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Quick and easy d6 First Aid for D&D

May 8, 2012

A few months ago I posted the Binding Wounds house rule we use in Stonehell on the Borderlands. It works fine, and the players seem to like it, but deep down I have a nagging doubt that it’s … I don’t know … cheating, I suppose. Dave Arneson’s and Gary Gygax’s players didn’t get to heal each other by 1.5 hp (average) after every fight. Nor did the players in the games I ran back in the day. (I know, 1.5 hp doesn’t seem like a lot, but most of the PCs in my current game are still at 1st level and even Frack the 3rd-level thief has only 7 hp to his name, so 1.5 is a significant chunk.)

As I formulate the options for my forthcoming campaign, Ruins of Ebidoria, I’m leaning towards using a d6 mechanic for thieves’ skills and common adventuring abilities, similar(ish) to the one in LotFP. While whittling down the list of abilities, it struck me that there was no good reason not to make Bind Wounds/First Aid/Whatever a d6 roll. It could work like this:

Every professional adventurer is assumed to possess basic knowledge of how to bind wounds, apply a poultice, etc. The base chance to apply such knowledge effectively in the dungeon or the wilderness is 1 in 6. Characters who might reasonably be assumed to know more about herbalism and the healing arts (maybe elves, clerics, druids, rangers, scouts or whatever, depending on the campaign) get a 2 in 6 chance.

The roll must be made as soon as possible after damage is sustained – immediately after the termination of combat, for example. If the roll is successful, the recipient of First Aid is healed by the number of points shown on the d6. Thus, characters with higher skill have not only a better chance of doing some good but also a chance of doing some good – um, better. No further rolls are allowed until more damage has been sustained.

So, your bog-standard PC will heal himself or a companion to the tune of 1/6 of a hit point (on average), while the bloke who did a day’s training and got a certificate of basic competence will heal you for half a hit point (on average) – but maybe 2 hp on a good day. Is that enough? It seems piddling, but maybe that’s because it’s less than I’m used to with our current house rule. It’s still better than the nada zilch nothing that the official game gives you. Combined with my lenient stance on zero hit points (unconscious but not dead yet), it doesn’t seem totally unreasonable. I suppose I could always grant a +1 bonus to anyone who buys a “first aid kit” (salves and unguents, bandages, needle and thread, sharpened reed stem for emergency tracheotomy, etc.) for 25 gp or so.

One other thought. Depending on how you run poison in your games, this mechanic could also apply there. If a poisoned character receives attention right away (i.e., before any onset time has elapsed), a successful First Aid roll gives him or her a saving throw bonus equal to the number on the die.

Has anyone else tried anything like this? Thoughts?

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