Popular, iconic fantasy adventuring parties without a "Healer"?

Think about your average fantastic adventuring party in mediums that aren't D&D. Here are some of my favorites:

































Wow, I got a bit carried away there, huh? Oh well, the more examples I have to illustrate my point the better. Now, how many of the above adventuring parties have a "healer"? Not very many. Not even the party from Lore of the Rings! Characters like Wolverine can heal, but this is self-only. Katara from Avatar's party can heal, as can a few of the other characters pictured, but even in these cases, healing is something that is almost exclusively done outside of combat. So, what of a D&D where healing could be treated similarly to how it is treated in these stories, as something done between scenes exclusively? How would you feel about D&D if "healer" was no longer a mandatory role at all the way that it is now? Is it a viable and desirable design goal for a party of two fighters, a rogue, and a wizard to be exact as viable as a party of a fighter, a rogue, a wizard, and a cleric? Will we or should we ever have a day where the party's sole cleric doesn't need to feel pressured as it currently does to specialize in healing magic?

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
Not a 'healer' in the clerical ally-support sense, but Sailor Moon's powers are healing based -- if not holy healing (for all intents and purposes).

You covered everything I would have submitted.  

Danny

Aragorn has magical healing abilities.



I had some thoughts on other things, but really, the only productive thing I can do is be pedantic about qualities of LoTR characters.  And that's not very productive.
The difference between madness and genius is determined only by degrees of success.
Couple of concerns with your parties there:

Firefly — They had a doctor that fixed them up all the time

Avatar: The last Airbender — Kitara healed them up frequently in the second and third books after she learned more from the Northern Water Tribe. 

With that being said, let me add a few more:

 



None of those people get injured remotely as often as a D&D adventurer. If the Fellowship went through four encounters per day, or encountered anyone remotely in their same level bracket, then they'd need a healer too.

A more relevant point could be had by sticking closely in-genre. I only read the first half-dozen Drizzt books, but they had no healer (it looked to be a party entirely full of fighters). The group in Rune Soldier Louie had no real healer. The Slayers did allow for in-combat magical healing, but it was usually more efficient for the cleric to attack or cast offensive magic. Has anyone seen Record of Lodoss War? Dragonlance would be another useful point of reference.

The metagame is not the game.




Aragorn has magical healing abilities.

Really? Huh, I didn't remember that. Did he use them in combat every or is that another one of those examples of a "healer" that only really does it during down time?

Couple of concerns with your parties there:
Firefly — They had a doctor that fixed them up all the time
Avatar: The last Airbender — Kitara healed them up frequently in the second and third books after she learned more from the Northern Water Tribe.

I did mention that some of these parties did include characters that could heal out of combat, calling out Katara specifically. The question is moreso about the "healer" role as it is played out during a D&D battle.

None of those people get injured remotely as often as a D&D adventurer.

I wouldn't be so sure about that, but even if it's true, wouldn't that instead point to a problem in having it be a default assumption that a D&D party will be having so many deadly encounters in such a short period of time?

A more relevant point could be had by sticking closely in-genre.

I considered that, but I honestly don't think that genre is particularly relevant to the question. The examples that you go on to give are great, though!

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
The greatest show ever for describing party dynamic (especially evil party members): Farscape.  
 
None of those people get injured remotely as often as a D&D adventurer.

I wouldn't be so sure about that, but even if it's true, wouldn't that instead point to a problem in having it be a default assumption that a D&D party will be having so many deadly encounters in such a short period of time?

Yeah, it's kind of absurd if you think about the sheer volume of combat that a D&D adventurer goes through. One-hundred pitched battles to the death in a month? Sure, that's about right. It's definitely not something you see outside of a game world, probably because the details of combat would get boring if you were just reading about it.

It would be nice if that wasn't the default assumption, but at least they're kind of getting away from that by saying you can have one really tough encounter instead of four average ones.
The metagame is not the game.
You don't need a healer when you have Plot Armor. Nuff said.

Wounds Module [updated for Basic]

Proficiency Module

You don't need a healer when you have Plot Armor.

As the main characters of a fantasy narrative, why should a D&D party need to rely on a healer when they could instead pick up some plot armor?
Hmm, "Plot Armor" sounds like an awesome name for a module...

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
Really? Huh, I didn't remember that. Did he use them in combat every or is that another one of those examples of a "healer" that only really does it during down time?



Downtime.  All he did with it was treat people who got stabbed by the Witch-King (Frodo at Weathertop, Eowyn and Faramir at Minas Tirith iirc).  It all came from athelas, but since he was the only one who could use it...


