D&D 5E Change the length of the Rests to fit the type of game you wanna run.

FallenRX

Adventurer
In older editions of DnD, Resting/Natural healing defined the type of game, tone and atmosphere of the game. In original editions of DnD, characters get 1 to 3 hp back every FULL DAY of completely resting, doing nothing else, just resting, it could take weeks for your character to get back to full health, in the first days of Gygax's DnD, this was every OTHER day. What type of game was run there? You go out and adventure, get banged up, and comeback and do long swaths of resting, and period of downtime, then go back out there.

Healing was precious, spells were a lot more limited so were spell slots, healers mattered because that was the way you can keep going if you take damage, churches mattered because they could heal you if you went to them at a price. This was old school dnd, the tone of the game was lower magic, lethal, and scary, combat was deadly, magic was powerful but limited and even if you win, youd need some serious healing to keep going.

Moving on to second edition, is where this changes, you know didnt need to completely do nothing to rest and health, you could heal during downtime activities, and also even traveling, but if you got into a fight, and stressed yourself? Well, no healing that day. But you can spend a whole day resting to get a lot more healing back, which worked well? How does this affect the tone? 2E was when the more narrative focused dnd games were made, so the idea was Healing was a part of the journey/adventure, you can slowly heal up day by day while traveling maybe spending some spell slots of needed, but the risk was if you ran into something, you will have to lose out on that healing, and you can only make upf or it by stopping or adventure or activities, clear risk-reward here.

Now lets flash forward to 4e? A more heroic fantasy type of games, this game is designed for you to get into big fight with monsters, and use your special moves, attrition is done on a per encounter/daily basis with the AEDU system(At will, encounter, Daily, Utility Powers), and healing here is rapid, you can get back encounter powers on a 10 minute short rest, and get big boost to healing with surges, long rests are a total reset, and make the end of the adventuring day basically. Your goal is to get into big fight with monsters, your playing a more heroic, actiony fantasy kinda game, your expected to be healed up for big encounters, and the real attrition is managing your daily/encounter powers, which limit you? The tone of the game is an action tactical combat game, fight monsters, heal up, go.

So what is the resting system of 5e supposed to be? Looking at this, the answer is obvious? A more attrition based Action Fantasy game, its like 4E, Daily powers(Long rest abilities), and Short rest powers. But these are dragged out over a longer period of time, and healing surges, are not rapid but in have a risk due to the longer time frame tied to them. The idea of 5e is its designed with HP as the primary attrition based resource(I made a post about this not to long ago), all Medium encounter means, is the monster can do usually about 30% HP of your party, you can take about 3 of those, before you have to short rest to get most of your HP back, and you can take about 3 more of those, before you'd have to spend hit dice again, which youd only have a few left, so you can probably take at most 2 more encounters before your really in deep trouble.(and if you manage to circumvent the encounter entirely well you can adventure for longer) That is a 5e Adventuring day about 6-8 encounters per day, this is what 5e is designed around.

But what if you dont want to run that type of game, you dont want to run an Attrition based, Action Fantasy type of RPG, where your supposed to be whittled down via trying to push through many combats, with risks and things like that? Simply change the rest timing to fit the tone of the game your playing.

What most people tend to do, try to focus on other resources, such as rations, or light/torches, but 5e goes out of its way to make those resources not matter, they are all very cheap, inventory is easy to deal with in this game, spells even without slots can easily deal with this and even simple background/racial features can do away with all of this, so it never quite works out, the game is not designed for these resources to matter, becuase the primary resource of attritions is 1. HP, and 2. Rest-based Resources. Thats what matters, so if you want different structures to play to matter, let adjusted the game resting to fit the type of game we want to see.

In fact, the 5E devs know this, why do you think gritty realism/Heroic Resting rules are in the game. But dont just use those rules, consider it permission to adjust the resting rules to fit the type of game you want to run. Maybe you want a slower paced game but not quite Gritty realism? Change Long Rest to 24 hours, a full day of downtime, and see how it shifts your game.

The time intervals you can use are obvious.

  • 10 minutes
  • 1 hour
  • 8 hours
  • 24 Hours.
  • 1 week
  • 1 month
If you want a more action driven game where Short rest powers are alive more, to empower shorter term classes such as Monks and Warlocks? make Short rests 10 minutes, get aggressive. But if you want travel to matter, HP to be key and shorten the adventuring day?

Try making Short Rest take 8 Hours, while Long Rest takes 24. The Adventuring day by design is literally halved by this, since the players can only handle about, 1 Deadly encounter per short rest, 2 hard encounters, and 3-4 Medium Encounters, and about 6-7 Easy encounters(Deadly Encounters can do 70% of the Parties HP, Hard encounters about 45%, Medium 30%, and Easy about 15%.)

