How do your parties handle nightly watches?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


Another thread got me thinking about this and I didn't want to derail that one, so here we are.

I'm curious as to how everyone handles nightly watches. In the other thread, people were talking about everyone in the party taking only 2 hour watches. I find this odd since characters need 8 hours of rest (at least to not be fatigued, per the fatigued rules) and with a party of 4, if each character takes a 2 hour watch, everyone is only getting 6 hours of rest. And arcane casters need 8 hours of rest to get their spells back (plus extra, if the 8 hours is not consecutive.) So how does a party (at least, a party of 4) get by with each person only taking 2 hours of watch?

In my group, we rest a total of 12 hours and everyone takes a 4 hour watch. If we have more than 3 people (which is almost always) we'll double up certain watch slots. We also try to let arcane casters not take the middle watch, since being awake in the middle of their rest cycle will add to the amount of time they need to prepare spells.

Liberty's Edge

Parties of five, two hour watches a piece. That's typical in my group, anyway. In a party of 6, one person gets to sleep through every night, and it rotates who.


Party of 6, rotating as 3 watches 2 per watch. Tbh we're not really factoring in "hours". It's just abstract. Our group honestly can't get that nitpicky, as it'll slow us down with sort of less relevant fluff and we don't want to get that detailed. A lot gets abstracted, instead of saying "It's two o'clock" our GM says "It's early afternoon."


If I recall rest is not defined as sleep in the book, I think it's just not taking part in any strenuous activity. So if your 4 man party takes 2 hours to after setting up camp to eat and unwind from your long day of orc killing, and then 2 hour watches each you would have still rested 8 hours.

I could be wrong though, I might be thinking of a house rule, or a different game entirely.

-Tal


:D
Ahhh, I've been in mid sized to small groups. The funny thing is, we usually have spellcasters. Now they want the full night's sleep, think they are better and more worthy than everyone else. Sometimes they fight against doing night watch. If they do it, then the party has to stay at rest for longer (12 hours has been mentioned), as they get all the hours and memorisation sorted.

In a small game I was in, as a player I solved this problem. My ranger would sleep 7 hours (maybe take a brief siesta after a monster kill later) and leave the wizard behind if he wasn't ready to go. Very amusing. There were monsters to kill, a region to tame, but the wizard wanted his long rest to get all his spells back. This didn't work with the highly active ranger that was not one to loaf about or dawdle. A situation where character concepts didn't go together.

On rest, sleep and watch. Properly keeping watch isn't lying in your bedroll. It takes effort (perception checks are being made as the watch man or woman keeps an eye out for any approaching problems) there is some light patrolling. That is how I and other groups I know have run it.


In a 4 party group you need 2.66 hour watches per person for a total of 10.66 hours rest, if everyone should get 8 hours sleep.

Formula for other group sizes: 8 / (partysize-1)

If you're doubling up, obviously you only have half the size for this calculation. So 6 people doubling up need to rest for 12 hours to get 8h sleep each.

It depends on the GM of course, it's true that rest is not defined as "sleeping" but on watch you're not exaclty resting, you have to be alert and everything.


Generally by level 5 we have several people with rings of sustinance.

That way you only need 2 hours.

Honestly I never make a character without one.

Dark Archive

Usually we assume 12 hours sleep; or often longer, especially at low levels. Unless you are desperate, it is difficult to continue on for more than that on an adventuring day; limited resources run out (not just spells; but means of hp coming back). Even travel assumes 20 miles; really nothing for experienced hikers (which, as adventurers, is part of your job description.. hikers carry similar lines down the app trail for over 20 miles / day).

Prior to electricity, mankind would sleep for as long as it is nighttime; awake only long enough to make a fire and eat, so this is not unrealistic. So they have plenty of time.

But at a minimum, yes, each person should have 8 hours to sleep; and wizards and other spellcasters should not be studying during that time.

Shadow Lodge

Well, if you want to go strictly by RAW, then yes, you've got issues, and 12 hours is necessary, despite wasting a lot of time. In reality (as it were), there's "rested" meaning "I slept 12 hours in a comfortable bed and woke up when the sun warmed my face," and there's "rested" meaning "I got enough hours on a lumpy bedroll on hard ground that I can function and we have things to do." Also it's worth considering that adventurers are usually relatively young and in good shape; an argument could be made that they just don't need as much sleep.

