Back to the Drawing Board with Healing

I have created a fairly lengthy blog post on my thoughts about healing in DDN which can be found here:


community.wizards.com/gilbertmdh/blog/20...


For those who don’t want to read the whole thing, I will summarize my proposal here:


Healing is a type of module that can be used to adjust certain parts of the game to achieve the desired feel, tone, and style of game. The default healing rules must follow the same principles as the core rules: simplicity, understandability, ease of use, veteran familiarity, and rookie accessibility.


During combat, any character can take the “quick breath” action to regain a small static number of hit points. A character can only take this action if they meet three conditions – they must not be threatened at the start of their turn, they must have at least one HP, and they must be at or below half their max HP.


At the conclusion of a combat, characters will have a “quick recovery” to regain half their max number of hit points as longs as they have at least one HP.


During an extended recovery you regain all your HP, as long as you have at least one HP.


I have created three specific self-healing methods – catch breath, quick recovery, and extended recovery – each of which works with the simple core rules. In their default form they require no extra tracking or resource management and rely on calculations done once per level.  Together they also provide a common language that can be used in designing various resource management systems that can sit on top of the core.


The healing dial can be “turned down” to make a grittier game by reducing the number of hit points gained and frequency or availability of these mechanics. In a similar way the dial can be “tuned up” for increased durability by increasing the number of hit points gained in these mechanics.


To me, this kind of rules construction is what the promise of modularity is all about.

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Update: 

After reading your summary here, I appreciate that you have essentially three dials - per turn, per encounter, and per day - where you can set the healing level however high or low you want.  My particular issue is that your default is set so ridiculously high that my desired setting - 0, 0, and very low, respectively - would require pushing it to its limit.

Default is very important, because it sets the expectations for new players I have not yet met.  If someone looks at the basic rules, and then looks at my house rules, they might feel like I was making things unnecessarily hard on them.  After all, surely the designers would have set the default assumptions to be the most fun for the greatest number of players, right?

The metagame is not the game.

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Thanks for pointing this out. This was my first blog post and I think I have fixed it.

You are basically describing a system very similar to healing surges in 4E.

One per encounter you can Second wind and spend one surge for 1/4 your total hitpoints

During a short rest out of combat you can spend as many healing surges as you want.

Once per day you can extended rest and recover all your healing surges.

I liked healing surges for how simple they were to uses and the fact they did not make a cleric healbot Essential for any adventuing group. I think there was way to many ways to use them though, as they keyed off most every healing power in the game. I would like to see a healing surge type system with clerics having a usual per day limit on healing. But much lass than earlier editions. 

I hated Healing surges, but I like the idea of offering the options....1) In combat..gain 1/4 if you can take "second wind" or "revive", 2) Out of combat regain 1/2 with an extended rest, 3) rest for a full 8 hours and gain all.

In addition, I like adding "wounds" that cannot be healed by "second wind"/"revive" and rest.  I've been applying wounds to creatures and PCs if they are damaged by a critical hit.  The wound makes them function at -2 on all rolls until magical healing or 2 weeks of medical care is given.  "Wounds" can also be applied when a PC drops below 0 hit points and fails his or first death save.

With these, I think there are a lot of options to work with.

I can see gritty games where they don't allow "revive" options, or I could see games that change the out of combat rest to 1/4 and the 8 hour rest to  1/2 hp gain.

That will really make many people happy.


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I hated Healing surges, but I like the idea of offering the options....1) In combat..gain 1/4 if you can take "second wind" or "revive", 2) Out of combat regain 1/2 with an extended rest, 3) rest for a full 8 hours and gain all.

In addition, I like adding "wounds" that cannot be healed by "second wind"/"revive" and rest.  I've been applying wounds to creatures and PCs if they are damaged by a critical hit.  The wound makes them function at -2 on all rolls until magical healing or 2 weeks of medical care is given.  "Wounds" can also be applied when a PC drops below 0 hit points and fails his or first death save.

With these, I think there are a lot of options to work with.

I can see gritty games where they don't allow "revive" options, or I could see games that change the out of combat rest to 1/4 and the 8 hour rest to  1/2 hp gain.

That will really make many people happy.



I'm also not a fan of the Healing Surge mechanic. I don't know about the system offered here either; it still seems like too much.

