What would your ideal rest mechanic look like?

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Question to everyone: If instead of looking for a "Rest Mechanic", we were looking for a "Recovery Mechanic". So it need not be tied to a period of inactivity but could be tied to other aspects. Then what would your favorite look like?
Favorite non-rest recovery?

I have two. One’s basically a short rest mechanic, but here goes anyway. In AD&D, to recover spells you had to rest and spend 15 minutes per spell level per spell to study, pray, and or meditate to memorize spells. Keep the study, maybe make it 15 minutes per character level in class appropriate activity, study, prayer, meditation, making music, crafting, etc. The other is to reverse the notion entirely. Instead of having resources you spend and track, start with your cantrips and 1st-level spells…then on each successive round of combat you gain access to higher level stuff. Round 2 you can use 2nd level spells. Etc. Powering up instead of resource tracking.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
The other is to reverse the notion entirely. Instead of having resources you spend and track, start with your cantrips and 1st-level spells…then on each successive round of combat you gain access to higher level stuff. Round 2 you can use 2nd level spells. Etc. Powering up instead of resource tracking.
I like that from a combat flow mechanic. It's slightly similar to Sentinel RPG's GYRO mechanism.

But narratively how does it work when characters are expecting combat and know they need to "power up" like about to kick in a door or ambush someone, and how does it work outside combat where time isn't a factor?
 

South by Southwest

Incorrigible Daydreamer
I don't have a specific stance on the ideal rest mechanic because I'm not a game designer and don't pretend to know and understand all the variables that play into this question. I admire the dedication and expertise of those who do, but I'm just not there. Accordingly, my only confident claim on this is that it'd be a lot less permissive/generous than 5e. That's it. Just something whereby 5.5/6e would feel less like a text-based version of Call of Duty and a bit more like the AD&D of yore.

What would that actually look like? Wish I knew.
 

Luceilia

Explorer
My preferred version would require a heavy retool of the rest of the system. But here it is.

First, we'd have HP that replenishes with a 5 minute rest, where Hit Points means "ability to survive an attack that hits."

But on top of that you have wounds that can occur from critical hits. And if you're out of HP, every attack that hits causes a wound. Usually someone who drops to 0 HP just gives up. (And if you score a critical hit against someone with no HP, they

Wounds persist until you get treatment, which might take an hour, a day, or a week (or magic!). The location is random, or you can spend a bonus action to aim at a specific location, but aiming only matters if you inflict a wound. Arm wounds make wielding stuff harder. Leg wounds make moving harder. Head wounds impede your senses or might knock you unconscious. And torso wounds cause blood loss (so you make a save each turn to avoid passing out) and lower your max HP, so when you take a rest you might only get back to 3/4, 1/2, or 1/4 your total.

Wounds can be light (heal in an hour), moderate (heal in a day), serious (heal in a week), or critical (never heal).

When you drop to 0 HP, you automatically get a moderate wound wherever the attack hit, or a light wound if you choose to fall unconscious.

Normally critical hits would inflict serious wounds. They'd upgrade to critical if you have no HP left. Whenever you take a wound, you can make a Con save to reduce it by one step. And you'd have hero points you could expend to reduce any wound to light.

A 5-minute Medicine check (DC 10) can let the patient recover from a light wound. So can a cure light wounds spell (1st level).

A 1-hour Medicine check (DC 15) can let a patient ignore the effects of a moderate wound, though the benefit goes away after the character falls below half HP. Cure moderate wounds (2nd level) can fully recover a moderate wound.

Cure serious wounds (3rd level) can fix a serious wound. Cure critical (4th level) can fix a critical wound, which includes regrowing severed limbs. Then Raise Dead (5th level) lets you beat death, but any wounds the person had when they died require an extra cure spell. Heal (6th level) can fix all your wounds at once. Resurrection (7th level) can restore the dead and fix all your wounds. And True Resurrection (9th level) is that, but with a casting time of one action.

None of these actually recover hit points. For that you either need inspiration by an ally, or you can take an action to get a second wind, or maybe a heroism spell.

The idea here is to have rules for how wounds actually function in real life, but in a way that players can still function and be heroic while injured.
Are there D&D Players who actually like such a system?

