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In the latest campaign, we're still around the third level, but every single night we've spend in the wild so far, we were interrupted by hard combat encounters (as in DMG-worded "hard"), forcing us to use our resources (like HP, spell slots, Ki, once-per-day stuff) and not restoring any of those lost the previous days. I feel like the combat is still short, as it lasts four to six rounds, so we usually say that we'd like to resume our rest but the answer is always "you've been interrupted, your rest is over, you can't restart any until dusk". So the only real long rests we could have always were in town.

We've always used watch-turns, and being interrupted in the first night of the campaign, we now always spend one hour to find a safe place to rest and we make that intent very clear to the DM. But yet, kobolds, goblins, ghouls and gnolls always find us in the middle of the night, but never when we travel for ten hours during the day (which is comparable to "fast travel" in his own word). Once on the second day in the wild, we were faced to a deadly encounter (as in DMG-worded "deadly") which we survived only by fleeing. And we're kind of forced to get back to the deadly encounter, which is more than one day away from the nearest town.

We're five players and I'm the only one with PnP RPG experience... from ten years ago. I don't remember being this resourceless. We asked if it was a survival campaign and the answer was that it was only a normal introduction campaign found on the Internet that he spiced up a bit. We've also asked if we did anything wrong and the answer was that we followed the normal story.

The DM is mastering his second campaign (the first one is still ongoing, but with veteran players). The DM also plays a lot of survival campaigns as a player.

Is this situation normal? If yes, why? If not, what should I say to the DM?

Note that I'm fully aware of the "long rest" rule as written on page 186 of the PHB. This is why I encouraged my team to say that we resume our rest. (thanks Bloodcinder)

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    \$\begingroup\$ Is it a ready-made adventure or is he playing it by ear? If it's ready-made and you don't mind knowing some things beside scenes, can you look and see if maybe you are in area that's inherently dangerous by design? \$\endgroup\$ – Mołot Apr 28 '17 at 9:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Mołot It's a ready made adventure: he told us so. The DM told us the campaign takes place in Deadsnows, in the Nether Mountains in the Silver Marches. I don't have any book ready to know anything about that region, unfortunately and I can't find any reference to the village of Deadsnows and the mines we're supposed to investigate except from a story which I suspect is the one he selected (but I won't look as I don't want to be spoiled). \$\endgroup\$ – Olivier Grégoire Apr 28 '17 at 9:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ goblins, ghouls and gnolls always find us in the middle of the night, but never when we travel for ten hours during the day. You they are all nocturnal creatures, right? \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Apr 28 '17 at 10:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowKras since we're awoken and we can't finish our rest, we're forced on the road around 2 o'clock or 3 o'clock in the morning. There's still a long time before dawn and we don't encounter those at those times. \$\endgroup\$ – Olivier Grégoire Apr 28 '17 at 10:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ related: quality of sleep \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Apr 29 '17 at 1:25
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The situation is neither normal nor abnormal

Every campaign is different. But it is normal for survival games to have nightly encounters.

That said, I played in an attrition-heavy campaign and we did not get nightly combats often; and even when we did, they did not interrupt our long rests.

Are you having fun?

Ask yourself and the players at your table if it's still fun. That is, is the survival aspect of the game ruining your fun? If it was taken away, would the experience be better?

If you and the rest of the players are having fun regardless, then nothing is wrong. If you are not, then you have to make it clearer to the DM that you are not.

Get on the same page

Since the DM is running a pre-made adventure, then make it clear to the DM that this one sucks and you are not enjoying it. Try and be calm and reasonable about it, maybe buy him beer too. What he doesn't need to know is the campaign is hard (he made the encounters, he knows this already). What he does need to know is that the players do not like the adventure.

If he is a sensible DM, he will adjust and ask you guys what you want in the game. Then, depending on if you are all able to agree on a type of game you want to play, he will either continue the campaign, modify it to fit everyone's interests, or stop the campaign.

If you do not like this particular experience, try and figure out what kind of experience you are looking for and be transparent about it. The DM needs to know this stuff so he can provide a better experience for you.

The rules on rest interruptions

A long rest is only interrupted if you do at least 1 hour of strenuous activity. You can fight for 59 minutes and still not have your rest interrupted.

Even if the rest was interrupted, you can immediately start it up again. The only rule for long rests is that you can only benefit from one once every 24 hours, not that you can attempt one once per dawn. So if you did not benefit from a rest within the last 24 hours, you can start one up any time.

Solutions from an in-universe perspective

While keeping everything about the game the same, you, as characters, have a lot of opportunity to influence the adventure.