However, given a system that allows self-healing (like surges or the OP's proposal), I like your addition of the "wound" mechanic. I would require "wounds" to either be healed magically or use the minimal, long term healing method of 1 point per extended rest (maybe even one Hit Die per extended rest). I would also add one wound when a character reaches half his/her maximum HP total (i.e. Bloodied).

All other (stamina/vitality damage?) healing could use the Hit Dice method presented in D&DNext. Of course, that is likely to change, according to the information from the developers.

The problem I see is being healed with non-magical means. A character gets hit with a fireball and loses 3/4ths of his HP. If that is representative of having third degree burns over 3/4ths his body, how does taking a breather remove those burns? 

I would prefer having no more healing surges or hit dice. Without magic you heal a fixed rate based on your attributes for light rest, and double that amount for sleep. This may seem slow, but it's not as slow as the old 1 per day.

 
If you've already consented that healing is going to be modular, then I think you can toss out a lot of different options and let the DM mix and match them.

Heroes who resting for 8 hours...
A. regain hit points equal to their level + Con mod.
or
B. regain all their hit points.

Heroes who rest for 5 minutes...
A. heal nothing.
or
B. can spend hit dice and roll to regain hit points.
or
C. can spend healing surges and heal 1/4 their hit points.

In combat, heroes...
A. Cannot take a second wind to recover hit points.
or
B. Can take a second wind to spend a hit die and roll for hit points.
or
C. Can take a second wind to spend a healing surge and recover 1/4 of their hit points.

Then you can safely model everything from 1e to 4e style non-magical healing depending on taste.
The problem I see is being healed with non-magical means. A character gets hit with a fireball and loses 3/4ths of his HP. If that is representative of having third degree burns over 3/4ths his body, how does taking a breather remove those burns? 

I would prefer having no more healing surges or hit dice. Without magic you heal a fixed rate based on your attributes for light rest, and double that amount for sleep. This may seem slow, but it's not as slow as the old 1 per day.

 



The character hit with the fireball didn't get 3/4 of his body covered in 3rd degree burns.  Keep in mind that hit points are:

Your hit points represent a combination of several factors. They include your physical durability and overall health, your speed and agility to avoid harm, and your overall level of energy. They also account for luck, divine favor, and other mystic factors.


In short, hit points are an abstraction. While you are at or above half your maximum hit points, you show no signs of injury. At less than half your hit points, you have acquired a few cuts and bruises. An attack that reduces you to 0 hit points or fewer strikes you directly, leaving a bleeding injury or other trauma, or it simply knocks you unconscious.

 



The character "hit" with the fireball isn't a smoldering pile of burnt skin- that would be a corpse.  Magical healing just like any other healing is really just getting that person to "suck it up" and keep going.  The guy hit with the fireball definately felt the heat, but he must have either deflected it or tossed aside a pillar to block the blunt of it or something along those lines.

If you treat hp like serious wounds the game becomes really hard to believe in.  I can't imagine my character getting impaled through the chest with a spear then having some glowy light mend everything in an instant.  If so there's really never any reason to be afraid of anything.
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If you've already consented that healing is going to be modular, then I think you can toss out a lot of different options and let the DM mix and match them.

Heroes who resting for 8 hours...
A. regain hit points equal to their level + Con mod.
or
B. regain all their hit points.

Heroes who rest for 5 minutes...
A. heal nothing.
or
B. can spend hit dice and roll to regain hit points.
or
C. can spend healing surges and heal 1/4 their hit points.

In combat, heroes...
A. Cannot take a second wind to recover hit points.
or
B. Can take a second wind to spend a hit die and roll for hit points.
or
C. Can take a second wind to spend a healing surge and recover 1/4 of their hit points.

Then you can safely model everything from 1e to 4e style non-magical healing depending on taste.



just to keep things more streamlined I'd refer to healing surges always as hit dice or vice versa. Turning the healing into:

A: No healing
B: Roll and add CON to heal
C: Add 1/4 HP to heal

But I think the OP was actually loosening the idea of in combat healing to -whenever you need to provided you're below half, conscious and not in melee.  Which I like, but I'd have to playtest it.

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The character "hit" with the fireball isn't a smoldering pile of burnt skin- that would be a corpse.  Magical healing just like any other healing is really just getting that person to "suck it up" and keep going.  The guy hit with the fireball definately felt the heat, but he must have either deflected it or tossed aside a pillar to block the blunt of it or something along those lines.

