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View Full Version : (3.5) Heal check...is it magic?



Whammydill
2010-12-17, 02:46 PM
(TLDR: Heal skill is overpowered? Alternate rules for it? Should I just go back to enjoying my fun?)

To me the heal check seems a bit "efficient" in what it can do. For instance (and I know I'm foolish for bringing reality in this but,) say I go out and do some manly frolicking amongs the cacti and petunias and I get bit by a black mamba....no amount of bandaging, bloodletting...whatever is going to let me stave off negative effects.

The same with disease, I go ambling around the lush environs of my friendly local jungle and get some sort of hemmorhagic fever. I go to the local hospital and he wraps some bandages around my head and I'm all better right? All that hemorrhaging can be stopped with a bit of bandage at dc 15?

I don't recall, but do you even need equipment to make a heal check? I know the kit gives a circumstance bonus. Does anyone know of alternate rules that make it a little more realistic? Or should I just not worry about it because its not that bad in the grand scheme of things, since it's probably not the most far-fetched skill out there?

Tokuhara
2010-12-17, 03:25 PM
The way I look at the Heal skill is more akin to Field Medicine: It isn't gonna be a permanet fix, but until you can see a real doctor(or cleric), it'll have to do. As for poisons/diseases, same concept. It makes life more bearable and makes you useful, but doesn't cure you

mucat
2010-12-17, 04:00 PM
It sounds like you may be overestimating what the skill actually does.


I get bit by a black mamba....no amount of bandaging, bloodletting...whatever is going to let me stave off negative effects.

A Heal check doesn't erase the harm that the poison has already done. it staves off further damage by improving the patient's roll on any further fortitude save...but if the original Fort save was going to have a very high DC, then so will the Heal check.

In real life, if a poisoned patient has any realistic chance of survival (which the D&D character does, if he/she was going to receive a Fort Save in the first place), then there are steps a field medic can take to improve that chance, even without a specific antivenom.

The disconnect from reality here might be not so much the way the Heal skill works, but the way the game models poison in the first place. Poisons as presented in the D&D -- initial ability damage, secondary damage a minute later, and fortitude saves to avoid each phase -- don't accurately model something like black mamba venom, which kills by gradual muscle paralysis over the course of an hour or so.

If you do try to houserule a more accurate model of poisons, though, almost any venom still ought to allow a series of Fortitude saves to see how well the victim is withstanding the poison. A skilled healer ought to be able to make a difference in this save. (It's just that "never mind; I'm fine now" won't be one of the possible outcomes.)



The same with disease, I go ambling around the lush environs of my friendly local jungle and get some sort of hemmorhagic fever. I go to the local hospital and he wraps some bandages around my head and I'm all better right? All that hemorrhaging can be stopped with a bit of bandage at dc 15?

Again, the rules don't say it can...unless the patient was already going to receive a DC-15 Fortitude save, which indicates that the disease wasn't an inevitably deadly one. And even if the Heal check does help the patient make the save, the disease isn't gone; the patient has just avoided further ability damage for the moment.

The heal checks are helping the patient stave off the worst symptoms of the disease and keep functioning...but only in cases where there was a chance that the patient could do this on his/her own.


Once again, you could invent a more detailed and realistic model of how diseases work...including contagion, permanent ability drain, and in some cases, a point where "if the disease reaches this stage, then barring magic, patient is definitely doomed." But again, at any point in this model where the patient does receive a Fort save, it makes sense that a healer could help the odds of passing it.


Having said all that, there is one thing I would change about the Heal skill. As written, the healer's skill check replaces the patient's Fort save, rather than modifying it. This is kinda silly; it's easier to save a healthy patient than a frail one. I would suggest averaging the patient's rolled save and the healer's skill check, and using that for the save result. (Which means that sometimes a poor healer can make things worse...)

Psyren
2010-12-17, 04:07 PM
You want a magical skill, try Autohypnosis; now that's some extranormal $#[email protected]

(And Truespeak of course)

JaronK
2010-12-17, 04:12 PM
Diplomacy. "Hi guys, I've got this great speech. At the end, you're all going to worship me. No save."

