Paizo Top Nav Branding
  • Hello, Guest! |
  • Sign In |
  • My Account |
  • Shopping Cart |
  • Help/FAQ
About Paizo Messageboards News Paizo Blog Help/FAQ
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
Pathfinder Society

Pathfinder Beginner Box

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

Pathfinder Comics

Pathfinder Legends

Healing is a crutch...


Suggestions/House Rules/Homebrew


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

...or at least, having everyone loaded up with Cure wands and healing potions on top of their party cleric is a crutch. I think it robs us of a very real aspect of the game and makes wounds - any wounds - almost trivial so long as they don't kill you.

In the interest of full disclosure, our campaign is what many would consider a 'low-magic' campaign in that there is no Ole Magic Shoppe where the players can buy and sell magic items like kids with Pokemon cards.

Alternative Hit Points and Healing rules:

Damage from critical hits, sneak attacks, bleed effects and failed saving throws are considered Lethal damage. All else is considered Non-Lethal.

Lethal damage heals at a rate of 1 HP/extended rest or 1+Con modifier (minimum 1)/full day of rest.
Non-Lethal damage heals at a rate of 50% after a short rest and 100% after an extended rest.

Characters who have suffered more than 50% of their HP in Non-Lethal damage are Fatigued.
Characters who have suffered more than 50% of their HP in Lethal damage are Exhausted.
Spell casters Exhausted in this way must make Concentration checks to cast spells.

Characters who go below 0 hit points from purely Non-Lethal damage fall unconscious for a number of rounds equal to their negative number of hit points, waking with 1.
Characters who go below 0 hit points and have taken lethal damage fall unconscious and begin to die. They must make a Fortitude save every round with the DC = to the number of hit points below 0. They can be stabilized through True Healing or with a successful Healing skill check (which brings them to 0 hit points).

True healing takes energy from the person healed to function, leaving them Fatigued for a number of rounds equal to the amount of Lethal damage healed. Lethal damage is always healed first with any overflow affecting Non-Lethal damage next. Lay on Hands is considered True Healing while Channeled Energy affects only Non-Lethal damage.

Healing potions are extremely rare and extremely expensive... they're created only by one particular faith and most of what is available is on the black market, meaning that one way or another you need 'a source'. In game terms they heal 100% of Lethal damage and Neutralize all poisons in the system. They may be half-drunk to heal 50% of Lethal damage and provide an additional saving throw(s) against poison(s) with a +4 circumstance bonus. Characters are not Fatigued after using healing potions.

My players (none of whom ever want to play a Cleric under these rules or any other) really like the realism of this system, the drama it creates in combat and the way it makes them deal with real wounds vs. the random cuts and bruises taken throughout combat. They also like the fact that they don't need an obligatory healer along to make party survival an option.

Just figured I'd throw that out there - a Handy Haversack filled with wands of Cure Wounds just waters down the game and takes all the magic away IMO. If you want that, play Legend of Zelda or something.


rage prophet barbarian with high init will be AWESOME.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
Robespierre wrote:
rage prophet barbarian with high init will be AWESOME.

In PvP certainly... but we never have any real reason to engage in that.


Immune to fatigue and will start the snowball win for their party.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
Robespierre wrote:
Immune to fatigue and will start the snowball win for their party.

They get that at what, level 9?

At that point I consider Fatigue to be a fairly minor annoyance... -1 to hit, -1 damage, -1 AC and -1 Reflex saves for the most part. Not exactly a game-breaker in my estimation. I would think that Barbarians are more at risk under these rules given that they're at greater danger of getting fatigued on their own and therefor at greater risk of slipping into Exhausted...


Wiggz wrote:

...or at least, having everyone loaded up with Cure wands and healing potions on top of their party cleric is a crutch. I think it robs us of a very real aspect of the game and makes wounds - any wounds - almost trivial so long as they don't kill you.

In the interest of full disclosure, our campaign is what many would consider a 'low-magic' campaign in that there is no Ole Magic Shoppe where the players can buy and sell magic items like kids with Pokemon cards.