Mostly it's just always seemed to me that it's not worthy stressing over in the course of a game. You declare watch so the GM knows who's up when the monsters attack--or so s/he can just screw with you instead--and don't obsess over the details. (Blasphemy, I know.)


Usually 5 2hour watches, accommodating for casters as needed. Usually some time during the first session we just write down various watch orders based on who's there, and then only look at it again when relevant.


My parties tend to take ten hour rest periods at minimum. Usually more like 14 hours. The rest time is generally split up between resting, eating regaining spells and crafting. Most casters spend 8 hours "sleeping" and one hour "meditating" with the rest devoted to crafting usually. We try to provide at least four hours of crafting timee per day (not just magic item crafting, my archers make arrows and/or bows, my alchemists (the skill, not the class) make alchemical items, armorers make or repair armor, etc.

Watches themselves are typically multi-tasked while a couple of party members are up.


Since parties often have five or six PC's, single two-hour watches work just fine. With four or fewer it means longer watches.

Since the day is usually eight hours sleep, eight hours adventuring, and eight hours miscellaneous, the details of how the eight hours of miscellaneous activity is handled can be used to fudge the exact the numbers. So, if it takes 10 hours to ensure each member of a five person party gets 8 hours of sleep, that still leaves 6 hours a day for other miscellaneous activities.

What is important is usually to know who is on duty when something bad happens. Party of four everyone taking a watch, 1d4 to see who the wandering monster finds on duty. It usually doesn't matter exactly how the watches were divided only that they were evenly divided by four people.

Now, if there are actual time constraints and you're using the forced marching rules, by all means figure out how long everyone rests and how many hours are actually spent on the move. But for the most part it isn't worth spending valuable game time working out the details of a watch schedule.


pathar wrote:

Well, if you want to go strictly by RAW, then yes, you've got issues, and 12 hours is necessary, despite wasting a lot of time. In reality (as it were), there's "rested" meaning "I slept 12 hours in a comfortable bed and woke up when the sun warmed my face," and there's "rested" meaning "I got enough hours on a lumpy bedroll on hard ground that I can function and we have things to do." Also it's worth considering that adventurers are usually relatively young and in good shape; an argument could be made that they just don't need as much sleep.

Mostly it's just always seemed to me that it's not worthy stressing over in the course of a game. You declare watch so the GM knows who's up when the monsters attack--or so s/he can just screw with you instead--and don't obsess over the details. (Blasphemy, I know.)

Funny enough, scientific evidence has shown that OLDER folks need less sleep than average (6.5-7 hours), while younger people need more than average (8.5-9 hours).

Divine casters don't have he same requirements for sleep/rest to regain spells as arcane casters do. They can participate in watches without any issues.

Making everyone participate in watches is like asking everyone to take turns appraising found gear... not everyone is up for certain tasks, and you are setting your group up for surprise when you tell the +1 perception wizard to stand guard.

We have 10-12 hour rest periods with 3 ppl rotating through the night usually. If we are rushed, 2 ppl take 4 hours a piece... getting 4 hours of sleep only occasionally really should have 0 impact on their ability to function (I got used to 3-4 hours a night working 2 jobs 7 days a week, starting at 3am, ending at 7-9pm for a 4 month stretch unloading trucks and fixing homes. I still had time to spend with a GF and have fun, and was able to function at a decently high level. Don't ask me to run through a few pages of calculus when I am doing it, but physical labor was fine.)


Everybodies "fun" is different, but I have never been in a group so nitpicky as to count hours unless the DM deliberatley cuts a nights rest short. We always split it in 2 hour chunks. those with Dark vision get the middle of the night and casters get to sleep through if numbers permit.


Lazurin Arborlon wrote:
Everybodies "fun" is different, but I have never been in a group so nitpicky as to count hours unless the DM deliberatley cuts a nights rest short. We always split it in 2 hour chunks. those with Dark vision get the middle of the night and casters get to sleep through if numbers permit.

It's not so much that we "count hours" as that we want to keep track of our non-combat activities.

For example, my 8th level druid is currently researching a spell she wants to add to her spell list. There are rules about how to do that, and she is spending time every day doing the research, so we discuss how that is happening while camping.

