So after an excellent two weekends of hosting and playing, I finally feel like I have something to talk about. I actually had a draft written up on this topic, but was unable to connect all of the dots until now, so I'll just start over.
In the game I am currently running (hit lvl.8 at last session), I have been using a houserule allowing players to spend healing surges to do a limited number of additional things. This was an extension of the Skill Challenge option that were developed at the Core Mechanic. After seeing how he used powers as just that: Power to be channelled in a (hopefully) useful manner, I was inspired to expand upon that.
In combat, healing surges have a very limited scope of useage. A small subset of creatures have attacks that directly target them (yes undead, I'm looking at you), their only other real utility is to heal oneself. Once by yourself, and once or twice more through the intervention of party members. Potions come to mind, but are terribly limited in their power as well. As an aside, does anyone every REALLY use healing potions in heroic tier?
Moving on, I decided to allow players to sacrifice healing surges to recharge a wide variety of different "things". The list looks a little like this:
Encounter power - 2 surges
Daily power - 4 surges
Magic item power (Encounter) - 1 surge
Magic item power (Daily) - 3 surges
Action point - 3 surges
+2 bonus to any roll - 1 surge ea.
I'd like share what 10 sessions look like from the driver's seat. Battles go much more smoothly. We have rarely had an elite or solo encounter go on for long, and that was usually a function of high defenses, as the blows that landed were staggering.
Considering that healing surges recharge on a short rest (read - encounter based) frequency, I like to think of it as 4E overdrive :) In practice, only one character ever actually nova's off every encounter. It's the striker, he likes hurting things - go figure. I still have a hard time getting players to pound out their encounter powers. Aside from the warlock, most players still end the encounter with half of their surges intact.
I'm still evaluating it, but haven't had any real issues yet. I would like to say that the encounter power, action point, daily power, sac 3 surges, daily combination is a straight up slayer of elites. Seeing the look on the player's faces when they dump 45-80 points of damage and bloody an obviously bad-ass critter makes all the rules lawyering I have to endure worthwhile.
So how about you folks? Any similar or otherwise noteworthy houserules you are using? If I get enough decent ones :) I'll follow up and run them all through the ringer.
As an aside, I'm looking to run a valentines game using Nevermet Press's excellent The Desire. I have some quibbles, but if this is indicative of their line, I'm all in. Until next time, game well :)