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D&D 5E Just how long is a long rest anyway?

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I’ve gone with something like your first option, by disregarding the 2-hour limit on light activity/standing watch. What this thread has shown me is that the reason I would be displeased with what amounts to your second option (i.e., following the rules) is mostly a matter of aesthetic preference.


If the purpose (or design goal?) was to have something that “works well enough”, I don’t see how leaving out the 2-hour limit on light activity altogether wouldn’t have served that purpose even better. It’s already implied for a long rest of 8 hours by the requirement of having at least 6 hours of sleep. Stating it as a hard limit only adds unnecessary (IMO) inflexibility into the system which is in tension with the flexibility implied by the words “at least”.
I never said the PHB was perfect. :)
 

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clearstream

Be just and fear not...
No, I don’t. By my reading, a ridiculous amount (one hour) of fighting alone will invalidate a long rest. I’m not sure where you got the idea that was something I had ruled out. If you actually have the situation in your game where there is an in-game hour of just fighting, whatever that would actually look like, ruling that it invalidates a long rest that was already underway would be entirely consistent with my position.
Yes, exactly. That is the second option I was talking about. You accept that an hour of fighting is "ridiculous", but say that it doesn't bother you. Your earlier words suggested you were applying the straight fix.

My objection to that second option is that a viable reading is available (noting the dashes to rest one's mind as to "period") that does not ask for that intellectual sacrifice.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
There is no need because the rule is contextualised by its location in a DnD 5e ruleset. If there is fighting, by the rules of the game that will be for a period of 1 round or more.
That’s only true if a full round of combat is being fought. I think there’s a strong argument to be made that for individual instances of fighting — a single attack or grapple, for example — there’s no specified period of time.

Likewise for spell-casting, for which there’s no implication of happening within combat, and I don’t see how any sort of time period is implied to you by “similar adventuring activity.”
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
I never said the PHB was perfect. :)
Yes, well, “good enough” is a sliding scale with different meanings for different people, isn’t it? I can’t help it if my idea of what’s good enough looks like some sort of quest for perfection to you.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
Yes, exactly. That is the second option I was talking about. You accept that an hour of fighting is "ridiculous", but say that it doesn't bother you. Your earlier words suggested you were applying the straight fix.

My objection to that second option is that a viable reading is available (noting the dashes to rest one's mind as to "period") that does not ask for that intellectual sacrifice.
There’s no “intellectual sacrifice”, and my earlier words implied no such thing. You’re making a lot of unsubstantiated claims about my position. The one hour is a ridiculous amount of fighting to expect because it isn’t going to happen in anyone’s game. I think you have a lot of work to do to show that it’s a problem that needs addressing that the rules don’t prevent you from having an unrealistic expectation. I don’t think it’s a problem at all because even in the extremely unlikely event that it happens in someone’s game, it’s covered by the rules just fine. Where’s the problem?
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
That’s only true if a full round of combat is being fought. I think there’s a strong argument to be made that for individual instances of fighting — a single attack or grapple, for example — there’s no specified period of time.

Likewise for spell-casting, for which there’s no implication of happening within combat, and I don’t see how any sort of time period is implied to you by “similar adventuring activity.”
The sentence can be parsed in two possible ways, I believe -

A = period of strenuous activity (1 hour of (walking, fighting, casting spells, similar adventuring activity))

B = period of strenuous activity (1 hour of walking, fighting, casting spells, similar adventuring activity)

In A "period" is strictly redundant, as it means the same as "1 hour". It's nested riders are an unneeded complexity. Additionally A has the problem of producing the absurd condition of 1 hour of fighting. In B there is no redundancy, no nested riders, no absurd condition.

That is what I meant about A requiring a sacrifice. One has to tolerate a few issues to make it work. That doesn't make it wrong: designers sometimes use poor wording. Yet I feel by comparison, if the objection to B is the tenuous notion of a less-than-1-round fight, then for me on an intellectual level that requires no sacrifice. B is better on analysis assuming a DM has no preexisting preference for play.
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
The sentence can be parsed in two possible ways, I believe -

A = period of strenuous activity (1 hour of (walking, fighting, casting spells, similar adventuring activity))

B = period of strenuous activity (1 hour of walking, fighting, casting spells, similar adventuring activity)

In A "period" is strictly redundant, as it means the same as "1 hour". It's nested riders are an unneeded complexity.
No, it is necessary because if you remove “period you’re left with the sentence “ If the rest is interrupted by strenuous activity—at least 1 hour of walking, fighting, casting spells, or similar adventuring activity—the characters must begin the rest again to gain any benefit from it.” Which would actually make B the more natural interpretation because the aside would seem to be defining “strenuous activity” rather than “a period of strenuous activity.”

