Healing Hands (Another of Curgyr's Simple Questions)


Rules Discussion


I have what should be a simple question about the Cleric Feat "Healing Hands" that, for some reason, I can't really figure out. The Healing Hands Feat says you roll d10s in place of d8s when you cast Heal. That much is easy to understand; what gets me is the 2-Action, single-target version of Heal, which reads: "The spell has a range of 30 feet. If you’re healing a living creature, increase the Hit Points restored by 8."

To me, Healing Hands should increase that 8 to a 10, but nothing explicitly states that. My understanding of the design principal is that you're essentially rolling 2d8 but one is assumed to be the max roll. This is also supported by the Heightened text which scales the +8s evenly with he additional rolled d8s. So a 2nd level Heal which rolls 2d8 does the equivalent of 4d8 if half of them rolled max. My interpretation is that it should then scale to 1d10+10, in the same way as if you'd rolled 2d10 and one had rolled its highest value. Intuitively, this is how my formula brain is breaking down the structure of the spell, but I can't find anything that states this. Do I have the wrong idea, or is it important to keep the +8 the way it is?


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

If the question is "does the +8 become +10?" the answer is no. There is only a supposition that it should, and no rule to imply it.

If the question is "was the +8 supposed to become +10?" the answer can only come from someone that was in the room when it was written. That is not me.

If the question is "Would I irreparably break the game by making the +8 into +10?" then the answer is probably also no, but you would be making an already decent feat significantly stronger, by tripling the average impact on a 2 action heal.

Horizon Hunters

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Curgyr wrote:
Intuitively, this is how my formula brain is breaking down the structure of the spell, but I can't find anything that states this. Do I have the wrong idea, or is it important to keep the +8 the way it is?

It is always in the GMs realm to make adjustments as they feel appropriate but I think this is not a place where we need to change or interpret is anything. Nothing is contradicting, vague in the wording, or open to vastly different interpretations. For the 2 action version you just add an 8 meaning the two action version is consistent whether or not you have healing hands instead of scaling with the feat. There is nothing inherently wrong with this.

We don't want to reinvent the wheel, and generally if I am assuming a formula that isn't stated in the rules I have to take a long look at what I am doing and wondering if I am complicating something needlessly.


Thank you for the quick and efficient replies.

As you've both said, I'm aware that, as a GM, I can run my table however, but I definitely wanted to see how other people look at the rule, and these two answers have been helpful! If anyone still wants to chime in with opinions, I'm game to read them, but I doubt the topic's that interesting. Anyway, it's sounding like the consensus is "don't bother, it's not unclear."

Goldryno wrote:
We don't want to reinvent the wheel, and generally if I am assuming a formula that isn't stated in the rules I have to take a long look at what I am doing and wondering if I am complicating something needlessly.

"Complicating Things Needlessly" sounds like the scathingly self-deprecating title of a comedy special about how I ruin my own life. :'D You've captured me perfectly; that's par for my course!

There's definitely nothing inherently wrong with the two action version staying the same. In this case, for me, it's a matter of liking to think in patterns and algorithms. In my mind, 1d10+10 is just more comfortable. I think it's smoother and more more natural than 1d10+8, which seems more complicated. Scaling all 8s to 10s is an increase in the order of (dice) magnitude and simple; I understand that's technically doing more work, but leaving the 8 sends up flags to my brain that I've missed something - it feels intuitive to me that the +8 is based on the d8 and not arbitrary, so I see the die size increase but not the bonus and suddenly the bonus feels more arbitrary. For some reason - maybe some degree of non-neurotypical thinking :P - that irks me. I was wondering if anyone else got that feeling.

