Resting (5e Variant Rule)

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This variant rule expands on the variant rules for resting in the DMG, on p.267, which basically just present an "easy mode" and "hard mode" for the game.

Codified Misunderstandings[edit]

Although it seems I, personally, read the rules for rest interruptions correctly, it seems that this was not the case for many others. The rule says a long rest is interrupted by, "[...] at least 1 hour of walking, fighting, casting spells, or similar adventuring activity [...]". This has lead to thwo interpretations. Use whichever you prefer. A long rest is interrupted by...

Normal Rules.
Any amount of walking, fighting, spellcasting, or other adventurous activity adding up to 1 hour or more.
  • 1 hour of walking
  • any fighting
  • casting any spells
  • other stuff

Resting Authority[edit]

By the RAW, players can potentially choose to rest anywhere, while it is up to the DM to present consequences for resting inappropriately. This can create slight confusion and accidental conflict in the group. On the one hand, it may make the players feel empowered to rest as they wish, consequences be damned- that a DM who interferes with that is somehow denying something that they "deserve". It can also swing the other way, causing the DM to feel that any player who attempts to rest at any time the DM did not plan is trying to cheat the balance of the encounter, and promptly punish them. To clarify: The RAW assumes that the players and DM are on the same side, not competing with one another, and that they play an equal role in the timing and efficacy of a rest. However, that still probably will not sit well with some people, so let's codify the variants so someone can state, in black-and-white, what the boundaries are at their table.

Rest Stops[edit]

This is for dungeon masters who do not appreciate resting as a defining economy element, and would rather consider only the intracharacter resource economics in isolation of it. This rule puts resting entirely in the hands of the DM as part of adventure construction, allowing challenges to be set up as gauntlets between pre-planned rests, giving the DM full control over the actual resource demand over the course of the adventure. In other words, it takes away the party's ability to create new resources outside of those that the DM offers to them- in fact making it possible for the party to miss out on replacement resources if they choose not to rest when prompted.

In this variant, the DM has full authority over when and where a short or long rest can happen. When planning an adventure, the DM is required to explicitly set up locations where the party is able to rest, called rest stops. The PCs cannot choose to rest anywhere other than such a rest stop. A rest stop can either be incidental, or comfortable. An incidental rest stop is a nice place to sit and take a breather, but really has no room to stay or do anything important. Only a short rest can be taken at an incidental rest stop. A comfortable rest stop is like that elusive "perfect camping site" in the raw wilderness. It is a place where people could get comfortable, as the name implies, and possibly even live there for a few days if necessary. It is relatively protected, has easy access to necessities, and is in general a pleasant place to be. Both long and short rests may be taken at a comfortable rest stop.

The DM may make a comfortable rest stop where the party may only take a long rest. (For example, if you convince someone to let you rest in their home, they're kind of expecting you to stay a while, not just take a cat-nap on their couch and blow)

The DM may force the party to rest at a rest stop, if it is deemed an essential adventure element. If the DM does not appreciate the party having a chance of arbitrarily not having the anticipated resources for the upcoming challenges, the DM may simply impose this rule for every rest stop.

Rest Stop Limits
The DM may restrict the usage of rest stops. They may limit the number of times the party may rest at a given (or all) rest stop. (For example, "You can only rest at this rest stop once, and then must continue on with the adventure." or "This rest stop can only be used three times, after which the water will be used up, and the spot will be useless.") The DM may put a "cool-down" on a given rest stop. (For example, "You can't rest at this stop again for 6 hours.") The DM may put a cool-down on resting in general. (For example, "You must wait at least 4 hours between rests.") The DM may only allow resting at a rest stop under specific conditions. (For example, "You can only rest here at night." or "You can only rest here if it is not raining.")
Rest Points
Some DMs may simply desire resting be limited, such that the party chooses where and when to rest more wisely, perhaps stretching out their rests as much as possible. This additional variant gives the party a pool of rest points, which can be spent to take a rest at a rest stop. This operates on the assumption that the DM has set up frequent enough rest stops that the party actually has some volition in their use of these points. (Giving them 5 rest points and making only 5 rest stops, separated by nearly full-demand gauntlets of encounters, would be rather draconian)

Free Resting[edit]

The opposite ruling is to give the party absolute free reign over when and where to rest at will. The caveat is that they are now subject to the impartial whims of the dice and the judgement of the DM. Under this system, the DM must assess how dangerous the party's rest location is, choosing it from a standardized risk rating. The DM then makes a check to determine if consequences occur, and how severe those consequences may be. This system requires the DM to be relatively prepared for the likely occurrence of consequences in the main locations the adventure takes place. It also requires the players to agree to accept both the DM's assessment of the situation, and the result the dice give. I'll leave it up to the DM to build random tables that suit their adventures.

