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Combat Exclusive Healing

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So you've just been through a brutal fight with the local Boss in Mook Clothing and your team is looking pretty battered. Still no problem, you turn to the team's White Mage and eagerly await their healing magic... But sorry, they can't do that right now. Why? Well, because the battle's over so they can't use their spells anymore. Instead you'll have to go into your next fight with life-threatening injuries and hope to cast them before the enemy finishes you off.

This is the tendency of many games to restrict the use of skills to use in combat, even if they'd be useful at other times. While healing is the most common example, it's not the only one. For example, most turn-based videogame RPGs won't let you cast all your handy buff spells before entering a fight.

A common subtrope is that while healing skills are not allowed, healing items can be used outside of battle. However, items are usually in more limited supply than Mana, which tends to lead to Too Awesome to Use.

Naturally, games with After-Combat Recovery have no need for healing outside of battle.

Note that many games actually avert this, so only list subversions and straight entries, please.


  • The 7th Saga gives you an infinite-use healing item that is only useable in battle (as well as several other infinite-use buff items with the same restriction). The trick is to somehow manage to get yourself into a fight where you can avoid getting your ass kicked long enough to use it. It's a bit difficult, to say the least.
  • This is actually inverted in the old Infinity Engine games, such as Baldur's Gate, Planescape: Torment, etc. The clerics are physically incapable of healing everyone in battle, so you have to somehow make it through to be able to tend to your wounds.
    • This is, of course, directly from the base rules: most healing spells are Touch-range, and all take some time to cast. Outside combat, the clerics have the time to wander around to all your hurt characters and heal them, and there's no pressure to use the clerics' offensive capabilities. In combat, that is less likely to be the case.
  • In the first Baten Kaitos game, healing magnus in your deck couldn't be used outside of battle (but then again, no other deck magnus could either). This was made up for with the ever-available shish kebab, which healed between 20%-60% each, and could be (slowly) bought in bulk at any shop. The somewhat rareness of money made doing this impractical, however. Averted in the prequel, where your health is fully restored upon leaving battle.
  • Bravely Default allows the use of white magic and items outside of battle, but only healing white magic. Equipment that can be used in battle for free item effects like in Final Fantasy can only be used during battle and any other job skill can not be used outside of battle whether they're healing or not, such as the Salve-Maker's Compounding or First Aid or even the Merchant's Pharmacy which lets them buy items during battle (Where are they buying the items from that they can't buy them outside of combat?). There's also the Self-Healing or Self-Restore abilities which are Anti-Debuff and Healing Hands at the end of battle respectively, but don't heal whatever damage is done outside of battle, like from dungeon traps (which are thankfully only in a few dungeons.)
  • In Breath of Fire IV, the Rest and Snore skills cannot be used outside of combat. And for good reason, since both of them restore a small amount of both its user's HP and AP for no cost (though Snore makes the user fall asleep for three turns, but that's hardly an issue in this game, and instantly healed after battle).
  • Chrono Cross doesn't let you use healing elements outside of battle, but if there are unused ones remaining at the end of a battle, they are used automatically. You are, however, allowed to use expendables any time you want.
  • Dangerous Adventure II:
    • Played straight with spells, which can only be used in combat as they're fueled by the blocks you destroy in battle.
    • Inverted with the Paladin character, who heals the party to 10% HP at the end of every battle but doesn't provide in-battle healing except through spells.
    • Meals give the entire party an effect that lasts a set number of battles, providing the effect every turn. Some battles like the Blue Dragon can be made unlosable by virtue of healing more damage than the enemy can inflict in a single round.
  • Darkest Dungeon; healing abilities cost nothing but a turn in combat, but healing abilities can only be used in battle, and won't outpace any but the weakest enemies' damage-dealing. The only other sources of healing are food, which only heals Scratch Damage, and camping, which can only be done once or twice on the longer quests. This is by design; easy healing would play against the game's horror theme. If you do manage to find an enemy weak enough to farm heals on, when a battle goes on too long your heroes get antsy and start taking stress every turn, and eventually the enemy will summon reinforcements.
  • Dawn of War: Both the Bloodthirster and Avatar of Khaine recover health while in battle. However, the Bloodthirster loses health whenever it isn't fighting.
  • In Deltarune, Heal Prayer is a spell that is only useable in battle, as the TP used to cast spells is converted into money after combat ends.
  • Combat healers in Disciples games can't heal on the game map. While there is After-Combat Recovery, it's fairly slow (only about 10%-15% per turn, faster in cities). There are also game map spells that may heal a squad, but they cost mana, while combat healers don't use mana during battles.