I can definitely see how "only touch the things the Feat explicitly tells you to touch" is simpler to most people. I don't feel I'm trying to reinvent anything, though and I don't need to take a look at what I'm doing because I understand exactly why I'm making the assumptions that I'm making - it's not like I dug into deep math to chase some esoteric formula I believed govern the rule. I don't think it requires the kind of soul searching you suggested. ;) I just glanced at it and noticed a very simple pattern that didn't seem satisfied, so I just wanted to get a group consensus from other GMs and players with more typical thought processes and more experience with Paizo. :P

HammerJack wrote:
tripling the average impact of on a 2 action heal

This is a good point, and the kind of "be mindful of balance!" advice I was hoping to get. While any GM is free to do whatever feels most comfortable for themselves and their players, it's a reasonable consideration to look into game balance when tweaking numbers. (I accidentally ran Flaming Sphere as a 15ft "square" burst instead of "one 5ft square" and that was... different!) In case there was any doubt that I complicate things needlessly, I thought I'd do the math on the subject on the off chance any future PF2 players start googling this subject. I doubt it, but I'm bored and awake and felt like messing with Google Sheets:

Stats:
Turns out, the thing you're tripling is the variance from the basic spell's average. (Not variance in the stats sense.) For example, an average 1st Level RAW Healing Hands 2-Action Heal (man that's a lot to type) heals 1 HP more than base, while the homebrew version of Healing Hands heals 3 HP more. If you're instead casting at, say, 3rd Level, then the RAW heals 3 more HP than base and the homebrew heals 9 more HP. But, when you're looking at the average impact, I think you have to look at a different number:

The average healing on a 1st Level, basic Heal spell is 12. The average healing on the same spell, with RAW Healing Hands, is 13, which is 8.33% (or 1.0833 times) better than the basic. You've made the healer, on average ~8% more efficient. The average healing on the same spell, with homebrew Healing Hands, is 15, which is 25% better than a healer without the Feat (1.25 times). So, on average, 25% more efficient. To look at how much better a healer with the homebrew version of healing hands is than the RAW version, I looked at how much more, on average, a homebrew caster heals than a RAW caster. If I chose the right metric, than 15 HP is 15.38% more than 13 HP. At least, 15 is 1.1538 times greater than 13.

While the gap in actual amount of HP healed widens as spell level increases, these percents remain static. The numbers begin to look more dramatically different, but the overall impact of these differences stays about the same. At the level of 1st Level spells, an extra 2 HP is less than your average NPC Strike; at the level of 5th Level spells, the difference between homebrew and RAW feats is, on average, 10 HP (a homebrew caster heals 15 more than base and a RAW caster heals 5 more than base). A level 9 Nessian Warhound, which a 5th level caster could reasonably face, does, on average, 26 damage with its bite - so the difference is still less than a Strike you might take from an even-leveled NPC.

That's a needlessly complicated way to say:

At minimum values, RAW Healing Hands is no better than basic Heal, while homebrew is 1.2222 times (22.22%) better than both. At average values, RAW Healing Hands is 1.0833 times (8.33%) better than base, and homebrew is 1.25 times (25%) better than basic and 1.1538 times (15.38%) better than the RAW feat. Rolling at maximum values, RAW Healing Hands is 1.125 times (12.5%) better than base and homebrew is still 1.25 times (25%) better than base and only 1.1111 (11.11%) better than RAW Healing Hands.

A homebrewed Healing Hands caster heals roughly 1.25 (25%) times more across the board than the caster without the feat. It benefits from consistency - your caster is always healing better than their counterparts. A RAW Healing Hands caster is not necessarily better than their counterparts if they roll low. This evens out at higher levels, where the chance of rolling a minimum value grows lower and lower. Because the base value added to the die roll is the same as before taking the feat, the major benefit is the chance to roll higher numbers. A lucky caster can be 1.125 times better than someone without the feat or no better than. The utility your caster gets out of the feat will depend on how "lucky" they are and sort of(?) increases with level (less likely to roll all 1s as you start adding more dice!) but, on average, they should be about rolling at 1.08 times the impact of their old 2-Action Heal spells.

