Playing without a healer (dedicate or otherwise)

Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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My friends and I alternate between two campaigns; Strange Aeons of which I'm the GM and a homebrew (Galorianish) campaign run by one of the other players. This way we GMs both get to be players.

As is his prerogative homebrew GM made a number of changes such as banning all traits, banning all occult classes, limiting the number of knowledge skills a player could have but most importantly accelerating healing to remove the need for someone to play a healer. I understand his motivations for making the changes to healing as he didn't want anyone to feel they had to fill a specific role.

The problem is that people have carried this attitude over into my game where I'm a bit more traditional. When I suggested that they might find things a bit of a challenge the response (from homebrew GM) was that I should provide the party with healing items and change things accordingly e.g. let the players fully heal in a few hours without magic etc.

Part of my reason for choosing an AP was that it's less work for me so I don't want to have to rework sections of the campaign also part of me takes umbrage at having a player try to dictate the running of things particularly after I've put up with irksome rulings made on the bases of 'the GM says so'.

Is it unfair of me to not change the campaign to make up for the lack of healer?

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The short answer is no. The long answer is no.

jk on the long answer, but more seriously it's your campaign. I totally understand where you're coming from trying to run an AP because you don't want to spend too much time revamping the system. The biggest argument against accelerated healing for me, is the reduced stakes. If players heal up completely after each combat (or every hour or what not), it reduces the amount of pressure the AP is expecting to apply to the players.

Most APs are already somewhat easy (*read: not Giantslayer*) as they have to appeal to the lowest common denominator of player. That being said some APs would be more affected than others - Kingmaker can run for days without a fight sometimes, so it might not even be an issue there.

In the end it's your decision, all we can do here is guide you

Dark Archive

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Of course not. This is your world, and they get to swim in it. That's great that the other guy wants to walk the road less traveled, but your module is your module.

"Dude, thanks for meeting me before the game. Hey, you look pumped, are you working out more? Sweet.

Anyway, I just wanted to address your thing about getting more healing items. That's super-fantastic that in -your- game you're all about no one needing to play a healer, and I'm totally excited to see how it plays out more, but I'm really committed to taking more a traditional role, and I think that, for me, this will all work out for the best.

So, ya, I know you feel put upon thinking that someone needs to play a healer of some sort, but I think that it's the right thing for my game and I am so grateful for you guys for understanding!"

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You can certainly play without a "healer".
I ran Legacy of Fire with Monk, Wizard, Paladin, Ranger; and Council of Thieves with Bard, Gunslinger, Paladin, Fighter. (Current game of Kingmaker technically has an Oracle, even though they spend more time bashing than anything else, I'm not including them because they do heal when necessary.)

We bought a ton of potions and wands of CLW and healed after combat. Save higher level potions for combat emergencies, have the arcane casters focus a bit more on crowd control, have the fighter or whatever go into maneuvers. It works fine, as long as they have access to a market to buy the items needed. You don't have to hand them out as freebies - a discount at level one, maybe, or replacing some existent loot with potions if there's no market, but not free. A lot of early game APs don't really have a time limit going on yet, so if they have to take three days to rest and wait for the potion seller to make more stock, then they have to.

(Fun fact- in that LoF campaign the Wizard used more CLW wands on the party than either class with it on their spell list.)

Say you're not going to give free healing or rapid healing between fights. If the party wants to heal they can buy it or provide it. The party can still do fine without it. I have a lv12 character doing an arc of a game and the party's main source of healing is someone(s) UMDing the CLW wand. If we get any status ailments we're hosed and would need to find a caster to pay for it's removal.

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Give the group a single wand of Cure Light Wounds early and tell them they need to deal with the rest of it.

You will want to provide some access to spell casting services, and one of them will want some access to status removal spells. They could get some of that from a witch or Skald.

It is good to have different campaigns going, gives each GM time off. You just need to establish what the differences are. Talk with the other GM first and get them on your side -- that each campaign has it's own set of rules. After all, they probably wouldn't want to blanket accept any house rules you may decide on.

