Most DMs have experienced the phenomenon colloquially known as “The 10 Minute Adventuring Day” at one time or another: The heroes set out in the morning, refreshed and ready for adventure. They approach the cave opening to the dungeon, and engage the fearsome guardian on the threshold. Unfortunately, a couple of rolls don’t go their way, and before they’ve managed to overcome the first encounter, they’re battered, beaten, out of hit points, and out of spells. It would be suicide for them to go any further into the dungeon.
And so, ten minutes into their adventuring day, they head back to the inn, resolved to try again tomorrow (when they have all their spells back).
As with all of the rules changes in Trailblazer, we firmly believe that the rules should support the way the game is actually played. In our experience, 3e typically plays out with the following considerations:
• Players would sooner stop adventuring than continue in a sub-optimal state.
• The CR system is most accurate when the party is at their full capacity.
• By second level, the PCs have purchased a wand of cure light wounds.
• Given 5 minutes (50 rounds), they can completely empty any wand and bring everyone back to full health.
• The PCs will do everything possible to enter every fight at full hit points, if not necessarily at full ability. (This is simply smart play, and is certainly to be encouraged.)
• The cost of a cure wand (of applicable potency for the party level) simply becomes a tax on the PCs’ wealth. They’re always going to want to buy or craft such a wand as soon as possible, and that expense drains them of funds they would prefer to spend on something more interesting.
• Published adventures almost always go “off script” because the PCs retreat at unexpected times. Your options as a DM are to allow it—which means suddenly accounting for the passage of 1 day—or to find some excuse to prevent them from retreating.
For many DMs the solution is simply to put some pressure on the players to force them to continue. But in most cases, you’ll find the PCs in one of two scenarios:
• In the first scenario, the PCs are exploring an area that is largely static, where there is no real rationale for the DM to pressure them (such as exploring a largely abandoned tomb full of undead or golem guardians that are not inclined to pursue). If the PCs are able to retreat and rest overnight without being unduly harried, then you might as well do everything you can to get them back into the action. In this case, many DMs will simply hand-wave the retreat back to the inn, all the intervening time, and the return trip: “Ok, it’s the next day, and you find yourself back at the entrance to the dungeon.”
Indeed some players, once they are forced by the DM to retreat and rest for a full day, will balk at sitting idle; they’ll find all sorts of other things to do with their time besides getting back to the adventure intended for them. From the safety of the inn, they’ll want to craft scrolls or weapons, they’ll wander off to talk to NPCs to launch hooks and plot lines you may not be prepared for, and so forth.
• In the second (and certainly more common) scenario, the PCs are exploring an area that is “alive” and “responsive”. They may choose to wander off for a day; but you, being a crafty DM, are certain that the foes they face will take the respite given to them to prepare for the PCs’ return. What will the orc encampment do, given a full day before the heroes return?
Now consider for a moment the impact on your game if the PCs could fully rest in just ten minutes, instead of a full day.
In the first scenario, rather than hand-wave away an entire day, you’re only waving away ten minutes. The PCs never have to leave the adventure site; the hand-wave requires the same amount of real time at the table, but the players will not lose focus on the planned adventure.
In the second scenario, the orc encampment, it is only necessary for you to figure out what the orcs will do in the next ten minutes, rather than over the course of a full day. Once the alarm is raised, enemy spellcasters will almost certainly prepare themselves for battle, casting their 10 minute/level buffs (and even their 1 minute/level buffs, given a sufficiently high level spellcaster). They might even choose to take the opportunity to rest and recover their own hit points and spells. Moreover, if you don’t simply want the rest period to be a given, you can put pressure on the PCs right away, inside a much more manageable time frame.
(As an aside, as a result of this change, we’ve started using Wandering Monsters again, and simply put the check on a 10-minute timer. The PCs are never sure of getting a 10-minute uninterrupted rest.)
The 10-minute Rest Period
• A “rest period” is re-defined as 10 minutes of uninterrupted rest, to include no more than conversation and light activity.
• All character abilities and class features that were previously granted “per day” are instead granted “per rest.” This includes rage, smite, wild shape, etc. as well as spellcasting (see below).
• Spellcasters may be required to spend action points in addition to resting, in order to recover certain spells more quickly.
• All abilities are refreshed once every 24 hours, at no cost of action points. (In other words, always at least as often as the current 3e rules allow.)
After a successful rest period, at no cost of Action Points:
• All “per rest” class abilities are refreshed (rage, smite, wild shape, etc.)
• All characters heal an amount of hit points equal to 50% of their normal, maximum hit point total.
• All spell slots used to cast Rote spells are refreshed. (See below).
• Any ongoing spell effects on your person are dispelled when your rest is complete, regardless of any duration they may have remaining. This does not apply to spells with instantaneous or permanent durations; however it does apply to spells both beneficial and harmful, regardless of their origin.
After a successful rest period, at a cost of 1 Action Point:
• A character can recover an additional amount of hit points equal to 50% of their normal hit point total (which will restore any character to full hit points).
• All spell slots used to cast Restricted spells are refreshed (see below).
• One spell slot used to cast a Ritual spell is refreshed, per action point spent.
All spells are designated as Rote, Restricted, or Ritual.
Rote spells include:
• All 0-level spells.
• Any single-target spell with a duration of 1 min/level or less.
Restricted spells include:
• Any area of effect or multiple-target spell.
• Any spell with a duration of 10 minutes/level or longer.
• Any Conjuration (creation, calling, or teleport).
Ritual spells include:
• Any spell with an unusual and expensive material component. Mostly spells that used to require an XP cost.
• The big three gamebreakers: Divination/Commune, Raise Dead, Teleport.
• ‘Edge case’ spells that create permanent goods (water, food, iron) at the DM’s discretion.
• At the DM’s discretion, any other spell which, by reputation or overuse, proves disruptive to the campaign (for example, spells that require no roll to affect the target and permit no defenses such as saving throws or SR).