Houserule: Healing from negative values

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So I'm floating this here because I'm considering introducing it to my table and wanted to see if there were impacts to this change I hadn't perhaps considered.

In short, I'm unhappy with the general effectiveness of healing.  Characters can rush in and get splattered by the mightiest of creatures and literally in the span of a fraction of a round, be back to full health through a healer's immediate reaction powers.  Even a modest encounter power heal can take a nearly dead player from the brink of oblivion to 50% with one power.

My proposed houserule is to simply track character hitpoints into the negatives and require healing to bring them back up to positive to regain consciousness.

For example, if Yewlin the halfling rogue gets detected and the dragon stomps on him taking him to -30 hp, I expect the healer to realize his wounds are horrific and have to spend a serious amount of resources fixing it.  Oland the human cleric spots the disaster and rushes over, apply a healing word that heals Yewlin his surge value + 15 for a total of 36 hp.  Yewlin is now conscious, but standing at the foot of the dragon with 6 hitpoints and will likely want to avoid attracting attention while he retreats with the cleric for more healing next round and some ranged attacks.

Thoughts? 
I think you'd be better off using the Wound system.  Basically, every time a character hits 0 HP they receive a wound which has to be healed over the long-term.  The wound gives them penalties.

wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/dun/U...

If you want to make your own, the basic concept is you pick areas that can be wounded (head, limbs, torso, etc.) and make effects for Minor and Severe.

Thus if the Dragon stomps on the halfling and takes them down to -30, they can receive a cracked rib, or if you want it to be severe a sucking chest wound.  The cracked rib will hamper the rogue sometimes, the sucking chest wound will make each combat really nasty for the rogue.  


The advantage of this is that sucking away healing surges (which is what you do by making people heal from -30) just decreases the length of the adventuring day and encourages "5 minute workdays."  Long-term wounds don't encourage that gameplay, and reinforce that getting stomped on by a dragon is bad.   
Don't. Unless you're willing to give out a lot more healing resources and surges to spend them on. Otherwise, you will end up with a party going into the final encounter of the night with no surges, no interrupts, no immediate heals, and 6 HP each.

Part of what I'm understanding the 4e paradigm to be is heroes that can just kip-up because, you know, HEROES! Bringing someone back from negative values like that is suited much more to a gritty playstyle than it is the heroic playstyle of 4e. I didn't even think it worked well in 3x, when healing resources were comparatively rare.

This kind of houserule will bring the risk of TPKs much higher than I know I'd be comfortable with at a table, on either side of the screen.

Poll your table before implementing this.

58286228 wrote:
As a DM, I find it easier to just punish the players no matter what they pick, as I assume they will pick stuff that is broken. I mean, fight after fight they kill all the monsters without getting killed themselves! What sort of a game is this, anyway?

 

An insightful observation about the nature of 4e, and why it hasn't succeeded as well as other editions. (from the DDN General Discussions, 2014-05-07)

Rundell wrote:

   

Emerikol wrote:

       

Foxface wrote:

        4e was the "modern" D&D, right?  The one that had design notes that drew from more modern games, and generally appealed to those who preferred the design priorities of modern games.  I'm only speculating, but I'd hazard a guess that those same 4e players are the ones running the wide gamut of other games at Origins.

       
        D&D 4e players are pretty much by definition the players who didn't mind, and often embraced, D&D being "different".  That willingness to embrace the different might also mean they are less attached to 4e itself, and are willing to go elsewhere.

    This is a brilliant insight.  I was thinking along those lines myself.  

 

    There are so many tiny indie games that if you added them all together they would definitely rival Pathfinder.   If there were a dominant game for those people it would do better but there is no dominant game.  Until 4e, the indie people were ignored by the makers of D&D.

 

Yep. 4E was embraced by the 'system matters' crowd who love analyzing and innovating systems. That crowd had turned its back on D&D as a clunky anachronism. But with 4E, their design values were embraced and validated. 4E was D&D for system-wonks. And with support for 4E pulled, the system-wonks have moved on to other systems. The tropes and traditions of D&D never had much appeal for them anyway. Now there are other systems to learn and study. It's like boardgamegeeks - always a new system on the horizon. Why play an ancient games that's seven years old?

 

Of course, not all people who play and enjoy 4E fit that mould. I'm running a 4E campaign right now, and my long-time D&D players are enjoying it fine. But with the system-wonks decamping, the 4E players-base lost the wind in its sails.

sounds like a pacifist priest miracle worker.
Their healing is insane. at lvl 18, the one in my group has a static healing word of surge +65, not counting die rolls. Since the con-fighter's surge is 37, yeah. Lowest surge value in the party is 28.
That's not counting the temps she hands out.
Almost as broken as the Avenger.
My proposed houserule is to simply track character hitpoints into the negatives and require healing to bring them back up to positive to regain consciousness.

