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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default At-Will Healing: game-breaking, or no?

    Just want to know your thoughts on the matter. A DM I played with recently allowed the party to craft a use-activated item of CLW, and using it felt pretty unfair, but it would have only been more efficient than wands after about 125 uses. Still made me feel pretty discouraged from playing characters with lots of healing effects (e.g. Pathfinder paladins), though. Having full health after every encounter made it feel like we were playing on easy mode.

    What do you all think about use-activated or command-word healing items? Do you allow/use them in your games?
    Last edited by Extra Anchovies; 2015-05-10 at 05:53 AM.
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    Default Re: At-Will Healing: game-breaking, or no?

    Health and healing is a ressource in Pathfinder. But it is a ressource that is unevenly distributed. A fighter has more than the wizard, and the guy that got attacked last encounter has it worse in the upcoming battle. Pathfinder and D&D expects you to have non optimized characters with strengths and benefits but they also expect you to enter combat fully healed and rid of most status effects.

    Still made me feel pretty discouraged from playing characters with lots of healing effects (e.g. Pathfinder paladins), though.
    You should voice your opinion in a calm manner. But hear this before: Sometimes time is of the essence so bigger heals and healers are very much encouraged. You can't spend 10 minutes healing after a battle when you know the whole enemy dungeon is alerted to your presence. When guards are actively searching for the intruders.

    Is it some kind of eternal wand of CLW? Or is it "unlimited instant health the DM-fiat the stick (TM)"? How quickly does it really heal?
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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: At-Will Healing: game-breaking, or no?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sporeegg View Post
    Health and healing is a resource in Pathfinder. But it is a resource that is unevenly distributed. A fighter has more than the wizard, and the guy that got attacked last encounter has it worse in the upcoming battle. Pathfinder and D&D expects you to have non optimized characters with strengths and benefits but they also expect you to enter combat fully healed and rid of most status effects.
    Hm.
    Quote Originally Posted by DMG, p. 49
    An encounter with an Encounter Level (EL) equal to the PCs’ level is one that should expend about 20% of their resources—hit points, spells, magic item uses, and so on.
    I personally see at-will healing as reducing this estimated 20% resource costs by too much, i.e. by saving the spell slots that would have been spent on healing, or by removing the need for expenditure of magic item charges.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sporeegg View Post
    You should voice your opinion in a calm manner. But hear this before: Sometimes time is of the essence so bigger heals and healers are very much encouraged. You can't spend 10 minutes healing after a battle when you know the whole enemy dungeon is alerted to your presence. When guards are actively searching for the intruders.
    (For the record, this is a past game that has since ended.)
    Hm. That's a fair point; burst healing is still definitely useful in some situations, e.g. in combat or in highly time-sensitive situations.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sporeegg View Post
    Is it some kind of eternal wand of CLW? Or is it "unlimited instant health the DM-fiat the stick (TM)"? How quickly does it really heal?
    It was use-activated Cure Light Wounds. Should've mentioned that in the OP. Will edit appropriately.
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  4. - Top - End - #4
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    Default Re: At-Will Healing: game-breaking, or no?

    Actually, I find that out-of-combat full-healing makes the game easier to run good encounters for. After all, I don't have to balance encounters with the uncertainty of knowing how much health the party will have when they come into it. I don't have to pull punches because 'they could all be half-dead when they fight this'. I actually find burst healing to be more problematic, because after a certain point (the point in which any damage that isn't instantly fatal can be fully repaired in one round), you have to use OHKOs or all damage is just pointless (and I consider OHKOs to be very problematic and unfun game mechanics).

    In terms of your item: no, because I don't allows custom magic items at all. However, I encourage everyone to look into some source of Fast Healing as soon as possible.
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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: At-Will Healing: game-breaking, or no?

