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D&D 5E The 6-battle adventuring day, does it even exist?

ECMO3

Adventurer
As I was listening to D&D live they mentioned the wild beyond the witchlight. Apparently it will be possible to complete that entire adventure without a single combat.

That is fine thematically, although doing away with a game pillar makes me question if it is actually a pillar. The bigger issue though is the 6 fights per long rest and 2 per short rest which is designed into the game balance. They clearly are not going to come anywhere close to this target if you have an adventure with no necessary combat at all.

To be honest I think the 6 fights per long rest is not really that common to start with in official content. In all the WOTC adventures I have played and DMed I think I have only had a handful of days that met that threshold.
 

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slobster

Hero
I have found 2 things.

First, my games pretty much never have 6 fights between long rests. That much combat is exhausting from a play perspective, never mind the in-universe one. This seems to be pretty common from all the online discussions I've followed over the years.

Second, only having 2 or so fights between long rests has not been an issue for me because you can just make the combats a little more challenging, and mix in out of combat hazards and encounters to sap PC resources. I know lots of people feel that the 6 encounter day means any DM who runs fewer let's their players "nova" too often and destroy game balance, but for me personally it just means players get to spend more time doing the fun things on their sheet, and I get to have more fun by throwing bigger challenges at them sooner, knowing they will almost always be okay or at least able to flee if needed.
 

Inchoroi

Adventurer
I've done it by intentionally making it so the PCs don't have a choice but to overextend themselves, but its not common in my games, by any means.

If you keep track of approximate adventuring day XP, though, you can compensate for such things.
 

It depends on how you setup the adventure. Dungeon crawls can have well over 8 combat encounters in an adventuring day, but overland travel will seldom have more than a couple (if any). An investigation or local/site exploration can have 6 combat encounters, assuming the players don't just try to pull a 5 minute work day. An encounter that's normally combat can be changed to become exploration (avoiding) or social (negotiating), each of which might cost resources. I'm guessing the mentioned adventure has options to do either of those, allowing combat to be skipped.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
So far? Not really.

Which I kinda hate, honestly.

So in the future I'll be shifting to a "Flexible Rest" design. In times where the narrative is moving very quickly, a short rest will be anywhere from 1 minute to 5 minutes. In times where the narrative is long and sprawling, short rests will be up to 24 hours.

Because locking it in seems to create a lot of problems for the narrative in either direction.

Hopefully this will result in long and short rests being better paced for the game's expectations of resources.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
I remember clearly having had 5-combat days at least a couple of times, but I don't remember if we had even more.

As a DM, I do not decide how many combats there will be in a day. The players are mostly in control, by deciding whether to proceed or stop the adventuring day. Mostly because the rest of the world doesn't stop, but at least if they want more combats, for instance because the previous ones went well and they still have plenty of resources, they can easily get them. I do probably tend to feature more "easy" encounters than other DMs.
 

Radaceus

Explorer
Six encounters does not necessarily entail entering into combat six times.

That is the key ingredient to the adventuring day being overlooked.
Those encounters could be egressed with diplomacy, they may be puzzles preventing further progress. Traps. Natural phenomenon (landslide, avalanche, etc). Or just dealing with the weather.
Sure, some of them might lead to melee, some of them might not even drain resources (Skill check success), but invariably, they will require some use of resources when properly implemented (aka easy-hard encounters).

All that being said, most of us would rather hack and slash our way through an adventuring day with an occasional "Avast, ye scoundrel!" tossed in for flavor. It's how weve been programmed to play.
 

If I want a resource management dungeon crawler, I prefer the resources to be light, food, arrows, and healing, rather than x/per SR or LR special abilities. When you are out or even low on special abilities, the tendency for players (myself included) is to long rest, and then the dm has to come up with obstacles to long resting, and now play is quasi adversarial with no benefit (because the aim of the players is to find a place to rest, while the aim of the dm is preventing rest for the purposes of continuing along with the planned adventure with fewer resources). If the adventuring day becomes spread out over many sessions, tracking abilities used because a problem for some players.