I like it. Balance-wise, I approve (since normally surviving 4e combats tends to be a bit unchallenging in all but the beginning levels).

I appreciate the color of the injury system and it does dovetail nicely with the game mechanics.  However, it is another batch of mechanics to track in combat which this game very clearly does not need.

Handing out a card is easy, but the player remembering their penalty is not.  Them also remember to "push through the pain" is not, nor is to recall if they'd already done it this encounter....etc.  It's just more to keep track of.

From what I've seen, focused healers aren't expending all of their resources.  When surges run low, they just use the ritual that lets them redistribute from the people not using them much to the tank, etc.  Most extended rests come because they'd burned through even those surges and most of their daily powers and are expecting difficulty ahead.

This change will burn through surges faster, that's true.   What isn't obvious to me is whether it will really be TOO fast.  Maybe this will instill a bit of caution on the part of Yewlin the rogue and encourage him to invest in items that boost his stealth, or let him evade when attacked, etc instead of just damage-damage-damage.  Not taking horrible wounds becomes a beneficial thing to the whole party...
My proposed houserule is to simply track character hitpoints into the negatives and require healing to bring them back up to positive to regain consciousness.

I like it. Balance-wise, I approve (since normally surviving 4e combats tends to be a bit unchallenging in all but the beginning levels).





Thanks.  It seems like a simple adjustment to compensate for the ridiculously high powered game that is 4e.  It is nearly impossible to threaten anyone anymore (and yes, there is a pacifist healer in the party).

I'll let you know what happens. 
If you want combat encounters to be more lethal, just increase the difficulty of the encounter. D&D is based on resource management and if you counter smart players character builds and stock pilling resources you could annoy them. Much like the party that rests after their daily powers are gone, just throw away the 4 combats a day idea and build harder encounters.
If you want combat encounters to be more lethal, just increase the difficulty of the encounter. D&D is based on resource management and if you counter smart players character builds and stock pilling resources you could annoy them. Much like the party that rests after their daily powers are gone, just throw away the 4 combats a day idea and build harder encounters.




How? 

Raising monster levels just makes it harder for anyone to hit anything and it's frustrating and annoying for all but the most focused strikers.

I've already adjusted the monster damage according to the WoTC updates.

After multiple 4e campaigns going from heroic through epic, the problem just gets worse at high levels.  Nobody dies.  The game is trivial even with tactical disadvantages.  The players simply have too many options for escaping damage, shrugging off status effects and ongoing damage, and when all that fails they just get healed for 70% of their full amount as an interrupt.  We've literally had people go from full health to dead to full health in a single MONSTER'S turn.  

It's broken. 
It seems like a simple adjustment

Yup. It's more intuitive too, and is in line with previous editions. Plus, it feels more 'realistic' (i.e. bigger wounds are consistently harder to heal).

I'd use it myself if I didn't have an aversion to house rules.



What if in your head you imagined hit points as more than just wounds. Luck, skill, stamina, willpower, endurance - those hit points can mean anything you want so getting them back really fast can be justified easy.
if you counter smart players character builds and stock pilling resources you could annoy them.

Players generally try to avoid any PC going unconscious, making this house rule an edge condition.

However, truly resource conscious players soon realize that allowing PC's to go unconscious optimizes their healing vs. their opponent's damage output (with no turn loss if you've delayed until after your leader). Removing that as an optimal method isn't a bad thing.


From what I've seen, focused healers aren't expending all of their resources.  When surges run low, they just use the ritual that lets them redistribute from the people not using them much to the tank, etc.  Most extended rests come because they'd burned through even those surges and most of their daily powers and are expecting difficulty ahead.



Comrade's Succor.

A long time ago, there was a debate on the rules forum if that allowed the re-shuffling of all surges to all players, or let ritual members funnel surges into one character only. I have no idea how it ended, but it might be worth your time to go and see if there was ever a consensus as to what the rules say about it.


Thanks.  It seems like a simple adjustment to compensate for the ridiculously high powered game that is 4e.  It is nearly impossible to threaten anyone anymore (and yes, there is a pacifist healer in the party).

I'll let you know what happens. 



Depends entirely on your design philosophy. One of my friends helps to reinforce the idea that players are heroes and that they are supposed to win. (Not that it's always an Easy Button, but there is the expectation built into the game that death is VERY transient.)

His party also had a specialized pacifist running through the Scales of War path, and told me a story of the time that the pacifist got locked away, in his own combat, in an extra-dimensional space. The rest of the party, left on the prime material, struggled to cope with the massive overhealing they were used to, suddenly being missing.

You certainly could ask your pacifist player to shift gears and explain that his tactic is making it difficult to run the game, and see if they'd be interested in trying to help remedy your issue.

Or... you can just target the pacifist and remove their over-healing. But that gets pretty obvious real quick, and would look like a grudge against your player.

