D&D 5E What interupts a long rest?

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
It's worth bothering with, because it produces a streamlined rule that focuses on what actually matters. It is far easier for DMs to parse. It casts better light on the adventuring day problem, which is one of the most fundamental, most intractable, for D&D design. It is one of the most valuable design problems to solve for 6th edition.
None of us are writing 6th edition though, as far as I’m aware.
For example, think through the question of what happens, if a character ignores "no more than 2 hours of light activity", and goes ahead and performs 3 hours of light activity? Reflect on where we have reached, and where we could go with the design from here.
What happens is the rest is ruined.
 

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MarkB

Legend
I realise I have not explained the purpose behind my dialectic, and that can be frustrating for other posters. I would like to find a good solve for the intractable problem of the adventuring day. I sense here the possibility of progress toward a real solution. That is why I am so tenaciously pursuing this.
If it bothers you, you have my sympathy. It doesn't much bother me.
For example, think through the question of what happens, if a character ignores "no more than 2 hours of light activity", and goes ahead and performs 3 hours of light activity? Reflect on where we have reached, and where we could go with the design from here.
Just like that hypothetical most-of-an-hour-of-interruption that pretty much never actually happens in practice, I wouldn't count it as contributing towards those eight hours of downtime, but I wouldn't have it require a reset either. If the maths of the watches the characters are setting happen to require the person on mid-watch to spend three hours sleeping, then three hours on watch, then three more hours sleeping, that's fine - they got their long rest in nine hours instead of eight.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I realise I have not explained the purpose behind my dialectic, and that can be frustrating for other posters. I would like to find a good solve for the intractable problem of the adventuring day. I sense here the possibility of progress toward a real solution. That is why I am so tenaciously pursuing this.
You may have to do some further unpacking. What is “the intractable problem of the adventuring day” you’re trying to solve?
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
None of us are writing 6th edition though, as far as I’m aware.
We don't have to be. It is likely they will apply a playtest process something along the lines of (if not as extensive as) 5th. And we may be part of it. Even if we can't, we're able to share some ideas with the designers through their social channels. Being able to propose a solution to the designers is just as good as being one.

What happens is the rest is ruined.
I wouldn't have it require a reset... they got their long rest in nine hours instead of eight.
The goal is a Goldilocks solution. I suspect the straightest line to that needs focus on what a rest requires - what must be done - not on what must not be done.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
Then focus on the question. What happens, if a character ignores "no more than 2 hours of light activity", and goes ahead and performs 3 hours of light activity? Does that force their long rest to restart?
That's part of the problem with the errata version. The" no more than 2 hours", in the original text, serves to imply that the resting character needs at least 6 hours of sleep. Once that becomes explicit, there's no reason to limit the light activity to 2 hours anymore. But now, it just serves to raise the question of what happens if you engage in 3 hours of light activity as well as 6+ hours of sleep (at least for the overextended argument sort devoid of common sense).
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
You may have to do some further unpacking. What is “the intractable problem of the adventuring day” you’re trying to solve?
I wrote a longer answer, but maybe it is more constructive if you ask yourself - what are rests for, anyway? What job do they do? Why bother having rules for them at all?
 

MarkB

Legend
We don't have to be. It is likely they will apply a playtest process something along the lines of (if not as extensive as) 5th. And we may be part of it. Even if we can't, we're able to share some ideas with the designers through their social channels. Being able to propose a solution to the designers is just as good as being one.



The goal is a Goldilocks solution. I suspect the straightest line to that needs focus on what a rest requires - what must be done - not on what must not be done.
I'm here to debate the way resting works in 5e, not to re-design it for the next generation.

As far as I'm concerned, if the party manages to get at least six hours of sleep, plus whatever many hours of assorted sleep, inactivity and light activity bring their total downtime up to eight hours, and there are no really major interruptions along the way, they can call it a long rest.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
It's worth bothering with, because it produces a streamlined rule that focuses on what actually matters. It is far easier for DMs to parse. It casts better light on the adventuring day problem, which is one of the most fundamental, most intractable, for D&D design. It is one of the most valuable design problems to solve for 6th edition.

For example, think through the question of what happens, if a character ignores "no more than 2 hours of light activity", and goes ahead and performs 3 hours of light activity? Reflect on where we have reached, and where we could go with the design from here.
given that it doesn't seem to actually change anything but some wording to the point where you dodged the question of "What do you see your adjustment actually accomplishing differently when the players say "ok no big deal. anyone have a reason we can't just sit around for the day before we start a long rest & kick off fresh tomorrow?" Can you elaborate on how it does any of what you are now claiming it to do?
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I wrote a longer answer, but maybe it is more constructive if you ask yourself - what are rests for, anyway? What job do they do? Why bother having rules for them at all?
You haven’t convinced me that there’s any value in doing so. Tell me what the problem is you’re trying to solve, and I’ll give you constructive feedback if I think it’s a problem I would also like to solve.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)

First, some context - the 5MWD!​

Hopefully you are all familiar with the design arc that started with The Book of Nine Swords and runs through 4th edition into 5th edition. The 4th edition action types are at-will, encounter (refresh on short rests), and daily (refresh on extended rests). This structure was fundamental to the 4th edition design and targeted squarely at the 5-minute work day. The 5th edition rules carried those concepts forward while softening them somewhat as mechanics. (It's worth reading the 4th edition short and extended rest rules to better see how.)

I know what it is - where is it going?​

The 5-minute working day has been called out in some Level Up discussions as something that should be ended beyond all else. You might have also noticed the introduction of experimental rules in TCoE, that modify the 5th edition approach. First there is the shift of abilities that in the PHB might have been one or two uses per short rest, to being proficiency bonus per long rest. Secondly, there is a cute experiment with psionic dice where a character can refresh one die with a bonus action, and then that refresh itself refreshes with a short or long rest. (Psionic dice otherwise refresh on long rest.)

Perhaps I buy that it has been on D&D designers' minds - but why?​

If we want nice things, like strong powers and weak powers, and variation in the tempo of different classes (which changes how they feel in play) then one of the powerful design patterns available to us is currencies. Spell slots are a currency for paying for spells, for example. A strong spell costs a higher level slot, of which a character has fewer. So we have sorcery points, ki, superiority dice, bardic inspiration - all through the game are currencies. The currencies allow the game to have highly varied abilities for players to leverage the narrative with (more on leveraging the narrative below). However, none of those currencies matter if those slots, points, dice are topped-up all the time. And conversely, the game can be made more interesting if the currencies themselves refresh at different rates (albeit one does not want to get too baroque with that).

Leveraging the narrative?​

One of the most beautiful aspects of RPG game mechanics is that they give players defined ways in which they can have fiat (including stochastic or negotiated fiat) over the narrative. Casting a fireball lets the wizard write into the emerging story that there is a fireball, exploding right here, right now. That has proven extremely powerful as a concept. Players find it tremendously satisfying to say what happens. Of course you don't need rules for that, but rules regulate and validate each player's leverage over the narrative. One could say more about this, but hopefully you get the picture.

So what is the value in a great solution to rests again?​

Rest - regulated refresh of currencies - allow us to have nice things. Those things are the most fundamentally beautiful mechanics of RPG. Unfortunately, we do not yet have a great solution. You only have to have read these forums over the last few years to have seen all the problems with 5th editions rests. One whole edition of D&D targeted it squarely and foundered, and yet the game designers still knew that it was important enough to carry forward into the next edition, and are already at work on improved solutions.

But is this really that hard of a problem?​

Yes, it really is. Multiple editions - years of game design effort and playtesting - have still not solved it. It is the hard problem of RPG. The problem to solve could be put like this - how might we have rests that are easily applied by players, that reliably regulate the refresh rates of character abilities? This is something that needs to work as simply as possible, as appealingly as possible, for all D&D players, because all D&D players can benefit from solving this. A great solution will also have implications for other RPGs.

I'll rest here for a bit​

Your questions imply (at least) three concerns. What is the problem? Why is it worth solving? What solution - or direction for solutions - might emerge from this thread? I have said something about the first two: I'll take a break there, and do some other light activity for a bit before answering the third.
 

MarkB

Legend
The simplest solution would be to not tie this refreshment of abilities to long rests. Short rests work adequately, let's keep them in, but have long rests just used to refresh HP and hit dice.

Everything else refreshes at a set point, like dawn, or else you can manually reset it as part of a short or long rest, but only once per day.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
@clearstream : Ok, so I gather that you think there’s a problem with the recharge rates of various abilities like spells, and that you think changing the wording of rests will fix it. And you’ve stressed why you think it’s an important problem to solve. I’m still not really clear on what the problem is though? Like, you mention the 5 minute workday, so is the problem you’re trying to solve that it’s too easy to get a long rest in dangerous territory? You mentioned the recent change from short rest abilities to prof bonus per long rest, so is the problem that short rests are too hard to get? What specific gameplay problem are you trying to fix?
 

MarkB

Legend
@clearstream On reflection, while my previously-proposed 'solution' would untangle the refreshment of daily features from long rests, that doesn't actually do anything to resolve the 5MWD issue. And it occurred to me that I have seen this issue tackled, but in a rather different format - the videogame Fallout 4, and its Adrenaline system. Here's how it works in that game, if you're interested:

Basically, in this game's Survival mode, the character must manage the need to eat, drink and sleep. But once you have an established base, food and water aren't a huge concern while you're there, so it would be pretty easy to go back and rest frequently and not worry about that side of things.

So, how to incentivise players to actually push ahead through a day, potentially taking the culumative stat-penalties resulting from overtiredness, rather than just going home and sleeping frequently?

