Dec 22, 2008

Healing surges...the currency of heroism?

I had an interesting conversation yesterday during one of our scheduled D&D games. It revolved around several key points on 4E character mechanics. Namely, how the healing surge mechanic allows a party to be effective without a dedicated healer class.

The conversation was relevant, because the current party in our 4E game has eschewed both paladin and cleric for a trio of strikers instead. The warlord can help with that in combat healing, but only twice per encounter...did I mention I killed his ass?

Anyway, it was brought up that without a character dedicated to helping you "trigger" your surges, you are left with few options (potions, other people trying to make heal checks while in combat) to use more than 1 or two of these per encounter. With most characters holding 5-8 of these, it seems an awful waste to let this resource go serially untapped. Healing surges always felt more like action points to me, well, kinda like action points. Since this is a "Narrative" type of game now (Depending on who you ask) giving the players control over said narrative should be a good thing right? I think so.

As such, we decided we were going to try something different. Starting at the next session, we will be modifying the rules slightly to allow a character to use his healing surges (I think I like HEROIC surges better, to be perfectly honest) to assist in other ways. In addition to the standard healing usage;

1 surge - immediately re-roll a failed save vs. status or ongoing damage.
- recharge a used encounter power.
2 surge - immediately negate any ongoing status or effect (that is save based).
- recharge a daily power.

These cover the bases I am exploring right now, and eventually a master "cheat sheet" will be created as we work our way through the ins and outs of this. While this immediately brings to mind shadows of the "15 minute adventuring day" I think as a concept it is worth exploring, as the ability to recharge your biggest boom-booms during a knock-down-drag-out with that solo brute would help avert the whole "mountain of HP" problem. Suddenly those surges are worth more than a level appropriate healing potion, and become a carefully husbanded resource.

Also, undead get scarier...much scarier, especially the soul-suckers.

Other possible uses?
- 1 surge to negate critical hit.
- 1 surge to automatically succeed (par) on a skill check.
- 2 surges, automatically succeed on attack roll (yes, even with dailies and encounters...for now).

A finite resource? How about the option of getting a surge back in lieu of bonus damage for a critical hit? Milestone reward? The sky's the limit.

Does anybody else do something similar to this? Any other cool 4E houserules out there? Anyone see a flaw here I have missed? Think I suck, and need to vent? Bring it on!

Lastly, since I am sick and feeling too lazy to post again this week...



Sal M said...

interesting, but there's exactly one thing i don't like about it... Healing Surges are allocated differently based on class. This would seem to jump up the effectiveness of defenders without any matching jump for strikers or controllers.

Donny_the_Dm said...

In a perfect world, the defenders are the ones who need them the most right?

Also, the two divine defenders use their surges to assist others.

Seems a small offset, but I hadn't given it any thought for that reason either.

Resetting them to a fixed "bank" would fix that too...possibly. It's too early to tell, but your comment is exactly what I am looking for!


Wyatt said...

What I tend to do is give action points more often, and let the players decide how they want to spend them. Action points are more equally-spread – everyone has the same number and regains them or spends them at the same rate. But healing surges being used as currency still works if you look at it that the ones that have more surges will be spending them more often as well.

Donny_the_Dm said...

Wyatt! Welcome back, it's been a few :)

See, my players are all 2E to 3E players, the whole concept of action points is still a bit foreign, to me as well, as I am not used to giving them either.

It may not work, and DEFINITELY has a few bugs to work out, but so far, so good.

Thanks for coming, and happy holidays!