Of course, this is a game designed around magic. At levels where the Wizards can raise an army of the dead when they get bored, mundanes SHOULD be able to use diplomacy to get an army of the living. Otherwise, everything's horribly unbalanced.

JaronK

Claudius Maximus
2010-12-17, 04:44 PM
Remember it usually takes at least two days to cure a disease. Presumably you're still sick during the whole run and maybe even afterward, but you just don't take ability damage as far as the rules care.

Similarly, I've always assumed that a character isn't fine just because he beat a poison's save DC. It just means he isn't impaired enough for mechanical penalties.

grimbold
2010-12-19, 09:50 AM
its not magic its skill at applying bandages or whatever

Shhalahr Windrider
2010-12-19, 10:06 AM
It sounds like you may be overestimating what the skill actually does.
This. All this.


Remember it usually takes at least two days to cure a disease. Presumably you're still sick during the whole run and maybe even afterward, but you just don't take ability damage as far as the rules care.
Indeed. This is why, as mucat said, the rules suck at modeling poison and disease.

ďHey! Iím hemorrhaging, but Iím okay! Only took 3 Con damage. I still got 7 Con to go before Iím in trouble. So letís go kick some orc ass!Ē

Beelzebub1111
2010-12-19, 10:56 AM
Indeed. This is why, as mucat said, the rules suck at modeling poison and disease.

ďHey! Iím hemorrhaging, but Iím okay! Only took 3 Con damage. I still got 7 Con to go before Iím in trouble. So letís go kick some orc ass!Ē
They always have. It's still a lot closer than what's in previous editions where it dealt damage.

Kerrin
2010-12-19, 11:40 AM
ďHey! Iím hemorrhaging, but Iím okay! Only took 3 Con damage. I still got 7 Con to go before Iím in trouble. So letís go kick some orc ass!Ē
This is what heros do - heroic stuff!

Now, if you're not running a typical heroic campaign then the characters will be less able to do such things.

mootoall
2010-12-19, 11:45 AM
Also, Heal isn't really just ... bandaging. I know that my Ranger, before he got his cure spells, started using Heal for diseases in the form of some herbs with healing properties. Essentially, ye olde medicine.

Shhalahr Windrider
2010-12-19, 01:44 PM
They always have. It's still a lot closer than what's in previous editions where it dealt damage.
Oh, most definitely.

Still, lots of room for improvement.

Yuki Akuma
2010-12-19, 01:54 PM
You want a magical skill, try Autohypnosis; now that's some extranormal $#[email protected]

(And Truespeak of course)

Nnnot really. Autohypnosis is an actual real thing you can really do, actually, in reality.

"Tolerate poison" and "resist dying" do somewhat stretch belief, but people can do some wacky stuff with autohypnosis.

Callista
2010-12-19, 01:58 PM
It's logical that a good healer's going to be able to make it much easier for you to survive a poison or a disease. It's still not a sure thing; but it's the same thing that you see in real life so I don't see why this would be an issue.

There are first-aid steps for poisons that don't involve antidotes; one would assume those are the things that a healer is doing for someone who's just been bitten by something poisonous. Similarly, someone taking care of a sick person would be doing things like making sure they got enough fluid or managing their fever--things you don't really need a lot of equipment to do. (And a hemorrhagic fever would be over DC 20. DC 15 is more like smallpox.)

Shhalahr Windrider
2010-12-19, 01:58 PM
This is what heros do - heroic stuff!

Now, if you're not running a typical heroic campaign then the characters will be less able to do such things.
I do suppose the scale of the Con damage defines the line between ďHeroicĒ and ďDeath Wish.Ē :smallwink:

Callista
2010-12-19, 01:59 PM
Also the reason why those orcs need to be killed. If they're going to raid something and kill a bunch of innocents, a hero will go out there even if he's only got a single point of CON left. He'll be stupid if he doesn't take it into account when he plans how to take down the orcs, but he'll go either way.

gkathellar
2010-12-19, 02:11 PM
Bear in mind that if you get bitten by a black mamba in real life, you don't get a Fortitude save - you just die. If you're going to complain about heal checks and their magical curative properties, first you should complain about how characters can apparently ignore the effects of poison through pure heroic grit. It's awesome, sure, but it doesn't actually work like that.

