Friday, April 19, 2013

Sensible and Comparatively-Elegant Healing Rules

Update: It has come to my attention that there is an official errata to the broken healing rules in the game. These errata are not in the official online FAQ and Errata Document. They are, instead in the Player's Guide reprint.  So my rules below are essentially wasted effort. The official errata is that healing cannot be spammed; Each healing action can only be applied to each character once per day. So the seemingly-broken Soothing Touch blessing that looked to be unlimited free healing is actually not broken at all, and you can't actually apply First Aid rolls in scene after scene.

For those interested, the errata is on page 89 of the Player's Guide.

As mentioned in yesterday's post, the healing rules for Warhammer 3rd are certainly the most confusing and ill-considered set of rules in the game. The mechanics as written are very exploitable and easily abused. They basically amount to "players can have unlimited healing, but require dozens of rolls to do it."  Unlimited healing undermines the "grim and perilous" elements of the setting. Even if you're going for a high-powered cinematic game where rapid healing would be okay, the average amount of healing (just over 1 point at Rank 1) per die roll makes for a lot of tedium. Repetitive low-tension die rolls between each fight does not sound like fun to me.

I don't necessarily want to throw those rules out entirely as all sorts of character abilities reference them, but I certainly want to pare down the clunkiness, and shore up any loopholes or weak spots that might undermine the grittiness of the setting. I would like the lion's share of healing to be accomplished by the passage of in-character time, not via spamming actions. I also really want the rules to be easy to understand. I don't mind having to look them up from time to time, as long as they're easy to read off of a chart or summary.

Towards that end I've worked out some rules that are far more sensible, and elegant (at least in comparison to the original rules). They may possibly still be more fiddly than I want them to be, but Warhammer is definitely several levels crunchier than most games I run. I figure we'll give them a try for a few sessions, and figure out if they need further tweaking once we've how well they work. 

Summary of Revised Healing Rules:

  • Heal Toughness in Wounds per full night's rest.
  • One Resilience check per full night's rest to recover additional wounds, or recover from crits or diseases.
  • Long-Term Care uses the exact same rules as natural healing, and simply gets bonus dice.
  • Limit one critical wound or disease symptom healed per day by non-magical means.
  • First Aid and Immediate Care no longer takes a die roll, and cannot be spammed.
  • Magical healing cannot be spammed.

Full details follow, along with sidebar observations about what these changes accomplish.

Natural Healing and Long-Term Care

Resting over night recovers a number of normal Wounds equal to your Toughness.

In addition, it allows for one Resilience (Toughness) check.  The dice pool for that check is modified as follows:

  • +1 Fortune Die:  For being tended to by a healer, doctor, friend or servant, regardless of skill. This is the base reward for someone other than yourself taking care of you.
  • +X additional Fortune Dice: Where X equals the number of Ranks that healer (etc) has in First Aid.
  • +Y Expertise Dice: Where Y equals the number of Ranks that healer (etc) has in Medicine.
  • +1 Challenge Die: The basic difficulty these checks will usually have.
  • +1 more Challenge Die: If you have any Critical Wounds or are suffering from a Disease.
  • -1 Challenge Die: If your healer (etc) has Medicine trained, the overall difficulty is reduced by 1 die.

Those dice are rolled with on the following results chart:
  • Success: You may convert 1 critical wound into a normal wound, or overcome one symptom of a disease.  The crate or symptom in question must have a severity equal to or less than the total number of successes rolled.
  • Boon: Heal an additional number of wounds equal to the number of Boons rolled.

In addition, if the healer has Medicine Trained, you may choose to instead count any number of Successes as Boons instead before resolving the effects. So a roll of 2 successes and 3 boons can instead be resolved as if it were a roll of 0 successes and 5 boons, or 1 success and 4 boons.

