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After fighting through a monster-infested dungeon in 5e, the player characters (PCs) will need to rest. However, both players and DMs ask—how often can PCs rest? To answer the question, we need to dive into the Player’s Handbook (PHB pg 186):
Adventurers can take short rests during a day of adventuring and a long rest to end the day. Rules-As-Written (RAW), this means that players can only get 1 long rest and at least 1 short rest per day. DM discretion, of course.
Though this sounds simple, the rules of short/long rests get a bit more complicated. Read on for more details.
How Long are Short & Long Rests?
Answering this question RAW, short rests are at least 1 hour; long rests are 8 hours.
However, keep in mind that DMs have the final say on these rulings. If the DM chooses to reduce short rests to 20 minutes, then short rests last 20 minutes.
DMs are free to adjust all rulings if they believe it will benefit both the game and the players. As a DM, make sure you are transparent about these rule changes with your players.
As a Player, When Can I Short Rest?
Players should be able to short rest when there is little risk of danger, and the players aren’t pressed for time.
Keep in mind that you cannot choose to rest just anywhere. A short rest is not some button that you can press – it’s a tool for both the DM and the players to keep the player’s alive.
As well, short resting in some areas might not make sense, narrative-wise. You cannot take a short rest during time-sensitive situations.
For instance, taking a short rest in the middle of a siege or in the middle of a monster-infested dungeon. In the second scenario, however, you could find ways to secure your location by spiking doors or magical protections.
As a DM, How Many Short Rests Should I Give my Players?
Dungeon Masters should give as many short rests as a party needs to complete the quest.
Short rests are meant to allow the party to recuperate and regain resources. As a DM, your job is to know your player’s needs and provide them accordingly.
Some classes perform better when given multiple short rests. Warlocks, for instance, rely on short rests to regain all of their very limited spell slots. In these cases, you may want to allow them more frequently.
However, if the session is devoted to a high-speed chase or you want to raise the stakes of a battle, you might cut back the number of short rests provided.
A good baseline is 2 short rests, and tweaking it up or down based on circumstance or desired difficulty.
If you decide to severely restrict short rests, you may want to consider the Healing Surge optional ruling.
Players can only take:
- At most, one long rest per day
- At least, one short rest between long rests
- If you have a Warlock or class that requires short rests to function, consider raising the number of short rests
- If there are time constraints, rests should be heavily restricted
- If they decide to rest in dangerous situations, consider Wandering Monsters mechanics that will have a chance of interrupting the party
DMs should feel free to adjust these numbers to help benefit the party and the story.