After you have done that, go to the group and explain it.

Liberty's Edge

Having played a semi heal-bot, in my opinion, it's no fun, so I'm all for finding options for playing without one. My group does potions and CLW wands. It's a little more expensive, but then no single player has to use up their whole spell list on healing spells. Another view is if it's dead, it can't deal damage that needs to be healed, so focus on quick kills. Members of my group have talked about a past game where they hired an NPC oracle healbot to follow them around and patch them up. And then there are some people who can create an interesting character who is also able to keep up with the party patching up. Whatever solution your group comes up with, it's a solution you and the rest of the group should come up with together and a solution that anyone who has to put in extra effort for should feel ok with, including you.

On another note, I've noticed that some people who have GMed previously feel some kind of authority or responsibility for the group and, without even realizing it, can seem very firm or demanding when they suggest something. I think it's important to understand that it's not intentional, usually, and that it stems from a previous, or current, responsibility to make sure things run smoothly. I don't know if this is happening with the other game master you're playing with or what the best solution is, but it might be good to be clear with them that you know what kind of game you want to run and ask them to help the group find solutions that fit within that game.

Give them access to purchase items, drop them a wand of clw in a combat. You don't need to do much more. Shouldn't force anyone to be a healer, but you should accommodate a party without a healer within the boundaries of the rules.

A lot depends on the way you define "healer". Are you talking "dedicated, healing-focused character", or just "someone who can somehow provide healing and status recovery"? In many cases, all a party really needs to do is allocate loot as if the party had one extra member, using those funds to buy things any of them might need (Wand of CLW/Lesser Restoration, and a few scrolls or potions for less-common ailments). Ideally, someone will either be good at UMD or have the appropriate spell on their list even if they don't memorize/learn it, but it's usually not too hard to get the healing the group needs.

If you have someone with the UMD skill to cast CLW via a wand, and you carry around some poitions to pour down the throats of unconscious people, you have a healer, at least as far as HP is concerned.

The bigger issue is how are you going to deal with curses, poison, disease, and negative levels. If those things don't come up, great, but insofar as they do, just make sure that there's something available to the players to help deal with it.

If they wanna buy wands of CLW, then let them. Other than that dont change your game.

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Make the adventure fit the party. Challenge them sure, but give them chance to succeed. It isn't your responsibility to patch them. But it is your responsibility to allow the, to gather the resources to patch themselves up.

We often don't take a full caster healer, but rely on a bard, witch, paladin or ranger to use the wands successfully at early levels. Had a lot of fun playing a skald who patched people up as best we can.

Just out of interest healing after a long rest is a nice compromise or allow people to spend their HD in healing on a rest to get a bit of Hp back. It's stolen from 5th ed but it stops players waving CLW wands like conductors batons.

That is totally your call though. In our group the DM makes a pitch, and the players take it or leave it. We always take the restrictions because necessity is the mother of invention. Plus our other DM is awesome. He made us do Carion Crown without clerics or Paladins etc. That put a whole new spin on things!

You're not even being harsh, you just want play by the rules of healing!

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

The party decided not to have a healer. They can live with those consequences. Or not. And then roll up a healer for their replacement character. Or not. And then get to enjoy playing lots of different characters.

But lots of classes can use CLW wands: bard, cleric, druid, hunter, inquisitor, oracle, paladin, ranger, shaman, skald, warpriest, and witch. Plus a bunch can learn to UMD.

Shadow Lodge

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Decimus Drake wrote:
Is it unfair of me to not change the campaign to make up for the lack of healer?

Nope. It's the players choice, so they'll need to adjust tactics to compensate. Expect the game to become very rocket-tag.

I haven't actually seen a Strange Aeons PbP yet to get a feel for how much healing AND bad status removal is needed, although from the product blurbs I suspect that a considerable amount of heavy-duty bad status removal may be needed, so it might not be the easiest AP in which to go without a healer.