Additionally A has the problem of producing the absurd condition of 1 hour of fighting.
You have not demonstrated how that’s a problem. I don’t think it is.

In B there is no redundancy, no nested riders, no absurd condition.
But B has the problem of producing the absurd conditions of any amount of “adventuring activity” interrupting the rest, in addition to being a horrible unintuitive parsing of the sentence. If B was the intended meaning, it would have been trivially easy to write it as “If the rest is interrupted by strenuous activity—at least 1 hour of walking or any amount of fighting, casting spells, or similar adventuring activity—the characters must begin the rest again to gain any benefit from it.” That would still mean any amount of “adventuring activity” breaks the rest, which would still be absurd, but at least it would be clear. On the other hand, if A was the intended meaning, how would one word that with similar clarity, without making the sentence unwieldy
That is what I meant about A requiring a sacrifice. One has to tolerate a few issues to make it work. That doesn't make it wrong: designers sometimes use poor wording. Yet I feel by comparison, if the objection to B is the tenuous notion of a less-than-1-round fight, then for me on an intellectual level that requires no sacrifice. B is better on analysis assuming a DM has no preexisting preference for play.
It seems to me that if you consider the existence of a case where 600 rounds of combat can break a short rest a “sacrifice,” it is you who has a “preexisting preference for play” that you are trying to preserve with your tortured interpretation of the sentence.

And again, I’ll point to Jeremy Crawford’s clarification that the intent is indeed for it to require a 1-hour period of any of the listed activities to break a long rest.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Yes, well, “good enough” is a sliding scale with different meanings for different people, isn’t it? I can’t help it if my idea of what’s good enough looks like some sort of quest for perfection to you.

My point is that in your scenario there is no issue unless you make it one even with a stringent reading of the rules.

Over the course of 12 hours 2 people can get a long rest. If they have a third person they can double up on watch for 6 hours by that third person only being on watch 3 hours on either end of the night.

There is no problem other than the fact that you don't like the rule. It's a game with simplified rules, not a reality simulator.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
The sentence can be parsed in two possible ways, I believe -

A = period of strenuous activity (1 hour of (walking, fighting, casting spells, similar adventuring activity))

B = period of strenuous activity (1 hour of walking, fighting, casting spells, similar adventuring activity)

In A "period" is strictly redundant, as it means the same as "1 hour". It's nested riders are an unneeded complexity. Additionally A has the problem of producing the absurd condition of 1 hour of fighting. In B there is no redundancy, no nested riders, no absurd condition.

That is what I meant about A requiring a sacrifice. One has to tolerate a few issues to make it work. That doesn't make it wrong: designers sometimes use poor wording. Yet I feel by comparison, if the objection to B is the tenuous notion of a less-than-1-round fight, then for me on an intellectual level that requires no sacrifice. B is better on analysis assuming a DM has no preexisting preference for play.
1. Redundancy is common in natural language, so no conclusions need to be drawn from its existence in a natural language text.

2. If “at least 1 hour of walking” is an independent condition, then each of the other conditions should equally define “a period of strenuous activity” on their own, but for reasons I’ve already stated, I feel they don’t define any sort of period at all.

3. I think your omission of the word “or” in your parsings of the list is causing (or indicates) a lack of recognition on your part that when the phrase offset by em dashes is read as a connected utterance, the unlikely event of one hour of fighting is in no way required to meet the definition given for a period of strenuous activity.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
No, it is necessary because if you remove “period you’re left with the sentence “ If the rest is interrupted by strenuous activity—at least 1 hour of walking, fighting, casting spells, or similar adventuring activity—the characters must begin the rest again to gain any benefit from it.” Which would actually make B the more natural interpretation because the aside would seem to be defining “strenuous activity” rather than “a period of strenuous activity.”
That seems a rather round-about approach. Just replace "a period" with "at least 1 hour".

