Greatest Hits 2009: I’m Your Cleric, Not Your Bitch!

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on December 28, 2009

While the Dungeon’s Master team enjoys some well-deserved vacation time, we’re breaking out the greatest hits and shining a spotlight on a few of our favourite articles from 2009. We’ve searched for hidden gems that our newer readers might have missed and our long-time readers will enjoy reading again. Enjoy a second look at these greatest hits from Dungeon’s Master.

This was one of the very first articles I ever wrote for Dungeon’s Master. I found it amazing that one of the guys at my gaming table came up with such an interesting way to play his character (in this case, a leader). At first I was kind of upset that this player would be so selfish and not do his job. But the more I thought about it I realized that each player can play his own PC however he wants. If the rest of the party doesn’t like it, then that’s just too bad for them.

When I wrote this I’d only ever played a defender and striker. So even though I agreed with this player’s decision not to heal until a PC used his second wind, I didn’t truly appreciate his point of view until I played a leader. After that I was 100% on board with this attitude.

Too many players assume that the leader’s job it to heal them… and that’s all they’re supposed to do. It’s these players more than any others that I think need to adopt the second wind first behaviour. Until you can appreciate the leader as an equally important part of the adventuring party and not just your personal medic, taking this kind of extreme view to healing is the best way to make your point.

Comments on the original article came down on equally on both sides of this debate. I think in the end it comes down to how the you want to play your PC if you’re the leader and for everybody else it comes down to an issue of respect for the other role and classes in your party.

From April 14, 2009, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: I’m Your Cleric, Not Your Bitch!

“I am a defender of the faith, a holy warrior and a vassal of my deity. I am not in the party simply to heal your wounds!”

An interesting debate occurred within our gaming group recently. One of our healers, in this case the Cleric, decided that he will not use his Healing Word or any other power that allows others to use healing surges unless a) they are bloodied and b) they have already used their second wind. He is so adamant about following this guideline that he would rather take no minor action instead of healing the other PCs.

As you can imagine this has made for some very heated discussions in and out of game. Luckily we also have a Warlord and a Paladin in the party so it’s not like we don’t have any other options. However, the player running the Warlord missed a few games recently and the Cleric’s refusal to heal has greatly impacted the direction of numerous battles.

Although it took me a little while to come around I must admit that I like this approach. After all, why should my ally needlessly waste his actions and resources to heal me if I can heal myself?

Healing potions are cheap, 50gp. Most characters have one (or should have one) by the time they reach 2nd level. It may only heal 10 hp, but it still allows for non-healers to use one more healing surge during combat. So if you know that the party has healing potions and can use them as a minor action then why not wait for them to do so?

Where this really gets interesting is when there are Dwarves in the party. Since a Dwarf can use his second wind as a minor action there’s no excuse for not using it before you beg the Cleric or Warlord for help.

More and more, I see players rolling up tanks and run headlong into melee combat to fight monsters. They rarely, if ever, give any thought to healing. What these players need to realize is that when they’re running low on hit points they need to move out of combat and heal. They shouldn’t feel that it is their duty and their right to be in the front line and not have to slow down for anything (like reaching 0 hp). For too long the heavy hitters have claimed that they are more valuable to the fight by dealing lots of damage every round then taking one round off to heal.

To these players I say, too bad! Just because I’m playing a class with healing powers doesn’t mean that I’m here to serve as your personal medic. I may be your Cleric, but I’m not your bitch! If you won’t change your tactics for one round to heal, then why should I?

The only PCs I can possibly see being exempt from the practice above are strikers. They deal so much damage so consistently that it is in the party’s best interest to keep the striker on offense. Strikers should use their standard action every single round to attack. The use of magical healing on a striker means the monsters drop faster and fewer healing surges are used by the whole party. That’s win-win.

Do you agree? Should players need to use their second wind before they’re eligible to receive magical healing? I think this is a great tactic and everyone should adopt it right away. Who’s with me?

1 math_geek December 28, 2009 at 4:37 pm

This was such an interesting article. I started reading this site long after this article was written. However, the general feeling of this article makes me quite angry. I can understand the general theme of God helps those who help themselves, but on the other-hand this comes across in many situations as simply unrealistic role-playing. For my characters, combat isn’t a game in which they can impose restrictions on themselves for the sake of challenge or piety. It’s an life-threatening struggle against forces that offer no other recourse. Most of my characters try to avoid fighting if they can (although there are certainly exceptions). When combat is inevitable, they have a team of trained combatants that make up the party. Leaders do not get their two minor-encounter heals in fourth edition just as a bonus. Their at-will powers and other powers are actively weaker to preserve the balance of the game. A cleric who chooses not to use his healing powers in combat in many situations is a character who is simply not doing everything within their power to win a combat. Is that someone I, as a person, would want to go into battle with at all? Consider a swordmage, fighter, or warden, who chooses not to mark creatures. After all, marking creatures only causes them to attack me and perhaps the character is a bit more self-interested than that. Especially if the rest of the party isn’t fully committed to success. Would defenders be as willing to handle front-line duties if they had to constantly pay for their own healing via healing potions? To go a step further, perhaps party members specifically refuse to protect the cleric, letting him stand on the front lines by themselves while they cover their own backs.

Or another interesting way, is, a character might not see this cleric as a full member of the party. If the cleric doesn’t take life-or-death situations seriously, or isn’t fully committed to the party, when it comes time to divy up treasures, perhaps that cleric should get a half-share. Those same defenders who were buying the potions, might demand that the party fund these expenses if they expect the defenders to take a front line role in the party.

The problem with all this lies on the gameplay side. If people specifically prefer not to play leaders because they find healing “boring”, then some kind of adjustment needs to be made to make the game more fun. But I’m not really sure that has anything to do with those minor action heal spells. I mean, having powerful minor actions has always been sort of an exciting thing for my characters.

2 Ameron January 14, 2010 at 10:15 am

Great comment. The situations that spawned this article really came down to the player’s desire to develop a role-playing quirk. He felt that a good leader should ensure that all party resources are put to their best use. If you ask for healing before using your own resources (like second wind) and he heals you, that’s one less heal for someone else later in combat. This became problematic when the guy who ended up needing the healing most already used his second wind but by then the Cleric was out of healing. From then on the Cleric only healed if you’d used your second wind or if it was clearly a life or death situation. Our solution was to introduce another leader and that worked too.

3 Liger September 29, 2010 at 4:33 pm


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