If you treat hp like serious wounds the game becomes really hard to believe in.  I can't imagine my character getting impaled through the chest with a spear then having some glowy light mend everything in an instant.  If so there's really never any reason to be afraid of anything.




This role playing game is a descriptive narative. If a character or monster is killed by a fireball, how are they described if not being left as a burnt crispy corpse? Or the person disentergrated being left as a pile of dust? 

Why can't you imagine the good cleric/priest healing you through his use of the divine? What you have to fear is not being able to reach the cleric/priest or handy potion in time.

Like it or not, combat is a race where each opposing force is trying to inflict the greatest amount of damage on another force in order to kill them. Magical healing is part of this race, it's like having a pit crew change tires in a formula one race. Can the driver finish the race on a single set of tires? Maybe, but he does have a better chance with his team behind him. The martial classes are the same way. 
This role playing game is a descriptive narative. If a character or monster is killed by a fireball, how are they described if not being left as a burnt crispy corpse? Or the person disentergrated being left as a pile of dust? 



Killed characters sure, but not ones that are still acting at full ability. If you have 3/4 of your body covered in 3rd degree burns you aren't at 25% HP you're dead.  

Did you read the How to Play bit on HP?  I've never read a fantasy story, seen any movie where characters utilize glowy light to restore huge holes in people or burns that leave people dead on a regular basis (3 times/day at level 1 for the cleric) by your description of healing.  I don't describe my combat as players and monsters constantly dieing and coming back to life or fighting on through injuries that should have left them dead over and over again.

A character shouldn't be sitting with the kind of injury that would instantly kill anyone and still be revivable, let alone healable.  Those kind of descriptions should be reserved for attacks that would take a character from above 0Hp to below negative CON Score + Level. I'm not a fan of the overly gritty gameplay that some people like so I allow healing like in the RAW, but then I don't describe every "hit" as a mortal wound either.
Please collect and update the DND Next Community Wiki Page with your ideas and suggestions!
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The problem I see is being healed with non-magical means. A character gets hit with a fireball and loses 3/4ths of his HP. If that is representative of having third degree burns over 3/4ths his body, how does taking a breather remove those burns? 

I would prefer having no more healing surges or hit dice. Without magic you heal a fixed rate based on your attributes for light rest, and double that amount for sleep. This may seem slow, but it's not as slow as the old 1 per day.

 

Hit Points aren't intended to be quite so literal. They're an abstraction of how much damage you can 'take' before dropping -- by literally being 'that' tough, or by turning a killing blow into a glancing blow, by getting lucky, etc. 

Having 3/4 of your body covered in 3rd degree burns seems (to me) way, way beyond a mortal's capacity 'take a hit and keep on going,' but playing by the rules you still have 1/4 HP before being incapcaitated, meaning you're not really even slowed down.

Rather, I would imagine it as having your clothes / hair singed, perhaps having a more mild burn on your arm, but ultimately having avoided what could easily have been a lethal blow. I don't typically consider a character to be literally wounded until they drop to zero and are taken out of combat (most truly life-threatening or serious wounds would take a person out of combat at the very least). At that point, their 'luck' or 'fate' or 'ability to shrug off hurts' or what have you has been expended.

But I would go as far as to say, if you're allowing characters to be literally burned to that degree and keep on fighting without penalty, then it doesn't take much of a stretch to say they can take a breather and regain enough fortitude to take another dagger in the chest before dropping.

Edit: Thats what I get for posting at work, I take a call and someone else beats me to the point ;) 


This role playing game is a descriptive narative. If a character or monster is killed by a fireball, how are they described if not being left as a burnt crispy corpse? Or the person disentergrated being left as a pile of dust?

You're overlooking the obvious.  The killing blow is the one that matters descriptively, and not in the "I've been dropped to unconscious land" but "I'm dead now and halfway through making a new character" kind of way.  Every bit of damage your character takes before he or she draws their last breath on this world is really superfluous and can be hand-waved however you want.  All that your HP represents to that point is sands of fate trickling away each time something comes that much closer to killing you.  Sometimes there are skills and magic that let you add more sand.  If you're really lucky someone figures out a way to let you turn the hourglass over when you run out and bring you back to life (by casting a spell to resurrect you or beating your chest and screaming at you until your heart gets moving again).

