems to be largely without consequences... at least if you survive. ;)  I think I'll be adopting the Wounds idea. It's simple and elegant.

Sarah! I find you on yet another forum. During my GW game this weekend I kept thinking how much easier/more entertaining some of this wackiness could be if only we were playing FATE...
Healing surges in D&D 4e are 1/4 your overall hitpoints. Second Wind in D&D 4e is an encounter power that requires a standard action to use. It only restores 1 healing surge worth of HP. The rest has to come from potions/clearics/other sources.

Gamma World has no healing surges but while Second Wind is still an Encounter power, it has moved to bloodied (1/2 HP) and a minor action. There are very few other chances to actually heal in this game.

If I were to implement healing surges in the game, I would have to find some way to introduce other forms of healing if the Second Wind is to remain. The only way to do that would be through Omega Tech or Alpha Muations. Mundane equipment just doesn't scream "spend a healing surge" to me.

Also, in my house rules, you can spend your Second Wind to refresh an Alpha Mutation instead of regaining HP and +2 defenses. I had a player use this house rule and it worked out rather well. The ability to fire off an Alpha Mutation twice in one encounter is rather huge.

So, to bring Healing Surges to Gamma World, I would suggest:
* The player gains a number of Healing Surges equal to 2 + Constitution modifier x 2. If the player's Constitution modifier is negative, treat it as if it's 0.

* Omega Tech or Alpha Mutations which refer to "your bloodied value" instead allow a player to spend a Healing Surge.

* Second Wind now uses a Healing Surge and grants +2 to all defenses just as the D&D 4e version does.

* During a Short Rest, players may spend as many Healing Surges as they wish. Healing Surges do not replenish after a Short Rest, but Second Wind does.

* Healing Surges are replenished to full after an Extended Rest.

Keep in mind that the game will become quite a bit easier on the players in terms of combat. If someone happens to have a 20 in their Constitution, that would be 12 healing surges. Most people will be in the 2 - 8 range. I think that's a pretty good balance of surges.

You may want to increase the difficulty of the encounters to keep the players from going into "another combat? This is boring" kind of mentality, especially if they're not afraid of losing their characters due to so much healing that becomes possible.

This is my take on it, though keep in mind that it'll be hard to use healing surges without special rules/equipment/mutations that allow you to heal.
I did something similar to what dr comics suggested.

I made a set of wound cards.

Each wound card grants a -1 cumulative penalty to death saves.
There are three types: Minor, Moderate, and Severe.
Minor wounds do nothing but grant the save penalty, Moderates give a -1 to a defense, -2 for Severe.
Players get a wound card whenever they are bloodied (new cards take effect after combat is over, though).

After an extended rest, players can make a save for each wound card they have. Conditional modifier (such as clean/poor environment, proper rest, and so on) apply as the DM sees fit. Characters with Science or Nature can increase the length of an extended rest with a skill check to give a character a +2 to thier saves.

Overall, has worked pretty well for our group.
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