Healing Surges?

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Healing surges seems like a neat-o thing but do they make any sense? I mean, take this for example:

DM: "The goblin kicks over the table and stabs Kodos in the thigh with his sword! The wound is deep and blood pours down your leg, splashing onto the floor."

Kodos: "Ouch! That hurts! I'm almost dead! I'll.... clench my teeth real hard and have a heal surge."

DM: "Uh... okay... The wound in your thigh suddenly closes and the bleeding stops and you feel better..."

The mechanic is convenient but really leaves me scratching my head as to how it can be explained. If it were magic, no problem. Miracles from the gods? Sure. But how a whole party of adventurers who just had the crap beat out of them with claws, swords, fire and hammers can just rest under a tree for six hours and then be totally healed and smiles is a bit much.
Think of your classic movie heroes that get shot in the arm. They fall back behind the wall, tear of a strip of shirt, bind the wound and plunge back into the fracas wailing like a banshee.

If that doesn't help, watch some pro wrestling. That'll give you an idea of how people shake off life-threatening injuries! ;)

SB
Yeah think of it more along the lines of... Well it depends on how the Healing Surge is used.

Second Wind: You toughen up, shrug off the pain and charge back in.

Cleric: Cleric healing, easy enough to visualize.

Potion: Potion healing, easy enough to visualize.

Heal-Check: Bandaging it up quickly, perhaps take a swig of whisky to bite off the pain.
Also, remember that hit point loss does not necessarily mean physical damage. Hit points are abstract. While they can be a measure of physical resilience, they also include fatigue and general defensive prowess, willpower, and fighting spirit. Using a healing surge could simply be taking a moment to catch your breath before diving back into the fray.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
My impression of healing surge is that it is mechanically similar to the iron heart endurance maneuver from tome of battle.

You push aside the pain of your injuries to fight on past mortal limits.
If you have half or fewer of your full normal hit points remaining, you can initiate this maneuver to heal hit points equal to 2
Salla said it best.
Hit Points are not Health Points.
Kodos: "Ouch! That hurts! I'm almost dead! I'll.... clench my teeth real hard and have a heal surge."

DM: "Uh... okay... The wound in your thigh suddenly closes and the bleeding stops and you feel better..."

Just change it to DM: "Grinding your teeth you see a red mist rise in your eyes as you wery nearly go berserk. Your fury allows you to throw yourself back into the action at once, but you'll need rest before being able to do this again." (Five minutes worth of rest ;))
Yeah i like the fact that you can technically still feel fully 100% (ie max health) but still be coved in wounds that need to heal naturally.

Like returning from the adventure in good spirits, and with the scars to prove your bravery in the faces of the danger you took on.

You remember being a kid right? You'd fall of your bike and wallow on the ground in pain for a few minutes, then be right back in the mix, good as new! It makes sense to me.

Plus normal people don't get healing surges (or action points for that matter) because the players are supposed to be heros. They are supposed to have limits far past those of the average run of the mill farmer type.
If you want to take one of the new mechanics literally, you haven't even started bleeding until you're down half your hit points...
The mechanic is convenient but really leaves me scratching my head as to how it can be explained. If it were magic, no problem. Miracles from the gods? Sure. But how a whole party of adventurers who just had the crap beat out of them with claws, swords, fire and hammers can just rest under a tree for six hours and then be totally healed and smiles is a bit much.

Healing surges are a great idea, heroic adventurers and all that, but I do have a problem with being totally healed after resting six hours. So if all the characters are nearly killed, barely escaping a TPK, they only need to take a six hour nap and everything is ok? Are all PCs automatically blessed by the gods or what?

Does this apply to all characters including NPCs? If a famer is nearly trampled to death by his livestock in the morning and he sleeps for six hours is he ok in time for diner?