Alternative Hit Points and Healing rules:

Damage from critical hits, sneak attacks, bleed effects and failed saving throws are considered Lethal damage. All else is considered Non-Lethal.

Lethal damage heals at a rate of 1 HP/extended rest or 1+Con modifier (minimum 1)/full day of rest.
Non-Lethal damage heals at a rate of 50% after a short rest and 100% after an extended rest.

Characters who have suffered more than 50% of their HP in Non-Lethal damage are Fatigued.
Characters who have suffered more than 50% of their HP in Lethal damage are Exhausted.
Spell casters Exhausted in this way must make Concentration checks to cast spells.

Characters who go below 0 hit points from purely Non-Lethal damage fall unconscious for a number of rounds equal to their negative number of hit points, waking with 1.
Characters who go below 0 hit points and have taken lethal damage fall unconscious and begin to die. They must make a Fortitude save every round with the DC = to the number of hit points below 0. They can be stabilized through True Healing or with a successful Healing skill check (which brings them to 0 hit points).

True healing takes energy from the person healed to function, leaving them Fatigued for a number of rounds equal to the amount of Lethal damage healed. Lethal damage is always healed first with any overflow affecting Non-Lethal damage next. Lay on Hands is considered True Healing while Channeled Energy affects only Non-Lethal damage.

Healing potions are extremely rare and extremely expensive... they're created only by...

Change the healing effect with: "you gain (same value) temporary hit points for 1 round / level".

So healers will be "protectors". A 3rd level cleric that casts a moderate heal will give 2d8+3 temporary hit points to the target.
The effect against undead doesn't change.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I dunno about healing being a crutch; in my games, we very rarely have a dedicated healer. The one guy that regularly plays clerics always plays the Divine Engine of Holy Wrath w/ a Big Mace instead of a healer-type. "Sorry bro; I used up that slot on Flamestrike." Thankfully Pathfinder lets positive-channeling clerics spontaneously cast cure spells, because he'd never have them around otherwise.

We've never had anyone run around with a handy haversack full of potions and wands, either. I don't think the games we run could be considered "carebear" in the least; people die. Very rarely do they get rezzed.

This playstyle lends itself to tactical decision-making and a bit more caution on the part of the players. Not everyone's cup of tea, certainly, but I think it makes it more dramatic when half the party is bleeding out and the rogue says "To the Hells with it!" before charging the Big Bad. Courageous badassdom gets rewarded in our crew.

I even have a system in place that inflicts the Fatigued condition at 50% hp and Exhausted at 25%. Nonlethal damage works in much the same way. I have the same rule as you for Exhausted casters. Poison DCs are all 5 higher than listed in the Core Book.

Anyway, that's my take on it. Each group has its own dynamics, though.


Have you seen the strain/injury rule we've been working out? It's here if you haven't.

Since the two are so similar, I assume you have, but since you didn't mention it I thought I'd bring it up.

I think I like this, but I do have a question: What is to stop one taking two short rests in a row? Or if that's simply not allowed, taking a short rest, getting through an encounter without being significantly hurt and taking a short rest again straight after? Or did you mean short rests never heal you beyond 50% of your max hp?

And please, don't end your suggestions with an assertion that the book is wrong and that people who prefer it over your way should give up the game. It's never necessary, pleasant, helpful or true. Different strokes for different folks and all that.

EDIT: Do you have any trouble with the slippery slope effect caused by the damage penalty? Do you find it makes your encounters more swingy at all?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
Mortuum wrote:

Have you seen the strain/injury rule we've been working out? It's here if you haven't.

Since the two are so similar, I assume you have, but since you didn't mention it I thought I'd bring it up.

I think I like this, but I do have a question: What is to stop one taking two short rests in a row? Or if that's simply not allowed, taking a short rest, getting through an encounter without being significantly hurt and taking a short rest again straight after? Or did you mean short rests never heal you beyond 50% of your max hp?

