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I've been perusing the magic items for D&D 5e in the DMG, and I've only found two non-consumable items that restore hitpoints: Staff of Healing, and Rod of Resurection both of which are Rare or better. I was surprised that there were no healing wands, as that was something of a core trope in previous editions of the game. Would it significantly affect the core game if the players had access to a Wand of Cure Wounds, that let the players cast Cure Wounds like the Wand of Magic Missile allows them to cast Magic Missle? Is there any evidence that the lack of a Cure Wounds items at lower rarity was an intentional design decision?


I'm considering such an item to balance a lack of core healers in my current party.

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    \$\begingroup\$ To avoid anyone else doing the same research: None of the official adventures include such an item. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Feb 22 '17 at 2:11
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It will not break the game

From my own experience, when my party was level 3-4, we lacked a healer. Only my character had access to a healing spell, Healing Word, and nobody had potions at all. As a result, when we faced off against the BBEG, a party member died in the attempt.

The DM then gave us an item that would allow me to cast Cure Wounds at level 1, thrice a day, consuming no spell slots. It would regenerate the used charges at dawn. The result: one of our party still died on our next boss encounter. He died from failing 3 death saving throws.

The trouble with low level is, even with access to magical healing, you're all still a small sack of hitpoints running around, and you have to be smart about using your resources if the villain the DM throws at you is actually cunning. The long game of attrition we had to go through before we even saw the BBEG forced us to use all of the magical healing we had outside of spell slots.

But, Why?

This isn't to say you can grant players magical healing for free whenever. The item must not be the equivalent of a healing cantrip, or else it makes all hit die obsolete. A DM of mine would add "healing stops" in his dungeons when we played because he knew the sheer amount of attrition he gave us would make us need those, to have enough power left for the big boss battle. By "big", I mean these are dungeons that took around 3-4 sessions to complete, with a big XP reward at the end.

This is to say, if you see your party in sore need of extra healing, do not be afraid to throw some at them in a controlled manner. A Cure Wounds wand that goes off only X times a day is controlled and not game breaking.

They will outclass the item soon enough

Just as how a wand of Magic Missile isn't going to be relevant at the higher levels, a wand of Cure Wounds will not stay competitive with your players' other abilities at the higher levels as well. Specifically, if one of them picks up the Healer feat, or the natural spell slot progression means they can do better healing than the wands, or the players start picking more defensive features -- as what happened in my game -- you will find that the wand of Cure Wounds will not see as much use as it used to in the lower levels.

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Healing is not that important in 5e.

See Will my party function without a healer?

A long rest will heal all damage, a short rest allows spending of hit dice to heal and Healing Potions are reasonably cheap and should be readily available. Of course, if you are not allowing your PCs to rest when they need to (as opposed to when they want to) then you are pushing them too hard.

The only thing such a wand would do is allow the use of an action during combat (Healing potions do this too) and this is almost always a sub-optimal use of an action. The only time where it is worthwhile is getting an unconscious PC back on their feet, otherwise, taking down the enemy quickly is a much more efficient way to preserve hp than healing them during combat is. Put it this way, a cleric is almost always better off using Inflict Wounds rather than Cure Wounds and usually has much better options than that!

No, it will not break your game.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Fact: Death is the best form of Crowd Control. \$\endgroup\$ – BgrWorker Feb 22 '17 at 7:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BgrWorker counter-fact: Being alive is the best way to implement the best form of crowd control \$\endgroup\$ – Premier Bromanov Feb 22 '17 at 17:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Premier counter-counter-fact: Until the undead start showing up \$\endgroup\$ – James Feb 22 '17 at 18:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @James counter-counter-counter-fact: In which case, Death stops being the best form of Crowd Control \$\endgroup\$ – user27327 Feb 23 '17 at 3:54
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Let's sketch out a sample "Wand of Healing".

Wand of Healing

Wand, uncommon

This wand has 7 charges. While holding it, you can use an action to expend 1 or more of its charges to cast the cure wounds spell from it. For 1 charge, you cast the 1st-level version of the spell. You can increase the spell slot level by one for each additional charge you expend.

The wand regains 1d6+1 expended charges daily at dawn. If you expend the wand's last charge, roll a d20. On a 1, the wand crumbles to ashes and is destroyed.

