D&D 5E 5e Revision: Re-Balancing and Combats per Day?

Aldarc

Legend
5e is occasionally derided as an "easy mode" game or version of D&D, but part of that results from how the designers of D&D overestimated the number of combat encounters per day that groups will run as well as the average number of short rests.

Will WotC attempt to rebalance the game for 5e's revision and the various character options under a more "realistic" and average number of combat encounters? If so, which areas of the game and/or character options will see the biggest changes?

Not that I can dictate how this thread topic will evolve, but I would like to keep discussion on this one possible aspect (or set of overlapping issues) of the revision: Will WotC attempt to re-balance 5e D&D with the assumption of less combat encounters per day? If so, how?
 

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Horwath

Hero
Currently with 1hr short rest, they shout axe the short rest mechanic.

Either make Short Rest really short, 1-5mins range or do not bother. You could hard limit it to 2 or 3 times per long rest.

If you can get away with doing nothing for 1 hour, you can get away doing nothing for 8 hrs in most of those cases.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
5e is occasionally derided as an "easy mode" game or version of D&D, but part of that results from how the designers of D&D overestimated the number of combat encounters per day that groups will run as well as the average number of short rests.

They did nothing of the kind, since they have not given any advice about the number of encounters or the number of short rests, even less rules about that. The only thing they have given is a very rough estimate of how many encounters of a specific level of difficulty an average party could handle without needing a long rest. All the rest is up to the DM.

Will WotC attempt to re-balance 5e D&D with the assumption of less combat encounters per day? If so, how?

No, because they never did balance it in the third place, only individual DMs do that with the tools given, which can only be very imprecise anyway due to the openendedness of the game.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
They might remove the language of "6-8 encounters per day" from a new version of the book (since so many people have taken that as gospel over the years and have gotten so bent out of shape when their own game didn't match it)... but the game itself won't be greatly changed.

What they really need to do is just say "The 'average' D&D game will see X happen. But the average table is smack dab in the middle of the hundreds of thousands of different tables out there. The odds of your table being that average are slim to none. So you as a DM are going to have to experiment and accept that your game will not actually see X happen, and you'll have to be prepared to adjust away from X to get the experience you want. And this goes for CR and the Encounter Building rules as well."
 

Osgood

Adventurer
Currently with 1hr short rest, they shout axe the short rest mechanic.

Either make Short Rest really short, 1-5mins range or do not bother. You could hard limit it to 2 or 3 times per long rest.

If you can get away with doing nothing for 1 hour, you can get away doing nothing for 8 hrs in most of those cases.
Way, way back I played in the very first public play test for 5E (Monte Cook DMed for our table). They had something similar to what you describe at the time... you were limited to a single 1 hour rest, and two 5 minute rests.

You may have me in part to blame for it never seeing the light of day... there was a LOT our group slammed about that version of the game (It was basically 3.5, but with saves based on the six abilities), but there was nothing we laid into more mercilessly than the "two breaks and a lunch" system.

I think I asked if the breaks and lunches were mandated by a governing body, and if so who would be fined if we missed one (the party or the BBEG)? Or were they negotiated by some sort of union, and if so, could we file grievances for poor adventuring conditions or low treasure outputs? Did they have to be on a fixed schedule (break time, sorry orcs, we'll finish this fight in 10 minutes)? And do we provide our own coffee, or will the dungeon designer have coffee stations?

Not long after Monte parted ways with the 5E design project... I'm not saying our feedback was the reason, but I'm not NOT saying that either.

Anyway, I'm not opposed to shorter short rests or limiting the number, but I think it helps if you have a reason. I think there will be pushback on seemingly arbitrary limits. That said, I strongly suspect we aren't going to see large scale mechanical changes like that with the anniversary edition.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Way, way back I played in the very first public play test for 5E (Monte Cook DMed for our table). They had something similar to what you describe at the time... you were limited to a single 1 hour rest, and two 5 minute rests.

You may have me in part to blame for it never seeing the light of day... there was a LOT our group slammed about that version of the game (It was basically 3.5, but with saves based on the six abilities), but there was nothing we laid into more mercilessly than the "two breaks and a lunch" system.

I think I asked if the breaks and lunches were mandated by a governing body, and if so who would be fined if we missed one (the party or the BBEG)? Or were they negotiated by some sort of union, and if so, could we file grievances for poor adventuring conditions or low treasure outputs? Did they have to be on a fixed schedule (break time, sorry orcs, we'll finish this fight in 10 minutes)? And do we provide our own coffee, or will the dungeon designer have coffee stations?

Not long after Monte parted ways with the 5E design project... I'm not saying our feedback was the reason, but I'm not NOT saying that either.

Anyway, I'm not opposed to shorter short rests or limiting the number, but I think it helps if you have a reason. I think there will be pushback on seemingly arbitrary limits. That said, I strongly suspect we aren't going to see large scale mechanical changes like that with the anniversary edition.
In the Cypher System, he had short rests get progressively longer after each time you took one until you eventually had to take a long rest.
 

