One of the things that always struck me as a bit… inelegant about 4th Edition is that leaders, who usually have powers which grant healing surges with bonuses, can basically use the healing powers as much as they want between encounters. I find this inelegant because there is at least an implicit–arguably perhaps even an explicit–expectation that players should spend their own healing surges between encounters to heal.
In fact, given that most parties will have a leader who can use such a power, it is an absolutely foolish idea for a player to spend a healing surge on their own. I’d go so far as to say that if a character’s low enough that a vanilla healing surge would just barely fill him to full hit points, he’d be better off not spending it at all and just starting the next encounter with that damage on him.
At low levels at least, a healer’s bonus healing might as much as double a healing surge’s healing. A level 1 cleric with a 20 wisdom is giving character’s an additional 1d6+5 HP, or an average of 8.5. A level 1 character will have somewhere in the neighborhood of 20-35 depending on class, and so their healing surge value will be anywhere from 5 to 8.
Now the counter to this tactic of letting the healer use his powers is that every two uses (since most such powers can be used twice before requiring a recharge) costs the party another 5 minutes. Now, granted, you can’t expect a party to always be able to take an arbitrary number of 5-minute rests… But if the party can afford 5 minutes, chances are damn good that they can afford 10 or 15 minutes, at least. 15 minutes is 6 uses– enough to give every in a 5-player group a 50% heal, and even give one PC a 100% heal.
In all likelihood, the entire party could probably be healed to “full” (the quotes here standing for ‘close enough for government work’) in just 4 uses. That’s 2 short rests dedicated just to healing, and then another short rest to make sure the powers are available for the next encounter. 15 minutes. Done.
So to sum up, my issue here isn’t that leaders are allowed to do this, but that it’s inelegant and almost feels like cheating because the system seems to expect you to not do it, while explicitly allowing it.
So here’s my house rule for healing between encounters: Any character may spend a healing surge and heal back up to full hit points. Done. It’s pretty close to how things work already and eliminates the unnecessary short-rest-gymnastics the current system requires.