Anyway, I did a poll about this recently
 

jgsugden

Legend
DMs need to remember that you can only benefit from one long rest per day under the RAW.
A character can't benefit from more than one long rest in a 24-hour period, and a character must have at least 1 hit point at the start of the rest to gain its benefits.
As a DM, there are two types of adventuring days that exist in my games.

"One and Done Days" are usually travel days, or a day with a specific incident. When they're built, I expect PCs will have full resources. This does not mean that the encounter will force them to use all those resources, but it might. Almost all of my combats have a point to them that adds to the storyline. They have challenges beyond survival. As a result, PCs can fail the combat without dying - and without it destroying the game.

"Full Days" are going to involve multiple encounters - but they often tie the encounters together so that there is no break in time between the encounters (or only a brief break - not enough for a short rest). For example, in one of my current games, the PCs have found themselves amongst a refugee fleet bound for a new land. They've been asked to investigate a ruined shoreline city. This is not the main location where the refugees will resettle, but it is located nearby, and the leaders want to understand what threat it might house. The PCs were dropped off on the shore an hour away and snuck up on the ruins ... until a very unfortunate role alerted the denizens of the 12 building ruined village to their presence. The third level party is facing kobolds. And there are a lot of them.

The first encounter is on the outer ring of the village. Whatever direction the PCs approach from would trigger the kobolds in that zone (if the PCs were detected). The kobolds would cling to the ruin walls and attack from them while other kobolds ran to raise the alarm. The kobolds in the other sections would then come to join the fight in waves. Each wave is a separate encounter, with different tactics and different challenges - and different information to be gathered. When the fighting is on, it will make enough of a ruckus to attract the subterranean creatures that the kobolds fear (remember that they're avoiding touching the floor). When those Ankhegs appear in the town, they'll attack both kobold and PC alike.

That combat plays out as a quick combat against a few kobolds, they go down, and a little over a round later the next wave of kobolds comes in - and it is larger with a spellcaster for support. As that battle winds down, the Ankhegs will appear and attack the last of the kobolds, giving the PCs about one round to prepare (or effectively get a semi-sneak attack round on the Ankhegs). Finally, the PCs will have to contend with the Ankhegs as the remaining kobolds flee ... leaving the PCs to discover a route down under the village to the sea caves beneath it. The PCs could take a short rest before going down, but unless they are creative, they'll be faced with more threats from the caves (or brought by the fleeing kobolds) before they could complete a long rest. Once they're in the caves, there are between one and five encounters they could have, depending upon their approach, most of which can be resolved without combat. If the fleeing kobolds bring reinforcements to get the PCs, and they are down in the caves, the kobolds will not enter. This allows the PCs time inside the caves to long rest after stabilizing that environment to long rest.

That was the design. It played out differently with the PCs discovering the sea cave entrance very quickly and some of them diving into it during the first wave of kobolds. However, the basic structure still allows the PCs to break down the scenario into waves have manageable combats that roll into each other.
 


ECMO3

Adventurer
My players were panicking last session that they were starting the third encounter in a day without any rests.
In one of my games as a player I am close to panicking right now and we have only had three fights and 1 short rest since our last long rest.

We have had 3 combat encounters - well actually 2 but one of them we were getting our butt handed to us and we ran, managed to escape, short rested and then came back and assaulted the bad guys. We are a 5 person 7th level party and the bad guys in question in the 2nd/3rd fight were 15ish CR1/8, 1 CR3, 2 CR5 and 1 CR13 all in the same fight. We managed to barely win the second time, but I (bladesinger) have only a handful of spell slots left and I'm out of bladesong uses. I think we are also out of healing and our Barbarian is low on hps and he used most of his hit dice the last short rest. Our Monk is low on hps too, but I think he still has all his hit dice because he was the one person who did not get severly banged up the first time we fought them.

We are really not at a place where we can long rest. I find it is rare that we are in these circumstances (which is probably why I am close to panicking) .... :)

As a DM I never seem to panic.
 


the Jester

Legend
I think the largest number of encounters I've run in one game day was about 16. Several of these were very minor encounters, though- a single scouting enemy, that kind of thing- and this was in a megadungeon.