None of those people get injured remotely as often as a D&D adventurer. If the Fellowship went through four encounters per day, or encountered anyone remotely in their same level bracket, then they'd need a healer too.

A more relevant point could be had by sticking closely in-genre. I only read the first half-dozen Drizzt books, but they had no healer (it looked to be a party entirely full of fighters). The group in Rune Soldier Louie had no real healer. The Slayers did allow for in-combat magical healing, but it was usually more efficient for the cleric to attack or cast offensive magic. Has anyone seen Record of Lodoss War? Dragonlance would be another useful point of reference.




The Dragonlance Chronicles had a healer.  After Xak Tsaroth, Goldmoon was a cleric of Mishakal, goddess of healing.  Before that, she had a magic staff that served the same role.


She didn't really heal in combat the way D&D clerics do (she mostly stood in the back and pretended she didn't exist during combat), but she did use magical healing on party members.
The difference between madness and genius is determined only by degrees of success.
With the exception of Bones, most of the star treck doctors tended to stay on the ship. Dr. Fraiser from Stargate barely ever left the base except to go home.

Most of the xanth adventures focus on parties that are either without healers or have only limited healing. 

Really the idea that parties need a magic healer is pretty much a DnDism, and not a particularly good one.  
With the exception of Bones, most of the star treck doctors tended to stay on the ship.

I don't recall Bones actually healing anything.  Most of his role was just encoding "that monster-of-the-week is a badass!" as "He's dead, Jim", with the occasional "that pointy-eared dude is like totally an alien and stuff".

With the exception of Bones, most of the star treck doctors tended to stay on the ship. Dr. Fraiser from Stargate barely ever left the base except to go home.



I remember Dr. Crusher going on a number of away missions, and she has the bad habit of immediately healing any injury she sees.
The difference between madness and genius is determined only by degrees of success.
Like what? once or twice a season?
Like what? once or twice a season?



Probably something in that general area.  It's not like I counted or anything :P
The difference between madness and genius is determined only by degrees of success.

Trek: basically Crusher would go whenever the away mission involved potential casualties or some other medical problem. Unless it they knew that, she'd generally stay on the ship and beam down when a medical emergency came up - or they'd beam people to sick bay. Except for season 1; she went on quite a few away missions in season 1 but I think that was because a lot of that was recycled TOS material and it was understood by trekies at the time that the doctor went down with the away team.



Healers in the party: when there are injuries in a story there's always a healer. Someone applies first aid or magic or herbalist mojo or whatever. The notion that you always have magic to heal with is largely brought out of D&D for the same reason improvised actions have lost importance: people always want the best option and eventually it becomes such an understanding that the best option is there that the rules downplay anything else and start to assume that they've got the best option.


2e's got a couple of different reasonably meaningful ways into healing that isn't magic, but magic is far and away the best so that's the one they want.

Well then it seems the answer is to stop making magic so much better at everything.
Fiction rarely makes its magical healing very effective because it's a drama killer. Hurting someone isn't a big deal if it can easily be undone. Additionally, fiction series very very rarely define the quantity of spell resources that spellcasters have (for a large number of reasons), so "we can completely reverse that injury, but now Elixir can only heal one more person today, so be careful" doesn't really come up.

The fact that cheap, reliable, instant healing sucks some of the drama out of injury does have some effects on the D&D-scape. For example, people often feel that monsters that do ability damage or have instant-death moves or that destroy a character's gear are important because those ones are really "scary". The fact that getting stabbed isn't scary is a consequence in large part of its relatively easy reversability. Some people might look at the fact that the majority of the "bad stuff" that the majority of monsters can do to players is considered not scary because it's "just normal damage" and be concerned about the state of healing and damage in the game, but that's not really something that D&D's bothered with all that much. Nor, of course, is it something without side effects; if you make regular healing too difficult then you do make regular damage scary again,  but at the cost of pretty regularly waylaying the party. As much as injury tracks and wound tick-boxes make my eyes glaze over, there's something to the idea that regular ol' damage can be kind of scary if it's building up to actual penalties (aside from "thou hast died.")
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
The fact that getting stabbed isn't scary is a consequence in large part of its relatively easy reversability.

One of the Shadowrun sourcebooks referred to this as "Superman Syndrome," and defined it as the apathy towards injury which is caused by knowing that the magician can heal your wounds in an instant. When healing magic is real, it does change how people act within the world - it's not entirely a meta-game phenomenon.

The metagame is not the game.
Again The tephra game has an interesting solution: They separate HP as meat, and HP as intangibles into the Wound and Hp system.

