Do not make in combat healing necessary

Every edition of D&D has had issues with healing. 4e became especially bad when healers became so potent as to keep the party alive almost indefinitely. This lead to many complaints that 4e combat was too slow and too easy. A simple solution to this would be to assume players have no (or very little in combat healing). Then clerics will not be required and the game will be a challenge as there will be very few things that can extend your groups endurance during each encounter. Clerics who have to use an action to heal (such as with cure light wouds) will then have to make a meaningful choice, instead of being relegated to band aid duty. Most healing can then be relegated to first aid and short rests completely removing the need for magical healing if the group so chooses.

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If monsters can do enough damage in a fight to knock a PC to 0 hp, then there will be a need for in-combat healing.  There's really no way of getting around this problem.  Keeping monster damage the same while reducing or eliminating in-combat healing is just screwing the players.  And if you reduce monster damage so that it takes a lot of hits to knock a PC to 0 hp, then combat becomes too easy (and boring).

I have stated my preference for many years, that D&D would be much better off without in-combat healing.  It would require a couple of changes, though:

1) No attack should be able to drop someone from full to zero in one round.
2) Out of combat healing should also be limited, so the DM doesn't have to try and bring a character from full to zero in a single encounter just to make a threat credible.

The benefits are at least two-fold:

1) Nobody has to "waste" a turn by playing "healbot".
2) Players have more time to react and adjust their overall strategy based on how the whole delve is going, rather than just within a single encounter.

And of course, my personal issue, but where your mileage may vary:

1) Increased verisimilitude toward literature and cinema of the genre, where slowly accumulated wounds eventually wind the hero down in order to make the boss fight more dramatic.

The metagame is not the game.

If monsters can do enough damage in a fight to knock a PC to 0 hp, then there will be a need for in-combat healing.  There's really no way of getting around this problem.  Keeping monster damage the same while reducing or eliminating in-combat healing is just screwing the players.  And if you reduce monster damage so that it takes a lot of hits to knock a PC to 0 hp, then combat becomes too easy (and boring).




This is only true if you balance around one encounter a day, or otherwise assume that the PCs will be at full health at the beginning of every encounter.
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I'm sorry for mentioning this but they could always use 4E's method of healing. It was darn near perfect!

I'm so sorry I know nothing about 4E was good and it's the devil and evil and McDonalds! Please don't beat me! 
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I'm sorry guys this looks like something new and this edition isn't really about new things they're already risking a whole lot with the new reskin on feats & Skills don't forget D&D Next is just a name Were really just repakaging Old D&D.
I'm sorry for mentioning this but they could always use 4E's method of healing. It was darn near perfect!

I'm so sorry I know nothing about 4E was good and it's the devil and evil and McDonalds! Please don't beat me! 



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You could have combat balanced around full HP every fight and assume that in general players will not drop, but when they do combat becomes a lot more deadly. Now I think something like second wind could work in this scenario as you have to trade an action for HP. Same with heal spells. As long as the game is balanced around and does not assume for the presence of healing magic then clerics will not be required. This can also add to tension in a fight because as soon as someone drops the whole dynamic of a fight changes.
Why not just get rid of player HP? That would make everything smoother.
I hope hit points are no longer full up between encounters.  I'd like cleric healing but only X times per day.  In or out of combat.

 

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If monsters can do enough damage in a fight to knock a PC to 0 hp, then there will be a need for in-combat healing.  There's really no way of getting around this problem.  Keeping monster damage the same while reducing or eliminating in-combat healing is just screwing the players.  And if you reduce monster damage so that it takes a lot of hits to knock a PC to 0 hp, then combat becomes too easy (and boring).


This is only true if you balance around one encounter a day, or otherwise assume that the PCs will be at full health at the beginning of every encounter.


If hitpoints are a daily resource and in-combat healing is limited, then you need to reduce monster damage significantly so that PCs don't get overwhelmed.  But if you do that, the first one or two fights of every adventuring day can never be a serious threat; the challenge in early encounters is mostly about winning while spending as few resources (hitpoints/daily heals) as possible.  Either that, or you're back to the 5-minute workday problem with a vengeance; once the PCs run out of hitpoints/daily heals, you need to use contrivances to prevent them from taking the rest of the day off to recover.

