5E Let's Talk About Chapter 9 of the DMG

atanakar

Hero
I quite like some of the combat options in that chapter. We've used a few of them in my home game -- they don't come up that often, but it's nice to have more ways to use athletics and acrobatics in combat besides grappling and shoving. The "Mark" one is cool too, though I haven't used that one.
I keep telling my players to use these options to make combat more varied but they don't. Monsters will start to use them actively during the next game.
 

Hriston

Adventurer
Of the options in chapter 9, the only one I’ve used (and always have) is Morale. I actually use a somewhat more complicated house rule for this, but the DMG rule is the base. My house rule takes into account a creature’s Loyalty score (also house ruled), has a few more circumstances that can trigger a morale check (which have DCs from 10 to 13 depending on the circumstance), and uses degrees of failure for results from fighting retreat to all out surrender (when appropriate).

I used it recently when attacking a party of three level one PCs with a group of four giant wasps (which I think is more than double deadly). When the party did a lot of damage against the wasps in the first round, it triggered a morale check and two of the wasps flew away, which made the encounter survivable, but just barely. :)
 

Reynard

Legend
Of the options in chapter 9, the only one I’ve used (and always have) is Morale. I actually use a somewhat more complicated house rule for this, but the DMG rule is the base. My house rule takes into account a creature’s Loyalty score (also house ruled), has a few more circumstances that can trigger a morale check (which have DCs from 10 to 13 depending on the circumstance), and uses degrees of failure for results from fighting retreat to all out surrender (when appropriate).

I used it recently when attacking a party of three level one PCs with a group of four giant wasps (which I think is more than double deadly). When the party did a lot of damage against the wasps in the first round, it triggered a morale check and two of the wasps flew away, which made the encounter survivable, but just barely. :)
I should reintroduce morale. I think I have too many enemies fight to the death. Even though I mean to have more running away and surrendering or whatever, when the dice hit the table I often forget about that stuff. Besides, I am a big fan of the emergent storytelling inherent in dice probabilities and there's lots of potential in morale to contribute to that.

You could make morale really complex if you wanted to. You could try and model courage and loyalty, as well as likelihood of getting caught or inherent guilt (for intelligent enemies) and things like defending the queen versus just hunting for food.
 

GlassJaw

Adventurer
I'm running Curse of Strahd soonish on Roll20 and will introduce Sanity rules and probably a different rest mechanic. To avoid the "heal up all wounds easily" I'm going to introduce a "Good Rest/Average Rest/Poor Rest/No Rest" mechanic. This is a work in progress and not the final rules necessarily.

Good Rest is in a bed and a safe place: Full hit points, All Hit Dice, all spell slots, removes 2 Levels Exhaustion.

Average Rest: All hit points, Half Hit Dice, all spell slots, removes 1 level Exhaustion.

Poor Rest: 3/4 hit points, Half Hit Dice, One highest spell slot lost, No Exhaustion or Con save to remove Exhaustion)

No Rest: (such as imprisoned with no food and water): half hit points, No Hit Dice, half of spell slots are lost, No Exhaustion (enduring no rest too long will lead to saves vs. Exhaustion and eventually death)

Note that my games include "Gain a level of Exhaustion if brought back from zero hit points" so PCs can accrue levels of exhaustion faster than normal.
Wow I LOVE this!

While I generally err on the side of more gritty than not, I don't like the Gritty Realism option because all it really does is slow everything down. That isn't fun.

But adding criteria to long rests places emphasis on its importance without being a grind. It also introduces new exploration design space, which I'm always a fan of (and the game really needs). For example,

Roughing It
You are adept at camping under harsh conditions. When resting in poor or worse conditions, make a DC 10 Survival check. On a successful check, you may improve the conditions to average for one creature in your group and one additional creature for every 5 you roll above the DC.
 

Dausuul

Legend
I tried it for a bit, but it didn't go well.

The basic problem is that the rest of the system is designed around the assumption of getting hit on a routine basis, balanced by the fact that healing is easy. If you make healing harder, but don't give characters any way to avoid getting hit, then it's kind of a mess.

A secondary issue is that primary spellcasters are unhappy with the inability to recover spells overnight. If you're used to casting multiple big spells per day, then it's a hard sell to go back to casting one spell every other day. Warlocks become more popular than ever, not only because you have 2-3 times as many short rests per long rests, but also because you recover spell slots at a predictable interval; players are used to budgeting spells on a per-day basis.

The math suggests that it should remain relatively balanced, if you have six encounters in an "adventure week" instead of in an "adventure day"; but there's more to the game than just combat. Spell duration doesn't translate well, in many cases.
This was exactly my experience when we tried the same rule in my group. The primary casters were extremely unhappy with the difficulty of recovering their spells, and there was much complaining from the party in general.