  • Hire bodyguards while in town

    • If you have NPCs follow the party for the purposes of protecting you, you can get away with nightly encounters without fighting the monsters. You also don't have to pay the bodyguards in money, but rather in promises, favors, blackmail, etc.
  • Stay in town longer

    • Why are your characters adventuring away from the safe confines of civilization? Is there a pressing concern, or are you more "classical" adventurers who go out into the wilds for the sake of adventuring? If it's the second one, then you can spend a lot of time in town stocking up on money and supplies. This is money you can use to hire guards, buy scrolls, potions, etc.
  • Engage the towns so they can travel

    • In survival games, the assumption is that the wilderness is unexplored and dangerous. That is why it's common to have nightly encounters. Then, your characters can build outposts between the towns, or they can engage the different towns to build these outposts that create a "safe route" for travelers. This will involve more RP than combat, though, which may not be something your DM is up for.
  • Establish outposts with defensive features

    • When setting up camp, bring fortifications, set traps, put out the fire from your campfire (to not attract attention), create a decoy tent, create a decoy camp, etc. Get creative so that your rests aren't interrupted, and when they are, you can immediately go to safety while avoiding combat.
  • While in town, take a day to rest

    • I think that no characters have died yet, from your question. So you can just take a long rest in town. If nobody has died in the party yet, you should consider that the DM is just doing a good job of challenging you as players while avoiding character deaths.
  • Ask the farmers

    • As contributed by @GMJoe, ask the farmers and merchants how they travel. If there is any hint of trade at all between different towns, then they should have a way of moving between towns without being attacked every night. But as provided by @IllmariKaronen, just note that there might not be any farmers trading outside town at all.
  • Find someone who can cast Leomund's Tiny Hut

    • As offered by @Nat, cast Leomund's Tiny Hut. This is a ritual spell that is available to Wizards and Bards, as well as anyone who has Ritual Caster, or the Book Pact/Invocation for Warlocks. This is a spell that guarantees a long rest and will stop nightly encounters from bothering you, at least until your DM starts using spellcasters against you.
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    \$\begingroup\$ Regarding the fun part, we're okay with the campaign. We're finding interesting ways to solve things, but in my case I play a sorcerer to cast spells, not to be limited to cantrips and light crossbow. I already have a limited pool of spells, but either I don't cast them because I'm out of spells or I don't cast them because I know (from experience) I'd better keep them for later. \$\endgroup\$ – Olivier Grégoire Apr 28 '17 at 10:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ Another in-setting solution: Ask your GM how farmers and travelling merchants avoid or survive the constant deadly monster attacks that occur outside of towns, then follow their example. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Apr 28 '17 at 11:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also the rules are there for a reason - the game is meant to simulate a situation you can visualise or role play. If role playing has any importance in your game (it varies) it is much easier to do if things feel like they make some kind of sense. Not being able to restart an interrupted rest doesn't make sense. "I am tired, but I have to wait a day" is not easy to role play without some compelling in world explanation and in this case there isn't one. \$\endgroup\$ – Francis Davey Apr 28 '17 at 12:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GMJoe Don't "ask your DM", ask the farmers and merchants. \$\endgroup\$ – Yakk Apr 28 '17 at 13:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Nat Yes, but Leomund's Tiny Hut is the better spell for what you're thinking \$\endgroup\$ – user27327 Apr 29 '17 at 5:50
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Resource-less can be a mistake or by design.

I'm DMing a campaign where the PCs start without any gear, broken and chained to the wall, and they do not get any chance to rest before finishing the first chapter. Harsh, but that was the design.

In your case, it may be that the area you are in was supposed to be something you run through, without exploring or resting. If that's the case, it is the DMs job to make it somehow clear. But it is easy to overestimate information you give to your players. It's obvious to me, because I know anything and everything anyway when I'm the DM, right?

Just ask

This is a surprisingly common answer to many question here, but true nonetheless. Something in lines of:

Hey, DM, we are starting to feel really resource-less. Is this by design? The game was balanced around the idea we can take a long rest every once in a while, and it's getting hard. We tried to make it obvious that we are not reckless and are looking for safe places, maybe we weren't clear enough? Have we missed something about the area?

Something in this style should open a friendly conversation, clarify if it was intentional or not, if your efforts were noticed or not and so on. Just don't be accusatory. A good (even if novice) DM will correct his ways and either let you rest, or let you know why it was so hard and what to do - either in or off game.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Okay, I'm gonna do that. I didn't think it might be intentional on that basis, but only as a "spice-up". \$\endgroup\$ – Olivier Grégoire Apr 28 '17 at 10:16
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This is not normal, because the DM has either violated the rules or instituted modified rules without telling you.

From the interaction you described with the DM, it sounds to me like your DM believes you are playing the rules as written, even though the rules as written clearly state that you can resume your long rest as long as the strenuous interruption is less than 1 hour -- up to 599 rounds of combat!

If that is not the case, and the DM is indeed aware of the rule, then it would appear that they have intentionally altered the rules for resting without informing your group, and I would consider that to be disingenuous and a recipe for confused and frustrated players.