  • In Disgaea, you can't use any magic or items when you're in the Hub Level, but you can heal quite cheaply at the Trauma Inn anyway.
  • Dofus characters have healing abilities, but there's no way to use them outside of battles. This can be extremely annoying for Sacriers, a class built on taking massive damage (Sometimes even intentionally increasing damage done to them) and relying on massive HP pools to survive. HP Pools that have to be restored by healing items that cost money. While regular leveling might allow players to intentionally fight a weak enemy to use healing, in dungeons, this is less of an option.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • The series features items that can be used for spell-like effects without spending any MP or using up the item, but they don't work outside of battle. This includes the late-game Sage's Stone, which anyone can use for an effect identical to Multiheal.
    • Dragon Quest IV would usually avoid this, but in chapters 1 and 3 you would sometimes get the situation where NPCs who joined your party would know healing spells, but the main party member would not. NPCs cannot have their equipment changed, gain levels, or be asked to use their spells outside of battle. The result is they can only heal you in battle, if you're lucky.
    • Dragon Quest V: Zig-zagged. The only healing spell that can't be used outside of battle is the most powerful (and mana-inefficient) one: Omni Heal, which heals everybody to full.
    • Dragon Quest IX contains several straight examples. For example, the Caduceus skill is a staff skill that allows the user to cure as many hit points as the Moreheal spell, but for the cost of the weaker Heal spell. It's only available to use in-combat, even though the skill is activated by the staff user just holding the staff above their head. A Paladin's H-Pathy and M-Pathy skills are similarly restricted. Strictest is the "Auto MP Regeneration" ability for advanced staff users - that ability restores magic points for the user without having to do anything - but only in-combat (to prevent folks from just standing still out of combat to constantly spam Awesome, but Impractical spells).
  • Dubloon doesn't let you use either Russel's or Riley's healing spells once the battle is over. You can use healing items outside of battle, however.
  • Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City: Inverted with the Bandage and Slap Awake skills, which can only be used outside of combat to patch up wounds and revive characters. Notably, Bandage is a Common skill that can be learned by any class, while most recovery spells can only be learned by Monks and Sovereigns.
  • Exit Fate: Due to the inverted magic system (instead of having a depleting MP pool, you regain MP each combat round), spellcasting can only be done in combat. (You're also limited to a certain number of spells per fight, which refresh afterwards.)
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In Final Fantasy IV, Rosa's Pray command restores both health and, in 3D versions, mana, allowing you to completely restore your team for no cost if fighting a harmless opponent such as the final dungeon's Li'l Murderer enemy, but can't be used outside of battle.
    • Some more examples from Final Fantasy include curative Blue Magic/Enemy Skills (like White Wind), one of Edward's bardsongs in the DS version of Final Fantasy IV, the Recover and Revive commands in Final Fantasy VIII, and Amarant's Chakra and Revive skills in Final Fantasy IX. Final Fantasy IX also has the equipable Auto-Regen ability, which will slowly restore a character's HP during battle but not outside of it.
    • Final Fantasy XIII avoids the trope entirely: you're fully healed after every battle, which makes sense when you have characters that can heal without MP restriction. TP, on the other hand, is only restored by being fast in resolving combat, and is much more useful.
    • Nicely averted in Final Fantasy XII where there is no separate battle/wandering screen, and you are fully allowed to attack teammates with your Healing Shiv staff or Syphon spell. It's even recommended to spread out learning low-tier summons amongst your characters, so that as many as possible can call them up at late game (when they're normally sub-par) for less mana than you can suck out of them.
    • The original Final Fantasy had a partial version. Healing items and magic could be used outside of battle (and some such as Life could only be used outside battle, in the older versions), but the only source of free healing were items that cast healing spells when used in battle.
    • Final Fantasy VII Remake has the Chakra and Prayer abilties which heal for a very small amount but only require ATB to use... which would allow free full healing after every fight if they could be used outside of battle, where ATB restrictions don't apply. MP also only regenerates during combat.
  • Fire Emblem doesn't even take health into account outside of battle, as each battle starts off with everyone at full health, but support conversations show that this trope is Averted in-universe, which shows the clerics do indeed use their healing staves outside of battle, for anything from actual injuries to stomachaches. Played straight with the support conversations themselves, which could only be done during battles. This was finally averted in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance.
  • For the King: "Cure"-based character abilities remove negative status effects but can only be used in combat, costing the user their turn. Downplayed with "Party Heal", which can also be used in the "Ready" phase between fights inside a dungeon, but not in The Overworld. Otherwise, characters need to spend precious consumable items.