Answer: Adrenaline. Every time you get a successful kill, you accumulate a little Adrenaline, and as your Adrenaline level ticks up, you get a cumulative bonus to the damage you deal that becomes very substantial at its highest levels. The longer you keep adventuring without resting, the easier it becomes to take down enemies, encouraging you to keep pushing through more encounters, and through at least the milder levels of fatigue, because once you do actually take a rest, your Adrenaline level will drop to zero.

So, how to implement this in D&D? I propose something like this:

Each time the party gets through an encounter with something that would place at least one of them in peril (i.e. something that would deal damage or otherwise be harmful, whether or not anyone was actually harmed - whether it's a trap, a combat encounter, a deadly puzzle, etc.) they gain a point of Adrenaline. Characters can accumulate a maximum of 3 points of Adrenaline. Taking a short rest reduces your Adrenaline by 1 point, and taking a long rest reduces it to zero.

So, what does Adrenaline do? Very simple: For almost all purposes, your current Adrenaline score is added to your Proficiency bonus. So it boosts your attack rolls, your proficient saving throws and ability checks, your spell attack bonus and your spell save DC. The only thing it doesn't boost is the number of uses of an ability whose number of uses is determined by your Proficiency bonus.

This is obviously pretty powerful. A party with 3 Adrenaline can punch significantly above their weight. But they lose Adrenaline every time they rest to replenish their resources.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
Each time the party gets through an encounter with something that would place at least one of them in peril (i.e. something that would deal damage or otherwise be harmful, whether or not anyone was actually harmed - whether it's a trap, a combat encounter, a deadly puzzle, etc.) they gain a point of Adrenaline. Characters can accumulate a maximum of 3 points of Adrenaline. Taking a short rest reduces your Adrenaline by 1 point, and taking a long rest reduces it to zero.

So, what does Adrenaline do? Very simple: For almost all purposes, your current Adrenaline score is added to your Proficiency bonus. So it boosts your attack rolls, your proficient saving throws and ability checks, your spell attack bonus and your spell save DC. The only thing it doesn't boost is the number of uses of an ability whose number of uses is determined by your Proficiency bonus.

This is obviously pretty powerful. A party with 3 Adrenaline can punch significantly above their weight. But they lose Adrenaline every time they rest to replenish their resources.
The 5th edition approach seems to be to make rests awkward. Characters don't take long rests just anytime because... they're easily interrupted (albeit, they are hard to interrupt)? I think your solution goes in a thoughtful direction. My current questions with rests take a similarly positive rather than negative view, i.e. we value what ability refreshes do for our game play, therefore...
  1. What has to happen, rather than not happen, for a full ability refresh?
  2. What might occur while characters are refreshing abilities, so that it matters in the game world that they took that break?
  3. Why are we counting a pause to refresh abilities in hours, given that the difference between 6 and 8 hours on our imaginary clock is next to nothing (do we differentiate consistently between 6 and 8 hours? and what about between 6 hours and 7 hours?)
  4. Is there a price that might be paid, or leverage over the narrative that might be given up (e.g. your proposal), to gain an ability refresh?
  5. Why even bother with it (which I believe is contended by the RAI, but which goes against the benefits that I discussed - incompletely - above)
Of course the issue with 4. is always going to be that the dominant strategy will be whatever is mechanically favoured. It's actually for that reason that I prefer what I call "narrative rests," meaning that the cost is felt in what happens in the emergent story. I feel at minimum we would want anything like adrenaline to be strongly differentiated from refreshed abilities in terms of the leverage on offer.

There are maybe five classes of solution that you commonly see
  • Mechanically forced, e.g. you count encounters, with no short rest possible until the count is 2+ and no long rest possible until the count is 6+
  • Difficult, e.g. requires an easily interrupted period of downtime (note the obvious tension with the RAI)
  • Costly, e.g. you have to pay or give up something for the rest
  • Sporting agreement (with players) to not rest too often
  • Ignore it (in effect, the most supported by the RAI)
Something to notice about difficulty and costs, is that the former relies on a DM to make it difficult. In theory, the RAI still requires rests. In practice, it so softens difficulty (the class of solution chosen by 5th edition) that it amounts to either sporting agreement or ignoring. The latter on the other hand divides into costs that are felt in the leverage players will have over the emergent narrative, and costs that are felt in the progression of the emergent narrative by the DM. I suspect that costs felt in leverage will on the whole feel more gamey, hence for the time being I am more interested in costs that are felt in how the DM might plausibly advance the narrative. Although I am not necessarily seeking a pure solution - a hybrid might be what is strongest.
 
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G R (grizzyGR)

Explorer
I really enjoy these nitty gritty discussions of RAW vs RAI. For some reason I feel the urge to know every rule as RAW so that when I do decide to change, alter, or eliminate something it’s an informed decision and not a misunderstanding. However, I think everyone should keep in mind that every single rule is optional. If something doesn’t fit the style of your game or campaign or your group then it is only right to change or eliminate rules.
 

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