The full extent of our actual game play activities around watch goes something like this:

My druid: "Looks like this is a good place to camp."
GM: "OK, what's the plan for tonight?"
Druid: "Well, we'll take a 14 hour rest so I can keep researching that spell, Joe will be making some potions on his wake time and Mary is still working on that tome she found... So I'll take first watch, then Joe, then Mary and finally Tom will take the last watch."

Then the GM rolls for random encounters...


We don't really keep track of the details. Generally, we say that any of the non-casters might be on watch. If there's an encounter, we roll to see which 1-2 of them might have been awake, and they get to roll perception checks. Everyone else misses out on surprise round and starts prone.


Stubs McKenzie wrote:
pathar wrote:

Well, if you want to go strictly by RAW, then yes, you've got issues, and 12 hours is necessary, despite wasting a lot of time. In reality (as it were), there's "rested" meaning "I slept 12 hours in a comfortable bed and woke up when the sun warmed my face," and there's "rested" meaning "I got enough hours on a lumpy bedroll on hard ground that I can function and we have things to do." Also it's worth considering that adventurers are usually relatively young and in good shape; an argument could be made that they just don't need as much sleep.

Mostly it's just always seemed to me that it's not worthy stressing over in the course of a game. You declare watch so the GM knows who's up when the monsters attack--or so s/he can just screw with you instead--and don't obsess over the details. (Blasphemy, I know.)

Funny enough, scientific evidence has shown that OLDER folks need less sleep than average (6.5-7 hours), while younger people need more than average (8.5-9 hours).

Divine casters don't have he same requirements for sleep/rest to regain spells as arcane casters do. They can participate in watches without any issues.

Making everyone participate in watches is like asking everyone to take turns appraising found gear... not everyone is up for certain tasks, and you are setting your group up for surprise when you tell the +1 perception wizard to stand guard.

We have 10-12 hour rest periods with 3 ppl rotating through the night usually. If we are rushed, 2 ppl take 4 hours a piece... getting 4 hours of sleep only occasionally really should have 0 impact on their ability to function (I got used to 3-4 hours a night working 2 jobs 7 days a week, starting at 3am, ending at 7-9pm for a 4 month stretch unloading trucks and fixing homes. I still had time to spend with a GF and have fun, and was able to function at a decently high level. Don't ask me to run through a few pages of calculus when I am doing it, but physical labor was fine.)

Ah but then that sounds like the wizard is trying to get out of work, so he can rest more. He isn't very good at something, so says others should do it. Some parties won't be down with that. I've never been down with it, but I've heard wizards treat the rest of the party like instruments. "I will never take watch, and I'll make sure I don't beef my perception so I always have an excuse".

Execute the wizard!


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7th level (for Wizards; 8th level for Sorcerers and 10th level for Bards) is the bomb. Why? Because you get access to Secure Shelter. Every group I used to play with (and the ones I run for now) either memorizes that spell every day, has it as a spell known, or pools in to buy a wand for the party.

No more insect infested ground! No hard dirt or rocks! No, my caster gets a comfortable bed (eight bunks!), a writing desk for me to study at, a solid fire-place to keep the cold out, and the doors, shutters, and chimney flue are secured with arcane lock spells (as part of the original spell, not something I or the caster have to cast in addition)! Each is also protected by an alarm spell, AND I get an unseen servant to stir the evening stew pot, heat my coffee, and pour me a cup (he even massages my aching feet and rubs out my sore back muscles after a long day of adventuring).

And I don't have to sleep out in the rain or deal with mosquito swarm (or striges or random encounters, for that matter).

Yes, some people say it is a waste. HERESY, I say! By the time I get access to this amazing and wonderful spell, I deserve better than sleeping out in the open with . . . vermin and wandering critters and the weather and all the rest.

And even in wand form, it lasts for fourteen hours (7th level minimum; duration of 2 hours/caster level). What more do you want or need?

Master Arminas


Cripes, don't even get me started on this. Back in a 2nd Ed game, one of the DMs was a slave to the wandering monster tables. No matter what you did, or how carefully you set the watch, the whole party would end up ambushed three or four times a night.

Later, he tried that stuff again in a 3.5 game, and I finally explained to him that those tables were for when things got boring, not something he was bound by law to roll on for every hour of the night.


