Resting in a Large Dungeon - How to Handle?


Advice


This is not a new question, but I am hoping the forum can provide some advice on this.

My party is getting ready to enter a large and maybe challenging dungeon crawl of sorts. If they get to a point where they need to rest, how do I handle this?

1 - If they decide to leave the dungeon do I roll for random encounters on the way out?
2 - if they decide to stay do I roll from random encounters while they try to sleep, thus denying them the chance to recover spells?

How tough do you guys generally make resting when the party is working a dungeon? Can you add some kind of penalty of sorts for resting, like some rooms re-spawn?

I don't feel like just letting the PCs rest with no consequence would be very fun. What is a fun a fair way to liven up resting without being to much of a jerk as the GM?

Thanks!


If they want to retreat, maybe make one random encounter roll but have the chance built in that there is no encounter. Don't just reset all the rooms because if they've been through the area before it's not fun to do the same fights over and over and just restart to do the same thing again. The fun part is exploring so you have to let them make progress.

Some rooms could respawn, but less than half, again, you do want them to make progress.

If they sleep in the dungeon, smart players will set up security, maybe traps or having someone on watch, or what ever else they think of. Reward them for being creative and resourceful. Maybe they block off a room and don't get attacked because nothing can get to them or they have warning before it gets there so they have a few rounds to prepare (also remember that the wizard need not sleep the whole time, merely 'rest' so if he stays on his cot the entire fight he can still regain spells in the morning.) The wizard situation could be an interesting fight because they are down a player, and maybe even have to protect him. Make sure the wizard knows this too though before just sending things to attack him and expecting him not to move. This type of fight also has to be relatively short because it's boring for the player whose character is staying still.

Don't think of it as penalizing the players, think of it as making the night more interesting.


If they're resting and haven't exhausted their combat ability for the day, go and whack them with a below level-appropriate encounter in the middle of the night or a level-appropriate one right before they sleep. Err on the side of a weak encounter, especially if they don't have a nightwatch. It stinks when you're unarmored and have to fend off a troll. Martials in particular are more gear-dependant than casters, so balance accordingly.

If they have exhausted all their expendable abilities, or at least enough so that another encounter would kill or incapacitate them, let them sleep in peace if they post a nightwatch or something. Maybe spook the nightwatch with a few perception checks and will saves, but have nothing come of it, or at most, have them hear occasional enemies scampering around further away. Don't actually get them into a fight, they've earned their rest.

If they have exhausted everything and don't post a nightwatch, make things go missing in the dead of night. Start small, like pots and pans, food, bits of gold, and torches. If they don't catch on, steal something moderately valuable and work your way up. Eventually toss in a few encounters with looters or something if they don't post a watch.

If you want to, you can have rooms respawn, or have monsters from harder rooms move in to occupy nearby rooms, or set up traps around your room. Think what you would do from the monsters' perspective if groups of your friends failed to report back next day. You might send some scouts up, or lay some extra traps, or fortify yourself better in your room. However, don't play it out like a GM vs players war.

Hope this helps.


The players really need to get to chose what to do them selves, rest inside, go outside or to the nerest town.

How you deal with their decision really depends on what kind of dungeon it is. One full of monsters? An organized gang? A Moria kind of dungeon?

Monsters will mostly keep to their own lair and won't move into one left empty within a few days notice. But maybe they move in and out of the dungeon at night to hunt.
An organized gang, however, maybe uses some rooms as guard/watch stations and probably post new guards. And an organized gang will probably move about inside the dungeon, escpecally when they notice that their watchers have been killed.

1. Why not roll an encounter? Well, maybe you want to tailor it a bit more to suite the situation. They maybe missed something on their way in, or maybe something else is on it's way back in, monster or a scouting party to the dungeon gang. Without anything it's just uneventful, no fun. Also, if they leave, make sure something is different when they return and not exactly as it was when they left. Otherwise it'll seem synthetic, as if nothing happens when they're not there. Maybe new guards, a new trail outside that wheren't there before or maybe new traps rigged by the now aware gang.

2. If there's a reason for the dungeon's denizens to move about, why not have the party attacked? Don't flood them, just make it clear that you can't dwell in enemy territory without having to post night guards. Perception rolls, have one encounter in the middle of the rest, unless they make sure to hide their camp. Preperation is their tool, hope they use it. Don't make it impossible to recover spells for them, as that will force them out of the dungeon.

You're not a jerk as a DM when putting pressure on the party. If they decide to rest when they're all out of resources somewhere that isn't safe or try to escape said unsafe area without resources... well, lets just say that they shouldn't wait untill they're out of resources. And you're not a jerk for keeping the tempo up, they should be prepared for that and adapt.


Make it clear that you are going to apply any pressure that you're going to apply. Don't give them false expectations or let them go in completely unprepared.


I tend to be pretty tough on PCs who do this.

Imagine, for a moment, that you live in a fairly large house. A mansion with lots of rooms. One day, you're in a back room when suddenly some criminals break down your front door and start looting the front rooms of your mansion.

You have your gun locker so you're well armed, but they have guns too. Not wanting to die, you decide to NOT get into a shootout with these armed criminals.

After looting your living room and front parlor and a few nearby rooms, those criminals whip out their sleeping bags and lie down to sleep for about 20 hours or so. Maybe they post a watch, maybe not.

What do you do?
A. Let them sleep. I mean, they're tired after all that looting. Next morning, they can resume looting and you can resume hiding, at least until they make it back to your room and start shooting you.
B. Take this opportunity to either escape or fight back, whichever you prefer. Do it now while they sleep and are more or less helpless to object.

I'm pretty sure that about 99.9% of you choose B.

So will my monsters. The adventurers are invading their home - these monsters live there, they probably know about it or find out about it very quickly. Even if somehow the PCs manage to do invade, kill, and loot silently, well, good for them, but sometime in the next 20 hours or so it's quite certain that at least some of the monsters will discover the looted rooms, dead monsters, and camping PCs.

That's when they choose option B.

There are solutions to get around this if the PCs are clever enough. But locking the door and posting watch is NOT the way to ensure a 20+ hour safe camp.

On the plus side, I rarely give them large dungeons like this until they're high enough level to have access to some of those solutions.


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If the dungeon is large (Rappan Athuk scale) enough there will be waypoints, hidden rooms, and separate lairs constructed for those living there. It's perfectly reasonable to allow the PCs to re-purpose these to suit their own needs, especially since dungeons of this scale routinely have vying factions and fiercely territorial dangers.

Alternatively periodically provide them with the ability to swiftly return to a base camp if you feel an area is too heavily trafficked for rest.

At smaller scales it's perfectly reasonable to punish the 'fight and rest immediately' mentality for the reasons others have outlined above.

I also recommend throwing in environmental hazards occaisonally; these take considerable time to bypass and thus result in better equalized adventuring days. The party gets its 30 seconds blow everything fight, but are still challenged to get to the BBEG and have roughly equal adventuring and resting phases per day.


What Trekkie said. Typically I allow for certain things to permit a relatively safe amount of rest/renew. If they're not of sufficient level, a wand of stoneshape can work, or a message, half crumbled with a password to secret location to hide.

If you want to be cruel, certainly repopulate, perhaps even focus on the last location they were in if they weren't particularly quiet.

It all depend on what you want to be as a DM. It is very very easy to be harsh, and can be difficult to be more lenient without being obvious about the handwaving. How smart are your players? How lethal do you want to be? Decide that first and then seed methods along the way (or don't).

Edit:If you want a "fun fair way" to liven up resting, ou may need to houserule when casters get their spells back, depending again, on how harsh you want to be.

You could offer a variety of locations to rest in, from the least to the most secure, you could put them on a timer (you have three days to finish this dungeon or rocks fall, everyone dies), you could have an increasing chance for encounters based on how many times they've "rested", you could pop in fun random plot devices as you see fit.

Really, all in all, it depends on you and your table. You know them and what they'll find fun. Go with that.


Building on dkonen's houserule suggestion:

It's perfectly fair to break dungeons up into 'elements.' Instead of granting xp etc based on kills make everything element based and grant levels and recuperation after the party accomplishes certain goals/flags.

It's harder to design for that, often requiring extensive playtesting to ensure fairness. So I recommend the exp/resting system as published -- especially for new GMs. Element based games on the other hand tend to feel more fluid and are what the system as written attempts to emulate.

The other thing to consider if implementing such a system is it can reduce player agency. If players feel their choices are constrained by having to follow your plot exactly to regain uses of their abilities they'll decry them as 'railroading;' so you need to either be prepared for that, be flexible in your plot arcs, or introduce new elements to offset the decrease in player agency (so it doesn't 'feel' like railroading).

Sovereign Court

The party sleeps and the dungeon creeks....

You can do everything from describing crazy noises they hear through the night, to things sniffing at the room they're barricaded in.


One deal I have made with all of my players is that if they are attacked while sleeping it will not affect any player's rest and preparations cycles unless I specifically call for it as DM. Basically, if I want limited spells and fatigue to be part of the challenge for the particular adventure, it will be*. But otherwise, I make sure that all the players have the ability to play at their fullest. Otherwise, the game just isn't fun.

*Barring any special abilities or precautions they might be able to take.


Rope Trick? :p


It's a metagame problem and really needs metagame solutions. You can disguise those as in game solutions when designing the dungeon, but you still really need to be thinking about it.
You can design the dungeon so that it's divided into relatively discrete areas that can generally be handled in one working day, after which they have reasonably safe areas to rest. You can harass them with wandering monsters if you think they've stopped to soon, but you probably shouldn't hit them if they push on to a climactic fight with a sub boss and are on their last legs. You can have the enemies better prepared if they rest or retreat then return, but wholesale respawning gets boring and eventually too deadly. The PCs are supposed to be able to win, after all.

I like to have the residents react naturally to alarms being raised or to discovering an intrusion after the party has retreated or holed up, but it's very easy to crush the party that way - bringing what should have been a whole series of encounters down on them in a single ambush tends to be fatal.

