Healing & Recovery

OK, so in response to an enquiry – regarding Soak and rates of recovery from damage – I have revisited my Exalted™ core rulebook. I now have a “beta” version of the healing & recovery mechanics I want to use for the campaign. It also got me thinking about things like “class” balance and my motivations for how I have incorporated certain mechanics into my rules hack.

Firstly I wanted to talk about the magical healing abilities that are available to characters throught the Heroic Feats system. Rapid healing is a staple of roleplaying games – whether it be a kolto tank, a first-aid kit or a Cure Light Wounds spell – and mine is no exception. But why? There are two big reasons that come to mind for me:

One is that recovery from injury in the real world is often painful, invasive and neccesitates long periods of inactivity. Not a heck of a lot of fun. By introducing a fantastic element to our games, however, we can circumvent the mundane or traumatic effects of injury,allowing us to concentrate on the aspects of our game that are fun. Fairly self evident, I would think.

Number two is that our worlds are fantastic – especially when we start to include magic or hyper-advanced technology – and we have to ask ourselves about the possibilities inherent in the differences between these fantastic worlds and our own. What miracles of science can we introduce to our sci-fi game that make it stand out from the real world? What sorts of things can happen when the supernatural is both real and active within a modern horror setting? Rapid, miraculous recovery from injury and illness forms part of the foundation for the supernatural literature of our own world, so it makes an ideal candidate for adding that extra element of fantasy to our roleplaying games. It is both familiar and fantastic at the same time.

There is a flip side, however, to the idea of rapid healing. If one allows it to be too prevalent, or commonly available, withing the game world there is little to fear from injury. Why should a fighter worry about getting struck by a goblin when he knows the cleric can cure the injury – or even bring him back to life should the wound prove mortal? Injury without consequences becomes boring. Thus the designer must strike a balance between fear and fun.

Although these thoughts (musings? ramblings?) were not clearly articulated, they were in the back of my mind when I worked on the Heroic Feats system. One of my design principles – and I may talk about these, at length, another time – has been that fantastic action requires fantastic resources. One of the mechanics in place to balance the power of a heroic individual is that they are inherently at the mercy of limited resources. A player must spend experience points, Heroic Reserves, Willpower or Health Levels (sometimes all of the above) to possess or activate the abilities that set her character above the norm. This, then, applies to rapid healing. The Feats that provide fantastic healing powers are limited by the availability of the resources. A party in combat must balance their need to deal damage with their potential need to heal injuries and reduce downtime.

Another principle I have tried to hold to is that I didn’t want to pigeon-hole players into being the healer (or any particular role, except by player choice). I do not think a player’s fun during conflict resolution should be arbitrarily reduced simply because they have a healing spell. No single Sphere of feats will be the “best” at, or have the most access to, rapid healing Feats. Creation adepts have healing feats but can also be among the most devastating magical combabtants, for example.

So now we come to the crux of the post: first-Tier characters have access to two rapid healing Feats – one in Order and one in Creation – which are similar in function. Both of these Spheres contain other abilities that are unrelated to healing. There is a cost to the player, both a resource cost and an opportunity cost, to have these abilities but they need not become the defining aspect of the character simply by virtue of their presence. Natural healing times – as we’ll see below – should be just long enough to give players pause but not so long as to cripple a narrative.

The Rules:

Lethal damage heals at the following rates:

  • 0 and -1 Levels heal at a rate of 1 per 6 hours.
  • -2 Levels heal at a rate of 1 per 2 days
  • -5 and Incapacitated Levels heal at a rate of 1 per week.

Bashing Damage recovers at a rate of 1 per 3 hours, regardless of penalty level, and can heal concurrently with other damage types.

Aggravated damage heals at the same rate as Lethal damage but cannot be healed with magic.

All healing rates assume a rested state. The listed recovery times are doubled for active characters. A successful Healing ability check can halve the listed times. An active character treated by a Healer will have a normal recovery rate. Non-heroic actors must double all listed times to arrive at a base rate i.e the protagonists of the story heal at twice the rate of lesser mortals by virtue of their heroic status.

In all cases, the higher penalty Health Levels must recover first eg: Argasta has lost 2 x 0 levels, 2 x -1 levels , 2 x -2 levels and a -5 level, all Lethal damage. He must spend a week to heal the -5, then 4 days healing the -2 levels, then 24 hours healing the -1 and 0 levels.


~ by occam99 on April 13, 2012.

One Response to “Healing & Recovery”

  1. I have an idea for a future feat, perhaps for Arcane or Chaos. “Damage Transfer” – give a player the ability to heal by transferring their damage to another character (e.g. by sucking their blood, draining their life energy or some other mechanism). You could build on this by having the same (or another) feat to enable the transfer of health (e.g. healing a character by taking on their wounds).

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