You have not demonstrated how that’s a problem. I don’t think it is.
It's very problematic, from a system design point of view. Seeing as 1 hour of fighting never happens, you are left with -

A = period of strenuous activity (1 hour of (walking, null-condition, casting spells, similar adventuring activity))

- which produces the knock-on problem of what is going to be similar to an absurd or null-condition!?

But B has the problem of producing the absurd conditions of any amount of “adventuring activity” interrupting the rest
It seems strange to me here to omit the "or similar" part of that, which then has the very clear meaning of

(something similar to 1 hour of walking, something similar to fighting, something similar to casting spells)

if A was the intended meaning, how would one word that with similar clarity, without making the sentence unwieldy
Just replace "a period" with "at least 1 hour" and you are there.

"If the rest is interrupted by at least 1 hour of strenuous activity—walking, fighting, casting spells, or similar adventuring activity—the characters must begin the rest again to gain any benefit from it."

It seems to me that if you consider the existence of a case where 600 rounds of combat can break a short rest a “sacrifice,” it is you who has a “preexisting preference for play” that you are trying to preserve with your tortured interpretation of the sentence.
Are you saying that 600 contiguous rounds of fighting over the span of a single hour is plausible, rather than an absurd or null condition? There seemed to me quite solid consensus on the absurdity of that: are you reverting that argument?

Regarding Crawford, I alluded to appeals to authority as an option earlier. It's a reasonable basis for choosing an interpretation. Worse in my view than working from principles or preferences for how it plays. You've also at times mentioned "natural language" - I was thinking about that and I wondered if that might come down to something like where people are respectively from. What one group find natural, another often does not. I personally find the B reading more natural, but that is probably because I equate natural to some extent with the simplest reading, and B is structurally simpler with no peculiar system features.
 
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clearstream

Be just and fear not...
1. Redundancy is common in natural language, so no conclusions need to be drawn from its existence in a natural language text.

2. If “at least 1 hour of walking” is an independent condition, then each of the other conditions should equally define “a period of strenuous activity” on their own, but for reasons I’ve already stated, I feel they don’t define any sort of period at all.
Indeed, redundancies often occur. The placement of these putative redundancies on either side of a parenthetic em-dash separates them, however.

The argument about "fighting" and "casting spells" not defining any sort of period is tenuous, and would run us down a rabbit-hole so I won't engage it in any depth here. The burden is to show that the normal use of "fighting" in D&D does not refer to 1+ rounds of fighting, making room for cases of zero rounds of fighting. AND THEN in those cases to show that game events or the frame containing them spans zero time (rather than say, some span of seconds shorter than a full round). One will be setting aside narrative plausibility to do that because one seems to have described a fight that never happens. Anyway, to make the argument and support it from the extant system rules feels like a stretch... I'm kind of curious to hear your argument!
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
This meaning, if you'll allow me to paraphrase somewhat, is at least 1 hour spent adventuring, performing activities like walking, fighting, or casting spells. The concept is that, should the need arise to engage in some adventurous activity in the midst of your long rest, that it won't invalidate your long rest unless it takes at least an hour. For example, walking to a troll's cave that's a half-hour away, defeating the troll, and then walking back to your camp will invalidate your long rest. You must start over. But if the troll's cave is only fifteen minutes away, you're fine. Your long rest may resume once you return.
I dunno, that seems so extreme as to be something that would never interrupt a long rest. Basically the PCs have to go on a side adventure in order to interrupt their long rest?!

To me, any combat unsettles the PCs to such an extent that gaining the benefit of a long rest becomes impossible.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
I don’t generally care what Jeremy Crawford says about the rules, but for what it’s worth here’s what he said on the matter:
As equally vague as the rules, but he does seem to lean in your direction. :) I’m frankly surprised, but it does seem like it takes an hour of interruption to wreck the long rest. That seems hard to pull off.

I guess the obvious question then becomes: has anybody interrupted a long rest by imposing at least 1 hour of adventuring on the PCs?

Edit: I’ll follow that up by saying it never appears to me that random encounters in published adventures (that might interrupt a long rest) are geared for an hour of time to resolve?
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
My point is that in your scenario there is no issue unless you make it one even with a stringent reading of the rules.

Over the course of 12 hours 2 people can get a long rest. If they have a third person they can double up on watch for 6 hours by that third person only being on watch 3 hours on either end of the night.