Wounds are your meat, bone, blood, and various bits, Each wound corresponds to a point on the body (and yes you can kick people in the crotch) and if you take wound damage you roll a die and take a short term penalty (until the next short rest) based on where you got nailed, the way you take wound damage is by gettign your HP depleted, or by getting attacked without your intagibles in place, such as someone slipping poison into your food, or putting a bullet in your head from two buildings away while you're out shopping. Furthermore if you take more than a handful of wounds you move into lethal damage where the body parts start falling off.  They've got a pretty quick and intuitive system for it so much less paperwork than it sounds.
The end result of having a lot of healing in the party is I, as a DM, ramp up the damage taken. I like my HP damage to last. I like it to span days, even. If they've got a lot of ways to heal, then I just throw more crap at them until the damage starts to last again.
I'd like to add one more.

 
For the X-men; Wolverine and Colossus had getting beat up as their job. But both came with defensive powers. Hitting Rogue was a nerf. And Nightcrawler had 100 AC.

 

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

Yeah, OP, I agree!

Healing in combat just makes combat longer. And there's nooooothing worse than monsters who heal.

Keep healing, but keep it out of combat.

Perhaps there will be a module option for this. Maybe if the cure spells were changed to "protect against light wounds" and so on - the next wound the character takes they get resistence, or something.

Or perhaps that doesnt help much. I suspect it would create less he's up/he'sdown/up/down etc - you'd take longer to go down, but if you do go down, youre out until the combat is over.




There is a certain "MMO syndrome" these days where lots of people can't fathom a game, especially an RPG game, without a healer spamming heal after heal.

This not only makes your fantasy setting surreal because wounds mean very little to a character (someone mentioned the Superman syndrome before which touches on that aspect)...

But also it's a very limiting game design.
Because when you have healing as something so powerful and accessful, you have to write the difficulty of every challenge in the game to take that certain ammount of healing into account.
If you don't, then parties with healers will just crush every encounter like they were nothing and there's now very little challenge in the game.

And if you do take the healing into account when setting difficulty you have an even bigger design problem.
Because if no player wants to play a healer the party will just be overwhelmed by everything.
Either that or someone will be forced to play a healer wihtout wanting or liking the role, which in my view of gaming is the worst case scenario.


So, as I see it, healing should be helpful, but not too powerful. Made to save a character from the eventual tight spot, not to be spammed repeatedly.
 
Awesome thread! I wonder how the mechanics would look, however.

HP as purely abstract would allow for keeping every "hit" from being a real wound, but the playerbase is already fragmented on that issue. Now, if HP and damage were scaled such that players start with a LOT more HP, but recovered significantly more slowly, even with healing magic, that might be a start. Possibly more reliance on status effects instead of outright damage would work as well. That ogre hits you hard, doing a small amount of HP damage, but dazes on a hit, etc. I dunno, just kinda throwing out ideas at this point.

Magic Dual Color Test
I am White/Green
I am White/Green
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.
I am both orderly and instinctive. I value community and group identity, defining myself by the social group I am a part of. At best, I'm selfless and strong-willed; at worst, I'm unoriginal and sheepish.



There is a certain "MMO syndrome" these days where lots of people can't fathom a game, especially an RPG game, without a healer spamming heal after heal.

This not only makes your fantasy setting surreal because wounds mean very little to a character (someone mentioned the Superman syndrome before which touches on that aspect)...

But also it's a very limiting game design.
Because when you have healing as something so powerful and accessful, you have to write the difficulty of every challenge in the game to take that certain ammount of healing into account.
If you don't, then parties with healers will just crush every encounter like they were nothing and there's now very little challenge in the game.

And if you do take the healing into account when setting difficulty you have an even bigger design problem.
Because if no player wants to play a healer the party will just be overwhelmed by everything.
Either that or someone will be forced to play a healer wihtout wanting or liking the role, which in my view of gaming is the worst case scenario.


So, as I see it, healing should be helpful, but not too powerful. Made to save a character from the eventual tight spot, not to be spammed repeatedly.
 

How can it be the "MMO syndrome" when MMO's got all their mechanics from DnD I repeat before a MMO was a concept in anybody's head DnD had clerics who could heal, honestly I'm sick and tired of people labelling everything they don't like as MMO inspired get your facts straight MMO's started of by trying to emulate DnD of course there's going to be shared mechanics.