Azuresun

Adventurer
They might remove the language of "6-8 encounters per day" from a new version of the book (since so many people have taken that as gospel over the years and have gotten so bent out of shape when their own game didn't match it)... but the game itself won't be greatly changed.

If people would actually read it for themselves, it would be pretty clear that's just an example given, since the very next sentence talks about the party having fewer tough encounters or more easy ones. I think the problem is that most people don't read it for themselves and take someone else's word for it, and that gets broken-telephoned into "6-8 encounters is the intended and one true way to play the game", and then people start complaining about a problem that doesn't exist, entirely because they never checked the rules for themselves.
 

Amros

Explorer
If people would actually read it for themselves, it would be pretty clear that's just an example given, since the very next sentence talks about the party having fewer tough encounters or more easy ones. I think the problem is that most people don't read it for themselves and take someone else's word for it, and that gets broken-telephoned into "6-8 encounters is the intended and one true way to play the game", and then people start complaining about a problem that doesn't exist, entirely because they never checked the rules for themselves.
For completeness, this is the exact wording:
THE ADVENTURING DAY
Assuming typical adventuring conditions and average luck, most adventuring parties can handle about six to eight medium or hard encounters in a day. If the adventure has more easy encounters, the adventurers can get through more. If it has more deadly encounters, they can handle fewer.
I don't know how that can be read as "this is how we balanced the game" either. So IMO no, there won't be any rebalancing on the 'Combats per Day' issue, because there is none. Besides, 'encounters' does not mean combat encounters only. For instance, infiltrating an enemy warehouse, stealing something, and getting out is an encounter; there was no combat involved, and you potentially spent resources, like a spell slot (or several) on Pass without Trace, Invisibility, etc. leaving you short of spell slots, or even no spell slots remaining, for the next encounter.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
For completeness, this is the exact wording:

I don't know how that can be read as "this is how we balanced the game" either. So IMO no, there won't be any rebalancing on the 'Combats per Day' issue, because there is none. Besides, 'encounters' does not mean combat encounters only. For instance, infiltrating an enemy warehouse, stealing something, and getting out is an encounter; there was no combat involved, and you potentially spent resources, like a spell slot (or several) on Pass without Trace, Invisibility, etc. leaving you short of spell slots, or even no spell slots remaining, for the next encounter.
The game is balanced against the daily XP budget. This is absolutely clear if you look at how short rest versus long rest abilities balance -- it really only levels if you're throwing daily XP at the PCs.

And this is why @Aldarc's OP question is going to be no. The assumptions of the daily XP budget flow down into the assumed rest cycles which flow down into the class resource recharge assumptions. A huge chunk of the game rests on this foundation. Every thread talking about rest problems, every threat talking about nova problems, every thread talking about DPS comparisons is fundamentally about this. Change the daily XP assumption and you have to go through a huge chunk of the class design to realign. The only quick pass would be to make everything daily resources, ie change all recharge on short rest to x/long rest abilities. This doesn't really fix anything, it just puts everything on equal footing -- now everyone can nova.
 

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
I think we'll see more ''prof per day'' features in the revised PHB of 2024, but I think we'll still have short rests, be it only for HP recovery and Warlock's slots.

Or they'll just make the Warlock a long rest caster like the other casters, but that'd be sad IMHO.

Note: I use the 5 minutes short rests (max of 2 per long rest) and it works wonder. Since its also a little power boost to Warlocks and Wizards already have they Arcane Recovery feature, I give a little ''cheat'' to Sorcerers: Sorcery Points are mainly for features and Metamagic; they can still burn slots to regain SP. BUT, I let the Sorcerer combine slots to create high level slots. ie: A Sorcerer can spend a level 4 and a level 2 slot to cast a 6th level spell. This way, all classes can deal with their own feature recovery in their own way as they like.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
I think we'll see more ''prof per day'' features in the revised PHB of 2024, but I think we'll still have short rests, be it only for HP recovery and Warlock's slots.
I think I read an interview or something along thosel ines that said the designers are looking to move towards "prof per day" features. It's conceivable that this change might result in an adjustment to the encounter guidelines, although I agree that it's unlikely that short rests would go away entirely.
 

Amros

Explorer
The game is balanced against the daily XP budget. This is absolutely clear if you look at how short rest versus long rest abilities balance -- it really only levels if you're throwing daily XP at the PCs.
No, it isn't. How can you even relate XP to resources? Could you state how many spell slots or superiority dice, for instance, are equivalent to 200 XP? And if you don't use XP at all?
If I would have to bet on something, I would bet on this bit on the same DMG page 84:
SHORT RESTS
In general, over the course of a full adventuring day, the party will likely need to take two short rests, about onethird and two-thirds of the way through the day.
But that is not a statement either, although it tends to be true.