  • A casting of magic missile deals 10 (3d4+3) points of damage.
  • A casting of cure wounds deals 5 (1d8+?) points of damage.

There's actually a question mark there. The cure wounds spell heals 1d8 + spell casting modifier, which doesn't make sense, so you would need to define it. You would have to define it as +5, to get even healing vs damage on the two wands. This would definitely make it useful, but not significantly more powerful than other uncommon magic items.

And honestly, as characters level up, spending an action to heal 5-10 points of damage is going to be kind of weak when the monster is dealing 20+ points / round. 20 points / round is roughly the output of a CR3 monster. That's just level 3 battles. By level 5, PCs will be fighting things that deal 30-40 damage / round and the PCs will be dealing 10-20 damage / attack (more with Fireball).

The "Wand of Healing" would be great in the first few levels, but it quickly becomes an inefficient action as the players level. It would mostly see use as a way to "raise" the tank or to bring back the party after a combat. Honestly, not much different from just giving everyone a couple of healing potions.

If you upgraded the "Wand of Healing" to casting healing word using a bonus action, then it might see a little more combat use. But it would become mostly benign by the time the PCs hit level 5.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Comparing the damage you can do vs the healing you can do is not a useful comparison. In your example of a (single) creature dealing 20 points of damage per round, your alternative damage-dealing action needs to accelerate the creature's death by half of a round to match the value of 10 points of healing. \$\endgroup\$ – user11450 Feb 22 '17 at 11:10
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I would look at what seems to be your party's constraint and then look at how this might change that.

If you have a party mostly reliant on short rest abilities, this would potentially allow them to use an item instead of a spell slot or other long rest ability. That might extend their adventuring day from 2-3 short rests to 4-5. It might not.

If your party is already fairly reliant on long rest abilities (especially if they use damaging ones a lot), this item will likely have almost no impact as it doesn't solve their core issue.

As others have noted, while in combat, it is much more efficient to prevent damage from happening than it is to heal damage that happened so this wand is unlikely to change things within combat, unless someone is using this to bring back someone that is unconscious.

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It is not a overpowered item (unless your party is really weak and enemies do very few damage). Instead you can find creative ways to use the rod, like lending it to a village affected by wasp invasion, healing minor NPCs in an army during a battle. Such wand is so weak that you can find literally a use for it as a "psychological placebo" for your players or find story-based usages for your game.

It can be of little use in a battle where some enemy is not able to hit you every round (in example your players escape behind a timed door or something like that).

It allows healing when lacking potions during long sessions where your players are not able to rest or to heal, so basically that wand has marginal use cases. If you are running a survival game, having one or several such wands may be a good prize for players because it allows to survive more easily, also you may use the negative side effect to actually resolve a quest:

Resolving a riddle shows that actually a needed ingredient (For a potion or a quest) can be obtained only from wand's dust, which basically force you to deplete daily all wand's charges hoping to throw 1 when using the last charge in order to crumble the wand into ash.

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A wand of cure wounds is not comparable to a wand of magic missiles because healing can be done after combat ends.

  • The wand of magic missiles demands that you forego an action in combat to use it, a hefty price that even low level characters struggle to justify for a spell.
  • A wand of cure wounds could simply be used the moment combat ends to quickly recover without the need for a short rest

    By the DMG, short rests are supposed to be limited to about 2 a day (although my groups usually take about 3). This means you are just giving your party bonus HP that they will never level out of.

Summary

A wand of Cure Wounds might not break the game, especially if it has 3 charges per day (similar to the uncommon item eyes of charming, DMGp. 168) and maybe a +3 or +4 to the healing modifier. A 7 charge per day one with +5 healing modifier would easily outclass any uncommon magic item, except maybe a bag of tricks, at low levels.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already. Since the comment sorting can change, it doesn't make sense to refer to the "above" answers. In addition, if you simply intend to comment on other answers, you can do so once you have enough reputation. Otherwise, your answer should mostly stand on its own. (I think this would be fine as a standalone answer if edited slightly.) \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jan 6 at 0:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ Please take a look at the edit I made, in light of V2 Blast's suggestions. Also, please explain what you mean by "that they will never level out of" in your remark about party bonus HP. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jan 6 at 5:16

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