Let's take an untemplated human who's low on hit points. Let's also say that, for whatever reason, they don't have access to spellcasting, SLAs, supernatural abilities, magic items, psionics, or any class levels or feats that grant any of those things (so if there's something that can help as a 10th level feature, but the class grants a Su ability at 9th level, that doesn't count).

What's the fastest way for them to heal an arbitrary number of hit points, only possessing/using entirely mundane (extraordinary) features and feats and not using any benefits tied to certain locations?

The standard method is to take a couple days of rest, regaining up to 2 hit points per level per day (4 with long-term care). There's also the Faster Healing feat, but from what I can tell that still tops out at 4 hit points per level per day. Not bad, but we can probably do better.

The 6th-level Iron Heart maneuver Iron Heart Endurance takes a swift action and heals them for twice their level in hit points, but it only works until they have a bit over half their hit points. For a couple well-timed warblade levels, they can use this every other turn to get a bit above half health. That's a start, but we need a way to fill in the rest.

There's also the well-known Troll Blooded feat, but that's Dragon Magazine. Let's go for only WotC-published 3.5e (or unupdated 3e) material.

They could take Combat Vigor or Vital Recovery, but both of those require an actual encounter to take place. Maneuvers may be recovered after a minute of rest (ToB 40), but both those feats are explicitly once-per-encounter. They could carry around a bag of aggressive rats, but once they enter combat with one of them, they're no longer meeting the "out of combat" criteria quite right.

And... That's all I can think of. What other options does an entirely mundane character have for regaining lost hit points?

(This isn't related to any particular ingame situation that I've encountered so far. I just like coming up with builds that fit certain constraints, and noticed that "unlimited out-of-combat healing that doesn't require multiple days of rest" is something that's basically absent from my list of tools for nonmagical/very-low-magic builds. I'm aware that the game systems don't like nonmagical/low-magic people/places/things, and in particular the game is extremely hesitant to give out healing for free, but that's part of why I like to sometimes rebel against their expectations and do non-optimal things that I just find fun/interesting)

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Did this issue arise during play or is there another reason to ask? If the former then it's preferred that the actual scenario that yielded the question be presented instead of a hypothetical, and if the latter then the question should include that reason. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 20, 2021 at 5:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Fair point! It's mostly just a curiosity on my part--went ahead and added that to the question for some slightly more detailed context, though. \$\endgroup\$
    – 47948201
    Commented Feb 20, 2021 at 5:37

1 Answer 1


Hugging for hp (Ex full heal in a round, every round)

You mention Tome of Battle, but note concerns with recovery. I note that stances don’t need recovery, and martial spirit conveniently lacks rules about the attacks being against “threats” or “opponents” or “aggressive creatures” or whatever:

While you are in this stance, you or an ally within 30 feet heals 2 points of damage each time you make a successful melee attack. This healing represents the vigor, drive, and toughness you inspire in others. Your connection to the divine causes such inspiration to have a real, tangible effect on your allies? health.

Each time you hit an opponent in melee, you can choose a different recipient within range to receive this healing.

That’s 2 hp/attack, and you can keep it or give it to a friend.¹ More attacks you have, more hp you can heal. And best of all, it just says “successful melee attack”—absolutely nothing about an enemy, a threat, or anything else. So it probably works best as some kind of barbarian/chaos monk with Two-weapon Fighting² whaling on a training dummy or something (could be a brick wall or the ground for all the rules seem to care) maximizes our results, but ultimately it isn’t terribly important. A decent 20th-level barbarian has maybe 336 hp during a rage,³ so you can fully heal up about the beefiest target available in just over two minutes.⁴

But, of course, that’s just one feat,⁵ a single 1st-level stance. We haven’t even finished getting through Devoted Spirit yet, because your single best bet here is probably Tome of Battle’s aura of triumph:

While you are in this stance, you and any ally within 10 feet of you both heal 4 points of damage with each successful melee attack either of you makes against an evil target.

Note that it requires an evil target, not necessarily a threatening one. So while you can’t attack the ground itself,⁶ you could attack, say, an evil item. Of which there are many, whether we’re talking about cursed objects or just stuff like unholy weapons or whatever. And attacking objects is explicitly a thing in the rules,⁷ and they are “targets” of your attacks, so, cool. Better yet, magic items are damnably⁸ difficult to destroy, so you’ll be able to make successful melee attacks against that item for a long time before you have to worry about replacing it.