I haven't looked under the hood of PF2e enough to see how different version of the feats balance out against the impact of other feats. Frankly, I don't want to - that's too much, even for me! :P And I'm fully aware the bulk of people reading this thread sincerely don't care. But, if you're thinking of messing with this spell at YOUR table, there're some numbers for you to look at!

You know... If I did the numbers right. Either way, it was weirdly satisfying to poke at it. :|

TL;DR, I did some math I guess and it seems seems tweaked Healing Hands is a consistent improvement over base, but kind of high (1.25 times better than base) and RAW Healing Hands depends on how well you roll (ranging from not better at all to about 1.125 times better, with average rolls being 1.0833 times better).


I got extra bored at work while talking to one of my players about whether we should use the tweaked version of the feat or the RAW version of the feat, and, based on mutual interest, we dug deeper into the stats.

Turns out, the tweak I was curious about doesn't significantly improve the feat; RAW significantly weakens it.

No one questions how Healing Hands affects the 1 or 3 Action Heals, so I didn't look at it at first. In trying to determine how (im)balanced my proposed tweak was, we decided to. Obviously, without an additional static value added in, the minimum values between basic Heals and Healing Hands heals are the same (a 1 is a 1, no matter what die you're rolling). But, both the average value and the maximum values for Healing Hands Heals are 25% better than the basic Heals.

Heal has three options. For two of the three options, no one questions that a Cleric with Healing Hands should be 25% better than casters using basic Heal.

For this option - the 2 Action Heal we're talking about - RAW is no better than the basic heal at minimum values, 8.33% better at average values, and 12.5% better at max values. My interpretation is 22% better at minimum values which scales to 25% better with average values and stays like this up to max values.

Using my version of the feat, a Healing Hands Cleric is consistently 25% better off for having the feat. RAW, this effectiveness is halved (at best) when you try to use one third of the spell you're supposed to have improved. The only "unexpected" behavior in the interpretation I had of the feat is that the minimum value of of the 2 Action Heal is 22% better than normal, when these minimum values are otherwise no better than normal. RAW Healing Hands offers needlessly complicated, unexpected behavior that is not only unstable but worse than a player should expect.

Of the two, I think a more powerful cast of the 2 Action Heal on low rolls is fitting with the (assumed) design principle that the 2 Action heal is a direct improvement on the 1 Action heal (single target vs. vastly improved single target) makes much more sense than an inconsistent option that - if intentional - seems designed only to close the gap between the 1 Action and 2 Action Heals (while still leaving the 2 Action Heal the clearly better option for single target Heals, if you can afford the action economy). So my table will be using my interpretation. Obviously, anyone who reads this is free to do whatever they wish.

If anyone cares about the numbers, here's the spreadsheet I used. I tried to make it pretty. :P


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Look at it this way. Increasing a die size adds 1 point on average to the roll.
As is:
1 action heal gets 1 more point on average,
2 action heal gets 1 more point on average,
3 action heal gets 1 more point on average.

Your version:
1 action heal gets 1 more point on average,
2 action heal gets 3 more points on average,
3 action heal gets 1 more point on average.

I hate to say you overthought it buuuuuuuuuut


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theservantsllcleanitup wrote:

Look at it this way. Increasing a die size adds 1 point on average to the roll.

As is:
1 action heal gets 1 more point on average,
2 action heal gets 1 more point on average,
3 action heal gets 1 more point on average.

Your version:
1 action heal gets 1 more point on average,
2 action heal gets 3 more points on average,
3 action heal gets 1 more point on average.

I hate to say you overthought it buuuuuuuuuut

Ohhh, good point! RAW Healing Hands on average increases the amount of healing by the spell level across all uses (or twice the spell level, if you're lucky). That's pretty consistent

I was looking at how many "times more effective" using Healing Hands was compared to not using it. My way is definitely overthinking it! :'D

That said... Given I'm the kind of person who likes to over-complicate things, I like consistent percent-based improvement from base more than a consistent "this more HP healed." The 2 action version is supposed to be a stronger healer, and I don't ensuring it's as much stronger than base as the rest of the uses. I'll probably still go with my version, since I personally find it more satisfying, but you've definitely solved my question as to whether Healing Hands is working as intended or needs tweaking.

