Fixing the Medicine Skill, Healer’s Kit, and Healer Feat (D&D 5th Edition) – Updated on 5/29

Reading the PHB, it’s pretty clear that the Medicine skill does nothing to aid in the treatment of wounds, ailments, or diseases.  As written, it only allows for stabilizing dying creatures and for diagnosing illnesses.

Here are my slight changes to Medicine (and associated changes to the healer’s kit and Healer feat):

SKILL

Medicine.  A Wisdom (Medicine) check lets you try to stabilize a dying companion, evaluate others wounds, diagnose illnesses, treat poisoned or diseased creatures, and examine corpses in order determine the cause of death.

With a successful Wisdom (Medicine) check you can stabilize a dying character at 0 hit points.

Medicine may also be used to provide long-term care to poisoned or diseased creatures.  When a poisoned or diseased creature is cared for by someone proficient in the Medicine skill, they make their recuperation saving throws (see Downtime: Recuperating on page 187 of the Player’s Handbook) with advantage.

EQUIPMENT

Healer’s Kit.  This kit is a leather pouch containing bandages, salves, and splints. The kit has ten uses. As an action, you can expend one use of the kit to stabilize a creature that has 0 hit points, without needing to make a Wisdom (Medicine) check.

If you expend one use of a healer’s kit to treat a poisoned or diseased creature, they make their recuperation saving throw (see Downtime: Recuperating on page 187 of the Player’s Handbook) with advantage.

FEAT

Healer.  You are an able physician, allowing you to mend wounds quickly and get your allies back in the fight. You gain the following benefits:

  • You have advantage on all Wisdom (Medicine) checks.
  • When you use a healer’s kit to stabilize a dying creature, that creature also regains 1d6+4 hit points.
  • As an action, you can spend one use of a healer’s kit to tend to a creature and restore 1d6 + 4 hit points to it, plus additional hit points equal to the creature’s maximum number of Hit Dice. The creature can’t regain hit points from this feat again until it finishes a short or long rest.

DOWNTIME

Recuperating.  You can use downtime between adventures to recover from a debilitating injury, disease, or poison.  After three days of downtime spent recuperating, you can make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw.  If you are treated by someone proficient in the Medicine skills, you have advantage on this saving throw.  On a successful save, you can choose one of the following results:

  • End one effect on you that prevents you from regaining hit points.
  • For the next 24 hours, gain advantage on saving throws against one disease or poison currently affecting you.

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14 thoughts on “Fixing the Medicine Skill, Healer’s Kit, and Healer Feat (D&D 5th Edition) – Updated on 5/29

  1. I feel like these changes are too powerful. Perhaps healers kits only work when you have the medicine proficiency?

  2. Hey DnDMontreal,
    That’s entirely your call, but I think your fix would be too restrictive. Not being able to treat wounds without a healer’s kit would make availability of those kits a matter of life and death in the absence of magical healing.
    Really, the key difference between my houserule and the rules as written is that a Medicine check restores an unconscious creature to 1 hit point IF (and only if) used in conjunction with a healer’s kit.
    If anything I’d probably allow Medicine to halve the time a diseased or poisoned character is sickened as well… which I’ll probably add to my houserule.

    1. Hi Chris.
      A question. You wrote nothing about stabilizing a creature at 1 hp by using medicin + the kit in your description of healer’s kit. Is that something you think works or was that an older idea?

      1. Hey Daniel,
        I’ve backtracked on that houserule and now use this write-up for the medicine skill, healer’s kit, and healer feat:

        Medicine. A Wisdom (Medicine) check lets you try to stabilize a dying companion, evaluate others wounds, diagnose illnesses, treat poisoned or diseased creatures, and examine corpses in order determine the cause of death.
        With a successful Wisdom (Medicine) check you can stabilize a dying character at 0 hit points.
        Medicine may also be used to provide long-term care to poisoned or diseased creatures. When a poisoned or diseased creature is cared for by someone proficient in the Medicine skill, they make their recuperation saving throws (see Downtime: Recuperating on page 187 of the Player’s Handbook) with advantage.

        Healer’s Kit. This kit is a leather pouch containing bandages, salves, and splints. The kit has ten uses. As an action, you can expend one use of the kit to stabilize a creature that has 0 hit points, without needing to make a Wisdom (Medicine) check.
        If you expend one use of a healer’s kit to treat a poisoned or diseased creature, you gain advantage on your Wisdom (Medicine) check.

        Healer Feat:
        You are an able physician, allowing you to mend wounds quickly and get your allies back in the fight.
        You gain the following benefits:
        • You have advantage on all Wisdom (Medicine) checks.
        • When you use a healer’s kit to stabilize a dying creature, that creature also regains 1d6+4 hit points.
        • As an action, you can spend one use of a healer’s kit to tend to a creature and restore 1d6 + 4 hit
        points to it, plus additional hit points equal to the creature’s maximum number of Hit Dice. The creature can’t regain hit points from this feat again until it finishes a short or long rest.

  3. Cool Ideas, I certainly agree the healers kit was useless otherwise. I’ll give these changes a whirl in my own campaign this week. Were bashing in goblins, lots of goblins.

  4. I’ve reworked the Medicine skill houserule to address some balance issues that others felt were there. I hope you all like the changes.

  5. A Healing FEAT and the healers kit in a large group (6 or more) is overly powerful during combat. It’s a lot of quick hit points during a fight where multiple party members are damaged. I like to only allow the kit to be used if the player takes no aggressive action and does not use movement. To me it makes since that a healer isn’t chasing down someone in a 6 second round and slapping on a healing salve and bandages while the other player is attacking a creature.

  6. Chris, you say this “If you expend one use of a healer’s kit to treat a poisoned or diseased creature, you gain advantage on your Wisdom (Medicine) check.”

    Where is it written about treating someone with a poison or disease needing a check, I don’t see anything listed about outcomes of Wisdom (Medicine) checks? Maybe if you used a healer’s kit the person making the check against it gets advantage?

    Also, how do you feel about the healer’s kit being used in combat?

    1. Hi David,
      I changed the text based on your suggestion… good idea!

      I’m fine with the healer’s kit being used during combat, but would probably have all Wisdom (Medicine) checks made in the midst of combat made with disadvantage (offsetting the advantage granted by use of the healer’s kit).

      If the party is using healer’s kits during a fight, that means that they are expended resources and doing something other than fighting (making them more vulnerable).

  7. Chris,

    Thanks, you’re welcome! I was also considering the use of a kit to give advantage during combat for the next check against a poison for a poisoned character. Would essentially be a very very watered down version of an anti-toxin. Perhaps minor enough that it wouldn’t be worth actually doing, and likely the hit points themselves would be more useful to the character.

    As to the kit being used in a fight, would you say it needed two hands or one? In my group I’ve got someone who will be doing this and trying to decide in my mind’s eye if one hand free along with the semi free other shield hand would be enough. I’m siding with yes currently.

    Thanks again, and have been watching your CoS youtube as I’m starting to run that myself. But those questions/comments are for another place.

    1. Sorry for the VERY late reply… I’ve been remiss in keeping up with the blog.

      First off, I’m not THAT Chris Perkins. I just happen to share his name and hobby. That said, I think using the kit to boost one’s defenses against poison sounds reasonable to me. I’d limit it to the next poison save within the next 5 minutes or so, but I’d be flexible with that. After all, the players are using their resources in a creative manner, in order to safeguard themselves against an impending threat.

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