Monday, May 21, 2012

clerics/hit points/healing surges/etc

Seems like Mike Mearls' latest column has set off another wave of discussion about hit points and stuff.  I won't link back to the original article because I've stopped reading, as everything I saw there either bored or annoyed me.  Anydangway, I just wanted to say a few things about hit points and such that aren't directly related to anything I've read recently.  I just want to give Mearls credit for kicking off another round of this evergreen nonsense.

1) If you are a player (not a DM) then you should always, always argue that hit points are abstract combinations of luck, toughness, agility and whatever else you can throw in the mix.  Keeping hitpoints undefined allows you to work over the GM for extra healing.  "The friendly leprechaun can heal me by granting me the luck o' the Irish, right?"  That sort of thing.

2) Abstract "healing surges" are about the most boring game mechanic ever.  I've used healing surges in my own campaigns for a while now, only they're called the "Liquid Courage" house rule.  I first saw this thing at Grognardia, though Jamie Mal attributes the idea to Sham.  The basic idea is that once per session you can down the contents of a wineskin to gain d6 hit points.  It doesn't scale up, and that's on purpose.  Also, PC's getting soaked in the dungeon is a lot more amusing than "I use my healing surge".

3) If clerics are nothing but wandering medkits then the problem is in the campaign, not the friggin' combat rules.  Give your players some kickass gods to worship, ecclesiastical authorities to cheese off, holy shrines to visit, etc.  Also, here's a simple house rule I've used for both MUs and clerics: No double dipping; you cannot memorize two of any spell.  Though I don't think this rule is absolutely necessary, as superior players will make use of all spells available, not just fireball and cure light wounds.