Moral of the story: limited healing means limited adventure possibilities.  If the kind of adventures you want at your table fit in that narrow range, then fine.  But the core system should accommodate as wide a range of scenarios as possible.
I'd much rather have 4e-style healing than return to the walking band-aid from earlier D&D games.  

In 4e, any leader type can help keep the PCs alive during combat.  In earlier games, the cleric is the only real choice (that, or chug-a-lug a healing potion).  And for an idea of what all is involved in that ;), check out the 'Combat Round' section  in the Player's Handbook for 2nd edition (page 91 in my first-print copy).  4e gave us choice where earlier editons didn't.  Choice is good ;).

= = =

If there's no healing in combat, the PCs will need to sart each encounter at full health (as mentioned earlier by ankiyavon).  Too swingy otherwise.  It's a do-able idea I believe.  I'm thinking of how fights happen in the Marvel Avengers Alliance game on Facebook.  The heroes start the fight with full health, then face a trio of enemies, sometimes in waves of two (depending on difficulty).  

I wonder if the difficulty of D&D fights could be balanced using an approach like this.  A set number of enemies in each fight, and depending on difficulty, they might come in waves.  The PCs could face several encounters each day (rather than just a few), but hey ;), each fight would be balanced.  I'm not sure how that loophole would need to be addressed as far as daily resources and such.  I'm just a hobbyist, not a designer but I think the idea has merit.
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If hitpoints are a daily resource and in-combat healing is limited, then you need to reduce monster damage significantly so that PCs don't get overwhelmed.  But if you do that, the first one or two fights of every adventuring day can never be a serious threat; the challenge in early encounters is mostly about winning while spending as few resources (hitpoints/daily heals) as possible.  Either that, or you're back to the 5-minute workday problem with a vengeance; once the PCs run out of hitpoints/daily heals, you need to use contrivances to prevent them from taking the rest of the day off to recover.

Moral of the story: limited healing means limited adventure possibilities.  If the kind of adventures you want at your table fit in that narrow range, then fine.  But the core system should accommodate as wide a range of scenarios as possible.



The other end of the spectrum (infinite out-of-combat healing, zero in-combat healing, such that every PC is at full health at the start of every combat) limits adventure design exactly as much.

It is not possible to design a healing system that will not limit adventure opportunities.  It's simply a choice of which playstyle you want to exclude with each healing system.  (Remember that 'healing system' has already been stated to be the sort of thing that can be replaced with a module.)

If there's no healing in combat, the PCs will need to sart each encounter at full health (as mentioned earlier by ankiyavon).  Too swingy otherwise.  It's a do-able idea I believe.  I'm thinking of how fights happen in the Marvel Avengers Alliance game on Facebook.  The heroes start the fight with full health, then face a trio of enemies, sometimes in waves of two (depending on difficulty). 



For what it's worth, that's absolutely not what I was trying to say :-p

I was pointing out that the person I quoted had assumed that PCs would start the fights at full health.  If you assume that PCs may or may not start any given fight at full health, then a fight can be a threat without ever having had any chance to reduce a PC from full to 0.
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Choosing how to use in-combat healing is actually an interesting tactical choice, and it also leads to interesting tactical choices for the monsters as well - do they beat on the defender, who gets the most out of their healing but who can then possibly be left engaged with just one guy while everyone else then swaps over to beat up on the weaker guys, take some extra hits to beat on the weakest dude on their side to force them to use their healing as inefficiently as possible (the lower the HP of the character, the worse it was, and the lower the defenses, the less the healing was worth), do they go after the leader and try to take out their healing altogether but in so doing do nothing to really stop everyone else (who are the ones who are the most dangerous to them directly) from beating them down?
I agree with the posters who do not want the PCs at full HP at the start of every encounter/battle.

