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I have been running a campaign for a while now, close to 2 years, and I have a bit of a problem with the healing systems. I plan on using variant rules for the upcoming campaign. (I think it would be annoying to implement those rules now, more than halfway through the campaign.)

My problem is that I think the healing is way too much, especially since you expend no resources. So I plan on using Slowed Natural Healing for long rests from the DMG, page 267.

Characters don't regain hit points at the end of a long rest. Instead, a character can spend Hit Dice to heal at the end of a long rest, just as with a short rest.

And maybe giving a benefit for using healing kits.

It's what to do for the short rests, that I'm having trouble figuring out. There is Healer's Kit Dependency, from page 266 of the DMG.

A character can't spend any Hit Dice after finishing a short rest until someone expends one use of a healer's kit to bandage and treat the character's wounds.

But I think it is a bit too harsh. So my idea is adding

Otherwise, the character regains hit points equal their level, or 10, whichever is lower.

I'm not really sure of the part I added. Because I think they should heal a bit on short rests, but I don't know if it is too much, or too little.

I like the rule because it would really encourage people getting Healer's Kits, which I think is important. Because most people aren't Wolverine, whose wounds heal at an extremely rapid rate, without any treatment. Which is what I feel like healing in 5e is. Example, you get repeatedly stabbed in the chest by a dagger, bringing you down to 1 HP, you fight the assassin off. Then you sit down for an hour, or go to sleep, and then you are completely fine. The wound does not matter, it does not impede you at all. Some players RP accordingly, but most of the time, there is no mechanical disadvantage to being heavily wounded, and currently healing. Which seems like complete BS to me. If you don't care about your D&D game being "realistic", that's completely fine, but I want to at least make it believable. That may sound weird, I mean, there is magic and dragons. But that's just how I like to DM. Besides, I also feel like it's a good challenge.

I would also change the bard's Song Of Rest, to add to when a player heals on a short rest, even if they don't roll roll hit dice. I would also allow using Herbalism to create healing salves, that help on both short and long rests. ​I think that may help lessen the blow of having to use Healer's Kits, in order to use Hit Dice on short rests.

Is this a good way of doing it? Is it balanced?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Wibbs, Thomas Jacobs, KorvinStarmast, Rubiksmoose, Miniman Jan 14 '18 at 20:31

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Not being a discussion site, requests for ideas are off topic. I've edited the question to just focus on whether the additional change is balanced. Cheers! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jan 14 '18 at 18:30
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Personally, I think your idea is balanced. That 10 base healing for higher level characters might be a bit low but it's okay. I think you could be more forgiving or adding a bonus to healing during a long rest, as it's not the same quickly patching a wound before going to combat to actually having a couple of hours to fully clean, and treat the wounds. Maybe let then heal up to two hit dices instead of one, and regain expended hit dices if they get the full sleep cycle. In the end the balance it's not really about how much total hp they heal in the night, but how much damage you plan to do to them during the day. If they heal a bit of hp but can cruise through the encounters, the game will be roughly the same as if they fully heal at night. Instead if each encounter is life-risking, and most of the win are phyrrics, healing low hp at night will get them killed very fastly, and even if they fully heal with a long rest, getting to said rest can be near impossible (night encounters, having to fight for several days in a row where camping isn't safe, time-sensitive plot lines, crippling the characters with poison/ hard to heal wounds). Our campaign is one such as the last example, and it's one of the hardest campaigns I have played.

Additionally, I want to point out that we mostly use the normal sleep rule, and we don't have much problem with it, nor we think it's overpowered. This is due how we roleplay. For example, taking a dagger hit for 1d4 doesn't mean to be literally stabbed by a dagger. For us, it means that parrying/defending from the attack took 1d4 "fatigue" points. Additionally, if someone gets a serious wound (from something like taking a critical hit, or roleplaying events), they are incapacitated until they can get their wound healed up, and rest for a reasonable amount of time. Finally, after severe encounters, we take up to a week of rest and clerical healing to get ready to continue adventuring, and fighting during those days means a severe disadvantage.