I recommend explicitly calling the long resting rules passage1 to your DM's attention, politely and in a non-confrontational fashion. Explain that your frustration is due to the fact that the game is being conducted in a fashion contrary to the rules as written, leading to confusion, frustration, and diminished enjoyment for the players. Clarify that you are just looking for transparency. Whether that means sticking to the rules as written or simply informing the players about any variants in play, you as a player just want to know the rules of the game you're playing.


  1. D&D Beyond, or PHB p186:

    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.

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First, The other answers covered the mechanical definition of a long rest and it's interruption really well. My hope/guess is that the GM isn't aware of that rule, or is not realizing that the hour is in-game/IC/PC time, and not OOC/player time. I'd start with that discussion, prior to the next gaming session (not as the next sleep-interrupting encounter is beginning).

From an in-game perspective, I'd be asking myself and my team, "How are they finding us every night? Are we being tracked? Is there a spell that they have to find us? What's the deal there?" Ask during the game, in character. Investigate the setting to determine what could be leading these bad guys so reliably to your campsite night after night. Are you using a campfire or other night light-source? That's easy to see at a great distance... In my experience, most modules never ever give a reason why encounters like that occur. But in-game, there has to be one. Push to make the GM figure out how these things happen.

Oh, sure, one or two encounters along a weeks-long journey would be within the realm of possibility for random occurrences. But every single night isn't random. That's a pattern. You're being hunted. Now, it is possible the GM hasn't considered that fact. If so, maybe he's misread the module. Or the module may not be written from a logical stance (heaven knows, I've seen some modules where logical backstory or motivations don't exist...). But the GM should develop one once the characters begin pushing to investigate that/those reason(s).

If the GM doesn't want to or can't come up with a real why, then push for a reduction in frequency of encounters.

Seriously. If these things are happening in a region that's not completely foreign to human travel, then why aren't travelers dying all the time? Why isn't the nearest town(s) placing bounties or sending out armies to deal with the menace? If you're no where near civilization, then where are these things coming from? Are you heading towards an area with a high population density of bad things? If so, why are you not seeing signs of their existence in the day (trails, other bodies, etc., etc., etc.)?

Push for these encounters to make sense in the big-picture that is your campaign's world. Monsters don't, can't, and should not exist in a vacuum, just waiting for your PCs to wander by. If you use that argument with your GM (in a reasonable way), then maybe s/he will be willing to dial back the frequency to once a week or so rather than designing a massive monster city (and/or other infrastructure-things) nearby to fuel these encounters.

This is where GMs have to think beyond the words in the module. If you're being hunted, then there's got to be a how, a why, and a who behind it. Otherwise, it's just silly (queue monty python here). And if the how/why/who is too vague for your party to determine, then maybe it's time for your characters to accept that it isn't paranoia if you're really being hunted; it's prudence. Walk away. Force the issue by turning around and going in literally the opposite direction.

Your party isn't insane. Survival has to come first in most day-to-day decisions on the campaign. If the encounters are literally every night, then as a human being, I'd throw my hands up and say, "Is this treasure REALLY worth this risk? Is there maybe a slightly less deadly set of tasks somewhere else that I could do instead?"

By just asking those questions and risking the end of the module by walking away, you signal to the GM that your characters' survival is more important than nightly encounters. But that's the nuclear option; save it for the last resort.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Wonderful idea. It's too easy to get "stuck on rails" as it were, like a video game. Go back to the nearest town, get good rest, and spend a day or two just talking to townspeople about how to be effective out there. If the GM does not enjoy all that RP maybe he'll think about easing up on the wandering monster encounters. \$\endgroup\$ – Harper Apr 28 '17 at 16:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Additionally, a party of adventurers could consider doing most of their sleeping during the day and travelling by night \$\endgroup\$ – can-ned_food May 1 '17 at 8:40
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Not saying it's reasonable but set up in a place where there is a bottleneck and the DM can only get 2 or 3 enemies in.

The party of 5 does a long rest, the 2 fighters block and combat and the rest ignore unless needed.

3 have avoided strenuous activity and have not fought. most likely those who need the long rest to regain spells.. mages and clerics.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ If you are not saying this is a reasonable method, you don't believe a DM would accept this? This does not make for a good answer... Welcome to the Stack, though. Have you checked out the tour? \$\endgroup\$ – Jason_c_o Sep 12 '18 at 0:29
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You think this is not following the rules and as such not normal. But rules can change by design, and such changes can be part of the campaign.

Ask the DM, outside of the game, if these more-frequent-than-expected encounters are due to his personal playstyle, or if they are part of the campaign. Don't allow them to evade the question. Depending on their answer, the solution lies either inside or outside of the game. If it's due to his playstyle, all of the other answers apply. If it's due to the campaign, you just found one more important clue to solve the campaign.

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protected by Oblivious Sage Sep 11 '18 at 22:57

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