I'm in favor of slow natural healing and quick magical healing only. Natural healing could (and should) be positively affected by certain things: healing kits (minimal positive effect), herbal medicine (minimal positive effect), Constitution (ability modifier bonus per extended rest?), etc.

I don't like the Hit Dice recovery mechanic any more than I like the Healing Surge mechanic.
Obviously healing in general needs to be a module, because I've often played, and wanted to suggest that healing mechanics are ONLY during combat.

They are also only done by using healing potions instead of your attack. 
In-combat healing is another of those D&D oddities.  It's not something you see a lot of in genre (unless you count heroic 'come backs'), but it does serve a very good purpose.  It allows the DM to throw something really nasty at the PCs to give the players a sense of jeopardy, without having too great a chance of a TPK resulting.  Raise Dead is similar - not nearly as common in-genre as D&D, but in the context of the game, lets the DM decline to pull punches but the PC of an unlucky player to come back for more.

In short, some Sacred Cows are still giving milk and maybe shouldn't go to the abattoir just yet.

A good solution might be to have several modules around wounds and healing.

You could have the basic D&D hit points that track how long you stay in the fight (at full effectiveness) until you drop.  You could have a module with additional rules for tracking disabling and life-threatening wounds (something like the 4e disease track), such wounds would linger not just from one encounter to the next, but potentially over days.  You could have 'restoritive' abilities like Healing/Inspiring Words that work in combat but just restore hit points, and 'cure wounds' rituals and Heal checks to heal wounds.

 

 

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In-combat healing is another of those D&D oddities.... In short, some Sacred Cows are still giving milk and maybe shouldn't go to the abattoir just yet.



That sums it up. There may indeed be modules added on to alter the availability or accessibility of healing.

My thought (and from some of what the dev's have said recently, they're thinking similarly) is to come up with healing models that do a few things:

#1) No more infinite health. Healing needs to happen in either small enough or few enough increments, that fights can't go on forever via strong at-will healing.

#2)No more band-aids. Healing needs to feel potent enough to be valuable, but without violating #1. If all a healer feels like he can do is keep somebody in the fight for one extra round, then it's not much fun for anybody.

#2) No more heal bots. Healers have got to be able to do something other than just cast full round heals all fight every fight.

To address #1 and #2, healers could have access to a limited number of heals which heal not a flat amount, but an value based on the damage dealt to the target (from however many sources, either a % of the damage dealt in that time or possibly all of it) immediately prior to the heal cast (ie between the healers previous turn and the turn in which the heal is cast). This gives it built in scaling, so the more damage flying, the more he's healing for, and vise verse. It would, however, force players to keep track of how many HP they lose each round (doable with a die or two, or just scratch paper, but still one more thing to track, which can be a pain)

Another option would be to make healing based on the target's Con or perhaps Hit die type as well as the healer's Wis. You heal a tough guy for more than you heal a frail guy.

As for #3, Dev's have mentioned making at least some heals into free actions or move-equivalent actions, leaving the characters primary action free to attack, or similar.

My thought is that since they've talked about the turn being broken up into the move action, primary action and Reaction, is to make most heals usable as Reactions.

That has a couple of advantages. It keeps the healer able to move and attack, while still healing. It makes the bulk of healing happen on the same round that damage is dealt rather than the following round. Lastly it would offer some creative options for types of heals that would not logically be available otherwise, while also granting an added level of tactical decision making to when you heal what, rather than simply "I heal the guy with the fewest HP left"

How about this as:

An at-will heal, used with your Reaction. It can be used IMMEDIATELY after damage is resolved from any single attack, and heals for the target's Hit Die Type, but caps at the total damage dealt by the attack that it follows.

It should scale well, but is still limited to negating the effect of a single hit.

It's at will and the caster can't "use it up", to appeal to those who want to be able to "spam" heal. Lastly it doesn't keep the healer from doing other things on their turn.

It also adds some tactical depth to it, since you could only use it directly following attack damage being resolved. You let somebody else go on to their turn, and your chance is gone. No healing on that one. You can't just wait for the end of the turn and then heal whichever hurt the most. It also uses up the healer's Reaction for the turn, so they can't make an attack of opportunity or perhaps assist another player in a different way etc.

