5E Expanding Exhaustion

Not really, but recently there have been several threads about it so I have been planning about it...

Mostly, I think the exhaustion rules have great potential to be applied not only for proper exhaustion cases, but also as (1) alternative rules for dropping to 0hp, and (2) special monsters attacks/abilities effects.

I am particularly interested in (1), because generally I don't like very much seeing my players' PCs die and typically I offer the players a choice to replace death with a mid-term negative condition, and I think exhaustion levels would work very well for that purpose since the recovery is slower than HP damage.

At the same time, having exhaustion levels kick in every time you drop to 0hp would also introduce a representation of (semi)lingering wounds to the game, but without making them too frequent (as is the case when a DM decides to add lingering wounds rules to criticals).

However I would rather randomize the exhaustion levels effect, instead of applying them in order, so that a player cannot plan accordingly :) and there is room for more effects to be added to the list.
 

Sadras

Adventurer
Has anyone done anything on expanding Exhaustion?
Expanding a little on @Li Shenron's post.

1) PC earning a level of exhaustion for dropping to 0hp;
2) PC earning a level of exhaustion for each failed Death Saving Throw;
3) Special monsters attack/abilities effect;
4) PCs earning x levels of exhaustion for a ability/power Recovery system;
5) PCs not earning HD until removal of the exhaustion condition;
6) I have previously seen online posters fiddling with the order of the various effects of each of the exhaustion levels. Changing them around effectively;
 

dave2008

Legend
I have not but in addition to @Sadras 's ideas you could:

7) Apply a level of exhaustion on a critical hit
8) Allow a character to gain a level(s) of exhaustion to regain a short(long) rest ability. I like the idea of a fighter gaining a level of exhaustion to gain another use of action surge. Oops! I see this is basically #4 above.
 

Nebulous

Adventurer
Mostly, I think the exhaustion rules have great potential to be applied not only for proper exhaustion cases, but also as (1) alternative rules for dropping to 0hp, and (2) special monsters attacks/abilities effects.

I am particularly interested in (1), because generally I don't like very much seeing my players' PCs die and typically I offer the players a choice to replace death with a mid-term negative condition, and I think exhaustion levels would work very well for that purpose since the recovery is slower than HP damage.
Agreed. I've been using a level of Exhaustion at 0 hp for a few months and it works well (when I remember to enforce it; after years of not using that mechanic I sometimes forget). Also having monsters use it is something scary because exhaustion can't be waved away easily. The Kobold Press monster books (Tome of Beasts and Creature Codex) I believe use Exhaustion a good extent in their monster write ups. Not overly so though.
 

Shiroiken

Adventurer
I think Exaustion is a pretty good mechanic, but because of how hard it is to remove it, expanding it's uses has not worked out well IME. If you expand Exhaustion, I'd have Lesser Restoration remove 1 level of it, and Greater Restoration remove 3 levels of it.
 

dave2008

Legend
I think Exaustion is a pretty good mechanic, but because of how hard it is to remove it, expanding it's uses has not worked out well IME. If you expand Exhaustion, I'd have Lesser Restoration remove 1 level of it, and Greater Restoration remove 3 levels of it.
A long rest removes 1 level of exhaustion. That is free and only costs time. I don't think it is much of a big deal, but YMMV.
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
I don't think I've ever actually seen Exhaustion applied in a game I've played, so I'd love to have more reasons to apply it because I think it's a nice mechanic.

1) PC earning a level of exhaustion for dropping to 0hp;
2) PC earning a level of exhaustion for each failed Death Saving Throw;
3) Special monsters attack/abilities effect;
4) PCs earning x levels of exhaustion for a ability/power Recovery system;
5) PCs not earning HD until removal of the exhaustion condition;
7) Apply a level of exhaustion on a critical hit
I like #1 and #2 from @Sadras' post. I REALLY like #5 as well.

@dave2008 - your #7 seems like piling on the already bad things a crit can bring to me a bit.

I also like to use the Lingering injuries table for Crits though so... maybe that's just my game.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
I use the Exhaustion Table instead of the 3 Failed Death Saves. My special rules for them are as follows:

- When you drop to 0 HP you stat making Death Saving Throws. On each failure you gain a level of Exhaustion. 6 failed rolls and you die (you hit Level 6 Exhaustion, which is death).

- Unlike failed death saves after you gain at least 1 hit point, Exhaustion levels do not reset. If you have an Exhaustion level and then are healed some HP and then later drop to 0 HP again... your next failed save drops you to Level 2 Exhaustion. And this continues on until you take a long rest.

- During the very first long rest following you gaining an Exhaustion level, you can 1 or more back. You gain 1 level back for just taking a long rest. You can gain two levels back if a fellow PC spends their long rest doing nothing but nursing you during those 8 hours (accompanied by a DC 10 Medicine check.) You can gain 3 levels back if you take a long rest, a fellow PC nurses you during that time, plus someone casts Lesser Restoration on you during those 8 hours.

