quinta-feira, 9 de novembro de 2017

Them Bones of Adventure - VII: Resting & Striking Camp

Continuing my exposition on table procedures for common exploration feats & rules, which began here with part one.


Slow and measured health replenishment through natural means, yet another solid borderland fort in the great divide between new and old school gaming; Once yesteryear’s reliance on magical healing to bridge the five-minute adventuring day became passé, the trend now in vogue is the “Wipe Away All Bad Things” reset button. If you go to sleep, you wake up fully charged, just like a cellular phone. This will obviously not do.

Despite my grip on the rudder ever itching me to sail unto where the water’s foamiest, I’ve got to consider that tightening the net too much can get my game to a point where I will no longer be able to draw proper use out of the Monster Manual (in my view, fifth edition’s strongest book), whose entries invariably cause a rather drastic amount of damage, no doubt balanced to keep up with 5E’s ludicrous pace of healing. Given that the resting and healing options in the DMG are nothing but a joke, it’s time to break out the trusty hack-saw once more.

Quality Time

There are certain things that I set out wishing would get at least the semblance of an answer: what if a party can’t rest the full prescribed amount of time? What if a character’s rest is disturbed partway through the night? What about rests made in worse than usual conditions? Or better than average conditions, for that matter?

By associating the benefits of rest to both its duration and its quality, I propose a system that slightly complicates but yet strives to be also intuitive and, importantly, reworks rest into an associated mechanic, pulling away from its excessively gamist present form.

Note: I fully subscribe to the “Hp as admixture of Grit and Physical Fitness” paradigm.

The Crunchy Bits

Below are the standard rules for resting, which come in three flavours:

Pause or Breather

- A ten minute lull from exertion to recover breath, drink some water and regain composure. Taking one has no direct tangible benefits but not taking one when prescribed will cost 1 Hp. One such sample occasion is immediately after a combat.

Short Rest

- A wakeful pause of one hour. Character recovers 1 Hp per Level, with no influence from Constitution modifiers.

Long or Extended Rest

- Any rest longer than one hour. The hours need not be wholly filled with sleep but periods of wakefulness must still be spent in relative quiet, without any strenuous activity (allowing for 2-hour watches during the night).

- On a partial or interrupted reast, a character recovers a rolled amount of Hp per HD, applying only negative Constitution modifiers and the remainder of each roll then being capped by the number of hours spent resting, with a minimum of 1 hp recovered per die.

- An uninterrupted rest that reaches or exceeds eight hours drops the above time cap and allows for positive Constitution modifiers to the rolls. Once per day, this will also unlock the recovery of Spells. If a character is Exhausted, he receives the minimum possible amount of Hp and reduces his Exhaustion level by one instead of rolling.

- Exceptional resting conditions such as lavishly appointed rooms allow for a number of re-rolls, keyed to the extra quality of the boarding.

Sleeping Under the Stars

The above entries are meant as applied to civilization, when sojourning in a room. Rests are treated slightly differently when in the Wilderness.

Pauses and a Short Rests require only mild conditions or basic shelter to be engaged in, Extended Rests and their benefits are more difficult to unlock while in the wild. Exceptional conditions are but a hazy and distant dream once outside the pale of civilization.

Finding Shelter & Striking Camp

Striking camp is a freeform process rather than a strictly procedural mechanic, the better to allow for player contribution to shine through. Players can ask for pretty much anything within the bounds of logic, but it all starts with finding shelter.

Finding shelter while exploring is done simply by spending time of day to find one (conventionally a couple of hours). Finding an exceptional spot suitable for pitching a camp will either have to be done within context of the narration, due to some concrete place found by the party during the running that is noted as fitting the purpose or rolled for by the party's scout as a [Wisdom (Survival)] check that will cost the same two hours for less certain gain. This roll will abstractly account for both expertise in intuiting where to find the desired conditions but also represent the serendipity of these conditions existing at all.

The DC for the survival roll will begin at 10 (assuming hospitable weather and terrain in a temperate climate) and increase by 1-4 for every particular quality desired by the party. Even on a failure, a roll total of at least 10 will always ensure that basic shelter is found, rolling less means that the party got sidetracked in its ranging quest for the ideal conditions and wasted the time alloted for the skill check. A fumble means they find more than what they bargained for.

Here is a non-exhaustive sampler of camp site qualities that a party can attempt to secure:

- Shelter – this one’s graded from Minimum through Light and Medium up to Heavy (still working the descriptors). Whether through reduced exposure or better temperature insolation, suffice to say that higher levels of shelter translate into better healing on long rests.

- Water Access

- Access to Dry Firewood

- Drainage

- Defensibility

- Hidden Access

- Observation Capability

I equally associate a baseline of roughly an hour for a party to accomplish all camp-related activities – the drudgework of taking off armour, unloading equipment, pitching tents, fetching water and firewood, digging ditches, a firepit and maybe a latrine as well as prepping the evening’s meal.

Extended Rests away from Civilization

- In the Wilderness, each HD used to roll for Hp recovery starts out as a “d1” for basic shelter and layers of creature comfort are then added to it, enbiggening the die with each existing camp ammenity: 1 to d2 to d3, etc, up to a maximum of the character’s class hit die. Conversely, for any discomforting elements present in the camp grounds, reduce the rest die size accordingly.

Note that the above determines the type of dice that are rolled, their total being also still capped by the number of hours spent actually resting, as per a standard long rest.

Again I resort to freeform declaration, as player input is ever the most important thing and engagement is what I’m after. To be counted, all comforts have to be described verbally and have to imply either:

- Securing a better than average shelter as described above;

- Some reusable but encumbering possession such as blankets, weather-appropriate clothing, tents or a tinderbox.

(Tents get a special mention because they allow for Basic Shelter even when none is otherwise found, meaning they can replace their role as improver of shelter for that of provider, as long as they’re weather-appropriate).

- Perishable resources (either brought as supplies or foraged for in the wild), such as firewood, water, food, liquor;

- Soul-warming entertainment: an exceptional cook, a bard or a camp follower;

Closing Thoughts – Unbound Inhospitable Conditions

Systems that hinge on weather conditions are always very voluble, with a lot of assumptions having to be made. This means the above rules will definitely be subjected to a heck of a lot of improvisation and referee dowsing before I’m anywhere near happy with them and that, of course, they won't ever really cover everything.

To head off a paradigmatic question: resting in dungeons is so insanely dangerous that no rational being would manage to gather enough peace of mind to properly do it. You can have trouble sleeping on account of exams, so how to feel about warty beasties with gutting knives and rusty hooks? An hour’s wakeful rest, yes, long tracts of shuteye, only on rare and identifiable safe havens.

Beyond that, already I can see extreme cold or hot conditions messing with the baselines for finding shelter and the gradient of shelter needed for rest to be productive, due to a miriad of variable factors, possibly requiring fine-tuning. From there, one crosses over into the truly alien landscapes precipitated by the Wyrd, which habitually redefine reality and hence the game rules defining the meaning of reality. All in due time.

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