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Misconceptions about not healing in battle


Advice

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1. Nobody is saying never ever heal your buddy and/or let them die. That is ridiculous.
2. Nobody is saying you will never ever have to heal.
3. What is being said is that the bad guys can put out damage faster than you can heal so the best thing to do is kill bad guys. The less bad guys there are the less damage output there is.
4. Most of the time if you have decent characters and use good tactics you will not have to heal in combat.
5. Once again, most of the time does not mean never.
6. Bookmark this thread if you have too.

Sczarni

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Well, its been true of all D&D style games since inception: Concentrating on one foe makes two foes half as deadly. Meaning, if you kill one of two opponents, you no longer have to deal with two attacks a round, only one. Always concentrate fire when possible. As a GM I make the game intentionally easier by having mobs mindlessly line up one on one versus players. If I had all the mobs gack one player my kill rate as a GM would explode. Same applies to healing in combat, only use it if you just lost attacks in a round. Otherwise, if you aren't attacking, you aren't helping.

Lantern Lodge

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

This was the thrust of my character defense when I told the party "don't sweat it; I'm playing a healer."

I then presented myself at the game with a paladin. My stance was "If I kill the crap out of whatever's trying to get at you, I'm preventing damage, which is basically like healing."

I also had my lay on hands and some other options [points in Heal] for on-the-spot actual healing. Nobody went down under my watch, dangit. Sure, the GM shivers to this day when I threaten to bring him from 3.5 into Pathfinder, but that's mostly because of the draconic mount. He gets fidgety with anything I build, really.

Back on topic . . . it's often easier to prevent the damage through good tactics and murdering the baddies before they can bring their big guns to bear. Plus, a few cheap potions and other sundry items can help spread the duty out to e'ryone involved.


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wraithstrike wrote:


4. Most of the time if you have decent characters and use good tactics you will not have to heal in combat

The misconception people mostly have when talking D&D on the internet (or at the table) is assuming that everyone plays the game the same way that they do. The 'best' strategies are static, and there is a better strategic way of playing above all others.

It was very interesting years ago to travel while playing LG. What was assumed to be 'the norm' varied vastly between groups of gamers. Those that had frequent intermixing would adapt and grow together, but very separate 'conclusions' could be reached.

Healing in combat is about removing pressure on party members that they will be dropped the next round. Given a relatively high rate of damage or potential for damage one's actions are mitigated. When near death the barbarian should NOT be charging (and we dislike it when they do)...

When done right, in combat healing enables other PCs to act much like any other support action does (casting fly on the melee fighter, hasting the party, etc). However if the healing does not enable actions that would otherwise be avoided then in combat healing becomes simple insurance against unforeseen amounts of damage which is unlikely to be appreciated or come to fruition (much like selecting the toughness feat).

Another misconception is to combine in-combat healing with out of combat healing. The two are separate things that a character can bring to the table. Just as dealing damage need not be tied to a melee presence (i.e. 'tanking') so to are these different things to bring to the table.

There are many things that a party can bring to the table. Don't think in terms of 4e, but rather like investments in the party's abilities. A well rounded party has far many more 'roles' filled than they have characters and each of those 'roles' has an associated depth/strength to them. A given character will bring many things to the table, in one amount or another.

If you build a character that simply delivers 'diplomacy' then likely you are leaving more burden for the rest of the party, each of which bears more than just a single role.

It is true that some extremes can exist. In such a way you can consider a given character bringing 'two full characters worth of X'. Sometimes extremes are useful. However in general such extremes have to be built around by the rest of the group.

Trying to build a character that simply delivers 'healing' can expect a reasonable amount of flack as far as the amount of burden that they are shouldering for the party. It is also how the idea of in-combat healing gets a bad moniker on these boards.

-James

Shadow Lodge Dedicated Voter 2014

I think a good chunk of this is an artifact from the pre 3.0, when clerics couldn't have an effective strength or con score over 16 and didn't have any really good offensive spells. It also took all of your spell slots to heal someone. (at level 1 your ONLY slot)

Wisdom bonuses to spells memorized, wands, domain spells, and pathfinders very important channel ability have all expanded the clerics role from "party band aid" to party bandaid and asskicker.

Pre emptive healing (ie, blowing the thing doing damage to smithereens) is certainly a very viable option these days.


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Most of the time, if the group knows what they are doing, they won't need in-combat healing.

However, the problem isn in the time thats "most of the time". Its in the time that isn't "Most of the time" that the problem arises.

While you are making tactics and such to keep from dying, the DM is also making tactics and things to challenge and potentially kill you. This means that your well laid plans will sometimes fail. If you are 10th level and the best healing you have is a rogue with a CLW wand, then someone (or several someone's) is going to bite the dust.

Does a group need a dedciated, pure 100% healer? Not if the group is exercising good tactics.
Does the group need someone who can lay down some solid healing occasionally? Absolutely.

Just like melee folks need range weapons but don't use 'em all the time, you need someone who can lay down some big heals- even if its not something they do all the time.

