Saturday, October 9, 2010

House Rule: Rest and Recovery

The ease of a full recovery after just one extended rest (6 hours) is one of the most commonly criticized game mechanics of 4th edition. I feel it removes an important element of danger from the game and indeed I have never been a fan of the ease of magical healing in prevoius editions of D&D either.

Therefore, I'm introducing this house rule into my 4e game:

Per extended rest, a character may recover either one healing surge or may remove one failed death save. A short rest has no effect on recovering failed death saves.

The doesn't have a major effect on the tactics of an encounter but it does change the players' overall strategy between encounters. This puts 4e players in a more perilous position than players of eariler editions as there are no easy means of magical healing to speed up long term recovery. Any such magic would also have to be house ruled as well if used at all. Perhaps a new ritual or new magic item could be introduced to improve the recovery rate but I'm not inclined to include such items. I've always liked the "major wound" mechanic of the Pendragon RPG and I think this rule lends a little of its flavor to D&D.

Any 4e players or DMs out there have an opinion of this?


  1. A house rule like this is a significant penalty to melee-based characters, especially the defenders. It may make the game unplayable as a defender, since there is no alternative to using healing surges. I would step back and very carefully reconsider this idea.

    I like the idea, but I don't think it will work. Maybe allow people to make healing checks to increase the number of healing surges recovered? But only one try per PC (and per healer) on each extended rest?

  2. @Wickedmurph

    Yeah, you're right. Limiting surge recovery to one per extended rest makes life suck for defenders. I'm reconsidering my stance on including magic ritual or items to overcome the limitation somewhat or allowing some classes a faster healing rate. BUT, that said, I think the offical rule allowing a full recovery from a single extended rest is worse. I want some sort of limitation introduced but I'm still search for the proper form of mechcanic it should take.

    I think the underlying problem is one of pacing. 4e races along like an action movie and the offical recover rules lend themselves well to that style of game play. Unfortunately for me, that isn't my style; I'd like something a bit grittier. I'm going to keep experimenting down this path and hopely I'll soon be able to share something playable yet simple.

    Thanks for your suggestions!

  3. @Wickedmurph

    I'm leaning toward full healing surge recovery per extended rest but then drastically increasing death save recovery to something like one per seven extended rests. Being beaten within an inch of your life should have some lasting effects but recovery times are still heroic compared to reality. Thoughts?

  4. Just popped in to see if you were still about.

  5. @The Happy Whisk Hi, I'm still here but I've gotten a new job which has been taking up most of my energy. Fortunately, my free time is also being taken up by more gaming so it balances out I suppose. I have a few posts I'd like to get out soon, time permitting. Thanks for asking!

  6. I suggest gaining hit points up to your remaining surges then replacing surges when you wake up.

    Players may wake up and start spending more surges but they will still be down on that resource for the day.

  7. @Claytonian I actually really like the rules for healing during the encounter, it's the recovery rate I don't care for. Recovering surges as a daily isn't much different than the full recovery after an extended rest. Altering the rules for healing within the encounter really risks breaking what I think are already well considered rules.

  8. @Claytonian P.S. Thanks for the comment!

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  10. The doesn't have a major effect on the tactics of an encounter but it does change the players' overall strategy between encounters

  11. Per extended rest, a character may recover either one healing surge or may remove one failed death save.
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