IMO, the real balance reside in the party as a whole, not in class-against-class basis, because resource attrition will always depend on your adventuring day. Short-rest classes cannot go nova as strongly as long-rest ones, but they will endure a very long adventuring day; on the other hand, long-rest classes will need to be conservative on long days, but can hit like a truck when needed. Having a balanced party with both long-rest and short-rest classes lets you adapt better to both situations.
 

No, they won't do that because WotC doesn't see it as a flaw.
Er...they actually do though?

I fear I no longer remember the specific video, but it was published IIRC a bit before Tasha's released. Jeremy Crawford explicitly discussed that there is a problem in 5e's design concerning resting and resources--or, rather, a problem between the designer-expected rate of using these things and the actual-play rate of using them. They expected players to take long days with multiple short rests...and actual play doesn't bear that out. This causes some classes, like Warlock (which was explicitly called out) to fall behind, while other classes like Wizard pull ahead, because their resources don't have to stretch as far.

While they have not explicitly drawn a connection to it (to the best of my knowledge, anyway), it is generally accepted in the community that this is why, roughly starting with Tasha's or a bit before, you see zero or almost zero uses-per-short-rest features, and a total or almost total shift to Proficiency-bonus-per-long-rest features. Because the latter is totally divorced from the party's rate of taking short rests, it provides a uniform quantity of resources regardless of whether players favor few or many rests.

Like...this really is an actual design fault actually admitted by one of the primary designers when 5e was being worked on, and arguably the lead designer still at the company after Mearls left.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I doubt they will. While I find the game does indeed work better when the adventure is designed with 6 to 8 encounters per adventuring day in mind, I'm not sure how much the designers actually pushed this. It could be that a lot of people just read into that bit in the DMG. Official modules don't seem to follow this assumption either.

For my part, if I'm designing adventures where I expect there will be 6 to 8 encounters per adventuring day, I use standard rests. If I expect there will be fewer encounters, I change the resting rules accordingly. Those rules already exist in the DMG so there's not really much need for the designers to do anything in particular here.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
If you can get away with doing nothing for 1 hour, you can get away doing nothing for 8 hrs in most of those cases.

Just putting it out there that this is not my experience, but will admit this may just be a result of how I DM. Of course, it depends on where the PCs find themselves and how good a job they do in finding a safe-ish spot for a rest in relation to that environment. In my games, regardless of chance of a random encounter for a one hour rest (which can range depending on where they are) the chances during a long rest are 8 times more likely.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
No, it isn't. How can you even relate XP to resources? Could you state how many spell slots or superiority dice, for instance, are equivalent to 200 XP? And if you don't use XP at all?
If I would have to bet on something, I would bet on this bit on the same DMG page 84:
You've somehow gotten a very strange idea. The recharge rates for resources, and therefore the entire resource game, uses the daily XP budget as the foundation. This isn't a relation of XP to an ability, as you seems to have leapt to, but rather the point that the game expects the resources from a short rest recharge class to be in parity with a long rest recharge class when you are using the daily XP budget.
But that is not a statement either, although it tends to be true.

IMO, the real balance reside in the party as a whole, not in class-against-class basis, because resource attrition will always depend on your adventuring day. Short-rest classes cannot go nova as strongly as long-rest ones, but they will endure a very long adventuring day; on the other hand, long-rest classes will need to be conservative on long days, but can hit like a truck when needed. Having a balanced party with both long-rest and short-rest classes lets you adapt better to both situations.
I mean, you just said resource attrition depends on the day, so....
 


Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Not long after Monte parted ways with the 5E design project... I'm not saying our feedback was the reason, but I'm not NOT saying that either.
It definitely wasn’t. He has actually talked about it since, basically they got him to come back in the first place by promising that the corporate culture at WotC had changed and he would actually have creative freedom again. He left when it became clear that wasn’t actually true.
 

Nothing in this regard will change, because to do so would require a huge revamp of a lot of class abilities. IMO "easy mode" has nothing to do with the number of combats per day, since DMs often build around the daily xp anyway. I wouldn't mind seeing advice on how to adjust the difficulty without leading to a TPK.
IMO, the real balance reside in the party as a whole, not in class-against-class basis, because resource attrition will always depend on your adventuring day. Short-rest classes cannot go nova as strongly as long-rest ones, but they will endure a very long adventuring day; on the other hand, long-rest classes will need to be conservative on long days, but can hit like a truck when needed. Having a balanced party with both long-rest and short-rest classes lets you adapt better to both situations.
Here's the biggest issue though, is that with fewer encounters per day, the short/no rest characters are overshadowed by the long rest characters that nova. Many don't see this as an issue, viewing it in a team perspective as you do, but a lot of others feel the classes should be able to contribute more equally. It's not an issue for me, but our group leans towards the 6-8/ day, which balances the types quite well.
 

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