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Coming from this question: Typically, how many combat encounters should a low-level party have before they are expected to take a long rest?

I realized even while using published adventure modules that set encounter-pacing and encounter-difficulty in a dungeon or 'scenario' of several encounters in a row, nowhere does the adventure say "This might be a good time for a long rest."

The rules say a creature can only benefit from one Long Rest per 24 hour period - preferably at the end of an adventuring 'day' (these often happen at night or in places where the time of day is not relevant).

Let us take the Dragon Hatchery from Hoard of the Dragon Queen for example. There are 10+ rooms with about 1 encounter per room and there is potential for roaming monsters to find the party. It is my assumption that this entire map is meant to be run-through in one go between the Long Rest they took yesterday and the Long Rest they will take the night after clearing the Hatchery. Yet after 5 - 6 combats in, they have already used up their resources.

If the intended frequency is obviously one Long Rest per day, then why am I finding the group almost always needs a long rest several hours before the rules say that they can benefit from one?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jun 15 at 18:35
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In the case of a specific story, you have to ask what makes sense.

In terms of the mandatory 24-hour waiting period between long rests...players can always wander off and go burn the rest of the day foraging, chatting, and otherwise being idle. If they elect to take a long-rest part way through a 'dungeon crawl' make sure you consider exactly what that means for them.

For the number of encounters they can handle in a day, per the DMG, it recommends:

most adventuring parties can handle about six to eight medium or hard encounters in a day. If the adventure had more easy encounters, the adventurers can get through more. If it has more deadly encounters, they can handle fewer. (DMG84)

Remember that this is a guideline. And guidelines tend to be broken on occasion.

So, for the specific case of a published adventure, here are some considerations:

1: Look at the encounters, compare them to the XP Thresholds for encounter difficulty in the DMG. If the single dungeon (in this case, the hatchery) contains a few Easy encounters, then the party can handle it in one day, no problem.

2: Consider what makes sense. The party is raiding a hatchery that is heavily guarded. If they roll through, clear half the hatchery, then pitch a tent in a random back room...they are going to either get ambushed, or the hatchery may be evacuated while they are sitting there wasting the day. Or, at the very least, the hatchery will be on high alert and ready for them when they elect to continue...meaning ambushes, traps, fortifications, etc.

So, here are some possibilities.

First, the module may be intentionally straining your players. This happens sometimes. Forcing players to push through when they are short on resources can sometimes lead to some very creative solutions. Alternately, your players might just be burning through resources faster than they should....you really shouldn't be wasting spell slots when a pair of kobolds attacks you. If your players find themselves running short on resources, but still running into encounters, they are likely to become more conservative with their power.

Second, if necessary, allow your players to waste the rest of the day so they can take a long rest. But...consider the ramifications of them doing so. At the very least, they will put the place they are attacking on high-alert. Surprising enemies will become impossible, and I would expect the enemies to dig in and fortify their positions. They might set up ambushes ahead of the players. Or, they might decide that this location is a lost cause, and sneak out. Whatever the case may be, make sure your players know that taking a nap in the middle of an assault is probably not the best plan ever.

So, to give the general gist of it...

Yes, players can always choose to waste the rest of the day so that they can take a long rest. But you have to consider how the NPCs will respond to having a full day to discover what has been happening in their lair.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a wonderful and complete answer. Thank you. This is the kind of thought process I was lacking when thinking about the rules versus pacing mid dungeon. Allowing time for other answers of course. \$\endgroup\$ – Airatome Feb 9 '17 at 14:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Airatome quite some time has passed and you may want to accept this answer now. \$\endgroup\$ – Akixkisu Jun 15 at 12:50
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You only benefit from a long rest at the end of a period of downtime lasting 8 hours or more. If there is time left in the adventuring day, they can stop and take a rest longer than 8 hours, so that the end-time of the long rest is 24 or more hours after the end time of their last long rest.

Essentially, when you setup camp for the day, assuming you aren't attacked in the middle of the night, you are long resting. I also recommend you don't nitpick about the exact timing. That is, if the party started yesterday at 9AM, don't tell them they don't benefit from the long rest if they want to get going at 8AM today. The 24-hour rule is really there to prevent parties from doing things like long resting, adventuring for an hour, then long resting again.


An interesting sidenote: if you were to follow the rule to the letter, you would need to end your long rest a minute (or a second, if you track game time with that level of granularity) after you ended it the day before. After many days your long rests will have shifted, and eventually the party would be adventuring at night and long resting during the day until it cycled back around again.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It depends on how DM interprets the "one long rest in a 24-hour period" rule. You can count 24-hour periods starting from the last long rest, or from the last sunrise. \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Feb 9 '17 at 16:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @enkryptor If you want to play with words, it could also mean any 24-hour period, including the 24 hour period which just ended, which means you can long rest whenever you want. \$\endgroup\$ – LegendaryDude Feb 9 '17 at 16:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ "A 24-hour period" can't mean "any 24-hour period" because that would be meaningless. But it CAN mean "day and night" - that makes sense because the Faerunian day is 24 hours long. \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Feb 9 '17 at 16:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ @enkryptor The text is ambiguous enough that some enterprising rules lawyer could interpret it that way. It's not meaningless; the words carry meaning. I understand what you're saying, but either way it's not entirely clear which 24-hour period the rules refer to. I am apt to lean towards "the 24-hour period that began when you last benefited from a long rest" because the terminator of a long rest is the moment at which you benefited, but the end result is no different: you benefit from 1 long rest per sunrise regardless of where you delineate that 24-hour period, thus it matters not. \$\endgroup\$ – LegendaryDude Feb 9 '17 at 16:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @LegendaryDude sageadvice.eu/2016/07/22/… Mearls clears up what they meant -- I know it is not Crawford, so it isn't official, but it good enough for me. \$\endgroup\$ – J. A. Streich Feb 10 '17 at 15:04

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