One of your most important, yet overlooked resources as a PC, are your healing surges. Healing surges in 4e D&D are the difference between life and death. Effective use of those healing surges can mean the life or death of you and your companions.
Healing surges are a new mechanic to D&D that were introduced with 4e. No longer do you heal a certain amount of hit points by resting or from relying on the Cleric to have enough healing spells or the right combination of healing potions. Now every PC is equipped with the ability to heal themselves during and after battle.
Healing surges are a game changer. They allow the party to keep fighting and to fight in new ways. Of course leader classes can augment the amount of healing that surges provide. Many classes have powers that allow you to expend healing surges. Additionally, many magic items also allow you to expend healing surges.
We’ve written articles on healing previously. I’m Your Cleric, Not Your Bitch remains one of our most controversial articles. It also spawned the article Brave Warrior Heal Thyself. Both of these articles discuss ways that healing surges and healing powers should be used. Brave Warrior, Heal Thyself goes further by providing a list of items that allow the PC to use a healing surge outside of the second wind action.
Healing surges are a finite resource. Every PC has a set allotment that they can use between extended rests to keep them healthy and in fighting shape. They question you need to ask yourself is are you using your healing surges effectively? If your supply is replenished after each extended rest, are you going into an extended rest having exhausted all of your healing surges?
Allow me to provide an example. The current make-up of our party lacks a leader. My character has 10 healing surges. Generally we have three combat encounters before taking an extended rest. Let’s assume that I’ll use my second wind during each fight and then I use one more healing surge after each battle ends. So far that’s only six of my 10 surges used up. This still leaves me with four remaining healing surges. If I go into an extend rest at this point I’ve left resources on the table. It would be the same as going into and extended rest without using all of their daily powers.
In short if you aren’t using all of your healing surges before an extended rest you aren’t maximizing the potential of your PC.
This is where items that are powered by healing surges and utility powers that do the same thing become useful. This is where the D&D Compendium or Character Builder is essential in assisting you in finding items or powers that can use or are powered by healing surges. The D&D Compendium currently lists 477 items and 304 powers that are keyed to the search term healing surge. With this many options, there’s bound to be something suitable for just about every character regardless of their class or paragon path.
Skill Powers from PHB3 present new utility powers that allow PC to expend healing surges during combat. Specifically those keyed to the endurance skill. Abilities like Third Wind, Reactive Surge and Inspiring Fortitude are all great ways to get more out of your existing healing surges. Most potions also require healing surges to power them. Effective use of these types of consumables can go a long way in changing the course of a battle.
Are you using your healing surges in the most beneficial way? What creative ways have players at your gaming table used healing surges to alter the outcome of a battle?