Its about being prepared for the "Oh crap" moments, more so than needing someone to be a perpetual permanent bandaid all the time.

(though of course, if your group does need a band-aid all the time.. then thats what they need.)

-S

edit: too many "most of the times" I think.


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In general it is a successful approach to combat to avoid healing unless absolutely necessary, and to concentrate fire on individual targets until you take them down. If you have any doubt about your ability to manage combat, those two rules will serve you well in virtually every encounter.

However, that doesn't mean that is always the best tactic.

My 4e ranger is deliberately designed to be a one on one killing machine. He gets huge bonuses for fighting in one-on-one situations. Such huge bonuses that it actually increases the party's tactical success for him to successively take down individual targets while the rest of the party concentrates fire on a different target.

Similarly there are certain tactical approaches where one character can deal so much damage that it is useful to pump hit points into that character while they are in the midst of melee so that they can keep putting out the hurt.

But those are outliers in the overall scheme of tactics, and executing them properly requires an understanding of the balance of damage done vs damage taken.

Most adventuring parties are not built that way, they are built along more typical combat roles, and as such are most effective with more typical combat tactics.

In fact my ranger is so dangerous in one-on-one situations that even in single boss fights my party finds ways to skip out of his way so even when we are all on the same target, on his turn he is one-on-one vs that target.

I don't know if a similar one-vs-one build could be made in PF. But maybe so. An archer ranger might be a case where the archer could focus on and pick off foes so rapidly on his own that concentrating fire would actually waste damage during the fight.


Selgard wrote:

Most of the time, if the group knows what they are doing, they won't need in-combat healing.

However, the problem isn in the time thats "most of the time". Its in the time that isn't "Most of the time" that the problem arises.

While you are making tactics and such to keep from dying, the DM is also making tactics and things to challenge and potentially kill you. This means that your well laid plans will sometimes fail. If you are 10th level and the best healing you have is a rogue with a CLW wand, then someone (or several someone's) is going to bite the dust.

Does a group need a dedciated, pure 100% healer? Not if the group is exercising good tactics.
Does the group need someone who can lay down some solid healing occasionally? Absolutely.

Just like melee folks need range weapons but don't use 'em all the time, you need someone who can lay down some big heals- even if its not something they do all the time.

Its about being prepared for the "Oh crap" moments, more so than needing someone to be a perpetual permanent bandaid all the time.

(though of course, if your group does need a band-aid all the time.. then thats what they need.)

-S

edit: too many "most of the times" I think.

I think we agree. Of course my premise also assumes the GM is not boosting encounters just to make sure you do heal. :)


wraithstrike wrote:
Selgard wrote:

Most of the time, if the group knows what they are doing, they won't need in-combat healing.

However, the problem isn in the time thats "most of the time". Its in the time that isn't "Most of the time" that the problem arises.

While you are making tactics and such to keep from dying, the DM is also making tactics and things to challenge and potentially kill you. This means that your well laid plans will sometimes fail. If you are 10th level and the best healing you have is a rogue with a CLW wand, then someone (or several someone's) is going to bite the dust.

Does a group need a dedciated, pure 100% healer? Not if the group is exercising good tactics.
Does the group need someone who can lay down some solid healing occasionally? Absolutely.

Just like melee folks need range weapons but don't use 'em all the time, you need someone who can lay down some big heals- even if its not something they do all the time.

Its about being prepared for the "Oh crap" moments, more so than needing someone to be a perpetual permanent bandaid all the time.

(though of course, if your group does need a band-aid all the time.. then thats what they need.)

-S

edit: too many "most of the times" I think.

I think we agree. Of course my premise also assumes the GM is not boosting encounters just to make sure you do heal. :)

True enough :) but at least if he's doing that- the dedicated healer won't be bored.

:)

-S


Is this really a problem? I've never seen a cleric heal his companions unless they're at low hit points, as a player generally doesn't say "Hey, I need healing!" unless they're getting dangerously low.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

My cleric provides a fair amount of healing by walking in front of the party wearing full plate and a heavy shield. The only time he's really been threatened was when the optimized party barbarian got dominated...


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VikingTopHat wrote:
Is this really a problem? I've never seen a cleric heal his companions unless they're at low hit points, as a player generally doesn't say "Hey, I need healing!" unless they're getting dangerously low.

In previous threads people have claimed you must have dedicated healer to heal you in the middle of fights. My position and many others is the same as yours.

The reason I created this thread was because people like us keep getting misrepresented. People are taking our opinion as "it is better to let a party member die than to heal them" among other things, which has never been advocated. I got tired of my points being misrepresented so I made this thread.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

It has always been the opinion of the groups I play in, that you need two things: emergency healing, and out-of-combat healing. You do not need a "focused" healer for either of those, and if you are providing either(or both), you better be able to bring something else to the table.
You know what happens with a party that has too many "focused" characters?
One goes down, and everyone else does shortly after.


Sometimes, summons are a better choice for healing, for HP to spell slot ratios.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

In my experience the 'full time in combat healer' derives from MMOs.