- I rewrote my Exhaustion table to be as follows:

Level 1: Speed halved
Level 2: Max HP halves
Level 3: Disadvantage on attack rolls and saving throws
Level 4: Disadvantage on ability checks
Level 5: Speed drops to 0.
Level 6: Death

I found that starting with disadvantage on ability checks for level 1 was kind of counter-intuitive... you're completely exhausted, but for some reason can still move at normal speed and attack normally, and yet you have a harder time remembering arcane or religious trivia or noticing things (for example). So I moved things around to decentivize people from fighting when they are exhausted but still allow them to participate in the other two pillars of the game.
 

dave2008

Legend
I use the Exhaustion Table instead of the 3 Failed Death Saves. My special rules for them are as follows:

- When you drop to 0 HP you stat making Death Saving Throws. On each failure you gain a level of Exhaustion. 6 failed rolls and you die (you hit Level 6 Exhaustion, which is death).

- Unlike failed death saves after you gain at least 1 hit point, Exhaustion levels do not reset. If you have an Exhaustion level and then are healed some HP and then later drop to 0 HP again... your next failed save drops you to Level 2 Exhaustion. And this continues on until you take a long rest.

- During the very first long rest following you gaining an Exhaustion level, you can 1 or more back. You gain 1 level back for just taking a long rest. You can gain two levels back if a fellow PC spends their long rest doing nothing but nursing you during those 8 hours (accompanied by a DC 10 Medicine check.) You can gain 3 levels back if you take a long rest, a fellow PC nurses you during that time, plus someone casts Lesser Restoration on you during those 8 hours.

- I rewrote my Exhaustion table to be as follows:

Level 1: Speed halved
Level 2: Max HP halves
Level 3: Disadvantage on attack rolls and saving throws
Level 4: Disadvantage on ability checks
Level 5: Speed drops to 0.
Level 6: Death

I found that starting with disadvantage on ability checks for level 1 was kind of counter-intuitive... you're completely exhausted, but for some reason can still move at normal speed and attack normally, and yet you have a harder time remembering arcane or religious trivia or noticing things (for example). So I moved things around to decentivize people from fighting when they are exhausted but still allow them to participate in the other two pillars of the game.
I like what your doing and it helps with the whack-a-mole issue some have. However, with your revised chart I would move max HP down:
Level 1: Speed halved
Level 2: Disadvantage on ability checks
Level 3: Disadvantage on attack rolls and saving throws
Level 4: Max HP halves
Level 5: Speed drops to 0.
Level 6: Death
 

keynup

Explorer
What about adding a 7th level of "Cannot attack or cast spell" ?

Level 1: Speed halved
Level 2: Disadvantage on ability checks
Level 3: Disadvantage on attack rolls and saving throws
Level 4: Max HP halves
Level 5: Cannot attack or cast spells
Level 6: Speed drops to 0.
Level 7: Death
 
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delphonso

Explorer
I generally play in small groups. Parties of three or so really suffer when one character gets exhaustion at least in RAW. So much so, that the Berserker has never been played in my groups. They aren't skill jockeys, but having one less set of hands/eyes for skill checks sucks. Disadvantage on skills at first level feels like a huge punishment to the whole party.

Different lists would be much appreciated, as right now we never us exhaustion.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
I like what your doing and it helps with the whack-a-mole issue some have. However, with your revised chart I would move max HP down:
Level 1: Speed halved
Level 2: Disadvantage on ability checks
Level 3: Disadvantage on attack rolls and saving throws
Level 4: Max HP halves
Level 5: Speed drops to 0.
Level 6: Death
Heh... well, I run tables of 7 players, so I have just way too much HP laying around amongst all the PCs that it makes combats a cakewalk for them unless I do a lot of finagling. So for me... taking away half their HP as often as I can only makes things easier to create worthwhile combat challenges. ;) I'm sure a smaller party of say 4 PCs might find 'Half Max HP' at level 2 a bit too painful.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
I generally play in small groups. Parties of three or so really suffer when one character gets exhaustion at least in RAW. So much so, that the Berserker has never been played in my groups. They aren't skill jockeys, but having one less set of hands/eyes for skill checks sucks. Disadvantage on skills at first level feels like a huge punishment to the whole party.

Different lists would be much appreciated, as right now we never us exhaustion.
The easiest and least painful thing to do to your Exhaustion chart is move Speed Halved to Level 1. All things considered, its actually not that bad of a punishment.

Outside of combat it means that PC is going to Move and Dash to go 30 feet, which means the other PCs will just Move and then have their Action to do other stuff (rather than Dash themselves.) Their travel time will be slower overall, but if the PCs were going to keep an eye out or forage while they were travelling anyway... the Exhausted PC won't actually cause any slowdown-- they just won't be able to contribute to those other actions is all (since their action would be to Dash just to keep up.)

Inside combat? Yeah, going 15' can be a little annoying (especially when having to stand up from prone) but it really just results in the PC losing out on an attack in the first round because they have to just Dash to get into melee (assuming of course its a melee character). But once in combat they'll just stand there attacking away and not needing their Move anyway.

