Healing Surges

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Postby snowmanboy » April 24th, 2012, 10:50 am

Hey guys :) i'm sure this has prob been brought up before and sorry for the repeat if so but i have some questions about it.

last night we played and it was an awesome experience all around, even the healing surges worked out perfectly cuz even though they had around 4 healing surges left at the end of the battle two of them became unconcious and it was a close battle. I fear in the future it won't play out so perfectly. it feels like it's hard to make a tough encounter based around them having mad healing surges on themselves
It just seems like a wierd system, pretty much they all can heal the shit out of themselves, until they run out, no other game system has this so it's pretty foreign to me.

does anyone have any cool alternatives to healing surges? mechanically straight up replacing it or ways to alter in a little?
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Re: Healing Surges

Postby Greg » April 24th, 2012, 11:32 am

I personally think healing surges were one of the best innovations in 4e. It allows you to have a lot of healing abilities in the game while still limiting how much a hero can push himself before he needs serious rest.

First I'll ask you this: how are your players healing themselves? If you're low level (which I assume you are since it sounds like you're new) there are not that many ways to actually spend a healing surge. Each player can use Second Wind once (in lieu of an attack, so it's a big deal and not done a lot) and typically your leader class gets 2 heals per encounter. Toss an on extra utility or something and maybe you have 1 or 2 more heals. That shouldn't feel like "they can heal the shit out of themselves."

I just want to make sure you're not thinking that players can just spend surges whenever they want, because it kind of sort of sounds like that's what you're doing!
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Re: Healing Surges

Postby lincoln » April 24th, 2012, 11:42 am

Greg wrote:I just want to make sure you're not thinking that players can just spend surges whenever they want, because it kind of sort of sounds like that's what you're doing!

Also, the fact that they are burning all those surges in one encounter will make the rest of the day (before an extended rest) a bit of a bitch. Yes, at high levels there are ways to burn a lot of surges, but then you royally screw yourself later. It's all about resource management...
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Re: Healing Surges

Postby Sam » April 24th, 2012, 12:55 pm

Could be having the same problem we had where we had about one combat a day and everyone blew all their dailies and whatnot immediately. Having 6-8 surges seems like a lot for one combat, less so for four.
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Re: Healing Surges

Postby snowmanboy » April 24th, 2012, 2:28 pm

oh man moy interesante, yea we were using them as pretty much as an at will and healing up like crazy, the sad thing is if they weren't able to do that they would've been smashed. i need to tone down the difficulty then. but it was pretty cool and fun even though we were doing it wrong. it was intense.
but next time we'll play it by the book, thanks for the heads up on that. :)
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Re: Healing Surges

Postby Kevin? » April 24th, 2012, 2:31 pm

Yeah, I had the same mis-interpretation of healing surges when I started playing in the Thursday Knights crew.

I remember back when I first started playing 3e D&D, we all thought being Flanked meant you were flat-footed (no Dexterity bonus to AC). This made flanking exceptionally advantageous. When we realized our error, we were actually hesitant to change it, because we were used to how deadly flanking was.

And then we started playing d20 Conan, where thieves get something like 7d8 sneak attack by 8th level, and flanking became deadly again!
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Re: Healing Surges

Postby imafrog29 » April 24th, 2012, 3:10 pm

I think one of the best changes Greg made to the rules was altering the "extended rest" mechanic. The "once a day" rule works great for a dungeon delve, not so much for a continent spanning adventure. An easy way to compensate in heroic tier might be to say that the party can't get an "extended rest" unless they are in a town esque place where there is no threat of attack.

Healing surges are like casino chips. By themselves they aren't worth anything and they can only be cashed in for hit points using the appropriate powers (or at the right casino). They can however, be used for things other than gaining hit points and traded via rituals (like chips in casino games).

Is this analogy making any sense?
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Re: Healing Surges

Postby snowmanboy » April 24th, 2012, 7:23 pm

that's actually a great analogy makes perfect sense thanks.

that's a great idea and i think i'm going to use it, only allowing an extended rest when they are in the clear, talking town styles. like even if they are camping in the mountains or woods i'll let them rest, but because of the possibility of a threat like u said, it doesn't count as an extended rest. if that's the case i kind of feel like there should be some sort of benefit more than just a short rest though, any ideas?
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Re: Healing Surges

Postby Greg » April 24th, 2012, 8:37 pm

snowmanboy wrote:that's actually a great analogy makes perfect sense thanks.

that's a great idea and i think i'm going to use it, only allowing an extended rest when they are in the clear, talking town styles. like even if they are camping in the mountains or woods i'll let them rest, but because of the possibility of a threat like u said, it doesn't count as an extended rest. if that's the case i kind of feel like there should be some sort of benefit more than just a short rest though, any ideas?


A big revelation for me was that short and extended rests are mechanical constructs that don't need to be tied to the flavor.

I find the best approach to be what I told my players: The game is balanced around 4 encounters per "day", and so that's what we'll be doing. Everyone will have more fun if the fights are close but fair, and the rules are used in such a way to mimic the situation they were designed for (which is dungeon delving). If you just explain this to them, and tell them that it won't make sense from a flavor perspective, they should hopefully be okay with it.

I like this as a house rule:
1. Extended rests can normally only be taken after the group has reached 2 milestones (4 encounters)
2. If the group wants (or needs) to take an extended rest BEFORE 2 milestones, they should be allowed to so long as some sort of sacrifice, storywise, has been made. Try to think of what it would mean in a dungeon setting: If the heroes decide to sleep for 8 hours, then certainly that gave enough time for the scouts to report to the boss of the dungeon that heroes are on their way, right? Perhaps it means he reinforces the defenses, or prepares something extra mean for them. Try to mimic this sort of sacrifice when they want to make an early extended rest. Is there a big bad they are trying to track down? Make it clear that they'll need to rest for a week and he'll get further from their clutches, or be better prepared for them. Is there some side-arc sacrifice that would work, like the kid who lost his father deciding to take matters in to his own hand and getting himself in to trouble? That's good too. The bottom line is to make the heroes feel like "you needed time to rest, and so the world moved on, just slightly, without you."
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Re: Healing Surges

Postby snowmanboy » April 24th, 2012, 11:38 pm

you needed time to rest, and so the world moved on, just slightly, without you.
- that's saying it perfect right there.

now that i have the mechanic down right i don't think we will have any problems with healing surges.
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