Hit points and healing: a lesson from the successes and failures of 4e

I should preface this by saying that I have sampled all the editions but played 4e the most because it remains my favorite, for all its warts.  It broke ground with a lot of good ideas, but many of them needed some tweaking.  I write this in the hopes D&D Next will do that tweaking, and that this discussion (including whatever community response it generates) will help them get it right.

To my mind, hitpoints and healing are the single greatest failure of 4e.  I think they did a lot of things right: non-random hitpoints (at least as a default), healing proportional to max HP, and healing without healers.  The healing surge mechanic means that the party is in top shape - at least regarding hitpoints - right up until they start running out of surges so that they're equally strong on their third encounter as they were on their first.  There are other reasons for a 5 minute workday (daily powers), but at least HP isn't one of them.  This means that power levels throughout the day are far more predictable (which makes it easier for the DM to provide a challenge without risking a TPK, which is both more fun and avoids the vicious circle where DMs assume a 5 minute workday in designing their encounters so that players have to make it a 5 minute workday or die).  

But it does mean that HP no longer represent any kind of physical damage, which is hard for grognards to swallow and rarely understood by newbies.  I for one can live with that if it results in a better game, but I think there are other ways to do it.  A dual-pool of HP (representing physical damage) and TempHP (representing the "pain threshold" that 4e HP capture) suggested elsewhere maintains HP as physical damage while keeping hitpoints always above a certain floor (since the temps recharge every encounter), and combined with a small amount of daily magical healing it can keep them tip top for the day.  But then you run into problems when the party has no magical healer, or if your magical healing uses up spell slots you could have spent on more interesting things (pre 4e clerics).  Someone may have a better idea, or we may just have to live with HP as pain.

It also means that HP are essentially a /encounter resource, so so long as you survive the encounter it doesn't matter how much damage you took (which, incidentally means that out of combat damage ie traps/hazards NEVER matter).  The result?  Damage doesn't hurt.  Got critted by a brute?  So what, the encounter is almost over, I'll just take a short rest and be good as new.  That means there's no excitement when the monster rolls to hit, because ultimately the result doesn't matter that much (unless you're not only at risk for a TPK but you know it, which is a relatively thin slice of a rare encounter).  

The other problem with healing surges is that it cuts healers out of out-of-combat healing.  That means, to feel useful, they need a lot of in combat healing.  The sheer amount of healing the optimized 4e party has available to it in 4e (and arguably must to make the healer feel useful in a surge-based world) detracts from the game's excitement.  In 4e, a player does not feel threatened when he is at or near full HP.  Old schoolers will probably disagree with me on this, but I think that's a good thing for a D&D game.  You want players to take risks and do the heroic thing, which they won't do if they think it's character suicide.  The problem, rather, is that there is so much healing available that players spend most of the encounter at or near full HP.  That means they don't feel threatened until the party is out of healing, which means they spend most of the encounter bored.  Sure, there are other ways to threaten the party - a ticking time bomb, a VIP that needs protecting, what have you - but that's no excuse to throw away a perfectly legitimate (and much easier on your poor DM) means of creating excitement.  And even if you've got a goal besides "survive till all the monsters are dead" it doesn't make you care all that much when the monster's are trying to kill you, which is about half the encounter time.

A little bit of in-combat healing is necessary to keep damages even across the party when one PC gets picked on, so that he doesn't have to sit out the rest of the fight.  But for gods sakes not so much!  There is no reason epic leaders need 3 times as many encounter heals as heroic ones (and that's not counting the additional heals they can choose to take or the items/feats that improve their healing).  Giving non-leaders surge-based healing via utilities/attack riders/items sounds like a way for parties without a leader to squeek by, but without a mechanic for keeping them away from parties that DO have a leader (and they are still undeniably optimal choices from a strict maximizing ability to defeat enemies standpoint) they just result in way too much healing.  In a high level game, it takes literally hours to eat away all the parties heals, and until that moment there is no perceived risk that they could lose this encounter.  An encounter that ends before that moment leaves the players feeling like they didn't break a sweat - which is fine on occassion, but should not be the norm.  An encounter that ends too far after this point will quite likely result in a TPK - which is also fine on occassion, but shouldn't occur outside of climactic boss fights or unforgivably stupid player behavior (it's one thing to be beaten by the red dragon who then goes on to slaughter the village in a dramatic failure resulting in character development, it's another when it happens in a random encounter with a couple of trolls who have no legitimate reason to do anything but eat you, preventing resurrection and totally derailing the campaign).  The result is that an encounter has to be keyed to a very specific duration (varying by level, but typically 6-7 rounds + 2/tier in my experience): a hair too short and the party feels unchallenged, a hair too long and the party is dead.  It's not easy to do, it typically fails, and the players end up bored when it does.

So the question is, how do you make a healing system where a party without a leader has enough healing to get by, a party with a leader doesn't have so much that the game drags on forever without feeling challenging, and yet that leader feels like his healing is contributing to the party?  It's no easy task.  

