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I'll start this question with a bit of background first...

I've been playing in a new group as a Cleric. Our warrior was in a pretty bad state but survived the encounter. He was about to use 3 surges during our rest to heal himself to max hit points. I told him that I could use Healing Word on him and heal him to max hit points using just 1 surge (getting the maximum benefit from it because of the Restful Healing feat).

I was then told by others in the group that Healing Word is an encounter power and cannot be used outside of an encounter. This didn't make sense to me because of the way Restful Healing is described in the Players Handbook:

After you take a short rest or an extended rest, any healing power you use before the start of your next encounter restores the maximum number of hit points possible.

For example, if a 6th level cleric with Wisdom 18 and this feat uses healing word after a rest, that power allows the target to regain hit points equal to his or her surge value plus 16 (the maximum result of 2d6 + 4)

This seems pretty clear cut to me. They wouldn't use an illegal example in the manual would they?

I'd also like an answer to the more general question, are you allowed to use encounter powers outside of an encounter?

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Excellent question, and welcome to the site @DoctaJonez! –  C. Ross Sep 12 '10 at 11:33
    
Also, what book is that power in? –  C. Ross Sep 12 '10 at 17:04
    
Player's Handbook 2. –  Bryant Sep 12 '10 at 21:43
    
Thanks for the welcome Ross :-) I think I'm going to find this site very useful! –  Doctor Jones Sep 13 '10 at 18:06
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1 Answer

up vote 26 down vote accepted

You were correct -- by the book, you can absolutely use encounter powers outside an encounter. Healing powers are the most common example of this, but there are others -- for example, the bardic power Words of Friendship, which gives you a boost to Diplomacy, is almost always going to be used in non-encounter situations. As @veritascitor points out, an encounter power is just a power that can be used once every five minutes in non-stressful situations.

Bear in mind that if you use Healing Word after a short rest, which is a must for Restful Healing, you don't immediately recover it. You'd need to take another short rest to get it back. Sometimes you'll have another five minutes to spare; sometimes you won't.

Something else that might come up in this regard is the duration of powers that last until the end of the encounter. Page 278 of the Player's Handbook covers this: they last "when you take a rest (short or extended) or after 5 minutes."

Finally, if your group has a house rule that says you can't use powers outside combat, well... then they have that house rule. I'd point out the example you noted, and cite Words of Friendship, but in the end every group does have the right to come up with their own variations on the rules.

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In addition to this, I'd like to add that "encounter power" really just means a power that can be used once every five minutes, given non-stressful situations. –  Mike Riverso Sep 12 '10 at 14:54
    
Excellent point; and let me add another detail as well... –  Bryant Sep 12 '10 at 15:01
    
Thanks for the in depth answer Bryant! –  Doctor Jones Sep 13 '10 at 18:06
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