I know fantasy games require suspension of disbelief, but this is really out there.
Easily fixed by houseruling it to some limit, but in a way full healing is the "easiest" and "fairest" way to rule it, but giving back 25% of max (or one healing surge if at max) is a way to make downtime last longer, if you want people to still pull out of dungeons for some R&R when they are halfway through.
Easily fixed by houseruling it to some limit, but in a way full healing is the "easiest" and "fairest" way to rule it, but giving back 25% of max (or one healing surge if at max) is a way to make downtime last longer, if you want people to still pull out of dungeons for some R&R when they are halfway through.

The rule of fully healing when you rest for 6 hours just comes from the fact that the players will have enough healing surges to do that 2 to 4 times. Meaning that the downtime would never be longer than a day anyway, you'd just have to go through one day with 3 fewer HS.

The extended rest rule simplifies that by just letting you do it without HS.
Healing surges are a great idea, heroic adventurers and all that, but I do have a problem with being totally healed after resting six hours.

In 3.x, from level 3-4 onward characters would be totally healed after each encounter that's to a little item called the wand of cure light wounds. 4th Ed just removes the wand.

This makes more sense if you envision hp loss as luck, fatigue, injury and a bunch of other factors rather than just raw physical health.
I think Healing Surges are a great mechanic. I'm soon to DM a 7 player 6th level characters, Dungeon Crawl. The DC will take place over a single day, and I do not want the players to rest at all. This has resulted in a lot of "Wands of Cure Light Wounds." Which is fine. But I would rather they had a mechanic like "Healing Surges" automatically so that the players did not have to spend so much of their gold on wands.

I think that fluff wise the Healing Surge will just require some caution on the role of the DM when describing wounds. Though this is the same principle as in a film. Watch LOTR when Aragorn fights, particular Fellowship, Amon Hen. You can almost see the Healing Surges, and the Second Wind is particularly clear during the final fight with Lurtz

Most elaborate action-film fight sequences (not involving guns) cause us to suspend our disbelief. Imagine if Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon hadn't had Healing Surges? Would have been very embarassing if after each fight he'd have had to sleep for 8 hours ;)

Some people don't enjoy this style of unrealistic combat, and that's fine. But personally the reason I play D&D isn't for the Cyberpunk "You're shot, you're screwed" element. I enjoy heroics, and its not easy to be heroic if you either have to sleep repeatedly or turn the Cleric into a Cure Light Wounds pez dispenser.

I mainly DM and I am greatly looking forward to being able to plan multiple encounters for the same day, without checking that the players have enough wands or potions in order to not die after the second combat.
The best example of a healing surge I can think of is probably from The Princess Bride. When Inigo Montoya goes after Count Rugen. Inigo takes a dagger to the stomach and slumps against a wall. He does his healing surge, takes a sword thrust to both shoulders and manages to win the fight. His wounds didn't magically heal from the surge, he simply fought through the pain. At the end of the fight he's still very bloody able to soldier on.

- Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.
I wonder if the developers have a rule for what happens to things like 'healing surge' and daily power recovery, if players are disturbed part way through their '6 hour rest'?


I mean, attacks in the 'middle' of the night are a common event in DnD and it would be interesting on how this would be reflected for a group that had waited till they were 'sucking on fumes' to rest and given an encounter when they 'rested for the day'.


Without some sort of rule or guideline for this situation then you could have plenty of arguements on to 'how rested' for hit points, healing surges, daily powers, and other things that players had.

On the other hand, I would not want the 'if you rest for a day then you have everything back if you are disturbed part way through your rest'. That type of ruling is begging for players to abuse as they declare a 'rest for the day' next to something that will be bound to disturb them a few minutes later.
"I wonder if the developers have a rule for what happens to things like 'healing surge' and daily power recovery, if players are disturbed part way through their '6 hour rest'?"


With something such as that you could go as detailed as possible, breaking it down into hourly sections.


Personally as a DM if I were intending the players to be attacked in the middle of the night I would give the players half healing, their encounter powers back, but no daily powers.


