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Over-Resting Parties

Over-Resting Parties

This is an article I wrote for the D&D Digest for 4e, but it applies just as well to 3e. How do you folk deal with over-resting?

Over-Resting Parties

Daily Power! Action Point! Utility Power! Extended Rest.

Is this what battles sound like in your campaign? Do your players use up all their resources in their first encounter of the day, then take an extended rest?

The problem with over-resting is that it renders encounters easier. If a Daily Power is used during every encounter, then it's not really a Daily Power, is it? Players will not ration their combat resources, but simply unleash their entire arsenal right after initiative is rolled.

Here are three ways to deal with the problem of over-resting.

Beat the Clock

An extended rest takes six hours, versus the five minutes of a short rest. If you design adventures that have time-sensitive components, then your players won't have the luxury of taking extended rests after each battle. Maybe the assassin's trail gets colder with each passing hour. Maybe the cultists will complete their ritual by midnight. Maybe every day means another villager killed.

Here Be Dragons

A party is much less likely to rest if it cannot find a safe place in which to do so. Don't give them one. Make them hear footsteps and growling around their forest camp. Make the only available room at the inn have a broken lock and a window on the ground floor facing the slums. Make the only defensible room that the party has cleared in the dungeon have a ceiling that may collapse at any moment.

Bring the Battle to Them

If the party insists on resting before moving on to the next encounter, bring the next encounter to them. Instead of meeting that group of gnolls on the bridge, have the gnolls spot the party's campfire and seek them out. Instead of fighting the orc shaman in his dungeon throne room, have him run into the party while wandering the dungeon corridors. Instead of confronting the assassin in a dark alley, have the assassin break into the party's room at the inn.

Once players realize that over-resting has consequences, they'll learn to ration their combat resources.

1) The dungeon both resets itself and gets a little more alert every time the PC's clear out one room, then leave and rest. Nothing like having four or five random encounters piled up in the entryway waiting for the PC's to come through so they can launch the trap.

2) Once the Big Bad Boss figures out the party's modus operandi, especially if he's a little cleverer than the average orc, he'll start sending them trap encounters. A wave of orcs, who fight just long enough to get the party to expend their daily uses, followed up by a squad of ogres. And the BBB himself pays them a visit just as the last ogre goes down, once they've expended not just their daily uses but all their healing potions, wands, and other expendables. I save this one for the parties that don't catch a hint from 1) though. Quite likely to send the party running, dragging unconscious buddies along behind.

I am unfamiliar with 4e, but in 3.5, the second two options in the OP only work until a certain level. Then they have Rope Trick with enough duration, or Teleport, or any one of a group of other spells that can get them their rest without any worries about being interrupted.

The ticking clock is a very good suggestion, though. It works very well if you have something to make that clock tick. Also those in the previous post.

Another option is to have a bad guy that has two primary talents: shrugging off damage/effects and running for it. He takes a hit or two, then sprints away, luring the PCs right into trap after trap. Eventually, even the daftest party will get the idea and come up with a clever plan to stop him, but until they can work out something that actually does that, they're stuck either letting the bad guy go, or taking the punishment they get from chasing him. Naturally, he has something they want, like an item or information, or he's the object of a bounty, or something, or they'd have no reason to care.

It's definitely easier to pressure a party on 4e than it is on 3.5. No more rope-tricking and the like, mostly.
Ambushing after they go to sleep (but before they get rested) is the most universal solution imho.

You may also enlighten them about milestones, and/or give them magical items with either daily powers (so a milestone lets them use another item daily per character) or outright bonuses for reaching milestones (example: meliorating armor that goes up on AC after each milestone)

This begs the question: if that's what the players enjoy, why is it a problem? I've found myself, on occasion getting stressed out about fights that seemed to me to be too easy, and then realising the players loved it. You need to gauge the group. If the group looks to be getting bored, but they keep taking extended rests anyway, then its a problem. If they look to be having a good time, no harm no foul, right?

If you really need to fix it, you could always just say that extended rests only have benefits 1/day regardless how many times you take them. That is the spirit of them in any case.

Actually, extended rest does have a limit of 1/day regardless of how many times you take them (well, not 1/day, but you must wait 6~12 hours before taking another, can't recall how many). They do tend to hickup the story and slow things, so a GM may still want to encourage them (read as, not force, but offer incentive) for not doing it from time to time.

Originally Posted by PH1, p263
Once per Day: After you finish an extended rest,
you have to wait 12 hours before you can begin
another one.
18 hours from extended rest to extended rest. Putting a little time pressure - along with an associated quest bonus if you bring back the princess, y'know, alive - can help encourage the party to stretch themselves a bit.

However, I will second Firkraag's comments. If the party enjoys the "always pull out all the stops" sort of encounter, what's the problem? Build your adventures around that idea. Beef up the encounters a touch more, etc.

I do agree with the point Firk raised regarding the players and having fun. I will point out, though, that endless easy encounters can prevent the DM from having fun. Yes, the game is about the players, but it's also about the DM to some extend. I mean, if he/she is miserable, then the game isn't going to last as long, interest will wane, and exciting encounters will become less so.

Again, I don't disagree with the point, but I think it needs to be said that all parties must be having fun for the game to really work.

I tried a trick where I left the choice up to the PC's with clear consequences. The evil orc warlord was attracting reinforcements by the hour. Their choice to rest was clearly permissible, but was done with the knowledge that their final encounter was going to be made more difficult. They knew that they'd need at least one rest, but it kept them from using 3, and to reward them, I made sure that the tough bad guy had fewer minions than I'd originally planned (I expected constant resting)

That sounds about it. If your party rests, you need to scale the encounters up compared to the regular non-rest encounter you had planned, or viceversa (even if they like burning up powers and mopping with foes, if they rest, you want to give them enough mooks to burn properly).
Might as well let them know and take the decision, it will make them feel more involved to boot, as they can see how the game changes according to their choices (so long as you give plot reasons for the scaling).

I'm not familiar with 4e...but whenever my PC's plan to rest, it's usually out in the wilderness due to their location. My campaigns usually put them down in the thick of it where they can't simply trudge to the nearest inn, drop some gold, and enjoy the halfling dancers for the night.

If you have parties that like resting too much, try throwing in some added elements. Make them suffer for not bringing enough equipment. If they didn't bring tents, why not drop some rain on them? I also love random encounters. It's not very safe to have open fires at night with little to no one on patrol or guard detail. Perhaps some curious creatures meander their way into the camp and really set the party on the defensive. If I recall correctly, the last time I had a party of players that wanted to rest too much, the gnome was set upon by five ravenous wolves who almost tore her into pieces. It's quite easy to scare solidity into your group of players if they realize that standing still could mean certain doom. Make them work towards their rest. If they truly want restful sleep, make them roll survival checks until they successfully find a cave or the like to rest in. This can be used to lure the PC's closer to their objective too.


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