Healing, It’s Not Just For Clerics Anymore

While my work schedule is beginning to clear I still find my self buried under loads of projects and responsibility which I really must get under control. I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks to my good friend DM Samuel I can take a deep breath and focus a bit more on what I needs doing and hopefully be back to writing this week! Thanks again Sam for the wonderful guest post!

First off, thanks to Thadeous for letting me write this guest post!  For those of you that don’t know me, my name is DMSamuel.  I wear several hats, including the editor-in-chief hat over at RPG Musings, the co-host hat at 4 Geeks 4e, a 4e Dungeons and Dragons Podcast (along with @ThadeousC @SarahDarkmagic and @WolfSamurai).  In addition, I often sit around the table and interrupt everyone over on the DM Roundtable podcast, an irregular RPG focused podcast.  And now, on with the article!

I am pretty dedicated to DMing. I spend a lot of time running games, planning games, talking to others about games, reading blog posts about games, readings magazines about games, buying products, reviewing products, designing encounters, reading D&D products, etc.  All of this in an effort to improve my DMing skills and make sure that I can offer my players an entertaining game.  This doesn’t leave me much time to be a player in very many games.

When I get the rare chance to play in a game run by someone else, my favorite class to play is the Cleric.  Shocking, isn’t it?  Isn’t that the class that we give to the player that doesn’t know how to do anything?  Isn’t that the class we give to the player that doesn’t understand everything that’s going on?  What am I talking about?  In case you didn’t know, the cleric has been a much maligned class in older editions because it seemed to only be good at three things: 1) standing around, 2) turning undead, and 3) healing the rest of the party.  Standing around is first because it is often cited as the most common activity for the cleric.  Okay, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but you get my point, and despite the exaggeration it is true.  The cleric’s most important task was to be the field medic – run around the battlefield to tend the wounds of the injured and get them back on their feet so that we survive the combat.

When 4e D&D came out, the cleric changed drastically.  The class came into its own, so to speak.  Not only does the cleric still heal and turn undead, but now he/she can be as effective as every other member of the party!  Attacking, planning tactics, doing damage, using many skills, and generally being an effective member of the party as brought the status of the cleric up in the eyes of the multitude of D&D players world-wide.

In fact, while one of the cleric’s important tasks is to keep the party healthy, it is now not only clerics that can do this, but every class.  Yes, while the cleric was elevated in status to be effective in more ways than one, the party’s reliance on the cleric for healing has diminished a little.  Every player has access to the Heal skill and can utilize it to maximum effect.  This article is meant to remind us of all the ways any player can use the Heal skill to help out the party while the cleric is busy doing other stuff (and I don’t mean standing around).


As I said above, using healing in battle isn’t just available to the cleric anymore.  Now any PC of any class can attempt to administer First Aid (page 185, Player’s Handbook 1) to an ally.

Administering first aid is a standard action and allows you three choices:

1) Allow an injured ally to use his/her Second Wind.  This is accomplished by succeeding at a DC 10 Heal Check.  This ability has some limitation, e.g. the player using the skill must be adjacent to the injured PC and the injured PC doesn’t receive the defense bonuses usually associated with expending a second wind.  The injured PC also has to have a second wind available to use and a healing surge available to expend.

2) Help a dying ally by Stabilizing them. This is accomplished by succeeding at a DC 15 Heal Check.  Once again, the administering PC must be adjacent to the injured PC.  If the heal check is a success, the dying PC stops making death saving throws (until they take damage again), but their current HP total doesn’t change.  So this is healing of a sort that doesn’t restore HP.  Still, in a pinch this may be needed.

3) Allow an ally to attempt a Saving Throw. This is accomplished by succeeding at a DC 15 Heal Check.  Once again, you must be adjacent to the affected PC.  If you succeed, your ally has a choice: attempt an immediate saving throw or gain a +2 bonus to their end-of-turn saving throw.

Those are some pretty strong options for getting help in dire situations.  Yes, they cause the “healer” to use a standard action and roll a skill check, so there is the possibility of failure.  To many players it may sound like a “waste” of a turn to try and grant an ally a saving throw.  It is not a “waste.”

Example 1: What if the ally adjacent to you became dominated (save ends) and you knew you were the next target of his/her attack?  You are down to a few HP and aren’t sure you could sustain a hit from your ally (even a melee basic attack).  Sounds like a great time to allow them a saving throw against the dominated condition – if you succeed and they make their save, you just saved yourself or other allies.

Example 2: Your party is on the verge of a TPK and the defender in front of you just went down.  Two turns later, the defender has failed two death saving throws and the cleric cannot make it to the defender in time to administer healing word before the defender’s next death save roll.  You’re out of potions.  What is your best option?  Attack the creature in front of you or stabilize your dying comrade?  If you feel there could be a TPK looming on the horizon, why spend a turn attacking, why not administer first aid and try to stop the TPK spiral?

That last example is a description of an encounter I was actually playing in, changed only slightly.  In the real game there was no cleric.  I was a resourceful warlord and we were heading down the road to TPK-ville before we even realized it.  I have to admit that I had forgotten to use the options outlined above when playing that day.  We were so caught up in the pursuit of a big baddie that we just kept going, not healing the fallen.  In fact, every single player in that game forgot they could use Heal to administer first aid to a comrade.  If we hadn’t I’m convinced that we would not have perished.

Now that every class has the ability to administer healing of sorts, is the cleric obsolete?  Heck No!!  It’s still my favorite class and it still has its place, albeit of higher stature and effectiveness than before.  So why did I write this post, other than to engender more love for the cleric?  To remind you that you don’t have to be a cleric to heal anymore, you can use the heal skill to help your comrades in dire situations and just might change the tide of battle.  And if that fails, well, make sure your party has a cleric handy!

Part idiot. Part old man. All geek. Thadeous can't think of anything interesting about him self right now. Know this though if he could it would be creative and funny as well as thought provoking.


About Thadeousc

Thadeous can't think of anything interesting about him self right now. Know this though if he could it would be creative and funny as well as thought provoking.
Subscribe to Comments RSS Feed in this post

One Response

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *