Going Nova / 5-Minute Workdays

People have been pointing out that Vancian Magic and Long Rests are going to incentivize the "5-Minute Workday" (aka "Going Nova" or sometimes "Alpha Strike").  That is, the party encounters some obstacle (say, 5 kobolds) and unleashes all of their daily resources upon it (fireball, finger of death, etc), minimizing risk and nearly guaranteeing success, before calling it a day.

And they're right.  In a vacuum, that's how it will work.

So, what the DMG needs, with a big ol' header all its own, is a section with a label like, "The Difference a Day Makes". And in that section there should be a bunch of advice and tools and bullet points letting the DM know what can go wrong while the PCs "recharge".  Wandering monsters.  New traps. Monsters hiding their valuables.  Monsters (that got away) spreading word of the PCs capabilities.  Whatever, as long as it's "logical".  I'm no expert.  It doesn't have to be punitive.  Maybe randomize it a bit, like they do with wandering monsters.  1 in 6 chance of wandering monsters.  1 in 6 chance of an anti-PC trap.  1 in 6 chance that some treasure is moved off-site.  Again, I'm not a game designer.

I'm just saying that if the mechanics of the game aren't going to do something to prevent the 5-Minute Workday form being the "no-brainer" choice, then the DMG needs to offer solid, highly-visible (who actually reads the DMG anymore?) instructions on how to do it like the grognards say they do it (or an approximation thereof).

TL;DR:
If the game is going to rely on "good DMs" to prevent "5-Minute Workdays" (and other problems), the DMG needs to tell you how to be a good DM, specifically as it applies to these common situations.
Excellent post, I agree 100%. Though I will add that I believe it would also help not to have the characters go back up to full HP after a long rest. Even with hit points as an abstraction, it still feels kind of wonky that as long as you have 1 hit point (which I know means you still haven't taken a serious wound yet, but according to the description you should be a bit nicked, scraped, and bruised) taking a 6 hour power nap brings you back to your full potential. But that's my personal preference I guess.

This is why I'd like it if the spells you prepared in spell slots could be either at-will, encounter, or daily. Then have a limit like, "you can only have 1 encounter spell for each spell level, any extra encounter spells prepared are dailies." Now you can't fill up on fire balls and go nova with them. Yet again, you can also use your 1 fire ball every encounter, so you also are encouraged to keep going.

I say also have At-Wills just for small things like feather fall, which are annoying to grab if you only can use them once.


I would rather have things not be set up to encourage 5 min work days. But if it happens, then yes, they will need a section to teach DMs how to fight the system. 

They mention that any interruption to the 8-hr rest cycle would force the party to re-start the extended rest.  That alone should make parties think twice about barricading themselves into a room in a dungeon and encourage them to press forward.
I totally agree.  I believe that the 5 minute work day is completely blown out of proportion.  DMs can solve the problem if it is a problem.  Make sure the PCs face time constraints.   They have to find the prisoner before she is sacrificed or executed...they have to dispose of the artifact before it explodes and releases a ton of evil into the realms...they need to keep running from a horde or a deadly assassin that is close on their trail....they need to find an antidote to a debilitating poison before it claims one of their lives...etc.

I'm also not convinced that a short work day is a problem.  I posted this in another thread:  In most of the fantasy literature I've read (over 40 years), even the greatest heroes in those novels would rarely encounter more than 3 or 4 dangers before camping for a night, especially in the wilderness.  Hey..if I were an adventurer and I got the snot kicked out of me, the first thing I'd try to do is find a safe hiding spot so that I could recover.  That does not mean that the adventure is over.  In fact, trying to find the safe spot could add tension to the game.

Happy testing! 

A Brave Knight of WTF - "Wielder of the Sword of Balance"

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

Excellent post, I agree 100%. Though I will add that I believe it would also help not to have the characters go back up to full HP after a long rest. Even with hit points as an abstraction, it still feels kind of wonky that as long as you have 1 hit point (which I know means you still haven't taken a serious wound yet, but according to the description you should be a bit nicked, scraped, and bruised) taking a 6 hour power nap brings you back to your full potential. But that's my personal preference I guess.



Are you kidding? Not healing after a long day makes the 5-minute work day even MORE prevalent. Fighter takes a beating, time to go back to town for a week and abandon the dungeon. You can work around a beat up Fighter for a skirmish, maybe even two if you're lucky but by then the rest of teh party has taken a beating and you're all down for a week. And then the dungeon dwellers have time to get reinforcements and you gained nothing.

Lamesauce.

It should also be noted that 5-minute workdays were not limited to 3.5 and back.  I saw quite a few 4e parties blow dailies off the bat and want to rest after just one encounter.  The solution is for the DM to tell the party to get real or otherwise give them the "evil eye" when they want to rest after just one encounter.  Of course, enemy tracking parties are always a nice thing too.  "You killed our cousins.  We tracked you down to get revenge." works both ways...
Are you kidding? Not healing after a long day makes the 5-minute work day even MORE prevalent. Fighter takes a beating, time to go back to town for a week and abandon the dungeon. You can work around a beat up Fighter for a skirmish, maybe even two if you're lucky but by then the rest of teh party has taken a beating and you're all down for a week. And then the dungeon dwellers have time to get reinforcements and you gained nothing.

Lamesauce.




True.  In the days of XP for GP, where it was the loot that mattered less than the princess, that wasn't a big deal.  Sure, there were probably reinforcements, but that wasn't the point.  You could probably work your way past them to the loot you hadn't yet found, skipping the wing of the dungeon you'd already explored.
In 4E if the party just blows all their dailies and that's the only reason they have for stopping, they get attacked. Repeatedly.

With At-Wills and Encounters, casters were never "out of resources" like in earlier editions and with Surges/HP they weren't in imminent danger of death nor be in a position where if they press on they'd have to hole up for a week. 
Excellent post, I agree 100%. Though I will add that I believe it would also help not to have the characters go back up to full HP after a long rest. Even with hit points as an abstraction, it still feels kind of wonky that as long as you have 1 hit point (which I know means you still haven't taken a serious wound yet, but according to the description you should be a bit nicked, scraped, and bruised) taking a 6 hour power nap brings you back to your full potential. But that's my personal preference I guess.



Are you kidding? Not healing after a long day makes the 5-minute work day even MORE prevalent. Fighter takes a beating, time to go back to town for a week and abandon the dungeon. You can work around a beat up Fighter for a skirmish, maybe even two if you're lucky but by then the rest of teh party has taken a beating and you're all down for a week. And then the dungeon dwellers have time to get reinforcements and you gained nothing.

Lamesauce.




I would never let my players leave the dungeon after every fight. That is lamesauce and any player that wants to play that way would have no place in my game. A long rest can only be taken once every 24 hours. So players who actually want to play the game and not just win, will be using tactics and abilities appropriately. Nova, go back to town, nova, go back to town is lame. I can't even believe someone would want to play this way. You might as well just tell your players you win every fight so lets not even play.
I would never let my players leave the dungeon after every fight. That is lamesauce and any player that wants to play that way would have no place in my game. A long rest can only be taken once every 24 hours. So players who actually want to play the game and not just win, will be using tactics and abilities appropriately. Nova, go back to town, nova, go back to town is lame. I can't even believe someone would want to play this way. You might as well just tell your players you win every fight so lets not even play.



That doesn't seem fair.  That's just smart play.  You'd chastise your players for being smart?  What do they get in retrun?  Increased chance of characater death?

The rules or the setting (or the setting filtered through the rules filtered through the setting) needs to address this problem, if it's a problem.
I would never let my players leave the dungeon after every fight. That is lamesauce and any player that wants to play that way would have no place in my game. A long rest can only be taken once every 24 hours. So players who actually want to play the game and not just win, will be using tactics and abilities appropriately. Nova, go back to town, nova, go back to town is lame. I can't even believe someone would want to play this way. You might as well just tell your players you win every fight so lets not even play.



That doesn't seem fair.  That's just smart play.  You'd chastise your players for being smart?  What do they get in retrun?  Increased chance of characater death?

The rules or the setting (or the setting filtered through the rules filtered through the setting) needs to address this problem, if it's a problem.



In my opinion it is incredibly boring and not smart at all. Figureing out a console command in a video game doesn't make you smart. It makes you into someone who wants to game the system and win. Why play the game if you aren't up for the challenge? If you were playing monopoly and you werent winning would you just knock the board over and restart the game? It may be smart in your opinion to do so but who the hell would want to play with you if you aren't willing to play the game.

This problem is only for games with players who want to get over on the system. That may be a real problem with the system or it may be a problem with your players. 