It's so complicated and punishing and totally destroys my vision of what it means for a character to grow more powerful and resilient by evolving as a being through leveling up.

Not saying it's bad on a mechanical level, I don't claim expertise with systems like this and the only experience I had with something similar I hated so I never looked back.

But at least in the context of D&D it just doesn't feel like fun.

Regarding the thread topic I'm actually going the other direction. Killing Long Rests, reducing spells and allowing the recovery of all class abilities on short rests.

HP gets something like the Hit Dice mechanic as well as Medical Treatments available after each battle to grant additional healing and decent but not absolute overnight recovery (probably 1/level for small HD classes, 2/level for medium HD classes and 3/level for high HD classes, double that for absolute bed rest)

Essentially my goal is to make it pretty easy to have either one encounter a month or 5 a day (assuming the presence of healing magic, be that a caster or items) without screwing with the balance too much
 

Cruentus

Adventurer
I had been brainstorming a rest and spell point recovery mechanic that was based strictly on time for natural healing and spell recovery. I haven't nailed down the basics, but essentially after you take damage, you recover 1 hp over some time interval. Maybe, say, 4 hours. So if you have 8 hit points, that takes you a full day to slowly recover. Of course, magic can speed this up, as could the Medicine skill. But when you have 20 hit points, its up to 80 hours till you're full. You could adventure down some HP, but that would be an in game decision.

Likewise, spell point recovery could work the same way. Using the spell point system offers more caster flexibility, so a low magic system could offer less spell points per day, and they are recovered not all at once, but on a rolling basis (maybe resting slightly increases the rate of recovery).

My thinking is that these types of mechanics decouple resting (and sleeping), from HP and spell point recovery, which then adds a further decision point to the characters as to whether to keep going, and/or how long to wait to recover some or all of their HP, but its not an "overnight" thing, except at very low levels. But, like I said, I'm still working on the mechanics, and haven't tried to balance it at all in the broader system.
 

Are there D&D Players who actually like such a system?

It's so complicated and punishing and totally destroys my vision of what it means for a character to grow more powerful and resilient by evolving as a being through leveling up.

Not saying it's bad on a mechanical level, I don't claim expertise with systems like this and the only experience I had with something similar I hated so I never looked back.

But at least in the context of D&D it just doesn't feel like fun.

Regarding the thread topic I'm actually going the other direction. Killing Long Rests, reducing spells and allowing the recovery of all class abilities on short rests.

HP gets something like the Hit Dice mechanic as well as Medical Treatments available after each battle to grant additional healing and decent but not absolute overnight recovery (probably 1/level for small HD classes, 2/level for medium HD classes and 3/level for high HD classes, double that for absolute bed rest)

Essentially my goal is to make it pretty easy to have either one encounter a month or 5 a day (assuming the presence of healing magic, be that a caster or items) without screwing with the balance too much
I like injuries existing. I like Die Hard with glass in the feet. I like Star Wars with hands getting chopped off. I like Predator with a dude getting his ribs broken by a log trap. And I like characters carrying on after these injuries. That, to me, is heroic.

In some games, sure, get swallowed by a monster, spat out, then rub some dirt on your wounds and be back to full strength. But I don't really like that tone of game most of the time. I want to feel like there's a weight to action. I like the verisimilitude of having to worry about really getting hurt, and of seeing a guy swinging a sword or a monster champing its teeth at me as something to try really hard to avoid.

It helps with immersion, and that helps me enjoy the game more.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Are there D&D Players who actually like such a system?
Guilty as charged, y'r honour.
It's so complicated and punishing and totally destroys my vision of what it means for a character to grow more powerful and resilient by evolving as a being through leveling up.
Sorry about your vision, but I far prefer the realism of slow recovery - though nowhere near as slow as by-the-book AD&D would have it.

What I've used for ages in my (not 5e) games:

After taking damage you can spend a few minutes catching your breath, tending to minor nicks and scratches, etc - this gets you back a very few h.p. (usually about a d3 worth).

Overnight rest gets you back [hit point total / 10, round ALL fractions up]. This way, someone with 72 hit points gets back 8 while someone with only 16 hit points gets back 2; the really neat part for me is it balances equally across all levels and classes - everyone recovers at about the same relative rate.