If the players were in the most obvious attacking spot, then I would just treat it as a 5 minute rest except they'd be in the poor position of being unarmoured, in their bedrolls etc :P
Personally as a DM if I were intending the players to be attacked in the middle of the night I would give the players half healing, their encounter powers back, but no daily powers.

Sounds pretty fair. Just like a five-minute rest, but with some healing added. Or perhaps refresh the AP and the dailies first, but not the hp? Or just treat it as a failed rest (but deduct rest used from the time needed to get six hours, so they don't need more rest just because they were interrupted)
I likened it to Bruce Willis in "Die Hard".

No mortal man could endure what he had to in just one of his movies.

The healing surges in my game at least, wouldn't heal the gaping wounds (a la Bruce Willis' blood drenched shirt and broken noses, and cuts and bruises) but it let's him ignore the blood and pain and take a few minutes to pry the glass from his feet, pick the steel slivers from his flesh, and wipe the blood off his face.

And move on to save Nakatomi Towers.
So it's not a "healing" surge so much as it is a burst of adrenaline, or something like that?
So it's not a "healing" surge so much as it is a burst of adrenaline, or something like that?

That's been my interpretation of the healing surge. The wounds don't heal, you just get a second wind to do something heroic.

Especially with the emphasis in blogs and released info that "hit points are what ever you want them to be." (paraphrased)

One of the most gruesome scenes in my opinion in Die Hard, was he's caught barefoot trapped in a corner by one of the thieves and he has to run across broken glass on the floor with his MP5 in full auto spraying down the baddies. It's only later when he's escaped and in the bathroom that he's able to pull the glass out of his feet (healing skill check) to replenish some of his hit points he lost from the battle and running over broken glass.

To me, that just makes a lot more "logical" sense, even in the above scenario he's still rapidly loosing blood (losing hit points from bleeding damage) after his healing surge it let him escape and continue fighting. Or if he were a 4e character he'd be able to use his healing surge and keep up the fight until the cleric could come in and heal him up or until he downed a healing potion.
To me, that just makes a lot more "logical" sense, even in the above scenario he's still rapidly loosing blood (losing hit points from bleeding damage) after his healing surge it let him escape and continue fighting. Or if he were a 4e character he'd be able to use his healing surge and keep up the fight until the cleric could come in and heal him up or until he downed a healing potion.


This is a good example of "Healing Surges." Essentially Die Hard is like a Dungeon Crawl. He goes through a series of encounters, slaying monsters, taking damage, and trying to save the townspeople and the princess. Without healing surges, and if he were trapped in a 3.5 world, this poor solo fighter would have had to have an 8 hour rest at some point, possibly multiple points. I'm not sure the drama could have been maintained ;)


Personally I would say the single best example of Healing Surges is '24.' In the show they do not have the option of letting Jack have a lie down, and so he grits his teeth and carries on (though no without perhaps a few 5 minute rests? :D ). I say this is the best example because just like D&D it is a combination of fluff and rules. The fluff of '24' state it has to take place over 24 hours, therefore allowing no sleep (for Jack anyway). The fluff of D&D suggests that mot adventurers do not have to go back to the tavern and sleep for 8 hours after only a couple of monster combats. Both use healing surges, and both (in the case of 4E, "probably will") rule
[(though no without perhaps a few 5 minute rests? :D

Commercial breaks? :D
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Commercial breaks? :D

I can see it now, WotC allied with Microsoft or Starbucks....


DM: Ok guys you've defeated the Giant's nest, good work!

P1: Guys I need to use some Healing Surges and want my Encounter powers back, I think we should take a 5 minute rest.

P2: Sounds good. Ok we are officially resting.

*DM flicks open to the "5 Minute Rest" page.

DM: Ok you get your encounter powers back...Incidently this 5 minute break is brought to you by: 'MICROSOFT! If you're soft, and also very small, then why not combine the two? Microsoft, the D&D choice '
So it's not a "healing" surge so much as it is a burst of adrenaline, or something like that?

