i'm having an issue with the idea of not getting short rests during a session with 3-4 encounters. Several builds are built around their encounter powers.
Bladesingers count on their bladesong to boost their efficacy in battle.
Clerics count on their healing word, which they only get two per encounter. Not allowing short rests seriously hampers half of their purpose.
One of our players was having the same issue with his Pixie Skald this week, especially after the journey to Dark Arrow Keep takes a couple of days, they couldnt understand why there was no resting en route "are we marching non-stop?" was his response (though a little more colourfully tbh).
I think DMs need to really set expectations up front. The way I explained it to my table was that each week is treated as 1 encounter (mechanically) but within that encounter there will be many scenes. None of the scenes will pack the punch of a normal 4e encounter, but it’s reasonable to expect that by the end of the session the PCs have expended the same resources that they would for a typical 4e encounter. For those who have played Lair Assault they were already familiar with the idea of multiple scenes but only one big encounter.
You can handle this in many ways. Before making any changes, you can give an explanation:
Explain to the players that in 4th Edition D&D, the rules assume that you will fight a certain level of threat in every encounter. You can call that level of threat whatever you want to have the players understand: experience points, or levels, or gigawatts, or whatever. The rules assume that after the characters face that certain level of threat, they get a short rest. You can then explain that in this season, rather than giving all of the threat at one time, the threats are spread out over the course of the adventure. That means that if resources are refreshed (via a short rest) after each little mini-battle, the challenges of the adventure are easier than they are meant to be. If you take the term "short rest" literally, then of course it doesn't make sense narratively. But in this sense, "short rest" is a game mechanic that is not supposed to make sense narratively or in the real world.
Granted, very few players (and probably very few DMs) are going to be able to understand this concept--or even if they do, they are going to want to ignore it because they want their powers back as much as possible. They may treat this experiment in the way that most humans treat change that they cannot (or do not want to understand)--they say "this is stupid."
If the lack of short rests is "ruining their fun," just give them back their short rests. The mini-combats will be much easier, but if that doesn't bother the players, then so be it. If they then complain that combats are too easy, then you can go back to the explanation that this season is an experiment, where one of the trade-offs is quicker combats for short rests.
Now, if there is a problem where the lack of short rests is causing the mini-combats to be too difficult, then that is a whole other matter. As DMs, we need to remember that the mini-combats are meant to be quick and not threatening, maybe doing a bit of damage here and there, with the danger coming as a cumulative effect throughout the session. I fear some DMs are saying "5 minions are not a challenge," turning those minions into regular monsters, having a more standard 4e battle, and then not giving short rests. That should not happen (unless the players want it that way).
I hope that helps.
I got some similar feedback. What I did was to explain to them that the season is trying something different, and there is no story-logical reason behind the lack of rests over that long period. It is just required for the mechanics and numbers to work out. If you want, you can have your characters take a literal short rest, where their character sit down on a tree stump, sip some tea, and spend 5 minutes chatting, before they get up and continue on their trek. They don't get any of the mechanical benefits, unless they want to spend their second wind action.
I also reminded the cleric that he doesn't have to use his healing powers as often, since people are much more likely to spend their second wind action with all these breaks between micro-encounters.
Action Points were largely ignored by my players. That was odd.
The Skald's problem is fairly severe. The Skald's aura is an encounter power by itself, which allows for two things:
1) the ability for the party to draw on two encounter heals.
2) the ability for the Skald's At-Will's to add a buffing effect to their basic attacks.
If the Skald activates their aura during scene 1, and they do not use both encounter heals, then they cannot access those heals later on in the session. Further, the Skald's At-Wills become useless.
Another problem Bards face is that their Song of Rest is also useless this season, as the party never takes a short rest to benefit from it. As this is a major part of the Bard's healing output, this is a large issue.
Similar issues can arise with Satyr characters (the extra d8 healing during a short rest).