If you want Downtime to be a part of your game, maybe make Short Rests take a full day of doing nothing(where you can travel or do a downtime activity while doing so), while a Full Long rest takes 48 Hours, or maybe you need to spend the day actually doing nothing in a 24 hour period? It would shift the tone, and pacing of your game dramatically.

What if you just feel Long Rest powers/classes are too powerful and youd want to tone them back? Simply adjusting make long resting take 24 Hours and keep everything else the same, now the party needs to spend a whole day resting, to even get back spell slots or get a full heal, completely stop to the adventure, the party needs to consider this, the Martial/Caster gap quickly becomes a minor thing, especially if pressed for time.

The point is this, Resting should fit the tone/pace of the game you are going for, you are in complete control of this, and you can adjust resting to suite the game you wish to run, and the balance of your games, the Devs of 5E know this thats why they made it a variant rule, and you can do it without specifically needing to use Gritty Realism.

Most people run Narrative focused games where they want big traveling segments, and stuff inbetween, simply making Long Rest 24 Hours, and Short Rest 8 hours(or keeping it 1 hour) can alter the tone, and style of the game to fit that image.

Figure out the pace you want your game, and what resting format best fits that structure use it and abuse it, and watch your game naturally evolve without having to rewrite the book/ban 100 options.

Because i know, not every game you want to run are Action Fantasy Dungeon Crawlers, nor are gritty long-winded games with lots of downtime, you want something else, so why not just do it?


TLDR: Adjust the resting times of your games to suite the style of game you wanna run, as the game is balanced around HP/Rest Based resources, and Resting is the biggest part to managing that stuff, the devs know this, thats why they put those variant resting rules in the game to define tone and pace of your games.
 

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Stormonu

Legend
Back in 1E/2E, I could remember situations where the party would find a "quiet space" in a dungeon and hole up for a day or two while the clerics and/or paladin would use every healing spell to get the characters quickly back up to full. I'd make a handful of random monster checks, but it was rare anything ever showed up, and usually the at least half-healed party trounced it before it could warn others. Natural healing took so long I found it unworthy of using - I remember adding level and Con modifier to the healing rate at the least, and looking back would have allowed natural healing at an even faster rate.

That method persisted until 5E. I found an hour to be too long for a short rest for my game and dropped it to 15 minutes - long enough that combat spells would expire, but short enough to entice the group to take the rest and use HD to get some hit points back, and maybe some abilities.

Long rests remained at 8 hours, but lately I have been tweaking things so that characters only get 1/2 their hit dice back out in the wilderness, and none in an actively dangerous area such as dungeon. The characters can then do some recovery - in the dungeon if necessary, preferably nearby the adventure site if they can, and back home when everything is done and dusted.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
Try making Short Rest take 8 Hours, while Long Rest takes 24.
This is what we started doing over three years ago, but since then adjusted it so short rests are 3-4 hours (we go back and forth on this...) but kept long rests at 24 hours. Basically, we tripled resting times and it works well IMO.
 

The length of rests, and availability of them, is largely unimportant, but it’s all we talk about. What is important is creating a scarcity of resources (HP and Spell Slots and other abilities) in the face of encounters. In my mind, players should face a need to do more and survive more than it seems like they should be able to given their resting/recharge opportunities. Having less than you need is fun tension.

I don’t have a solution, but all the talk about time of rests is like avoiding the obvious, and everything still falls on the DM to stuff in encounters on whatever rest plan there is.
 

We do a short rest is 8 hours. Long rest is 5 days downtime. Also require training between levels. So far, over 6 years have passed in game and the PCs are level 10. Default rules that would have only taken the PCs a couple weeks. That definiltey affects the types of stories you can tell.
 


Shiroiken

Legend
The length of rests, and availability of them, is largely unimportant, but it’s all we talk about. What is important is creating a scarcity of resources (HP and Spell Slots and other abilities) in the face of encounters. In my mind, players should face a need to do more and survive more than it seems like they should be able to given their resting/recharge opportunities. Having less than you need is fun tension.

I don’t have a solution, but all the talk about time of rests is like avoiding the obvious, and everything still falls on the DM to stuff in encounters on whatever rest plan there is.
I think that's why you have to adjust to resting rules to fit your game style. Resources are entirely based on resting, so if the players can't just rest whenever they want, it forces the tension. If you have lots of quick resting, the DM can put lots of encounters in the way to drain those resources.

I haven't pulled the trigger yet on changing the rest times, but I've wanted to for a while. My next campaign will probably be more along the lines of gritty realism, with Short Rest as 8 hours and Long Rest as either 3 days of full rest or during a week of downtime. Players on a mission can find spot they can hole up for 3 days to recover, or they can do downtime and refresh between adventures. Obviously the number and difficulty of encounters will be lower because of this.
 


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