The first step, I think, is to make the maximum amount of healing the party can have scale automatically to the size of the party and the number of encounters in the day (at least a little, nothing wrong with feeling a bit more constrained at the end of a long day).  Healing surges are a good way to do this, as they scale automatically to the size of the party, but they also need to scale to the length of the day.  Currently, a party with all the surge-triggering powers they can get their hands on is nigh-unkillable in a single encounter day, and if you just cut the number of surges per day you would only be forcing shorter days.  I say cut down to 1/2/3+CON surges/day for controllers/leaders strikers/defenders, then grant two more surges after every victory (the morale boost at play).  That way on a three encounter day you end up in the same place, but you can keep going if you need to and never take more than your bloodied value damage because you played smart.  On a one encounter day, though, you have much fewer and therefore have meaningful limitations on the number of times you can heal EVEN IF you take all the heal-powers you can get.  Thus, a party without a leader can take all those powers and be fine, while a party with a leader gets far less benefit out of them and therefore doesn't bother.  Meanwhile, the leader gets to be useful because he can heal with a minor action encounter power, while everyone else has to blow dailies or standard actions or potions (especially if you get less ridiculous about the encounter minor/immediate action heals for non-leaders). At the same time, in a less challenging encounter, there is a much greater incentive to play smart because once you take more than your bloodied value you're dipping into a very limited resource, and since you don't get surges for defeating a trap out-of-combat trap damage hurts again too.  Finally, the ability to regain surges mid encounter when certain victory conditions (up to the DM) are met means the game becomes much more capable of handling encounters that don't fit into the bite-sized "one wave then rest" mold.

The second step is to make non-leader healing fundamentally different from leader healing.  More limited (never encounter surge based, except maybe 1 second wind), more expensive to use (either money or actions, rarely minor actions), and possibly only of a temp HP variety (or of extremely small values for ordinary healing, so you can get someone conscious again but any serious numbers come in temps).  One advantage of the majority of non-leader healing coming in the form of temps is that temps don't help you survive a longer day, just a longer encounter.  That means that the leader can be the only guy that helps the party get through more encounters in the day, which means he gets a special way to help the party that isn't making encounters (which are already too long) longer.  It also means that a party without a leader can handle very similar challenges to a party with one, just not as many in a day.  Same goes for limiting /encounter heals to leaders - in a one encounter day the leaderless party is still fine, the leader only helps out in a longer day.  I'd much rather plan shorter workdays into my campaign (ie put less encounters into the runup to the BBEG, be more forgiving of mid-adventure rests) when the party is leaderless than have to add or subtract monsters based on the number of leaders in the party.  Making non-leader heals generally standard actions would mean that a party without a leader can still keep the one guy getting picked on alive, but the leader still has an important role in that he can do it without sacrificing actions.
I think you missed 1 major point of healing surges.  They limit healing.

You can't but 50 wand's of cure light wounds and use them all day.


That said, +1 to the HP/Morale pool.  (i think "morale" is a better then THP).

5e houserules and tweaks.

Celestial Link Evoking Radiance into Creation

A Party Without Music is Lame: A Bard

Level Dip Guide

 

4e stuff

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

Morale.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
But it does mean that HP no longer represent any kind of physical damage

They never did, but ok.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
The other problem with healing surges is that it cuts healers out of out-of-combat healing.  That means, to feel useful, they need a lot of in combat healing.

That is, of course, assuming that a healer is useless for anything other than healing.

It's possible to build a 4E healer that comes fairly close to that. Possible, but quite difficult. The closest I've ever seen is a Pacifist Cleric, and she was actually an adequate controller.

In fact, 4E doesn't have "healers". It has "leaders". One thing leaders do is healing. But only one thing.

My Warlords did significant damage. And imposed vulnerabilities or weaknesses on enemies, and buffed allies. Oh, and healed.

My Bard does a bit of damage, imposes conditions, debuffs enemies, moves creatures around, and pops minions. Oh, and heals.

The Shamans I've seen defined the battlefield. And damaged enemies. And imposed conditions. And buffed allies. Oh, and healed.

And so on... 
"The world does not work the way you have been taught it does. We are not real as such; we exist within The Story. Unfortunately for you, you have inherited a condition from your mother known as Primary Protagonist Syndrome, which means The Story is interested in you. It will find you, and if you are not ready for the narrative strands it will throw at you..." - from Footloose
Even a pacifist healer will be madly buffing the party with utility powers, and debuffing/controlling the monsters.
Even a pacifist healer will be madly buffing the party with utility powers, and debuffing/controlling the monsters.



Leaders: We're not just heal batteries anymore!
"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." --Bill Cosby (1937- ) Vanador: OK. You ripped a gateway to Hell, killed half the town, and raised the dead as feral zombies. We're going to kill you. But it can go two ways. We want you to run as fast as you possibly can toward the south of the town to draw the Zombies to you, and right before they catch you, I'll put an arrow through your head to end it instantly. If you don't agree to do this, we'll tie you this building and let the Zombies rip you apart slowly. Dimitry: God I love being Neutral. 4th edition is dead, long live 4th edition. Salla: opinionated, but commonly right.
fun quotes
58419928 wrote:
You have to do the work first, and show you can do the work, before someone is going to pay you for it.
69216168 wrote:
If you can't understand how someone yelling at another person would make them fight harder and longer, then you need to look at the forums a bit closer.
quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]
It's funny...when I played City of Heroes, there were Defenders, which functioned very similarly to Leaders in 4E D&D. They had some healing powers, and a lot of buffing and debuffing powers that made them very helpful to a group. But in the MMORPG world, where people were stuck in the Holy Trinity mindset (Tank/DPS/Heals), many were only interested in the Empath, which was the most healing-focused of the Defender types. Even then, the Empath class provided powerful buffs, but for many they were only interested in running with a heal battery.

