Death and Dying Götterdämmerung
Geek Native did an article on death and dying. They said 5e death saves suck, you need to make 3 DC 10 saves as a flat check with no modifiers, that’s three coin flips, as unheroic as it gets, really, you’ll die as often as you live. Pathfinder 2e has some death saves as well and wounded conditions, that all happen because there’s something tracking your dying when your hit points reach zero.
I want to point out that hanging out at zero while you died wasn’t always the case. In earlier editions of D&D you went into negative hit points AND could be bleeding and taking more damage, AND the healer had to overcome your negative hit points just to get you to zero, in which case you were just unconscious.
All of that negative hit point healing could take up a significant amount of the healer’s allotted healing per day, and drain a lot of potions, scrolls, spell slots, or class ability healing. All for nothing because you were effectively still down.
There was another issue with the negative hit point healing. When someone got to a positive number, it was often just enough healing that the next hit would kill them permanently.
There was a similar issue in the adjacent rules about temporary hit points, temporary hit points (like Barbarian Rage) used to be temporary, and when they went away, you took the damage to whatever real hit points you had left, such that ending the rage might kill you.
In 3.x and Pathfinder 1e, many parties would buy 1st-level Cure Light Wounds wands and use that to supplement the normal healing in the party. This was a legal, but unsatisfying kludge to a game system problem.
Hit points never go below zero, and temporary hit points and any damage to them just vanish when their source (spell or class ability) expires.
The problem with the solution
So I’ve seen people say that 5e death isn’t permanent or sticky enough, with dead people just popping back up, grabbing their swords, and getting right back into the fight that almost killed them. Pathfinder 2e tries to ameliorate this with wound condition tracking.
4e and 5e gave the characters some of their own healing through class abilities, more healing during short rests, total healing during long rests, and some other healing prayers for the life cleric. This makes the characters more durable, and you only spend healing on hit points you use and track how near you are to death with different resources altogether.
5e and PF2e both added more out-of-combat medicine checks to restore hit points. Also, using a healer’s kit to stop bleeding and dying is extra helpful.
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