There is no problem other than the fact that you don't like the rule. It's a game with simplified rules, not a reality simulator.
As I acknowledged up-thread, my objection to the rule is based on my personal aesthetic preferences, not an appeal to realism. There are actually better ways to conform to the rule than the one you’ve given here, but none of them simply allows the players to prioritize the most efficient use of time and the equitable distribution of watches and hours of sleep, unless time-keeping itself is abstracted to a point that makes the 2-hour limit somewhat meaningless, at which point why have the rule? I’m happy to admit that the problem is one that others may not share, and that’s fine, but it isn’t about the 2-hour limit being unrealistic. I have no idea what a realistic amount of time spent not sleeping in the middle of two, less than six hour periods of sleeping is that would prevent someone from benefiting. That isn’t my concern. It’s that following this rule produces a result that bears the mark of the rule rather than the choices made by the players.

I’m well aware that I can ignore this rule, which is exactly what I’ve done. Has anyone else had a similar issue?
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Rearranging this a bit to group similar points into connected quotes.

That seems a rather round-about approach. Just replace "a period" with "at least 1 hour".



Just replace "a period" with "at least 1 hour" and you are there.

"If the rest is interrupted by at least 1 hour of strenuous activity—walking, fighting, casting spells, or similar adventuring activity—the characters must begin the rest again to gain any benefit from it."
This wording would seem to suggest that it must be at least 1 hour of walking, or at least one hour of fighting, or at least one hour of casting spells, etc. whereas the current reading suggests a period of any combination of the listed activities totaling an hour.

It's very problematic, from a system design point of view. Seeing as 1 hour of fighting never happens, you are left with -

A = period of strenuous activity (1 hour of (walking, null-condition, casting spells, similar adventuring activity))

- which produces the knock-on problem of what is going to be similar to an absurd or null-condition!?

(...)

Are you saying that 600 contiguous rounds of fighting over the span of a single hour is plausible, rather than an absurd or null condition? There seemed to me quite solid consensus on the absurdity of that: are you reverting that argument?
Fighting is not a null condition. Any amount of fighting contributes to a period of strenuous activity, it doesn’t have to be entirely any one item on the list. It can be. It probably won’t be an hour of only fighting. Frankly, it probably won’t be an hour of any one thing alone, because the players aren’t idiots and will stop doing the strenuous thing at 59 minutes at the most. But if your wizard spends 59 miniutes casting spells, she’d better hope no monsters attack, or thieves steal any of the party’s stuff, or anything else that might cause her to need to fight, walk, or do something similarly strenuous for a minute or more.

It seems strange to me here to omit the "or similar" part of that, which then has the very clear meaning of

(something similar to 1 hour of walking, something similar to fighting, something similar to casting spells)
Actually, I would say the “similar” part pushes the natural interpretation towards A, as I would not say that 1 hour of walking is at all similar to (6 seconds of) fighting or (6 seconds of) casting spells. Rather, the similar suggests that all items in the list - walking, fighting, and casting spells - are considered similar, in that they are all adventuring activities, a period of 1 hour of which would interrupt a long rest.

Regarding Crawford, I alluded to appeals to authority as an option earlier. It's a reasonable basis for choosing an interpretation. Worse in my view than working from principles or preferences for how it plays. You've also at times mentioned "natural language" - I was thinking about that and I wondered if that might come down to something like where people are respectively from. What one group find natural, another often does not. I personally find the B reading more natural, but that is probably because I equate natural to some extent with the simplest reading, and B is structurally simpler with no peculiar system features.
Considering my entire point is “I’m pretty sure it is intentional that fighting alone cannot plausibly interrupt a long rest,” I think authority is the strongest point in support of my argument. We can bicker all day about which interpretation we prefer, but I don’t see much point to that. You run the game how you like, I’ll run it how I like. But I would say that Crawford’s tweet is pretty irrefutable proof in favor of my argument that it is intended by the developers that combat alone be implausible to interrupt a long rest with.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I dunno, that seems so extreme as to be something that would never interrupt a long rest. Basically the PCs have to go on a side adventure in order to interrupt their long rest?!
Basically, yeah. Unless they’re chewing up most of that time casting rituals or going on hikes or whatever. Then a shorter combat might push them over the 1 hour mark.

