D&D 5E Working on Grittier Resting Rules - what do you want to see?

So it's often commented that D&D is lacking in Grit a little - you can fall down and be popped back up with healing without consequence, and you can fight your way to the end of the day and have a long rest and pop, you're back at full health with full abilities.

I've already fixed the dying issue with Gritty, Consequential and Impactful Dying, so now I'm moving onto a Grittier Guide to Realistic Resting.

I've finished a scalable and grittier method of resting, but I am curious as to whether there's anthing else about it that people dislike and would like to see changed?
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Grittier resting rules? Like, you want resting itself to be a struggle? Just start off each PC at the equivalent of 50 years of age. Sleeping gets grittier around that time for most of us.

If you want resting to be less effective and more 'realistic':

Use short (1 hour), long (1 night), and full (1 week) rests. Spells and abilities recharge as normal during a short and long rest. Healing works differently.

During a short rest you may use a a healing surge. Roll hp to recover as normal when using healing surges, but any value from the surges in excess of your hp loss is ignored. However, you split up the hp recovery into three buckets: 25% (rounded down) that you get back from the short rest, 25% (rounded down) that you get back at the next long rest, and the remainder which you will roll to recover during a full rest.

You only actually get back 1/4 of the hp when you short rest (rounded down) with the remained reserved to be regained in long and full rests. You'll get back another 1/4 the next time you long rest (rounded down) which may mean you're gaining back 'another quarter' of hps from several short rests during the same long rest. After each full rest (which requires you to be not doing anything strenuous for an entire week), roll (2d4 -1d6+ constitution bonus) (max 10). Multiply that by 10% rounded away from zero. That is the percentage of the 'remaining' hps you get back (or potentially lose) after that week.

Example: Bob is 5th level and has 40 hps. He takes 21 hps. When he short rests, he uses 3 surges and gets a total of 24. As 24 is 3 greater than 21, 3 of those are ignored and we focus on the 21. He gets back 1/4 (rounded down) of those 21 (5) after the short rest and 16 are yet to be recovered. He is at 24 hp, now. He takes 12 more and short rests and uses his last 2 surges - rolling 20! 8 are again wasted. He can't apply them to the hps that were allocated to long and full rests before. So he regains 3 (25% of 12) now and reserves 9 more. When he long rests, he has 15 hps and has 25 in reserve. He gets back another 5 from the first short rest and another 3 from the second short rest (8 total) which brings him back to 23. He has 11 hps from the first short rest and 6 from the second he has yet to recover (total 17). He recovers his 5 healing surges and could use them if wounded again, but the adventure ends and he returns to town and spends a quiet week recovering. At the end of a week he rolls the dice. On the 2d4 he gets two 1s. On the d6 he gets a 6. His con bonus is 2. 1 + 1 - 6 + 2 = -2. We multiply that by 10% and get -20%. He multiples the 17 down he is by -20% and gets -3.4, which we round away from zero to -4. He loses 4 hps. meaning he is now at 19 of 40 hps. At the end of the next week he will roll again and multiply the percentage againts the 21 hp down that he is at.

If you want to use more gritty rules, you can apply modifiers to the 2d4-d6+con roll for certain wounds, medical attention, poor conditions, etc...

My side recommendation for grittier everything is: Run episodic adventures so that you can sub out PCs that get ruined. Don't try to run a megadungeon when the PCs are going to be falling apart and need months to recover.

Tony Vargas

A lot of the lack of grit comes from magic being so convenient, dependable, abundant, and repeatable.
And that's just talking slots. Nevermind cantrips.

(Notice, I'm not mentioning too powerful, which is also true, but overpowered resources that are exacting, unpredictable, precious, and can blow up in your face, can be plenty gritty.)


The common use of magical healing is part of the problem. You can look at non-HP means of grit as well. Say you take more than half your HP in damage, you get a roll on a chart to see what condition you suffer from. Not withstanding what HP actually means, the chart means you have a problem until you get some sort of good rest. Maybe you suffer half speed or -1 to hit or ranged attacks are at disadvantage, something non-HP.

The big problem with this is 1st level PCs will take half HP damage a lot. The first hit a 1st level PC takes means they suffer something until they retreat back to town and rest for some amount of time. Maybe this is where magical healing comes in to remove the roll on a chart.

I guess it depends on how you want to play. Introducing a gritty rest system tend to mean the game will slow down and change combat and downtime. It it is a week between forays into the dungeon instead of a night, then the PCs can do things in town- or have to go back to town which may be a few days from the dungeon and hope they do not get attacked on the road out or back. They may need followers or henchmen to help go back and forth. But in town, they may be able to make a healing potion or something. This also means that the monsters now have a week to fortify, flee, or come attack the town.

