D&D 5E The Adventuring Day XP budget makes sense when you consider it is a budget for you to stock your dungeons

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Interesting. I wonder if they went too far with ghouls though. I love the idea of them and try to use them in lots of places, but they just get absolutely wrecked every time by the PCs. I can't remember the last time anyone was even paralyzed, if ever.
I wish I could find the recording of the stream because my memory of it is so hazy after so many years, but I doubt it exists anymore. But that moment really stuck out because I remember at around the same time there had been a lot of contention on the WotC forums about ghouls being overpowered, and the people who felt they were saw that moment on the stream as vindication. I still have my playtest packets on my old laptop, I bet if I went digging I could find when the change to Ghouls happened and what exactly it was. I feel like it was something to do with the save though, either the DC or the frequency of the save or something like that.
 

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Bacon Bits

Legend
At the base DnD is an RPG for heroic adventures.

The rules by themselves have few leverage to force players adopt an heroic behavior. the rest mechanics are not there to put pressure on PCs but rather to make them heroic and use widely their ressources on the next day.

The Heroic assumption also make the PCs winner by a large margin. The xp budget give enough margin to let the players win even if they are newcomer, make thematic build and make tactical errors.
We can’t hope to use the same xp budget advices to challenge players as in a wargame or a card game.

Firstly, I disagree that D&D requires heroism. At its base, D&D is an RPG for fantasy adventures. They may be heroic; they may be more materially motivated. Nearly all D&D adventures include hooks for PCs that aren't heroic motivations because not all PCs are motivated by heroism. At a metagame level the PCs must not reject the call to adventure, but that's not remotely the same as requiring a heroic motivation.

Secondly, even if we accept that the game is about heroes, heroes want to succeed in their quest. They don't want to demonstrate their bravery. They want to accomplish their goals. They should only act with haste when they must. To do otherwise would be reckless. Maximizing effectiveness also maximizes your ability to succeed. It takes around 34 full-budget adventuring days to reach level 20 from level 1. So seven weeks with weekends off. Is it really crimping your style if you take fourteen weeks to get there instead? Or 28? A casual six months to achieve superheroic power levels doesn't seem like it's asking a whole lot.

Thirdly, even if we accept that the game is about heroes and that heroes must pressure themselves in all cases, the game's mechanics should not be counterproductive to the goals of that narrative. If the game is supposed to be about heroism, then that's actually another reason that there should be mechanics to reward that kind of play. The mechanical rewards should not tell PCs to hit the brakes when the narrative goals are to press the gas as much as possible. If the game is supposed to be about being a hero, what do you get for doing it well over some greedy bastard that wants a sack of gold?

A good example of mechanics design reinforcing narrative is the video game Doom Eternal. The game makes several changes to the previous game's mechanics. They drastically reduce the main character's ammo supply. Like the shotgun starts at a 16 shell capacity. Instead of deep pockets, they give you the recharging chainsaw that kills the enemy and makes them explode in a shower of ammo. That forces you into combat in specific ways. It encourages lots of weapon switching, movement, and judicious use of the chainsaw. And you later get further options to make enemies drop health or armor. The game is supposed to be frenetic and encourage getting in close, and the low ammo capacity and ammo drops from the game's primary melee weapon encourage exactly that. Certain players may not like the style of play that results from these design choices, but it absolutely means that the mechanical design reinforces the style of play that you want to encourage.

It would be a good idea if D&D could similarly have a design to encourage and reward the style of play that the rest and recovery system claims. We'd have a whole lot fewer DMs complaining about five minute adventuring days, difficulty with 6-8 encounter limits, and so on.
 

Firstly, I disagree that D&D requires heroism. At its base, D&D is an RPG for fantasy adventures. They may be heroic; they may be more materially motivated. Nearly all D&D adventures include hooks for PCs that aren't heroic motivations because not all PCs are motivated by heroism. At a metagame level the PCs must not reject the call to adventure, but that's not remotely the same as requiring a heroic motivation.

Secondly, even if we accept that the game is about heroes, heroes want to succeed in their quest. They don't want to demonstrate their bravery. They want to accomplish their goals. They should only act with haste when they must. To do otherwise would be reckless. Maximizing effectiveness also maximizes your ability to succeed. It takes around 34 full-budget adventuring days to reach level 20 from level 1. So seven weeks with weekends off. Is it really crimping your style if you take fourteen weeks to get there instead? Or 28? A casual six months to achieve superheroic power levels doesn't seem like it's asking a whole lot.

Thirdly, even if we accept that the game is about heroes and that heroes must pressure themselves in all cases, the game's mechanics should not be counterproductive to the goals of that narrative. If the game is supposed to be about heroism, then that's actually another reason that there should be mechanics to reward that kind of play. The mechanical rewards should not tell PCs to hit the brakes when the narrative goals are to press the gas as much as possible. If the game is supposed to be about being a hero, what do you get for doing it well over some greedy bastard that wants a sack of gold?