But +1 on possibilities posted above for doing the healing without a dedicated healer. If this is distributed among party members, even if the party has have a harder time in the short term, they may be glad for it in the long term, because this means that the party won't have a single point of failure, which will be especially welcome in an AP in which -- even if it isn't technically the deadliest -- 1 PC might go just plain nuts.

@Decimus Drake: Any idea yet of the party composition in the campaign you are the GM for?

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Our party includes a cleric of Groetus, which is as close to not having a healer as you can get without not having a cleric at all. We have a lot of wands of CLW, and a Wand of Lesser Restoration. If we need something bigger, she either prepares it the next day, or we find another solution.

We've survived this long (L7) without having significant in-combat healing, and without our GM seeding the game with healing items. So can your group. All they have to do is pay for the things they need.

I'm playing RoW without a healer, and even though I had to adjust my character (Time Witch) to include some healing-oriented options and low levels were kinda harsh (our healing wand earned a possition as an aditional party member) we've been to level 14 and the only character deaths we had couldn't have been avoided by a dedicated healer.
I also played CoCT with two bards, a ninja and a fighter and we made an amazing group.
I often feel more comfortable in a group without a dedicated healer as long as there are some characters who can provide some healing or status removal, even if it's through UMD. Dedicated healers can lack a wider range of options.

The campaign is already in progress I was just feeling a little guilty.
They've got themselves a CLW wand and I gave the dhampir a custom item to allow him access to magical healing. I'm less concerned about HP healing (especially since coaxing the kineticist away from fire and towards aether) but negative status effect removal could be an issue.

The party consists of a bounty hunter (slayer archetype), mindblade, psychokineticist, summoner and a secret seeker inquisitor of Pharasma (oblivion domain). With luck the inquisitor's meagre spell casting will be sufficient. I haven't yet adjusted any of the encounters for a larger group as I wanted to get a sense of the AP fist. Two sessions in and all bar one player has been knocked out at some point with the dhampir almost being killed by the summoner using the wand.

I don't demand that all groups have a single dedicated healer, as
UnArcaneElection mentioned this creates single point of failure. I think the biggest threat to the party is starting a campaign at level 1; in the past all campaigns we've played have started at level 5 or higher so players aren't used to being so vulnerable and tend to throw caution to the wind.

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

Don't thumb your nose at the Heal skill.

In a Carrion Crown game I'm in, my good-aligned necromancer (who hates the undead) is a physician in his day-job. For that character, I took the Trait Caretaker (giving Heal as a class skill), the Feat Skill Focus: Heal, and maxed out the Heal skill. At L4, he's got a +15 on his Heal check, and with a Healer's Kit and surgeon's tools, that goes up to +18... meaning that he can pretty much always make the DC 20 for Treat Deadly Wounds. He acts as the party's secondary healer.

Decimus Drake wrote:
With luck the inquisitor's meagre spell casting will be sufficient.

The Inquisitor spell list contains most of the major status removal spells. A few scrolls should be enough to cover it.

Haladir wrote:

Don't thumb your nose at the Heal skill.

In a Carrion Crown game I'm in, my good-aligned necromancer (who hates the undead) is a physician in his day-job. For that character, I took the Trait Caretaker (giving Heal as a class skill), the Feat Skill Focus: Heal, and maxed out the Heal skill. At L4, he's got a +15 on his Heal check, and with a Healer's Kit and surgeon's tools, that goes up to +18... meaning that he can pretty much always make the DC 20 for Treat Deadly Wounds. He acts as the party's secondary healer.

That can help, but do note that Treat Deadly Wounds only works once per character (per day).

But yeah, adding your Wis Modifier too can be nice.

Liberty's Edge

As others have said, they can buy wands. Most casters either have cure light wounds or infernal healing on their lists. As long as you adopt the PFS-ruling of infernal healing (doesn't turn you evil) I think there should be plenty of people who can wand their HP up between fights.

For the game I play in, we've had the worst luck with clerics. We don't have one now (just reaching 11th level), and probably won't ever get one again. Or not for long.

What we do have is a bard who focused on maxing out UMD. (Cha-based caster, class skill, & max ranks; he even threw in a feat for good measure.) And who burned a couple of spell selections on Cure Light & Break Enchantment. And we have several players (not just him) who agreed to put money into a couple of wands. So far, it's been working just fine.

