How long does the entire process of resting actually take, factoring in all the various activities involved with it? What is covered within the scope of the standard 8 hours, and what is not?

RAW suggests that the standard time needed to rest is 8 hours. However, the exact details of the process are left somewhat abstract and glazed over. How much of this block of 8 hours is strictly time spent sleeping (or the equivalent), and how much is used for other camping-related activities?

In terms of flavor and realism, there are a number of other tasks involved in resting, such as cooking and eating, setting up tents, foraging for firewood, or even just sitting around the campfire relaxing. Are these activities counted within the normal 8 hours, or are they extra? Does the 8 hours perhaps account for a small amount of additional tasks - say for example, 7 hours of sleep with 1 hour for everything else? Or, should typical camping take additional hours, pushing the time at camp upward to 10 or even 12 hours?

Furthermore, the process of preparing new spells is suggested to take some time as well. Flavor-wise, spellcasters do not simply awaken with spells locked-and-loaded in their brain, but rather must perform parts of all their spells beforehand. As the mechanical portion of the spell is a "quick trigger" for finishing the spell, it is implied that the beginning portion of the spell during preparation would be longer in comparison. How much time does such daily prepatation of spells tend to take?

This question is largely in terms of fluff over mechanics. The mechanical consequences of this are largely unimportant, but I find there to be some benefit in being able to describe what a group's "daily ritual" is for the sake of flavor.


1 Answer 1


There is a RAW answer for how much time camping normally takes. In the forced march section of the overland movement category in the SRD, it states:

Forced March
In a day of normal walking, a character walks for 8 hours. The rest of the daylight time is spent making and breaking camp, resting, and eating.

So, the whole sleep/camp experience is taking the other 16 hours of the day.

How much of that is actual rest/sleep and how much is other stuff?
Well, that depends on your party. If you have a party of elves that doesn't include arcane spellcasters and nobody keeps watch, they trance for 6 hours and they're done. If you have a party with some non-elves or some arcane casters and you set watches, it can take much longer. With 4-hour watches, the rest period takes 12 hours (and requires 3 watches), if you set 2-hour watches, the rest period takes 10 hours (and requires 5 watches). That assumes that everyone needs 8 hours of rest.

So how much of that rest is sleep?
Again, this will depend on your party. For elves and warforged, the answer is none, ish. For other races that aren't spellcasters that is kind of vague. For wizards (and other arcane spellcasters) though, it is very explicit:

To prepare her daily spells, a wizard must first sleep for 8 hours. The wizard does not have to slumber for every minute of the time, but she must refrain from movement, combat, spellcasting, skill use, conversation, or any other fairly demanding physical or mental task during the rest period. If her rest is interrupted, each interruption adds 1 hour to the total amount of time she has to rest in order to clear her mind, and she must have at least 1 hour of uninterrupted rest immediately prior to preparing her spells. If the character does not need to sleep for some reason, she still must have 8 hours of restful calm before preparing any spells.

The prepared spellcasters (wizard, cleric, druid, etc.) have the worst lot for spell prep time:

Spell Preparation Time
After resting, a wizard must study her spellbook to prepare any spells that day. If she wants to prepare all her spells, the process takes 1 hour. Preparing some smaller portion of her daily capacity takes a proportionally smaller amount of time, but always at least 15 minutes, the minimum time required to achieve the proper mental state.

While the spontaneous casters get off fairly easier:

Daily Readying of Spells
Each day, sorcerers and bards must focus their minds on the task of casting their spells. A sorcerer or bard needs 8 hours of rest (just like a wizard), after which he spends 15 minutes concentrating. (A bard must sing, recite, or play an instrument of some kind while concentrating.) During this period, the sorcerer or bard readies his mind to cast his daily allotment of spells. Without such a period to refresh himself, the character does not regain the spell slots he used up the day before.

Divine spellcasters also have a fun quirk that adds to that:

Time of Day
A divine spellcaster chooses and prepares spells ahead of time, just as a wizard does. However, a divine spellcaster does not require a period of rest to prepare spells. Instead, the character chooses a particular part of the day to pray and receive spells. The time is usually associated with some daily event. If some event prevents a character from praying at the proper time, he must do so as soon as possible. If the character does not stop to pray for spells at the first opportunity, he must wait until the next day to prepare spells.

What does everyone else do while the spellcasters clear their minds?
Those dirty plebeians are probably the folks responsible for the bulk of the camp chores (gathering firewood, cooking, setting/packing up tents, etc.). They might also use the time to bathe or do other grooming (that monk does need a polished hairless head after all!). You might also let them indulge in some craft time, albeit at the hourly rate (progress measured in CP). If you really want the characters to feel lived in, maybe ask the players who get what chores, how they feel about them, and what they do in their other time. I would recommend only getting into that level if detail if they're interested in it though.

For some additional detail (there are lots of lovely buried details), I would recommend reading the overland movement and relevant selections of the magic overview from the SRD.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Regarding the details, it might be a good idea to simply ask your players what their routines are. It's likely that many characters will have a set routine (such as the spellcasters, of course). For example, a fighter would be taking care of its armor, weapons, saddle, etc... a rogue would be checking their tools, etc... and of course there are also drills, exercises, reading, to maintain one's mind and body in top shape. Also, personally, I really like my characters to work on their future feats; when the character gets the feat, it's the result of training not metagaming! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 18:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MatthieuM. The issue is less about what the characters do, and more about how long they have to do them. Certainly they could list off theoretical things they could do, such as what you mentioned, but if everyone was assuming that the time period was only a mere 8 hours, they wouldn't have time. It's only when you drop that assumption that these things become possible. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 18:20
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Lol, Psionics for the win - Regaining Power Points: Once the character has rested in a suitable environment, it takes only an act of concentration spanning 1 full round to regain all power points of the psionic character’s daily limit. ^^ \$\endgroup\$
    – nijineko
    Commented Nov 22, 2017 at 2:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Worth noting: Heward's Fortifying Bedroll allows a spellcaster to be fully rested in only 2 hours... \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 22, 2017 at 7:24

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .