Healing can be a pain sometimes. Sure, some people really do like spending their actions healing their party members, or simply don’t know enough about the game / aren’t assertive enough to do anything more than react in pre-programmed ways. However, for a lot of people that end up playing a healing class or a main party healer it becomes a chore.

Fourth Edition will be solving this to some degree. WotC has acknowledged that most group buff and group aid powers will not consume your actions. As an example, they have mentioned healing auras and the healing smite power of the paladin (hit your enemy and it heals an ally). While the flavor of that may be a bit strange, it does address a gameplay issue.

Here I will address what can be done in 3.5, focusing mostly on the druid (because the main party healer I DM for is a druid). Some of the solutions, however, are not in the SRD, but could be roughly duplicated using their base concept and some house rules.

The first way to prevent healing from consuming your turns is to get someone else to do it. No, I don’t mean another player. There are two options for this: the leadership feat and the summon line of spells.

Leadership
Leadership may seem a bit cheap, but it’s a great way for any player with a feat to burn to get a medic. Pure healers, especially ones with the defensive abilities of clerics, don’t need to be of the same level of the party to survive. If your DM is especially kind, he will let you have input into the design of your cleric buddy, but even a half-druid mystic theurge is better than nothing.
 
However, this method has drawbacks. It costs a feat, and you have to protect your buddy’s life. Perhaps the entire party is stealthy and you need to sneak into the BBEG’s fortress, but the NPC dwarven cleric has a move silently check of “loud”. We get around this with the second method:

 

Pony Friend
The second way is through summmons. The druid lucks out in this case, because summon nature’s ally IV has the all-important unicorn on its list. That’s right, you won’t be summoning giant monster elementals to crush your enemies. If you want to free up your turns for mauling face, you’re gonna summon a pretty pink pony.
 
The unicorn can cast three cure light wounds and one cure moderate wounds per day, at caster level 5th. That’s some solid ability to patch up your party at low levels, and good efficiency in the fourth level slot. It can neutralize poison once per day and comes with a magic circle. As a bonus, it can attack or protect a weak flank.
 
When the druid gets access to ninth level spells they can summon a celestial charger. This creature can then spend all its actions buffing up the party: bless, shield of faith, prayer, shield other, protection from energy, air walk. Additionally, it comes with some major restorative punch: remove fear, lesser restoration, remove paralysis, remove curse, restoration. And again, it handles the role of meatshield well.
 
The cleric / wizard is not as lucky with their base summoning list. The first creature they can summon with healing powers is at summon monster VIII for the lillend, who casts only cure light wounds. A cleric is better off with a planar ally, but those come with their own drawbacks.

 

HoTs
In World of Warcraft, druids specialize in heal over time spells (HoTs). These let you apply healing before a battle begins, or in a lull, and it will keep on ticking right when its most needed. These spells aren’t as potent as the cure series for fast fixes, but they are the most efficient in the game.
 
Additionally, HoTs have the benefit of working even when you’re incapacitated. The fighter knocked out? Or, even more scary, the druid knocked out? It’s not quite so bad if they have a HoT ticking because there’s a good chance in a round or two they’ll get back up. These spells add resilience to the party.
 
Masters of the Wild introduced the regenerate line of spells, which became vigors in 3.5 (found in Complete Divine and the Spell COmpendium). Each gives the target fast healing x for some ridiculously long amount of time (measured in tens of turns). Apply one or two of these to your main melee types before the battle, and you’ve solved half your healing woes.
 
The Player’s Handbook II introduces a variant druid class ability. Instead of burning spells to spontaneously cast summons, they can burn a spell to spontaneously apply a heal over time to the entire party in a burst radius. While this still takes an action, it allows the fast application of mass healing, and has the added benefit of range.

 
That wraps up this Valentine’s Day healing special. If you have ideas on how to lighten the load on healing, let me know!

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