Or you could go the 4E route and more variations of healers:

A: "So we kind of need a healer and you're the only one who hasn't chosen a class .."
B: "Well I don't really have a concept in terms of class I have a personality planned though and we'll see if it fits"
A: "Ok so cleric a wise leader annointed by the gods ..."
B: "No"
C: "A paladin a chapion of the gods who"
A: "No"
B: "A shaman use the power of nature and spirits"
A: "No"
B: "Artificier you're a sort of mad genius who uses magic"
A: "Ok"
C: "From the psyonic side you can be a ... ah a artificer ok. "

Also in HP any wizard can attempt to heal and any Force adept can attempt it also, with the Light side being way more proficient for standard healing trances.
[sblock]

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

Part of the problem is that books, TV shows, and movies can manipulate things so characters don't need healing nearly as often. On the other hand, DMs can also manipulate things so characters don't need healing nearly as often. Our group doesn't heal during combat very often at all -- only when it's really needed to keep the fighting force going. Most of our healing occurs out of combat, and rarely does everyone end up at 100%. However, we don't run back-to-back combats, either. Our recent combat session had the 2nd half of a dungeon crawl, and the PCs all had to be alert to keep HPs up because they wouldn't know what was coming up next. We don't have a dedicated healer in the group. We have three paladins and one cleric, and the cleric more often uses battle spells than healing spells in combat. It's very difficult to make a broad, sweeping decision that "all groups need a healer" or "groups don't need a healer." It should be up to the group, and the rules should support both those statements, and other styles in between.

In memory of wrecan and his Unearthed Wrecana.




Spoiler alert
Show

That party also suffers major losses by the end of the book if i recall correctly.  Sure they don't have a healer, but they also have deaths in the party.
 



Spoiler alert
Show

That party also suffers major losses by the end of the book if i recall correctly.  Sure they don't have a healer, but they also have deaths in the party.
 


Show
3 out of 13 (14 if you include the hobbit, and we probably should if talking about them as a "party") doesn't seem like "major" losses.  It's like losing 1 character out of a 4- or 5-man party.

But yeah, the Hobbit has lots of down-time and deus-ex going on.


And awesome thread, if only for the pictures!  Tongue Out
Feedback Disclaimer
Yes, I am expressing my opinions (even complaints - le gasp!) about the current iteration of the play-test that we actually have in front of us. No, I'm not going to wait for you to tell me when it's okay to start expressing my concerns (unless you are WotC). (And no, my comments on this forum are not of the same tone or quality as my actual survey feedback.)
A Psion for Next (Playable Draft) A Barbarian for Next (Brainstorming Still)
None of those people get injured remotely as often as a D&D adventurer.

I wouldn't be so sure about that, but even if it's true, wouldn't that instead point to a problem in having it be a default assumption that a D&D party will be having so many deadly encounters in such a short period of time?

Yeah, it's kind of absurd if you think about the sheer volume of combat that a D&D adventurer goes through. One-hundred pitched battles to the death in a month? Sure, that's about right. It's definitely not something you see outside of a game world, probably because the details of combat would get boring if you were just reading about it.

It would be nice if that wasn't the default assumption, but at least they're kind of getting away from that by saying you can have one really tough encounter instead of four average ones.


That's one of those "D&Disms" that I just do not enjoy, and avoid in my own games (usually not even actively avoid - I find that, when left to run "naturally", games just... don't do that).

If I had to point a finger, I'd probably point to the game originating in "fantasy wargaming" rather than, say, "fantasy storytelling".  EDIT: By which I mean, I don't think its focus has ever been "fidelity to the genre".
Feedback Disclaimer
Yes, I am expressing my opinions (even complaints - le gasp!) about the current iteration of the play-test that we actually have in front of us. No, I'm not going to wait for you to tell me when it's okay to start expressing my concerns (unless you are WotC). (And no, my comments on this forum are not of the same tone or quality as my actual survey feedback.)
A Psion for Next (Playable Draft) A Barbarian for Next (Brainstorming Still)



Spoiler alert
Show

That party also suffers major losses by the end of the book if i recall correctly.  Sure they don't have a healer, but they also have deaths in the party.
 



Yes actually in the Hobbit in the books you get a strong sense the Dwarves are somewhat less than the heros of the story (the movie is adjusted to de-emphasize that) .. they are rather greedy and eager to let Bilbo take on the greater dangers, Tolkein encourages you to be sympathetic to there nature but ummm.

Oh and Gandalf is a healer...
  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."

 

Gandalf also had healing hands – it's right there in The Lament for Gandalf.

In the movies, he also heals Thorin from his injuries fighting the White Orc, heals Theoden from a curse of old age, heals Pippin from the influence of the Palantir.  All of these are downtimes things, though, and Gandalf is also an Angel and a quintessential DM-PC (he's better actually statted in 4e as Deva Order Adept Hybrid-Runepriest/Invoker), so…




Before posting, why not ask yourself, What Would Wrecan Say?