58286228 wrote:
As a DM, I find it easier to just punish the players no matter what they pick, as I assume they will pick stuff that is broken. I mean, fight after fight they kill all the monsters without getting killed themselves! What sort of a game is this, anyway?

 

An insightful observation about the nature of 4e, and why it hasn't succeeded as well as other editions. (from the DDN General Discussions, 2014-05-07)

Rundell wrote:

   

Emerikol wrote:

       

Foxface wrote:

        4e was the "modern" D&D, right?  The one that had design notes that drew from more modern games, and generally appealed to those who preferred the design priorities of modern games.  I'm only speculating, but I'd hazard a guess that those same 4e players are the ones running the wide gamut of other games at Origins.

       
        D&D 4e players are pretty much by definition the players who didn't mind, and often embraced, D&D being "different".  That willingness to embrace the different might also mean they are less attached to 4e itself, and are willing to go elsewhere.

    This is a brilliant insight.  I was thinking along those lines myself.  

 

    There are so many tiny indie games that if you added them all together they would definitely rival Pathfinder.   If there were a dominant game for those people it would do better but there is no dominant game.  Until 4e, the indie people were ignored by the makers of D&D.

 

Yep. 4E was embraced by the 'system matters' crowd who love analyzing and innovating systems. That crowd had turned its back on D&D as a clunky anachronism. But with 4E, their design values were embraced and validated. 4E was D&D for system-wonks. And with support for 4E pulled, the system-wonks have moved on to other systems. The tropes and traditions of D&D never had much appeal for them anyway. Now there are other systems to learn and study. It's like boardgamegeeks - always a new system on the horizon. Why play an ancient games that's seven years old?

 

Of course, not all people who play and enjoy 4E fit that mould. I'm running a 4E campaign right now, and my long-time D&D players are enjoying it fine. But with the system-wonks decamping, the 4E players-base lost the wind in its sails.

Hit points do not only or even primarily represent physical injury. Keep this in mind and healing is much easier to rationalize.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.


However, truly resource conscious players soon realize that allowing PC's to go unconscious optimizes their healing vs. their opponent's damage output (with no turn loss if you've delayed until after your leader). Removing that as an optimal method isn't a bad thing.


Yep, this has always bugged me about healing in 4e.  If the defender is on 2hp, chances are you're going to hold off healing her until she goes below 0hp, especially if you're low on healing resources.  That just seems wrong.

However, truly resource conscious players soon realize that allowing PC's to go unconscious optimizes their healing vs. their opponent's damage output (with no turn loss if you've delayed until after your leader). Removing that as an optimal method isn't a bad thing.

Yep, this has always bugged me about healing in 4e.  If the defender is on 2hp, chances are you're going to hold off healing her until she goes below 0hp, especially if you're low on healing resources.  That just seems wrong.

Particularly when players end their adventuring days with handfuls of healing surges, which they continue to hoard "just in case."

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

We'll see how it goes with this houserule.  I'll post the results after this weekend's trial run.

From what I've seen, focused healers aren't expending all of their resources.  When surges run low, they just use the ritual that lets them redistribute from the people not using them much to the tank, etc.  Most extended rests come because they'd burned through even those surges and most of their daily powers and are expecting difficulty ahead.



Comrade's Succor.

A long time ago, there was a debate on the rules forum if that allowed the re-shuffling of all surges to all players, or let ritual members funnel surges into one character only. I have no idea how it ended, but it might be worth your time to go and see if there was ever a consensus as to what the rules say about it.


Thanks.  It seems like a simple adjustment to compensate for the ridiculously high powered game that is 4e.  It is nearly impossible to threaten anyone anymore (and yes, there is a pacifist healer in the party).

I'll let you know what happens. 



Depends entirely on your design philosophy. One of my friends helps to reinforce the idea that players are heroes and that they are supposed to win. (Not that it's always an Easy Button, but there is the expectation built into the game that death is VERY transient.)

His party also had a specialized pacifist running through the Scales of War path, and told me a story of the time that the pacifist got locked away, in his own combat, in an extra-dimensional space. The rest of the party, left on the prime material, struggled to cope with the massive overhealing they were used to, suddenly being missing.

You certainly could ask your pacifist player to shift gears and explain that his tactic is making it difficult to run the game, and see if they'd be interested in trying to help remedy your issue.

Or... you can just target the pacifist and remove their over-healing. But that gets pretty obvious real quick, and would look like a grudge against your player.



comrades succor allows the ritual participants to take all the healing surges of the participants (-1 for the cost of using the ritual) and re-distribute them however they wish among the participants.  So if everyone has no surges left except the defender who has 9 left, 4 participants can get 2 each by the use of this ritual (with the left over being use to pay the cost).
"Non nobis Domine Sed nomini tuo da gloriam" "I wish for death not because I want to die, but because I seek the war eternal"

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How?