But most evil items are magical. Can we find a target without magic? Well, evil creatures aren’t magical, so if we just have an evil ally, we can make successful melee attacks against them. Nothing says we have to hurt them—and the grapple rules do say they start with a successful touch attack. Touch attacks are super-easy to make even with large penalties, especially on a target that makes no effort to dodge (their AC is probably 10). So hug an evil ally, and heal for 4 hp. Let go to do it again.

Anyway, access is somewhat less trivial than just “take Martial Stance any time you like,” but warblade has only extraordinary class features,⁹ so it’s easy enough to take levels of that for the sake of reaching initiator level 11th. Then just pick up Martial Study (crusader’s strike), Martial Stance (martial spirit), and Martial Stance (aura of triumph) at your convenience. You can have all 3 by 12th level if you want.

Non-warblade levels, as usual, count half towards meeting the initiator level 11th requirement on aura of triumph, so up to two of them are “free” for this exercise (they won’t delay aura of triumph since you don’t get a feat at 11th anyway so you get it at 12th either way). And of course, delaying things would be allowed and we could always pick up aura of triumph at 15th or 18th level, or even at 20th if that level was fighter, or got a fighter bonus feat. The bare minimum number of warblade levels here is 2, though that forces a level of fighter at 20th. To hit IL 11th by 18th, you need warblade 3rd.

Probably the ideal thing to do with the rest of the levels is, again, to rack up extra attacks. The “melee” requirement actually winds up being kind of meaningful, because ranged attacks are way easier to come by, plus throwing weapons could combine those with two-weapon fighting for the best of both worlds. But anyway, still plenty of options for melee attacks too. Maybe pick up avalanche of blades along the way.¹⁰ Boom, you might get 100 hp out of that every other round.

But ultimately, that optimization is probably wasted—because that’s not the real gold here. The real advantage of aura of triumph is that your allies’ attacks count too. They can’t heal each other, but they can all heal you (and themselves at the same time). So really it’s more like “group hug! our brooding buddy here needs some cheering up!” and you’ll heal to full in a round, easy. If you need more, then imitate the end of a high school athletic event: two lines of people walking towards each other, so each person hugs each person on the other line. If everyone has Spring Attack, the only limitation on your healing is how many people you can get lined up.

  1. Switching who you’re healing, amusingly, might require an actual “opponent,” due to the last line of the stance.

  2. Or just “two-weapon fighting,” that is, without the feats, since you don’t really need to care very much about your attack bonus when your target can literally be the broad side of a barn. Since city-brawler barbarians get both Improved Unarmed Strike and Two-Weapon Fighting (for unarmed strikes), though, at basically zero cost, you’ll probably have the feat, and it allows for yet more attacks as BAB increases and you take ITWF and GTWF.

  3. Assumed average HD rolls and 30 Con, which might be low if you’re actually a single-classed barbarian and have mighty rage, but realistically almost no one does that so it’s probably just rage and for rage it might be a bit high, so I call it a wash and say it’s a reasonable ballpark figure.

  4. I assumed full BAB, whirling frenzy, and the Two-weapon Fighting line, for 8 attacks per round, for 16 hp/round, for (exactly!) 21 rounds to heal 336 hp. That’s 2 minutes, 6 seconds. As noted, with chaos monk or whatever you can do better than 8 attacks per round, but that math gets uglier and it’s kind of besides the point.

  5. Well, one feat doing the healing; a bunch of class levels and feats getting the attacks you want to fuel it.

  6. Most places, though if you find yourself in the Lower Planes you should totally give it a try.

  7. Sundering; it’s plausible for people to forget it’s a thing players can actually do since it’s so rare that they’d ever want to, but you can.

  8. I’m not even sorry at this point.

  9. There are some really dubious extraordinary abilities among warblade maneuvers—earthstrike quake is my personal choice for greatest offender—but if we were worrying about something like that we couldn’t use martial spirit or aura of triumph to begin with.

  10. Avalanche of blades is a 7th-level Diamond Mind strike, so a warblade can take that naturally at 13th. It allows you to keep making attacks so long as you keep hitting—and since you’re using touch attacks, that’s fairly easy to do.

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    \$\begingroup\$ That is... A hilarious, flavorful, and perfectly effective way to nonmagically heal! I'm not aware of any evil items that are nonmagical, but I do like that idea as a general statement, and the "punch a brick wall to regain fighting spirit" or whatever is totally workable as a mundane character concept. \$\endgroup\$
    – 47948201
    Commented Feb 20, 2021 at 6:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @47948201 Good point! An evil ally is nonmagical, and there’s nothing saying we have to hurt them. How about we all start grapples (melee touch attack to initiate) to trigger it? “Hug our broody buddy so we can all heal up.” \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Feb 20, 2021 at 6:51

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