And then we complicate it by using a body-fatigue points system to allow us to reflect long-term injuries etc. :)
Regarding the thread topic I'm actually going the other direction. Killing Long Rests, reducing spells and allowing the recovery of all class abilities on short rests.

HP gets something like the Hit Dice mechanic as well as Medical Treatments available after each battle to grant additional healing and decent but not absolute overnight recovery (probably 1/level for small HD classes, 2/level for medium HD classes and 3/level for high HD classes, double that for absolute bed rest)
If that works for you, rock on! :)

It's not the direction I'd want to go, though. I much prefer a more gritty survival-is-job-one type of game where there's a clear and obvious choice between pressing on or stopping to recover, where each has its pros and cons.
Essentially my goal is to make it pretty easy to have either one encounter a month or 5 a day (assuming the presence of healing magic, be that a caster or items) without screwing with the balance too much
And here, you're on to something.

If you're intentionally trying to eschew any sort of attrition-based model then this is probably the ideal end result, as it means you can then more or less do away with forced amounts of encounters per day etc. That said, you'll either then have to set the encounter difficulties based on the PCs being at full pop every time or expect the PCs to make a fairly easy job of things most of the time.

Have you tried this system yet and if so, how well is it working?
 

Luceilia

Explorer
That said, you'll either then have to set the encounter difficulties based on the PCs being at full pop every time or expect the PCs to make a fairly easy job of things most of the time.

Have you tried this system yet and if so, how well is it working?
Yeah I've been running a playtest group with it for eight weeks so far (a playtest group differing from a typical group I would actually use the system on by virtue of each session is testing a level instead of my usual organic story based leveling approach) at levels 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 and 14

Spellcasters get one new spell slot of the highest level they can cast on level up and Full Casters start with two level 0 spells (I'm rolling something of a hybrid between 5th and 3rd, the idea of a caster being an infinite cantrip gun doesn't exactly feel magical to me. But the corollary is that I mod spells to scale better than 5th) and it's great.

I don't have to think about how many resources they're going to burn through, I can easily decide if a fight is easy or hard simply based on what they have.

If I want a little attrition I can give that with pressure/reinforcements/waves and the fact that resources do take some time to recover, but I have very limited Nova concerns. Sure a caster can nova a bit, but only so far and if they completely blow their load they're in trouble if they don't actually get time to recover their magic.

One other thing I've been dabbling with rather than a dull all-or-nothing short rest is gradual spell recovery. 1+1/spell level to prepare a spell, or 1+ 1/2 spell level minutes to recover spontaneous spell slots from lowest to highest.

Creates a lot of tension in the rare occasion I use a dungeon and the casters did use up their spells and have to find a way to recover them without getting found or pinned down or tagged by a wandering monster.
 
Last edited:

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Spellcasters get one new spell slot of the highest level they can cast on level up and Full Casters start with two level 0 spells (I'm rolling something of a hybrid between 5th and 3rd, the idea of a caster being an infinite cantrip gun doesn't exactly feel magical to me. But the corollary is that I mod spells to scale better than 5th) and it's great.
A kitbashed hybrid of 5e and 3e?

I applaud your courage in even trying that. Those - particularly 3e - aren't easy systems to kitbash and make it work.
I don't have to think about how many resources they're going to burn through, I can easily decide if a fight is easy or hard simply based on what they have.

If I want a little attrition I can give that with pressure/reinforcements/waves and the fact that resources do take some time to recover, but I have very limited Nova concerns. Sure a caster can nova a bit, but only so far and if they completely blow their load they're in trouble if they don't actually get time to recover their magic.

One other thing I've been dabbling with rather than a dull all-or-nothing short rest is gradual spell recovery. 1+1/spell level to prepare a spell, or 1+ 1/2 spell level minutes to recover spontaneous spell slots from lowest to highest.
If measured in minutes rather than tens of minutes or even hours, that's not what I'd call "gradual". :) But the idea behind it is good.

Are the players cool with the extra tracking required?
 

Luceilia

Explorer
A kitbashed hybrid of 5e and 3e?

I applaud your courage in even trying that. Those - particularly 3e - aren't easy systems to kitbash and make it work.
I've been homebrewing and tweaking 3rd edition for close to 15 years now, it's second nature to me at this point lol.