What this has accomplished: The number of die rolls has greatly been reduced, while total healing has only been minimally reduced. Confusing and redundant instructions have been removed, especially in regards to long-term care, which doesn't really have special rules at all in this version. Medicine rank is one of the strongest factors in long-term wound recovery, whereas before there was only minimal difference between having a Rank 1 or Rank 3 expert in Medicine. Disease recovery has been integrated into wound recovery, so being critically injured and diseased at the same time is more dangerous (as it logically should be). Without magical healing, characters will only be able to heal either 1 critical wound or 1 disease per day. 

Immediate Care:

At the end of every fight, it is assumed the PCs bandage up their wounds and conduct whatever other first aid is necessary. They may all immediately recover X normal wounds, where X equals the lesser of:
  • the highest number of First Aid ranks any PC or friendly NPC has, or
  • the total wounds they suffered in that fight.
This effect cannot be stacked or spammed, it represents the total amount of assistance First Aid can provide on the spot. Care provided after the effect is relegated to the natural healing roll at the start of the next day.

In addition, anyone who has First Aid trained may tend to 1 patient per Rally step. That patient recovers X normal wounds, as above.

The action "Splints & Bandages" is an exception to the above rules, as it is already kept in check by the restriction (printed on the action card) of not recharging till the encounter is over.

What this has accomplished: The frequency of First Aid checks has been strictly limited, and the number of die rolls significantly reduced. There's no longer any question of whether or not you can spam heal. Healing rates are no longer near-infinite, and maximizing your healing doesn't put the rest of the table to sleep. As a side note, actually training First Aid has a bit more value than it did in the original rules.

Splints & Bandages is no longer a redundant action, it is now a powerful option for the dedicated healer. You can use it back-to-back (once during the fight, and a second time when the fight is over) but the opportunity cost to do so is pretty high: you'd be losing one round's attack during this fight, as well as your ability to use this action it at all during your next encounter
Caveat: These revised Immediate Care rules have greatly reduced the amount of healing the PCs have at their disposal. I believe this is a good thing for the game, as the Warhammer setting is supposed to be very gritty and a bit "low fantasy" compared to the average D&D world. These revised rules have not yet seen extensive playtesting, so I do not yet know for certain if I trimmed things back to the correct and intended levels. It's possible I may have been too aggressive, and may have to revise later to some degree of compromise. We'll see how it goes, and I'll report back if anything starts to prove problematic.

Magical Healing:

Each individual form of magical healing may only successfully treat any given person once in any single day.

This means that if you drink a Healing Draught and it rolls all blanks, you may choose to drink another one later. You can repeat this as many times as you want until you roll at least 1 success.

For spells and blessings, only the first instance of healing is allowed. Many such actions feature healing as more of a side-effect than the main point of the spell, so there's nothing to stop you from casting them repeatedly. Once a given spell has healed you however, the healing portion (and only the healing portion) of future castings the same day is ignored.  In the event where no one at the table can remember whether or not a given source has healed a player already, we'll assume it hasn't. Also, if a spell has more than 1 healing line in it's results, the total healing generated from one casting is allowed. We aren't trying to shut down healing entirely, just prevent abuse stemming from repeatable free healing spells.

The same thing applies to spells or blessings that cure diseases or heal/convert critical wounds. The first disease or crit recovered is all that any given target gets from that spell per day.

What this has accomplished: Various loopholes and spammable exploits have been sealed off. A side effect of this is that there is now more reason for any given caster to take more than 1 action that can heal. As a result, high-level healers will actually be functionally better at healing the injured than starting characters.

With the overall reduced healing options,  Healing Draughts are actually worth picking up. Instead of being an expensive and redundant option of little value, they are now a way to accelerate your daily ability to heal.

Fatigue & Stress

Just a clarification. The various limits applied to Wound recovery in no way imply any limit to Fatigue or Stress mitigation. Fatigue and Stress are intended to constantly adjust up and down within and between scenes. Many healing spells can eliminate Fatigue or Stress, and so could be used repeatedly to do so even if that same spell had already healed wounds on the same target.

Per the rules, at the end of any major Encounter (and again at the end of a full night's rest) every PC recovers Fatigue equal to their Toughness and Stress equal to their Willpower. The new limits on healing do not interfere with that in any way.

No comments: