D&D 5E (+) Balancing Gritty Rest

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
This just sort of jumped out at me, so I wanted to respond.
First the ratio of short rests (overnight) to long rests (7 days) will be rather off, with a lot more short rests.

...

So, your thoughts? Especially on what I've missed.
I'm not sure where you're getting the expectation of more short rests per long rest. When I ran a game using Gritty Realism, the party was typically ready for a long rest after about three days of adventuring, so the default ratio of short to long rests was preserved. I think the expected gameplay for this variant is a roughly three day long "adventuring day", with something like 2 or 3 medium or hard encounters per day, and then a seven day long rest, for a total cycle of about ten days. So unless your goal is to stretch out the party's adventuring day XP budget over more than three days, no rebalancing should be required.
 

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This just sort of jumped out at me, so I wanted to respond.

I'm not sure where you're getting the expectation of more short rests per long rest. When I ran a game using Gritty Realism, the party was typically ready for a long rest after about three days of adventuring, so the default ratio of short to long rests was preserved. I think the expected gameplay for this variant is a roughly three day long "adventuring day", with something like 2 or 3 medium or hard encounters per day, and then a seven day long rest, for a total cycle of about ten days. So unless your goal is to stretch out the party's adventuring day XP budget over more than three days, no rebalancing should be required.
Right. It just is that those two or three days when something happens don't need to be consecutive and there can be uneventful days between them. But that doesn't affect the balance.
 

Oofta

Legend
One other note, it doesn't come up that often in my games but in order to get a long rest you need to be somewhere relatively safe and comfortable. So if people are trekking cross country for a month, they may not have an option for a long rest. If I think they need one I'll throw in a friendly hermit, remote outpost or even an abandoned (but still sound) cabin they can rest at.
 

One other note, it doesn't come up that often in my games but in order to get a long rest you need to be somewhere relatively safe and comfortable. So if people are trekking cross country for a month, they may not have an option for a long rest. If I think they need one I'll throw in a friendly hermit, remote outpost or even an abandoned (but still sound) cabin they can rest at.
Yeah, same.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
Right. It just is that those two or three days when something happens don't need to be consecutive and there can be uneventful days between them. But that doesn't affect the balance.
True, uneventful days could certainly stretch out the "adventuring day" over a longer period of time. I personally tend towards fewer and more deadly encounters. My point was there's no assumption of more short rests per long rest contained within the Gritty Realism variant itself.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
One other note, it doesn't come up that often in my games but in order to get a long rest you need to be somewhere relatively safe and comfortable. So if people are trekking cross country for a month, they may not have an option for a long rest. If I think they need one I'll throw in a friendly hermit, remote outpost or even an abandoned (but still sound) cabin they can rest at.
Level Up's haven rule serves this purpose. Sometimes, you just have to find the house of Beorn.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
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)?
My goal is to have my pacing (which is often zero to "few" encounters per day. especially at higher levels) match the number of encounters the designers calibrated (5-8) to maintain balance between the classes.

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.
I've tried that, didn't work which is why I am looking at this. It does not match my DMing style to have forced time limits every adventure.

What has worked best for me in the past was 13th Age's "you get a full heal up after four encounters" which that d20 system is balanced around. Sometimes it was a day, sometimes it was week. But that's too narrative-breaking for some of my players.

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.
We're thinking along the same lines, I did suggest making 1 day spells until next long rest. BG3 is a fun game, but doing things like making Shield of Faith until next long rest (so you always cast it with your last slot (no need to worry about wanting Concentration for other spells) is too much. Part of this is balancing long rest recovery classes vs. the others, so I don't want to boost up spells where they are better than without the change.

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.
Cool ideas! For the start of campaign at least I'm looking for the least house rules around this, but I can introduce spells like that during play as wanted.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
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.
Another poster suggested taking ideas from the Baldur's Gate 3 game and have some spells last until next long rest. This just gave me an interesting twist on it - spells of 8 hours or more last until you next regain spells.

EDIT: With the idea that Warlock spells don't get a huge duration boost.
 
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Shiroiken

Legend
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".
I have considered doing the same, but had not gone as fully into the details as you have considered. My plan was to have a Long Rest be either 3 full days of rest (no casting, traveling, combat, etc.) or part of a week of downtime. I figured the players would choose it as part of downtime more often, and it would make downtime be an important part of the campaign. The 3 day rest option would be while on quests and any time based adventures, where they might have a chance to rest, but not enough for a full week.

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.
I don't think any modification would be necessary. While you're more likely to see short rest classes, the number of short rests per encounter may not necessarily change. One day might have 2-3 encounters, while another might not have any at all. The big advantage for short rest classes is that they will have to actually happen.

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.
Except for a handful of spells, spell duration is largely meant to last for 1 encounter. Even the hour long spells are seldom likely to impact more than 1 encounter unless you're in a tight location with lots of enemies close together (i.e. a dungeon). If you really feel the need to edit those handful of spells, you should do so on a case by case basis.

Personally, I feel that Mage Armor is a garbage spell, so it being weakened is a feature, not a bug. If you want to save it, I'd have it provide a ritual you can cast 1/day for the next 7 days or until you finish a long rest.

I wouldn't worry about Hex, since Warlock is going to get spells back every day anyway.

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.
This is one I haven't considered. I would suggest making attuned items recharge when the owner finishes a Long Rest. Other items might recharge every 7, 14, or 28 days, based on how often you want them to recharge.

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.
Ignore the DMG for this one, and use the encounter matchups in Tasha's. It gives much better fights that are balanced against the PCs. One thing to consider with the number of encounters per Long Rest is HD, so you should error on fewer encounters per Long Rest initially.

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.
Something to be aware of: casters are going to rely on cantrips a lot more than normal. Spell slots are going to be a premium resource, so casters should be much more stingy with them. Since players aren't used to this, you're going to want to bring this up in session 0.

Because of this, remind the players of the adventuring gear in the PHB. Not just Potions of Healing, which are going to be a necessity too, but Alchemists Fire, Caltrops, Crowbars, etc. Things are likely going to be overcome more with checks and smart play than with spells. Casting Knock is a waste if you have a portable battering ram.
 

ECMO3

Hero
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".

I have played gritty realism once.

One thing we did that you are not doing is we had exploration which was typically 1 encounter a day and dungeon crawls that were lots of encounters.

Honestly IME it is a lot like 1E in that things do not recharge quickly. It makes you manage resources, including hps, even on light days exploring with one encounter.

The players in the group all had fun, but to be honest we all felt RAW was more fun so we only did this once.

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.

This was definitely true in my experience, although if you are limiting to 1 encounter a day it will impact you less I think.

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.

Not IME. Barbarians are weak in general and still weak using gritty rest rules. They are closer to other martials and casters but not OP.

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?

I would leave this alone. If you change it you are changing the basic leveling that gritty resting gives you.

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.

I don't remember what we did about this and I am not sure what the RAW is. Also a lot of magic items recharge at dawn, not at the next long rest.

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.

I don't know how the DM managed this because I did not have insight into his math here. I will say the dungeon crawl portions were a crap ton harder than usual and more like 1E. The exploration 1 encounter days were still pretty easy, but you did not waste resources. For example we would not disintegrate a Goblin just because you still had the slot we knew we were going to recharge.
 

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