Saturday, June 16, 2012

First House Rule for Pathfinder

I know I haven't put the after action report up yet but this is the one thing that already stands out to me:

Characters heal 1 hit point per level per long rest, 2 hit points per level if they're being tended to by someone with the Heal skill.

That is just terrible - you can say I've been spoiled by 4th Edition but I hated this rule back when I was running and playing 3rd and I was surprised to see that it had not changed. To me it's this terribly slow rate of healing up in between encounters that makes a cleric essential, not combat healing. Anyone can carry a few healing potions for combat healing, but the benefit for resting up is pathetic. A 5th level fighter with 40-50 hit points gets 5 back after resting? Maybe 10 if he has help? So going from knocked out to good-to-go takes 5 - 10 nights of recovery? If your adventure has any kind of ticking clock then the party is screwed after one serious fight - unless they have a cleric. I see that the cleric's healing capability has been beefed up in Pathfinder, and that's fine, but I really don't like the total dependency on one class to make "adventuring" viable. So here's my first take at fixing that:

A Good Night's Sleep: Recover your level in hit dice - roll the dice, recover that many hit points

A Good Night's Sleep while being attended to by a healer: roll one extra hit die for recovery and add it to your total.

So the 5th level fighter would now roll 5d10 for hit point recovery after a long rest. If he's at more than half hit points then he's probably fully recovered the next morning. If he was beaten down to zero then it may take two or three days to fully recover.

I had to think about how to handle the Heal skill bonus.

  • I originally thought that Roll 2 dice for each level and take the highest would be a good option. Unfortunately, it forces the player to roll out two dice, level by level - that's very clunky - and it is a pretty big boost to my already boosted healing rule. 
  • I then thought of scaling it back and saying add 1 to each die when rolling for recovery, but that doesn't have as much impact for the characters with the most hit points who also tend to be the ones who need healing the most often.
  • My final solution (for now) does the most good at the lower levels, becoming less and less of a boost as the characters level up. I considered changing it to a fixed die type like a d10 but this keeps it simpler and consistent across all classes.
Some additional reasoning on this: Beyond the heavy clerical dependency, I hate multiple rest days in a row while in a dungeon. Going all the way back to AD&D I've seen this: party beaten up and cleric has burned all healing so everyone rests for a night in the dungeon. They recover a tiny number of hit points while the cleric gets his spells back, then he casts everything he has to heal up most of the party. Everyone rests again, cleric repeats, and now the party is healed but the cleric is out or almost out of spells again so they spend yet another night recovering and then set out again the next morning - that's 2-3 days of game time wasted in an administrative exercise of rest-memorize-heal-repeat and we shouldn't have to take a multi-day break in the middle of our fantastic swords and sorcery adventure to camp while we go through this healing cycle!.

Believe it or not in Pathfinder this is also a Close Blast 6 Heal for 1d6 + 1d6/two levels!
In my mind there's enough dependency on the cleric and healing magic in combat already, and that's where he should be an asset. Recovery when they are not in immediate danger shouldn't require spell accounting. There's a psychological thing at work here too because most players won't push forward until they reach their personal hit point threshold where they feel that it's OK to continue. If we can make that easier to achieve with non-magical healing then that's a win.  

Also, without this rule guess what happens when the cleric gets killed? In my experience, everyone finishes off the last few healing potions and then heads back to town, or they push forward anyway and likely end up in a TPK. Either way, once again there is a long delay in the adventure (in game-time terms) and possibly unnecessary character deaths as any fight becomes much more deadly.

So yes, this is an area of personal pain and annoyance that I want to handle up front - and the above rule tweak is how I intend to do so.

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