The ability doesn't keep healers from having access to other full-round type heals in limited quantity either. No doubt the heal amount will need to be tweaked (the Hit Die based heal is just a neat idea) to make sure that it doesn't end up healing too much net damage.
The idea is interesting. Perhaps we could do without in-combat heal and just have some limited self-heal (kind of 4E second wind), to reply upon as last resort.

I think the healbot syndrome has been resolved in 4E by most healing powers being minor actions, thus allowing the 'leader' character to still be able to do other 'cool' stuff.

The 'healing spam' issue is present in 4E. In our game we have mitigated this by reducing healing surges recovery, so that it takes more than a single extend rest to get back to max. This means that often the party sits around 4 HS each, which puts a restrain on their willingness to 'burn' them.  

I know others feel very differently about this, but I do like healing surges, as they give a normalised measure of the character's health. And they pose a cap on the amount of healing overall.
As onother option, for the sake of achieving an more gritty feel, an healing surge may be lost anytime the character takes more damage from a single blow than his HS value; that would simulate some kind of serious injury.
Moral of the story: limited healing means limited adventure possibilities.  If the kind of adventures you want at your table fit in that narrow range, then fine.  But the core system should accommodate as wide a range of scenarios as possible.


The other end of the spectrum (infinite out-of-combat healing, zero in-combat healing, such that every PC is at full health at the start of every combat) limits adventure design exactly as much.


I never suggested having infinite out-of-combat healing; I was pointing out that doing away with in-combat healing has potentially negative implications for the game.

Note that out-of-combat healing in 4e is not infinite.  Healing surges put a hard limit on how much you can be healed.  I've played adventures where the characters have to be very careful about spending their surges; in some cases, they've even gone into encounters at less than full hitpoints in order to save on surges.


It is not possible to design a healing system that will not limit adventure opportunities.  It's simply a choice of which playstyle you want to exclude with each healing system.  (Remember that 'healing system' has already been stated to be the sort of thing that can be replaced with a module.)


This is true, but vacuous.  Personally, I feel that those advocating for limited healing are lacking in design sense.  They haven't thought through the implications of their argument.


I was pointing out that the person I quoted had assumed that PCs would start the fights at full health.  If you assume that PCs may or may not start any given fight at full health, then a fight can be a threat without ever having had any chance to reduce a PC from full to 0.


Right, but if you limit healing too much, then you also have to limit monster damage.  And if you limit monster damage, the first fight of an adventuring day can never be a serious challenge unless it's the only fight of that day.
I generally run D&D without any non-MacGuffin magic items (yes, even/especially healing potions), and I ran 2e and 3rd with highly restricted or outright banned spellcasters, so before 4e (which I hated running anyway, though liked to PC), I never had any in-combat healing, and it's always worked out just fine (I haven't altered Next, yet, though).

In the Next playtest so far, which I've been running regularly since the packet was released, CLW has been cast in combat only 4 times, and Healing Word 3.  Each time, it was done solely to revive an unconscious ally or prevent an inevitable unconsciousing the following turn.  Otherwise, the laser cleric has functioned mostly as a blaster and the fight-priest as a tank.  

 So, I don't think anything actually needs to be changed to accomodate removing in combat healing--well, maybe the GM's perception of what the PCs can handle, but that's about it.  2e and 3rd work fine as is without it, and I have no doubt that Next could as well.
Not all players feel that causing damage is the only way to contribute to a fight. There actually ARE people who like playing healer clerics, and would be very upset if all in-combat healing was totally eliminated except for potions.

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Inspiring ones allies to fight on is very much a core element of modern fantasy and reality (insert video of news broadcast where a general awakens a comatose soldier with the company battle cry - I wish I had saved that link)... In battle healing as in "stitching wounds" has really never been a common fantasy trope. 
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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
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Stitching wounds in battle would be challenging at best. But "magical" (divine) healing has been in the game for quite some time, and if there are people who like playing them, why make a design choice that takes away that character type? If a gaming group doesn't want it, they don't have to use it, but it can be there for those who do want to.