This lead to a lot of hurt feelings and gnashing and wailing on the Intertubes, because people wanted to play Defenders that weren't Empaths.


What's funny is that D&D has never had this paradigm. There has never been a class tha was restricted to "just healing" in any edition of D&D, save the 3.5 Healer class from the Complete Miniatures book that almost no one ever played.

So I fail to see the sensitivity here.

Anyways, I am on your side. I play a lot of Leaders in 4.0, and healing tends to be a panic button, not a focus, for my characters.
Plus one for health and morale. Perhaps grit would be a better word as it should represent skill, spirit, resolve, and tenacity as well as morale. This would also allow for a unique differentiation between martial and magical healing. (assuming they come up with creative ways for martial healers to restore grit).

Edit: grit doesn't sound quite right either...
It's funny...when I played City of Heroes, there were Defenders, which functioned very similarly to Leaders in 4E D&D. They had some healing powers, and a lot of buffing and debuffing powers that made them very helpful to a group. But in the MMORPG world, where people were stuck in the Holy Trinity mindset (Tank/DPS/Heals), many were only interested in the Empath, which was the most healing-focused of the Defender types. Even then, the Empath class provided powerful buffs, but for many they were only interested in running with a heal battery.

This lead to a lot of hurt feelings and gnashing and wailing on the Intertubes, because people wanted to play Defenders that weren't Empaths.


What's funny is that D&D has never had this paradigm. There has never been a class tha was restricted to "just healing" in any edition of D&D, save the 3.5 Healer class from the Complete Miniatures book that almost no one ever played.

So I fail to see the sensitivity here.

Anyways, I am on your side. I play a lot of Leaders in 4.0, and healing tends to be a panic button, not a focus, for my characters.



I think people just were always "expected" to be the heal batteries.

I picture Fluttershy playing the cleric with her pony friends, being forced into the role of "help everyone" and just accepting it.

Yes, I just took a turn into MLP territory.  Kind of like Twilight Sparkle is the Wizard, and RD is the brash Barbarian.

And now I should really stop derailing this thread more with mention of ponies.
"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." --Bill Cosby (1937- ) Vanador: OK. You ripped a gateway to Hell, killed half the town, and raised the dead as feral zombies. We're going to kill you. But it can go two ways. We want you to run as fast as you possibly can toward the south of the town to draw the Zombies to you, and right before they catch you, I'll put an arrow through your head to end it instantly. If you don't agree to do this, we'll tie you this building and let the Zombies rip you apart slowly. Dimitry: God I love being Neutral. 4th edition is dead, long live 4th edition. Salla: opinionated, but commonly right.
fun quotes
58419928 wrote:
You have to do the work first, and show you can do the work, before someone is going to pay you for it.
69216168 wrote:
If you can't understand how someone yelling at another person would make them fight harder and longer, then you need to look at the forums a bit closer.
quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]
In previous editions hit points never represented direct physical damage, it only appeared that way because there were less hits points given to any character. That is an easy to implement and/or fix with any edition.

Healing surges makes healing more reliable (less random), and offers a healing source to each character, i.e. second wind, so every class, including leaders (healers) can focus on other things. It also limits healing resources so a character doesn't become a magic mart in regards to using healing magic and abusing it. It also lends well to a low fantasy setting, as you can move along without the magic as the surges are integral to each character versus being reliant on an external force like divine magic. In 4e you can be a martial healer, primal healer, arcane healer, artificer, etc.

The biggest down fall of healing surges it getting them all back at the end of an extended rest, and having the association with 4E. I can't help with the latter, but the simple fix with the former is remove gaining them all back at the end of the day, but establish a rate based on the setting or campaign to regain them over time.
But it does mean that HP no longer represent any kind of physical damage, which is hard for grognards to swallow and rarely understood by newbies.

As others have said, HP has never represented pure physical damage.  Here is a quote from the 1st edition PHB (writen by Gygax, so you can't get much more Grognardy!):

"A certain amount of these hit points represent the actual physical punishment which can be sustained. The remainder, a significant portion of hit points at higher levels, stands for skill, luck, and/or magical factors.  A typical man-at-arms can take about 5 hit points of damage before being killed.  Let us suppose that a 10th level fighter has 55 hit points, plus a bonus of 30 hit points for his constitution, for a total of 85 hit points.  This is the equivalent of about 18 hit dice for creatures, about what it would take to kill four huge warhorses.  It is ridiculous to assume that even a fantastic flghter can take that much punishment.  The some holds true to a lesser extent for clerics, thieves, and the other classes.  Thus, the majority of hit points are symbolic of combat skill, luck (bestowed by supernatural powers), and magical forces." (page 34, bolded for emphasis).

Just a quick initial response.

Don't Healing Surges represent physical damage, basically?