If measured in minutes rather than tens of minutes or even hours, that's not what I'd call "gradual". :) But the idea behind it is good.

Are the players cool with the extra tracking required?
No complaints so far, but they don't really have to keep track of anything. For spontaneous casters it's just an in-world timer where I let them know which slots to mark recovered as they go. For the prepared ones it's as simple as 'I'm preparing this spell' and then either it is prepared before something shows up or it's not.

As for the time scale, I presume you're thinking in the context of something like a Megadungeon?

Not a fan personally, when I run a dungeon it's small, like an organization's fortification (such as a realistically sized castle) or maybe an Indiana Jones sized crypt. A place where when there's pressure, the pressure Is On. Where it's basically There vs Not There rather than days of exploration.

But that all goes back to my style as a GM, where I don't want to be dealing with the details of a giant dungeon and the levels/floors and all that.
 
Last edited:

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I've been homebrewing and tweaking 3rd edition for close to 15 years now, it's second nature to me at this point lol.
Nice. :)
No complaints so far, but they don't really have to keep track of anything. For spontaneous casters it's just an in-world timer where I let them know which slots to mark recovered as they go. For the prepared ones it's as simple as 'I'm preparing this spell' and then either it is prepared before something shows up or it's not.

As for the time scale, I presume you're thinking in the context of something like a Megadungeon?
I was thinking more of having it take longer than just a few minutes to recover those used spells, regardless of the situation; in order to - in a way - kinda force them to slow down and take a break now and then rather than just plow through in one big run.
Not a fan personally, when I run a dungeon it's small, like an organization's fortification (such as a realistically sized castle) or maybe an Indiana Jones sized crypt. A place where when there's pressure, the pressure Is On. Where it's basically There vs Not There rather than days of exploration.

But that all goes back to my style as a GM, where I don't want to be dealing with the details of a giant dungeon and the levels/floors and all that.
I guess my tastes kinda cover both, in that I want a typical castle or crypt - assuming there's some hostile occupants - to take more than just a day or two to explore. I don't at all mind if they pull back and rest up for a night or even longer before trying another sortie into the place.

Megadungeons can be a blast but the players have to buy in hard to whatever the premise is for their PCs being there. Without that, it can quicky become a disaster.
 

Luceilia

Explorer
I was thinking more of having it take longer than just a few minutes to recover those used spells, regardless of the situation; in order to - in a way - kinda force them to slow down and take a break now and then rather than just plow through in one big run.

I guess my tastes kinda cover both, in that I want a typical castle or crypt - assuming there's some hostile occupants - to take more than just a day or two to explore.

I don't at all mind if they pull back and rest up for a night or even longer before trying another sortie into the place.
I mean with the crypts I get it, you can just have more obstacles and more size and the party can come back rested (although I feel like I would get bored of that sort of thing... Third day back I'm asking myself why are we here just to suffer?) but with a Base Raid? Definitely not in my games lol. That assault is going to be multiple times harder if they give the enemy time to prepare and adapt.

New fortifications, new conscripts or mercenaries, new traps, more general Operational Security. More of the treasure consumed and weaponized.

Maybe even a harrier sent to allies to bring more reinforcements.
 

Art Waring

Redlined Ratrod
We use our own spell point system, and introduced 10 minute short rests. Spellcasters now get a few spell points on a short rest, not much, but enough to keep contributing to fights without overshadowing other classes that now get to have their short rests fitted into the day with relative ease.
 

niklinna

Snickers satisfies!
I've often wondered how a scaling effort/recovery approach might work. As a very arbitrary and just-for-example example, you'd need X hours of rest to recover spell slots of level X. Cast any 8th-level spells, you need 8 hours of rest to get them all back. If you've only cast 3rd-level spells so far, you can have those back with 3 hours of rest.

Scale the time increment however you like: half-hour increments, half days, whatever.

You could generalize by applying similar refresh times to other class abilities (essentially a spell-level equivalent rating), rather than saying they refresh on a short or long rest.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
I've often wondered how a scaling effort/recovery approach might work. As a very arbitrary and just-for-example example, you'd need X hours of rest to recover spell slots of level X. Cast any 8th-level spells, you need 8 hours of rest to get them all back. If you've only cast 3rd-level spells so far, you can have those back with 3 hours of rest.