A good example of mechanics design reinforcing narrative is the video game Doom Eternal. The game makes several changes to the previous game's mechanics. They drastically reduce the main character's ammo supply. Like the shotgun starts at a 16 shell capacity. Instead of deep pockets, they give you the recharging chainsaw that kills the enemy and makes them explode in a shower of ammo. That forces you into combat in specific ways. It encourages lots of weapon switching, movement, and judicious use of the chainsaw. And you later get further options to make enemies drop health or armor. The game is supposed to be frenetic and encourage getting in close, and the low ammo capacity and ammo drops from the game's primary melee weapon encourage exactly that. Certain players may not like the style of play that results from these design choices, but it absolutely means that the mechanical design reinforces the style of play that you want to encourage.

It would be a good idea if D&D could similarly have a design to encourage and reward the style of play that the rest and recovery system claims. We'd have a whole lot fewer DMs complaining about five minute adventuring days, difficulty with 6-8 encounter limits, and so on.
First,
Right on the PHB front page they say
Everything a players need to create heroic characters for the world’s greatest roleplaying game. So we can guess that DnD as an assumption toward heroic characters and play.

Second
True heroes do what is right! You place Heroes into a logic of results oriented mindset which is usually to operative of the vilains!

Third
There is also an assumption of cooperative and light heart play around the table. the preface of the PHB use the term ”an exercice in collaborative creation”. You don’t need rules for murder hobbo and uncooperative players with such assumptions.
 

mamba

Legend
So you can't block long resting without introducing death spirals. But that means you can't make it so the PCs have to achieve something in adventuring day completion (e.g., 75% of the XP budget) before you can try to recharge your abilities because that's also linked to a long rest.
sure you can, there just is no mechanical support for it. Give the players a reason to get something done this day, and they will try.

If you have to accomplish X today or something ‘real bad’ will happen, guess what, they will not long rest after encountering a few Goblins on the road

Why is ability recovery and HP recovery so tightly linked? Why are PCs at maximum effectiveness at the start of the adventuring day?
because this is how life works
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
sure you can, there just is no mechanical support for it. Give the players a reason to get something done this day, and they will try.

If you have to accomplish X today or something ‘real bad’ will happen, guess what, they will not long rest after encountering a few Goblins on the road
Right. Make time matter and suddenly everything works better. The guidance in the DMG could be better in this regard, however, at least in my opinion.
 

Bacon Bits

Legend
sure you can, there just is no mechanical support for it. Give the players a reason to get something done this day, and they will try.

If you have to accomplish X today or something ‘real bad’ will happen, guess what, they will not long rest after encountering a few Goblins on the road

Narrative time pressure doesn't work in every situation, let alone every campaign. It also drastically narrows the kinds of stories you can tell with the game. What happens to downtime activities when everything is under constant pressure? They just never happen. Hope that crafting background really wasn't necessary to your character because it really is guaranteed to never come up. What about developing relationships with friendly NPCs? No time for love, Dr. Jones. Building a castle, tower, or domain? No, sorry. You've got a 10 o'clock with a troll. It's extremely lazy DMing. That's why there's a much more common name for it: Railroading. I think it's easy to understand why DMs might want to have alternatives to the game being broken other than railroading the players in every campaign and every adventure.

Endless ambushes are not particularly good answer, either. It doesn't encourage the PCs to not rest. It encourages the PCs to plan defenses. It encourages the PCs to always take spells like Tiny Hut, then just smash that button all the time. And then we see people posting here about how Tiny Hut ruins their game. You haven't fixed anything. You've just moved the problem and avoided addressing its root.

Worse, both solutions have knock-on effects. Now the PCs can easily decide to never risk a short rest which nerfs Fighters, Warlocks, and Monks. Now you've completely warped the game.

Don't worry, we can introduce the grim and gritty rest options so short rests are 8 hours and long rests are 7 days! Never mind that that will completely transform the style of play of the campaign from heroic adventure to survival adventure, potentially introducing attrition and death spirals into a campaign. It also means nearly all published adventures often won't work because they're written and tested assuming normal rest schedules. And it nerfs a whole swath of class abilities and spells that rely on them being available every adventuring day (Rage, Mage Armor, Hunter's Mark, etc.). That means you're limited as a DM for how much you can throw at the PCs. They must retreat to a town after they've reached the XP budget. God help you if the PCs roll badly and your time pressure doesn't give them the opportunity to recover at all. You'll end your campaign with the remarkable climactic event of, "We failed because a random wolf rolled 6 natural 20s." How heroic!

Instead of constantly punishing the PCs for doing things you don't want, reward them for doing what you do want. Talk to any psychologist. They'll tell you that punishment is a bad motivator. Punishment only encourages avoiding and mitigating the punishment while rewards actually encourage the behavior you desire. If you want the PCs to complete an adventuring day, reward them directly for doing that!