Lastly, remember that the rule 0 of the game is that you make the rules, there is nothing wrong in telling the fighter that took a critical sneak attack to the kidney that he will have a disadvantage in str/cons roll for a day while his cleric finishes healing the damage. While the players won't probably like changes like these at this point of the campaign, you could try talking with them about implementing a wounds system, but in return, you will be slightly more forgiving with the encounters while you guys balance it out. Most reasonable players won't have issues with changes if properly discussed, and in the end, things are roughly as hard/fun as they were before the changes. Don't try to make the game mechanically harder for them, but try to make it more realistic.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for your answer. First I should say I am not trying to kill my PCs, nor am I trying to force them to get a cleric, my campaign is actually not that combat heavy. A wound chart, and a bonus to long rest healing, those are good ideas. Being able to use Medicine checks to heal more could be something as well. Again, your suggestions are great, thank you. \$\endgroup\$ – Cinclus Jan 14 '18 at 18:36
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Frame challenge: hit points aren't "how much blood left before you pass out" and resting variants accomplish something other than what you may think.

Hit points, especially in the case of PCs, represent "a combination of physical and mental durability, the will to live, and luck." (PH chapter 9) The reduction of hit points, therefore, doesn't mean that the creature is wounded, it just means that the creature is a step closer to being incapable of fighting. This could mean they expended a significant amount of energy, twisted a wrist, received a bruise, etc. It usually does not mean a blade piercing your chest except for the hit that reduces the creature to 0 hp. That hit is probably a grievous wound. This is how hit points work in D&D; if you don't like it, there are other systems where every hit actually inflicts a wound.

The "Healing kit dependency" variant does change the default assumption of what hit points are to be more in line with how you seem to view them. By requiring the use of medical equipment, you can then assume that every reduction of hit points was a minor wound, a barely bleeding nick, a seriously sprained ankle, etc. Even with this change, each hit is still not getting stabbed in the chest except for the one that takes a creature to 0. By using this variant as written, but making healing kits easily available, you're not affecting the game balance at all, and your suggested change to this variant is likely to cause more unforseen consequences than it's worth.

The purpose of long rests restoring all hp is to control the pacing of the game. The default assumption in D&D 5e is that each day, the party uses almost all of their resources (spell slots and hp, and hit dice) and so those resources need to be replenished so that they can exspend them all again the next day. If, and only if, this pacing does not match the needs of your campaign should you use one of the resting variants. For example, if your campaign calls for approximately one fight per day, then you should adjust short rests to last 8 hours and long rests to take several days. On the other hand, if you expect the party to fight dozens of times before laying down to sleep, then 5 minute short rests and 1 hour long rests would be appropriate. The Variant you mentioned has a similar impact to the first example.

Why did the designers make the defaults the way they did? I can guess based on my experience with 5e and pathfinder. In PF, you regain few hp from resting. As a result, a cleric becomes necessary for every party, and that cleric does little other than heal the party, which many people consider less than fun for that cleric's player. If they don't, then the adventure slows down hugely, which is less fun for everyone else. I think that 5e's designers made 5e the way they did because they cared more about fun than verisimilitude. If the lack of verisimilitude is hurting your fun, 5e may not be the system you want.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for your answer, but I am not considering other game systems. I enjoy 5e very much, and I have a better understanding of it than I had of previous editions. I am trying to add mechanics to try to make it more fun, adding to the immersion, and to present a new challenge. While I think your answer is very thought out, and I know that hit points are not necessarily wounds. I still think that recovering physically, with rests is a little too powerful. It does not matter if it is a bruise, stab wound, or exhaustion, I think PCs recover too much without expending anything. \$\endgroup\$ – Cinclus Jan 14 '18 at 18:30

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