We do have a healer, is the point, because a player generously agreed to multi-purpose his character and the party chipped in. It pretty much takes a character who's Cha-based, though, and ideally who gets UMD as a class skill. Do you have anyone like that so you could talk with the player about a semi-focus on healing? "You can have fun during the fight and heal afterwards."

just make sure there's a cleric high enough to have the spells they need at a temple nearby that they can go to to buy spellcasting from.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

In a 3.5 campaign, my druid was the only healer. I ended up taking Craft Wands to make CLW wands. It was a weird campaign, where we had cash and a little bit of time, but the bad guys had kind of taken over the world, so we didn't have access to Magick Shoppes. The party was a khopesh and board fighter face, an arcane trickster with some fighter levels, my druid archer, and an occasional DMPC eldritch knight who was sloppy with her AoEs and/or a guest PC eldritch knight newbie/wannabe power gamer.

bitter lily wrote:
Do you have anyone like that so you could talk with the player about a semi-focus on healing? "You can have fun during the fight and heal afterwards."

Depending on the group, it could be more than one character, so they would be able to divide the healing/ status removal options among more PCs so there's not just one healer.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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In a recent 5th Edition campaign, I played the cleric healer guy. I also did a lot of support stuff and was a decent tank. But on more than one occasion, the ranger had to heal me above 0 hit points, and then I was able to heal the rest of the group above 0 hit points. So it's really a good idea to have a back up healer to heal the main healer when monsters stop being polite, and start being real lethal to the healer. Also, we started out as a group of 5, and I was able to keep everyone pretty healthy for the most part. But once we got a 6th player (and a barbarian at that!), keeping everyone healed up was a struggle.

It's not a bad idea to have a backup healer, or having the healing options divided among two or more characters, but a plain potion is enough to put the healer above zero hp. In my group, non spellcasters always carry a couple of potions so they can give it to a fallen healer. It has saved our life more than once.

Just through items alone you could have one guy "effectively" become the healer, or just have everybody pick up the items.

Wand of Lesser Vigor (750gp; Spell Compendium,p.229): These were the most efficient healing wands during D&D 3.5. You got 11 hp per pop (though it took a full minute to gain that 11 hp), and you got a total of 550hp of healing for your 750gp.

Wand of Infernal Healing (2,500 gp): This would probably be the Pathfinder equivalent of the Wand of Lesser Vigor now.

Healing Belt (750gp, Magic Item Compendium, p.110):
Gain a +2 competence bonus on Heal checks. This is a continuous effect and requires no activation. In addition, the belt has 3 charges, which are renewed each day at dawn. Spending 1 or more charges allows you to channel positive energy and heal damage with a touch. (You can also use this ability to harm undead, dealing them an equivalent amount of damage instead.)
1 charge: Heals 2d8 points of damage.
2 charges: Heals 3d8 points of damage.
3 charges: Heals 4d8 points of damage.

This is a great way to keep everyone alive at low levels.

Amulet of Retributive Healing (2000 gp; Magic Item Compendium, p.69): This handy little doodad lets you double up on your healing 3 times per day. When activated (as a swift action) this amulet allows you to cure yourself of an equal amount of damage based on how much you cured your buddy. So, if you cast Heal on your ally, you can activate this item to use a free quickened Heal on yourself. Works with scrolls and everything, too.

First Aid Gloves (4,500 gp; Pathfinder Society Primer, p.24):
10 sapphires which have to be permanently spent for various spells at CL 9. Breath of life (5), cure critical wounds (4), cure light wounds (1), cure moderate wounds (2), cure serious wounds (3), and mass cure light wounds (5)

Boots of the Earth (5,000 gp; Inner Sea Gods, p.261)
Gain fast healing 1 and a +4 bonus to CMD to resist bull rush, reposition, and trip combat maneuver attempts as a move action. These effects end if the wearer moves or is moved, knocked prone, or rendered unconscious. Have your party pool money at the low levels and have a cheap way to recover HP between battles - just switch boots between members. However, you have to be standing on earth for these to work and you have to stand still for you to get the healing. But it's cheap out-of-combat healing.