It's not that I think the "gritty realism" rule is bad, but you really have to have the whole group on board with it; it requires everyone to adjust their style of play. PCs have to be much more cautious and conserve their resources, especially the spellcasters. On the DM side, you need to drastically scale back your encounters. If you're used to running games under the normal rules, where it's no big deal to take a long rest mid-adventure, you are probably hitting the PCs with encounters that are far too tough for a "gritty realism" scenario.
 

Saelorn

Hero
Also, I'm not sure from where your "default balance" is coming, especially considering the five-minute workday. Minimally, a 24-hour adventuring day includes two one-hour short rests and an eight-hour long rest for a minimum of 42% downtime, but again, I think it's highly unlikely that the PCs are actually spending the other 14 hours "in the dungeon".
By default, a long rest is eight hours, and the time between long rests is at least sixteen hours. If you scale "eight hours" out to "seven days" then maintaining the ratio would mean at least fourteen days between long rests. It's the difference between a full-time adventurer, and a tavern-jockey who occasionally goes out on brief adventures.

But as you say, that doesn't jibe with two short rests per long rest. Implementing this option requires you to make other changes to the system, and it doesn't say where or how you should change them.
 

Nebulous

Hero
We have several custom house rules, but we use the "Healer's Kit Dependency" and part of the "Epic Heroism" (short rest = 5 minutes) variants. Both work great for our group and help make the game both more heroic and more deadly.

EDIT: We also use a house-ruled variant of "Slow Natural Healing"
Where is healer's kit dependency? I want to remove or modify the Medicine check to stabilize a downed PC unless you're using a kit.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Where is healer's kit dependency? I want to remove or modify the Medicine check to stabilize a downed PC unless you're using a kit.
DMG under combat options

Healer’s Kit Dependency
A character can’t spend any Hit Dice after finishing a short rest until someone expends one use of a healer’s kit to bandage and treat the character’s wounds.​
 

Nebulous

Hero
DMG under combat options

Healer’s Kit Dependency
A character can’t spend any Hit Dice after finishing a short rest until someone expends one use of a healer’s kit to bandage and treat the character’s wounds.​
I see. Well the party would just have ten kits on hand so it wouldn't make a difference really. I was thinking more along the lines of the DC to stabilize someone without a kit is higher (say 15) and with a kit is 10. I'm not a fan of automatic success, unless you use magic to stabilize a character.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I see. Well the party would just have ten kits on hand so it wouldn't make a difference really. I was thinking more along the lines of the DC to stabilize someone without a kit is higher (say 15) and with a kit is 10. I'm not a fan of automatic success, unless you use magic to stabilize a character.
Yeah, doesn't seem to do what you want.

On the bright side for many PCs that heal check will fail 45% of the time. :)
 

Reynard

Legend
I see. Well the party would just have ten kits on hand so it wouldn't make a difference really.
This is the kind of thing that happens when groups decide that things like resource management and encumbrance are too big of a hassle. Healers kits are 3 lbs. They take up space. You presumably need them when you are not in a place where you can replace them. But you also need food. And clean water. And ammunition. You can only carry so much. Now you have to make choices. What do you need most?

IMO D&D without resource management devolves into action move super heroics. Which is fine if that's what you want. I think that is not actually what most people want, but they are too lazy to let D&D be what it was designed to be which, among other things, is a game about logistics.

There are cascading effects of ignoring rules systems for expedience sake. You know how people used to scoff at the old weapon type versus armor charts, and weapon lengths as they related to initiative and other fiddly bits related to equipment? Those same people complained that fighters were all the same and paled compared to casters, because what the fighter was REALLY good for was having the right tool for the job in combat. But if you did not enforce the rules that let the fighter shine, of course the fighter looked boring and useless.

D&D, any edition, is a complex machine with a huge number of moving parts. People very often change or remove those parts with no regard to how they impact the game overall, and then complain that D&D doesn't work or is broken or whatever.
 

Nebulous

Hero
This is the kind of thing that happens when groups decide that things like resource management and encumbrance are too big of a hassle. Healers kits are 3 lbs. They take up space. You presumably need them when you are not in a place where you can replace them. But you also need food. And clean water. And ammunition. You can only carry so much. Now you have to make choices. What do you need most?

IMO D&D without resource management devolves into action move super heroics. Which is fine if that's what you want. I think that is not actually what most people want, but they are too lazy to let D&D be what it was designed to be which, among other things, is a game about logistics.
Three pounds is heavy, I didn't know it was that much. But they'd still meta-game it to spread 10 kits among 5 PCs. As for food, water and ammunition...we don't track any of that. Most groups don't. It's too time intensive and micromanagement. I WISH we could do it easily. I've seen some third party games that have simple systems of resource management that quickly dwindle.

