Saturday, November 29, 2014

Right in the Heals II: 5th Edition DMG Update

As longtime readers of the Chainsword will know, so far I've been really liking the new 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons rules from the Player's Handbook (PHB) for the most part, but with some caveats. I take issue with the 5e PHB's coddling approach to Healing. I won't re-hash it all here, but suffice it to say that has far too generous healing to actually allow truly noteworthy battles to occur at the gaming table, because death is almost never going to be a threat to the players.  They can always just take a 'long rest' (overnight) and be at full hit points the next morning.

Just sleep it off, Boromir.

 When I discussed this before, I put forth Vorpal Chainsword-approved(tm) alterations to the standard healing rules that will bring your D&D healing back into the realm of gritty sanity (for fantasy). For reference, here were my changes to the "Short Rest" and "Long Rest" functions in the new 5th edition D&D:

5e Vorpal Chainsword "Breather" = 1 hour rest. No special benefits. Take a breather, plan your next move, whatever.

5e Vorpal Chainsword "Overnighter" = 8 hour rest. Character can spend hit dice up to their level to 'fast heal' their hit points, as the 5th Edition 'Short Rest' rules. If the player doesn't spend any of these magic hit dice then they regain hit points equal to their level. Just like Tymora intended.

Well, now that I've got the new 5th edition Dungeon Master's Guide (DMG) I can say with great approval that they not only were aware of their coddling in the PHB, but gave/suggested to the Dungeon Master rule alterations very similar to what I suggested above.

Hmm, that looks strangely familiar. I'm either prophetic, or I should check my office for hidden cameras...
Now, I'm not saying the Mike Mearls and Chris Perkins are big fans of the Vorpal Chainsword and rushed to change the DMG at the last minute to include these alternate healing rules because they recognized the genius in them... but you're welcome Mike and Chris.

They also added a couple more rules that I hadn't considered but really like. First, that using the free hit dice healer-boost option requires the expenditure of Healer's Kit materials.

Finally, more function out of a Healer's Kit than just stabilizing the rogue.
 I love this idea. To get the rapid healing, you have to use gauze, poultices, antiseptic, and all the medical stuff from a First Aid Kit. It makes a basic Healer's Kit a resource and valuable, rather than just something the cleric bought and carries around because it was suggested to him during character creation.

The second new rule option is extending the rest durations out significantly:
NOW we're getting Old-School up in this!
I like this most of all. It basically puts all the healing function back to the Old School way of playing D&D, which is: Explore, fight, retreat, rest, return. Where adventuring parties map out a dungeon over months of game-time, and don't just steamroll through one per session video game-style. It also forces the dungeon master to do more than fill his dungeon with traps and monsters, because dying from those will get boring fast. Instead it will make the dungeon master focus on setting the scene, adding in puzzles (that aren't necessarily traps), and make each battle something the PCs really have to think about how to safely tackle when they arise.

I take issue with that second opinion paragraph of that optional rule however, where it says "It's a good option for campaigns that emphasize intrigue, politics, etc." I disagree. This is a good option for making dungeons awesome, not engaging the local community theater. Let the Storyteller gamers engage in political maneuvering and intrigue with King's vizier, this is D&D. If the PCs need to help a local noble win out over a rival, then I guarantee in my game it is going to involve the players being hired by said noble to seek out an ancient family heirloom hidden somewhere inside the Crypt of the Faceless Terrors. This rule just makes it make it more realistic when the players press the noble for a bigger reward before they get started (and probably some up-front money to buy extra Healer's Kits).

You want HOW MUCH GOLD up front just to investigate the rat problem in the Old Mill?!
All in all, the DMG has some fantastic stuff in it. I haven't even touched upon the dungeon or villain generator. But the Dungeon Bastard has already covered that pretty darn well, so for now I'll point you in his direction.

Game on!

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