I would suggest that "feature" powers, such as cantrips, channel divinity, bladesong, skald aura, etc. etc. should be allowed to "recharge" between scenes, as these are abilities the classes are expected to have constant access to. Things like Song of Rest and the Satyr's healing, one possible solution is that, at the end of each scene, Song of Rest heals each party member of hit points equal to the Bard's Charisma modifier, and at the end of each scene, the Satyr regains d8 hit points. 4e was not designed to operate without short rests, and while I understand that you will rarely face anything that looks like a normal encounter, nobody should be unduly punished because their class gives them encounter features as opposed to at-will or "always on" benefits.
Really, players should not have been allowed to select such characters in the first place, but we were all told that we could use "any option in the Heroes of _____ books to create characters", despite the fact that some of these classes do not function in this new paradigm.
As the skalds aura specifically states should this end prematurely for any reason it can be reactivated as a minor action I would consider it an at will power for this seasons encounters. Applying Song of Rest and and Satyrs extra healing to characters who second wind between scenes is a reasonable compromise within the spirit of the rules experimenting of this seasons encounters. In my opinion.
I will also add Encounters so far is feeling a fun but ultimately unsatisfying speed leveling process. I am now looking to get my teeth into a balanced combat this season as I have strong sense of not knowing what my character is really calpable of and that character is already level 3.
The suggestion of tying a short rest ability with the Second Wind is a great idea. I'm totally stealing it.
Another alternative is to convert abilities meant to be used with a short rest into Encounter Powers, that can be used once per session. This is probably a better option if the power isn't tied to healing in some way. They defiinitely should not be allowed to be used more than once, since each session is the equivalent to one single encounter.
I'd also say to avoid allowing recharging things between scenes. I've got a psion who wanted to recharge power points. Because he starts each session with a full compliment, I've decided not to allow them to recharge. This keeps him from being overpowered.
There have been some great suggestions here. Rather than get tangled up in the term "short rest" as a game mechanic, just do what people are suggesting: figure out how often they should be used, and allow them to be used that many times. The skald's aura issue is easy to fix: just treat the aura as always activated. There are going to be countless powers or abilities that say, "Until the end of the encounter." DMs can use their best guess to figure out if each power should continue until the end of the session or not, depending on what the power or ability does.
I'm curious about how Temporary Hit points should be handled. I had a player get some in the initial scuffle with the orcs, and I wasn't sure if I should have them go away, or stick around after the mini-encounter.
That's a good point, I hadn't thought of that. Temporary hit points normally clear at the "start of a short rest". If you consider the entire session to be one "encounter", just broken up into parts, then there's no real reason for temporary hit points to go away.
Although that begs the question of how to handle "until the end of the encounter" effects on Daily powers. I'm a bit torn on this point. On the one hand, it makes very little sense for the benefit of a Daily to persist while travelling for days on end, but on the other hand, if the "encounter" of a session is broken up into a fight against 5 minions and then a real enemy later, it really does feel like you're punishing your Cleric for using Lesser Aspect of Wrath early.
Let alone Mage Daily powers that create encounter zones.
A good story explanation is that the Darkness is causing this effect. It stresses everyone out magically, such that they would really need to retire completely from their quest for the effect to not be felt. When they are traversing the wilderness and investigating these issues then they can't take short rests.
Mechanically, if there are issues then I recommend addressing them on a case-by-case basis. If there is a power that you think needs recharging, find a way it can recharge, such as a boon similar to the Tears item. Perhaps they find an item that can restore an encounter power, and it has three charges. This lets the party decide what is really needed and self-throttle the recharge. With most encounters being not particularly difficult, it shouldn't be an issue power-wise. DMs can adjust this as needed. Maybe a shaman orc working for Many Arrows provides herbs that restore their choice of 1-2 encounter powers, etc.
How long does the short rest last? If 10 minutes or so, then I would call it short. If an hour or so, then it's not a short rest.
Roughly 5 minutes, if you want to pin down a time. Most games don't bother tracking the exact amount- generally "you pause to dress your wounds and catch your breath before moving on". Even in "classic" D&D, this takes about the same time as searching a room for loot.
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