Scale the time increment however you like: half-hour increments, half days, whatever.

You could generalize by applying similar refresh times to other class abilities (essentially a spell-level equivalent rating), rather than saying they refresh on a short or long rest.
it was a thing in early editions (2e at least iirc). It worked ok but I don't remember us ever counting the hours so much as checking with the gm if there was enough time & just hand waving it if we had their blessing vrs guess we can't rest here if the gm says no because. I've seen systems that do it much better where it took a varying amount of time depending on your level or whatever sort of 1day*level for a long rest kind of thing so low level characters dealing with low level threats are ready to go again quick while high level characters with high level goals & problems don't want to kill 5 rats or six zombies when they could hire some low level types to do it (or die trying) because they will need a long time to recover
 

glass

(he, him)
The way 4e did it was pretty much ideal already. Don't balance short-rest abilities on the assumption they have to be stretched out across multiple encounters. Let them be tricks you can pull out pretty much every fight.
Pretty much this. Short rests are 5 minutes or ten minutes (maybe 15 at a stretch). Anything longer than that is not a "short" rest, and probably does not happen at all.

My preferred version would require a heavy retool of the rest of the system. But here it is.

First, we'd have HP that replenishes with a 5 minute rest, where Hit Points means "ability to survive an attack that hits."

But on top of that you have wounds that can occur from critical hits. And if you're out of HP, every attack that hits causes a wound. Usually someone who drops to 0 HP just gives up. (And if you score a critical hit against someone with no HP, they
Interesting stuff. One of the things that I am debating with myself is whether to do something like this in my (perennially unfinished) homebrew system.

We use 5min short rest and normal long rest, but we have added Extended Rest. An extended rest is a week in a safe place. And you need an extend rest to heal 1 BHP (bloodied hit point).
This is another one that I have kicked around (mostly because it helps avert "level 1 to 20 in a week"), but I have never been able to resolve to my satisfaction what exactly it should do. In your implementation, what exactly is a "bloodied hit point"?
 
Last edited:


Branduil

Adventurer
IMO, if you're going to run a system where players need several days of rest to recover HP, you better do the same for spells as well. Spellcasters have enough advantages as it is, I would hate playing as a fighter and being hamstrung for days while the wizard can just wake up and cast 10 more Fireballs.
 

glass

(he, him)
A bloodied hit point is a "meat" point, vitality point, whatever you want to call it. You have very few of them (2-8) and they don't go up with level.
Presumably if you run out of them you die? Do you start losing them if you run out of normal hp, or by some other method?
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Ideal rest mechanics:

1. None. Remove attrition based resource management as one of the themes of the game, since it forces certain DMing styles. Games like Hero use END primarily, which comes back during a fight and all comes back after a fight.

2. Synchronized between classes. 4e (pre-Essentials) had attrition resource management, but all characters had the same resources in the same amounts. So you could run one encounter or 14 encounters between rests and all of the characters had the same resources to divide across them all - no classes had advantages or disadvantages based on fewer or more encounters between rests.

3. Game-focused. Attrition based resource management is very much a mechanical gaming aspect, what I mean by that is that it is a game that is played, trying to maximize utility and efficiency. Do I use my high levfel spell now or later? I only have one Rage left, do I use it now against these guards or might there be a better time later? So instead of putting recovery of those resources into a non-game-focused aspect like time passing, link it directly to the resources. I've played with a house rule where each character can trigger a short rest that takes 5 minutes, but only twice a day. I've seen a house rule where a short rest automatically happens every two combats. 13th Age has a rule where a full heal up (equivilent of a long rest in terms of resource recovery) happens every four encounters, with the DM having an option to make it sooner based on how challenging they were, and the players having an option to take it sooner as the cost of a campaign setback.

Really, "rest" as the trigger for recovery mechanics is a poor idea in terms of the gaming aspect and the narrative flow aspects, even if they meet simulation goals. The idea that an arbitrary amount of time available in the adventure allows the reset of resources in such a heavily attrition based game like D&D does not match all DMing styles or narrative pacing choices. As an example, a three week trek across a desert might have a total of four encounters, but with rest based they are either spread out and therefore trivial in final impact and not worth of the session time spent on them, or unrealistically all gathered into the same day.
 

Dungeon Delver's Guide

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top