    I wouldn't say 'game-breaking', but I might say 'game-changing'. There are certain kinds of challenges that just become meaningless with this kind of thing. If the game is already focused on occasional big/challenging fights with lots of time in between (or player-controlled pacing) then it won't make a real difference. But the presence of at-will healing means that the only way to have a real attrition-minimization based challenge is to upgrade the form of attrition to things which are harder to deal with - ability damage and drain, each encounter having a chance of killing characters, etc.

    Essentially, without abundant healing, you can have an encounter which has 0% chance of killing even a single PC but which is still meaningful in the overall sequence of encounters. If the PCs treat it cavalierly, then they take more hitpoint damage than if they play smart. For a single encounter that doesn't matter but if you have to go through four or five and then you have a big no-holds-barred boss fight, then it challenges the players' ability to conserve resources, balance risk and reward, and generally exercise long-term strategic thinking. With abundant healing, the same encounters aren't going to really have an impact on the boss encounter, so they should be cut out or amplified into things that actually do drain relevant resources if mishandled.

    So what it comes down to is, there are certain types of gameplay which become harder to engage in with at-will healing. Those types of gameplay are not the only types of gameplay you can have, so whether it 'breaks' a particular campaign depends a lot on what that campaign is trying to be.

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    Default Re: At-Will Healing: game-breaking, or no?

    Yeah, it's definitely a change. Whether that change is for good or ill is a matter of taste, and will vary from group to group. But it's hard to get away from it entirely, as long as conventional healing resources are so cheap.
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    Default Re: At-Will Healing: game-breaking, or no?

    Lord_Gareth wrote a blog post about infinite healing, you should give it a read.

    That being said, I've done the infinite healing thing before. If you've got silver crane maneuvers and a +1 merciful gauntlet, you can punch your allies all day long to heal them at the cost of only 1d3+STR+1d6+1 nonlethal damage. It does feel a little rude to the DM but its hardly outside the realm of adjustment, and it's incredibly amusing to have the party dwarf run up to you and shout "I'm bleeding! Punch me in the face!"

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    Default Re: At-Will Healing: game-breaking, or no?

    I had a similar experience recently: what happened was that the party's Crusader realized that Martial Spirit doesn't actually require you to hit a foe and that he could just poke the ground with his sword, healing the party in the process. Three sessions has passed since, the players look satisfied and I didn't notice any game-breaking changes even without accomodating encounters: in fact, even though they now have access to a reasonable source of out-of-combat healing, they still need to rest every couple of hard encounters because the Wizard runs out of summons, the Totemist still risks to die almost every time the monster he just charged has enough to-hit bonus to bypass his huge natural AC, the Swift Hunter still rolls only incredibly low numbers on his attacks, the Spellthief still avoid taking damage at all because he uses a great crossbow and the Crusader feels over-the-top because even if he doesn't hit really hard (he invested heavily on AC) he's incredibly useful. Besides, healing 2 hp/round (they're all 4th level) didn't prove that game-breaking when they had to escape from a heavily guarded owlbear outpost, when they had little time to recover between each encounter. That time, the Wizard's healing belt proved much more useful.

    As for your situation, I don't think that at-will healing is game-breaking, nor that it is game-defeating per se. For example, if the at-will healing is acquired at a "fair" price like a feat (Troll-Blooded), a dip (Crusader 1) and/or comes from the powers of a single character (or even a bunch of characters) who can be seen as "the cool guy who makes things easier for us", it can be a nice addition to a game. On the other hand, if everyone can acquire at-will healing for cheap (how much for a command word CLW item? 1.800 gp?), the DM should inform players that they shouldn't build their characters around healing people, because otherwise they will feel useless if they decide to play that kind of character (partially or totally, depending on how many resources they invested in being a good healer).
    TL;DR: If you're going to let your player have at-will healing for 1.800 gp, you should nicely tell them to avoid playing a healer, similarly to how you should inform your players to not build a squad of diplomancers if your game will be based on Robinson Crusoe.