I know someone whose character's motto is "I'm here to heal!" The character sees that as his job, and he takes it quite seriously, to the point of encouraging the front-liners to keep fighting while he keeps them going from the second rank. Given a choice between a better weapon and something that boosts his healing power, he'll take the latter.

In memory of wrecan and his Unearthed Wrecana.

Stitching wounds in battle would be challenging at best. But "magical" (divine) healing has been in the game for quite some time 


If hit points equal wounds...then it has
  
  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."

 

A big issue which I didn't really touch on in my original post is that it will be impossible to balance a game with "designated" healers. If you have designated healers and assume they can heal X amount per fight than any group that has no healer will become significantly less able to overcome challenges. If you have a healer but do not assume one is needed than average difficulty challenges become trivial. It will require a lot of work on the DMs side to rebalance every fight around the presence of a healer. 4e assumed groups had a healer, but minimized the amount of healing they could perform to minimize the impact of a healers removal. It was only with 1000s of feats and powers that super healers came about who could keep their party up through anything. I want to see in combat healing exist but kept to a minimum in order to allow groups to easily play with no healer.
If hit points equal wounds...then it has
  



Lucky for us that they actually represent so much more!



I don't care what the game's 'abstract' definition is. In my mind, hit points = wounds.


As for healing, I like the idea of the short rests and the healer's kits (though I wouldn't allow them to be used IN combat), but I think there should be some kind of in-combat healing that doesn't count against a clerics spells per day. Like allowing a Channel Divinity use to heal x amount of hps ('x' being the cleric's Wis or Con score?).
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Not all players feel that causing damage is the only way to contribute to a fight. There actually ARE people who like playing healer clerics, and would be very upset if all in-combat healing was totally eliminated except for potions.



I prefer to play characters who specialize in TAKING damage (or at least attacks)... but by either removing in-combat healing or shunting ALL the healing/buffing back to the Healbot/Cleric, and given the general fragility of core 5e characters, I doubt my preffered playstyle will be supported.
A big issue which I didn't really touch on in my original post is that it will be impossible to balance a game with "designated" healers. If you have designated healers and assume they can heal X amount per fight than any group that has no healer will become significantly less able to overcome challenges. If you have a healer but do not assume one is needed than average difficulty challenges become trivial. It will require a lot of work on the DMs side to rebalance every fight around the presence of a healer. 4e assumed groups had a healer, but minimized the amount of healing they could perform to minimize the impact of a healers removal. It was only with 1000s of feats and powers that super healers came about who could keep their party up through anything. I want to see in combat healing exist but kept to a minimum in order to allow groups to easily play with no healer.



I seem to recall reading in a Dev blog or interview that they intend to balance the game content (or try to anyway) WITHOUT the assumption of magical or potion based healing.

I'm not sure how they're gonna do that in a way that keeps healers from trivializing some or all prebuilt encounters and monster challenge ratings (even though I hate CR). Truthfully, though, it doesn't really concern me much.
I prefer to play characters who specialize in TAKING damage (or at least attacks)... but by either removing in-combat healing or shunting ALL the healing/buffing back to the Healbot/Cleric, and given the general fragility of core 5e characters, I doubt my preffered playstyle will be supported.



I think we'll likely some added character durability (situationally at least) when the various combat stunts and maneuvers get codified. I expect it will offer some survivability enhancing moves as well as just offensive options.

Dunno for sure, but I hope so. Likewise, there may be some further defensive options for the Fighter when they tell us what this shiny new Fighter-defining mechanic they're working on is.
I think that something that everyone seems to be forgeting is that the amount of damage that characters can take is based on what the DM throws at the party.  If the game is balanced expecting a Cleric and a group doesnt have one, then the DM should understand that healing will be limited and respond by throwing smaller encounters at the group.
I think that something that everyone seems to be forgeting is that the amount of damage that characters can take is based on what the DM throws at the party.  If the game is balanced expecting a Cleric and a group doesnt have one, then the DM should understand that healing will be limited and respond by throwing smaller encounters at the group.



