D&D 5E Homebrew: Limiting spell slot recovery when suffering from exhaustion levels?

vlysses

Explorer
I'm trying to find/construct a reasonable and reasonably easy mechanic to limit spell slot recovery after long rest, if the spell caster is suffering from exhaustion levels before said long rest (in addition to the normal exhaustion effects).

Firstly, RAW, I don't think there is anything limiting spellcaster spell recovery when having the exhaustion condition, correct? I have tried to find stuff online, but most discussions revolve around "overcasting", i.e. enabling casters to cast spells after having spent all slots in exchange for exhaustion levels.

Now in my case, the caster finds him/herself in a desert, unable to get access to water, gaining exhaustion levels simply from thirst... I find it reasonable that under such circumstances I should have a homebrew rule limiting spell slot recovery... ideally more sever with every level of exhaustion.

So what does the community think about the following easy mechanic:
Loss of the top 2 available spell levels plus loss of 5 spell slots

In practice, it will be exceedingly rare for a character to gain more than 1-2 exhaustion levels, so I think this is reasonable?

Obviously pretty bad at low levels, but still manageable at higher levels, unless you gain 3 or more exhaustion levels, at which point your casting abilities will be severely compromised...?

What does the community think? Happy to listen to any other mechanics that are easily explainable...

PS: As a potential corollary I could also imagine introducing an overcasting homebrew rule, as per above, although the "logic" does not necessarily call for one. I.e. 1 level of exhaustion per 2 levels of spell level cast up to level 6 and 1 level of exhaustion after that, so that i.e. casting level 6 spell = 3 levels of exhaustion, and casting level 9 = 6 levels of exhaustion = death.
 

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Solution
Exhaustion (when used sufficiently) IME is penalizing enough, especially when with each added level you are one step closer to death.

In a fashion similar to @overgeeked and with @Helldritch's concern for balance, perhaps a simple rule would be:

You cannot recover features equal to your maximum class level(s) less your levels of exhaustion. (wording needs work).

For example, you are a 5th level caster with 2 levels of exhaustion. You can only recover spells slots or other class features as 3rd level (5th level - 2 for the levels of exhaustion). So, you could not recover your 3rd level spell slots, but you could recover 1st and 2nd level spell slots. Such a Wizard using Arcane Recovery would not recover as a...

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Likely easier to go with one level of exhaustion is one level of spells gone, starting at the top. You get up to five exhaustion before dying. Even with five levels gone, you’re still only dealing with level 1-4 spells on a 20th-level caster. Seems neutered enough. It’s always the top level that’s most disruptive anyway, no matter what level it is.
 

Will you gimp fighter ability recovery too?
No more second wind at 1st level of exhaustion.
At two level of exhaustion then no more action surge?

And the rogue? No more expertise? Then no more sneak?
Why would you want to gimp a caster in such a way? The penalties for exhaustion are simply hard enough as is.

If you really want to go this way, make a rule that will affect everyone equally. Such as:

"When in you have an exhaustion level, you get no recovery of short or long rest abilities if you are still in exhaustion at the end of your rest." Easy to remember and easy to implement. You could even go this way.
Level of exhaustion at the end of long rest:
1) No more HP recovered.
2) No more short rest ability recovered.
3) No more long rest ability recovered.
This way all classes are affected equally. All classes will fear exhaustion.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
Exhaustion (when used sufficiently) IME is penalizing enough, especially when with each added level you are one step closer to death.

In a fashion similar to @overgeeked and with @Helldritch's concern for balance, perhaps a simple rule would be:

You cannot recover features equal to your maximum class level(s) less your levels of exhaustion. (wording needs work).

For example, you are a 5th level caster with 2 levels of exhaustion. You can only recover spells slots or other class features as 3rd level (5th level - 2 for the levels of exhaustion). So, you could not recover your 3rd level spell slots, but you could recover 1st and 2nd level spell slots. Such a Wizard using Arcane Recovery would not recover as a 5th level wizard, but as a 3rd level wizard while suffering these two levels of exhaustion. However, the Arcane Recovery feature, itself, could be recovered once used since it is a 2nd level feature.

