Delver Rest Breaks

Today I’m going to take a look at resting and daily resources.

Rest and Healing

In original and basic D&D, resting did relatively little for a character unless they had abilities with limited uses per day. Some hit points would be regained. However, unless the character has very few hit points to begin with, it would often take multiple days or even weeks to return to full hp through natural healing.

Later editions made this somewhat faster by scaling healing with level, but tougher characters still took multiple days to full recover.

The most common work around to this was having someone who could cast healing spells in the party (usually a cleric). By prepping a full array of healing spells, the caster could often get the party up to full strength in a single day.

4E would be the first edition to give every the ability to fully recover overnight. Before that, the only way to pull off a similar feat was by bringing along a healer or stocking up on magic items.

Daily Abilities

Given the dramatic difference in recovery times, healing spells became a very important resource. However, they had the limitation that each could only be used once per day. This meant that once those spells were depleted the party had a strong incentive to rest so the healer could recharge their spells.

By itself this wasn’t too much of an issue. If the party had the resources and time to do so, this let them advance cautiously and stay at near full hp at the start of each battle. This did make wearing the party down with small battles harder, though doing so was still possible if the party only expected to need a certain amount of healing per encounter.

Where this became a bigger issue was with daily abilities that could strongly skew the outcome of an encounter. In theory, these abilities could be balanced out by having limited uses. In practice, a party could use frequent rests could use these abilities at every opportunity, making those encounter significantly less challenging. Taken to an extreme, this resulted in the “five-minute workday” where the party would have one encounter, throw as many daily abilities as they could at it, then rest again to recharge those abilities.

4E Rests

4th edition has some solid examples of how daily mechanics can affect how often rests are taken.

Resting overnight (6 hours) gives you an extended rest, which recharges hit points, healing surges, daily powers and daily magic item uses. It also resets action points to 1. Of these, magic item daily uses and action points increase every 2 encounters.

In contrast, forgoing a rest has relatively little mechanical benefit. In theory, going without rests lets you build up a supply of action points. However, these resources can only be spent once an encounter. As such, the only benefit to building up a large supply is being able to do a run of encounters where you can spend an action point every encounter.

You could also build up a lot of magic item daily uses. However, magic item daily abilities tend to fairly low-key in 4E. While useful, they’re often around of encounter powers. Furthermore, that item nova could only be done once before being depleted.

The only other notable benefit of skipping a rest is certain magical items may get more potent. Some rings gain a boost to their daily powers if used after a milestone, which works out to the third encounter of the day or later.

There are also a few rare items that scale with either healing surges spent or milestone’s reached, but they’re a pretty small subset.

The net result is the party will need to rest after all healing surges are used up and will become increasingly tempted to do so as dailies are used up. Though the approach may vary, the tactics of “rest when healing is used up” and the nova / rest cycle of the five-minute day continue to work well in this edition.

Next post I’ll take a look at some ideas for changing up these patterns.

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Published in: on July 2, 2010 at 6:09 pm  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. […] gone over resting in D&D and how it shapes the 15 minute workday in earlier posts (part 1, part 2, and part 3). This time I’d like to take a look at the other effects of rest breaks […]


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