Which would then result in a group without a cleric getting much less xp per combat, even if it's just as much of a challenge for the characters involved. That doesn't seem quite right, to me.
No in combat healing?

Like you never messed up?  Leapt before you looked?  Triggered a trap?  Or just had DM rolling well one session?

I don't really understand the reason to remove in combat healing.

I am not advocating the complete removal of in combat healing. I feel the 4e model worked much better than any other edition. Second wind is a great mechanic for the party as it allows minor in combat self healing at the cost of an action. Healing surges worked because they allow for players to be at full effectiveness every fight. I think leader classes ended up with too many ways to provide and increase healing which is what lead to complaints of 4e isn't dangerous enough. Straight PHB only healing combined with MM3 monsters would be brutal for most parties to survive.
I agree with the OP. Combat healing honestly just seems to have negative effects and was one area I felt 4E really botched, becasue they made combat healing way too good. As I see it, this is what combat healing does:

Downed PCs are still combatants: This is a bad one, because it means that strategically the best thing for a monster to do with a downed PC is to finish him off. In a game where you want PCs to be able to get dropped but not killed, giving monsters and NPCs incentive to deal finishing blows midcombat is not a good thing. This is made significantly worse when you add the "Heal from 0" rule that was in 4E and continues in 5E. It's fine to remove a PC from one combat, but having him outright killed and removed from an adventure is something you want to avoid, not encourage. Your mechanics should be encouraging monsters to leave downed PCs alone, not drive a spear through their heart.

It slows down combat: The monsters must now deal even more damage to kill the PCs, leading to the 4E style arms race where Monster HP and PC HP constantly grows and damage lags behind. And of course, because healing keeps all PCs in the battle so long as you have it, it means there are more turns taken per round. 

Everyone becomes reliant on it: Combat healing becomes one of those abilities you just have to have, because it's just that good to be able to negate enemy hits. While 4E averted the "must have a cleric" problem, It pretty much replaced it with "must have a leader", which was almost as bad.

Its tactically boring: Assuming healing is at all numerically worthwhile, it's boring tactically because there's hardly ever much reason not to use it. It's pretty obvious who needs healing and it's a no brainer to heal someone who dropped to get everyone back into the fight, because you're getting more turns by doing that. From a tactical standpoint, I've always felt healers were the most boring to play. 4E even went the extra mile and made healing both ranged and didn't provoke AoOs, meaning it was basically uncounterable too.

Which would then result in a group without a cleric getting much less xp per combat, even if it's just as much of a challenge for the characters involved. That doesn't seem quite right, to me.



This is another thing that sticks in my craw about old school D&D mechanics. XP rewards should be situational, not a set number based on the critter you kill. An encounter that is less of a challenge for the players should be worth proportionally less XP than one that they barely make it out of in one piece.

Only way you get better is to push your limits. No healing is one way to do that, and so players in that case should be rewarded for it with additional XP, in prebuilt adventures anyway.
Straight PHB only healing combined with MM3 monsters would be brutal for most parties to survive.



Yep, that's how we do it (also chopping down HS recovery rate per day) and, boy, it hurts! Yell 
To the OP;

No, No, No, and No!

In-combat healing is essential....MEDIC!!
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I don't care what the game's 'abstract' definition is. In my mind, hit points = wounds.

I know that this opinion isn't very popular, but there are enough of us out there that our interpretation should at least be considered.  As I like to say, "Hit Point loss doesn't necessarily represent injury, but usually it does."  It's like the old phrase, "You can't always judge a book by its cover, but most of the time the cover is pretty accurate."

Downed PCs are still combatants: This is a bad one, because it means that strategically the best thing for a monster to do with a downed PC is to finish him off.

I hate obviously meta-gaming to keep the party alive, especially when the enemy is supposed to be cruel and/or intelligent.  It really hurts the narrative.

It slows down combat: The monsters must now deal even more damage to kill the PCs, leading to the 4E style arms race where Monster HP and PC HP constantly grows and damage lags behind. And of course, because healing keeps all PCs in the battle so long as you have it, it means there are more turns taken per round. 