I mean, they can also represent other things, just like HP always has, but one of the things the represent is actual physical punchedness. :P
Skeptical_Clown wrote:
More sex and gender equality and racial equality shouldn't even be an argument--it should simply be an assumption for any RPG that wants to stay relevant in the 21st century.
104340961 wrote:
Pine trees didn't unanimously decide one day that leaves were gauche.
http://community.wizards.com/doctorbadwolf/blog/2012/01/10/how_we_can_help_make_dndnext_awesome
It's funny...when I played City of Heroes, there were Defenders, which functioned very similarly to Leaders in 4E D&D. They had some healing powers, and a lot of buffing and debuffing powers that made them very helpful to a group. But in the MMORPG world, where people were stuck in the Holy Trinity mindset (Tank/DPS/Heals), many were only interested in the Empath, which was the most healing-focused of the Defender types. Even then, the Empath class provided powerful buffs, but for many they were only interested in running with a heal battery.

This lead to a lot of hurt feelings and gnashing and wailing on the Intertubes, because people wanted to play Defenders that weren't Empaths.


What's funny is that D&D has never had this paradigm. There has never been a class tha was restricted to "just healing" in any edition of D&D, save the 3.5 Healer class from the Complete Miniatures book that almost no one ever played.

So I fail to see the sensitivity here.

Anyways, I am on your side. I play a lot of Leaders in 4.0, and healing tends to be a panic button, not a focus, for my characters.



I think people just were always "expected" to be the heal batteries.

I picture Fluttershy playing the cleric with her pony friends, being forced into the role of "help everyone" and just accepting it.

Yes, I just took a turn into MLP territory.  Kind of like Twilight Sparkle is the Wizard, and RD is the brash Barbarian.

And now I should really stop derailing this thread more with mention of ponies.



Rainbow Dash is totally the barb, good call!

I'd call Applejack a defender of some kind, probably fighter.

BTW, Pinkie is def a leader, and I would specifically go with Bard.
Skeptical_Clown wrote:
More sex and gender equality and racial equality shouldn't even be an argument--it should simply be an assumption for any RPG that wants to stay relevant in the 21st century.
104340961 wrote:
Pine trees didn't unanimously decide one day that leaves were gauche.
http://community.wizards.com/doctorbadwolf/blog/2012/01/10/how_we_can_help_make_dndnext_awesome

Ya know - when they unveiled their April Fool's Joke announcement of MLP, the role playing game (www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/dd/200...) - I thought it was a great idea and could have easily seen my daughter (five at the time) playing the game.  I wish they had actually taken their own idea a little more seriously.

Carl

@OP

I personally hate healing surges because they limit me in playing a "Healer", a role I enjoy. You've found a way to return significance to that role even in a game that keeps healing surges. Since I doubt the devs will go so far as to remove surges from the game and replace it with the HP/Temp HP split that seems to be the best alternative, I devoutly hope they read this thread and make use of your ideas. Have a cookie for your elegance in game design.
@OP

I personally hate healing surges because they limit me in playing a "Healer", a role I enjoy. You've found a way to return significance to that role even in a game that keeps healing surges. Since I doubt the devs will go so far as to remove surges from the game and replace it with the HP/Temp HP split that seems to be the best alternative, I devoutly hope they read this thread and make use of your ideas. Have a cookie for your elegance in game design.



I also love playing healer types but i don't have the fealing the surge system it limiting me.
how in your experiance is it limiting you ?

yes there are options for characters to heal themselves second wind and spending surges after a rest.
but these options are so bad compared to recieving healing form a leader class that i almost never see them used.

you can spend a surge after a rest, or have a priest heal you.
surge you regain Hp equal to your surge value.
priest you gain hp equal to your surge value +Xd6 + priests wisdon score + other bonuses. 
@Journeyman

That's my point exactly.  It's not that leaders serve no purpose other than healing - having played a warlord for 2.5 years I'm fully aware of the ridiculously awesome other shenanigans they can do.  But healing is also a big part of what makes them special, and what justifies giving them lower AC/HP/damage than other roles.  I wouldn't go so far as to say that 4e and surges makes healing useless, quite the opposite it's too darned useful, but in order to encourage people playing leaders they felt the need to give them a LOT of healing, and that resulted in too much healing on the table.  If you instead gave leaders special healing, you wouldn't have to give them more of it.

OK, I'm not as steeped in older edition lore, so I guess I was a bit off about HP representing physical damage.  But not totally wrong - at least some of it did, and the 1HP/level/day natural healing rate made it possible to think of it as such.  In point of fact I think it makes it impossible to think of it as pure skill/etc., any less than a 10th level fighter having as many HP as four warhorses makes it impossible to think of it as pure damage.  But it used to represent SOME degree of damage, apparently multiplied by skill level, while now you NEVER take any physical damage at all right up until the moment you die.  Unless every adventurer is secretly a half troll who can regenerate from just shy of negative bloodied (what should be gaping wounds in your chest) to full with all surges (tip top) overnight.  I don't recommend achieving that effect by limiting surge regeneration, at least unless you're going to make all leader-healing surgeless, because then you really cut healers out of the picture on damage/day while at the same time accomplishing little more than turning an extended rest into a 3 day affair instead of an 8 hour affair.  At least in older editions with trivial natural healing, a cleric regained his spells every day and could use them to speed up the process.

