Death Dying Healing and Rest

INACTIVE – 4E ONLY: Healing Surges and Severe Wounds: a gritty alternative

I adhere to the interpretation that HP is a representation of a character’s Life-force – both physical and otherwise.

Physical attacks must cause physical damage, just as Psychic or Divine attacks must cause similarly associated damage. Hit Points are a way to track all such types.

Given that I choose to interpret physical attacks as physical damage, I also choose to view the mundane combat between two sword-wielders as a process of physically damaging one another until such time as the injuries pile up (blood loss, etc.) and one or the other succumbs to their wounds. I don’t see the need for gross details, though as a DM, I am accustomed to interpretive narration based on dice-rolls and other variables.

This stance has left me hard-pressed to accept the “Healing Surge” and “Extended Rest” rules at face value. As others have pointed out, there’s no way an adventurer could rest away (in a 5-minute “short rest”, no less!) the damage that missing 75% of their Hit Points represents.

So here are the house-rules I’m interested in playtesting:

Healing Surges

The “Healing Surge” effect is a way of tracking the sheer force of will for a character to stay alive during the struggle of combat. It is an abstraction of physical and psychic responses that a character can bring to bear to shrug off the damage to their Life Force currently affecting them. Imortantly, it is not a magical cure-all that eliminates injury – it merely allows the player to act as if the injury had not occurred.

Healing Surge effects only last for as long as the Encounter currently underway.
All HP’s gained from Surge effects must be tracked separately so that they can be removed at the end of the Encounter. These are not Temporary HP – the behavior of Temporary HP is very different, and should not be applied to Healing Surge effects.
Once the currently active Encounter ends, all Healing Surge effects are removed (alternatively, 1/2 of the Healing provided by Surges could be removed if these rules prove too harsh), taken as immediate damage to the character, reducing their current HP accordingly.

Characters that are damaged in this way to zero or fewer HP immediately fall unconscious, and normal Death rules (Pg. 295, PHB) apply.

A character who’s HP are reduced in this way to their “True Death” value (the negative bloodied value, or -1/2) immediately dies. This is a very cinematic way to go out, and should be played up by the narration of the DM and Player alike. As the clash of steel and screams of astonished agony die off into wretched moans, you look about you to see that Alberton the Wary, rogue of the Five-Faced Guild, is staggering numbly from the bloodied field; a great many terrible wounds have been inflicted upon him. Where moments earlier you saw him fell an Orc of Nerthoc, he now drops to his knees and falls limp, dead.

Martial Class Abilities

All Martial Healing functions of a Class operate as per “Healing Surges”, defined above. That is to say, they boost the HP’s of the characters during the Encounter only. Once the Encounter ends, the HP’s healed by a Warlord, for example, are taken as damage. Ouch.

A Warlord could easily use their abilities extensively and push their companions to great feats of endurance and heroism, only to watch them all die upon the close of the encounter. Martial Classes should use their powers of inspiration and leadership with caution! Don’t wear out the troops!

h.3 Divine and Arcane Healing

This is where all sins are absolved, so to speak. These healing effects remove damage without creating the “debt” of Healing Surges and non-divine abilities.

  • All Clerical abilities marked as Divine.
  • Any effect from a Magic Item, such as a Potion of Healing.
  • Magical and Divine effects that indicate the character may “spend a Healing Surge” do not create the “debt” normally associated with such surges.

Short Rest

  • Healing Surges are not available.
  • Characters taking a Short Rest regain 1/4 their Max HP value, limited by any Severe Wounds currently affecting them (see “Severe Wounds”, below).
  • A second Short Rest will restore 1/2 of the HP restored by the first Short Rest.
  • A third or consecutive Short Rest will restore 1/2 again, etc. Diminishing returns prevent the Short Rest from being used as an Extended Rest.
  • A minimum of 1 HP will be restored during a Short Rest, limited by any Severe Wounds (see below).

For example, a Character with a Max HP value of 20 has just finished an Encounter, and is down to 7 HP. She takes a Short Rest and regains 5 HP, bringing her new total to 12. Not satisfied, she takes another Short Rest, healing another 2 HP. Now at 14, she rests again, healing 1 point. With 15 HP, she’s now confident enough to face another Encounter.

A Cleric with Encounter-type Healing powers can use them as described in the Short Rest rules (pg. 263, PHB). This makes it possible for significant healing to be done during a Short Rest (or three).

Extended Rest

If a Cleric is present during an Extended Rest, and they have any “Encounter” type Healing powers (such as the Class Feature “Healing Word”), then it is assumed that the Cleric uses these powers to speed and/or assist in normal healing that might occur. In such cases the normal Extended Rest rules apply (pg. 263, PHB).

If a Cleric is present, but does not have any “Encounter” type Healing powers (I know, not very likely), or if no Cleric is present at the time of rest, then characters can only restore up to 3/4’s of their maximum HP.

If a “Severe Wound” has been taken (see “Severe Wounds”, below), the Severe Wound limits the HP’s they can restore through rest.

If a character is already at 3/4 of their Maximum HP, then an Extended Rest will restore them to full health. In effect, two Extended Rests would be needed to restore a character with no Severe Wounds to full health.

Severe Wounds

A Severe Wound is taken when a single blow, attack, or effect, causes the loss of ¼, ½, ¾, or all of your Max HP value.

For example, a ranger wielding two scimitars might strike a player with both weapons in a single attack, and if the total damage of that attack does ¼ of the character’s Max HP, that attack will inflict a Severe Wound. Spell-effects such as Creeping Doom, or a volley of Magic Missiles, should be treated as a single “effect”.

Multiple attacks that are not made at the same time – due to Attacks of Opportunity, for example, or other abilities that provide for bonus attacks or damage effects at the end of the turn – do not stack with damage caused by attacks at other times in the round. They must be treated as separate attacks and evaluated accordingly for Severe Wounds.

Severe Wounds limit the amount of HP’s a character is able to regain by the amount of damage the Severe Wound represents. A Class 1 Severe Wound will prevent a character from regaining more than ¾ of their Max HP, for example.
Severe Wounds have ongoing damage effects that can be removed by various means, depending upon the severity of the Wound.

There are four Classes of Severe Wound, each more severe than the previous. They are:

Class Damage Taken Description Effect Healing Limit Effect Removed By Wound Removed By
1 ¼ Max HP or 25% Severe laceration, creeping doom 1D4 Damage per round ¾ Max HP Any Healing Any Magic or Divine Healing
2 ½ Max HP or 50% Broken bones, chaos of oblivion 1D6 Damage per round ½ Max HP Any Healing Any Magic or Divine Healing
3 ¾ Max HP or 75% Internal bleeding, edge of insanity 1D12 Damage per round, Constitution check vs. DC of 15 or Die ¼ Max HP Any Magic or Divine Healing Magic or Divine Healing of ¼ Max HP
4 Max HP or 100% Total System Failure 2D10+4 Damage per round, Constitution check vs. DC of 20 or Die 0 – Unconscious but Stable Any Magic or Divine Healing Magic or Divine Healing of ½ Max HP

Severe Wounds don’t stack. Only apply the effects of the highest Wound Class that a character has received.

For example, a character may receive a Class 1 Wound in round 1 of an Encounter, and a Class 3 Wound in round 5. They now have a Class 3 Severe Wound, and must deal with the effects accordingly.

House Rules

Main Page

Campaign Reference Index

Death Dying Healing and Rest

The Promethean Crown Quasimotocar