Sidebar: Second Wind

Healing surges are one of those mechanics in 4E that I am not particularly wild about. Granted, hit points are an abstract representation of injuries taken in combat, so it’s a little absurd to argue that allowing characters to spontaneously heal themselves in the middle of combat for no apparent reason is unrealistic. However, there’s something about the mechanic that just strains my sense of disbelief. On the other hand, I recognize that it sucks when you’re the front line fighter in a combat with a Huge creature that has 15 ft. reach, and the cleric can’t get close enough to heal you without provoking an attack of opportunity. It’s even worse if the cleric is already down, or the party doesn’t even have a healer to begin with. That’s why I’m reluctantly willing to accept that maybe second wind is a necessary mechanic.

Now with that said, I don’t think it’s necessary to make second wind work the way that it does. In my opinion, second wind should work more like a surge of adrenaline. It gives you that temporary burst you need to temporarily ignore serious injuries. However, it comes at a price. That’s why, when I converted these rules to 3.5, I made the hit points granted by second wind temporary, and made it so that characters become fatigued when the hit points wear off. I think this is a nice way to allow players to overcome some of the shortcomings of not having a healer in the party, while still respecting the basic mechanics of Third Edition.

By the way, here’s another interpretation of the second wind action.

Variant Rule: Healing Surges.

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2 Responses to Sidebar: Second Wind

  1. Lugh says:

    Spycraft has a couple of related rules. First, it uses the vitality/wound system instead of straight hit points. That goes a long way to emphasizing the difference between damage as fatigue and damage as actual injury. Second, they have a refresh action. If you can duck out of combat for a round to catch your breath (i.e., be somewhere where you won’t be attacked for a round), you can spend an action die to recover some of your vitality. Note that it doesn’t work on wounds. This provides a mechanic for shaking off some of that battle fatigue, but doesn’t create the appearance of magically regenerating.

  2. dovearrow says:

    I’m not familiar with the rules for Spycraft. I’m assuming that the wound vitality system they use is similar to the one presented in Unearthed Arcana. If that’s the case, it sounds like a nice system. The only thing I don’t like is that you have to step out of combat. For me, I want a mechanic that allows a character to do what Boromir did in the LotR movie, where he’s pumped full of arrows, yet keeps on fighting.

    P.S. If that video I linked to has a funny sound track, or something, keep in mind that I don’t have sound on the computer I’m using.

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