    EDIT:
    Quote Originally Posted by Elricaltovilla View Post
    Lord_Gareth wrote a blog post about infinite healing, you should give it a read.
    I don't see how that post is about infinite healing. Command word CLW items don't require sacrifices in kitten, do they?
    On the other hand, that post is beautiful. Let's have a moment of silence for all the kitten and bees that died fueling (Greater) Consumptive Fields.
    Last edited by Uncle Pine; 2015-05-10 at 08:14 AM.
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  9. - Top - End - #9
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: At-Will Healing: game-breaking, or no?

    Quote Originally Posted by Elricaltovilla View Post
    Lord_Gareth wrote a blog post about infinite healing, you should give it a read.
    You may have linked the wrong article. I don't see the connection. If you did mean to link the "bag of cats" post, it would be nice if you could explain its relevance here.
    Last edited by Extra Anchovies; 2015-05-10 at 08:09 AM.
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  10. - Top - End - #10
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    Default Re: At-Will Healing: game-breaking, or no?

    Quote Originally Posted by Extra Anchovies View Post
    Having full health after every encounter made it feel like we were playing on easy mode.
    In addition to that you're probably playing Pathfinder in "Burst Mode" now. Your fights come in bigger bursts (because you need bigger boats to challenge fully healed PCs) instead of attrition (fighting 25 goblins is a thing your PCs can succeed in but it is merely a balancing act of ressources spent on offense and defense).

    Quote Originally Posted by Extra Anchovies View Post
    I personally see at-will healing as reducing this estimated 20% resource costs by too much, i.e. by saving the spell slots that would have been spent on healing, or by removing the need for expenditure of magic item charges.
    Having full health is not a ressource factor but action economy in the fight. Healing infight is incredibly expensive actionwise. We fought an epic (CR+4) encounter yesterday where my Paladin dropped from 98 to 7 HP (so I lost 114 HP, plus one spell use of Hero's Defiance plus LoH). If I would have been damaged by the Nightmare spell that was cast onto us (1d10 = 8) I would've been dead now. One guy of five being decimated from 100% to negative HP is about 20% of the party's health. Still, it would have been pyrrhic victory. Yes we had a Cleric with "Heal" prepared. Yet, he was hit by Blasphemy and stunned for a round making him unable to come to me in time.

    So no, having an eternal wand is NOT game breaking
    Last edited by Spore; 2015-05-10 at 08:19 AM.
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    Default Re: At-Will Healing: game-breaking, or no?

    1. In most games, casters are burning spells in encounters, muggles are burning hp. Unlimited healing helps muggles vs casters a little. Since casters are stronger than muggles, this is not usually a bad thing.

    2. A cure light wounds wand tends to last through a couple of levels of heavy use. If your wand has the cost of 2.5 wands of clw, it will have no effect on game balance at all for 4-5 levels, since you could have just bought normal wands with the same money.

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    OrcBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: At-Will Healing: game-breaking, or no?

    Quote Originally Posted by Extra Anchovies View Post
    You may have linked the wrong article. I don't see the connection. If you did mean to link the "bag of cats" post, it would be nice if you could explain its relevance here.
    It's similar when you consider things like Silver Crane or (in 3.5) Devoted Spirit giving out infinite healing by hitting stuff. A character using one of those disciplines could carry around a "bag of kittens" to get the same effect as a command word item of Cure Light Wounds or much greater. This was supposedly a balance issue.

    The impetus for the article was the harbinger's recovery mechanic, but it's still relevant to the discussion as bag of kittening is an easy way to get infinite healing, at a much cheaper rate than custom magic items. Never mind that, y'know you have to be good to be able to use Silver Crane, and killing helpless kittens is anything but good.

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    Default Re: At-Will Healing: game-breaking, or no?

    Quote Originally Posted by Elricaltovilla View Post
    It's similar when you consider things like Silver Crane or (in 3.5) Devoted Spirit giving out infinite healing by hitting stuff. A character using one of those disciplines could carry around a "bag of kittens" to get the same effect as a command word item of Cure Light Wounds or much greater. This was supposedly a balance issue.

    The impetus for the article was the harbinger's recovery mechanic, but it's still relevant to the discussion as bag of kittening is an easy way to get infinite healing, at a much cheaper rate than custom magic items. Never mind that, y'know you have to be good to be able to use Silver Crane, and killing helpless kittens is anything but good.
    Cats are the embodiment of pure evil. Killing kittens isn't just a good act but a [Good] act. Those who claim otherwise are unfortunate victims of the feline agenda
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    Default Re: At-Will Healing: game-breaking, or no?

    I'll add my voice to the crowd that's staying that free healing isn't game-breaking. Now, if you become able to cast Heal at-will, then I might throw a few flags, but even that usually isn't as useful as casting other spells. If you follow the wands of lesser vigour link in my sig, you can see some graphs (via a link in the first paragraph) that show how inefficient healing is.

    Further, it shows the expected cost of healing, which ends up being less than 5% WBL by the end of the game. So, making it entirely free doesn't change much, and practically only matters at very low levels where healing is still both expensive and efficient.

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    Default Re: At-Will Healing: game-breaking, or no?

    I don't mind at-will healing; it's priced appropriately within the game's structure (in terms of gold and other resources like feats and spells and class features). I wouldn't like an item such as the one you're describing unless it was proportionately expensive - the PCs should expend resources to "solve" the issue of walking into every encounter unharmed.
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    Default Re: At-Will Healing: game-breaking, or no?

    Quote Originally Posted by GilesTheCleric View Post
    Further, it shows the expected cost of healing, which ends up being less than 5% WBL by the end of the game. So, making it entirely free doesn't change much, and practically only matters at very low levels where healing is still both expensive and efficient.
    And if anything, that overstates the actual cost of healing, since it assumes all healing comes from wands, when in practice the wands will often be supplemented by free class abilities (positive energy channeling from clerics, goodberry cast by druids or shamans on the day before the adventure, cleric or bard spells converted to cures at the end of the day, lay on hands, cures cast by summoned outsiders after the combat ends, temporary hp like aid or false life.)

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    Default Re: At-Will Healing: game-breaking, or no?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gnaeus View Post
    And if anything, that overstates the actual cost of healing, since it assumes all healing comes from wands, when in practice the wands will often be supplemented by free class abilities (positive energy channeling from clerics, goodberry cast by druids or shamans on the day before the adventure, cleric or bard spells converted to cures at the end of the day, lay on hands, cures cast by summoned outsiders after the combat ends, temporary hp like aid or false life.)
    That's an excellent point. The graphs already do overstate the requisite healing by assuming that PCs will reach 38 con by level 20, and aren't using other healing whose cost quickly approaches zero (healing belt) or is free like you've mentioned. If I weren't busy with life and that domain handbook, I might make a more comprehensive examination of healing. Maybe in a few months.

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    Default Re: At-Will Healing: game-breaking, or no?

    I wouldn't say 'game-breaking', but I might say 'game-changing'. There are certain kinds of challenges that just become meaningless with this kind of thing.
    Pretty much this.

    We have a DMM cleric in our party, and with lesser vigor persisted, we really ignore things like one of us falling at negative HPs, the wounds we suffered during a battle, or the chest that might be guarded by a burning hands spell that is activated if you try to crack it open instead of finding the key.

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    Default Re: At-Will Healing: game-breaking, or no?

    I'd also like to point out that if you have less experienced or op-savvy people in the game, there's a good chance they'll lag behind more powerful characters/more tactical players. They're far more likely to take a bunch of HP damage to the face, and be unable to keep up.
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    Default Re: At-Will Healing: game-breaking, or no?

    Quote Originally Posted by Evan Epis View Post
    Pretty much this.

    We have a DMM cleric in our party, and with lesser vigor persisted, we really ignore things like one of us falling at negative HPs, the wounds we suffered during a battle, or the chest that might be guarded by a burning hands spell that is activated if you try to crack it open instead of finding the key.
    The trick with that one is to have the chest trapped to destroy whatever's inside it instead of attacking the players. One lost treasure chest and the party will never, ever risk busting open a chest again without going over it with a fine toothed comb.