  • Golden Sun zig-zags this: you can use your spells outside of battle, but not your various healing Djinn that could do the job for no Psynergy cost.
  • Several healing spells in Kingdom of Loathing can only be used in combat, while others can only be used outside of combat, and a few can be used in both. Pastamancers can learn a level 3 spell that costs 6 MP and heals 10-20 HP in combat or 10-30 HP out of combat. Saucerors, on the other hand, can learn a level 2 spell that costs 4 MP and heals 10-15 HP and can only be used in combat, but there's a chance you can cast it up to three times per battle as a free action, i.e. not spending the combat round.
  • While Last Scenario averts this for the most part, there are two spells that can restore MP for but can only be used in battle.
  • The Legend of Dragoon normally offers three ways of healing (aside from the Trauma Inn): items, spells, and defending. Only the first can be used outside of battle, and your inventory is so small that you'll likely only be able to carry three or four potions at any one time.
  • Lost Odyssey does allow you to use healing spells outside of combat, but doesn't allow you to use healing skills, including the free 'Prayer'. However, you can still use healing spells of the people not currently in your party, so you have up to four characters you can use simply as MP batteries for healing spells.
  • Master of Magic allowed both: pre-buffing and in-combat buffing. Usually, the pre-buffing cost more and had an upkeep cost, while in-combat was cheaper and didn't need upkeep. But specifically 'Healing' spell is tactical map only. And priests has ability that partially heals all other units when the battle ends.
  • Mega Man:
    • In the Mega Man Battle Network and Mega Man Star Force series, you can't use any of your healing chips or cards (respectively) outside of battle. Your HP is refilled when you leave cyberspace and there are consumable sub-items you can use to heal, but there's never any justification why you can't use your infinite use healing chips outside of battle.
    • Another Mega Man example, Mega Man X: Command Mission gives you The Medic White Magician Girl Cinnamon, whose in-battle healing power is used as her Limit Break. It's effectively free health and extremely effective in healing the whole party, at that. You never get to use it outside of battle (for balance purposes, naturally) and it only ever appears outside of battle in one cutscene.
  • In Miitopia, when your party is traveling between battles, not only are you unable to use any of your skills and spells, you are also unable to use the Safe Spot, which allows any party member to recover health and mana by sitting down and waiting.
  • The Mount & Blade games have an interesting variation that only show up when cheats are enabled (since the games' "realistic" setting means health normally only regenerates slowly, over a period of several in-game days): the health cheat can only be used while in 1st/3rd person view, rather than map view. The interesting variation comes from the fact that if you try and use the cheat after a battle is won but before returning to the map (or while wandering around a village/town/castle) it will seem to work, but all that cheated healing will be undone the second you get back to map view.
  • Totally straight in NeoQuest II, once you recruit your healer. Although, because there's no mana system, it is rarely an issue except after unusually difficult battles.
  • Neptunia:
    • Hyperdimension Neptunia only allows healing during combat, and you can only set a CHANCE of it happening when conditions are met! While the chance can be set to a maximum of 100%, it'll take players some time to figure out the correct combination of medicinal items needed for that.
    • mk2 and Victory both allow item use outside of battle, but forbid healing skills outside of battle.
    • VII completely averts this by allowing use of healing skills outside of battle, and this is crucial because status ailments are not cleared after winning a battle.
  • Paper Mario: Sticker Star and Color Splash have their healing items in the form of stickers and battle cards, respectively, which can only be used in battle. This is one of the numerous contested changes from the previous games of the series as the first two games with turn-based combat allowed for use of healing items in the overworld. This was averted come the next game in the series, The Origami King.
  • Phantasy Star II includes a number of shields, hats, etc that act as a moderate healing spell when used in battle. Given the overall difficulty of the game, the limited inventory spaces, and the way that Random Encounters can whittle down your health before you get to a boss, these are very useful.
  • Pokémon:
    • Moves like Recover and Rest can't be used outside of battle. Softboiled provides a rather unusual example in that it can be used as a form of Heal Thyself during battle or as an Empathic Healer outside of battle... which naturally encourages you to then go find a weak opponent so you can heal the damage you just inflicted on yourself.
    • Pokémon also doesn't allow HM moves (required to access certain areas of the world map) to be used outside of battle without particular badges, representing their experience and skill. This is removed in Generation V, but reinstated in X and Y.
    • The jump from Generation III to Generation IV provides an unusual example in the sleep-curing Blue Flute, which possesses a function similar to Kanto's Poké Flute item. In the former generation, the Blue Flute could be used anywhere and could be used an infinite number of times. In the latter, it gets re-categorized as a battle item, so the "use" option doesn't even show up when it's selected out of battle.