Beelzebub1111
2010-12-19, 07:40 PM
Nnnot really. Autohypnosis is an actual real thing you can really do, actually, in reality.

"Tolerate poison" and "resist dying" do somewhat stretch belief, but people can do some wacky stuff with autohypnosis.

Well, you can use autohypnosis to reduce your heart-rate which would staunch bleeding and slow the effects of poisons in the blood stream.

randomhero00
2010-12-19, 07:46 PM
Heal check is like knowing biology and field medicine. Its one of those things that your character is assumed to have if they have the skill.

Don't look to hard at DnD..it always falls apart. It was never meant to be simulationist.

randomhero00
2010-12-19, 07:47 PM
Bear in mind that if you get bitten by a black mamba in real life, you don't get a Fortitude save - you just die. If you're going to complain about heal checks and their magical curative properties, first you should complain about how characters can apparently ignore the effects of poison through pure heroic grit. It's awesome, sure, but it doesn't actually work like that.

That's not really true. Look up Mithridatism. People have done it, IRL.

Morithias
2010-12-19, 07:52 PM
(TLDR: Heal skill is overpowered? Alternate rules for it? Should I just go back to enjoying my fun?)

To me the heal check seems a bit "efficient" in what it can do. For instance (and I know I'm foolish for bringing reality in this but,) say I go out and do some manly frolicking amongs the cacti and petunias and I get bit by a black mamba....no amount of bandaging, bloodletting...whatever is going to let me stave off negative effects.

The same with disease, I go ambling around the lush environs of my friendly local jungle and get some sort of hemmorhagic fever. I go to the local hospital and he wraps some bandages around my head and I'm all better right? All that hemorrhaging can be stopped with a bit of bandage at dc 15?

I don't recall, but do you even need equipment to make a heal check? I know the kit gives a circumstance bonus. Does anyone know of alternate rules that make it a little more realistic? Or should I just not worry about it because its not that bad in the grand scheme of things, since it's probably not the most far-fetched skill out there?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_X59y9Fyiww

Someone has survived a black mamba bite. :P

gkathellar
2010-12-19, 08:05 PM
People can survive deadly poisons, but not without suffering through the adverse affects or immunizing themselves to that specific poison over long periods of time (which can't be done with every poison, is extremely hazardous, and can just fail outright).

Even honey badgers have to collapse for a couple of hours after getting a deadly snake bite, and their resilience far surpasses what a 1st-level fighter could lay claim to. D&D poison works under the assumption that if you're feeling particularly tough that day, the poison will fail to effect you entirely.

Ergo, whether Heal works a little fast or not is hardly a concern, we've already dispensed with any sort of biological realism in the basic mechanics for poison.

Psyren
2010-12-19, 08:07 PM
Nnnot really. Autohypnosis is an actual real thing you can really do, actually, in reality.

Eh, it requires a lot of the same level of self-training as low-level psionics themselves do, so close enough.

Also, did you perhaps intern here? (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment)

Gnaeus
2010-12-19, 08:22 PM
Indeed. This is why, as mucat said, the rules suck at modeling poison and disease.


Well, or any kind of injury in general.

"10 d6 damage? 35 average? Thats nothing. I swan dive off the cliff!"

Yuki Akuma
2010-12-19, 08:56 PM
Eh, it requires a lot of the same level of self-training as low-level psionics themselves do, so close enough.

Also, did you perhaps intern here? (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment)

I had in fact just finished reading that article when I posted. >.>


Well, you can use autohypnosis to reduce your heart-rate which would staunch bleeding and slow the effects of poisons in the blood stream.

...True! It's still a bit far-fetched.

Shhalahr Windrider
2010-12-19, 09:10 PM
Well, or any kind of injury in general.

"10 d6 damage? 35 average? Thats nothing. I swan dive off the cliff!"
Yeah. That too. :smalltongue:

Anyway, another thing to remember is that saving throws represent luck as well as toughness/agility/mental resilience. So a few good Fort saves vs. poison could just as well mean that the fangs didnít puncture any appropriate blood vessels as well as you just toughing it out.

