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D&D 5E Long Rests vs Short Rests

Would you rather have all abilities recover on a:

  • Short Rest

    Votes: 21 37.5%
  • Long Rest

    Votes: 35 62.5%

  • Total voters
    56

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tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Opportunity cost. If you end the day with an unspent 5th level spell slot, that’s a 5th level spell you could have cast that day and didn’t, which translates to other resources (like hit points) spent that could have been saved had you cast it.
With 5e spells you are probably absolutely right about that 5th level spell. In the past though that fifth level spell being there ready in case provided the party the peace of mind that came with having it ready to dramatically change reshape the odds and pull everyone out of the fire when things were going badly. That definitely a flaw in how 5e works as those meaningful emergency abilities are now in the hands of classes with the greatest at will damage spike damage defense and hp in most cases with a lot of them also recovering on short rests
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
So do you also think that your remaining hit points are 'wasted'?
Technically yes, since if you end the day with unspent hit points, you’ve missed the opportunity to engage in more adventuring that could have caused you to lose them that day - to delve deeper into the dungeon, for instance. But, since the function of hit points is to keep you from dying, ending the day alive means your unspent hit points did ultimately serve their purpose, even if they didn’t do it as efficiently as possible. So yes, they’re wasted, but the opportunity cost isn’t as significant as that of spells or other resources that are used to deal damage or otherwise resolve encounters.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
With 5e spells you are probably absolutely right about that 5th level spell. In the past though that fifth level spell being there ready in case provided the party the peace of mind that came with having it ready to dramatically change reshape the odds and pull everyone out of the fire when things were going badly. That definitely a flaw in how 5e works as those meaningful emergency abilities are now in the hands of classes with the greatest at will damage spike damage defense and hp in most cases with a lot of them also recovering on short rests
Right, but even in other editions, that unspent high level spell slot still goes to waste. I’m not saying saving your big spells for dire situations is a bad strategy - it’s a good strategy. I’m just saying if you don’t end up spending it at all before your daily abilities refresh, you’ve left that big effect on the table.
 

ad_hoc

Hero
It's possible. I read a lot of posts about how people can play D&D as a combat-simulation board game, and the rules definitely support that style of play...but I've never seen it in real life, and it's not something I'd like to try. (Sounds exhausting to me, but to each their own.)

Per long rest and per session can be different things.

At our table we usually have a long rest every 2 sessions though sometimes 1 or 3.

So yes we have 6-8 encounters per long rest but that doesn't mean we are constantly in combat.

Combat are also designed to take 3 rounds and go by quickly if players aren't agonizing over every decision.

I think some people's combats take far too long to resolve.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Right, but even in other editions, that unspent high level spell slot still goes to waste. I’m not saying saving your big spells for dire situations is a bad strategy - it’s a good strategy. I’m just saying if you don’t end up spending it at all before your daily abilities refresh, you’ve left that big effect on the table.
Not always. Knowing that the caster had x or & in their back pocket just in case often meant that this here encounter is a reasonable risk or that these consumables/item charges aren't needed until we reach a level of close to the wire we haven;t reached yet.
 

Technically yes, since if you end the day with unspent hit points, you’ve missed the opportunity to engage in more adventuring that could have caused you to lose them that day - to delve deeper into the dungeon, for instance. But, since the function of hit points is to keep you from dying, ending the day alive means your unspent hit points did ultimately serve their purpose, even if they didn’t do it as efficiently as possible. So yes, they’re wasted, but the opportunity cost isn’t as significant as that of spells or other resources that are used to deal damage or otherwise resolve encounters.
Yeah, I just feel about those 'wasted' spells the same way than you feel about hit points. I don't know, I get what you're saying, I just don't feel it. 🤷‍♀️
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Not always. Knowing that the caster had x or & in their back pocket just in case often meant that this here encounter is a reasonable risk or that these consumables/item charges aren't needed until we reach a level of close to the wire we haven;t reached yet.
That is true, right up until you end the day with that spell still in your back pocket, at which point it has been left on the table.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Yeah, I just feel about those 'wasted' spells the same way than you feel about hit points. I don't know, I get what you're saying, I just don't feel it. 🤷‍♀️
That’s perfectly reasonable! I think a lot of folks, perhaps most folks, would agree with you. Personally though, it bugs the crap out of me when groups go through entire adventuring days desperately conserving their limited resources, only to call it quits with most of them still unspent because they’re low on HP. It’s like, guys, use your spells and you’ll end fights faster, save hit points, and be able to get more done in a day! It’s what they’re there for!