Indeed, most of the MMOs I've played have required a 'tank + crowd control + dps + healer' setup to be effective. D&D v4 has a bit of this, but in my experience none of the earlier versions (nor Pathfinder) did and I can't think of another PnP RPG which has.

IMO the primary reason for the difference is AI logic. Even before specific powers for 'generating threat' / forcing enemies to attack a specific party member were added to MMOs there was a basic logic to who enemies would attack (e.g. whoever hit them first) which allowed a single character to be 'the tank' in MMOs far more effectively than they ever could in PnP games. At which point you can optimize that character to absorb damage and another to keep them healed. One of the worst things a heavily optimized MMO group like that can face is creatures with randomized attack preference... suddenly the tank can't control the combat and the healers and blasters are dropping like flies.

The other thing which differs is that in most MMOs you can completely refresh your primary powers between each fight. A few high end abilities will have long cool down times, but your main 'healing spells' (or equivalent) and health are usually all back to full after a few seconds out of combat. In PnP games you have to be much more careful about conserving resources so that you don't run out before getting to a safe location.

All of which means that in most PnP style RPGs you want everyone on offense at least until someone is in danger of going down. Even then some of my groups have worked on a principal of 'let them drop but then spend an action to stabilize them' rather than having to heal each round to keep the person standing. Either way one character is effectively no longer contributing offensively so you might as well have the character who still has hit points do the fighting so long as they can do so effectively... which every character should be developed for.


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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I know I will get heat for this.

Pathfinder is not WOW.

The closest you can get with TRPGs(as far as I can tell), is D&D 4E.
If you really like the idea of a WOW like TRPG, play that.

You need not play Pathfinder like WOW to be effective in combat, it's not built that way. More important, you need not play it this way to have fun.

Sczarni

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Wait , what?! WOW is bad?!

Where is the dislike button.. >.<


We have a strong healer with other options in every group so far and in many battles the healer has to heal to keep the party alife.

And even with this in combat healer we have had 3 dead PCs so far and we are somewhere in the middle of kingmaker book II I think.
If we hadn't had a strong infight healer it would have been a lot more.

Perhaps our Chars are not optimized enough, that might be. But for our way to play we do need a dedicated healer during a lot of fights.


There are a lot of other ways other than actual "healing" to "mitigate" damage in a fight. Here a a few favorites that seem to work quite well in games I play.

1. Summons- These are like free meat shields. The casting time is long for the spells that summon things, and the duration is short. This is why I love the summoner class that can have summons out faster and with a longer duration.

2. Buffs- These can help mitigate damage by raising AC and raising stats such as Con that can increase hitpoints. Think of these as actions that can prevent damage that you can be done before the fight. That way you don't have to waste actions on healing during the fight.

I think it comes down to economy of actions, it takes an action and a spell slot or resource such as a potion to heal in combat. This is time that you are spending on not killing the monsters. Also, if you have a dedicated healer, you will be missing something else, usually more damage dealing. A 1st level cleric healing 1d8+1 that has to use a spell slot, for example, pales in comparison to a Barbarian with a Greatsword dealing 2d6+9 with power attack (more with rage, probably). This is why it is really difficult to get anyone at our gaming table to play a cleric! It is just more boring to be the healbot and have people complain when you run out of slots to heal.

Sczarni

Synthesist7 wrote:

There are a lot of other ways other than actual "healing" to "mitigate" damage in a fight. Here a a few favorites that seem to work quite well in games I play.

1. Summons- These are like free meat shields. The casting time is long for the spells that summon things, and the duration is short. This is why I love the summoner class that can have summons out faster and with a longer duration.

2. Buffs- These can help mitigate damage by raising AC and raising stats such as Con that can increase hitpoints. Think of these as actions that can prevent damage that you can be done before the fight. That way you don't have to waste actions on healing during the fight.

I think it comes down to economy of actions, it takes an action and a spell slot or resource such as a potion to heal in combat. This is time that you are spending on not killing the monsters. Also, if you have a dedicated healer, you will be missing something else, usually more damage dealing. A 1st level cleric healing 1d8+1 that has to use a spell slot, for example, pales in comparison to a Barbarian with a Greatsword dealing 2d6+9 with power attack (more with rage, probably). This is why it is really difficult to get anyone at our gaming table to play a cleric! It is just more boring to be the healbot and have people complain when you run out of slots to heal.

You can play a Cleric and not be a heal bot. Clerics can be great offensive and defensive casters. Not to mention a Half Elf Cleric can have a PIMP Perception!

Sczarni

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Term "healbot" just reeks of being a machine and it just blows when someone calls your character like that. Fact is that being a dedicated healer simply brings no thanks or excitement like being a melee heavy brute. In all my 5 year WoW career I'v heard thanks and such similar stuff only rarely.

I am glad that pathfinder removed the need of "healbots".

Star Voter 2014

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

I've seen it depend a great deal on the encounters, and the party.