Also, I did not miss that surges limit the amount of healing.   That's exactly why my preferred solution cuts down on the number of healing surges.  The limit is currently much too high for a single encounter day, and too low for a 5 encounter day.  WotC tried to control healing/encounter by limiting the number of ways you could trigger a surge in an encounter, but then they offered nearly unlimited ways to trigger it hoping we would only take as many as we needed based on party size and leader/nonleader ratio.  But of course we took all of them, because healing is really awesome.  My whole suggestion is to use surges to limit healing/encounter, in addition to just healing/day, because it controls it much more effectively than pretending to limit the number of triggers.  That and to avoid hitting a brick wall in the mechanics that says "no matter how well you play, you can never survive more than 4 encounters in a day."
@ Edwin_su: The entire problem is examined at length on one of the other healing threads, but the short version is that one character consistently ran out of surges while the rest of the party still had at least 4 each. Having to take an extended rest not because my healer ran out ft healing, but because a reckless player ran out of surges penalyzes me as the healer for some other player's poor decisions. I don't like one player's poor tactics acting as a stop sign on the entire adventuring day any more in the form of healing surges than I ever did when it was vancian spellcasters doing it. 

@ PowerRolePlayer:  Warlord is indeed awesome and my favorite new thing about 4e. I'm willing to accept limits on healing so long as the limits belong to the healer rather than the target. Healing overall should effectively be a party resource, not an individual limit. Per encounter on the other hand, is much more tightly tied to Hp and thus I'm reasonably comfortable with some variation on surges per encounter (I can theoretically patch wounds as a Cleric or inspire morale as a Warlord until my own powers run out, but my target can still eventually hit 0 hp from the effects my style of healing doesn't address). Works for me.

When being "the Healer" is just a degree of efficiency rather than actually doing something that others can't, I feel like one of my prefered contributions to party success is no longer special/unique/defining for the character. Being "The Healer" needs to be just as valid and distinct as being "The Damage-Dealer". 
@ Edwin_su: The entire problem is examined at length on one of the other healing threads, but the short version is that one character consistently ran out of surges while the rest of the party still had at least 4 each. Having to take an extended rest not because my healer ran out ft healing, but because a reckless player ran out of surges penalyzes me as the healer for some other player's poor decisions. I don't like one player's poor tactics acting as a stop sign on the entire adventuring day any more in the form of healing surges than I ever did when it was vancian spellcasters doing it.

But why did your group "have" to take an extended rest?  There was nothing forcing you, especially if the rest of the party (you included) still had plenty of surges and daily powers left.  Make the reckless player learn a lesson by pressing on.

I feel this is one of the strengths of healing surges as a limiting factor for healing; it provides a concrete resource that must be managed.  If someone acts consistently reckless, they will run out of surges before the rest of the party.  Hopefully they will then start acting a bit more cautious, at least until the group is ready to take a rest.  And when they gain a level, they should think about feats like Toughness and Durable.

In addition, clerics do get a number of surgeless healing powers (1 at each level of utility powers).  By multiclassing into cleric and taking the utility power swap feat, any class can get access to these powers as well.

Just a quick initial response.

Don't Healing Surges represent physical damage, basically?

I mean, they can also represent other things, just like HP always has, but one of the things the represent is actual physical punchedness. :P



No. Healing surges represent the character's ability to push through pain, fatigue, despair, and the like. That's why you can lose HS when you botch a skill challenge for travel stuff and whatnot. 

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57019168 wrote:
I am a hero, not a chump.
@Arithzoo: Said character was the defender. Pressing on would either sideline him entirely because he lacks any relatively safe (i.e. ranged) options to contribute in combat or would condemn him to death. Prior to paragon tier taking every surgeless healing option as available still adds up to less than full hp for a single character. That isn't nearly enough to save a defender actually doing his job in any kind of challenging fight and certainly not enough to save him against a Boss encounter. Managing resources should be left to the player who actually enjoys doing so, not forced on everyone equally. Requiring feats to support your defined role in the party is a feat tax. This is fine as an option (he did multiclass train as a cleric for another minor action heal), but I'm averse to punishing the defender for drawing aggro consistently and punishing the healer for enemies focusing fire. Leaders don't have a lot of ways to compensate/prevent focused fire by enemies so this puts a significant part of their role in the party (healing) squarely in the hands of the defender and the DM instead of his own. The only default fixes were to take an extended rest, leave the reckless character mostly unable to contibute further (which I would be fine with if I thought it would actually happen that way), or watch him die despite it being your job to prevent exactly that. None of those strike me as really supporting "fun".
It's funny...when I played City of Heroes, there were Defenders, which functioned very similarly to Leaders in 4E D&D. They had some healing powers, and a lot of buffing and debuffing powers that made them very helpful to a group. But in the MMORPG world, where people were stuck in the Holy Trinity mindset (Tank/DPS/Heals), many were only interested in the Empath, which was the most healing-focused of the Defender types. Even then, the Empath class provided powerful buffs, but for many they were only interested in running with a heal battery.

This lead to a lot of hurt feelings and gnashing and wailing on the Intertubes, because people wanted to play Defenders that weren't Empaths.


What's funny is that D&D has never had this paradigm. There has never been a class tha was restricted to "just healing" in any edition of D&D, save the 3.5 Healer class from the Complete Miniatures book that almost no one ever played.

So I fail to see the sensitivity here.

Anyways, I am on your side. I play a lot of Leaders in 4.0, and healing tends to be a panic button, not a focus, for my characters.



I think people just were always "expected" to be the heal batteries.