Heh Master... there are several spells that are similar to "Secure Shelter", including the simple "rope trick". At fifth level, with an "extend" rod Rope Trick lasts 10 hours, plenty of time for everyone to get a full night's rest.

It's not so much that it's heresy to camp this way. It's more that some characters prefer not to. My druid, for example, WANTS to sleep out in the wild. That's her preference. Sleeping in an extra-dimensional space or a magically summoned cottage just doesn't appeal to her.

But in a magical world where adventurers are schooled in magical spells, using magic to make camping more pleasant would surely be high on their priority list.


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Bruunwald wrote:

Cripes, don't even get me started on this. Back in a 2nd Ed game, one of the DMs was a slave to the wandering monster tables. No matter what you did, or how carefully you set the watch, the whole party would end up ambushed three or four times a night.

Later, he tried that stuff again in a 3.5 game, and I finally explained to him that those tables were for when things got boring, not something he was bound by law to roll on for every hour of the night.

I know exactly what you mean. About eight years ago I was playing a sorcerer in a friend's game. And he had this drow ***hole trailing behind us just to make things miserable at night. Well, I finally hit 8th level, and took secure shelter. Popped it up that night and we went to sleep, confident that tonight we would get to rest in peace. HAH!

The drow sneaked up, and he was suprised by the little cottage in the middle of the dangerous woods. And then he dispelled it!

And ran off.

We hit the ground, were woken up and after two hours of searching for the son of a . . . matriarch . . . I cast the spell again, and we went back to sleep.

And he snuck back and dispelled it again!

Now, I was starting to get a bit pissed (me, not my character; although he was a little upset as well) and I told the DM, that our tail had ONE more chance to let us get some sleep. After which, I would put him in the ground.

Third time the charm? Nope. He dispelled it again! Beav (our DM; his name was really Jerry, but everyone called him Beav) was laughing uncontrollably.

So, in character, I had my sorcerer asked the dark forest around us, "You want to play? You want to play? FINE. We'll play!"

My party wasn't sure what was about to happen as I pulled a wand with 45 charges on it--FORTY-FIVE fireballs! I nuked that forest. Shot a fireball off blindly into the woods, pivoted 8-degrees, and fired another. Cast a pyrotechnics spell every now and then. Took a while, but I blasted out a soot-and-cinder covered wasteland around us.

Did I mention it was high summer and the area was suffering a drought? Beav was laughing so hard, he fell out of his chair as the entire woods went up in flames. Pissed the local druids off some fierce.

And then I cast secure shelter a fourth time and we finally got some sleep in the middle of our firebreak. Found that dark elf's skeletal remains the next day where he got caught up in my major firestorm (the event, not the spell).

Yeah, I know all about DMs that won't let you get your beauty sleep.

Master Arminas


Adamantine Dragon wrote:

Heh Master... there are several spells that are similar to "Secure Shelter", including the simple "rope trick". At fifth level, with an "extend" rod Rope Trick lasts 10 hours, plenty of time for everyone to get a full night's rest.

It's not so much that it's heresy to camp this way. It's more that some characters prefer not to. My druid, for example, WANTS to sleep out in the wild. That's her preference. Sleeping in an extra-dimensional space or a magically summoned cottage just doesn't appeal to her.

But in a magical world where adventurers are schooled in magical spells, using magic to make camping more pleasant would surely be high on their priority list.

Sure, that's fine for rangers and druids and . . . outdoorsy types. Rope trick is good, but there isn't a fireplace, or a solid floor, or beds for that matter. You can't make a fire; you can't sit in a chair; watch a roaring fire in the stone fireplace. It's okay, but I'd rather have my secure shelter. Until I get magnificent mansion, that is.

Master Arminas


We usually do 3 x 4hr watches per night, divided as evenly as possible between characters, spellcasters taking 1st or 3rd watches to get continuous rest. We don't agonize too much about the time involved.. So what if the party 'rests' for 12 hours?

Silver Crusade

4-5 PCs taking @2hr shift apiece, unless they're staying up to watch the John Stewart show, ppl will get their 8 hrs of rest. Only mechanic I really focus on is whose watch (randomly rolled) is up if a random encounter hits.

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