For example, I'm in a 19th level 3.5 game. The Ur-Priest and Druid often have to cast heal. In most combats. This is partly because the campaign has embraced the 15-minute adventuring day, so generally we have one fight that is rather beefed up. That can mean that a single round of good rolls on the enemy's part can bring one or more party members to a point where a typical round will drop them. (And, of course, at this point, any in-combat healing less than heal is going to be not enough to bother with. That's on hp damage. Sometimes it's more of removing a serious condition, such as insanity.

There, it's not every round, certainly, but it's often enough that they need a few resources devoted to it, and at least one standard action, probably each, per fight, on healing.

In one of the Pathfinder games I'm in, we were in great need of healing for a while. But we were also slipping behind wealth-by-level, which by the DM's own admission, was making it hard for him to figure a proper APL. Now that we're not trapped in an adventure which makes treasure acquisition difficult, we're in much better shape on WBL (and associated stats; for example, my AC had moved by precisely 1 point from level 4 to level 9), and the fights are much less likely to leave us desperate for healing.

In a Kingmaker game, we've mostly not needed much healing, though we're in trouble now, due to being massively behind WBL. (Basically, we managed to get the main treasure for the first adventure early, but we've now hit level 5, while mostly mopping up the first adventure worth of encounters.)


Synthesist7 wrote:


I think it comes down to economy of actions, it takes an action and a spell slot or resource such as a potion to heal in combat. This is time that you are spending on not killing the monsters. Also, if you have a dedicated healer, you will be missing something else, usually more damage dealing. A 1st level cleric healing 1d8+1 that has to use a spell slot, for example, pales in comparison to a Barbarian with a Greatsword dealing 2d6+9 with power attack (more with rage, probably). This is why it is really difficult to get anyone at our gaming table to play a cleric! It is just more boring to be the healbot and have people complain when you run out of slots to heal.

If some monster manages to surprise the party and hits the party summoner hard enough to bring him down to 2 rounds till death the best action economy is and will always be to heal mit up with enough healing power so that he can start doing his job one turn later.

In such a situation there is nothing else that is better action economy.
The healer spende one turn healing and that nets one additional combattant for the rest of the fight. Or more than one, because it was a summonoer that can bring more help with more actions.
We had that situation recently.


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Umbranus wrote:


And even with this in combat healer we have had 3 dead PCs so far and we are somewhere in the middle of kingmaker book II I think.
If we hadn't had a strong infight healer it would have been a lot more.

Every time I see a statement exactly like this I want to sit in on a game session and explain to them at the end of it what they were doing wrong in terms of tactics, builds, and common sense.

Kingmaker is not a hard AP. Particularly the first book where there more than anywhere else do you have the luxury of the fifteen minute adventuring day.

Shadow Lodge Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014

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I think a lot of the problem is the mistaken perception that your options for playing a healer are limited to the extremes: that if you're playing a healer, you will be literally doing nothing but "stand here until someone is injured then heal them, try not to get hit"; and that your only alternate option is to play a class that avoids needing healing by killing the bad guy first.

There is a middle ground.

Every party I've played in or DMed for has had a "healer" character - someone whose job it was to make sure the rest of the party didn't die. And I don't mean by being the one to stand in front and take all the hits, or summon up a wall of mooks, I mean by patching up injuries in and out of battle. Not because the DM or other players forced them to, but because that's the role they wanted to carry.

And every single one of them had something else they can do in combat to make themselves useful when they weren't needing to band-aid someone. We never had a problem with people not carrying their weight, and we had some really bizarre healer concepts. (A Dread Necromancer named Doctor Victor Faust probably takes the cake. And it worked. Mechanically and thematically.)

So that's what we do. Try and kill the bad guys fast and negate damage in advance as much as possible, yeah, but having someone along willing and able to spend a spell slot or item or class ability on some patchwork goes a long way too, in my experience. Just don't have it be the only thing you do. (Unless you want to. Hey, if that's your thing, go for it. I've played a straight-up Healer out of Miniatures Handbook once, it was fun for a bit but not my thing in the long-term. She made a pretty awesome archer though when she wasn't healing.)


Umbranus wrote:


If some monster manages to surprise the party and hits the party summoner hard enough to bring him down to 2 rounds till death the best action economy is and will always be to heal mit up with enough healing power so that he can start doing his job one turn later.
In such a situation there is nothing else that is better action economy.
The healer spende one turn healing and that nets one additional combattant for the rest of the fight. Or more than one, because it was a summonoer that can bring more help with more actions.
We had that situation recently.

Alternatively; don't be surprised.

Shadow Lodge Marathon Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014

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TarkXT wrote:
Umbranus wrote:


If some monster manages to surprise the party and hits the party summoner hard enough to bring him down to 2 rounds till death the best action economy is and will always be to heal mit up with enough healing power so that he can start doing his job one turn later.
In such a situation there is nothing else that is better action economy.
The healer spende one turn healing and that nets one additional combattant for the rest of the fight. Or more than one, because it was a summonoer that can bring more help with more actions.
We had that situation recently.
Alternatively; don't be surprised.

That's kind of a ridiculous suggestion, to be honest. The players aren't always going to be able to be perfectly aware of anything the DM might throw at them. Saying "don't be surprised" is much akin to saying "don't be hit". You do what you can to avoid it, statistically and tactically, but if the monster/opponent/whatever is good enough there's not much you can do.