I picture Fluttershy playing the cleric with her pony friends, being forced into the role of "help everyone" and just accepting it.

Yes, I just took a turn into MLP territory.  Kind of like Twilight Sparkle is the Wizard, and RD is the brash Barbarian.

And now I should really stop derailing this thread more with mention of ponies.



Rainbow Dash is totally the barb, good call!

I'd call Applejack a defender of some kind, probably fighter.

BTW, Pinkie is def a leader, and I would specifically go with Bard.



Yeah, but what is Rarity?

Because I assume Spike is the DM.

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quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]
Just a quick initial response.

Don't Healing Surges represent physical damage, basically?

I mean, they can also represent other things, just like HP always has, but one of the things the represent is actual physical punchedness. :P



No. Healing surges represent the character's ability to push through pain, fatigue, despair, and the like. That's why you can lose HS when you botch a skill challenge for travel stuff and whatnot. 

No, they don't. There isn't a single line in the whole PHB that ever says what healing surges are supposed to represent. They are a blatant mechanical limit without flavor or justification ever offered. You can talk all you like about how they "Balance" x or y mechanically, but any flavor is purely your own interpretation. The book doesn't give you a single line to back it up. It's one of the things I dislike about them.
Just a quick initial response.

Don't Healing Surges represent physical damage, basically?

I mean, they can also represent other things, just like HP always has, but one of the things the represent is actual physical punchedness. :P



No. Healing surges represent the character's ability to push through pain, fatigue, despair, and the like. That's why you can lose HS when you botch a skill challenge for travel stuff and whatnot. 

No, they don't. There isn't a single line in the whole PHB that ever says what healing surges are supposed to represent.


They represent what you want them too that is a good thing they represent deeper heroic reserves that are just as abstract and multiple in nature as hit points (ooh look they are intimately tied to hit points... coincidental?_)
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

Just a quick initial response.

Don't Healing Surges represent physical damage, basically?

I mean, they can also represent other things, just like HP always has, but one of the things the represent is actual physical punchedness. :P



No. Healing surges represent the character's ability to push through pain, fatigue, despair, and the like. That's why you can lose HS when you botch a skill challenge for travel stuff and whatnot. 

No, they don't. There isn't a single line in the whole PHB that ever says what healing surges are supposed to represent. They are a blatant mechanical limit without flavor or justification ever offered. You can talk all you like about how they "Balance" x or y mechanically, but any flavor is purely your own interpretation. The book doesn't give you a single line to back it up. It's one of the things I dislike about them.



They are too metagamey in my opinion. I guess when I picture fantasy gaming, I don't picture any precedent for healing surges. I don't think they were ever a part of the D&D game and they serve to jerk the player out of character all too easily. The character is now having to manage intangible resources that would never "exist" in game.

"Hey Conan, are you ready to assault that goblin lair?"

"Well let's see, I have just enough stamina and luck to try and survive 9 more times - my adrenaline is pumped to spike an additional nine times. I'll get my second wind in combat, and then if I go sit out for another 5 minutes, I can pump my adrenal gland an additional 8 times before I am back in the fight. It's my own internal 5-hour energy"

Please.

Ya know - when they unveiled their April Fool's Joke announcement of MLP, the role playing game (www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/dd/200...) - I thought it was a great idea and could have easily seen my daughter (five at the time) playing the game.  I wish they had actually taken their own idea a little more seriously.

Carl




Seconded.

@OP

I personally hate healing surges because they limit me in playing a "Healer", a role I enjoy. You've found a way to return significance to that role even in a game that keeps healing surges. Since I doubt the devs will go so far as to remove surges from the game and replace it with the HP/Temp HP split that seems to be the best alternative, I devoutly hope they read this thread and make use of your ideas. Have a cookie for your elegance in game design.



I also love playing healer types but i don't have the fealing the surge system it limiting me.
how in your experiance is it limiting you ?

yes there are options for characters to heal themselves second wind and spending surges after a rest.
but these options are so bad compared to recieving healing form a leader class that i almost never see them used.

you can spend a surge after a rest, or have a priest heal you.
surge you regain Hp equal to your surge value.
priest you gain hp equal to your surge value +Xd6 + priests wisdon score + other bonuses. 




NOt to mention the benefits of having one of the really high healing healers in the group, with surgeless healing powers and the like.

I also love that I can layer more healing on my bard by making her a knight hospitaler or ordained priest, and cool options like that.
Skeptical_Clown wrote:
More sex and gender equality and racial equality shouldn't even be an argument--it should simply be an assumption for any RPG that wants to stay relevant in the 21st century.
104340961 wrote:
Pine trees didn't unanimously decide one day that leaves were gauche.
http://community.wizards.com/doctorbadwolf/blog/2012/01/10/how_we_can_help_make_dndnext_awesome
Hit points themselves get multiple paragraphs on what they represent. There is a deep and abiding difference between having something represent a combination of several known factors (with the ratios between them up to individual interpretation) and having no explanation at all. By the book, I can describe a character as looking "injured" or maybe "dispirited" and it is reasonable for a character to try to fix it with a healing power, be it a divine blessing or just a Warlord's well commanding "Drive on, Soldier". There is no such in-game indication of surges present or not. Using a healing word on said NPC and being told "Sorry, the blessing of your god has no effect." is going to either annoy me intensely or set me off on a red herring thinking the guy must be an illusion or something else besides an actual creature. Healing surges are purely a meta-game resource with no direct relation to any observable characteristic or quality in-game. I don't like things that force a player to break immersion just to manage his character properly. I'm clearly not the only player with this opinion or problem with healing surges in particular. 5e needs to fix this if they intend to keep them around somehow and I don't see any way that they can. YMMV
Just a quick initial response.

