Legolas was a warlord
by , 10-22-2011 at 10:01 PM (3367 Views)
More thoughts on Extended Rests
I think that in my previous writings I've been quite clear about my opinions on the nature of healing surges, and ways to make the game mechanics better fit your "narrative" space. I've included examples of how to make recovery harder, or easier depending on your mood and the needs of your game.
After some consideration I started thinking about why some of the mechanics don't seem to fit, or are inadequate for the "narrative" space that DMs and players might use. I usually don't have a problem modifying to meet my needs, but I'm a pretty laid back gamer too. The main disconnect is that each group of gamers wants a different thing from the Fantasy RPG (FRPG). No game is ever going to fit ALL these needs. Some become "irrational", and I'm being hyperbolic here, when the game doesn't fit their needs. Even though some other game might fit their needs better, they instead want a particular game to provide for their experience right out of the box, even if it is not the right fit. This way lies madness, but such is the way of the internet, and Veruca Salt.
To avoid confusion I will define in very general terms what I perceive to be the main purpose of an FRPG. That way all my discussions are framed within that context.If your definition of the primary purpose of the FRPG is significantly different from mine then most of what I write will make no sense, or will probably clash with your needs. In that case the context of what I write is not for you. However, if that context seems to jive with your needs from the game then maybe I can offer some additional insights.The primary purpose of the FRPG is to provide an entertaining way for imaginary characters to go "adventuring".
Some of the complaints leveled at 4e are that it does not provide a mechanical way of representing "serious wounds". I've already addressed that in previous writings, and have even provided multiple "mechanical" ways for DMs to do so if they choose. There is a pretty strong game reason why those things are not something the game provides out of the box. They interfere with the primary purpose of the FRPG, which is to go adventuring, not spend your time on bed rest.
Since the game focuses on adventuring, not on the minutea of recovery, there's a clash with the expectations of some DMs as to the replenishment of adventuring resources. Let's make this clear, healing surges, and hit points are adventuring resources, not just health resources as the name might imply. Some would argue that their narrative is being impacted by the "rules", because ALL Healing Surges and ALL Daily powers are replenished after an extended rest. I would argue that this is an artificial limit placed by the DM on the narrative and the mechanics, not something that the game does on its own. Because the game is "mute" in that area. All areas of narrative are pretty much left to the DM and players to "invent."
If the game has "rules" that don't fit your narrative then change the rules, or drop them. Don't be a slave to the rules. I like to take a page from the musings of Tom Moldvay - "In a sense, the D&D game has no rules, only rule suggestions." However, I recognize that these particular rules are somewhat intrinsic to the game. So dropping them is not an attractive option. Then let's look at how the narrative, or the rules clash and see how we can make this work.
EXTENDED RESTS, WHY?
One of the design goals of 4e was to reduce the need to stop adventuring each time the magic-casters ran out of spells. To that end the game provided more varied resources that could be replenished for each encounter. If the DM and players wanted, they could continue using just encounter powers, and at-will powers indefinitely. However, the game also "recognizes" that at some point the characters should rest. So the resource that now "forces" you to stop adventuring is healing surges. When you are low on them you recognize that it's time to hunker for the night. Previously, I have already shown several way to "simulate" short term and long term wounds. Though the idea might seem attractive, the side effect is that you start losing adventuring resources. Exactly the opposite effect you would want if you keep in mind the primary purpose of the FRPG. So the reason for FULL replenishment after an extended rest is specifically tied to the main purpose of the FRPG, to continue adventuring.
So why does the narrative clash?
It seems to me like a matter of perspective. I'll give an example to try to demonstrate.