TarkXT wrote:
Umbranus wrote:


If some monster manages to surprise the party and hits the party summoner hard enough to bring him down to 2 rounds till death the best action economy is and will always be to heal mit up with enough healing power so that he can start doing his job one turn later.
In such a situation there is nothing else that is better action economy.
The healer spende one turn healing and that nets one additional combattant for the rest of the fight. Or more than one, because it was a summonoer that can bring more help with more actions.
We had that situation recently.
Alternatively; don't be surprised.

Sounds like you never do bad rolls.

If someone tells me he's never surprised I say he's a cheater.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

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If someone gets hit harder than they're likely to get hit again (such as from a nasty crit), and you have a powerful enough healing spell to essentially "undo" that event, such that it's likely to take multiple rounds for that kind of damage to stack up again, then it *might* be worth spending that round healing them.

Alternatively, if someone's almost down, and that someone has a substantial chance of ending (or effectively ending) the encounter but you don't, then healing them up enough that they can last that round might be worthwhile.

Those are the two main reasons to heal in combat. If your healing wouldn't fall into either of those categories, then 99% of the time you should be doing something else.


wraithstrike wrote:

1. Nobody is saying never ever heal your buddy and/or let them die. That is ridiculous.

2. Nobody is saying you will never ever have to heal.
3. What is being said is that the bad guys can put out damage faster than you can heal so the best thing to do is kill bad guys. The less bad guys there are the less damage output there is.
4. Most of the time if you have decent characters and use good tactics you will not have to heal in combat.
5. Once again, most of the time does not mean never.
6. Bookmark this thread if you have too.

This is all true, but it's important to know that the line between "most of the time" and exceptional circumstances varies from game to game. I think there are very few games where healing is needed "most of the time". I define "most of the time" to mean in-combat healing is needed for survival in the majority of combats. In fact I'd say that's probably a ridiculously broken game.

I typically put at least one very difficult encounter (CR = APL + 2 or more) every session. In those encounters, it's still a coin-flip (50% chance) to see in-combat healing. But those encounters are maybe 1 out of 4 or 5 encounters.

So I'd estimate about 10% of encounters require in-combat healing. Of course, those encounters are the most deadly. Having a healer optimized around healing in those situations is a good way to increase your party's chance of survival.

So comes the age-old question: is it better to be optimized for 90% of easier encounters or optimized for only just a few (10%) really hard encounters? Is it better to have fun blasting/destroying away or to be the hero when the $#!^ hits the fan?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Umbranus wrote:
Synthesist7 wrote:


I think it comes down to economy of actions, it takes an action and a spell slot or resource such as a potion to heal in combat. This is time that you are spending on not killing the monsters. Also, if you have a dedicated healer, you will be missing something else, usually more damage dealing. A 1st level cleric healing 1d8+1 that has to use a spell slot, for example, pales in comparison to a Barbarian with a Greatsword dealing 2d6+9 with power attack (more with rage, probably). This is why it is really difficult to get anyone at our gaming table to play a cleric! It is just more boring to be the healbot and have people complain when you run out of slots to heal.

If some monster manages to surprise the party and hits the party summoner hard enough to bring him down to 2 rounds till death the best action economy is and will always be to heal mit up with enough healing power so that he can start doing his job one turn later.

In such a situation there is nothing else that is better action economy.
The healer spende one turn healing and that nets one additional combattant for the rest of the fight. Or more than one, because it was a summonoer that can bring more help with more actions.
We had that situation recently.

We had that happen recently, too. Baddy opened up with a 9d6 fireball on a n APL 7 party. We had two characters down in the first round. Yes, I burst heal. Second round I did the same, but you can't heal through a buffed magus' damage. So I stopped healing, buffed my AC up to 33, and Joined th wall of dogs standing in front of him. He never touched me, although we did lose two characters that fight.

If I had stuck to just healing, we would have lost the fight. If I hadn't gotten the summoner up, we would have lost the fight. The point is not that in-combat healing is bad, its that you have to know when to use it and when to do something else.


Orthos wrote:


That's kind of a ridiculous suggestion, to be honest. The players aren't always going to be able to be perfectly aware of anything the DM might throw at them. Saying "don't be surprised" is much akin to saying "don't be hit". You do what you can to avoid it, statistically and tactically, but if the monster/opponent/whatever is good enough there's not much you can do.

Actually there's quite a bit. There's a reason why perception scores and initiative scores are highly valued.

If the bad guy is particularly skilled at stealth to the point where its practically DM fiat that "they surprise you" there's still ways to mitigate that. Any Diviner wizard or sohei can make his entire party take full actions in the surprise round with the lookout feat if they're willing to take it. More often than not they don't.

Which brins me to another point. If the character in question is a bad enough dude to drop two of your guys in the surprise round than you can bet he's able to kill those people you just brought back up in the full round.

The point being is that healing is not the answer to poor tactics or bad luck. A lot of groups who demand dedicated healers have one or both.