Don't Healing Surges represent physical damage, basically?

I mean, they can also represent other things, just like HP always has, but one of the things the represent is actual physical punchedness. :P



No. Healing surges represent the character's ability to push through pain, fatigue, despair, and the like. That's why you can lose HS when you botch a skill challenge for travel stuff and whatnot. 




le sigh...Did you miss where I said that, like HP, surges represent a combination of things, one of which is physical damage?
Skeptical_Clown wrote:
More sex and gender equality and racial equality shouldn't even be an argument--it should simply be an assumption for any RPG that wants to stay relevant in the 21st century.
104340961 wrote:
Pine trees didn't unanimously decide one day that leaves were gauche.
http://community.wizards.com/doctorbadwolf/blog/2012/01/10/how_we_can_help_make_dndnext_awesome
It's funny...when I played City of Heroes, there were Defenders, which functioned very similarly to Leaders in 4E D&D. They had some healing powers, and a lot of buffing and debuffing powers that made them very helpful to a group. But in the MMORPG world, where people were stuck in the Holy Trinity mindset (Tank/DPS/Heals), many were only interested in the Empath, which was the most healing-focused of the Defender types. Even then, the Empath class provided powerful buffs, but for many they were only interested in running with a heal battery.

This lead to a lot of hurt feelings and gnashing and wailing on the Intertubes, because people wanted to play Defenders that weren't Empaths.


What's funny is that D&D has never had this paradigm. There has never been a class tha was restricted to "just healing" in any edition of D&D, save the 3.5 Healer class from the Complete Miniatures book that almost no one ever played.

So I fail to see the sensitivity here.

Anyways, I am on your side. I play a lot of Leaders in 4.0, and healing tends to be a panic button, not a focus, for my characters.



I think people just were always "expected" to be the heal batteries.

I picture Fluttershy playing the cleric with her pony friends, being forced into the role of "help everyone" and just accepting it.

Yes, I just took a turn into MLP territory.  Kind of like Twilight Sparkle is the Wizard, and RD is the brash Barbarian.

And now I should really stop derailing this thread more with mention of ponies.



Rainbow Dash is totally the barb, good call!

I'd call Applejack a defender of some kind, probably fighter.

BTW, Pinkie is def a leader, and I would specifically go with Bard.



Yeah, but what is Rarity?

Because I assume Spike is the DM.





I have no idea...maybe...hrm....probably a different kind of wizard from Twilight.

What about Fluttershy?
Skeptical_Clown wrote:
More sex and gender equality and racial equality shouldn't even be an argument--it should simply be an assumption for any RPG that wants to stay relevant in the 21st century.
104340961 wrote:
Pine trees didn't unanimously decide one day that leaves were gauche.
http://community.wizards.com/doctorbadwolf/blog/2012/01/10/how_we_can_help_make_dndnext_awesome
I don't like things that force a player to break immersion just to manage his character properly. YMMV



Like having cure light wounds take a character from dying to fully able at low level and have the same ability have almost no effect on the high level character?
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

 
le sigh...Did you miss where I said that, like HP, surges represent a combination of things, one of which is physical damage?



I think of it like long term fatigue and short term fatigue.. I can rest for five minutes after running the 60 yard dash and be fine but if I keep doing that I will eventually not have it in me to do more. 
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

I don't like things that force a player to break immersion just to manage his character properly. YMMV



Like having cure light wounds take a character from dying to fully able at low level and have the same ability have almost no effect on the high level character?



Apples and Oranges.

The spell is an obviously weaker spell. There is no out-of-character management to the spell. The healing surge is something that is so intangible that the PC would have no idea that it's there or what it is, and yet he adventures knowing that he only has 5 or 6 remaining. He also adventures knowing that one of his exploits are going to be able to be used one time only in combat, and for some reason he has to sleep at night before trying it out again. Froppy the wizard is studying his spell books at night to re-burn the spells into his brain, but Hehulk the barbarian just needs to rest before "breaking through his enemy's armor and dealing a painful bleeding wound"
I don't like things that force a player to break immersion just to manage his character properly. YMMV



Like having cure light wounds take a character from dying to fully able at low level and have the same ability have almost no effect on the high level character?

Having an ability that closes wounds do the whole job for a guy with little skill/luck/motivation/ect (read: low level) is fine by me. Having the percentage of Hp that even theoretically represents actual cuts/bruises/ect go down as the Hp total goes up is a concept that dates all the way back to a quote from Gygax himself regarding higher level fighters not really having the pure physical toughness of four warhorses put together, but rather just more luck/skill/divine favor/ect. I'm perfectly comfortable in assuming that a Lv 1 spell focuses purely on patching holes in the body and does less to address underlying issues like muscle fatigue/pain/concussion/ect than a more complex (read: higher level) spell. That said, I'm 100% behind having the majority of healing be percentage based. It scales better that way and works just as well with the flavor. Healing a percentage of Max as standard doesn't actually require or benefit from the presence or absence of surges in the system in any way.
I don't like things that force a player to break immersion just to manage his character properly. YMMV



Like having cure light wounds take a character from dying to fully able at low level and have the same ability have almost no effect on the high level character?