Thanks! Loved the answer. :)


My pleasure! I would also add that personally, I think even with d10+8, that 9 point minimum is always going to feel soooo much better than a flat d10. The difference in the minimum between 1 or 3 action and 2 is what makes the 2 action feel so great, and making it 11 instead of 9 is just guilding the lily. But you do you. :)

Silver Crusade

I'm hoping that this is an oversight and that the extra damage healed for a 2-action cast should equal the max of the die used.


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Prethen wrote:
I'm hoping that this is an oversight and that the extra damage healed for a 2-action cast should equal the max of the die used.

Why should the feat be 3 times as effective for the 2 action version as it is for the 1 and 3 actions versions?


theservantsllcleanitup wrote:
Prethen wrote:
I'm hoping that this is an oversight and that the extra damage healed for a 2-action cast should equal the max of the die used.
Why should the feat be 3 times as effective for the 2 action version as it is for the 1 and 3 actions versions?

Now, I'm entirely unconvinced as to what the intent of the feat should be - I like my version for the reasons listed and I can see why the RAW version is the way it is because of the consistency you pointed out in your earlier post (and also the point you made about the higher minimum still incentivizing 2 action heal!) - but, for the sake of answering your question?

1) So that, like the 1 and 3 action versions, the 2 action version can be 25% better than the basic feat, instead of ~10% better than using the basic feat.

2) To keep the numbers in line with each-other in a way that satisfies people who see a pattern (that, yes, doesn't necessarily govern the feat). :P

If you look at the feat as "this feat more or less increases your healing by the level of the heal spell cast", then there's no reason to change it at all. That keeps it in line with something like Toughness (though Toughness is explicitly worded that way). If instead you look at the feat as "this improves your healing by x%", it needs changed. Now, I agree that the first way of looking at it is probably correct, but with no way to really know what the specific intent of the feat was at design, I guess do what you want? :P Anyway, those are the reasons you might want to make that change, if you were inclined to feel the change should be made.


theservantsllcleanitup wrote:
Prethen wrote:
I'm hoping that this is an oversight and that the extra damage healed for a 2-action cast should equal the max of the die used.
Why should the feat be 3 times as effective for the 2 action version as it is for the 1 and 3 actions versions?

Symetery it's nice that it's d8+8 and it's would be nicer if it was d10+10 than 8. Silly I know but it would feel right.


siegfriedliner wrote:
theservantsllcleanitup wrote:
Prethen wrote:
I'm hoping that this is an oversight and that the extra damage healed for a 2-action cast should equal the max of the die used.
Why should the feat be 3 times as effective for the 2 action version as it is for the 1 and 3 actions versions?
Symetery it's nice that it's d8+8 and it's would be nicer if it was d10+10 than 8. Silly I know but it would feel right.

Exactly. :'D

It's balanced (in a different way) and it's extremely satisfying in a way that RAW just... isn't. RAW makes my brain itchy. Even in light of Servant's posts (is that the correct diminutive there? sorry if it isn't), my group all agreed to 1d10+10 for that very reason!

Also, an edit to my previous post: it should be 25% better than the basic spell (in line with the rest of the feat's improvement over basic Heal), not 25% better than the basic feat.


I have to say that before this thread I've never ran into someone that had an issue with heal's numbers or that they felt wrong. I've also never heard anyone complain that Soothe heals 1d10+4. The bonus is just a number to get the average healed to the right place, it's not there for symmetry. I think healing 2 more damage with the 2 action heal would make more "itchy" brains than leaving it as is.


graystone wrote:
I have to say that before this thread I've never ran into someone that had an issue with heal's numbers or that they felt wrong. I've also never heard anyone complain that Soothe heals 1d10+4. The bonus is just a number to get the average healed to the right place, it's not there for symmetry. I think healing 2 more damage with the 2 action heal would make more "itchy" brains than leaving it as is.