Risk ranges from 1-10, (1 being pretty much peaceful, though with the faintest chance of misfortune, and 10 being the middle of an active dungeon or war zone with little to no cover) and acts as a modifier to the consequences roll. The roll is made it a d20. Any result under 10 should result in no consequences, while results over 10, 15, 20, 25, and possibly 30, should specify a variety of consequences, of increasing severity, with their exact subject matter based on the situation at hand. If the Dm determines there is absolutely no risk, then the roll is skipped.

Downtime from Resting[edit]

In the Adventurer's league, resting is awarded as a currency from adventures, and spent, (as in a transaction) for downtime activities. This works well in a highly structured, modular or adventure-based campaign, but doesn't really translate well to the sandbox play environment. This variant allows the use of abstract downtime currency in such a game, allowing downtime activities to happen "off screen", thus keeping in-play attention on the more interesting situation at hand. This can be combined with rest stops, above, to create a well-defined structure for where the party may rest, thus regulating downtime income.

When resting, the party earns downtime based on how long a rest takes. Using the core rules model, and the ones provided in the DMG, the rewards should be as follows:

Days from Resting
Rest Core Rules Epic Heroism Gritty Realism
Short 0 0 1
Long 1 0 7

Of course, the DM may alter these values as he wishes, or create additional types of rests, such as a sabbatical, vacation, or short retirement. (See below) The key here is that the party has to rest together, or you will wind up with one of two scenarios:

Time gets distorted as players progress different amounts of time as spare time, but somehow persist in the same spacetime point.
Someone has to sit out or play another character, which is actually kind of the problem downtime and downtime activities were invented to solve.

You may additionally require that, in order to spend downtime on downtime activities, the party must take a long rest, or require that downtime activities are only handled at the beginning or end of the session.

More Types of Rests[edit]

Another expansion on to the resting system is to introduce more types of rests, or more ways of resting.


One option is to incorporate the epic heroism rest variant, on p.267 of the DMG, but instead of replacing the normal resting rules, have them coexist with slight mechanical tweaks. Simply rename these as "breaks". So, for instance, you could take a short break, (5 minutes) or a long break, (1 hour). A break consists of less activity than a rest- typically nothing more than sitting/lying, breathing, eating/sleeping, or talking. A rest break may even involve a very short nap. Basically, they can't do much of anything for it to be considered a break. (So, for example, standing watch, doing research, tending a fire, etc. are all out of the question)

During a short break, a character may regain HP up to as much as their constitution bonus.

During a long break, a character also regains hit dice, as per a long rest, but still can not spend them. Spellcasters during a long break only restore half their maximum number of spell slots of each type, and only up to spell slots of spell level 5 can be restored in this way.

The benefit of a break is that it can happen literally anywhere, and requires absolutely nothing. No camp fire, or tents, or food, or anything- the characters could literally just plonk down anywhere and take a breather. As a consequence, it is possible to take a break after/while actively hiding. Any creature which discovers your presence during a break likely only does so entirely by accident, or because you made absolutely no effort to hide yourself prior to the break, as the party is making no activity which could attract undue attention.


Another option is to incorporate the gritty reality rest variant, on the same page of the DMG as epic heroism, and again allowing them to coexist with the core rules resting. These bigger, longer rests are called weekends, and can either be a single weekend day, or a long weekend. A weekend can only be taken in an extremely safe place, such as in a settled area, or out in relatively tame wilderness. This allows the party to abstract their relaxation time while travelling, or between adventures, if they do not wish to play through every inconsequential conversation and shopping trip.

During a weekend day, the characters may do many activities, including some strenuous activity, such as chores, shopping, playing a sport, putting up with visiting relatives, or etc., and recieve all the same effects as a long rest. (This means two weekend days- a full "weekend"- fully replenishes health currency) During a weekend day, the characters are generally distracted with leisure, and so do not have the time to prepare/replenish major class features or spell slots. (The benefit of a weekend day, vs. a long rest is mostly inconsequential. Their character is allowed to be a bit more active in roleplay)

During a long weekend, the characters spend a full week, (7 days) relaxing and enjoying their time. They replenish full health, hit dice, spells, and all features in this time.

This is basically the "I'm going for a smoke break, call me when we get into another fight" rule. It allows play groups that are uninterested in the minutiae of the roleplaying experience to still have meaningful roleplay input- and at the same time put a "fast forward" button on it so they can get back to the action sooner. In other words, you can have your cake and eat it too.

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