If you were a 3rd level fighter with 2 levels of exhaustion, you could only recover features as a 1st level fighter (again, 3rd level - 2 for the levels of exhaustion). Such a character could recover Second Wind, but not Action Surge. Once 1 level of exhaustion is recovered, not this fighter can recovery Action Surge.

This way all classes are potentially restricted by the rule.
 
Solution

vlysses

Explorer
Likely easier to go with one level of exhaustion is one level of spells gone, starting at the top. You get up to five exhaustion before dying. Even with five levels gone, you’re still only dealing with level 1-4 spells on a 20th-level caster. Seems neutered enough. It’s always the top level that’s most disruptive anyway, no matter what level it is.
Thank you - yeah, it's sure easier this way, and I thought about this also but found that not limiting the amount of slots is perhaps a loophole, especially, if it's only one exhaustion point that the character suffers... anyway, it's a slightly different flavour but the same recipe. Thank you B-)
 

vlysses

Explorer
Will you gimp fighter ability recovery too?
No more second wind at 1st level of exhaustion.
At two level of exhaustion then no more action surge?

And the rogue? No more expertise? Then no more sneak?
Why would you want to gimp a caster in such a way? The penalties for exhaustion are simply hard enough as is.

If you really want to go this way, make a rule that will affect everyone equally. Such as:

"When in you have an exhaustion level, you get no recovery of short or long rest abilities if you are still in exhaustion at the end of your rest." Easy to remember and easy to implement. You could even go this way.
Level of exhaustion at the end of long rest:
1) No more HP recovered.
2) No more short rest ability recovered.
3) No more long rest ability recovered.
This way all classes are affected equally. All classes will fear exhaustion.
very good points... that said, the current restrictions due to exhaustion are mostly physical in nature, and therefore will tend to disadvantage non-casters more than casters, who can stay out of battles more easily while still being effective through their spells... that's why initially I was only thinking about spell casting abilities...
 

vlysses

Explorer
Exhaustion (when used sufficiently) IME is penalizing enough, especially when with each added level you are one step closer to death.

In a fashion similar to @overgeeked and with @Helldritch's concern for balance, perhaps a simple rule would be:

You cannot recover features equal to your maximum class level(s) less your levels of exhaustion. (wording needs work).

For example, you are a 5th level caster with 2 levels of exhaustion. You can only recover spells slots or other class features as 3rd level (5th level - 2 for the levels of exhaustion). So, you could not recover your 3rd level spell slots, but you could recover 1st and 2nd level spell slots. Such a Wizard using Arcane Recovery would not recover as a 5th level wizard, but as a 3rd level wizard while suffering these two levels of exhaustion. However, the Arcane Recovery feature, itself, could be recovered once used since it is a 2nd level feature.

If you were a 3rd level fighter with 2 levels of exhaustion, you could only recover features as a 1st level fighter (again, 3rd level - 2 for the levels of exhaustion). Such a character could recover Second Wind, but not Action Surge. Once 1 level of exhaustion is recovered, not this fighter can recovery Action Surge.

This way all classes are potentially restricted by the rule.
This is an excellent way, thank you, taking the previous replies further with good logic... I can't wait for the howlings in protest at my table... ;-)
 

vlysses

Explorer
This is an excellent way, thank you, taking the previous replies further with good logic... I can't wait for the howlings in protest at my table... ;-)
it's even better the more I think about it, it harks back to the good old "lose one level" dreaded feature of the D&D rules of old... it was the most hated and nasty danger back then... :eek:
 



Laurefindel

Legend
Exhaustion (when used sufficiently) IME is penalizing enough, especially when with each added level you are one step closer to death.

In a fashion similar to @overgeeked and with @Helldritch's concern for balance, perhaps a simple rule would be:

You cannot recover features equal to your maximum class level(s) less your levels of exhaustion. (wording needs work).

For example, you are a 5th level caster with 2 levels of exhaustion. You can only recover spells slots or other class features as 3rd level (5th level - 2 for the levels of exhaustion). So, you could not recover your 3rd level spell slots, but you could recover 1st and 2nd level spell slots. Such a Wizard using Arcane Recovery would not recover as a 5th level wizard, but as a 3rd level wizard while suffering these two levels of exhaustion. However, the Arcane Recovery feature, itself, could be recovered once used since it is a 2nd level feature.

If you were a 3rd level fighter with 2 levels of exhaustion, you could only recover features as a 1st level fighter (again, 3rd level - 2 for the levels of exhaustion). Such a character could recover Second Wind, but not Action Surge. Once 1 level of exhaustion is recovered, not this fighter can recovery Action Surge.

This way all classes are potentially restricted by the rule.
Counterpoint; exhaustion is disproportionately affecting martials more than casters to start with.

This is often mentioned when exhaustion is brought up, and that a condition track benefits more to casters who, in the eyes of many, still have the upper hand in the first place. Oftentimes, this argument is used as the biggest obstacle to a broader use of exhaustion.

if exhaustion now has a way to affect casters ( just) as well (as martials), it’s a plus in my book. The trick is to make it penalizing enough without being overly crippling.
 
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DND_Reborn

Legend
Counterpoint; exhaustion is disproportionately affecting martials more than casters to start with.
I disagree. I think it affects them fairly equally, but YMMV. :)

As my solution goes, I touched on aspects others had offered. Martials have few abilities after lower levels which refresh, unlike spell slots which are always there.

Cases in point concerning core class features:

Barbarian: rages are on long rest, you still get them back, just perhaps at limited points 1 fewer.
Fighter: after action surge, your next feature is indomitable, 7 levels later. Depending on your levels of exhaustion you might not recover it at limited points.
Monk: ki is short rest. With exhaustion, you recover fewer ki (1 less per level of exhaustion effectively).
Paladin: you would recover less lay on hands, otherwise less spells lost roughly translates as less smites. Arguably the most affected of martials.
Ranger: just spells slots I think depending on the version you are playing?
Rogue: unaffected by this concept until 20th level.

Restriction spell slot recovery for full casters is MUCH more painful than any possible hinderance to martials IMO. You are denying full casters their most powerful spells through it. Paladins suffer quite a bit as well, but as they are one of the strongest core classes I don't see that as being too bad a thing.
 

Laurefindel

Legend
I disagree. I think it affects them fairly equally, but YMMV. :)
I don’t know…
  • Casters can fare better without relying on skill checks.
  • Casters have ways to move without relying on their movement rate, or compensate for a loss.
  • Casters can do well without having to make any attack rolls.

I agree that disadvantage on save and half hp affects everyone just as badly, but they don’t come up as often as the three previous ones.

I find your proposition rather elegant but based on the assumption that exhaustion affects spellcasters just as much, to which I disagree.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
Casters can fare better without relying on skill checks.
Other than skill monkeys who tend to have really good numbers, other martials are going to make skill checks really as much as a caster might IME.

Casters have ways to move without relying on their movement rate, or compensate for a loss.
Maybe... but certainly not all and not until higher level can they even afford to waste precious spell slots on movement unless vitally important.

Martials such as rogues (cunning action), barbarians (fast movement), and monks (via ki) can move more, so half speed hurts but isn't crippling for many martials. Others can often wait for the enemy to come to them. Casters without resources (i.e. spells) at half speed are sitting ducks by comparison.

Casters can do well without having to make any attack rolls.
Only though, again, limited resources in spells. Cantrips often require attacks, the best only needing a save but those tend to have shorter ranges. Frankly, that is also a point we addressed that enemy saves are not affected by your exhaustion, but your attacks are, making vs.-save cantrips more effective in combat. However, the flip side is you can't gain advantage with vs.-save cantrips but you can with spell attack cantrips.

I agree that disadvantage on save and half hp affects everyone just as badly
The half max hp is a killer and I agree pretty even. Martials are more likely to take damage, but casters in general are squishier... so a wash.

but they don’t come up as often as the three previous ones.
If you have disadvantage on attacks, you have it on saves, so it comes up as often at 3 levels, but not the half max hp at 4 levels of exhaustion.

I find your proposition rather elegant but based on the assumption that exhaustion affects spellcasters just as much, to which I disagree.
Thanks, and no problem if you disagree. IME I find them to be relatively even, at least to the point that I wouldn't want a house-rule that only affect spell recovery and not other features as that penalizes caster unfairly to non-casters.
 

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