Which is why your table is free to leave it as is! It's pretty plainly RAW and if it doesn't feel broke to you, don't fix it. Multiple people at my table definitely got weirded out by it, and it seems a person or two here feels the same way.

My opinion? I think Soothe is fine because it doesn't appear to follow any purpose other than rounding out the average, whereas Heal creates the appearance (whether true or not) of adding in another die's worth of healing. It's not that it's there for symmetry, it's that the symmetry creates the illusion of a specific and non-arbitrary purpose to the +8 (a d8 plus another 8!); when that's how it appears to you, even if everything is working the way it's supposed to (average heal goes up by spell level), it can look wrong when the symmetry goes away.

Said another way, it can look like it's an issue of order of magnitude rather than arbitrary bonus to get the average in the right spot. When you start seeing all the numbers as on the magnitude of a d8, like my table does, even if we're wrong, it feels a bit uncomfortable when the spell doesn't jump a full order of magnitude up to the d10 bracket. Like you're missing something. Like something isn't working as intended. It doesn't seem right to me and it doesn't seem right to my cleric and the other players agree that something seems off with it. Even if it isn't off, my table doesn't like it, so we changed it. And overly complicated math says it's balanced, just in a different way, so we kept it. Now my cleric is 25% better than before, rather than spell-level-HP better than before, and we're happy with that.


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Curgyr wrote:
Said another way, it can look like it's an issue of order of magnitude rather than arbitrary bonus to get the average in the right spot.

You can stop there: I don't think you'll ever say something for it to make sense to me. To me It's like saying 'I like all the words in a sentence to start with T so I just switched out some words it make to fit that'... I'm sure it makes sense to you, but you might as well tell me it's based off tea leaf reading and astrology.

Curgyr wrote:
overly complicated math

Say what now? We aren't talking about Non-Euclidean geometry here: it's something you learn in year 6 [middle school] so it's not rocket surgery.


graystone wrote:
Curgyr wrote:
overly complicated math
Say what now? We aren't talking about Non-Euclidean geometry here: it's something you learn in year 6 [middle school] so it's not rocket surgery.

Sorry! I was referencing my own more-complicated-than-necessary math, not yours. Not that basic percentages are that complicated, either, but they're more unnecessarily involved than how the feat actually works.

What it boils down to is:

If you think the feat should provide a scaling static bonus to the average amount healed, RAW is good.

If you think the feat should flatly make you a 25% better healer, you need to tweak it.

If you think the +8 is just an arbitrary number and only coincidentally related to Heal's d8 dice size, you have no opinion about the effect of the feat, and tampering with things seems unnecessary to you, RAW is both simpler and easier.

If you think either is reasonable in terms of balance, but you think the whole thing makes more sense when heal is based around the d8 die size (d8+8) and the feat should then be based around the d10 die size (d10+10), rather than the bonus being just a number, then tweaking it satisfies your sense of internal consistency, even if it's unnecessary.

As long as you're not playing Pathfinder Society, the answer legitimately doesn't matter. Both work, and both satisfy different kinds of players. The method that satisfies me and my table is admittedly more complicated - it uses more involved math to justify its balance and clearly is harder to explain to people that don't already see it like. Calling it "overly complicated math" is admitting that the people above accusing me of doing far more than necessary to satisfy a perceived pattern are probably right. :P

The point is, it's much less baseless than liking all words in a sentence to start with T, but clearly that's not how you see the numbers and that's totally fine. Looking at it my way annoys you. Looking at it your way annoys me. It's like that stupid blue and black / white and gold dress all over again! God, I hated that thing. I can usually see the options in those perspective illusions but I swear that thing way just black and blue! Anyway, you don't need to see it any other way. Like I said, if you're not doing organized play where strict RAW matters, neither option is breaking the game, so both are fine. I'm just trying to explain why some people might see it a different way. I'm not trying to get you to see it that way - far be it from me to needlessly complicated your life any! - but rather point out that there's a certain consistency and explicable expectation fueling the other viewpoint.