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    Default Re: At-Will Healing: game-breaking, or no?

    Quote Originally Posted by Elricaltovilla View Post
    The trick with that one is to have the chest trapped to destroy whatever's inside it instead of attacking the players. One lost treasure chest and the party will never, ever risk busting open a chest again without going over it with a fine toothed comb.
    Sure, of course. There are many ways around it,I'm not denying that.

    The spell in question might have been an inflict spell or whatever. Said example was used just to describe some things you can "ignore" with infinite healing, like traps that would otherwise hinder and soften you before the next battle.

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    Default Re: At-Will Healing: game-breaking, or no?

    Quote Originally Posted by Evan Epis View Post
    Pretty much this.

    We have a DMM cleric in our party, and with lesser vigor persisted, we really ignore things like one of us falling at negative HPs, the wounds we suffered during a battle, or the chest that might be guarded by a burning hands spell that is activated if you try to crack it open instead of finding the key.
    Also this feels like bad roleplaying. Unless all characters have severe sadomasochistic tendencies, they still would avoid physical harm just because it really really hurts. Not to talk about the risks involved (because vigor is a comparatively slow healing spell and does not cover even the poorest poisoned dart).
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    Default Re: At-Will Healing: game-breaking, or no?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sporeegg View Post
    Also this feels like bad roleplaying. Unless all characters have severe sadomasochistic tendencies, they still would avoid physical harm just because it really really hurts. Not to talk about the risks involved (because vigor is a comparatively slow healing spell and does not cover even the poorest poisoned dart).
    I'm not imlying that you should throw yourself intentionally into every magically trapped chest, door, box etc you find before you, and try to destroy it via force while you are being hit repeatedly by magical energies in the process, just because you know your wounds are going to heal. Or that, we, do it on purpose continuously. And as you are correctly stating, of course said spell could be... an enervation spell which is not something a lesser vigor cannot deal with.

    My examples were given just to describe what the quote I used meant more or less:

    "I wouldn't say 'game-breaking', but I might say 'game-changing'. There are certain kinds of challenges that just become meaningless with this kind of thing."

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    Default Re: At-Will Healing: game-breaking, or no?

    The general assumption in my games is that encounters start at full health. If they got there with a wand, fast healing or an infinite use item is irrelevant, so it's not game-breaking.
    They might have a little more gold, long-term, but hardly enough to make a significant difference.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sporeegg View Post
    Also this feels like bad roleplaying. Unless all characters have severe sadomasochistic tendencies, they still would avoid physical harm just because it really really hurts. Not to talk about the risks involved (because vigor is a comparatively slow healing spell and does not cover even the poorest poisoned dart).
    If they were afraid of pain they would have gone for a different profession. Adventurers get hurt.
    Not to mention that they already know "the cleric cast a vigor spell on us, so it'll be fine".

    Of course ignoring someone dropping into negatives is a good way to get that someone killed by an unlucky AoE or a monster following through, so it's not the smartest decision.
    But letting the precast spell take care of any wounds that aren't immediately life threatening is completely in-character, because that's what it's for.

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    Default Re: At-Will Healing: game-breaking, or no?

    Quote Originally Posted by Elricaltovilla View Post
    The trick with that one is to have the chest trapped to destroy whatever's inside it instead of attacking the players. One lost treasure chest and the party will never, ever risk busting open a chest again without going over it with a fine toothed comb.
    Isn't that kind of an issue from a common sense perspective?

    You put something into a locked chest to keep it safe, if you're going to blow it up at the risk of someone trying to steal it you may as well have just chucked the item in a trash heap rather than spending time and money on a box to put it in, and if you were going to destroy the item anyway why bother with the box, just destroy it now.

    It's a bit like putting your family heirlooms inside a proximity triggered bomb rather than putting the bomb in the entrance to the room. It just makes very little sense.
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    Default Re: At-Will Healing: game-breaking, or no?

