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I know that if you sleep for a full night, you heal 1 point per character level, and 1 point of ability damage per night.

If you have to keep watch at some point during the night, but get 8 hours of sleep total (let's say four hours of sleep, then two hours of watch, then four more hours of sleep), does your character heal at all?

We're especially concerned about the ability damage; −4 to Dex right now. We just reached level 4, and we're also in the lower power tier. (Bard, Paladin, Rogue, Barbarian, Warlock, Swashbuckler). Trying to sleep that damage off!

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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, Welcome to the site, JoshuaD! \$\endgroup\$ – Sandwich Jun 9 '15 at 20:58
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SRD > Combat > Injury and Death > Healing

Natural Healing

With a full night’s rest (8 hours of sleep or more), you recover 1 hit point per character level. Any significant interruption during your rest prevents you from healing that night.

(emphasis mine)

So no, no healing if you take watch.1 Natural healing is extremely slow, and is basically pointless beyond 1st, maybe 2nd level or so. Magical healing is necessary to maintain any kind of extended campaign in 3.5.

  1. Assuming that taking watch qualifies as a “significant interruption” – this term is not defined for this purpose. It is defined for the purposes of restoring arcane spell slots – this definition could serve as a useful precedent for DMs ruling on this subject. If your DM decides to use this definition, it says that any skill use, or even merely having a conversation, constitutes a significant interruption for spellcasters, so taking watch for two hours almost surely would as well.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Slight dissent: In a current campaign PCs are level 3 but all tier 3, so, while we're relying on a wand of lesser vigor and Use Magic Device skill checks to fix hp damage, a wand of lesser restoration is nearly all of a level 4 character's expected wealth. We rely on that 8 hours of rest (and even long-term care!) to heal ability damage, and probably will continue to do so for a few more levels. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jun 9 '15 at 20:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan ah, true for ability damage. Still, 3rd is reasonably "2nd or so," but I was thinking of HP damage only. Ability damage that early is super harsh; I wouldn't expect it often. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jun 9 '15 at 20:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ability damage is the basis for this question; -4 to Dex right now, and we just reached level 4. And we're also in the lower power tier. (Bard, Paladin, Rogue, Barbarian, Warlock, Swashbuckler). Trying to sleep that damage off! :-) \$\endgroup\$ – JoshuaD Jun 9 '15 at 21:32
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No.

If your character does not get the full eight hours of sleep, then you don't gain the benefit of Natural Healing. However, that doesn't mean that you personally may be screwed, it just means you have to make use of a party staple to get what you need every night.

Alarm Spell

This spell is your ticket to full rest, and can be acquired relatively early into a Wizard's career, enables the party to not get ambushed due to a wide range, and allows you to get that full eight hours.

Elves

Having an elf in the party means you have a comfortable four hour period where the elf can keep watch while awake without losing any of their basic natural healing as well as being able to still recover any spells for the following day. Having two elves extends this to two shifts of 4 hours, which means all is well in the world of rest.

Five Person Shift rest

If you have five people, resting for a total of 10 hours, each taking a two hour watch shift from 10PM to 8AM, each person has a two hour watch and receives a full eight hours of sleep. If there's an encounter during the night that counts as a significant interruption, so you wouldn't get the benefit however.

There's reason to believe that a split sleep schedule is actually more natural; I'd certainly allow people to receive full resting benefits from such watch shifts.

Since Animal companions and familiars have scent and good ranks in the perception skills you could also use them to cover a shift if you taught them to keep watch and wake you up if they saw something via Handle Animal. Familiars and Animal companions are considered Magical Beasts so they do need their eight hours of sleep as well however.

What exactly counts as a "Significant Interruption"

With a full night’s rest (8 hours of sleep or more), you recover 1 hit point per character level. Any significant interruption during your rest prevents you from healing that night.

In the spell section of the players handbook it reads the following:

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.

(emphasis mine)

So that means that if you decide to use similar rules for natural healing, you can keep watch, but any of the above interruptions will cancel out the rest. (It's been suggested that sitting and listening is a demanding physical activity, but I'd ignore that if you're looking to make a house rule) If there's some kind of night combat then you have to add an hour onto the amount of time you have to rest to recover nightly ability damage and hit points.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jun 10 '15 at 17:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ Animal companions are not magical beasts. They are animals. \$\endgroup\$ – Zachiel Jun 10 '15 at 17:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Thank you; very jealous of you having that button. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jun 10 '15 at 17:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan It's unfortunately difficult to get, since even mods can only access it after the comments hit 20+. There's a feature request to make it more accessible to mods—and therefore more accessible to all via flagging for attention—that you might want to support! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jun 10 '15 at 17:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Upvoted, and upvoted several related suggestions, including the obvious option for those involved to move things to chat themselves (before things get “bad”). \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jun 10 '15 at 18:15
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"Natural healing" refers to hit points, RAW is not perfectly clear, but keeping watch rather prevents healing HP.

