What can you do when the 5-minute work day is killing your campaign? The PCs are a bunch of narcoleptics who need to take a nap as soon as they finish a fight. They can’t believe that you really expect them to keep adventuring after they’ve completed one whole encounter? They’ve already used some (or all) of their daily powers and expended a few healing surges. In their eyes you’re a terrible DM to place these unrealistic expectations on them.
Don’t worry; we’re going to help you. Yesterday we addressed the fact that you should Blame the Players for the 5-Minute Work Day. But if they’re not having any of that and still insist that it’s your problem then we have some ideas to help smooth things out.
If the players insist on taking an extended rest as soon as they’re even just a little bit below full power then here’s what you do to convince them to keep moving forward with the game – you bribe them. Give them something they want in order for you to get what you want, namely a game that isn’t just the stuff that happens between the slumber parties.
Since this topic reared its ugly head again on the blogsphere last week there have been plenty of great suggestions for how to keep the players motivated to keep going. Check out theses articles, as well as the comments below each one, for a lot of great suggestions.
- The Bed Problem (Blog of Holding)
- D&D: Solving the Bed Problem(HenchBlog)
- 3 Rules Based Solutions to the 5 Minute Day (The Red Box Blog)
Building on the ideas these blogs covered we’re going to provide a few bribes that you can offer the players to keep going and make the work day longer than just 5 minutes.
One bribe that keeps coming up is to reward players with actions points after every encounter. This is basically a suggestion to make each encounter count as a milestone and I think this is a fantastic idea. My only caveat is that if you going to go this route, which I encourage, PCs only earn milestones (and all the benefits that accompany that accomplishment) for completing combat encounters. Skill challenges no longer factor into milestones.
Introducing Milestone Rewards
When you achieve a milestone (the newly modified milestone discussed above) you choose one of two different milestone rewards. The reward only lasts until the end of the next encounter, at which time you’ll get another one. You can only ever have one milestone reward at a time.
- The milestone reroll– This one is pretty self explanatory. Once during the next combat encounter you can reroll any d20 roll except a daily attack power. Alternatively it can also be used to reroll all damage dice for a single attack. You must take the new total.
- The milestone bonus – the bonus equals half your level. Once during the next combat encounter you can add the milestone bonus to any d20 roll except a daily attack power. You must declare that you are using the bonus before you roll the d20.
Daily Power Regeneration
After hitting two milestones roll a d20 at the beginning of every subsequent combat encounter. If you roll 10 or higher you regain the use of a daily power you’ve already expended. If you’re completely out of daily powers you get +1 to the roll. For every encounter that you fail this check you get a cumulative +1 to your roll at the beginning of the next encounter.
The Ultimate Solution
Some DMs, me included, believe that rewarding players in this way just encourages the problems that already exist. Players will keep blowing their powers too quickly and have no concept of long-term consequences. For anyone who subscribes to this school of thought I have the ultimate solution: say no. Don’t let players take an extended rest until you deem it appropriate.
I’m a big believer that the PCs should only rest when it makes sense for the story. If they’re racing to get to the village and warn them about the Gnolls who will be attacking at nightfall then they can’t afford to stop and rest for 6 hours. They need to keep going despite their current situation. This breaks the say yes rule that dominates 4e D&D, but I think this is one problem that is easily solved by breaking the rule and saying no.
No matter what solution you choose to implore, don’t forget this important rule about resting. PCs don’t get benefits of an extended rest unless 12 hours have passed since they woke up from their last extended rest. So the next time the PCs decide it’s nap time, figure out how long they’ve been awake today. If it’s less than 12 hours then their work day isn’t over yet. Thanks to Kenneth McNay for bringing this rule to my attention.
What other solutions have you used to counter the 5-minute work day at your gaming table? What’s the worst thing you’ve seen happen to a PC in need of a rest who wasn’t able to get one? If the PCs survived, did he ever find himself in that kind of predicament again?