Mar 12, 2010

Heroic surges?..Hero points?..Willpower points?..My god, ANYTHING but healing surges!!

Not too terribly long ago - at least in dog years, I wrote about healing surges and a houserule that I have been using to make them more useful.  I wanted to follow up for a couple of reasons.  The first is that it seems that between PM's and comments, it was a well-recieved idea.  Secondly, I thought I'd share my thoughts on how it has continued to evolve.  Lasty, because if I write healing surge enought times, someone from WotC will find this and consider going back in time to change healing surges to something that doesn't make me cringe mid-game.  Anyone else not elated over the choice of words?  It's bothered me since release - but I digress.

Since that post, I have played 3 games, and ran two.  As I don't think I've ever actually said it in the last 135 posts, I am involved in two 4E games.  I run a generic encounter and event based game with 4-6 good friends.  I play an Eladrin War wizard/Battlemage 13.  We get together opposite weekends and play 4-6 hour games.  Mine has been running since release, and Sam's game about 6 months.  Those are my credentials (so to speak) take 'em or leave 'em.

As a DM, I've been in the position to watch this houserules useage pretty closely, and based on my (admittedly amateur) reckoning, it generally increases the party's firepower by about a level - n + 1 if I read their mathtalk correctly :) 

This is expressed in two ways, the first is the immediate amount of firepower that can be brought to bear.  A player with 7 healing surges can recharge two dailies, or three encounter powers between extended rests.  This would seem to really have an effect on the actual gameplay, and in practice is a profound positive.  I have yet to see the party crash more than three consecutive encounters (and even that was only once), with the norm being two.  This allows for a nice concentration of firepower in these what, 2.125 or so encounters?  Please indulge me a slight diversion - Monsters have too many hit points! - Thank you. 

This has made the game infinitely more playable for us.  Not only does the party do more damage per encounter - which REALLY helps with brutes and elites, but they are a "little" more inclined to not horde their dailies.  Please forgive another slight diversion - Anyone else have problems with stingy players causing encounters to grind on.  Specifically because they don't nova off their encounters, and rarely use their dailies? - Thank you.'s not all pie and ice-cream.  With the mechanics built the way they are, some classes - the Paladin and cleric come to mind seem to be at a disadvantage, as they use their own healing surges with some of their powers.  Having no cleric in either game, and a newbie paladin in the other, I havent been able to test it out yet.

The other drawback is the obvious, in my game, I've noted an average use of 3.4 healing surges per encounter, with lows of 0, and a few spikes of 6-8.  This is over 29 sessions.  In fact it was these "leftovers" that caused me to trudge down this path to begin with.  This would make it fairly obvious that resource management is still absolutely essential in a combat encounter.  In other words, to much pew-pew make hero dead.

I intend to keep this rule in effect, as well as an active version of Jonathon Jacob's Powers of war ability from his excellent series of skill challenges.  This one allows a bonus to skill rolls by spending healing surges.  In my humble opinion, allowing more options with a common and somewhat limited resource is just one more dimension of cool in one of my favorite hobbies :)

To aforementioned WotC employee, I am available, work cheap, and telecommute (you save on office space!) As a special bonus, I will burn down a games workshop retailer of your choice (in the continental US). 

In other news, I am fucking ecstatic about 4E gamma world.  I'm spazzing right now, which is scary when you're as big as I am.  Alpha omega is beautiful - and complicated.  And where in the hell have I been?  Battletech is being re-released in both tabletop and video game forms.  These are good times to be a geek, good times indeed.

Thank you for the compliments on the "redesign".  My crude and amateurish hack-job on the template's code seem to have finally gotten me when I wanted to be.  Until next time, have fun, game well, and be excellent to each other.


Ragnar said...

While I like your idea of using healing surges for other stuff, how do you handle the disparity between classes?

Defenders usually have more healing surges than controllers and strikers, and as a result might be able to recharge more powers. I would guess this is offset by the defenders being more in the direct line of fire and using more of them for healing (which is the reason they have more surges in the first place), but what is your experience with this?

Or have you modified the number of surges each class has access to?

Donny_the_DM said...

Actually, no. It fits with the whole defender schtick quite well, and in the long run, the characters are still leery about losing three at a whack - unlessit's for something absolutely crucial to their survival.