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A situation recently came up in my weekly game where a PC who had just discovered a new magic item after a series of encounters took a short rest to identify the magic item's properties. Per the DMG, this is all that is needed to identify a magic item's properties so there's nothing wrong with that.

The magic item required attunement, so I told him it was useless to him until he attuned with it. He asked for the rules on attunement and I told him it requires another short rest. No further short rests came up during that adventuring day, so the party decided to set up camp.

The question came up, "Can I attune during a long rest?"

I determined based on the following excerpt from the DMG that the answer to that question is no:

Attunement
Some magic items require a creature to form a bond with them before their magical properties can be used. This bond is called attunement...
Attuning to an item requires a creature to spend a short rest focused on only that item while being in physical contact with it (this can't be the same short rest used to learn the item's properties). This focus can take the form of weapon practice (for a weapon), meditation (for a wondrous item), or some other appropriate activity. If the short rest is interrupted, the attunement attempt fails. Otherwise, at the end of the short rest, the creature gains an intuitive understanding of how to activate any magical properties of the item, including any necessary command words...
(emphases mine)

So, naturally, the player said, "Okay, I take a short rest just before the long rest."

Something about this really doesn't sit well with me but I can't find a reason in the rules for not allowing this. Obviously it's not the intended usage of rests (short or long) based on the adventuring day, but I really didn't have any good rationale behind disallowing the short-then-long rest.

For reference, I have included the pertinent rules relating to short rests and long rests below.

Short Rest
A short rest is a period of downtime, at least 1 hour long, during which a character does nothing more strenuous than eating, drinking, reading, and tending to wounds...


Long Rest
A long rest is a period of extended downtime, at least 8 hours long, during which a character sleeps or performs light activity: reading, talking, eating, or standing watch for no more than 2 hours. A character can't benefit from more than one long rest in a 24-hour period...

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    \$\begingroup\$ It seems to me that you already have the answer--they can take consecutive rests as long as they have the time. What exactly are you asking, then? \$\endgroup\$ – Icyfire Jan 19 '17 at 20:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Icyfire "Can a long rest immediately follow a short rest?" \$\endgroup\$ – LegendaryDude Jan 19 '17 at 20:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ Might want to check out AngryDM's "Punching the Reset Button" article. \$\endgroup\$ – chif-ii Jan 19 '17 at 20:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @chif-ii I've recently been directed to that article for other reasons (haven't gotten the chance to read it yet though I'm a big fan of Angry in general), but I believe you mean "Hitting the Rest Button." :) \$\endgroup\$ – LegendaryDude Jan 19 '17 at 21:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Lost_in_Hyrule That sounds like something you should put in an answer. :) \$\endgroup\$ – LegendaryDude Jan 20 '17 at 15:02
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It should be fine, as long as time allows.

Nothing in the rules says that a long rest cannot immediately follow a short rest. In this case, what the characters are doing during those rests are very different.

Indeed, a short rest and a long rest are what many real-life people do before bed: an hour or so of non-strenuous activity, like reading, and then going to sleep. It's not a stretch to say that a D&D character can't spend an hour studying their magical item, and then go to sleep.

The only time where that might be a problem is if the characters don't have the full 9 hours.

Different things are happening during the two rests.

What's really key here is that the activities during the two rests are different. In the short rest portion, the character is studying the magic item, meditating on it, or whatever is required for attunement. In the long rest portion, the character is doing something else, such as sleeping. The attunement process is still active work, just not active relative to adventuring.

I think that this distinction is why attunement is limited to short rests, and why a character should be able to do chain them together.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "an hour or so of non-strenous activity, like reading, and then going to sleep" would all be part of a long rest: "a period of extended downtime, at least 8 hours long, during which a character sleeps or performs light activity: reading [...] for no more than 2 hours" (I don't disagree with your answer, just the example) \$\endgroup\$ – Adeptus Jan 20 '17 at 0:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ Right, that would ordinarily all be part of a long rest. But it's consistent with a short rest followed by a long rest too--I'm just trying to make the point that it can be split up in a game-mechanical way without changing what is intuitively happening. \$\endgroup\$ – Icyfire Jan 20 '17 at 0:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ If the DM wishes to be a jerk, he could rule that an hour of strenuous activity or two hours of light activity are required between the two to prevent the short rest from just counting as part of the long rest (or vice-versa since both descriptions have a minimum duration but not a maximum) but that's really throwing realism out the window just to inconvenience the players. If he wants to force them to choose between attuning and long-resting he should come up with a reasonable reason for the dilemma. \$\endgroup\$ – Perkins Sep 20 '17 at 19:08
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Yes, a long rest can immediately follow a short rest.

In addition, you should be able to attune to something over a long rest.

Not Raw?

Hold up. Here is my question to you: what is the character doing differently during a long rest, as opposed to a short rest? Either way, aren't they just sitting around or napping?

The requirement of a short rest is that you sit down and do nothing for at least 1 hour, at which point you are considered to have gained a short rest.

The requirement of a long rest is that you sit down and do nothing for at least 8 hours... but wait, haven't you already first fulfilled the prerequisites of a short rest first? So, why not already gain the benefits of the short rest too?

What is the character doing differently before taking a short rest versus taking a long rest, that would definitively decide that the period of sitting down they're about to do is one or the other? Aren't they doing... well, nothing much?