Not harder monsters.  More of them.  Traps.  Terrain that heavily favors the enemy.  Suprise Ambushes.  Waves of monsters.  Long days that make surges precious.  There are tons of ways to make encounters harder.

It's broken. 

It's really not.  You're exaggerating that a healer can heal 50%-70% max hp without serious, major investment.  Only a pacifist cleric can do that, and there are downsides to pacifist clerics - exploit them to remind your players they exist.

This is the first time I've ever heard someone complain that healing is broken.  It sounds like you're more upset with character optimization in general.  Clearly you want to challenge your players, but its also good to keep in mind that the PCs are supposed to win in heroic fashion.  They are heroes, after all.
If you want combat encounters to be more lethal, just increase the difficulty of the encounter. D&D is based on resource management and if you counter smart players character builds and stock pilling resources you could annoy them. Much like the party that rests after their daily powers are gone, just throw away the 4 combats a day idea and build harder encounters.




How? 

Raising monster levels just makes it harder for anyone to hit anything and it's frustrating and annoying for all but the most focused strikers.

I've already adjusted the monster damage according to the WoTC updates.

After multiple 4e campaigns going from heroic through epic, the problem just gets worse at high levels.  Nobody dies.  The game is trivial even with tactical disadvantages.  The players simply have too many options for escaping damage, shrugging off status effects and ongoing damage, and when all that fails they just get healed for 70% of their full amount as an interrupt.  We've literally had people go from full health to dead to full health in a single MONSTER'S turn.  

It's broken. 



Well it doesn't sound like you are a novice to the systems weaknesses. Personally I've not played at epic level, but I've experienced the problems you present at higher heroic and paragon levels. I'm inclined not to use my players as test subjects for houserules, but find a way to exploit a systems weaknesses to balance things. I'll suggest the following, take it or leave it if you find it's not helpful.

(1) Present enemies that are 3 levels higher than the PC's as a norm. The PC's should still be able to hit the NPC's.

(2) Expand NPC powers to interrupt burst affects.

(3) Give solo or imporant NPC's minor attack actions to boost damage.

(3) Otherwise Chris Perkins wrote an article on Epic level play and how to handle it. Failure is another option over character death. This has been my current focus, so as not to generate extra work for myself. The article is below, 

www.wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4...
How? 

Raising monster levels just makes it harder for anyone to hit anything and it's frustrating and annoying for all but the most focused strikers.

I've already adjusted the monster damage according to the WoTC updates.

Add more monsters instead of higher level ones? Use favorable terrain (especially ones that keep the PCs spread out over the battlefield)? Let the monster come in waves? Occassionally disallow a short rest? Use monsters that use a lot of area attacks so that chances are that multiple PCs get hurt badly at the same time? Use monsters on occassion that have powers that are extremely effective against unconscious PCs and which are not in the fight until the PCs start to drop (or who purposely delay when they suspect a PC is reaching the limit of its hit points). Mind you I use these tactics regularly, so the PCs in my group are build around it. For example, they don't go nova in the first round, well aware that it might result in trouble later on.

Now 4e is indeed less lethal than 3e, and sometimes frustratingly so. What is worse, the line between apparently easy and too hard is razor thin. It is not healing surges that are usually the limiting factor within a single encounter, but the amount of healing powers that can be used. I am just not sure the proposed sollution works as intended. Than again, my PCs rarely wait with healing until a PC drops unconscious due to the inherent risks to it, the feeling that they are doing badly when a PC goes unconscious and the sense that such tactics is a bit too meta-gamey for them. It wouldn't have much of an impact beyond making things a tad more complicated...
It has been my experience that many 4e DM's who are frustrated by the fact that "player characters don't die anymore" fail to realize this is not a bug, it's a feature.  When a player character dies, suddenly, it's up to the DM to try and figure out how to keep their game from crashing to a halt.

Let's assume that, during the adventure you've planned, the party will face 5 encounters, each designed to slowly whittle away the party's resources before your epic finale.  If a character dies during encounter 3, you're now left with the following issues:

1) there's no way the party can stop to resurrect their fallen ally and continue the adventure as planned.

2) you now have a player who, unless you've taken steps to avoid this (there's another thread I saw on this forum recently that discusses this problem- check it out!), might as well go home, because he's not going to be able to do anything more than observe.

3) the party may decide they cannot continue the adventure at all (especially if the downed character was their healer!).

4) if they do continue, you now have to adjust your encounters on the fly for one less character.  And even if you do so, there's still a chance that another character might die in the next encounter.   

With all this in mind, it's easy to see why player death is rare- having a player die can cause your well-planned adventure to crash, and suddenly the rest of the session is "how do we escape and get so-and-so brought back to life?".

And that's not to mention that now you have to rework the adventure (it's highly unlikely the bad guys won't react, or further their dark designs with the heroes gone), adding new encounters, or even scrapping it entirely.

I have to admit, the idea that a character takes a penalty for coming close to death is a solid one, and I've seen systems for wounds in other games (Earthdawn, SAGA).  There, however, remain two issues to consider here.

The first is that you can only predict how this will affect the party in normal play.  You have a potent healer in the party, so making it a little harder for him to magically revive his allies isn't a problem...until multiple characters, or even the healer himself (or herself) lies bleeding out on the floor.  Then, suddenly, that penalty becomes a lot harsher than you might have intended.

The second is that applying penalties to someone who has already taken a beating means that they are now more likely to get beat up.  Someone coined the term "death spiral" for this effect, and I've seen it in games (old World of Darkness, Shadowrun).  The less effective you are, the more likely you will be hurt and take penalties, making you even less effective, and so on.

You might think "well, if I only apply a penalty to attack rolls" that this won't occur, but that leads to monsters having more actions in an encounter (because they die more slowly), which means more damage dealt to the party.

Finally, about retreat.  It is nigh-impossible in D&D for a party to make a full tactical retreat.  As if monsters don't already come equipped with the ability to slow/prone/immobilize/restrain/daze/stun/dominate/petrify/reduce you to unconsciousness/restrain, disengaging from direct melee can be difficult as well (especially with monsters who have long reach, or threatening reach).  If you start your turn prone next to a major opponent, your options are sharply limited.  Stand up and shift one square away?  Not going to cut it.

Second Wind or Total Defense probably won't give you enough of a benefit to keep you alive if you are targeted again.  Provoking an opportunity attack by moving or crawling away is definitely not a good idea.

Unless you have a power stashed away for just this possibility, you're toast.  Now, it's true that Rogues DO have access to such powers, and I think it's a good idea to have one or two emergency powers on any character, especially a glass cannon like the Rogue, but very often, the best way to survive a combat is, in fact, to nullify enemy attacks.

And there's no better way to do that than write the addle-coved berks into the dead-book.                               
"You can always judge a man by the quality of his enemies." -The Doctor, Remembrance of the Daleks

Your proposed house rule will lead to more character deaths. If this is a goal then go at it. I'd recomend against it. 


To make combat harder consider adding lots of lower level monsters, or having more combats a day. Also, make sure your combats aren't "All the PCs circle the giant monster and stomp on him". 


A bunch of cannon fodder enemies that can't be ignored is a great way to up the difficulty. The PCs need someone to deal with them, or the casters will get over run. 


More combats a day mean the PCs are using less daily powers each combat, and healing has to go further. This means the later combats become harder as people start to ration.


Put some flying foes in, or foes in trees/hard to reach places. Your combats will be a lot harder. Something as simple as "And also 4 dudes with bows are spread out on the other side of the room" can really ramp up an encounter. 

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"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

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The intent isn't to kill, but to create uncertainty.  Let's be serious, even if they do die they're carrying around scrolls of Raise Dead and there are 2 ritual casters in the party.  Dying is an extremely minor issue in 4e.  It's a debuff that lasts a half a day.

Many of you have provided useful feedback, but I do take exception to the heavy insinuations that I haven't already had various mixed terrain (players teleport, or climb, or jump), flying creatures (ranger fodder), and mixed unit types.  I haven't run a solo as an actual solo in years.  They always appear with a group just to add the illusion of risk/challenge.  I've run multi-phase combat (waves, as you called them) to tease out the nova strikes.  It works, but it's cheap.  Why?  Because all you're doing is making an even bigger encounter that likely far exceeds the guidelines on XP per encounter.  If you're not, then the "wave" gets crushed in less than a round.  In epic play, the good strikers are doing 200-500+dmg a round (single target).  The AOE nukers are doing 300-1000+ dmg (summed across multiple creatures).  This is often done with encounter powers, btw.

I'm one of the least experienced in the group, and I've been playing for 20 years.  They go back to the original in the 70s.  Some are ex-military.  They know tactics, they know the system, and they know how to power-game.  

I am not exaggerating as far as the healers go.  In two different campaigns there is a min/maxed pacifist.  They never attack bloodied creatures to avoid the stun, they sever the source to massively boost DPS for the party, and when someone goes down they can interrupt heal.  A standard modifier at around level 20 is "your surge plus 55".  Well, the tank was at 10% health and now he's at 80%.  Oh, that was the healer's minor action, btw...

In one campaign I'm a player in (level 25-27 range), there is a battle cleric AND a pacifist healer.  We roll through campaign modules the DM throws at us with near impunity.  We've had characters take over 300 damage in a single round and not die because the two healers were there propping him up utilizing the negative range as free healing.

As for the "action economy" post above, you're ignoring the other elements of high level play.  Retreat is an item.  How many items allow teleports or shifts as immediate actions, or minor actions, or move actions on your turn?  It would be trivial to awaken, teleport away as a move, minor potion or item heal, and standard attack in the same round.  That's not even considering an action point or other power that might allow the attack AND the retreat in the same turn as a standard.  They are very common.

