Content of the article: "Requiring your players to declare they are taking a Short Rest."
Currently, my party consists of a Fighter, Cleric, Bard, Warlock, and Monk, but the latter three are very, very reliant on short rests for their main class abilities (bardic inspiration, pact slots, and ki points).
Their adventuring day began with a relatively difficult encounter in the mid-morning when their ship was attacked by a clan of sahuagin under control of the Aboleth the party narrowly escaped from the night before. When the players realized the sahuagin were consistently landing their attacks, they began expending all of their abilities. Combat ended pretty quickly after that, but the Warlock and Monk took quite a beating. The Cleric healed them up some, but not entirely.
They made it safely to port, and promptly split the party after bickering for a moment on what to do next. Some left and went shopping, others went to speak with particular NPC's, others went to the library to learn whatever they could about the Aboleth's capabilities. I will just briefly mention now that the Bard is a member of an underground revolutionary group and, after a botched job, is well aware that there is a group of assassins/bounty hunters in the city sent to either kill or capture him. The Bard was by himself shopping for a shiny new blunderbuss, but I decided not to send the 3 assassins after him in this vulnerable moment, because he had less than 20HP and I'm simply not into killing my players essentially off-screen.
They all met at the tavern later that evening, where the Bard (still with less than 20HP), climbed onto the table and began reciting a sea shanty, recalling their battle with the sahuagin. Performance check 26, all eyes are on him and he begins crowd-surfing while the whole tavern chants with him. Suddenly, he's pulled to the floor in the crowd and a dagger is sunk into his chest, the following poison damage puts him unconscious. The Cleric notices with his passive perception and uses Thaumaturgy to shout over the chanting crowd and alert the party with his booming voice. Roll initiative.
The Monk is up first and springs into action, running towards the chaos through the crowd which halves his movement speed. He decides to spend a ki point to use Step of the Wind and dash as his bonus action to close the gap. I remind him that he has no remaining ki points and he says that it should just be assumed that they took a Short Rest at some point during the day. I calmly and quickly reply that no, I don't wanna to get into that habit and you guys need to strategically decide and declare when you're taking a Short Rest and roll your hit dice, rerolling 1's, and that's always been my ruling. The rest of the table now seemingly realizes that their abilities that come back on a Short Rest have been used, and all begin protesting to me, shouting over each other, that they would've taken a Short Rest during the day, too.
Meanwhile, all of the tension and momentum that has been built up with this (totally improvised) encounter has been completely halted. The Bard has been quiet this whole time, nervously waiting to see if he's going to lose 2 death saves from another dagger attack, have to make a death save, or if the Cleric with Healing Word will act before the assassin does in initiative order. Ultimately, just to get on with the encounter, I gave in and said fine, you have your abilities back and everyone go ahead and roll your hit dice, which then subsequently required an explanation of the hit dice mechanic to a couple players, so I had them all take average and just be on with it.
The Monk reaches the assassin and lands a Stunning Strike, giving the Cleric the opportunity to cast Thaumaturgy to amplify his bonus action Healing Word over the loud, now panicking crowd, and successfully revives the Bard. The other 2 assassins began maneuvering through the crowd to attack other players and one was defeated, but one managed to escape through the stampede of fleeing tavern-goers, and the stunned assassins was taken alive for questioning.
I ended the session there with a firm reminder that Short Rests are a strategic part of the game and not just assumed, because it can be abused and creates a very bad habit. But I also would like to know if you guys think I handled this situation appropriately? I'm usually a very pro-player DM.
- Hey guys! I put together some Short/Long Rest mechanics for 5e with inspiration from Zee Bashew, and I want to get some DM opinions on it before I use it with my players.
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- Just killed my first player character today- it wasn’t how I expected it to be.
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