So, here's my argument. Short rest vs long rest is a meta way of thinking, and saying a long rest is not also a short rest does not make sense in the narrative.

Mechanically, a short rest is a necessary prerequisite of a long rest. If you take a long rest, you must also take a short rest, for the reason that if you sit down for 8 hours doing nothing, you must also have sat down for 1 hour first.

Another Perspective

If a player declares "I'll take a short rest" but accidentally, their character overdoes it and rests for 8 hours instead (people can change their minds and forget to declare their long rests), will you not allow them to have a long rest?

If a player declares "I'll take a long rest" but the rest is interrupted halfway through, will you not allow them to have the benefits of a short rest at least?

Ramifications

So what happens if players can decide they can take a Long Rest, but not a Short Rest?

Well, have you heard of the Sorlock exploit, wherein a Sorcerer/Warlock multiclass stockpiles on spell slots but never loses them? This hands them the keys to do exactly that: they will be able to say "I take a short rest" to regenerate Warlock slots, turn those slots into Sorcery Points, and turn those into proper spell slots. Then, since they will clearly never declare a long rest (and since the spell slots only disappear with a long rest), those crafted spell slots can never go away. This allows them to stockpile an infinite pool of spell slots legally and with DM consent.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ For the case of attunement with a magic item, I think it requires the two distinct rests. The short rest is spent interacting with the item to figure it out, and the long rest is for actual resting and sleeping. In that case, it has to mechanically be a short rest+long rest, not just a long rest. \$\endgroup\$ – Icyfire Jan 20 '17 at 7:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure I understand the ramifications section at all and I think your answer would be better without it. That is, I get what you're trying to say, I think, but what does the first sentence there have to do with anything? Additionally, there is a clear distinction between a short rest and long rest and I don't believe that you should be able to benefit from both. You either benefit from a short rest, or you benefit from a long rest. If you rested for 8 hours, you don't get the short rest benefits. \$\endgroup\$ – LegendaryDude Jan 20 '17 at 21:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LegendaryDude I was making a quick reference to the known Sorlock exploit of crafting infinite spell slots. I just meant to say in there, exploits can be found if characters can choose to take only short rests. \$\endgroup\$ – user27327 Jan 22 '17 at 11:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @markovchain please edit your answer to make that correction, rather than simply leaving it in a comment. \$\endgroup\$ – Dan Henderson Sep 20 '17 at 12:05
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If a Short Rest is:

a period of downtime, at least 1 hour long, during which a character does nothing more strenuous than eating, drinking, reading, and tending to wounds,

and if identifying a magic item's properties can be achieved through a short rest, then we can only conclude that identifying a magic item's properties is not "more strenuous than eating, drinking, reading, and tending to wounds."

Similarly, since attunement requires a Short Rest, we know that attunement is not "more strenuous than eating, drinking, reading, and tending to wounds" either.

Now a Long Rest requires that a character

performs light activity: reading, talking, eating, or standing watch for no more than 2 hours

out of the 8-hour period, but since the activities for identification and attunement are no more strenuous than eating or reading, it requires no significant leap of logic to find that those activities also qualify as "light activity" with respect to a Long Rest. Therefore, the time spent on those two short rests can both be part of the 8-hour period of the long rest, provided that the remaining 6 hours are all spent sleeping.

In other words, my answer is to disagree with your original ruling that the player cannot attune during a Long Rest, provided that the attunement consumes one of the two hours the character is able to spend on "light activity" during the Long Rest.

My group has always played this way, and it has never caused us any problems.

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Yes, as the two rests are not distinct 'things'

As pointed out in the question, the only difference between the two rests is how long they last. If the characters sit around for 2 hours, they receive the benefits of a short rest. If they sit around for 10 hours, they receive the benefits of a long rest. Those two terms are mainly keyed to what resources and abilities regenerate and when.

Now, the rule for Identifying or for Attuning requires a short rest. You only receive a short rest at the end of the rest period. So, a warrior could focus on a magic item for 1 hour, and as the rest ends, he would know the properties of the item. If the group takes a 4 hour lunch break, they receive a short rest, but the warrior would have to skip lunch and focus on the item for all 4 hours to discover the same properties. This seems weird.

To take this idea to an extreme, if a character were bed-ridden for a week, at the end of that time, they would have taken a single long rest. That means that for the entirety of the week, they could neither Identify nor Attune to that magic item. If they, however, spent an hour resting to Identify, went out and did a set of bench presses, then came in, they could begin the process of Attuning. They could stay in bed for 7.5 hours trying to attune, then run outside to do some squats, and they would be attuned. If he misses his alarm and waits the whole 8 hours, though, he gets a long rest instead of a short rest, and misses Attunement.

Obviously, this view strains credulity! Therefore, it is very much in the spirit of the rule to say that a short rest means 1 hour of peaceful time, as defined in the short rest section of the rules. Thus, a 2 hour lunch break should allow one to both Identify and then Attune to a magic item. An 8 hour break could allow one to Identify, Attune, and then still get 6 hours of sleep. (Eh, 5.5 hours since it takes a bit to fall asleep, but I'm sure you understand!)

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Adventurer's workday is 15 min anyway, plenty of time left.

If there is no pressing matter to stop a character from resting all day, you can do all the short rests you like. You can only benefit from one long rest per 24 hour period though.

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