Most people who have watched me stream long enough or who may know me from MMORPGs such as Final Fantasy XIV will know that I am a healer. I am, perhaps, one of the saltier healers in existence, especially when people always move out of range right as my cast bar is about to finish so I can actually heal them or they move out of line of sight (very important for healers), but I am a healer nonetheless.
That said, though… it wasn’t always that way.
Starting as a… Tank?
I want to make something clear. When I first started playing MMORPGs, I had precisely zero intention of ever taking on the role of a healer. Hell, even back in high school when I first started playing tabletop games, I never played a class that could heal.
For one thing, being the healer means you’re typically responsible for everybody’s health and I wasn’t sure I was ready for that at the time.
For another thing, I had this very specific idea of the kind of character I wanted to be back when I started playing MMORPGs, and that was a tank.
Growing up with an assortment of fantasy novels and idealizing the knights we’d see in those books, I had this idea in my head that that was what I wanted to be. After all, the sword and shield was a typical fantasy weapon combination, and the knights all had swords and shields, so that’s what I wanted.
Who cared whether or not it was practical for leveling in the long run? I sure didn’t!
I can even recall very clearly the very first time I ever successfully tanked something. I was playing World of Warcraft as a blood elf paladin with my trusty sword and board (which looked like it had seen better days), and two friends and I were hunting an elite enemy that was roaming the Dead Scar. (For anyone unfamiliar with the terminology, this means this particular sort of monster was better handled with a group.) When we found him, the three of us charged in. I was all but spamming buttons, but still trying to make sure his focus was on me.
And then he flung my character back down the Scar.
It was at that moment that I realized that meant his focus had solely been on me. I was successfully tanking something. As I charged back towards him, I was grinning the entire time until he was down.
I leveled as a tank. I tanked so many dungeons for my guildmates. As soon as I hit the then-level cap of 70, I was formulating plans of the sort of gear I needed to get my hands on so I could theoretically tank raids.
However, plans change, as they often do.
A Necessary Switch
Shortly after I hit level 70, my guild at the time started discussing the possibility of forming a second raid group. There was one slight flaw to this plan, though, and that was the fact that the guild didn’t have a whole lot of healers. DPS? Tanks? Yes. But healers? Not so much.
Being a paladin main, though, meant we had an entire talent tree specifically dedicated to healing, so I volunteered to (temporarily) make the switch to healer as we got the second raid group off the ground.
I was not expecting to enjoy it so much.
There was a completely unexpected rush in making sure everyone’s health bars were topped off or keeping the tank alive during a particularly rough fight or evening bringing everyone back up to full hit points after a boss mechanic brought everyone’s health bars down to 1 hit point. And I loved every single minute of it.
When I was presented with the opportunity to return to tanking, I didn’t take it. I invested time and energy over the next few months into becoming the best paladin healer I could possibly be. I eventually fell out of love with the class (and left the guild), so raiding was no longer in the cards for me at that point in time. But from that point on, the classes I would choose when creating new characters tended to have some sort of healing capability.
Pulled Back In
This maybe had the unintended consequence that I never quite managed to escape healing.
In 2016 when I made an initial return to Final Fantasy XIV, I attempted to level as a Thaumaturge, intending to progress to Black Mage at level 30. That lasted about as long as it took me to go into my first dungeon as a Thaumaturge and I made the mistake of glancing up towards everyone’s health bars.
Where I saw the tank’s hit points were around 10 or so. And I was immediately horrified.
The healer in that group came dangerously close to letting the tank die once or twice after that. The melee DPS in our party didn’t fare much better, either. As someone who stayed at range, I was fine, but everyone else wasn’t.
Despite not having played the game for several years, this genuinely upset me. The tank didn’t seem to mind (or, if they did, they never said anything in group chat), but I felt like the person trying to keep enmity off of the rest of the party deserved better than that, especially if this was a newer player attempting to learn how the game worked.
As soon as I could once we were out of that dungeon, I immediately made my way to the Conjurer’s Guild and started leveling as a Conjurer instead. I stuck it out as a White Mage. I would eventually also pick up Astrologian, but White Mage became my go-to healer role.
When I’m able to resub again in the future, I intend to remain a White Mage.
Unable to Escape
It’s also gotten to the point where healing impacts how I play other MMOs, whether I intend to do dungeon or raid content or not.
A big MMORPG in my life as of writing this post is The Elder Scrolls Online. When I create new characters, I often consider whether or not they would be viable healers should I decide to enter that content. I’m aware of what the “meta” builds are for particular classes. I’m aware of what most people would prefer to have with them in their party.
And in ESO? Dungeons are more of an occasional thing for me (and I find myself keeping an eye on everyone’s health bars when I do them even if I’m not healing) and I don’t have much of an interest in touching raids. But this is still something I think about.
All the time.
Why this is, I’m not entirely sure, but I don’t think I’m going to be able to escape the healer mindset anytime soon.