While we pride ourselves on deeper analytics, there’s no reason you should have to work to understand the basic game mechanics. With that in mind, we’ve turned our eye towards refining some of the simpler mechanics in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition in a new series called The Simple Things. To be clear, while this series will involve rewriting various rules, the intent is to preserve the identical function of the Rules as Written (“RAW”). Without further ado, let’s dive into our first topic: resting.
Why rewrite the resting mechanics? In my experience, the finer points of resting often get lost in translation. The way it’s written, two things often get missed:
- You can only take one long rest per 24 hours.
- You only recover half your Hit Dice on a long rest.
A lot of experienced players don’t even realize they’re playing without these rules.
These are important because they form the foundation that the entire game’s encounter system is built on. What am I talking about? The infamous and oft misunderstood “six to eight medium encounters per rest” paradigm. Unless you’re running the Agnostic Adventuring Day, missing out on these rules means that you are undermining the core balance of the system by permitting resting too often and giving your players back too many resources when they do.
Over the course of time, the resting mechanic has also been the subject of errata intended to clarify what “activities” could be performed during a long rest. But, the language still leaves some debate regarding what amount of activity can be performed during the non-sleeping time of a long rest. There are also some questions about how this interplays with the elves’ Trance racial feature, which has been the subject of Sage Advice and changing treatment through 5e’s history.
How to Fix It
The resting rules as written are needlessly complicated:
Outside the fluff, there’s really only two things you need to know about rests:
- What you need to do to qualify.
- What you get when you finish.
In order to tell you how to qualify, we can define the “activity” terms which are suggested to exist, but are not specifically defined. Then we can lean on those defined terms to tell the players what they can do and what they can’t do. In this case, we’ll define the types of activities you can do by borrowing terms from the text: light activity and strenuous activity. Then, we’ll state very clearly how much of each activity you can and cannot do during each type of rest.
Finally, while I initially didn’t think this necessary, D&D designer Dan Dillon turned me on to the fact that a lot of pedantic table arguments can be avoided with a simple rider explaining that “class features and resources you gain at the end of a [short/long] rest are benefits of a [short/long] rest.” Thanks Dan!
Packing all that in, here’s the revised resting rules:
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