Monday, August 10, 2009

Should we rest?

Griff and I were talking (alas, not over a D&D table) about the whole Shaman thing, where I feel that healing is the realm of clerics, but most everyone else disagrees. I mentioned that I was considering trying out a cleric/shaman hybrid build, just to see how much healing goodness could be squeezed out - Griff pointed out that there likely isn't that much demand in a party for that much healing, given that people have their Second Wind and their own store of healing surges.

While that's true, that everyone has a little innate healing, it still takes something to stimulate the use of a healing surge after the Second Wind has been used in battle, and in a tough fight, the defenders tend to absorb a lot of healing on behalf of the party, and thus need their extra healing surges (of which they tend to have many) activated quite often. My defense in going ahead with a cleric/shaman build is that this 'activation' is still very much a necessary function, and that anything that can alleviate damage without using a healing surge is also welcome -- temporary hitpoints, damage redirection, or "as if they used a healing surge" powers.

And from that, we realize that this is how 4e and 3.5 differ yet again. That in 3.5, the healing came solely from your divine spellcasters and the healing potions which everyone would try to stock up on. When the cleric ran out of spells, or everyone ran out of potions, it was time to head back to town and rest (okay, the arcane spellcaster might also have run out of spells).

This daily limitation in 4e, though, only exists in two places: Daily powers (including Utility powers that have Daily use, and magic items with Daily abilities) and each character's healing surge total. That's it -- everything else comes back when you're done the battle. And, as Griff recently commented, gaining another Daily or two as you advance means that you last even longer per-day, provided the healing surges last.

So, how often has your party had to stop for the day because everyone's exhausted their daily resources? We've done it a few times already, I'd say at least once per party level. Is it because we're all feeling weak because our squishy Daily power is no longer available? Perhaps once, but I'd say it's almost always when the party as a whole, or our target-practice paladin are out of healing surges.

And this is why I think there's still a place for the "party healer", provided that there are ways to help apart from allowing the others to use their healing surges. In fact, as the party cleric, I've never used all of my surges (using more than half only once), so a way to share my inner strength by allowing others to take my surge is, to me, a nice parallel for the divine energy that 3.5 clerics brought to their wounded comrades. Instead of asking my deity to heal my companion, I'm begging my god to take my sacrifice of my own reserves to further her divine plans through my fellow adventurer.



Alexandra Erin said...

We haven't had a Paladin in our group since the first session we played, when we weren't really sure what we were doing, so I'm a little curious about your experiences.

Is the Paladin using lay on hands very often? How often does the Paladin end up healing someone else?

I find it interesting that the Paladin has multiple abilities (particularly at higher levels) that can function as after-the-fact damage transference powers, starting with the lay-on-hands healing surge sharing and going up to and including Gift of Life giving half the Paladin's HP to a dead teammate. It's very much in keeping with the idea of divine healing via sacrifice that you mention with regards to the Cleric, and I think it's also a way of reinforcing the Paladin's role of defender... even if someone gets around the Paladin, the Paladin can still soak damage.

Crwth said...

I'd say from levels one through three, our paladin was more likely to drop to dying than not -- then through level four, either (s)he smartened up, or the party as a whole did -- there hasn't been a mad-dash scramble on the cleric's part to quickly bring her back to life for quite a while.

As for the Lay on Hands: it has been used perhaps three, four times? Generally we let her focus on luring the whole battlefield to her with some judicious Divine Challenge use (I'm not trying to start something by mentioning it, I swear! *:^D), and the cleric tends to wounds in-between Lances of Faith. We've also got a Warlord with an Inspiring Word, as well as two who multiclassed Warlord (the Rogue and, yes, the Cleric).

Now if only the paladin's d20 could get swapped out for one that, y'know, had a 20 on it...

Alexandra Erin said...

Heh, you've spotted my carefully concealed sore spot. :P

Personally, if I ever play a Paladin, she's going to be a real smitier-than-thou type. That's probably not going to happen, though, as I'm usually the designated DM and when I'm not, I somehow end up in the Leader role. That's probably because our first session, which was just running through Keep on the Shadowfell like everyone else, we were being murdered by kobolds until I rolled up a Warlord.