Doug Lampert
2010-12-19, 09:38 PM
Yeah. That too. :smalltongue:

Anyway, another thing to remember is that saving throws represent luck as well as toughness/agility/mental resilience. So a few good Fort saves vs. poison could just as well mean that the fangs didnít puncture any appropriate blood vessels as well as you just toughing it out.

We have no way of knowing that there's any poison injected into the character at all till after he fails a save. Maybe the snake strike slammed into the armor padding and failed to inject any poison into flesh at all.

The attack hit, that means it was an "effective" attack, where effective is defined to include attacks doing 1 HP to a guy with 500 HP (aka, all we know is it wasn't a total and complete failure). The character now needs to save twice against poison. If the poison is CERTAINLY effective when injected and was CERTAINLY injected in noticable quantity, then the poison will do damage even on a made save.

If the poison does nothing on a made save then it either isn't that strong a poison or it wasn't injected in sufficient quantity.

Shhalahr Windrider
2010-12-19, 09:58 PM
If the poison does nothing on a made save then it either isn't that strong a poison or it wasn't injected in sufficient quantity.
Exactly. :smallbiggrin:

Callista
2010-12-19, 11:14 PM
Bear in mind that if you get bitten by a black mamba in real life, you don't get a Fortitude save - you just die. If you're going to complain about heal checks and their magical curative properties, first you should complain about how characters can apparently ignore the effects of poison through pure heroic grit. It's awesome, sure, but it doesn't actually work like that.Black mamba poison obviously has a DC of 25 or even 30, so that it takes an extraordinarily tough person who is extraordinarily lucky to survive it.

Ernir
2010-12-20, 12:45 AM
Hmm. If it weren't for that whole thing about the Heal skill being usable in dead magic zones, I'd say the skill being in some way magical makes perfect sense. In a world where magic is real, I'd expect a healer's kit to contain stuff like a holy symbol of Pelor and plants grown in a hallowed area.

Shhalahr Windrider
2010-12-20, 09:04 AM
Hmm. If it weren't for that whole thing about the Heal skill being usable in dead magic zones, I'd say the skill being in some way magical makes perfect sense. In a world where magic is real, I'd expect a healer's kit to contain stuff like a holy symbol of Pelor and plants grown in a hallowed area.
A number of Extraordinary abilities still defy the laws of physics. So I consider such abilities to be quasi-magical and explain antimagic/dead magic zones as not being able to totally shut down all magic. Basically either theyíve got a blind spot to such low impact quasi-magic or the quasi-magic is so infused in the universe that it canít be eliminated.

Roderick_BR
2010-12-20, 09:41 AM
its not magic its skill at applying bandages or whatever
http://pandadrake.deviantart.com/art/TF2-Extinguish-122453399
"Here, take these pills. They'll magically cure you of being sprayed with napalm."
Yeah, healing skill in D&D is not all that you think it is. It's hard work trying to minimize harm from dangerous encounters.
Of course, a simple "cure minimum wounds" will far surpass any heal check by a huge marging. Dying? Cast cure. Stepped on calltrops? Cast cure. Hmm... it can't treat poison or diseases, though. Oh, well. Still makes the heal skill half useless.
Until you learn to cast remove disease and remove poison.

Shhalahr Windrider
2010-12-20, 10:13 AM
Of course, a simple "cure minimum wounds" will far surpass any heal check by a huge marging.
Yeah. Actually going back to the OP, ďIs Heal overpowered?Ē No itís not because of this. Most parties have much better alternatives.


Dying? Cast cure. Stepped on calltrops? Cast cure. Hmm... it can't treat poison or diseases, though. Oh, well. Still makes the heal skill half useless.
Until you learn to cast remove disease and remove poison.
Well, it does have its use if youíre shortchanged on the neutralize poison when you accidentally stumble into the Giant Viper Den.

Callista
2010-12-20, 12:24 PM
When the cleric's unconscious; when you're the closest person and the guy with the wand of cure light is on the other side of the dragon--yeah, it comes in handy.