Tuesday, March 08, 2011

So You Want To Take An Extended Rest?

Round about two weeks ago, Twitter's favorite Dungeons & Dragons curmudegon, The Angry DM, posted an extremely well-thought-out and insightful article on his blog. That article detailed the various rest mechanics that are an inherent part of the 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons experience.

I'm not going to rehash that lengthy treatise here. However, before you continue with what I have to offer, please read his article. It's very good, and you can link to it RIGHT HERE.  It's okay, I'll wait.

Good read, that, and quite thought provoking.  So thought provoking, in fact, that the article spawned about a week's worth of active Twitter chatter, and a follow-up article by Angry to explain to his readers that he wasn't trying to incite an Edition war.

Now I make no bones about the fact that I'm firmly in the 4th Edition camp. It's the game I prefer to play because it's the easiest of all the versions to DM (my opinion, of course). However, Angry makes some good points about how the resting mechanic impacts resource management, and then how NOT having to really manage your resources affects the ongoing adventure. Angry does offer a couple of possible solutions to this issue, and opened up the floor to discussion. What I have below is my solution to the issue of Extended Rests.

Like Angry mentions in his article, Extended Rests essentially wipe the slate clean each new adventuring day. Powers are recharged and hit points are recovered. Theoretically, a party could challenge each new encounter area completely refreshed, offering no real difficulty to an encounter based on the assumption that the party is experiencing a drain on resources. Most regular gamers recognize this activity as a feature of the "15 minutes adventuring day".

There are several methods to combat the abuse of Extended Rests. Many of these methods rely on DM Fiat, which means that the Dungeon Master can simply say, "You can't take an Extended Rest". While that does probably work fine in some groups, as a DM myself, I like to provide my players with a little more rationale beyond, "Because I said so."  Since I recognize that Extended Rests can be an issue in making resource management a factor in an adventure, I decided to tackle the problem with a tried and true method...I made a chart.

So...here's a link to that document.

Yep, that's some table. It looks overly complex, but if you break it down into its components, it works like this:

Extended Rests assume that the Hero has a reasonably safe place to rest, and that the Hero is uninterrupted during that rest. Some sleep must be had, and you're limited to very little activity.  What this table tries to do, is break environments into very basic categories, and then cross-reference that environment with the resting conditions. I chose four basic types of environments: Urban, Wilderness, Extreme, and Bizarre. Those terms are explained on the PDF file.

The other terms I refer to in the table are resting conditions. Here I decided on Bedding and Distractions/Interruptions. For the purposes of the table, "Bedding" means some place reasonably comfortable to sleep. A bedroll is probably the bare minimum acceptable for this term, although the DM might allow a big pile of soft leaves, or a mound of hay to suffice as well.  "Distractions/Interruptions" is pretty much what it means. If the environment is plagued with insects, or perhaps is really noisy (for example, outside a waterfall), those would qualify as Distractions/Interruptions. They're not so severe as to prevent some measure of rest, but they make it difficult to have a complete one.  After that, it's simply a matter of what the Hero loses (in way of Powers or Healing Surges) as a result of his or her Endurance Check roll.

As with any table, some level of DM adjudication needs to take place. Below are some examples of situations that might not fit perfectly into the table:

A Ship At Sea: I would classify this as Wilderness/Sheltered (if below deck) Wilderness/Unsheltered (if above deck).  Calm seas (no distraction) Rough seas (distractions)

An Alley in Some City: I would classify this as Urban/Unsheltered. No distractions unless near an area with lots of foot traffic or other noise.

Hanging in a Cliff-side Climbing Rig: I would classify this as Extreme/Unsheltered. Hanging several hundred feet in the air is also likely to be rather distracting.

A Dungeon Delve: Well, it depends. If the dungeon is a strange wizard's lair, it might be classified as Bizarre/Sheltered. Otherwise, if its an abandoned underground city, you might even classify it as Urban/Sheltered or Urban/Unsheltered depending on where the Heroes decide to rest.

Well, you get the idea. I won't pretend that using a table such as this will resolve all the issues inherent in the Extended Rest, but it should add some additional difficulty as an adventure progresses. I'd love to know what you think! 

Until next time...

Game excellently with one another.


  1. Very good table. I think it would be very useful in my next sandbox.

  2. @Snarls-at-Fleas: Thanks! I'm hoping that DMs will find it a useful alternative than just hand-waving, or out-right denying the Extended Rest.

  3. I really like this as a source of ideas! The concept of an environment or situation resulting in a different extended rest result based on skills is really cool. It can make for a harrowing journey while still within the normal 4E mindset. It also combines well with other ideas on encounters, such as zones or encounters spread out in various scenes across a trip.

  4. R.M. Walker5:27 PM

    @Alphastream: I appreciate those comments! That's the goal, and hope it works well for you!

  5. @Alive305:52 PM

    Thank you for the article. Very interesting table of options.

    I think I will share this with my players and see how they react (I assume it will be poorly; no one wants their characters nerfed in any way).

    They have become "comfortable" with when to expect Extended Rest opportunities. They get anxious if I push them through more than three combat encounters because they blast through Dailys quickly assuming they will not have that many encounters. I need to change that up somehow.

    It appears some of the Fails include the loss of 4 Daily Powers. What if you players only have one or two because of their low level?

  6. Awesome table. Thank you very much for that. That is great!!

  7. @Shinobicow: Thank you! I appreciate the good words.

    @Alive30: The table makes the assumption that you lose up to that many Daily Powers. If you only have 2, and it tells you that you've lost 4, well, you've lost those 2. One thing I forgot to mention. You might want to consider having the heroes lose their highest level power first, and then in descending order after that. Thank you for your comments. Good luck using the table in game!

  8. Great article, and will probably incorporate into our game. Have you had any thoughts in how resting in armour affects an extended rest? It's cropped up in our game recently and I've had some thoughts on it (http://bit.ly/hj1yN0) which are similar in some respects to yours, but not had chance to playtest it out much.

  9. Soklemon9:42 AM

    Oooo, this is perfect for my Zombie Apocalypse sandbox game!

  10. @James: Thanks for your comments. As to your armor comment, I suggest you consider it a distraction. Each little movement would mean a buckle or plate in the ribs, or hips, or a painful jab in the side. I'd consider these a definite interruption to sleep.

    @Soklemon: Glad you'll find some use for it! Let me know how much your players hate it! :-)