And please, don't end your suggestions with an assertion that the book is wrong and that people who prefer it over your way should give up the game. It's never necessary, pleasant, helpful or true. Different strokes for different folks and all that.

EDIT: Do you have any trouble with the slippery slope effect caused by the damage penalty? Do you find it makes your encounters more swingy at all?

I apologize if you took offense at my rather snarky comment. I've often stated that there is no right or wrong way to play any more than there is a right or wrong way to have fun - I just have a personal problem with magic-heavy campaigns where magic is anything but magical. Like I said though, that's MY problem.

Short rests heal you 50% of the damage non-lethal damage you've taken. If you have 160 hit points and you've taken 80, after a short rest you're at 120 assuming all the damage was non-lethal. If you were to take another short rest you'd be at 100, but as for me I consider a short rest to be more of a deliberate break between encounters than a set time period, so two consecutively wouldn't really be possible, though it could happen between each encounter.

I haven't seen the strain/injury rule but I'll definitely check it out.

When you say 'damage penalty', are you talking about the Fatigued/Exhausted condition? Fatigued is actually a nuisance, particularly at middle to high levels, but Exhausted can make for some desperate fights at times (not often, but there ARE times). I would say that all of this does lend itself to 'swingy' encounters from time to time, but what it really does is lend itself to DRAMATIC encounters, encounters where instead of the gradual inevitable whittling down of XP, somebody takes a big hit to lethal and everybody steps back and goes 'WHOA', knowing full well that's going to be a problem that will need to be dealt with. Real injury for a change.

Along the way, minor rules have needed to be tweaked to keep the system solvent, but they are always very minor and only come up on rare occaision. It takes a little while to get used to keeping track of hit points, but after 1 session you've got it down. Two columns, one for lethal and one for non-lethal damage taken and what they cumulatively add up to. A little note that says what half your hit points are so that if you exceed that number in one column to the other you're immediately aware of it. That's pretty much it.

for what its worth, it also makes it a lot easier to 'take a foe alive', for encounters that require such.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Wounds are trivial in Pathfinder! News at 11.

Wounds are typically trivial in games, that's just how they are. People get stabbed all the time in RPGs, but only the OCD ones cover the chances of catching a disease each time you are wounded. Besides, no one wants their character to get nicked once, then laid up for 6 months, just so they can die of dysentery.


I was a little hasty with the different strokes comment. I'd just come from a couple of really negative threads. I guess it's my own personal peeve.

Reading through your stuff again, it actually looks a LOT like an early version of strain. I think you must have started in about the same place and solved the problems in different ways.

I was talking about fatigue and exhaustion, yes. There's been a lot of talk about similar penalties in the strain threads, but we decided to keep penalties separate so one can take them or leave them as suits their game.
Are people usually able to retreat or otherwise cover themselves once they're hurt? Sounds like your enemies already have you by the short and curlys at that point.

I'd be very interested to know which minor rules you've needed to adjust, for my own ideas as much as anything else.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Well, with my implementation of the Fatigue / Exhaustion / Strain stuff [didn't realize someone else was working on a similar theme, but it makes sense], I haven't seen any significant issues. It does slow folks down a bit, and makes characters with immunity to Fatigue effects more effective in combat. Undead simply become relentless in this scenario. Town full of zombies that never slow down can really put some fear into players when they're getting nickled and dimed to death while trying to find a safe place to regroup. It reinforces good decision-making and tactical skills, and like Wiggz said, makes things a lot more dramatic.


Don't forget constructs and outsiders. Dragons should also probably qualify as relentless, because nothing breaks verisimilitude like a dragon pulling a hammy.

That said: again, people are trying for realism in a game that throws that out the door within the first 30 pages of the core rulebook.


Blue Star wrote:
people are trying for realism in a game that throws that out the door within the first 30 pages of the core rulebook.

^This for the win!