It is a healing surge in the sense of healing hitpoint damage, not in the sense of healing physical wounds.
It is a healing surge in the sense of healing hitpoint damage, not in the sense of healing physical wounds.

Yes, but in 4e, %50 of your hit points is considered bloodied. You are slowed down because of your injuries.... So, that sounds like physical damage.

But you can get from %50 to %75 in a standard round...

P.S. I am not found of the healing surge rules so far. As a DM, that means that I will have to do over %25 damage to thie PCs every encounter. Or more than %50 if I plan to let spare them 5 minutes between encounters...

Otherwise, HP damage will not have any lasting attrition. Combined with the negative HP rules, it seems like killing a PC will be nearly impossible...

And this is before we know what a Cleric can do...
Also, HP is/was supposed to be somewhat based on physical damage.

Remember that NPCs will not have healing surges, but will have HP. And, when thier HP reaches zero they die....

Also, keep in mind that most heros push past the pain after a large amount of damage. But this is already represented in the new "death and dying" rules.

Apparently, all PCs are now Naruto, but without his weaknesses...
I somehow don't think, given the stats on the kobolds and the fact that enemies are, in general, significantly beefier for their level, that dealing at least 25% hit point damage will be a problem. I mean, even assuming an average of 35 hit points at first level (which is a reasonable conjecture given preview materials) a hit from a longsword still deals 1d8. That's an average of about 4.5 points. Two longsword hits are about 25% HP right there, and given higher enemy hit points, there will be more chances for that second longsword hit to go off.
I know this is suppose to be fantasy but healing surges feel more like a cartoon than a TV show or a movie. Should i play a duck for my first character. I took a shotgun blast to the face, I grab my bill bring it back to the front of my head to use a healing surges.
Here's a question.

If Hit Points are not a measure of total physical damage (and I agree with this), how do you explain to your players as a DM "being hit by an arrow and taking 7 damage"
Just wondering if anyone has thought about the whole 'bloodied' condition? Y'know, that thing that is roughly equal to about half your hit points. They way I see it, now of course I could be wrong but to me it makes sense, once you hit the 'bloodied' condition, that's when you've started taking the nasty wounds. Everything before that is going to be in the area of strained muscles, bumps, bruises, minor lacerations, etc. Anything past bloodied is going to the gushers, the gaping wounds and such.

Some of the others here have said it well, the healing surges, is catching your breath, putting some bandages on, or taking a swig of dwarven ale from your flask, whatever works for you, you block out the pain and continue on. Hell, humans do it all the time in real life. The human animal is a remarkable creature, we have the capability to do extraordinary things, usually in the most dire of circumstances. That's one of those things that make us special. And Dangerous.
^ I think you've got it
Here's a question.

If Hit Points are not a measure of total physical damage (and I agree with this), how do you explain to your players as a DM "being hit by an arrow and taking 7 damage"

The ole reliable "It only grazed you." Or thudding into the armour with enough force to damage, but not seriously wound. I know that TECHNICALLY that is represented through the armour itself, but I think D&D would be a ridiculously frustrating game if arrows dealt the kind of damage that an arrow would actually do to a human being if it hit them.


It's like Pippin says in LOTR Return of the King to Denethor, when he asks how Pippin was able to survive whilst Boromir died

"A single arrow can fell even the mightiest of warriors, and Boromir was pierced by many."


While that's a great visual idea and realistic, its certainly not something I want my players to worry about to the same degree at Lvl1 and Lvl21. Who wants to play a character for months, watch them grow, change, struggle through epic deeds, only to see them go down to a single goblin with short bow?


I don't think that a hitpoint system as generous in amount as D&D's (even in 3.5) will ever be able to reflect reality. So this isn't something that's changed in 4E really...
Re: "You get hit by an arrow for 7 damage."

Things I've used in the past myself:

"The arrow lodges between two chinks in your armor. You pull it out easily: it didn't penetrate more than a half-inch or so."