TarkXT wrote:
If the bad guy is particularly skilled at stealth to the point where its practically DM fiat that "they surprise you" there's still ways to mitigate that. Any Diviner wizard or sohei can make his entire party take full actions in the surprise round with the lookout feat if they're willing to take it. More often than not they don't.

Also many standard familiars have scent. If a bad guy is within 30 ft the familiar instantly knows without regard to stealth. Empathic link/speak with familiar should be good enough to at least become aware of a threat.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I was actually thinking about this the other day. There is one situation where healing in combat becomes a requirement. And its entirely down to the dm.

What I mean is, some dms are unsatisfied when combats end quickly. Or even if any particular opponent goes down too quickly. Many of them will make changes either before or during the encounter to extend them. In that case, killing the enemy first becomes a less effective tactic then healing, because the dm will percieve the fight as harder if you are forced to heal in combat, then if you won a game of rocket tag with the enemy.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

Kolokotroni wrote:

I was actually thinking about this the other day. There is one situation where healing in combat becomes a requirement. And its entirely down to the dm.

What I mean is, some dms are unsatisfied when combats end quickly. Or even if any particular opponent goes down too quickly. Many of them will make changes either before or during the encounter to extend them. In that case, killing the enemy first becomes a less effective tactic then healing, because the dm will percieve the fight as harder if you are forced to heal in combat, then if you won a game of rocket tag with the enemy.

True. The catch, though, is that unless the players enjoy that too, that's a sign of a really bad GM.


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At the risk of offending people....

It has been my experience that very few parties in most tabletop RPGs take advantage of scouting and sneaking the way that they "should" if they want to avoid taking unnecessary damage.

I think there are a variety of reasons for that.

1. Some groups just don't really understand how scouting works. They have the idea that scouting means one party member gets separated from the party and is therefore "splitting the party" and putting that one character at major risk. The desire to keep the party together at all costs means that their tactical awareness of things around them is very limited.

2. Some GMs simply refuse to reward scouting and sneaking, preferring to set up encounters in a certain way and shamelessly metagaming to ensure that their plans are executed. Players in such games learn very early on that efforts to anticipate and avoid being surprised are futile and as such simply learn not to waste the effort.

3. To do scouting "right" means one or two players spends a lot of time in the "spotlight" while the rest of the team waits for a report. In many groups that can mean that the "scout" gets significantly more play time than the rest of the party, and this leads to gaming issues at the table. Thus the GM and the party decide that scouting and sneaking is just not good for the goal of group fun.

4. Some GMs view their role as "fighting" the party, and look for opportunities to "win" the encounter. Since GMs have absolute knowledge of all party activities, sending a scout or a scout team out to try to map out the tactical surroundings is tantamount to slapping the GM across the cheek with a glove, and such GMs will rise to the "challenge" and send out their minions to intercept and potentially capture or kill the scout.

Because of this it is quite common for games to become a series of canned encounters one after another, with the party being surprised and subjected to damage at the GM's whim. In those sorts of situations a combat healer is required because some fights begin with the party already substantially hurting before they can land their first blow.

Each of these situations can be dealt with, although #4 can be almost impossible to rectify. But doing so means that the player group needs to learn how to do these things in a way that keeps the game moving and fun while still allowing the GM to feel "in control" of the game.

Right now I am in three games. There is only one of those games where I feel that scouting and preparing for encounters is even possible due to player group dynamics or GM playstyle. In that one game where scouting/sneaking is viable, we avoid so much damage that we have rarely needed to heal during a fight. In the campaign where the GM sets up unavoidable surprise encounters or traps, without a combat healer we would have wiped the party many times by now.

In an ideal world with a great GM, a tactically aware and well trained player group can reduce healing needs to a fraction of what they are in situations where the party has to "lead with their chin." Those games, in my experience, have been rare.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Jiggy wrote:
Kolokotroni wrote:

I was actually thinking about this the other day. There is one situation where healing in combat becomes a requirement. And its entirely down to the dm.

What I mean is, some dms are unsatisfied when combats end quickly. Or even if any particular opponent goes down too quickly. Many of them will make changes either before or during the encounter to extend them. In that case, killing the enemy first becomes a less effective tactic then healing, because the dm will percieve the fight as harder if you are forced to heal in combat, then if you won a game of rocket tag with the enemy.

True. The catch, though, is that unless the players enjoy that too, that's a sign of a really bad GM.

Sort of. If the change is made mid combat, then probably. But if it comes in the form of house rules, or tactics. Then its not really bad gming, its just a particular style.


The issue here mostly comes down to attitude. That is, telling someone that "if you heal during combat" is similar to saying: "you're playing wrong."

And it is, isn't it?

No one likes to be told, "you're playing wrong."

Wraithstrike, I am not saying this to be critical, but to point out a specific area that needs addressed.

This thread is a good start. It also needs to address how the suggestion of "don't heal during combat" is handled when it is made. That is, it must be made as a suggestion, not a law, and it should be made with politeness--not in a way that says: "don't do this, or you're an idiot." Or, "you're playing wrong."