    Overall I like it, because it means martials really can fight all day while casters have to budget carefully. Without plentiful out of combat healing, it's usually the martials who need to stop first, because being at 20% hp is much much more scary than being at 20% spell slots left. You do need to have multiple fights in a day for it to even matter, but I have to do that anyway just to keep the casters in line.

    The only bad thing is that it makes it harder to pull off the whole "heroes gradually battered throughout the villain's dungeon before bravely confronting him while injured" thing. Although it's a game and not a novel, so if they really feel weakened, they're going to try their best to weasel out of continuing and retreat back to rest no matter what you do for healing rules.
    You need to implement more long-lasting debuffs, ability damage, and level drain instead. Or utilize wave attacks and turn multiple encounters into one giant fight that lasts many rounds.
    Time limits to reach the end of a dungeon or else bad stuff happens also nips it in the bud and makes everything more tense and exciting, but you can't justify that all the time.

    At-will healing being allowed needs to come with the understanding that the party will try its best to push on and not still fall back on the nova'ing 15 min. adventuring day for it to be anything more than a thing to further trivialize the difficulty. I had the pre-nerf Glorious Heat feat in a PF gestalt game and could full heal people just by lighting candles ("new-agey hippy healing"!) with my unlimited use Spark orison. We'd fight seriously like 10-16 encounters some days, rushing through huge dungeons in one big slog. Having lots of 10 min/level buffs we wanted to get the most possible use out of may also have had something to do with it...

  27. - Top - End - #27
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    OrcBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: At-Will Healing: game-breaking, or no?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grim Portent View Post
    Isn't that kind of an issue from a common sense perspective?

    You put something into a locked chest to keep it safe, if you're going to blow it up at the risk of someone trying to steal it you may as well have just chucked the item in a trash heap rather than spending time and money on a box to put it in, and if you were going to destroy the item anyway why bother with the box, just destroy it now.

    It's a bit like putting your family heirlooms inside a proximity triggered bomb rather than putting the bomb in the entrance to the room. It just makes very little sense.
    Not necessarily. Self destructing safes are a real thing, they're useful because sometimes it's more important to keep whatever's inside the safe out of somebody else's hands than it is to keep it in the safe. This is especially true in the case of sensitive information, but also applies in any case where the material value of the item in question is less than the application value.

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    Default Re: At-Will Healing: game-breaking, or no?

    Quote Originally Posted by StreamOfTheSky View Post
    I had the pre-nerf Glorious Heat feat in a PF gestalt game and could full heal people just by lighting candles ("new-agey hippy healing"!) with my unlimited use Spark orison.
    That is goddamn hilarious. Relax, dudes. We're out of danger and the next guy trying to kill us is at LEAST two doors away. :D
    Until further notice 21st of October, please DM me for important stuff, and let the game master control my characters

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    Default Re: At-Will Healing: game-breaking, or no?

    Personally, my feeling is that it's fine as long as the party has made a meaningful investment in it. Just buying an unlimited-use healstick for a few thousand gold isn't a meaningful investment, but if someone wants to take a feat-class combo or something that results in limitless healing, sure, I'm cool with that.
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    Default Re: At-Will Healing: game-breaking, or no?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sporeegg View Post
    Also this feels like bad roleplaying. Unless all characters have severe sadomasochistic tendencies, they still would avoid physical harm just because it really really hurts. Not to talk about the risks involved (because vigor is a comparatively slow healing spell and does not cover even the poorest poisoned dart).
    Just because it could be seen as bad roleplaying doesn't mean that players aren't going to go and do it anyhow, because with infinite healing it actually does make good tactical sense. When you put two things in tension like that, you're asking the players a question (which do you prefer? which is more important to you? etc). You should generally be prepared to accept either answer you receive.

    It reminds me of a particular comment on game design from the guy who made AI War. It was something like 'if there's something boring or tedious that players can do to gain an advantage, players will do it and then be bored or frustrated'.

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