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I just read this question about long rests being regularly interrupted and this one about how resources are recovered at the end of an interrupted long rest, and another question came to me.

Is the 1-hour limit for an interruption for a long rest the total limit of all interruptions, or is it the limit for each interruption?

I'm a very beginner to the D&D system, so it might be something written somewhere that I haven't found (at least not in RPG Stack, the Basic Rules, and the rules provided in the Starter Set).

I know it might not be usual to have multiple interruptions for a single long rest, but consider the following scenario: A party takes a rest near a goblin hideout. Goblins notice the fire, so they send out scouting groups who get killed - then they send another group to search for the first group after a few hours.

If each encounter lasts for 40 minutes (which is very long, but ignore that for now), does the party have to restart their long rest after the second attack, as the total interruption was for more than one hour? Or can they just resume the rest, as each encounter was less than 1 hour?


If such a long fight seems unrealistic, then consider a different example. Try to imagine a first fight that lasts 10 minutes, and then another interruption. For example, maybe the party is camped under a big cliff, and some rocks fall onto their tents. Thus, they have to fix the damage and remove the rocks to resume their rest (which may take 55 minutes to do, bringing the total time of the interruption to over an hour).

It's not actually the interruption that interests me, or even the possibility that there can be multiple interruptions during the rest - but whether multiple interruptions whose total time is more than 1 hour breaks the rest.

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    \$\begingroup\$ While you state "If each encounters long for 40 minutes (which is very long, but don't take care of this in detail here)", I can't help but ask why you chose this time frame. This is extremely long, it would equate 400 rounds of combat! I don't know about your table, but at my table, 4 rounds are already a lot for a single encounter. Since it's highly unlikely, if not impossible - both mechanically and realistically - that characters would engage in active combat for 40 minutes, you have to specify why your "combat" takes so long - it might affect the answer, if there is no nonstop fighting. \$\endgroup\$ – PixelMaster May 6 at 8:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PixelMaster Maybe my example was bad, if it may help you instead of combat try to imagine a first fight that long for something like 5~10 minutes and another event like they're under a big cliff and some rocks falls from it on their tents so they have to heal harmed and remove the rocks to resume the rest (which may long for 55 minutes to complete the potential one hour total). It's not actually the interruption that interest me, or even the possibility that there can be multiple interruption during the rest, but if multiple interruption whose total are more than 1 hour break the rest. \$\endgroup\$ – Zoma May 6 at 8:39
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Strictly reading there may be an infinite amount of interruptions per-rest as long as each period of interruption takes less than an hour.

Resting, PHB 186:

A long rest is a period of extended downtime, at least 8 hours long, during which a character sleeps for at least 6 hours and performs no more than 2 hours of light activity, such as reading, talking, eating, or standing watch. If the rest is interrupted by a period of strenuous activity—at least 1 hour of walking, fighting, casting spells, or similar adventuring activity—the characters must begin the rest again to gain any benefit from it.

A strict reading of (my emphasis):

a period of strenuous activity

reads as each of these periods or intervals of interruption to be their own interrupting event for which the rule allows up to short of one hour of interruption. The rules do not state that there can not be multiple interruptions that each amount to short of an hour.

The Rest Variants in the DMG (267) don't provide any further information on interruptions. If you happen to play with Gritty Realism rules the implications of a cumulative state of interruptions would have a severe impact on balancing of those rules.

All resources spend during interruptions of the rest are regained at the end of the rest, see this thread.

Take further note that getting interrupted for more than an hour in a period of time doesn't prevent you from starting a new rest (see above):

A character can’t benefit from more than one long rest in a 24-hour period,

A different but less rigorous reading is to take the initial wording of:

a period of extended downtime

a period of strenuous activity

and read it as a single downtime period of 8 hours that is composed of up to 2 hours of light activity, up to less than an hour of interruption and at least 6 hours of sleep.

Based on Mark Wells comment: Is it possible to run a marathon of 55 minutes, stop and rest for x time, run for 55, stop for x, etc.?

Yes, under this reading that is possible, but it comes with several caveats.

First, how much time do you have to spend resting during a long rest?

You have to spend at least 8 hours of strict downtime, 6 of which have to be sleep, and you may spend up to 2 hours of light activity. All other activity will interrupt your rest time.

Caveats:

  1. Forced March, PHB 181 (the grammar error is RAW, not mine) :

The Travel Pace table assumes that characters travel for 8 hours in day. They can push on beyond that limit, at the risk of exhaustion. For each additional hour of travel beyond 8 hours,

  1. Setting up your new camp will take time (or deplete resources).
  2. Travel will have the risks that occur while travelling amplified by the risk of losing your rest-progress.

  3. Your DM has a lot of control in this context. I would like to see how you argue that you can fall asleep and wake up at command without depleting resources, depleting resources for the minor benefit of travelling fast under situations of being followed, chased etc. seem like a bearable investment.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Under this reading of the rules, how much actual resting has to happen? Can you run a marathon, stopping to rest every 55 minutes, and treat it as a "long rest" because you didn't have any periods of strenuous activity longer than an hour? \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells May 6 at 13:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ I removed the out of scoop addition about Trance. There are some interesting implications, but these should be asked in a different question, thanks for the contribution. \$\endgroup\$ – Akixkisu May 6 at 14:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you saying there can be an infinite number of rests no matter what? Or do you still have the requirement for 6 hours of sleep to pass? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 6 at 15:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch There is the possibility for an infinite amount of interruptions. As you only gain the benefit of rest at the end of the rest, it may happen that you will die due to the passage of time before you gain the benefits for the first time. \$\endgroup\$ – Akixkisu May 6 at 15:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ They can have any number of interruptions that is not individually longer than an hour, the rest total, for example, could amount to 13 hours because the group is followed by enemies and has to relocate several times, they still have to manage 6 hours sleep and 2 hours of light activity or rest. \$\endgroup\$ – Akixkisu May 7 at 11:43

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