Today is going to be a short post, but I wanted to quickly talk about healing times and what they can mean for your game. As I said, it may be a short post, so be warned.
When making a game that is focused on combat, or any sort of system where a replenishable resource is used to keep track of success/failure, healing times are going to be a factor. How long it takes to heal, in many ways, will also determine how gritty your world is and how serious you want fights to be. A long healing time means that you want combats to be costly affairs that should be considered before diving in. A short healing time means that you expect players to be hurt, probably often, and want to get them back into the action. How does this work? Let's take a look.
Long Healing Times
With a long healing time it, quite simply, takes longer for a character to heal. That means that it could be a month - or more - of IC time before your character is back at full health after a rough fight. A lot can happen in that month as well. Think about it, think about your game, how much IC time actually passes per session. A day? A segment of a day? How often do you go past a week. More to the point, once combat starts becoming a regular occurance, how long IC is it before the next fight begins? Generally, not long.
This means that if it takes a long time to heal, that the player is going to be at less than ideal conditions for the next fight. Maybe this will negatively impact in more ways than just how many times she can be hit - a la wound penalties - or maybe not. That doesn't matter though, because just the fact that they can take less damage before going down is a huge deal.
Short Healing Times
Short healing times on the contrast are the exact opposite. It takes less time to heal, and so a fight means less because the PC will just bounce back. Because of this, the PC can just dive in and have all sorts of fun with what they're doing in a fight. After all, what does it matter if you're near dead at the end of the fight? You'll be fine in two days. You can rest up for two days right? It sure beats that week or month that you'd wait in other games.
The problem that can crop up here is that the wrong healing time on a game can rob it of the feeling that it is supposed to have. If you have short healing times on a game that is supposed to be gritty and realistic, then the game can start to feel weird. After all, people are bouncing back from deaths door with naught but a nap and some bandages. On the other hand, a game where wounds are supposed to come - and expected to be gone - quickly will suffer from a long healing time. Now, instead of the care free attitude for combat that is supposed to be there, every fight has to be measured out.
Right now, I find myself wanting to run, or play in, a game with long healing times. A game where the players will have to determine when it is best to run away and when it is best to stay and fight. At the same time, I'd need a system that made running away a viable option. In so many games running away means breaking cover for no benefit - in other words, exposing yourself unnecessarily - and that can get you killed. But a game where it was viable to disengage and run could be a lot of fun. Especially when the group had to decide if it was really worth having a shoot out with this gang right here, right now.