"The arrow zips past your face, nicking your cheek and drawing a drop of blood. You're not hurt, but the closeness you came to death shakes you up pretty badly for a moment before you recover."

"The arrow thumps into your shield, and the edge bangs into your chin hard."

"You're just too suave to get hit by an arrow, but it carries away the martini in your hand."
Thanks for the clarification.

I was just wondering because about seven years ago now I remember a half-elf monk I was playing got hit by twenty one crossbow bolts and two spears (not at once) from Sahuagins invading a ship, he had three hitpoints left, but he survived. And the DM just said I became a pin-cushion. I sure would have loved Healing Surges then! :D

Using your above examples kind of states that in order to score a successful wound on a monster (or monster on character) it would take a few shots unless you were a Rogue doing a sneak attack, or any character scoring a critical hit?

I suppose that's all well and good
"You're just too suave to get hit by an arrow, but it carries away the martini in your hand."

Ha! I like that.
The way I understand the rules that I played at DDXP your average character can't just use healing surges, you get one second wind a combat which heals you your healing surge amount, some actions allow you to use a healing surge of your own, like when a cleric heals you, and others others to heal you using their healing surges, like the paladin's lay on hands.

The only thing thats any different suspension of disbelief wise seems to be the second wind, in between combat these can used approximately every 5 minutes or so, so you can think of it as bandaging your wounds, in combat its a standard action(unless you're a dwarf and then its minor) and its basically you spending the round gathering yourself instead of attacking.
Salla said it very well, as did others.

Damage isn't always a wound (although in order to adjudicate poisoned weapons you have to at least say that they knicked you with the weapon each time).

I've fought in matches. I've taken kicks to the head in full contact matches against 3rd degree black belts... and yes, some have been without the benefit of padding. At the end of the 3 minute match you are dead tired, sore, and feel like you're about to drop dead... but 30 seconds later, after you catch your breath, you're ready to jump back in and do it again.

Healing surges make perfect sense. The only trick will be to not give too many or too few surges to the PCs.
I have many of the same concerns some have raised in this tread.

I do understand that hp is a mix of physical and intangible aspects of health. I also think I understand the feel they are going for with the relatively high hp for lvl-1 characters, along with the availability of healing on the go, and being at 100% after a night’s rest. It seems to lend itself quite readily to a hack and slash type game where the PCs are not just heroic, but Super-Human.

My fear is that it makes my “red-box” D&D game less like fantasy and more like some sort of action-adventure film (and supported by all the Die Hard references). It seems to me that injury has NO lasting impact on the PC beyond the encounter. After a hard day fighting horde of orcs barely escaping death and spent of all energy, they are at 100% with roses and sunshine after just 6 hrs under the stars without using any resource of any sort. It makes me wonder if damage and injury has become too trivial.

A lot of the changes I have been reading about have been very interesting to me. I think the at-will / encounter / daily powers structure can work very well. But this is the 1st change I have saw that I disagree with. There should be some consequence when you end the day at 5% of your hp, instead of 90% of your hp. It seems to eliminate a part of the risk in combat.

I will have to test it out when the rules are released, but I can envision a house rule that you get a “free” surge after a night’s rest (along with a reset of your powers).
Yes, but in 4e, %50 of your hit points is considered bloodied. You are slowed down because of your injuries.... So, that sounds like physical damage.

But you can get from %50 to %75 in a standard round...

I feel the other posters have already answered the Hitpoints concern, but I still want to adress this one.

Being bloodied when hitting 50% does not mean that 50% of you HP represent physical injuries. The only thing it means is that by the time you are down to 50%, you're likely to have already suffered enough damage to slow you down a bit. That doesn't mean you've taken heavy physical damage or a serious wound or something, it just means that all those glancing blows, clubs to the shield, and superficial wounds are finally starting to get you down.

When that happens, people start to fight poorly and unwillingly, while heroes fight through the pain, ignore the weariness, shake off the low morale, and pull out a healing surge. ;)

I hope I was clear enough.
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