D&D 5E (+) Balancing Gritty Rest

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I am strongly considering that my next campaign use the Gritty Rest variant, or at least a close variation on it. And I'd like your thoughts on how this will impact play. I've got a couple of thoughts I'd like to address already, but I am even more looking forward to your thoughts, especially if you have run Gritty Rest before. My goal is to fit encounter-per-long-rest to my DMing style, with 5-8+ encounters between long rests. So this isn't "lots of encounters per long rest", this is "the correct number of encounters per long rest".

To give a fuller context, I was also planning on starting at 5th level (players who have been together for several campaigns) and I was intending to expand skill usage to cover more heroic fantasy level tropes as they go up tiers. For example while a T1 PC with proficiency in handle animals might be able to keep a suspricious beast from going hostile, a T3 PC (or T2 with expertise) might be able to calm a charging mother bear and befriend the cubs. Since the party will be starting in T2, they will already be able to do things past the "real world" with their standard proficiency. I think that will help keep things fantastical, and also help replace some things currently done with utility spells that are instead spread among the entire party, caster or not. I use Milestone leveling, so the party avoiding meaningless encounters will not hurt them in advancement. One last thing - I will be using the various optional abilities in Tasha's with one exception: Harness Divinity, the regaining of spell slots by using a channel divinity.

Anyway, here's a list of concerns I've already thought of, and I'm looking for you to add more that I missed:

Short rests per long rest
First the ratio of short rests (overnight) to long rests (7 days) will be rather off, with a lot more short rests. This will empower short-rest-recovery classes like the warlock, the monk, and fighter (battlemaster). Actually, that's not true. I think those classes will stay in balance with the at-will classes, but both will have an advantage over the long rest recovery classes like the casters, as well as the hybrids like the paladin or the barbarian.

Are there any (sub)class or racial features that I should reduce uses of and move to per short rest? For example, halve number of barbarian rages, but restore one used one on a short rest? I'd mildly prefer not to do this, but will if needed.

Long duration spells (& rituals)
Some spells are meant to last for multiple encounters, or for "all day". With fewer slots, do I still support these intentions? And where's the cut-off for some things are still back to back. For instance, 10 minutes I wouldn't touch, but 1 hour I could make 4 hours. Do I do this for all casters, or all Spellcasters and leave Pact Magic alone?

For the all day ones, do I make them them into rituals? If so that gets rid of any slots used on them, and expands usage like using Mage Armor on every light armor wearer. Plus it doesn't handle spells like Hex having a longer duration when upcast. Perhaps I should just increase those as well. 8 hours becomes 3 days, 1 day become until next long rest.

Magic item recharge
If you consider a week of adventuring and then a week of downtime, that's 14 days. I was thinking on making magic items that recharge do so on the new and full moons.

Encounter strength
While a Medium encounter doesn't feel like all that much, it it attrition of resources. This is just to remember that Gritty Rest will likely ensure the game will be heavily attrition based and that even lesser encounters will have repecussions, and that limited resources spent avoiding an encounter might be best.

What have I missed?
I don't know what I don't know. Outside of frequency of usage which I think I addressed, what else should I be looking at?

So, your thoughts? Especially on what I've missed.
 

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aco175

Legend
I would be interested in seeing how the campaign goes. I never tried it other than on road travel between towns and dungeons where good rest is hard to come by.

I wonder if adding more recharges to long rest PCs such as a wizards arcane recovery to every other day. This seems to be on par with the usual 2 -3 short rests per long rest mechanic most groups have and making some things 2-3 times per week will fix that.
 

jgsugden

Legend
Is your goal to have the longer storytelling elements that has the PCs take a long rest 'between adventures' and a short rest once per day - or merely to have them take the right number of encounters per adventuring 'day' (LR)?

If the goal is really to get them to have the right number of encounters per LR, then you may want to consider alternative means to accomplish this that do not require so much rebalancing. If, for example, they have a little less than 2 hours to rescue their goal before something bad happens - well, that means they have to work their way through all the challenges you set before them with no more than 1 SR.

Putting that aside and assuming you actively want the longer storytelling aspects where PCs need to be safe for a week to take a long rest, I suggest looking at what Baldur's Gate 3 has done with magic for inspiration on how to treat spell durations. Their approach to making spells last until the LR works really well for many spells. My version would be that any spell that had a 'per the book' duration that lasted for over an hour would last a week. If it required concentration, it could be 'resumed' after a overnight short rest.

In my setting I also have a few spells that take effect when cast and have a duration of "until you elect to recover the spell slot used to cast this spell during a long rest". For example, I have a mage armor equivalent that grants you an AC of Dexterity bonus + 12 + 1 per level of the spell slot used to cast the spell. When you take damage the mage armor also takes damage. For each 10 hp damage it takes, the AC bonus reduces by 1, but recovers at 1 per round. When cast it lasts until dispelled, or until you elect while taking a long rest to recover the spell slot. You can choose not to recover the spell slot and just have the spell continue. Essentially, you sacrifice a spell slot to have the spell cast permanently.

I have a bunch of these types of spells that grant similar abilities to Mirror Image, Jump, Longstrider, Expeditious Retreat, Spider Climb, Fly, etc... but with some limitations the original spell does not have. I even have ones that automatically cast counterspell at spells that meet certain criteria. For example, one that does a counterspell effect against any evocation cast within 60 feet of you.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Short rests per long rest
First the ratio of short rests (overnight) to long rests (7 days) will be rather off, with a lot more short rests. This will empower short-rest-recovery classes like the warlock, the monk, and fighter (battlemaster). Actually, that's not true. I think those classes will stay in balance with the at-will classes, but both will have an advantage over the long rest recovery classes like the casters, as well as the hybrids like the paladin or the barbarian.

