Rest a Moment

The short rest is 5 long minutes.  It’s short enough where it’s convenient to recoup from and for most fights, but it’s long enough where it’s sometimes silly and allows the story’s timeline to be filled with all sorts of new DM-conjured ramifications.  More horrible yet wonderful battles and trials for your heroes!

And, yes, the short rest also clearly suffers from Sounds Too Gamey Syndrome (and yes, I’m trademarking this!), one of my 4e pet peeves.  As much as I try whether  I play or DM to reword the short rest in-game into something more elegant, most players are fine saying painfully horrid things like, “Wait, we should take a short rest,” repeatedly, while inside an evil-flavored meat grinder of a dungeon.

For those of you who still wince or feel awkward saying or hearing “Short Rest” in and out of character, try this alternate or additional rule… wait for it…

A Moment’s Respite

5 minutes too long?  Is something going to get destroyed or someone going to get killed in those 5 minutes?  Want to push the action faster onto the next scene or encounter, while still allowing some recuperation, and without much math getting in the way?

Then you want a Moment’s Respite.  How does 60 seconds sound instead?  Nine Hells, call it whatever amount of seconds you want under 60.

Now what?  How about one healing surge to spend per character, maximum?  No ability to anticlimactically identify magic items, like you’d get during a short rest.  But you do get a very quick injection of adrenaline, healing or a third wind (cool skill power, by the way, especially on my revenant!).

Simple, easy, and strikes a balance between moving the action, doing the math, and keeping things a bit more realistic as far how much time you really need or have to catch your breath, mend a bad wound, and get right back to it.

Happier (Recovery) Times

What bothers your most about Short Rests and Extended Rests in 4e?  What is the one thing you’d change about them?  Does their duration also feel awkward in your story and games?  What optional rest rules do you use in your games?

2 Responses to “Rest a Moment”

  1. Quirky DM says:

    Nice article. I think the one aspect I like about this is that it gives the players a choice- run into the next encounter with only a little healing because the villain must be stopped or risk having the scoundrel perform unspeakable deeds while you fortify yourselves. It’s always good to put the pressure on the players.

    It is painful to think about stopping for 5 minutes to rest up. The BBEG runs up his tower to finish his ritual after you defeat his guards:
    “Whew, better slow down a sec guys. Hopefully, that’s a 6 minute ritual, because I need a breather. Ah man, I shouldn’t have had that fourth sausage before entering the dungeon today.”

    If I took an alternative to your idea, I’d say they regain their second wind every 30 seconds of non-combat. (which they could immediately use to regain hit points) After two minutes, even the worst off of the characters would be ready to go again. But if they want encounter powers back, they have to rest the whole 5 minutes.

    I keep rests the way they are, but I’ll makes changes if it’s best for the story. If you want back to back encounters because of a hurried situation, make that first encounter a little easier. Or just give the players back some encounter resources at the end of the first fight- a story teller’s rest. It might not be in the rules, but used at the right moment, it will make the game much more exciting. Especially if the players weren’t expecting it.

    I have an adventure where I did this. The heroes are in a battle to stop an evil ritual from summoning an archon of Tharizdun. They can’t stop the ritual, little do they know, but the more successful they were at preventing the ritual, the easier I made the fight against the archon. To do this, I give them a larger rest depending on their success, starting with a simple healing surge as a baseline and going to the point where an overwhelming success lets the characters regain a daily power in addition to a normal short rest. In game time though, only a few rounds have gone by.

    Rests are one of those issues that will always spark a debate, or at least a conversation. It’s definitely more than I can put down in a comments section, which is why I like reading about it in blog posts like yours.
    Quirky DM recently posted..Can you do too much damage?My Profile

    • Kilsek says:

      Toying with Second Wind’s “recharge” time is also a great idea, very much in line with the spirit of the Moment’s Respite, I love it!

      Also, your “storyteller’s rest” suggestion reminds me of similar advice in DMG2: encounter progress points or story reasons where characters recoup as if they had taken a short or extended rest. I’ve used those a few times, especially for grand finale encounters or scenes. The best parts of these? No pacing sacrificed, no weird 5-minute or 6-hour breaks in the action, and matching rewards for truly heroic deeds.

      Thanks again for sharing your ideas and your kind words, Quirky, good stuff!

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