I’ve been experimenting with at-will healing powers lately.

If you’ve seen my Templar rewrite or the preview of my Marshal rewrite, you’ll have noticed that I’ve cut back on the primary effect of healing powers in favor of making them at-will instead. This has a couple of effects.

For starters, a multiple-use encounter healing power is only effective when someone in the party needs healing. With two uses at 1st level, a party with sufficient damage output might have a battle or two where healing is entirely unnecessary.

In that case, two uses is more than enough. In longer battles however, the usage limitation is woefully troublesome. As healing grows ever more potent in the paragon tier, two-to-three uses per encounter becomes more than enough healing again.

So, what are we to do about this? Having more uses of an encounter power than a player realistically needs makes it appear imbalanced — either there’s too much healing or too little. We don’t want either one of those, something has to change.

First change — the “traditional” leader heal is at-will instead of per-encounter, and limited to once per turn. Per-turn limitations have precedence in Essentials.

Second change — healing boons (additional healing on top of surge value) are exploded into various class features resembling the Cleric’s “Healer’s Lore.”

Third change — in addition to making healing boons into features, healing powers cease to scale in range. This is to better reflect their “utility” status, and ultimately means the leader must wade into combat to maintain proximity to allies.

Fourth change — to ensure a minimum of tactical depth (beyond eliminating the scaling range), additional restrictions may apply. “Healing Word” can’t be used while the healer is deafened, and a few others can’t be used if the healer is blind.

Fifth change — rather than providing a boon in the form of additional hit points, some leaders will provide alternate effects, such as movement or a saving throw.

Each of these changes is fairly subtle on its own, but it’s my belief that together they represent a significant improvement not only to tactical healing, but the leader role overall. Variations in healing effects will help differentiate leaders and healers.

The benefits should prove far-reaching.