Also, again, apologies for the miscommunication about my disparaging certain maths.


Curgyr wrote:
Also, again, apologies for the miscommunication about my disparaging certain maths.

I didn't think it disparaging: I just couldn't see the "complicated". For me, pattern repetition/recognition isn't a math issue [unless we're talking about heuristics] but a perception one and perception and POV is is based on the individual.

Curgyr wrote:
As long as you're not playing Pathfinder Society, the answer legitimately doesn't matter.

Tables other than PFS use the rules as written without using houserules.

Curgyr wrote:
Looking at it my way annoys you.

Not so: I'm not annoyed by your way, I just don't understand it. I personally don't understand the desire to match bonuses to die in one particular spell [heal] and not another [soothe]. I'm confused, not annoyed. It's like trying to explain the color purple to me [I'm color blind]: I know that the color exists, I just have no context to understand and contextualize it.


graystone wrote:
I didn't think it disparaging: I just couldn't see the "complicated". For me, pattern repetition/recognition isn't a math issue [unless we're talking about heuristics] but a perception one and perception and POV is is based on the individual.

The complicated wasn't the underlying principle of the idea, either, it was the math I did to see if it was balanced or not. :P Listing the average increase is so much easier than finding the average values and then figuring out percents and listing them all out on an obnoxiously large spreadsheet. The issue itself is perception and POV; the stats I did to poke at it was where I went overboard. ;)

graystone wrote:
Tables other than PFS use the rules as written without using houserules.

Right, exactly! But, to my knowledge, only PFS are bound by using RAW. Unless their GMs can houserule? I didn't think so. There are all kinds of tables that are strict about RAW, but that's a choice. When I said it legitimately doesn't matter, I meant that no one's going to kick down your door and tell you that the balanced-but-not-RAW way you're playing is invalid. :'D

I think if you houserule using PFS, someone will tell you it's wrong?

graystone wrote:
Not so: I'm not annoyed by your way, I just don't understand it. I personally don't understand the desire to match bonuses to die in one particular spell [heal] and not another [soothe]. I'm confused, not annoyed. It's like trying to explain the color purple to me [I'm color blind]: I know that the color exists, I just have no context to understand and contextualize it.

Annoyed was an affectation stacked on the idea of mental discomfort with the order of things. Something related to "itchy brains" - the idea that what you're looking at is somehow wrong. It was clearly the wrong word. :P

The issue is that, in Heal, the bonus and the die already match; in Soothe, they don't. That's literally it. It's a matter of perspective if that means anything to you.

One thing I noticed is that most bonuses seem to come from somewhere. Spells especially don't usually have bonuses in their effects, unless it specifically lists the source (usually your spellcasting modifier). Pathfinder has conditioned me that bonuses come from somewhere: an ability, a skill, an item, a buff of some kind. The easiest "source" for Heal's bonus is the die size being rolled, since it conforms easily. Interestingly enough, the only spells that list sourceless bonuses are Heal, Soothe, Goodberry, Nature's Bounty, and spells which change your form or make you some kind of avatar/mainifestation/incarnation. The latter group makes sense, because all your underlying stats are getting screwy and odd. I have no drive to look closely at why you get a +12 to attacks when you turn into a phoenix or something. I'm assuming it's tangentially based on the creature you're turning into. Which means it's just healing spells that like to throw random numbers at you, and Heal's is the only one that "matches up" like that. You can look at Heal and say "ah, yes, this bonus comes from the die size." The rest seem entirely arbitrary. It's odd to me now that the bonuses are included and don't explicitly come from somewhere, but I'm not motivated to tamper with any of them because they look like they come from nowhere.

Now I kind of want to know where they come from, though, if they do at all... :P

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