It’s similar to the potion problem in RPG video games. Players cling onto their potions and other consumable resources for a hypothetical moment where they’ll “need it more” that never comes, and they end up not using them at all. For fear of not using their resources with maximum efficiency, they end up wasting them entirely, and it’s so incredibly frustrating.
 

That’s perfectly reasonable! I think a lot of folks, perhaps most folks, would agree with you. Personally though, it bugs the crap out of me when groups go through entire adventuring days desperately conserving their limited resources, only to call it quits with most of them still unspent because they’re low on HP. It’s like, guys, use your spells and you’ll end fights faster, save hit points, and be able to get more done in a day! It’s what they’re there for!

It’s similar to the potion problem in RPG video games. Players cling onto their potions and other consumable resources for a hypothetical moment where they’ll “need it more” that never comes, and they end up not using them at all. For fear of not using their resources with maximum efficiency, they end up wasting them entirely, and it’s so incredibly frustrating.
This is probably an issue at least party caused by the GM's failure (or reluctance) to telegraph things. I think that there are benefits in making it relatively clear to the players that something is 'the end boss;' this is the fight you've been saving those resources for. Not that all adventures need to have that.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
This is probably an issue at least party caused by the GM's failure (or reluctance) to telegraph things. I think that there are benefits in making it relatively clear to the players that something is 'the end boss;' this is the fight you've been saving those resources for. Not that all adventures need to have that.
Telegraphing certainly does help, to signal when the big final fight is. But generally saving all your spells for the big final fight isn’t a terribly efficient strategy either, because it isn’t likely to take all of them to win it, so you end up leaving spells on the table anyway.

At any rate, my point is that it’s a frustrating experience as a player trying to predict how long the adventuring day will be so you can use your resources without running yourself out of them too early. Having a few big daily effects is fine, having all or almost all of your resources be daily is frustrating. Having a mix of daily and encounter resources is, in my experience, much more satisfying.
 

I think that short rest recharges will soon be a thing of the past. But I do think that some powers should be limited by short rests in some way. But the default shoud be long rest.
Short rests will still have their uses for hp recovery during the day. And maybe, just maybe there could be abilities that you mihht recharge with hit dice spending during a short rest. Some abities as mentioned above might have somethig like 2/short rest, max prof bonus per day.
 

Xetheral

Three-Headed Sirrush
My issue with short and long rests is that having two types of rests changes pacing from a one-variable balancing act (encounters per day) into a three-variable balancing act (encounters per short rest, encounters per long rest, and short rests per long rest). (Normally that would only be two free variables, since the third is completely determined by the other two, but since the distribution of each variable matters in addition to the mean value, all three remain relevant.)

At my table characters regularly get three short rests per day at meal times (plus whatever others they take), but encounters are basically never evenly distributed between those short rests. Intense, multi-encounter action sequences rarely allow for an hour's break in the middle. And having multiple, unrelated combat encounters evenly distributed during the day seems quite bizarre to me. And no, I don't consider non-combat encounters relevant to this analysis, because some of the short rest classes don't have non-combat uses for their limited-use resources (e.g. Battlemasters).

My preference would be to switch to long rests. A conversion formula from short to long rests makes sense for some abilities, like Wildshape, but for others I'd rather just make some of the short rest resources into some sort of at-will ability. Battlemasters Fighters, and (non-spellcasting) Monks stand out as examples where maneuvers and ki could be switched to at-will (possibly including a per-turn limit like Rogue's Sneak Attack) without producing balance concerns with other classes. (Balance between subclasses within those classes would need to be reworked.)