Apples and Oranges.

The spell is an obviously weaker spell. There is no out-of-character management to the spell.  



Yes there is I come upon  a scene with two injured people.. one is dying and the other is standing over him... I cast cure light wounds on the downed person and a bigger wound spell on the standing one.... makes utterly no sense from in story..but its the correct management of the spells.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

I don't like things that force a player to break immersion just to manage his character properly. YMMV



Like having cure light wounds take a character from dying to fully able at low level and have the same ability have almost no effect on the high level character?



Apples and Oranges.

The spell is an obviously weaker spell. There is no out-of-character management to the spell.  



Yes there is I come upon  a scene with two injured people.. one is dying and the other is standing over him... I cast cure light wounds on the downed person and a bigger wound spell on the standing one.... makes utterly no sense from in story..but its the correct management of the spells.



I don't quite follow....what is the point here?
  and yet he adventures knowing that he only has 5 or 6 remaining.


Players know how many hit points the characters have exactly interestin.. wow we should hide that. Player knowledge is not the same as character knowledge... 
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

3.5's later books actually added a couple of ways to estimate someone else's level in comparison to your own. Heal checks were always a popular and appropriate way to guesstimate the hp restoration required. You'd still have to ask the DM for a rough idea of the guy's constitution to compensate for bonus hp, but nobody argues that attributes aren't something reasonably observable if you have some time to do it. That said, percentage healing still fixes this without surges being either necessary or beneficial.
I don't like things that force a player to break immersion just to manage his character properly. YMMV



Like having cure light wounds take a character from dying to fully able at low level and have the same ability have almost no effect on the high level character?



Apples and Oranges.

The spell is an obviously weaker spell. There is no out-of-character management to the spell.  



Yes there is I come upon  a scene with two injured people.. one is dying and the other is standing over him... I cast cure light wounds on the downed person and a bigger wound spell on the standing one.... makes utterly no sense from in story..but its the correct management of the spells.



I don't quite follow....what is the point here?



Its out of character management you claimed wasnt there ... the light spell is cast on the heavily injured dying man... and the heavy spell is cast on the one running around just fine. The one running around just fine has huge amounts of hit points... in fact since he is standing its probably true the other guy is dying form injuries but the light weak spell gets cast on him because it might even be all he needs. 


  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

I don't like things that force a player to break immersion just to manage his character properly. YMMV



Like having cure light wounds take a character from dying to fully able at low level and have the same ability have almost no effect on the high level character?

Having an ability that closes wounds do the whole job for a guy with little skill/luck/motivation/ect (read: low level) is fine by me. Having the percentage of Hp that even theoretically represents actual cuts/bruises/ect go down as the Hp total goes up is a concept that dates all the way back to a quote from Gygax himself regarding higher level fighters not really having the pure physical toughness of four warhorses put together, but rather just more luck/skill/divine favor/ect. I'm perfectly comfortable in assuming that a Lv 1 spell focuses purely on patching holes in the body and does less to address underlying issues like muscle fatigue/pain/concussion/ect than a more complex (read: higher level) spell. That said, I'm 100% behind having the majority of healing be percentage based. It scales better that way and works just as well with the flavor. Healing a percentage of Max as standard doesn't actually require or benefit from the presence or absence of surges in the system in any way.



I could see that, but it takes away some of the inherent "swinginess" in the whole healing mechanic. Nothing sucks worse than being targeted with a cure critical wounds for 3 HP of restoration. But maybe the priest's faith just isn't strong enough at the time, maybe he mixed a syllable up and weakened the efficacy of the spell, maybe the wound is "beyond my means to heal" Whenever we become too formulaic at things, then the thrill and inherent risk in the roll of the die is lost. Maybe a roll that would restore "between 5-20% of HP scaled up with spell power. I think healing should always have that randomness attached to it similar to damage.
I don't like things that force a player to break immersion just to manage his character properly. YMMV



Like having cure light wounds take a character from dying to fully able at low level and have the same ability have almost no effect on the high level character?



Apples and Oranges.

The spell is an obviously weaker spell. There is no out-of-character management to the spell.  



Yes there is I come upon  a scene with two injured people.. one is dying and the other is standing over him... I cast cure light wounds on the downed person and a bigger wound spell on the standing one.... makes utterly no sense from in story..but its the correct management of the spells.



I don't quite follow....what is the point here?



Its out of character management you claimed wasnt there ... the light spell is cast on the heavily injured dying man... and the heavy spell is cast on the one running around just fine.





Okay. So I cast cause critical wounds on the guy standing there for 24 damage and heal the badly injured one for 8 HP with cure light wounds. Is it the name of the spell that is bad? because light wounds to a low level character are actually heavy and critical wounds to a high level character are actually light? Sure, I can buy that the name of the healing spells could be changed. "1st Circle of healing" might be more appropriate when describing the qualitative effect of the spell.

That still doesn't explain how a PC can know and behave with the implicit knowledge of how many discreet healing surges he has left; or why the fighter needs to rest before trying certain exploits again.
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