You lose hit points in combat, that doesn't necessarily mean you got cut at all. You drink a potion or someone twinkles their nose and now you're ready to rock for the next encounter. That's just how the game works.


Uh. You guys DID read the way the rules in the first post distinguish between real wounds and just getting roughed up, right?

Anyway, this is not trying for the kind of realism that is the opposite of dragons.
The way healing works in the game by the book just doesn't match up with what hit points are meant to be. If you're not really getting stabbed, why do you need a miraculous healing potion to get over the damage, lest it stay with you for days?
What does that kind of consistency have to do with being a superhuman badass, or facing enemies with magical powers?

Don't confuse detail with mundaneness.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
Mortuum wrote:

Are people usually able to retreat or otherwise cover themselves once they're hurt? Sounds like your enemies already have you by the short and curlys at that point.

I'd be very interested to know which minor rules you've needed to adjust, for my own ideas as much as anything else.

The good news is that they actually get 'hurt' less often and can save what heals they do have for when it really matters. Let's face it - characters have a LOT of hit points to use (more than Dragons as often as not), but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be smart about using them.

When I say minor rules, its really more of an awareness of how things are different when making characters and playing through your game - for instance, the Invulnerable Rager Barbarian states that his already considerable DR is doubled against non-lethal damage... but PF's non-lethal isn't the same as mine, so that would be ignored. Things like that. Just remember that all 'true healing' heals lethal damage first, and that includes things like Rings of Regeneration (which suddenly become much more potent), and only true healing can heal lethal damage.

It really isn't that difficult an option to try, though in my opinion if healing is as ubiquitous in your campaign as it is in many, it would probably make the game a bit too easy. As I said, for us true healing comes pretty much from divine magic, very expensive potions and the odd class feature and that's it. I like the way we do healing potions incidently, as availability is often times scarce, but when you get them, they WORK. No need for a 12th level Fighter to quaff 10 potions of cure light wounds to get the needed effect. Potions can be poured over wounds as well as drunk (eliminating the need to force them down someone's throat).

Death and dieing seems less complicated. Fort save or die every round you're in the negatives, with the DC equal to the amount of negative hit points you've suffered up to a maximum of total lethal damage taken. This continues until something gets you up to 0 though a high level character could theoretically remain at -5 or -10 indefinitely (unless you house-rule that a natural 1 is an automatic fail), he would still remain unconscious until he somehow gets to 1.

Ah - the Healing skill. The way we work it is if you're under the care of someone with the Healing skill, you can use their Wisdom modifier instead of your Constitution modifier or you can simply take a +1 bonus when determining how many lethal damage points you heal naturally a day. A character with the Healing skill can also either make a roll to stabilize you (against the same DC), eliminating the need for continued Fort saves that day, or can add their Wisdom mod to your Fort saves every round as you fight to stay alive. It makes the healing skill both useful and at times quite dramatic.

Paizo / Messageboards / Paizo Publishing / Pathfinder® / Pathfinder RPG / Suggestions/House Rules/Homebrew / Healing is a crutch... All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.

©2002–2014 Paizo Inc.®. Need help? Email customer.service@paizo.com or call 425-250-0800 during our business hours: Monday–Friday, 10 AM–5 PM Pacific Time. View our privacy policy. Paizo Inc., Paizo, the Paizo golem logo, Pathfinder, the Pathfinder logo, Pathfinder Society, GameMastery, and Planet Stories are registered trademarks of Paizo Inc., and Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Pathfinder Player Companion, Pathfinder Modules, Pathfinder Tales, Pathfinder Battles, Pathfinder Online, PaizoCon, RPG Superstar, The Golem's Got It, Titanic Games, the Titanic logo, and the Planet Stories planet logo are trademarks of Paizo Inc. Dungeons & Dragons, Dragon, Dungeon, and Polyhedron are registered trademarks of Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc., and have been used by Paizo Inc. under license. Most product names are trademarks owned or used under license by the companies that publish those products; use of such names without mention of trademark status should not be construed as a challenge to such status.