    • Inverted with the Sacred Ash, a rare item featuring in several games that fully heals the entire party, and only works outside of battle.
  • Downplayed in The Reconstruction; you can't use healing skills outside of battle, but you can just wait for your characters to regenerate all their health.
  • You cannot use any healing skills outside battle in Record of Agarest War. It was either that or infinite healing, since there is no MP system, only action points. You do get After-Combat Recovery, but only on the world map, not in dungeons or Boss Rush sequences.
  • Downplayed in Shadowrun Returns. Mages and shamans can't use their healing spells outside of combat, but at the end of every combat encounter, everyone in the party heals all the damage taken from the last attack that hurt them, which is what healing magic does anyway.
  • Soda Dungeon: You are not allowed to heal grievously injured party members or even cure status effects (like sleeping) between battles or during events. This is the usual cause of an early retirement, as enemy hordes on the X6-X9 floors can dogpile on an injured party member, especially when they ambush.
  • Sonic Chronicles has a particularly bad case of this as you don't regenerate the mana equivalent outside of battle, even though it can be recovered in battle simply by using the Defend command. Tails also has a healing skill that both restores health and regenerates more mana than it costs to use.
  • Spore Creatures has the Heal Bio-Power which cannot be used outside of combat. This can especially be an issue when playing as a carnivorous creature, as the only way to get the food you need to heal otherwise is to kill creatures or eat Sporelings, both of which can be very counterproductive to goals or strongly discouraged if the only creatures left to eat are friendly to you.
  • The Tales Series games tend to apply this to jumping. Meaning you can jump over giant monsters, but not waist-high fences. Various equipment that would give characters hitpoint or mana regeneration would also only operate during combat, denying players free healing.
    • The games also typically allow some techniques -which could prove very useful out of battle- to battles because otherwise they'd be too overpowered. For example, Tales of Symphonia had to do this with Raine's Charge spell because it would otherwise break the game over its knee. Charge is a very situational spell that restores some Technique Points of another character, but it also has a high cost so really all you'll do is break even. However, Raine being the team healer possesses a wide array of spells that can be cast between battles to heal and cure allies, and an EX Skill reduces the cost of casting these spells down to 1 MP so long as you're standing on a designated save area. Charge obviously couldn't be one of them.
    • Tales of Graces applies the trope to healing spells. Because its combat system doesn't rely on TP, allowing healing spells to be used outside of battle at all would allow them to be used at absolutely no cost.
    • The Tales series also inverts this with cooking/food items, which can only be used outside of battle (or, in some cases, at the end of a battle). Graces again proves to be the odd one out in this regard, as while you can only use a food item normally outside of a battle, you can set some food items to automatically be used in battle when some conditions are met during battle.
  • Warcraft III: Inverted with the Horde and Alliance faction's basic healing items (Scroll of Regeneration, Healing Salve, Clarity Potion) and the Potions/Scrolls of Replenishment, which provide increased HP/mana regeneration that gets canceled as soon as the affected unit takes damage. Fortunately these items are marked as Non-Combat Consumables so you don't use them at the wrong time.
  • Some classes of healer in Warhammer Online had mediocre heals out of combat, but had mechanics that made them much more effective when fighting. Only the Rune Priest/Zealot were pure healers (and even then they had skills that would benefit from having an offensive target), whereas the Archmage/Shaman boosted their healing spells by casting offensive powers first, and the Warrior Priest/Disciple of Khaine healed their party by attacking enemies in melee.
  • In Wizardry 1-2, Might and Magic 1-3, and Phantasie 1-2, you could only cast healing spells in combat. If you wanted to heal outside of combat, you had to camp or go to an inn. In these games, you could usually get attacked while camping, then immediately attacked after waking up, and thus end up in a weakened condition for the next fight anyway.
  • While conventional healing spells in World of Warcraft can be cast at any time, some classes self-healing abilities rely on being in combat. Death knights have death strike, which heals them but, being an attack, requires an enemy to hit with it. The same goes for the rogues Recuperation ability. Some warriors also regenerate when someone hits them, as well as having healing attacks. It's still possible to heal using potions, food, or even just waiting, but for some builds the most efficient way to recover health after a tough fight is to pick someone smaller and beat them up.

Non-Video Game Examples:

  • Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 Edition: The Crusader class from the supplement "Tome of Battle" can learn several maneuvers that will heal him or his allies when he attacks an enemy. Naturally, if no enemies are around, he can't use them.
  • The One Ring: The action "Rally Comrades" lets a character make an Inspire or Song roll to restore their allies' Endurance Points, but can only be performed in combat. Presumably other situations are insufficiently inspirational.