Also as someone suggested, you may go into the dungeon and nova but on your way out you run into tough opposition. This may lead to a TPK and a lesson learned.
In my opinion it is incredibly boring and not smart at all. Figureing out a console command in a video game doesn't make you smart. It makes you into someone who wants to game the system and win. Why play the game if you aren't up for the challenge? If you were playing monopoly and you werent winning would you just knock the board over and restart the game? It may be smart in your opinion to do so but who the hell would want to play with you if you aren't willing to play the game.

This problem is only for games with players who want to get over on the system. That may be a real problem with the system or it may be a problem with your players. 

Also as someone suggested, you may go into the dungeon and nova but on your way out you run into tough opposition. This may lead to a TPK and a lesson learned.



Boring?  Sure, but it apparently it still beats dying because players will still do it, otherwise it wouldn't even be a thing and we wouldnt' be discussing it.  Why is it a thing?  Because it's is definitely smart, tactical play and people do it.  It's not a god-mode cheat.  It's working within the parameters of the game.  Your examples of ragequitting aren't even applicable.

The only thing players have control over is their characters.  Whatever they can do to maintain that control while still advancing at an acceptible rate (real world time) is a totally valid tactic.
In my opinion it is incredibly boring and not smart at all. Figureing out a console command in a video game doesn't make you smart. It makes you into someone who wants to game the system and win. Why play the game if you aren't up for the challenge? If you were playing monopoly and you werent winning would you just knock the board over and restart the game? It may be smart in your opinion to do so but who the hell would want to play with you if you aren't willing to play the game.

This problem is only for games with players who want to get over on the system. That may be a real problem with the system or it may be a problem with your players. 

Also as someone suggested, you may go into the dungeon and nova but on your way out you run into tough opposition. This may lead to a TPK and a lesson learned.



Boring?  Sure, but it apparently it still beats dying because players will still do it, otherwise it wouldn't even be a thing and we wouldnt' be discussing it.  Why is it a thing?  Because it's is definitely smart, tactical play and people do it.  It's not a god-mode cheat.  It's working within the parameters of the game.  Your examples of ragequitting aren't even applicable.

The only thing players have control over is their characters.  Whatever they can do to maintain that control while still advancing at an acceptible rate (real world time) is a totally valid tactic.



Who says every fight without all your strongest abilities will kill you? Who says that the console code used was god mode and not just heal all your health and mana? Who says knocking over the monopoly board was done out of rage and not out of tactical thinking? :P

No matter what rule there is in place for healing and resting a group of players could always say we are going back to town for a week or a month to heal up. These specific rules for resting and healing aren't the problem. It is the players who want to play that way.

I really disagree that playing this way is advanced thinking or smart in any way.
Strategic retreat should always be an option.  It may take some work to make it to a safe zone or back to town, but players should be able to do it if they want to.

Sometimes when people worry too much about 5 min work day, it makes me think that they are playing in real-time.  If the party rests for 8 hours, it is 8 hours of game time not real-time.  Let them rest if they deserve a rest.  Or let them struggle until they deserve a rest. 

A Brave Knight of WTF - "Wielder of the Sword of Balance"

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

Frankly, in all of my decades of gaming with various systems, I have never encountered the x-minute workday problem at the tabletop.

Where this showed up most? Video games. Most often the single-player games. But I did see it from time to time in NWN1. I didn't even hear the term until the 3.x days...

At the table, my players (any group I have played with) never alpha-struck then slept on it. We plugged on for as long as we felt we were capable, then took a breather. I can certainly see where a group of players might foster the notion of hammering one encounter, then sleeping. But that smacks of players I wouldn't want to play with anyway. Seems boring and altogether too metagamey.
If there is no downside to resting, PCs will rest.

No one wants their beloved character to die because they went into a battle with 3/4 of their hit points rather than full.  Why risk it?  Also, everyone wants to use their cool toys as much as possible.  It's just human nature.

The DM can certainly reduce over-resting with wandering monters (or the equivalent), enemy reinforcements, time critical goals (my favorite), or dungeon conditions that prevent resting but it's a cop out to put the burden entirely on the DM's shoulders.  The DM has enough to do coming up with plots and NPCs and monster stats.  Requiring them take time to make sure PC resting is carefully accounted for is too much for today's modern, harried DM.  The DM needs a powerful weapon to trump all such problems.  Therefore, I present to you the SUPER PARTY:

The SUPER PARTY is a group twice the level of your PC's characters and is happy to clean out dungeons while your group sleeps collecting all the XP and treasure--and gaining the admiration of the damsels back in town.  The SUPER PARTY--accept no substitutes!

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