Cracked Pearly White Spindle Ioun Stone (3,400 gp; Seekers of Secrets)
Regenerate 1 hit point of damage per hour. Not the fastest way to get back your hit points, but it's regeneration which means you still stay alive as long as the stone isn't removed.

Deathlurker's Cloak (2,700 gp; Gods and Magic, p.56)
1/day use Doom. If worshipping Groetus use False Life 1/day. Coup de grace creature with as many or more Hit Dice than you while False Life is active and increase temporary hit points by 1 point/Hit Die of creature slain. Meet the following prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, death knell, doom, false life and spend 500 gp + 1 day's work to re-tune it to another patron or remove the patron requirement entirely.

Holy Mask of the Living God (2,100 gp; Gods and Magic, p.57)
If worshipping Razmir gain +2 competence bonus on Heal and Intimidate checks; cause fear and cure light wounds 1/day. Meet the following prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, cause fear, shadow conjuration, 5 ranks in Heal and Intimidate and spend 500 gp + 1 day's work to re-tune it to another patron or remove the patron requirement entirely.

Pallid Crystal (3,300 gp; Gods and Magic, p.59)
Death knell 1/day; can eat spoiled food and liquid. If you have Profession (cook) you can give food salt, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, or pepper flavor (fear's breath, nightfog, bloodroot, thileu bark, or hatefinger for Undead respectively). All cure and inflict spells heal you but you must worship Urgathoa. Meet the following requirements: Craft Wondrous Item, cure light wounds, death knell, inflict light wounds, purify food and drink and spend 500 gp +1 day's work to re-tune it to another patron or remove the patron requirement entirely.

Shawl of Life-Keeping (1,000 gp; Advanced Race Guide, p.178)
1/day transfer up to 10 hp into the shawl for 24 hours. If your character drops -1 hp the shawl immediately releases all hp stored inside it. The shawl creates a connection to the creature whose life energy is stored inside it, which results in the creature taking a -2 penalty on Fortitude and Reflex saving throws against all effects from whomever is currently bearing the shawl. If you can coerce or otherwise manipulate a creature into speaking the shawl's command word, you can not only suck the hp out of other creatures to heal yourself later, but also effectively make them less resilient to your spells.

Silver Spindle Ioun Stone (24,000 gp; Pathfinder Society Primer, p.22)
Use a 1st-level spell from the cleric, druid or sorcerer/wizard list as a spell-like ability 3 times per day, as long as you have CHA 11+. A useful way to get a hold of spells that you otherwise couldn't cast.

Vril Staff (200,000 gp, Occult Adventures, p.255)
Mage Hand, Telekinesis and Repulsion are good utility spells. Cure Light Wounds and Cure Moderate Wounds are good for healing. What really makes this an arcane healing staff is its ability to release a ray of Vril energy. By sacrificing 1 charge and an unused spell slot of 1st level or higher, the wielder can heal (or deal damage) as a ranged touch attack (30 ft.) 1d6 / level of spell sacrificed + 1 point per caster level. The staff can be recharged normally. Unfortunately, as written, you have to attempt a Use Magic Device check to use any ability.

You have a level 11 summoner. Check out this: Spells Your Summoned Monsters Can Cast.
Lots of summons have healing and status removal.

The Staff of Healing is also quite useful, with a DC 20 UMD. If a caster has any of the spells on his list, they can refill the staff. [The Inquisitor looks likely.]


Cevah wrote:
The Staff of Healing is also quite useful, with a DC 20 UMD. If a caster has any of the spells on his list, they can refill the staff. [The Inquisitor looks likely.]

Once they get to being able to cast 3rd-level spells, and happen to have a third-level slot they're willing to dedicate at the beginning of the day. The party might well decide they're better off selling it for mucho bucks long before and splitting the proceeds.

No, I won't get started on staves.

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