This may open up other ideas for more articles and enhancements to the game.


The most interesting take on resting I've seen was a matter of adventure design, not systems. Strangers in Ramshorn has a timeline of events based on a series of threats and factions surrounding a small border town. It uses a modified gritty resting system, where players must make it back to Ramshorn and take a week of downtime to recover, then uses that time to throw random town events/rumors and so on at them as a roleplaying experience. Every time they take a week off, the threats advance along a timeline, the spiders in the forest come back in larger numbers and kill off the normal animal encounters, the skeletons in the crypt multiply and expand, the bandits will raid after a certain point if not handled, the shop will stop getting equipment shipments if the goblins harassing the caravans aren't cowed, etc.

Deciding to stop vs. press on was an interesting decision, players wanted to continue at lower health/resources to try and slog through one more problem and so on.


Dusty Dragon
To those saying ban magic healing I say the reverse: rein back natural healing. Have a long rest give the normal amount of hit dice and that's it. No more "back to full" HP. No more "a level 5 character can walk of the roof of a 5 story building and be completely fine the next day, every day.

Li Shenron

An idea that sometimes visits my mind, could be to separate HP in two different pools, one half HP is short.-term and the other half is long-term. Short-term HP are lost first when damaged, and can be healed magically and with normal long rests. Long-term HP are lost only when you have no short-term HP left, cannot be healed magically and are regained at a much slower rate, for example 1 HP/day (grittiest) or (less gritty) a number of HP equal to your Con bonus (min 1) per day, or more generously to higher level characters a number of HP equal to your level per day.

For example, if you start with 10 HP and drop to no less than 5 HP, you can heal back to 10 HP with a healing spell/potion or long rest. But if you fall to between 1 and 4, magic healing and long rests will only heal 5 HP max, and the rest will heal much more slowly.

As a matter of fact you could swap them around for a variant where long-term HP are lost first, that would be even grittier because the first damage received will be the last to heal.


To those saying ban magic healing I say the reverse: rein back natural healing. Have a long rest give the normal amount of hit dice and that's it. No more "back to full" HP. No more "a level 5 character can walk of the roof of a 5 story building and be completely fine the next day, every day.
I mean, that's fine... but all that's going to happen is that the party will wake up in the morning and have the casters with healing spells cast all their slots to heal people up as much as possible with what magic they have... and then more often than not just wait 24 hours without continuing the adventure in order to let those casters get their spells back. So unless every single adventure is on a timetable... the results are going to be the same-- the party will only go out to adventure when they are at almost full health and have their full suite of abilities.

That's always been the issue... DMs have this idea that they want the players to go out at reduced strength because it seems like a compelling story issue-- the ragged adventurers striving forward even when tired and hungry-- but no players ACTUALLY want to do that, because that story gets really old, really fast. And if they can avoid it... they will.

The fact of the matter is... ANY available "fast healing" that is available to the players in the game world will be scavenged and used as often as possible. Even if gritty natural healing rules are used and there are no healing spells in the game, but there ARE healing potions or rangers/alchemists can create balms and salves and so forth... they will do so. And they will stop at every temple and scavenge every plant they can (especially during downtime) to acquire as much of it as possible, and USE as much of them as possible in order to top themselves off before going out to risk their lives time and time again.

If a DM really has this thing in their head about continually wanting the party out to adventure at half-strength and "fighting against adversity"... D&D isn't the right game to be playing. Because there's too many avenues to get around it in the rules, and the players WILL travel down every single one so they won't have to.
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I developed Gradual Gritty resting rules:

The gist is:
  • On a short test you can use one hit die + con to regain temporary HP. This represents that during a short rest you only do some first aid, but a bandage on to continue until you can get magical healing or enough time to heal on your own.
  • On a long rest you regain 10-30% of your HP and Spellslots. So you don't heal completely overnight anymore but need more time. The effectiveness ot the rest is influenced by resting conditions (including a complete simple weather system). If you sleep in the Wilderness without protection in the rain while it's cold, your rest benefits will be minuscule, while having a tent, a warm fire and a bed roll will improve your rest. --> Now adventuring gear matters.
  • Introduction of Mana potions. With Mana and Healing Potions the DM can balance the difficulty of the encounters and improve the endurance of a party to have more encounters in a day. So finally the DM has mechanical tools to control the pace of the campaign and doesn’t always need a ticking clock to spur on the players to keep adventuring while being down a little.

The Gradual Gritty Realism rest rules allow the normal adventuring day (6 to 8 medium encounters), when fully rested or stocked up on Mana and Healing Potions, but also can handle 1 or 2 encounters per day, because those can reduce the ressources of the characters enough that they do not complete recover over night. So you can handle the classic dungeon crawl but also overland travel with one encounter a day.

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