In the way to your destination you encounter the enemy and engage in a heated battle. He is overrunning you, and their forces are decimating your allies. You spend quite a bit of your encounter powers and even some of your dailies. You are badly wounded, then something happens and you are completely taken out of the battle (HP Loss). You are unconscious and dying (0 HP) and you are even removed from the field of battle by circumstances. Now your friends don't even have a clue of where you are, and left on your own you will probably die. But you are a hero, the hand of fate intervenes and you recover enough (roll a 20 on death save) to get back up. Battered and bruised (spent healing surges) you make your way to your comrades position. You spend some time assisting with the defenses at their station. With some bandaging of your wounds, and only a few hours of "rest" (extended rest - FULL RESOURCES) you don your armor, and are once again ready to face the onslaught that is the main forces of the enemy.
Some say that narrative clashes. How can someone that was "dead" a few hours ago now be ready, with just a few hours of rest, to take on the onslaught of the enemy? Because he is a hero, I say. Let's take the same situation and put it into "narrative" context.
You are headed to Helm's Deep when you encounter a force of worg riders. You engage them in a heated battle. Their forces are overrunning you, and decimating your allies. In the battle you spend quite a bit of your encounter powers and even some of your dailies. In the heat of battle you are badly wounded. Your arm is caught on the bridle of a worg and he careens off a cliff knocking you unconscious in the fall. Now your friends don't have a clue of where you are, and left on your own you will probably die. But you are Aragorn, the hand of fate intervenes and you recover enough to get back up. Battered and bruised you ride your horse to Helm's Deep and your comrades. Legolas, your friend, meets you in the keep. He teases you about being late, and comments that you "look terrible", which inspires you(LEGOLAS WAS A WARLORD). After tending to the defenses of the keep, you take a rest, don your armor, ready for the onslaught of the enemy forces.
If Aragorn had to spend a week recovering because he went to 0 HP or lower, how is that assisting the narrative? If "magic" is the answer, how does the narrative advance if magic is not common in your world? If you don't like extended rests replenishing adventuring resources what would you like to use? How would you pace if the PCs get the crap beat out of them first thing in the day?
So there is no clash, except the one you choose to create for yourself. What some call rules inconsistencies I view as opportunities to extend the narrative. Hit Points have always been defined as this "weird" mix of physical and metaphysical reserves. 4e is the first D&D system to actually treat them as such, and provides mechanical ways of healing both, therefore supporting the definition. When a warlord inspires you, he can be restoring your metaphysical reserves. Just like a sergeant yells at the private that has just been knocked on his ass with a wound and tells him, "come on, do you want to live forever?" Inspiring him to great deeds of heroism. When you dig deep inside to see what you're made of, you "second wind" and are able to reach those reserves of "guts." Is "magic" necessary for any of that? IMO the answer is no. The characters are heroes, they have reserves of guts that normal human beings can't comprehend. When the Cleric is using his Healing Word, the magic of his divine avatar might be actually closing your physical wounds. When the Warlord uses his Inspiring Word and tells you, "If you're not a hero, then go home", he is challenging you to dig deep and give another measure of heroism, he "closes" the metaphysical wounds.
The real wear and tear you are taking is accounted for with healing surges you spend. If you, as the DM, want to say that a wound is physical go ahead. But what prevents you from saying that during a short, or extended rest the characters are cleaning, bandaging and treating their wounds? Therefore, making the negative effects of the wound not affect their main purpose, adventuring. Those that complain that 4e limits the narrative usually fail to extend the narrative to cover the treatment of the wounds after the fact. No wonder the narrative clashes.
Did you feel that shock and awe
Did you know that the majority of soldiers killed in battle do not die from their wounds, but from shock? The treatment for shock usually means that someone is reassuring that person and making them feel comfortable, inspiring them to keep their bodies functioning. Most medal of honor recipients received their medal posthumously, their deeds of heroism in the face of overwhelming odds, and wounds that would have killed "lesser" men are "epic" in the telling. Some of them lived, and fought, for many hours and even days before finally dying. Most living medal of honor recipients note that they kept fighting because of their comrades and their duty. Determination won the day, without one bit of "magic". Keep that in mind next time warlord healing seems "unrealistic."