Ultimately, I don't expect this to be a major hit to the party.  As I said, I'll try it out and see what happens.  Who knows, maybe I'm wrong.  Stranger things have happened

Thanks for the input guys.

 
I've removed a couple of posts in here due to bickering and namecalling - keep it civil.

www.wizards.com/Company/About.aspx?x=wz_... 
The intent isn't to kill, but to create uncertainty.  Let's be serious, even if they do die they're carrying around scrolls of Raise Dead and there are 2 ritual casters in the party.  Dying is an extremely minor issue in 4e.  It's a debuff that lasts a half a day.

I am curious whether it really creates that much more incertainty, but the best way is to test it. Have you asked the players about their opinion? Note that it creates a potential big problem if the healer is the one that goes unconscious. In the RAW a simple potion or DC 10 Heal check is enough to revive the healer, but with these rules that will not cut it most of the time, and if it does the healer lacks any buffer to remain standing. As such the rule certainly requires a potential change in the tactics of the group (some groups already do this anyway(, because now they have to pay very careful attention to the initiative of all combatants at the table and actively delay to minimize chances of the just recovered PC taking a second beating and going down before he can act.

Many of you have provided useful feedback, but I do take exception to the heavy insinuations that I haven't already had various mixed terrain (players teleport, or climb, or jump), flying creatures (ranger fodder), and mixed unit types.  I haven't run a solo as an actual solo in years.  They always appear with a group just to add the illusion of risk/challenge.  I've run multi-phase combat (waves, as you called them) to tease out the nova strikes.  It works, but it's cheap.  Why?  Because all you're doing is making an even bigger encounter that likely far exceeds the guidelines on XP per encounter.  If you're not, then the "wave" gets crushed in less than a round.  In epic play, the good strikers are doing 200-500+dmg a round (single target).  The AOE nukers are doing 300-1000+ dmg (summed across multiple creatures).  This is often done with encounter powers, btw.

I was reacting to a remark made by you which just talks about higher level monsters. The intent was not to insinuate anything, let alone insult. If I did, my appologies.

I'm one of the least experienced in the group, and I've been playing for 20 years.  They go back to the original in the 70s.  Some are ex-military.  They know tactics, they know the system, and they know how to power-game.

Experience in itself says little about the ability of a person to powergame. I played with people who play the game longer than some of my friends have lived, but those same friends were much better at powergaming than those so-called "experienced" gamers ;) Not saying that you are not good at it, I wouldn't know, merely that the amount of years that you play a game means little in a discussion like this. As for powergamers, I feel for you, there are some builds that rediculous and I am very happy my resident tacticians avoid them as the plague (they get their fun out of making weird concepts be normally effective) ;)

I am not exaggerating as far as the healers go.  In two different campaigns there is a min/maxed pacifist.  They never attack bloodied creatures to avoid the stun, they sever the source to massively boost DPS for the party, and when someone goes down they can interrupt heal.  A standard modifier at around level 20 is "your surge plus 55".  Well, the tank was at 10% health and now he's at 80%.  Oh, that was the healer's minor action, btw...

I know you are not. I know the builds. My players asked about it, as well as the Comerade Succor and similar rituals, and before I could even open my mouth they just said no and picked something differently. And I had players complain about their LFR characters being so effective that it was not funny anymore and that they hence stopped playing them.

Of course, that might in the end be the only sollution that truly works. Talk with your players and directly ask them whether or not they even want to be challenged. Why should you as a DM do all the work? If they want to be challenged, asking them to avoid some of the more powerful CharOp builds is always an option. Obviously, in a perfect game that should not be necessary, but that perfect game does not exist ;)
The matter is of course subjective, but after playing literally hundreds of 4e games (1 to 2 times a week since it first came out), and countless (thousands of) hours with the rules, I'm pretty comfortable with the mechanical ramifications of Lathos' idea.

The whack-a-mole, PC's-never-die thing got pretty old after awhile for me. Beside being unituitive and a break from all previous editions, it just wasn't fun for me as player or DM. ymmv.
The whack-a-mole, PC's-never-die thing got pretty old after awhile for me. Beside being unituitive and a break from all previous editions, it just wasn't fun for me as player or DM. ymmv.

I found it as intuitive as any other HP system (and even a bit more realistic), and the fact that it was a break from all previous edition is what made it fun for me.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

I found it as intuitive as any other HP system

Interesting. I found myself constantly reminding my players that they heal up from zero.
(mind you: I don't begrudge anyone enjoying a mechanic that didn't work for me... in fact, such anecdotes even hearten me. Just curious to hear more)

I found it as intuitive as any other HP system

Interesting. I found myself constantly reminding my players that they heal up from zero.

So did I, but that's isn't about intution, it's about tradition.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

that's isn't about intution, it's about tradition.

It occured even with my players that were new to D&D (i.e. I ran a lot of public games with new players).

that's isn't about intution, it's about tradition.