Meanwhile, for ability damage:

SRD conditions - ability damaged

Lost points return at a rate of 1 per day unless noted otherwise by the condition dealing the damage.

SRD special abilities - ability damage

Points lost to ability damage return at the rate of 1 point per day (or double that if the character gets complete bed rest) to each damaged ability

So it seems that while it's debatable whether you'd recover two ability damage points per day while keeping watch (RAW doesn't support that, but as a houserule we require only spellcasters to sleep, keeping watch is not significant interruption for other characters), you should be able to recover one point per day no matter what.

See also Faster Healing feat in Complete Warrior for some interesting interpretation (?) of SRD rules (it’s in a table, p. 99, so treat accordingly). The feat description introduces three categories of activity that influence natural healing (both hp and ability damage):

  • Strenuous activity (healing 0 hp and 0 ability damage per day)
  • Light activity (healing 1/level and 1)
  • Complete bed rest (healing 1.5/level and 2)

“Strenuous activity” is not defined, but I’d guess keeping watch should be rather light…

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Several feats improve natural healing, but most relevant to this discussion seems to be the general feat Rapid Metabolism (which, while found in the psionics section of the SRD, is totally non-psionic) that allows improved natural healing with no rest necessary at all. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jun 10 '15 at 13:00
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I am offering this as a Frame Challenge

Since you stated:

Ability damage is the basis for this question; -4 to Dex right now, and we just reached level 4. And we're also in the lower power tier. (Bard, Paladin, Rogue, Barbarian, Warlock, Swashbuckler). Trying to sleep that damage off! :-)

A solution is but a feat away. With the feat Arcane Disciple, the Bard would learn the following spell from the Life Domain:

  1. Lesser Restoration: Dispels magical ability penalty or regains 1d6 ability damage.

This would be, of course, contingent upong the DM allowing him access to that Domain. The Renewal Domain has Lesser Restoration as well.

  1. Lesser Restoration: Dispels magical ability penalty or regains 1d6 ability damage.

There are no Core Deities that have those domains, so it would purely be up to your DM.


Also, ask the Bard to consider the Alternate Class Feature called Healing Hymn. Since you all are doing a lot of natural healing, he can help out with that too:

In addition if you use this ability for 1 full minute before you and your allies retire for the night, everyone in the group heals naturally as if he had completed 24 hours of bed rest (thus recovering twice his character level in hit points).

Also, if your DM allows the Bard to use Arcane Disciple to get Lesser Restoration on your spell list, Lesser Restoration will be instantly pumped full of steroids with Healing Hymn:

An affected ally who casts any conjuration (healing) spell gains a +1 sacred (if you're good or neutral) or profane (if you're evil) bonus on the roll for each rank you have in the Perform skill.

A 4th Bard that casted Lesser Restoration would heal the 1d6 points of ability damage and an additional 7 points (what Bard doesn't max his perform skill?) as a bonus for each rank.


Another feat that the Bard should be taking, as soon as he can, would be Obtain Familiar. Reason being, for this situation specifically, a Bat:

Bats are nocturnal flying mammals.

Blindsense (Ex): A bat notices and locates creatures within 20 feet.

A bat has a +4 racial bonus on Spot and Listen checks.

So, the bat can be sleeping in your familiar pocket, or in your backpack (I guess), during the day while you all are awake, and can stay awake all night while you all are sleeping. With Blindsense and a bonus to Spot and Listen, nothing should get past the Alarm spell and the bat.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ A feat is a huge investment for a temporary problem. Besides, to get a feat, they’d have to level up, which is a dangerous proposition for a rogue with a −4 Dexterity penalty. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jun 10 '15 at 12:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan If they are taking ability damage at level 3... their future seems bleak and this situation will probably happen again. In my opinion, this is a huge hurdle they should overcome at their low levels, rather than wait for harsher consequences. \$\endgroup\$ – Ruut Jun 10 '15 at 15:05

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