D&D 5E Instantaneous Short Rest; a rest variant inspired by 4e and Dark Soul's RPG


Throwing out my half-baked idea of a variant rest mechanics inspired from the Dark Soul RPG and a bit of 4ed.

Half your hp are "bloodied hp". The other half are "position hp". When you start combat, you are at half hit points (bloodied) or less if previously wounded. Before initiative, gain instantaneous benefits of a short rest. You can spend HD to gain position hp (up to your max position hp). At the end of combat, lose all remaining position hp.

The basic premise is “when you roll initiative, you intantaneously gain the benefits of a short rest”. Fighters and monks rejoice. Otherwise, the concept of a 1-hour rest is thrown out of the window. The only rest there is is the long rest.

Calculate your PC’s half max hit points (rounded up) and write it down; that’s going to come back a lot. Lets call those "bloodied hp." When your current hp is equal or below that threshold, you gain the bloodied condition. The remaining part will be called “position hp”. Write this total down somewhere too.

Your basic health is your bloodied hit points. Everything you gain above that is extra “health” granted by your positioning and strategic approach to combat; your position. At the start of combat, PCs may spend Hit Dice to gain position hp (up to max hp by RaW). In effect when you start combat, you get your wits together, unstrap your backpack, draw your sword and take a battle stance to gain what is essentially a set of temporary hit points. As you take damage, you lose your edge (position hp) but as long as you do not reach your bloodied threshold, you remain unscathed. Actual temporary hp are added on top and are taken first as in RaW.

When combat is over, your position hp are reset to zero. If another combat breaks, you’ll have to spend new HD. As in RaW, the energy you spend in battle is finite; you only have so much HD to spend.

When you acquire the bloodied condition, your maximum hp is reduced by the amount of damage you took past your bloodied threshold. This a complex way to say that no matter what your max hp is, you can’t gain more position hp than what your position total allows on top of your bloodied. Only magic and rest (i.e. long rest) can recover or reset bloodied hp.

Now you might ask…

What perceived problem(s) are you trying to fix? This aims to increase the usefulness of short rest abilities and add an element of attrition in a “new-school” type of game other than spell slots, and doesn’t force martials to hold back on their class features. (I know 5.5 is moving away from short rest abilities; this is about current (house)rules).

How does that fix the five-minutes-work-day? It doesn’t; that is not the goal. The goal is to shift attrition of features to attrition of self-healing.

Isn't that just another vitality/wounds houserule? Maybe? Kind of... The initial goal is to address short-rest abilities. The rest is logical continuation.

Half Hit Points at low levels really isn’t much… Indeed. That requires more reflection.

What of class features that say “when you roll initiative and have zero X points…” Give them one additional use of that feature. It’s lame, but so is the RaW feature.

Bards don’t have the time to do their song of rest. Have them sing their song of rest during a (long) rest to give their party an inspiration-die-like bonus die they can use freely at the beginning of combat. Alternatively, let it recover an additional HD during long rest.

Can healing spells “cure” position hit points? No. Tough luck. Treat them as a separate set of temporary hit points.

What if the party is surprised? The idea is that the party does not gain the benefits of a short rest when surprised. That might be too harsh… If the PCs successfully surprise their opponents, give these opponents half hp.

What about traps and hazards that aren’t part of a combat? Damage go directly into bloodied hp. Increasing the danger of traps and other out-of-combat hazards is intentional.

So a character can survive a longer fall (or deadlier trap) if they are in combat? That’s unrealistic! Hum, yeah. Realism isn’t the goal here. This may be incoherent with RaW, but it remains internally coherent.

How can poison work if the PC just lost position and is "unscathed"? It just does, let’s not overthink it (see previous point). The attack was potentially very deadly and you avoided it at the cost of a lot of position hp. You may even get scratched or splashed enough to gain the poisoned condition if you failed you save. That also goes for most condition-inducing attacks.

This isn't a very well developed idea yet. I know, I’m thinking out loud here


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The High Aldwin
This is similar to an idea I was exploring a couple months ago:

When you finish an encounter regain half your hit point maximum (you cannot exceed your hit point maximum).

The idea was to reduce HP in general (helping to avoid bloat), but allow self-healing for everyone. It works on the assumption that half your hit points are basically quick-recovery HP.

Otherwise, I'll have to think more about your ideas when I have time.


I consider short rest opportunities as the movie cut to a different scene instead of 1 hour.

They have to have a break in the action but it is more catching your breath than taking a siesta.

I liked 4e where there was sometimes a tradeoff decision of resting to spend healing surges versus ongoing power effects ending.


Things this doesn't support well, but I would prefer if it did:

* Fights with phases. Ie, imagine you get in a fight with rats. You choose to save HD and only roll a few. Then, baboom, WERERATS RIDING DIRE RATS ARRIVE.

As written, either the DM has to decide "new fight!" or the existence of a trivial pre-fight makes the post-fight harder for no good narrative reason.

The first is one of my common problems with "instant" short rests and the like; the resource regain becomes DM fiat, not player character interacting with universe fiction. And resource regain is insanely powerful. So the fate of the PCs is out of the Player's control in a really huge and obvious fashion, which steals narrative control from players.

I've seen this happen with similar systems, and I see it happening here. They are playing a "read DM's mind" game every time initiative occurs; guess wrong, and you get screwed. And it isn't even reading the DM's world -- is the DM's mind they have to read.

* There are short rest abilities that are not combat based. There are dramatic situations that aren't combat based. This doesn't handle either one well. It requires a game where most of the game is "combat" and "short bits between fights" from what I can tell.

* The surprise case is insanely harsh for short-rest based PCs. They will tend to spend their SR resources in a fight, as they expect to get them back; when surprised, all short-rest classes end up holding the idiot ball. Unless it is the first fight after a night's rest, in which case they are infinitely more competent when surprised. Sort of WTF BBQ.

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