So what if someone's playing in a way that's "inefficient"? It doesn't matter: it's that person's character. PFS is designed in a way for average characters, working together. It brings together a variety of playstyles, and play interests. Therefore, it cannot and should not cater to only one playstyle, but to a variety.

I'm sure that "you're playing wrong" isn't the perception anyone wants--however, given how these suggestions are phrased, that perception gets created, intended or not.

This is somewhat parallel to your point, Wraithstrike, though not entirely the same thing. I hope what I am saying makes sense--I'm aiming to be disrespectful at all, but address a more general concern. This concern should not be unfamiliar--it's one that often arises with the clash of mindsets, and has to be addressed from time to time.

Grand Lodge

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Ruggs wrote:
PFS is designed in a way for average characters, working together.

This isn't the PFS section of the boards, and as such is aimed at a broader audience.

That doesn't invalidate your points, but I wanted to be sure you were aware of your audience.

There really isn't a "you're playing it wrong" in a home game -- it's what your group has (explicitly or implicitly) agreed to. But that's not the issue. Wraithstrike's point to starting this thread was to clear up exactly this misapprehension. I haven't followed the other threads, so maybe "don't heal during combat" was presented in an overly-aggressive manner. That aside, the point here is that it's not a strict rule, but rather, "only heal during combat when it's necessary." Or, maybe, "healing in combat should not be your only thing (or even the main thing) your character brings to the table during combat."


I think the real point here is that healing in combat is not an optimal action item economy activity. Thus it should be avoided unless it is absolutely necessary.

Unfortunately too many games are run in such a way that healing in combat does become necessary in spite of the party's best efforts to avoid it.

Grand Lodge

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Adamantine Dragon wrote:

I think the real point here is that healing in combat is not an optimal action item economy activity. Thus it should be avoided unless it is absolutely necessary.

Unfortunately too many games are run in such a way that healing in combat does become necessary in spite of the party's best efforts to avoid it.

That's a great way to phrase it.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

@Ruggs: I can't speak for wraithstrike, but when I tell people that they should worry less about in-combat healing, it's usually in a situation where either they feel pressured into being a healer against their will and they're looking for advice on how to make a healer "interesting", or they're concerned because their party doesn't have a "healbot" (often their words) and they need help figuring out how to survive.

Oh, almost forgot the third one: "I'm making my first PFS character - how am I supposed to deal with the fact that I'm not guaranteed a healer at every table?"

Again, I can't speak for wraithstrike, but out of curiosity, do you really think your concern is relevant to the situations in which I, at least, am telling people that most healing should be out of combat? Seems to me that I'm being more helpful than not, but I'm open to outside thought. :)


One more point. I have played with players who get frantic if they take even the slightest damage and start calling for heals immediately. In a party where this becomes the norm, a healer can spend all of their time trying to keep the whining to a minimum by "topping off" every character throughout the encounter.

In some cases it boils down to some players learning that combat is a messy business, and being down to less than half of their hit points is not a reason to panic, it's just part of the job description.


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Adamantine Dragon wrote:
In an ideal world with a great GM, a tactically aware and well trained player group can reduce healing needs to a fraction of what they are in situations where the party has to "lead with their chin." Those games, in my experience, have been rare.

Is this (the "great GM" part) true, or is it too general? Or maybe that world isn't as ideal for everyone. To me, this sounds more like the GM is letting the players cakewalk through the game. I'm not sure that's "a great GM" for me. If the players (and characters) are tactical masters, wouldn't it make sense for a reasonable number of the foes to be similarly masterful, to make the challenge more balanced?

Of course, if one prefers a less challenging game (I know I do from time to time), then that method sounds great.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Star Voter 2015

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Adamantine Dragon wrote:

One more point. I have played with players who get frantic if they take even the slightest damage and start calling for heals immediately. In a party where this becomes the norm, a healer can spend all of their time trying to keep the whining to a minimum by "topping off" every character throughout the encounter.

In some cases it boils down to some players learning that combat is a messy business, and being down to less than half of their hit points is not a reason to panic, it's just part of the job description.

I think I can credit my learning of this lesson to my days playing Magic: the Gathering.

Newbies will blow their very limited resources to kill a minor threat that could deal them some damage but should be irrelevant two turns later. There's a saying among some of the pros, though, that you only need 1 life point to win; the other 19 are just buffer. (Just a generalization, mind you.) Interestingly, the better the player, the more likely you are to see them half-die without blinking.

Same in Pathfinder (if you have access to out of combat healing). Taking damage doesn't mean you're losing. The difference between finishing the fight at full health and finishing with 1HP is that the former probably used too many resources.


Distant Scholar wrote:
Adamantine Dragon wrote:
In an ideal world with a great GM, a tactically aware and well trained player group can reduce healing needs to a fraction of what they are in situations where the party has to "lead with their chin." Those games, in my experience, have been rare.

Is this (the "great GM" part) true, or is it too general? Or maybe that world isn't as ideal for everyone. To me, this sounds more like the GM is letting the players cakewalk through the game. I'm not sure that's "a great GM" for me. If the players (and characters) are tactical masters, wouldn't it make sense for a reasonable number of the foes to be similarly masterful, to make the challenge more balanced?