Beyond that... flipping 'Disad on ability checks' and 'Disad on attacks' is the other way to reduce the strain of the chart. I understand why they made their chart the way they did (they probably felt Disad on ability checks to be the least "deadly" issue to put at Level 1)... but Disad on checks causes I think the most irritation because there's a lot less specifically called-out ways to gain Advantage on ability checks to counteract the DisAd then there is getting Advantage in combat. If you have DisAd in combat there are any number of ways to gain Advantage and thus cancelling each other out. For the Barbarian Berzerker specifically... all you need to do is Reckless Attack and your Exhaustion DisAd goes away in combat thus rendering the penalty less egregious. But you don't get that option with the standard table until you drop to Level 3 Exhaustion.

So using my chart (that makes DisAd on attacks come before DisAd on ability checks) I have found to be more palatable for my players than the standard one. Most especially because it puts Speed Halved at Level 1 and thus the Berzerker feature doesn't cause issue anymore.
 

delphonso

Explorer
Cheers Defcon - I'll give this a run in the future and start implementing more exhaustion - either through situations or monsters that cause it. With the new UA ranger being able to deal with exhaustion with a one level dip - I think it'll lead to some interesting gameplay.
 

keynup

Explorer
What about adding some of these in the the list somewhere:
  • -1/4 speed
  • no stat bonuses from Str, Dex, Con. Penalties still apply
  • no stat bonuses from Wis, Int, Chr. Penalties still apply
  • Max HP - 1/4
 

dnd4vr

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
I use the Exhaustion Table instead of the 3 Failed Death Saves. My special rules for them are as follows:

- When you drop to 0 HP you stat making Death Saving Throws. On each failure you gain a level of Exhaustion. 6 failed rolls and you die (you hit Level 6 Exhaustion, which is death).

- Unlike failed death saves after you gain at least 1 hit point, Exhaustion levels do not reset. If you have an Exhaustion level and then are healed some HP and then later drop to 0 HP again... your next failed save drops you to Level 2 Exhaustion. And this continues on until you take a long rest.

- During the very first long rest following you gaining an Exhaustion level, you can 1 or more back. You gain 1 level back for just taking a long rest. You can gain two levels back if a fellow PC spends their long rest doing nothing but nursing you during those 8 hours (accompanied by a DC 10 Medicine check.) You can gain 3 levels back if you take a long rest, a fellow PC nurses you during that time, plus someone casts Lesser Restoration on you during those 8 hours.

- I rewrote my Exhaustion table to be as follows:

Level 1: Speed halved
Level 2: Max HP halves
Level 3: Disadvantage on attack rolls and saving throws
Level 4: Disadvantage on ability checks
Level 5: Speed drops to 0.
Level 6: Death

I found that starting with disadvantage on ability checks for level 1 was kind of counter-intuitive... you're completely exhausted, but for some reason can still move at normal speed and attack normally, and yet you have a harder time remembering arcane or religious trivia or noticing things (for example). So I moved things around to decentivize people from fighting when they are exhausted but still allow them to participate in the other two pillars of the game.
I recall you mentioning this in another thread before and I always felt it makes things work well.

For people who wanted a few more levels:

Level 3: Disadvantage on attack rolls
Level 4: Disadvantage on saves
Level 5: Disadvantage on ability checks
Level 6: Speed drops to 5.
Level 7: Speed drops to 0.
Level 8: Death
 

keynup

Explorer
Just thinking about possibilities

Level 1: Speed -5', or set to 3/4 if higher than 30'
Level 2: No stat bonuses from Str, Dex, Con. Penalties still apply
Level 3: Speed set to 1/2
Level 4: No stat bonuses from Wis, Int, Chr. Penalties still apply
Level 5: Max HP - 1/4
Level 6: Disadvantage on ability checks
Level 7: Disadvantage on attack rolls and saving throws
Level 8: Max HP halves
Level 9: Cannot attack or cast spells
Level 10: Speed drops to 0.
Level 11: Death
 

Laurefindel

Explorer
- I rewrote my Exhaustion table to be as follows:

Level 1: Speed halved
Level 2: Max HP halves
Level 3: Disadvantage on attack rolls and saving throws
Level 4: Disadvantage on ability checks
Level 5: Speed drops to 0.
Level 6: Death

I found that starting with disadvantage on ability checks for level 1 was kind of counter-intuitive... you're completely exhausted, but for some reason can still move at normal speed and attack normally, and yet you have a harder time remembering arcane or religious trivia or noticing things (for example). So I moved things around to decentivize people from fighting when they are exhausted but still allow them to participate in the other two pillars of the game.
I don’t find disadvantage on ability checks as first level that counter-intuitive; as I a matter of fact I find it a rather realistic representation of mild physical exhaustion.

But I’m with you about desensitizing social and exploration pillar. For many characters, ability checks are the only way they can meaningfully contribute to anything outside combat and for this reason alone it shouldn’t be the first level of exhaustion IMO.
 

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