To me, any combat unsettles the PCs to such an extent that gaining the benefit of a long rest becomes impossible.
And that’s a fair ruling to make. I’m not trying to convince anyone how they should run their games, I’m just saying it’s clear that the intent is for a random encounter not to ruin the players’ long rest, but merely to further tax their presumably already-strained resources.

As equally vague as the rules, but he does seem to lean in your direction. :) I’m frankly surprised, but it does seem like it takes an hour of interruption to wreck the long rest. That seems hard to pull off.

I guess the obvious question then becomes: has anybody interrupted a long rest by imposing at least 1 hour of adventuring on the PCs?
Cue Boromir saying, “One does not simply impose adventure on the PCs.” What you do is you have the interruption push the party to abandon the rest. A thief steals their stuff and takes it to a hideout that’s a 25 minute walk away. Monsters attempt to chase them out of camp. The random encounters are so deadly as to discourage the players from attempting to continue the rest in such a dangerous place. 30 seconds of fighting off wolves shouldn’t ruin your whole night’s rest, but if wolves are attacking every few minutes, you might reconsider your camping spot, and the moving might take an hour.

Edit: I’ll follow that up by saying it never appears to me that random encounters in published adventures (that might interrupt a long rest) are geared for an hour of time to resolve?
Indeed, they are meant only to threaten a party who’s resources are already depleted. Depriving a party of a long rest entirely should be much more involved than a single random encounter.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
Indeed, redundancies often occur. The placement of these putative redundancies on either side of a parenthetic em-dash separates them, however.
Right, so your reading is that “at least 1 hour of walking” is not redundant but rather an example of “a period of strenuous activity”, but “fighting”, “casting spells”, and “similar adventuring activity” are not by themselves examples of periods of any sort. They are merely activities for which no period has been specified.

The argument about "fighting" and "casting spells" not defining any sort of period is tenuous, and would run us down a rabbit-hole so I won't engage it in any depth here. The burden is to show that the normal use of "fighting" in D&D does not refer to 1+ rounds of fighting, making room for cases of zero rounds of fighting. AND THEN in those cases to show that game events or the frame containing them spans zero time (rather than say, some span of seconds shorter than a full round). One will be setting aside narrative plausibility to do that because one seems to have described a fight that never happens. Anyway, to make the argument and support it from the extant system rules feels like a stretch... I'm kind of curious to hear your argument!
No, I don’t need to jump through any of these hoops to show that the words fighting, casting spells, and similar adventuring activity do not themselves denote periods of time. They are specific activities, not periods of time.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
I dunno, that seems so extreme as to be something that would never interrupt a long rest. Basically the PCs have to go on a side adventure in order to interrupt their long rest?!

To me, any combat unsettles the PCs to such an extent that gaining the benefit of a long rest becomes impossible.
Yes, something has to happen that requires them to abandon their long rest for at least an hour, or makes them want to do so.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
Right, so your reading is that “at least 1 hour of walking” is not redundant but rather an example of “a period of strenuous activity”, but “fighting”, “casting spells”, and “similar adventuring activity” are not by themselves examples of periods of any sort. They are merely activities for which no period has been specified.
A period of fighting is a round or more of fighting - the kind supported by the rules. A period of spell casting is the casting time of the spell.

The rhetorical gambit of claiming those are not periods is the weakest of your arguments for your interpretation.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
And that’s a fair ruling to make. I’m not trying to convince anyone how they should run their games, I’m just saying it’s clear that the intent is for a random encounter not to ruin the players’ long rest, but merely to further tax their presumably already-strained resources.
This is a reasonable comment, of course. A thorny issue under that RAI is that it's not just a random encounter on two: adventurers could easily fit an entire adventuring "day" into their rest!

Mechanically, it allows for some odd possibilities.

What you do is you have the interruption push the party to abandon the rest. A thief steals their stuff and takes it to a hideout that’s a 25 minute walk away. Monsters attempt to chase them out of camp. The random encounters are so deadly as to discourage the players from attempting to continue the rest in such a dangerous place. 30 seconds of fighting off wolves shouldn’t ruin your whole night’s rest, but if wolves are attacking every few minutes, you might reconsider your camping spot, and the moving might take an hour.
I like the sound of this approach. Speaking from examples in play, what proportion of rests do you see abandoned this way?
 

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