Warlock is the trickiest to convert, since one of the appeals of the class (particularly for Elves and/or Great Old One warlocks) is taking utility spells that can be spammed (e.g. Unseen Servant, Suggestion, Phantasmal Force, Detect Thoughts, Clairvoyance, Sending, Scrying) and using them casually at mealtimes and during days with stretches of activity low-key enough to count as repeated short rests. (For an Elf, that includes waiting for your party to finish their long rests.) Conversion to an exclusive long-rest model would remove that mode of play, which I would consider undesirable. I don't have a good solution here.
 

Xetheral

Three-Headed Sirrush
It's standard fare in a dungeon man. A dungeon level easily has at least half a dozen encounters in it.

And it doesn't have to be repeated every day either. A rough median of 6 or so encounters with 2 or so short rests works just fine.
It takes a skilled party (or mindless foes) to have six separate encounters on a dungeon level, especially with the ability to take two one-hour breaks in-between. If the party screws up at all and their presence is noticed, the logical consequence is two encounters: the first encounter, and then a chaotic mass combat involving all the rest of the combatants (with fleeing/cowering non-combatants mixed in) of that level, plus possibly combatant reinforcements from other levels.
 

Xetheral

Three-Headed Sirrush
That's kinda the point though. That way relatively easy encounters still have a purpose. The challenge is not whether you can win, the challenge is to win whilst not burning all your resources.
Personally I find that kind of encounter both boring and frequently illogical if intelligent foes are involved. Why would an enemy with no chance try to fight? Sure, for the first round they might be overconfident, but with that kind of power disparity, their looming demise quickly becomes evident. Surrendering, or fleeing for safety or reinforcements makes much more sense than fighting to the death. Sure, there is challenge in killing the opponents fast enough and quietly enough to prevent them escaping (see my post above about attacking dungeons requiring skilled play to avoid a mass combat encounter), but at that point the tactical priority doesn't boil.down to "efficient usage of ammunition".

In terms of being boring, it's just my personal preference, but I'm much more interested in How and Why my character uses their abilities, rather than When my character uses their abilities.
 

Xetheral

Three-Headed Sirrush
I mean, given that the vast majority of limited class resources have been daily for most of D&D’s history, it’s not surprising that it would feel like D&D to many. That doesn’t mean it’s a good player experience. And spells that don’t get used by the end of the day are absolutely wasted.
To avoid the issue of wasted spells, I totally recommend taking a spammable utility spell or two that you would have fun casting in bulk at the end of the day. Sending takes the cake for mid-level slots: keep in touch with all your NPC contacts! But there are a bunch of great spells for unloading unused slots:

Animal Friendship
Beast Bond
Create or Destroy Water
Goodberry
Speak with Animals
(ritual, but allows long conversations with spammed normal casting)
Unseen Servant
Continual Flame
Locate Animals and Plants
(ritual, but spammed normal casting is still useful for herbalists to identify the closest valuable supplies)
Pyrotechnics (fireworks!)
Animate Dead
Create Food and Water
(host a village feast!)
Galder's Tower (!!!)
Sending (keep in touch with contacts)
Speak with Plants
Blight
(evil characters can combine with Speak with Plants... eeeew)
Conjure Woodland Beings (host a fey salon)
Fabricate (!!!)
Galder's Speedy Courrier (!!!)
Leomund's Secret Chest
Private Sanctum
(ward multiple areas)
Stone Shape (cover the land with secret underground redoubts)
Creation
Dream
Legend Lore
(use with Fabricate and/or Locate Animals and Plants to help offset the material cost)
Planar Binding
Scrying
Summon Celestial
(have tea with a celestial spirit)
Teleportation Circle (use with conjured creatures to cary loot back to base)
Wall of Stone (!!!)

(Edit: not sure why the spoiler is breaking into two)
 
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tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
That is true, right up until you end the day with that spell still in your back pocket, at which point it has been left on the table.
No, as long as people feel like that unused slot or slots kept them from burning a nonrecovering resource like potions scrolls or old style wand charges.
edit: some people enjoy threading that needle of restraint vrs running dry when they need it most too
 
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