So yeah, the 6(+) encounter workday can exist, but it requires a high-encounter-density environment- a dungeon, enemy outpost, dangerous wilderness, lawless city, etc.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Does the 6-battle adventuring day really exist?

Yes; but almost without exception it's because the PCs (whether wisely or not) proactively sought those battles out, either by pushing ahead with their exploring or by good old-fashioned face-charging. Even then, it's uncommon.

If parties were generally more careful and-or cautious, a 6-fight day would be very rare indeed.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
As I was listening to D&D live they mentioned the wild beyond the witchlight. Apparently it will be possible to complete that entire adventure without a single combat.

That is fine thematically, although doing away with a game pillar makes me question if it is actually a pillar. The bigger issue though is the 6 fights per long rest and 2 per short rest which is designed into the game balance. They clearly are not going to come anywhere close to this target if you have an adventure with no necessary combat at all.

To be honest I think the 6 fights per long rest is not really that common to start with in official content. In all the WOTC adventures I have played and DMed I think I have only had a handful of days that met that threshold.
Yup. WotC ignores the way their own game is structured with the published adventures. It's very odd.

The 6-8 encounters is a bit of a red herring, though. 6-8 medium and hard encounters usually meets the daily adventuring XP budget, which is the actual important bit, not the number of encounters. 6-8 encounters is a rough shorthand, you can string it together however you actually like -- 3 deadlies generally work, for instance. I like to use staggered encounters, where it opens with X combatants, and then adds more as it goes along. This keeps the danger level consistent while burning through the budget efficiently. Also, making encounters that have alternate goals that 'reduce the other side to zero hitpoints' works really well for getting in a number of encounters without the slog.
 

Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
Inside dungeon environments or when running other site-based adventures, 6 or so encounters between long rests is quite common in games I run or play in. Either the plot involves a deadline or time crunch, or the location is inherently too hostile to allow for a long rest, and exiting, resting elsewhere, and then re-entering the location would allow enemies the time to either escape, complete their goals, or reinforce their positions.

If the party is travelling, 6 encounters between long rests is very unlikely. So the fewer encounters they DO have tend to be more intense.
 

mrpopstar

Sparkly Dude
I only see six to eight medium or hard encounters in a day if I'm rolling for random encounters every hour, so it really only happens in dangerous environments (most often dungeons).
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
As I was listening to D&D live they mentioned the wild beyond the witchlight. Apparently it will be possible to complete that entire adventure without a single combat.

That is fine thematically, although doing away with a game pillar makes me question if it is actually a pillar. The bigger issue though is the 6 fights per long rest and 2 per short rest which is designed into the game balance. They clearly are not going to come anywhere close to this target if you have an adventure with no necessary combat at all.

To be honest I think the 6 fights per long rest is not really that common to start with in official content. In all the WOTC adventures I have played and DMed I think I have only had a handful of days that met that threshold.
The 6-8 medium or hard encounter adventuring day is built into combat balance. If the adventure doesn’t focus on combat anyway, it won’t really matter if the classes are balanced in combat or not.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Yup. WotC ignores the way their own game is structured with the published adventures. It's very odd.

The 6-8 encounters is a bit of a red herring, though. 6-8 medium and hard encounters usually meets the daily adventuring XP budget, which is the actual important bit, not the number of encounters. 6-8 encounters is a rough shorthand, you can string it together however you actually like -- 3 deadlies generally work, for instance. I like to use staggered encounters, where it opens with X combatants, and then adds more as it goes along. This keeps the danger level consistent while burning through the budget efficiently. Also, making encounters that have alternate goals that 'reduce the other side to zero hitpoints' works really well for getting in a number of encounters without the slog.
Yeah, also if you break down the math, it’s more like 6-8 medium encounters or about 3 hard encounters to hit the recommended XP budget, depending on party level. If you use a mix of both, 3 medium and 2 hard gets you pretty pretty close to the mark at most levels.
 

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