The real reason we know the above changes don't work is... it's 2023 and we still see threads where DMs complain about being unable to reach the daily XP budget! This very thread is trying to address the topic pre-emptively! It's such a common problem and common point of discussion that OP thought they could get ahead of it. This is 10 years after 5e D&D released. Never mind that the Five Minute Adventuring Day complaint that short rests themselves were intended to address dates to both 3e and 4e discussions! It's been a problem for nearly 25 years at this point.

because this is how life works

No, it isn't. Abilities in real life don't have cooldowns or recoveries. In real life when you have an ability, you can use it pretty much non-stop. When you're too tired from using it to continue, you're typically too tired to do anything. And often you need only a few minutes rest to continue. Meanwhile, recovery injury takes days, weeks, or months to recover from, not overnight. If someone was injured so badly yesterday that they were on death's door after a fall of 200 feet, they will not be climbing a mountain the next day.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Narrative time pressure doesn't work in every situation, let alone every campaign. It also drastically narrows the kinds of stories you can tell with the game. What happens to downtime activities when everything is under constant pressure? They just never happen. Hope that crafting background really wasn't necessary to your character because it really is guaranteed to never come up. What about developing relationships with friendly NPCs? No time for love, Dr. Jones. Building a castle, tower, or domain? No, sorry. You've got a 10 o'clock with a troll. It's extremely lazy DMing. That's why there's a much more common name for it: Railroading. I don't really understand why DMs might want to have alternatives to the game being broken other than railroading the players in every campaign and every adventure.
I'd say that's really not about "extremely lazy DMing" and more on you for not imagining that a game can have time pressures during adventures but space between adventures to engage in downtime or interviewing quirky, cagey NPCs. It's also not inherently railroading. If you don't want to stop Dr. Inferno from completing their doomsday device in their volcano lair because you'd rather be chatting to merchants who try their best not to sell you stuff, you can do that, but you get to deal with the aftermath of that decision, too. If you can instead find time in between shopping trips to engage in acts of daring-do, there's rewards aplenty to be had - experience points, treasure, the knowledge you did good in the world, and maybe even a discount from the very shopkeeps some players want to spend half the session talking to.
 

Bacon Bits

Legend
I'd say that's really not about "extremely lazy DMing" and more on you for not imagining that a game can have time pressures during adventures but space between adventures to engage in downtime or interviewing quirky, cagey NPCs. It's also no inherently railroading. If you don't want to stop Dr. Inferno from completing their doomsday device in their volcano lair because you'd rather be chatting to merchants who try their best not to sell you stuff, you can do that, but you get to deal with the aftermath of that decision, too. If you can instead find time in between shopping trips to engage in acts of daring-do, there's rewards aplenty to be had - experience points, treasure, the knowledge you did good in the world, and maybe even a discount from the very shopkeeps some players want to spend half the session talking to.

That still doesn't solve the problem that it just doesn't pass the smell test, though. It's just silly. Every lost, ancient tomb from 10,000 years ago has load-bearing, self-destruct device that goes off in exactly 3 days? The Duke will only task you with arresting or destroying the marauders that have been savaging the realms after some innocent maiden was captured?

Time pressure can certainly make sense. But time pressure as an omnipresent crutch for poor mechanics is ridiculous when you could just fix the stupid mechanics!
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
That still doesn't solve the problem that it just doesn't pass the smell test, though. It's just silly. Every lost, ancient tomb from 10,000 years ago has load-bearing, self-destruct device that goes off in exactly 3 days? The Duke will only task you with arresting or destroying the marauders that have been savaging the realms after some innocent maiden was captured?

Time pressure can certainly make sense. But time pressure as an omnipresent crutch for poor mechanics is ridiculous when you could just fix the stupid mechanics!
We can't though. The game is published, done and dusted. Add time and it's fixed. Do you want a solution? Or does it feel better to just complain about things you can't change? I'm not interested in the latter, myself.
 

Jolly Ruby

Privateer
As written, unless there's some peculiarity of the narrative preventing it, PCs should long rest after every encounter.
IMO the (short) answer to that problem is more dungeons. Once you leave the dungeon to take a long rest, the dungeon won't be waiting for you passively. Its residents are now alert they are being invaded and muster defenses, set new traps or even hunt you outside the dungeon. Thus, once you delve into the dungeon you have one adventuring day to accomplish your objectives, because once you leave it and recover your energy, so the dungeon does.

E.g: The last dungeon my players invaded was a thieves' guildhouse. Their objective was to either capture the thieves' leader. They knew once they were spotted inside the guildhouse they wouldn't have a chance to try again later and had to press until the end, because their leader would be hiding somewhere else if she knew she was being hunted and her hideout was revealed;

It works for a specific kind of game, but it works well.

Edit: Additional note. Not every situation is a "one try only" kind of situation. When delving into ancient ruins searching for treasure or with an objective in mind, for example, doing it "one encounter per day" shouldn't make it easier. Instead, it should make your job harder, since you're giving the underworld time to react to your strategy. So, once you delve into the dungeon again, you're not as close to accomplishing your objectives as you were last time you left the dungeon, but it's still feasible.
 
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