It occured even with my players that were new to D&D (i.e. I ran a lot of public games with new players).

Ok. HP is a pretty pervasive mechanic, though.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

HP is a pretty pervasive mechanic, though.

Do you mean like in other game systems (like video games and such)? Some of those go only to zero (instead of negative). I believe D&D is the only system to both track negative HP, and discard the negative value once healed.

Indeed, I know of no other situation that tracks a negative value, but discards the negative value once a positive value is introduced.

There was a good, logical reason for 'healing from zero', though.  I'm sure those of us who played previous edition remember getting knocked down to the negatives, then getting healed JUST enough to be conscious ... which means that one even-less-than-decent swing would take you past the negative-ten threshold.

The real answer, I think, is to not think that death is the only, or even primary, result of losing a fight.  I have put house rules in place that make unconsciousness more common and death quite difficult; this works for me, because it means the players don't think of their characters as a disposable resource, and put more energy into roleplaying them.  I think death should be a rare event, story-based, with drama and emotion involved, not just 'well, Bob lost another one'.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
How? 

Raising monster levels just makes it harder for anyone to hit anything and it's frustrating and annoying for all but the most focused strikers.

I've already adjusted the monster damage according to the WoTC updates.

Add more monsters instead of higher level ones? Use favorable terrain (especially ones that keep the PCs spread out over the battlefield)? Let the monster come in waves? Occassionally disallow a short rest? Use monsters that use a lot of area attacks so that chances are that multiple PCs get hurt badly at the same time? Use monsters on occassion that have powers that are extremely effective against unconscious PCs and which are not in the fight until the PCs start to drop (or who purposely delay when they suspect a PC is reaching the limit of its hit points). Mind you I use these tactics regularly, so the PCs in my group are build around it. For example, they don't go nova in the first round, well aware that it might result in trouble later on.

Now 4e is indeed less lethal than 3e, and sometimes frustratingly so. What is worse, the line between apparently easy and too hard is razor thin. It is not healing surges that are usually the limiting factor within a single encounter, but the amount of healing powers that can be used. I am just not sure the proposed sollution works as intended. Than again, my PCs rarely wait with healing until a PC drops unconscious due to the inherent risks to it, the feeling that they are doing badly when a PC goes unconscious and the sense that such tactics is a bit too meta-gamey for them. It wouldn't have much of an impact beyond making things a tad more complicated...



I've found it's less lethal than 3E only in that 3E deaths often feel cheap.   "You rolled a 3.  Okay, new character time."  "You took 14 hp of damage when you were barely standing.  Okay, new character time.   Goblin crits at level 1, okay new character time."  

Really cheap honestly.  In the balance I've found more TPKs in 4E than 3E.
I've found it's less lethal than 3E only in that 3E deaths often feel cheap.   "You rolled a 3.  Okay, new character time."  "You took 14 hp of damage when you were barely standing.  Okay, new character time.   Goblin crits at level 1, okay new character time."

As cheap as that is, it's all people knew for a long time, and some of them came to rationalize it as the "right" way, and even to revel in it. Then 4th Edition came along and introduced a different way of handling it. Whether or not that was was "better," it obviated all the rationalization they'd done, all the ways they had developed to cope with the old way, which made them view the new way through a harsh lens as "strange," or "too easy," or "like a video game."

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

As cheap as that is, it's all people knew for a long time, and some of them came to rationalize it as the "right" way, and even to revel in it. Then 4th Edition came along and introduced a different way of handling it. Whether or not that was was "better," it obviated all the rationalization they'd done, all the ways they had developed to cope with the old way, which made them view the new way through a harsh lens as "strange," or "too easy," or "like a video game."



Whenever I read about death and dying in D&D 4e I always think back to the design article they had about it.  www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/d...

Every now and then I feel the need to refresh myself by re-reading the article  about why the system was changed and I still find it as insightful as ever.
Many of you have provided useful feedback, but I do take exception to the heavy insinuations that I haven't already had various mixed terrain (players teleport, or climb, or jump), flying creatures (ranger fodder), and mixed unit types.

To be fair, when someone suggested harder encounters on the first page, your reply was,
How? 

Raising monster levels just makes it harder for anyone to hit anything and it's frustrating and annoying for all but the most focused strikers.

I've already adjusted the monster damage according to the WoTC update

It sounded very much like those were the only ways you saw to increase difficulty.  You also seem very dismissive of these tips.  Maybe the ranger can take out a flying creature.  Can he take out 4?  Can he take out flying skirmishers that dart out to hit and then shift back to cover? These are not "you have it or you don't" features - you can scale them.  So scale them up until they provide a challenge. It often takes a lot of fiddling in Epic before you find the right diffculty for a given party.

