Mechanics Monday: Rest System in 5e

Welcome to this week’s Mechanics Monday where we take a look at a specific mechanic in the 5th Edition of Dungeon & Dragons. We compare it to the Advanced D&D 2nd Edition and see which version works best for the Greyhawk setting.

If the 5e version is suboptimal we try to homebrew a better version for our campaign.

Today’s Mechanic

Today we talk about the Rest System in 5e, specifically how health and spells recharge over time.

Rest System in 5th Edition

In 5th Edition we differentiate between short rest and long rest. Here is a short summary of the important parts:

A short rest takes at least 1 hour where the players regain some racial or class abilities. They can also use Hit Dice to regain a tremendous amount of health.

A long rest takes at least 8 hours where the player characters have to rest or only do light activity. They regain all racial and class abilities and all health points.

How it’s used to be in 2nd Edition

The system was entirely different.

Racial and class abilities recharge once per day similar to a long rest. But spells are not included. To regain spells as a wizard you need to get a full night sleep. Afterwards you need to memorize the spells you want to use. Memorizing a level 1 spell takes 10 minutes while a level 5 spell takes 50 minutes. Important to note: You have less spells in total, no cantrips and can only cast spells you memorized. (e.g. to cast two fireballs you would have to memorize it twice in advance)

When the character doesn’t do anything for a day you regain 1 hit point. Additionally, if the character lays in bed for the whole day he would regain 3 hitpoints. If he lays in bed for a full week he can add his Constitution bonus to the 21 healed hit points.

What is better?

The 5th Edition version is clearly meant to make it easier to play. Fast healing, simple recharging abilities are for sure more attractive than the clunky memorize system and bookkeeping exercises in 2e.

But, the verisimilitude truly suffers. Characters heal way too fast in 5th Edition and in my opinion spellcasters are way too powerful. Someone could have close to death in 5th Edition and would be by full health the next day.

Wizards run around (especially) on higher levels like superheroes being able to have a solution for every problem overshadowing other classes.

Furthermore, downtime becomes obsolete. This can be a huge issue for good story progression.

Now let’s see what we can do for 5th Edition to improve it for our campaign

How we tweak it

Luckily, 5th Edition has a solution: Gritty Realism

Basicly a short rest will now take 8 hours and long rest takes 7 days. I think it is a nice change but here is what I prefer:

We differentiate between 4 types of rests:

Rally short rest: Similar to the former short rest, simulates fast patching up in a stress situation. Can only be done once before the next short rest. Everyone needs to succeed a DC 10 Constitution save or gain 1 level of exhaustion.

Gritty short rest: Works like the gritty short rest, recharges the rally short rest. Optional: Lose the exhaustion of the rally short rest.

Rally long rest: Similar to the former long rest, simulates bandaging and night’s rest to push through a hard situation. Can only be done once before the next long rest. Everyone needs to succeed a DC 10 Constitution save or gain 1 level of exhaustion.

Gritty long rest: Takes a week, regain all hit dice, health points and lose all exhaustion levels. Optional: Gritty long rest takes only 64 hours (8 hours times 8).


In my opinion this method gives players enough tools to push through hard dungeons while at the same time gives DM’s enough opportunity to squeeze in downtime and progress the story.

I hope you liked today’s episode of Mechanics Monday. If you have any feedback or own idea how to tackle this mechanic, comment down below.

For the next episode we will look at Downtime in 5e.

See you in the Green Dragon Inn,


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