I started to listen to the Exemplary DM podcasts while driving this week. One of the hosts briefly mentioned the idea of Endurance Checks to replace or build upon the Short and Extended Rest mechanics. I found the idea intriguing because I have run into so many situations as a player and as a DM when it does not make any sense AT ALL to take an 8-hour Extended Rest in the story. However, moving forward with more combat is a death sentence for one or more characters. So I find that I spend a good deal of my time thinking about resource management, both for my own resources (as a player) and considering my players’ resources (as a DM).
As a player, the drain on my Daily powers throughout combat encounters is a factor, but I’m not overly concerned about it. Yes, they are powerful and useful, but the more worrisome problem for me is running low on surges. I play a rogue, and I took Durable (2 more surges) right away because I’m more of a front-line striker in our group. On Saturday, I was fully charged to start the night and after two encounters, I was down to no Daily powers and 3 surges (from 9). Two of the other players in the group were down to 1 surge by the end of the night. (We are playing through the Scales of War campaign if you are curious). Our group is just starting a big dungeon delve, but three of us are on death’s door. It does not make any sense to rest in a hostile environment, but we pretty much have to before or after the next encounter or we are likely to die. When playing, I would like to focus on more on the story and encounters than resource management.
As a DM, the current mechanics limit the type of story I can tell. Even if I run encounters below the party’s level, they still use up Daily powers and surges. The party in my group is currently assaulting a tower. They had two relatively easy encounters (at their level or below) but have several more ahead of them. It will not make sense for them in the story to rest for 8 hours before taking the tower, but forcing them to go through a few more encounters without an Extended Rest is not terribly fair. I’ve been thinking of ways around this for several weeks, and one possible solution is presented below.
My idea is based on the discussion in this Exemplary DM podcast – I am thinking that players could make an Endurance Check when they each a Milestone. To be clear, this is not a unique thought on my part. Several months ago, I stumbled upon this document created by Randall Walker at Initiative Or What?, which provides a table for how players can regain Healing Surges and Daily Powers through endurance checks based on the environment. I really enjoyed the chart and meant to incorporate it into my game, but I never attempted it. I think part of the reason is that it seemed too complicated; Randal even mentions in his original post that the table at first looks “overly complex.”
The system I came up with below is far more crude than the table above, but more simple for everyone at the table to understand. The number of surges recovered each Milestone would be tied to the Level-appropriate Endurance DC.
Easy = 1 surge
Moderate = 2 surges
Hard = 3 surges
A player that does not match the Easy DC would not regain any surges. This system favors players with high Endurance scores, and those players will typically be Fighters and other front-line classes. It may encourage people to train in Endurance when they otherwise would not, but I am alright with that consequence. I would have to test it out, but it would not seem to “break the game” in any way. There is still luck involved in recovering surges, but it gives the players more breathing room and me (as the DM) more room to stretch the party without them refusing to move on any further or searching for very creative ways to incorporate an 8-hour rest into the campaign story.
For example, I am currently playing a Level 10 rogue, J’hari Wrex. J’hari has an Endurance modifier of 6; he has not trained in this skill. Looking at the DCs for Level 10, they read as follows:
- Easy (DC 13)
- Moderate (DC 18)
- Hard (DC 26)
When J’hari reaches a Milestone (two consecutive combats without an Extended Rest), he would have the opportunity to use his Endurance skill to regain Healing Surges. With the above DCs, he would have a 30% chance of regaining 0 Surges, a 25% chance of regaining 1 Surge, a 40% chance of regaining 2 Surges, and a 5% chance of regaining 3 Surges.
If I knew this mechanic existed in J’hari’s campaign, then I would have likely trained in Endurance, which would increase my Endurance modifier to 11. Staying with the above DCs, he would then have a 5% chance of regaining 0 Surges, a 25% chance of regaining 1 Surge, a 40% chance of regaining 2 Surges, and a 30% chance of regaining 3 Surges.
Perhaps a 30% chance of regaining 3 Surges every Milestone is too high. The DM could adjust the DCs according to taste, the situation and environment, but it seems to me that this mechanic would give players and DMs a bit more wiggle room to extend delves and move away from the one, two, three encounters and then rest syndrome.
I also think that players could regain a Daily Power during a Milestone or perhaps after 3 consecutive battles. I have to think more about that. Perhaps tying the recovery of a Daily Power to the appropriate skill during each Milestone. For instance, a wizard could make an Arcana check to regain a Daily Power of a certain level, and my rogue could make an Athletics or Acrobatics check to regain a Daily Power, and so on.
I can rationalize this mechanic in my head. The players are heroes, and their stamina is something that increases with advancement along with their other skills. It seems reasonable that they would have an opportunity to regain some energy after battle. The same goes for recovering Daily Powers. If a Rogue knows how to effectively execute a Handspring Assault (or in my case, roll a 2 and miss!), then he should be able to pull off that move later in the day if he is skilled enough. Same with a wizard regaining his spell if he is intelligent enough.
I am interested in reactions or modifications to this concept and mechanic. Would you enjoy this flexibility as a player or DM? Or do you think it would make your lives more complicated?
Final note, I found the image above from The Art of Tim Ide. I love Google Image Search.