The more you post, the more it seems you just aren't that comfortable with character optimization in general.  My suggestions to that would be to either run games at lower levels, or to run a different version of D&D altogether. Honestly, you sound a lot like the folks I know that just prefer earlier versions. And there's nothing wrong with that.
This is an interesting thread. I'll add a few thoughts, but I think most has already been well discussed. My apologies if I'm repeating anything.



  • First and foremost - are your players having fun? Ask them. If they're all having a good time, and don't feel the game is too easy, then maybe this isn't really a problem. If they are having fun and you're not...the answer probably isn't nerfing uberheals.

  • Since you mention the healer is using a lot of immediate action heals, you can go all metagamey and target the healers immediate action. Daze, stun and dominate work well. Add the status "and you can't take immediate or opportunity actions" to attacks, or put it on an aura. Don't do this in every fight though. Another way to get him to use his immediate is to incentivize it. Put a skill challenge in the fight or some terrain effects that allow players to use their immediate in some positive way - then they don't have access to it. Again, use sparingly.

  • You can also use powers and auras that don't allow people to regain hit points, or lessen the effectiveness of healing.

  • You can also use alternate goals in a few combats. If the object is to protect a bridge or stop a ritual, healing isn't going to matter.


You may already be doing some of this stuff, and if that's the case, it's not intended to offend...just trying to be helpful.

The intent isn't to kill, but to create uncertainty.  Let's be serious, even if they do die they're carrying around scrolls of Raise Dead and there are 2 ritual casters in the party.  Dying is an extremely minor issue in 4e.  It's a debuff that lasts a half a day.

Many of you have provided useful feedback, but I do take exception to the heavy insinuations that I haven't already had various mixed terrain (players teleport, or climb, or jump), flying creatures (ranger fodder), and mixed unit types.  I haven't run a solo as an actual solo in years.  They always appear with a group just to add the illusion of risk/challenge.  I've run multi-phase combat (waves, as you called them) to tease out the nova strikes.  It works, but it's cheap.  Why?  Because all you're doing is making an even bigger encounter that likely far exceeds the guidelines on XP per encounter.  If you're not, then the "wave" gets crushed in less than a round.  In epic play, the good strikers are doing 200-500+dmg a round (single target).  The AOE nukers are doing 300-1000+ dmg (summed across multiple creatures).  This is often done with encounter powers, btw.

I'm one of the least experienced in the group, and I've been playing for 20 years.  They go back to the original in the 70s.  Some are ex-military.  They know tactics, they know the system, and they know how to power-game.  

I am not exaggerating as far as the healers go.  In two different campaigns there is a min/maxed pacifist.  They never attack bloodied creatures to avoid the stun, they sever the source to massively boost DPS for the party, and when someone goes down they can interrupt heal.  A standard modifier at around level 20 is "your surge plus 55".  Well, the tank was at 10% health and now he's at 80%.  Oh, that was the healer's minor action, btw...

In one campaign I'm a player in (level 25-27 range), there is a battle cleric AND a pacifist healer.  We roll through campaign modules the DM throws at us with near impunity.  We've had characters take over 300 damage in a single round and not die because the two healers were there propping him up utilizing the negative range as free healing.

As for the "action economy" post above, you're ignoring the other elements of high level play.  Retreat is an item.  How many items allow teleports or shifts as immediate actions, or minor actions, or move actions on your turn?  It would be trivial to awaken, teleport away as a move, minor potion or item heal, and standard attack in the same round.  That's not even considering an action point or other power that might allow the attack AND the retreat in the same turn as a standard.  They are very common.

Ultimately, I don't expect this to be a major hit to the party.  As I said, I'll try it out and see what happens.  Who knows, maybe I'm wrong.  Stranger things have happened

Thanks for the input guys.

 



I'm sorry if this thread has decended into bickering. Just trying to offer an option without house ruling. I would be interested in how it all turns out once you have tested it out.
Well the report from the weekend was positive.

I had the tank in the party take his usual bravado and charge the front without waiting for the party.  He was riddled by 6 readied attackers and dropped unconscious immediately, but only to about -20 or so.  As the rest of the party got into position, the leader managed to get to him and heal him up.  It still only took 1 action to get him up, but she got him to +25 instead of +45.  The difference was that he was more tentative about his positioning.  He seemed to be less "invulnerable", at least for a moment.

The net effect was still very minor despite all the wringing of hands in this thread.  It is very tempting to put a single mechanic under the microscope and have it seem terriblyh important when in a real party dynamic it's just not a big deal.

Example?  Right after that the warlock killed a creature and transferred some 25 THP to the fighter.  Then the fighter got another minor action heal and barely bloodied.  All of this was in the first round.

In the end I expect the heal-from-negative change will have a very subtle effect and I recommend it to anyone who wants to preserve a tiny seasoned taste of a deadlier setting.  It's not dramatic, but it's vaguely noticable.  Again, this is only after 1 session of playtesting at high-paragon with some very seasoned (albeit rash at times) players.  YMMV.