IMAGE(http://images.onesite.com/community.wizards.com/user/marandahir/thumb/9ac5d970f3a59330212c73baffe4c556.png?v=90000)

A great man once said "If WotC put out boxes full of free money there'd still be people complaining about how it's folded." – Boraxe

Gandalf also had healing hands – it's right there in The Lament for Gandalf.

In the movies, he also heals Thorin from his injuries fighting the White Orc, heals Theoden from a curse of old age, heals Pippin from the influence of the Palantir.  All of these are downtimes things, though, and Gandalf is also an Angel and a quintessential DM-PC (he's better actually statted in 4e as Deva Order Adept Hybrid-Runepriest/Invoker), so…



I had him as Deva Invoker/Avenger (that harbinger schtick and using weapons charging around the battle without physical armor) and I think around level 11 he becomes Gandalf the White.
 
Sure he's a Mary Sue big time.
  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."

 

No role should be necessary.  No class should be necessary.  No game element at all should be necessary.  Having a healer should be nice, not required, same with everything else.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.



Spoiler alert
Show

That party also suffers major losses by the end of the book if i recall correctly.  Sure they don't have a healer, but they also have deaths in the party.
 


Show
3 out of 13 (14 if you include the hobbit, and we probably should if talking about them as a "party") doesn't seem like "major" losses.  It's like losing 1 character out of a 4- or 5-man party.

But yeah, the Hobbit has lots of down-time and deus-ex going on.


And awesome thread, if only for the pictures! 



Like I said if I recall correctly...been a long time since I read the hobbit, and I still need to read the quest for erabor (what the movie is actually based on apparently).

The only problem I have with this thread is that while a lot of these parties don't have healers they have  a crap ton of deus ex machina going on.  They have a bunch of things conspire to make everything work out in the end with few if any loses.  They have a writer in control that gets to say, "No he will only ever get this hurt because this is enough to be dramatic, and I can reliably take him to the edge without killing him.  In fact I can determine what his edge is in every single instance and I can move that edge as I see fit"

As much as I am a large proponent of the we are telling a collaborative story aspect of D&D, and definitely value the narrative aspects of D&D, I find it more, and more, disingenuous to compare D&D characters to storied heroes.  Mainly because storied heroes don't play with dice.  In a story the writer knows exactly what will happen to his characters and makes every decision for them.  He also determines when they hit, and when they miss, and when they get hit, and when they get missed.  He doesn't decide it with dice, and he doesn't let them decide anything he just says, "No this is what is going to happen".  It would basically be like sitting down at the table and having the DM say, "Oh you won't need dice I've already decided everything that happens to you and how you respond to it."

In D&D and all RPGs in general you can't have the same kind of setup because the world is resolved with dice or random number generation.  Basically in RPG's the healer is your plot armor.  For me I think the the real party's to look at for things like this aren't in TV shows and books.  Mainly because they do not have the problem of dice rolls.  Basically in books, movies, and TV shows the DM does not roll dice.  In those mediums the DM says, "Nope you take this exact amount of damage, when you rest you recover this amount of damage. ", the DM can explicitly play with health totals because he knows exactly that none of the damage will ever kill the characters unless he specifically means for that to happen.  In an RPG because we decide things with random values the writer/DM can't be sure he isn't going to almost kill the party even with an easy encounter.  Bad luck could make 4 kobolds kill an adventuring party, or at least do a decent amount of damage that truly softens them for the ogre that appears later in the dungeon.
No role should be necessary.  No class should be necessary.  No game element at all should be necessary.  Having a healer should be nice, not required, same with everything else.

100x this.



Spoiler alert
Show

That party also suffers major losses by the end of the book if i recall correctly.  Sure they don't have a healer, but they also have deaths in the party.
 


Show
3 out of 13 (14 if you include the hobbit, and we probably should if talking about them as a "party") doesn't seem like "major" losses.  It's like losing 1 character out of a 4- or 5-man party.

But yeah, the Hobbit has lots of down-time and deus-ex going on.


And awesome thread, if only for the pictures! 



Like I said if I recall correctly...been a long time since I read the hobbit, and I still need to read the quest for erabor (what the movie is actually based on apparently).

The only problem I have with this thread is that while a lot of these parties don't have healers they have  a crap ton of deus ex machina going on.   



The purpose of hit points is for me atleast in part to invoke that heroic luck. In other words up to a point HP are a mechanical form of that Deus Ex. Inspiration based healling can be a subtle thing that doesnt beat you in the face... that physical glowy glowy kind not so much.

I have been arguing that we need ways to spread out that form of healing, in part because I started noticing how much in modern fantasy you see every party member acting as psychological support for the others.
  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."