Skill Focus: Heal

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on April 15, 2009

You’re trained in Heal so you can patch wounds and stabilizing dying characters, but it doesn’t have to stop there. Here are 10 new and creative ways to get more out of Heal. Depending on your PC’s background and how you role-play him, Heal can encompass a wide variety of disciplines.

The method in which your PC received his training in Heal can have a significant impact on which of these alternate uses of the skill your DM will allow. A character who spent years learning under a professional physician will know different things then someone who became a battlefield medic in real combat conditions.

Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your training you still posses a wide berth of knowledge on how the body works and what it takes to make it better. A little imagination opens the door for possible uses of Heal in a number of new and unexpected ways.

10 New Ways to Use Heal

  1. Hit ‘em where it hurts

  2. Your knowledge of anatomy allows you to locate vulnerable spots on your target. Striking these spots allows you to inflict excruciating pain. Make a Heal check (hard DC) as a standard action. Your likelihood of scoring a critical hit against that opponent increases by 1 until the end of your next turn.

  3. Knowing the mind

  4. You’re able to accurately diagnose or treat a mental disorder, including addiction.

  5. More than just medicine

  6. You know alternative uses for medicines. A successful Heal check allows you to mix appropriate medicines into something harmful.

  7. Crime scene investigator

  8. A successful Heal check when examining a corpse will allow you to determine the most likely cause of death and the approximate time of death.

  9. A balanced diet

  10. In circumstances where food is scarce, a successful Heal check allows you to divide existing rations to maximize nutritional benefit. Receive +2 to Endurance checks to stave off the ill affects of hunger.

  11. Heal an ally

  12. A successful Heal check (DC hard) as a standard action allows you to treat an adjacent bloodied ally to use a healing surge on their turn as a minor action. This does not count as their second wind. While using Heal in this way you grant combat advantage until the beginning of your next turn.

  13. Inflict maximum pain

  14. During an interrogation you use your knowledge of anatomy to cause your target excruciating pain. +2 to your next Intimidate check.

    Note: Using Heal in this way is an evil act and should be role-played as such.

  15. Rare illness

  16. You accurately identify a rare illness. Gain +2 to the appropriate knowledge skill used to identify, cultivate or gather the ingredients for medicine used to treat the illness.

  17. Count backwards from 10…

  18. You know how to hypnotize people. Make a Heal check vs the target’s Will. If successful he becomes hypnotized (save ends). While the target is under the influence you received +2 to Diplomacy, Insight and Streetwise checks.

  19. Poison

  20. Your knowledge of medicines includes a familiarity with poisons and their affects on the body. A successful Heal check allows you to recognize poisons by sight, smell or taste as well as know what affects it will have on targets.

Don’t forget that the PHB provides direction for using Heal to provide First Aid. As a standard action you can allow an ally to use their second wind, stabilize a dying ally or grant a saving throw.

Let us know what you think of these suggested uses of Heal. If you’ve come up with new and creative ways to use Heal, please share them.

If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out all of our Skill Aides, including other entries in the Skill Focus series.

1 Rook April 15, 2009 at 7:36 pm

“Hit ‘em where it hurts”
If I were to use this option, I think I would make it a minor action and usable only on that turn. Having to burn a minor action and succeed at a Heal check seems fair enough to justify a +1 bonus.

I’m not to sure about #2 and #9, psychological “healing” seems like quite the stretch. But hey, if it works in your campaign, who am I to argue?

All the other ideas are pretty good and a creative use of an often underappreciated skill. Well done.

2 Ameron April 15, 2009 at 7:55 pm

“Hit ’em where it hurts” doesn’t provide a +1 bonus to attack, it increases your likelihood of scoring a crit. So if you usually crit on a 20, you’d score a crit on a 19-20 until the end of your next turn. Maybe I need to reword the description if that wasn’t clear.

I have no objection to this being a minor action.

3 Rook April 15, 2009 at 9:59 pm

Oh, no need. I knew what you meant. I guess I didn’t word my post quite right.
That being said, I still feel it would work better if the Heal check was used during the same round as the bonus to be applied. If you are intent on spotting a vulnerable location, burning your minor action for that round makes sense because you will have less time/attention span to do any other minor action while focusing your attack.

4 JEB January 27, 2010 at 6:45 am

How about leaving it a standard action, but instead of making it until end of next turn you say that it is: until the enemy notices (opposed perception check) that you are going for his vulnerable spots and adjusts his combat style accordingly …

5 Ameron January 28, 2010 at 10:05 am

I like that. It may require a standard action to get the advantage but you could conceivably keep getting the bonus for multiple rounds. Excellent suggestion.

6 mike April 30, 2011 at 8:32 am

I feel like the crime scene investigator Heal check is already well within the Heal skill’s domain. The others are neat ideas, but definitely additions to the skill rather than new realizations of the skill.

7 Johann May 28, 2011 at 4:54 am

The need to stretch the uses of Heal is simply because 4th edition has way too few skills.

Other than that, I really don’t like how you label effective use of torture as “evil”. While it may be just that from some point of view, it is also an action that could be easily justified. All nations have used torture in some way or another, if you take the real world as an example. Not to mention that I’m not a fan of the alignment system to begin with.

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