Our DnD group is rolling up a new party for a fresh campaign, using the Pathfinder rules – euphemistically referred to as Dungeons & Dragons 3.75, as it was created by the disenchanted/disenfranchised writers of the of the official game, which went all MMO with its 4th Ed.
Given the WoW situation, it’s been funny to see that instead of a healer shortage, we’ve had a glut. After a call for a healer to be in the party, three of the five players are duelling over who will be the Cleric, another is a Pally, and yet another is rolling Bard – think Shaman in WoW terms. In other words, all can heal to some degree.
Why? Probably because in a pen & paper RPG you really get to play. Clerics get their power from gods. The gods are part of the world, the Gamemaster lets you interact with them, and you can be as creative as you like about how the powers manifest.
My Dwarf Cleric, for example, draws his powers from the very earth around him. Kneeling down with one fist planted to the earth, he pulls the healing power directly from the ground beneath his feet, and channels the might of the deep bedrock to unleash a devastating shockwave through his undead foes. The ley lines in the earth glow as the godlike power delivered by Torag surges through his chosen follower – me!
Epic stuff, and all from the imagination of the player and GM, not coded into the rules (other than the actual impact of the spell). Plus playing a Healer in DnD can still be largely about hitting stuff, squeezing in some healing and turning undead when the moment comes.
In Warcraft you can roleplay the same kind of thing, but you don’t really get the chance to flesh out a healer with other roles mid fight. Dual spec allows some flexibility, but realistically during a fight you Heal and that’s it. Druids probably come closest to giving the flexibility to make a difference, popping in and out of form to take different roles.
WoW can’t have the same freedom as RL roleplaying, and as a consequence healing isn’t as popular as it could be. If, as Tobold put it, “The most important addons for a healer in heroics are becoming Peggle and Bejeweled”, then something needs to be done to give the Healer role more flexibility during the fighting.