You really hit the nail on the head with this one.  Long combats that just seem to drag on forever are the worst. 

Everyone becomes reliant on it: Combat healing becomes one of those abilities you just have to have, because it's just that good to be able to negate enemy hits.

I'm going to partially disagree on this one.  I've played in a lot of groups where the best defense was a good offense, and healing in combat was a waste of time because the character was just going to get dropped again on the next hit.  (I've also played in groups where the big guy keeps getting splattered every round, and I could bring him up again so he could get his big attack off before being dropped again, so the healing was a huge enabler there.  I like to heal, as a player.)

Its tactically boring: It's pretty obvious who needs healing and it's a no brainer to heal someone who dropped to get everyone back into the fight, because you're getting more turns by doing that.

I'm going to strongly disagree on this point, although my experience is mostly in 3E where most heals were touch attacks that provoked.  Between the choice of whether to heal or whether to attack the bad guy, in the case that a character wasn't optimized significantly one way or the other, it can sometimes be a tough choice (especially if the enemy is almost down, and your attack might end the threat before he hurts someone else).  Actually getting into position and healing can also require interesting tactics, and you always have to be aware of your position.

The real issue here is this one, though:
Not all players feel that causing damage is the only way to contribute to a fight. There actually ARE people who like playing healer clerics, and would be very upset if all in-combat healing was totally eliminated except for potions.

Some people don't like to fight.  Most five-man bands include one member who is not the violent type (you know, for contrast).  May be a technical pacifist.  This is the kind of character I enjoy playing, personally.  So, if you don't have healing as a viable in-combat role, what is this character to do?  There are a number of options, some of which duplicate some of the issues with healing, but the ones that usually come up are:


  • Barrier Warrior: Throw up shields to reduce incoming damage or grant temporary hit points.  This has the benefit that you still get to decide who to protect, but it's a bit more pro-active than re-active.  Also has the benefit that it discourages finishing off downed opponents, since they won't be getting back up.

  • Mesmerizer: Crowd control.  Spend your turns to prevent the bad guys from getting to attack.  The downside is that anything really strong (a solo-type monster) is probably going to be immune to it, so this job only "feels fair" if you're fighting against groups of a size equal to your own party.  This is also prone to drawing fights out longer than they need to be.

  • Buffing or De-buffing: Make your friends stronger, so they can kill the bad guys without you getting your hands dirty.  Or, make your enemies weaker so that your friends can kill them more easily.  Smacks of hypocrisy.  De-buffing an enemy to make it less dangerous can still be a good choice, though, since that might convince it to just give up.


Personally, I usually choose a fourth option, assuming the system allows it:



  • Smack it with my staff (because genre convention states that a staff attack can't accidentally kill someone, regardless of your definition of Hit Points), getting my turn over with quickly so that the other people get more turns, and then I can contribute with after-combat healing.  Shooting lasers just doesn't have the same feel to it.


The metagame is not the game.

If hit points equal wounds...then it has
  



Lucky for us that they actually represent so much more!




Not luck Gary Gygax, bless him.
  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 think there should be in combat healing to some extent, but I think instead of putting the constraints on the healers it should be put on those being healed, but not in the ways already tried.

Let's not put a cap on how much healing a character can have in a day, but rather put a cap on how many hit points they can be healed back to.

If you make a clear definition on when someone is truly wounded, then you can base healing on that.  For example, if you are taken down to half hit points you are wounded (bloodied).  Actual wounds don't heal by encouraging words, so non magical healing (maybe all in combat healing not sure yet) cannot bring you back above half hit points. 

You then just have to determine how long it takes to actually heal real wounds.  Can they be magically healed during a short rest? Does it take a day?  For example, at the end of my adventuring day, assuming I was really wounded, at best I have half hit points.  In a gritty campaign, maybe I'm allowed to self heal one hit point over night (for grittier make it longer), and then once above half hit points, other magical or non-magical healing techniques can bring me to full.

This allows in combat healing that can keep a character in the fight and in the adventuring day, and still incur a cost on the character and team that must be remedied.
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