Warlords and Healing in D&D Next

I listened to the latest #dndnext podcast, and I have to say, I take issue with the discussion on warlords.

Specifically, Mike Mearls asks whether warlords should have martial healing, giving the following (paraphrased) example:

Mike Mearls: “If you get your hand cut off, and a warlord inspires you, the hand won’t grow back. He’s not really healing you.”

Now, I can kind of understand the point behind this. Words can’t heal a severed hand.

But you know what else can’t heal a severed hand? Ten minutes of rest and some bandages. Yet that is allowed to restore hit points.

Or, ignoring short rest mechanics, a month of bed rest can’t heal a severed hand, yet you’ll easily be at full HP due to that.

My issue with this statement by Mearls is that is flies in the face of what D&D hit points are, and have been since at least 1e AD&D. Hit points are a combination of stamina, skill, and even luck. In D&D, it only takes one blade to run you through – and hit points are what prevent every blade before that from doing so.

Significant wounds, like severed hands, have never been a part of core D&D, and aren’t represented by the hit point system. If such a thing is in a module, that’s fine. And if that module states that only magical healing can restore such lasting wounds, then I’m cool with that.

But that isn’t the base assumption of the D&D hit point system.

And so I ask you, Mike Mearls, why can Warlords not restore hit points (aka stamina/skill/luck/courage), when bandages and rest can?

4 Comments

Weekly Roundup: Geeky Tea Blends Edition | Roving Band of Misfits  on March 10th, 2013

[...] a less humorous rant, check out Critical Ankle Bites, who discusses what healing is and isn’t in D&D (sparked by the WotC discussion of Warlord healing in D&D [...]

Haste w/ guest host Brian Liberge! Pulp, Free Dungeon Maps, and Martial Healing in D&D Next | Words In The Dark  on March 12th, 2013

[...] Warlords healing in D&D, and the discussion of martial healing as a whole was brought up in this blog post. Brian and I discuss the issue at [...]

Vandell  on March 31st, 2013

I completely agree with you. However, the issue is that just about everyone thinks the opposite, that your HP total is your literal life running out. If they want to improve the flavour of martial healing, they need to improve the flavour of hit points and drive that fact home. They should literally explain it on the warlords page just WTF is going on when he yells at ya’.

It may be time for a change in nomenclature, as well. Endurance? Maybe change an ability to “remove X endurance/HP” instead of dealing “damage.” That may be too much for the Old Hats to bare, however. They’d probably have a heart attack..

Alternatively, just make the warlord grant temporary hit points.

Graham  on March 31st, 2013

Not sure I agree with Endurance, as that also seems explicitly physical to me. They do need to explain HP and warlord healing, though.

I’ve heard the suggestion of giving temp HP before, too, but I can’t really get behind it. The problem with temp hp is that it’s all about predicting who will be hit and for how much, and then suffering if that’s wrong. Since temp hp goes away at the end of a fight, and fights in D&D Next only last a few rounds on average, if you give temp hp to the fighter and the rogue gets attacked, you’ve probably wasted those temp hp.

In addition, once those temp hp go away, the party is just as hurt as they were, so the warlord is useless for out-of-combat healing. And you can’t bring someone back from the brink of death with temp hp. As such, you would still need a cleric in the party.

No, if we want to warlord to be a viable substitute for a cleric, he needs to be able to do the following:

- effectively prevent or mitigate damage
- restore the party’s strength between fights
- be able to revive someone who is unconscious at least a few times per day

So preventing damage – temp hp can be part of this, but not all. Perhaps an aura granting damage reduction? Or an AC bonus? It would have to be significant, regardless.

The other two, however, really do require explicitly healing hit points. Maybe the Warlord’s temp hp powers restore actual hit points when out of combat? I don’t know. I’d rather just let them heal and simplify it.

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