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After reading your summary here, I appreciate that you have essentially three dials - per turn, per encounter, and per day - where you can set the healing level however high or low you want.  My particular issue is that your default is set so ridiculously high that my desired setting - 0, 0, and very low, respectively - would require pushing it to its limit.



I would say that compared to most dnd games, especially the default amount of healing- this descritpion is pushing the healing amounts to the limit.

I would probably say default would be somewhere with:

A- no healing in combat outside of daily resources (healer spells) or only once per day "second winds"
B- hit dice mechanic for short rests
C- full heals for long rests

Then you can dial up/down the in combat, or dial down the others.  But I do think that is about the default amount of healing.  It may be more than I'd want as well in my game, but I think that is still the default level for most games, especially first time dnd games- which I believe is the focus of the core rules (modules adding in the complexity the experienced gamers will want)
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One thing I would like to see is for some mechanic to allow major wounds to carry on past the 8 hour rest. It would complicate things quite a bit (you would have to have a separate mechanic to layer under HP), but it would be nice for everything to not always be magically better every 8 hour rest. 

Then HP would clearly represent your "fate," "luck," or "madd skillz" keeping you from taking a fatal blow, and then when you're out of HP you start suffering real wounds, which can be healed magically, but take a longer time to heal naturally.

 
Thanks to all for your feedback. A few points:

I set about designing the default mechanic without additional resource management beyond the actual HP (i.e., no healing surges/hit dice). I feel that less resource management makes an easier entry point for new players. Once I did this, I realized that there needed to be a non-resource limitation on the healing. The in-combat quick breath can be done as much as you want, but only under certain conditions. This makes for interesting tactical choices on the battlefield.

As to the default level of healing being more than many might want, this is a tough balancing act. They key here is managing the number of HP regained in each instance versus the expected HP values of characters and monsters and expected damage outputs. This is why my proposal includes no numbers. It may turn out that 5 HP (as a totally random example) of healing as an action may seem like a lot compared past editions, but in the context of the new HP math, it might just be enough to keep you in the battle, instead of making you feel invincible.

The last point is that the core game needs to be designed without an assumption of magical healing, again to make an easier sell to new players. Magical healing should be special (instead of required) in the same way that magical weapons and armor should be special (instead of required). 

One thing I would like to see is for some mechanic to allow major wounds to carry on past the 8 hour rest. It would complicate things quite a bit (you would have to have a separate mechanic to layer under HP), but it would be nice for everything to not always be magically better every 8 hour rest. 

Then HP would clearly represent your "fate," "luck," or "madd skillz" keeping you from taking a fatal blow, and then when you're out of HP you start suffering real wounds, which can be healed magically, but take a longer time to heal naturally.

 



Not so complicated if you introduce new conditions to cover these wounds.
Please collect and update the DND Next Community Wiki Page with your ideas and suggestions!
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The last point is that the core game needs to be designed without an assumption of magical healing, again to make an easier sell to new players. Magical healing should be special (instead of required) in the same way that magical weapons and armor should be special (instead of required). 



Huge fan of this
Please collect and update the DND Next Community Wiki Page with your ideas and suggestions!
Take a look at my clarified ability scores And also my Houserules relevent to DNDNext
I miss the old days when the downed fighter would call for medic hehe. 

I do not mind there being some kind of feat that would allow for someone to allow for a small heal but there has to be cost to do that.  With the new system of dieing, there is now time to get to someome to help with the healing.  So the next question is what type of cost to allow for heal as not everyone should have the ability to heal in my opinion?
A simple solution to this (but one WotC will never do, as HP is one of the "Sacred Cows") is to eliminate HP altogether. With the exception of D&D, most RPGs I've played have no HP, or have HP such that there is a distinct difference between blows that can knock you out for a bit, and blows that can kill you, and/or cause long-term lasting harm. For example, Mutants and Masterminds has no HP. It has a system where an attack has a set damage, and if it hits, you roll to reduce that damage. If you succeed, you're fine. If you fail by less than 5, you take a -1 penalty to future saves against damage, and if you fail by 5 or more, you get more substantial wounds. There's much less abstraction, and the most arguements you get are about what constitutes a "Bruise" or a "wound" (the -1 to future damage saves, depending on whether the attack was non-lethal or lethal), and whether it would be something like a superficial cut, or if it could be as deep as a huge gash that didn't happen to hit any important organs.

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