Are there any (sub)class or racial features that I should reduce uses of and move to per short rest? For example, halve number of barbarian rages, but restore one used one on a short rest? I'd mildly prefer not to do this, but will if needed.
How did you space them during a 24 hour day? You could theoretically get 10+ in a 24 hour day since they are 1 hour rests. If you limited them like I did to say, 2 short rests in a 24 hour period, you can do the same over the 7 days. Only 2 of the 8 hour rests will actually grant abilities back and allow hit dice use. I would recommend allowing them their first rest on whatever day they want, and then the second rest has to be at least two days later. That spaces them out fairly well.
Long duration spells (& rituals)
Some spells are meant to last for multiple encounters, or for "all day". With fewer slots, do I still support these intentions? And where's the cut-off for some things are still back to back. For instance, 10 minutes I wouldn't touch, but 1 hour I could make 4 hours. Do I do this for all casters, or all Spellcasters and leave Pact Magic alone?

For the all day ones, do I make them them into rituals? If so that gets rid of any slots used on them, and expands usage like using Mage Armor on every light armor wearer. Plus it doesn't handle spells like Hex having a longer duration when upcast. Perhaps I should just increase those as well. 8 hours becomes 3 days, 1 day become until next long rest.
I used the gritty rest variant and I didn't have to alter duration times at all. There were no issues that came up. That said, if you are going for the feel of a very fantastical setting, then extended durations would hit that note.
Magic item recharge
If you consider a week of adventuring and then a week of downtime, that's 14 days. I was thinking on making magic items that recharge do so on the new and full moons.
What I did was change "until long rest" to "until morning." I think that magic items are pretty weak sauce in 5e, so that gave them a bit of oomph. It would also add to the fantastical feel you are looking for if you boost them a bit like that.
Encounter strength
While a Medium encounter doesn't feel like all that much, it it attrition of resources. This is just to remember that Gritty Rest will likely ensure the game will be heavily attrition based and that even lesser encounters will have repecussions, and that limited resources spent avoiding an encounter might be best.
Add to that the one week between long rests means a lot more exploration going on between those rests, which uses up resources that way as well. More doors to use Knock on. More silence spells used to sneak past things. And so on.
What have I missed?
I don't know what I don't know. Outside of frequency of usage which I think I addressed, what else should I be looking at?

So, your thoughts? Especially on what I've missed.
The extra resources expended during the increased amount of exploration threw us off a bit, so what we did was add in a third kind of rest. The overnight rest. Since exploration can lead to hit point loss and almost certainly increased spell slot loss, we allowed an overnight rest to get the PCs back up to half of their total hit dice back OR 2 spell slots, their choice.
 

Tony Vargas

Legend
This will empower short-rest-recovery classes like the warlock, the monk, and fighter (battlemaster).
It's only likely to be an issue if there's a warlock. Yes. Monks & BMs short-rest recharge, but ki & cs dice aren't nearly as impactful as spells.
Some spells are meant to last for multiple encounters, or for "all day".
Unless a spells duration is literally a full day I wouldn't worry.
So, your thoughts?
Since you're already milestone leveling. Which is pretty abstract, you might want to "milestone rest " that is, you get a short rest every other encounter and a long rest every 6-8, depending on the flow of the story.
 

The group I am a player in has used some version of this rule for the past four campaigns, spanning over four years of weekly games. It works great and I highly recommend it. I am not using it in the group I DM for just because it would not work with the pacing of the published campaign I am running - if I end up running a homebrew adventure for my next campaign I am 100% going to implement it though.

On average we probably only do 1-2 short rests before long resting - even hitting 3 short rests for a week is an exception rather than the norm;
so for us at least it did not shift the balance significantly away from the expectation of 2 short rests per long rest. Losing HP means most parties can' t go too long without the long rest. In theory you could do a celestial warlock/fighter/monk group to try to exploit the rule, but unless your players are going all in to try to "break" the rule it should not be a problem.

We allow Mage Armor to last 3 days, and I think we have adjusted a couple of other spell durations where they made sense, but have just done so on a ad hoc basis rather than trying to make a specific rule. For example upcast Hex is 8 hours, but it is a warlock spell, so the slot is recharging on a short rest anyway. I would err on the side of leaving spell durations as is, and adjusting only where it is clearly warranted.

So yeah, it works great, and is mostly fine out of the box with few tweaks.
 

I've used gritty rests in my campaign, we've played 28 sessions thus far. It works well. I have not altered the spell durations and it has not been an issue, but not doing so definitely is a tiny nerf to the casters.

Also, in my experience something that drains resources doesn't happen every day, so whilst the characters technically might get more than two or three short rests between long rests, they don't get that many that actually do something.

I find this suits the pacing I want far better than the standard rests, whilst still allowing the resource attrition to matter.
 
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Fanaelialae

Legend
If you want the option to run longer adventures (more that 5-8 encounters) or denser adventures (a rescuing a prisoner in a castle dungeon, with multiple encounters in the same day) you might want to have some mechanic in place that allows for quicker rests. Maybe something like fairy circles that never stay in the same place for long (just the first thing that came to mind).
 

Oofta

Legend
If you want the option to run longer adventures (more that 5-8 encounters) or denser adventures (a rescuing a prisoner in a castle dungeon, with multiple encounters in the same day) you might want to have some mechanic in place that allows for quicker rests. Maybe something like fairy circles that never stay in the same place for long (just the first thing that came to mind).
BG3 has potions that grant you either a short or long rest. They're rare but would do the trick. In my own campaign I only did this a couple of times, I just had a specially blessed chamber. For the most part though I just made the combats a bit easier.
 

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