Of course, if one prefers a less challenging game (I know I do from time to time), then that method sounds great.

Scholar, it may just be me, but I don't measure the "challenge" rating of a campaign by how many times my character goes into negative hit points. Sure there should be some fights that put the party to the test, but those should be exceptions, not the norm.

As a GM, if the party figures out a way to defeat an encounter without taking a single point of damage, I don't take that as an indication that my encounters aren't "challenging" I just chalk it up to creative players who realized that my campaigns "challenge" more than their ability to take and deal damage.


Ruggs wrote:

The issue here mostly comes down to attitude. That is, telling someone that "if you heal during combat" is similar to saying: "you're playing wrong."

And it is, isn't it?

No one likes to be told, "you're playing wrong."

Wraithstrike, I am not saying this to be critical, but to point out a specific area that needs addressed.

This thread is a good start. It also needs to address how the suggestion of "don't heal during combat" is handled when it is made. That is, it must be made as a suggestion, not a law, and it should be made with politeness--not in a way that says: "don't do this, or you're an idiot." Or, "you're playing wrong."

So what if someone's playing in a way that's "inefficient"? It doesn't matter: it's that person's character. PFS is designed in a way for average characters, working together. It brings together a variety of playstyles, and play interests. Therefore, it cannot and should not cater to only one playstyle, but to a variety.

I'm sure that "you're playing wrong" isn't the perception anyone wants--however, given how these suggestions are phrased, that perception gets created, intended or not.

This is somewhat parallel to your point, Wraithstrike, though not entirely the same thing. I hope what I am saying makes sense--I'm aiming to be disrespectful at all, but address a more general concern. This concern should not be unfamiliar--it's one that often arises with the clash of mindsets, and has to be addressed from time to time.

Even though this thread is becoming a "how to" thread that was not the original premise. The only point of it was to clarify a position that was not true.

I would never tell someone how to play. :)

If I GM a group I and they keep getting their butts kicked I will suggest ______, but at the end of the day it is the group's characters that are on the line.

If I am a player in such a group I will build my character so as to not be victim(possibly die) of such tactics(issues).
Example:I was in a group with a rogue/monk that was not good at finding traps. I was playing a druid so I pumped my perception up really high. I would find the traps, and he would disable them. He did not like the fact that I was finding the traps that he could not, but my character should not be in danger because he chose to ignore perception. Well he did not really ignore it, but he did not make it high enough to find level appropriate traps.


Wraith, my PF druid also performs trap finding for our perception-challenged rogue, although we have a cleric whose perception is even higher than the druid. My druid also performs most of the scouting duties for similar reasons.

The whole healing issue really is a subset of a general category of gaming that is sometimes overlooked, and that category is "resource management." A dedicated combat healer will definitely contribute to the problem of the "fifteen minute day."

I play spellcasters differently than most of my gaming buddies. My spellcasters are typically quite stingy with their spellcasting. My druid typically has only cast a few low level spells when our other spellcasters start complaining about running low on spells. As a result it ends up that in our biggest fights, my druid is frequently the "big gun" for spellcasting, tossing off third and fourth level spells while our sorcerer and cleric are down to one or two high level spells left.

Liberty's Edge

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I must be playing wrong. I GM a home game, and I can't remember more than a half-dozen fights in the last year where in-combat healing wasn't necessary to keep characters alive.

Adamantine Dragon wrote:
Unfortunately too many games are run in such a way that healing in combat does become necessary in spite of the party's best efforts to avoid it.

I'd counter with the comment that if in-combat healing isn't necessary a reasonable fraction of the time, you're playing below your APL. I would certainly get bored if every fight was a pushover - and a fight where you don't ever get hurt enough to worry about death is a pushover.


I think the /intent/ is to be helpful. I think it does not always /come across/ that way, and therein lies the trouble. Does this make sense? That is, I may know that x, y, and z is the best way to do a thing--but I should not always go up to someone and say: hey, you should do it x, y, and z.

Now, this is different if they are looking for opinions. In which case--may I offer an idea?

Perhaps: "If you're concerned about being forced into a single role, why not speak with your group and spread it out? Here are some ideas for each member in your party: (discussion on mages using displacement, etc.)"

The tone here is slightly different. It doesn't say outright that "healing in combat is wrong" though it guides towards that point. Jiggy, I'm also not saying that you've never offered suggestions. I'm only providing an example of a way that it could be approached--which makes misperceptions less likely. I'm also saying that stating upfront that "x is wrong" tends to cause defenses to be thrown into place

Am I making sense? This is not to call out any one particular person--I'm not at all. I'm actually interested in fixing it. I value both "sides" and really would rather see a "coming to the table" than upset that can make playing less fun. I get the feeling that I'd enjoy being at the table with a number of you, and I'd hate to see something like this erupt.

I can understand the frustration, though. "But that way /doesn't work/!" It can be difficult to sit on the side lines, you know?

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