I'm not too upset with D&D being action movie heroic at low level. They can already take a nap and heal from any deathly wound. It's the super hero silliness at 10th+ level that I don't much like, but to each his own.
 

Hriston

Adventurer
By default, a long rest is eight hours, and the time between long rests is at least sixteen hours. If you scale "eight hours" out to "seven days" then maintaining the ratio would mean at least fourteen days between long rests. It's the difference between a full-time adventurer, and a tavern-jockey who occasionally goes out on brief adventures.

But as you say, that doesn't jibe with two short rests per long rest. Implementing this option requires you to make other changes to the system, and it doesn't say where or how you should change them.
Maintaining that ratio is not an explicitly stated expectation of the rules. In fact, the explicitly stated goal of Gritty Realism is to alter that ratio, so the characters spend more time out of the dungeon. On the other hand, two short rests per adventuring day is explicitly stated according to the "Evaluating Encounter Difficulty" guidelines from which I already quoted. What changes do you think are required other than changing the length of a long and short rest?
 

Saelorn

Hero
What changes do you think are required other than changing the length of a long and short rest?
Basically, any reference to time that isn't already measured in terms of short rests or long rests. If you don't update those values to account for adventure pacing, then you've changed the game, by changing the relevance of those things to the adventure. If you do update those values, then you've also changed the game, by changing their relevance to the rest of the world.

As previously mentioned, an adventurer who's only active for three days out of every ten is a distinct thing from one who's active every day. Either you need to change your assumption regarding the number of short rests per long rest, or you need to change the place of adventurers within the world.

If adventures take longer to finish (and recover from), then you need to spend more money on lifestyle maintenance. If it takes ten days to complete both the adventure and the long rest recovery, as compared to one day before, then either: 1) adventures need to be ten times as profitable, or 2) lifestyle is going to take a severe drop. You're also going to run through more torches, and other expendables. Magic potions certainly become less useful, when you're unlikely to have more than one encounter in an hour.

And that's without getting into spell durations, the sorts of activities which will disrupt a long rest, or the fact that Divine Intervention essentially becomes a long rest ability.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Basically, any reference to time that isn't already measured in terms of short rests or long rests. If you don't update those values to account for adventure pacing, then you've changed the game, by changing the relevance of those things to the adventure. If you do update those values, then you've also changed the game, by changing their relevance to the rest of the world.

As previously mentioned, an adventurer who's only active for three days out of every ten is a distinct thing from one who's active every day. Either you need to change your assumption regarding the number of short rests per long rest, or you need to change the place of adventurers within the world.

If adventures take longer to finish (and recover from), then you need to spend more money on lifestyle maintenance. If it takes ten days to complete both the adventure and the long rest recovery, as compared to one day before, then either: 1) adventures need to be ten times as profitable, or 2) lifestyle is going to take a severe drop. You're also going to run through more torches, and other expendables. Magic potions certainly become less useful, when you're unlikely to have more than one encounter in an hour.

And that's without getting into spell durations, the sorts of activities which will disrupt a long rest, or the fact that Divine Intervention essentially becomes a long rest ability.
People who belong to professional sports teams don't play a game every single day either. Unless your PCs go from level 1 to 20 in the course of a little more than a month they will have downtime.

Spell durations are another issue, I multiply by 5 if duration is half an hour or more. Divine favor can only be granted once per month.

So yes, I do add in two incredibly tedious to track and difficult simple house rules to compensate. I just hand-wave downtime most of the time unless the PC wants to do something special.
 

Saelorn

Hero
People who belong to professional sports teams don't play a game every single day either. Unless your PCs go from level 1 to 20 in the course of a little more than a month they will have downtime.
PCs are usually on-call, though. They don't save a town every day, but they're always open to the possibility, if they come across a town in need of saving. They don't turn down an adventure because they're on vacation for a week.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
PCs are usually on-call, though. They don't save a town every day, but they're always open to the possibility, if they come across a town in need of saving. They don't turn down an adventure because they're on vacation for a week.
Then if they don't have a chance to get in a long rest, they don't get in a long rest. That's on the DM to balance just like with daily long rests.
 

Reynard

Legend
Then if they don't have a chance to get in a long rest, they don't get in a long rest. That's on the DM to balance just like with daily long rests.
Yeah. If you always push yourself to complete exhaustion, don't be surprised when you can't rise to an unexpected challenge. leave some in the tank.
 

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