You've got to work around that, both in the initial design and in playing out their reactions. The PCs are going to need to rest and recover. That's implicit in the premise. You need to make that possible.
The players may try to rest more often than you find fun. (15 minute workday). This is probably best handled out of game, if possible. Talk to the players. Try to convince them not to nova and to handle a reasonable amount of the dungeon in a go. If they won't, then start hitting them with the various anti-resting tactics.


DM_Blake wrote:

I tend to be pretty tough on PCs who do this.

Imagine, for a moment, that you live in a fairly large house. A mansion with lots of rooms. One day, you're in a back room when suddenly some criminals break down your front door and start looting the front rooms of your mansion.

You have your gun locker so you're well armed, but they have guns too. Not wanting to die, you decide to NOT get into a shootout with these armed criminals.

After looting your living room and front parlor and a few nearby rooms, those criminals whip out their sleeping bags and lie down to sleep for about 20 hours or so. Maybe they post a watch, maybe not.

What do you do?
A. Let them sleep. I mean, they're tired after all that looting. Next morning, they can resume looting and you can resume hiding, at least until they make it back to your room and start shooting you.
B. Take this opportunity to either escape or fight back, whichever you prefer. Do it now while they sleep and are more or less helpless to object.

I'm pretty sure that about 99.9% of you choose B.

So will my monsters. The adventurers are invading their home - these monsters live there, they probably know about it or find out about it very quickly. Even if somehow the PCs manage to do invade, kill, and loot silently, well, good for them, but sometime in the next 20 hours or so it's quite certain that at least some of the monsters will discover the looted rooms, dead monsters, and camping PCs.

That's when they choose option B.

There are solutions to get around this if the PCs are clever enough. But locking the door and posting watch is NOT the way to ensure a 20+ hour safe camp.

On the plus side, I rarely give them large dungeons like this until they're high enough level to have access to some of those solutions.

And that last bit is the point. Once you've motivated them to tackle a dungeon that can't be handled in one pass, they're going to need a way to rest and recover. That could be camping in a secure fashion. It could be leaving and returning. Neither is particularly reasonable on the face of it.

But you're the GM. You set up the situation. You need to make it feasible.

For your analogy specifically: You forgot to mention that the criminals didn't just get bored and take a nap - they encountered heavy resistance in those first rooms and needed the time to recover. And they have to explore the whole place because you've kidnapped someone or have the MacGuffin.

And I take option C: Sneak out while they're sleeping and call the cops. Which would be the equivalent of calling for reinforcements or restocking the place.
Or if they left to rest, planning to return when they'd recovered/restocked, I'd have more alarms & guards or have left for an even more secure location with whatever they needed.
It's easy to set up a no-win situation as a GM. It's harder to come up with a realistic, challenging, but reasonable one.

Sczarni

noblejohn wrote:

This is not a new question, but I am hoping the forum can provide some advice on this.

My party is getting ready to enter a large and maybe challenging dungeon crawl of sorts. If they get to a point where they need to rest, how do I handle this?

1 - If they decide to leave the dungeon do I roll for random encounters on the way out?
2 - if they decide to stay do I roll from random encounters while they try to sleep, thus denying them the chance to recover spells?

How tough do you guys generally make resting when the party is working a dungeon? Can you add some kind of penalty of sorts for resting, like some rooms re-spawn?

I don't feel like just letting the PCs rest with no consequence would be very fun. What is a fun a fair way to liven up resting without being to much of a jerk as the GM?

Thanks!

Toy with them, make them feel as if they will run into an encounter, make them feel the true dread, make them hear echoes in the night, then make sure nothing happens that could hurt them. As long as it's entertaining, it's awesome.


thejeff wrote:
For your analogy specifically: You forgot to mention that the criminals didn't just get bored and take a nap - they encountered heavy resistance in those first rooms and needed the time to recover. And they have to explore the whole place because you've kidnapped someone or have the MacGuffin.

It's irrelevant why they're camping in your living room for 20+ hours; whatever the reason, THAT is the time for you to take action.

But, if the monsters KNOW that you were FORCED to camp because you were so close to dead, or so out of resources that you can be easily killed, then of course they will take complete advantage of that. Fortunately, I rarely play my monsters as being that omniscient unless for some reason they should be.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Part of it depends on the dungeon's inhabitants. If we're talking mindless things (skeletons, zombies, oozes, vermin, etc.), I would roll a random encounter with a significant "no encounter" area - oozes and vermin are likely looking for food that is in abundance in areas that have been cleared, zombies and skeletons are not likely to notice or care that more things are dead.

Intelligent enemies, though, will likely have patrols. They will likely realize that their compatriots are dead. They will very likely respond if they realize that there are still intruders in their lair. The nature of that response is going to be dependent on the type of foe, though. Kobolds will try to set traps or funnel the party in some way to get terrain advantage (barricades, cause a collapse, etc.). Goblins might try to start a big fire or sneak into the camp. Orcs will RAAAAAAAAAAAGE. You get the idea. I'd also have a random roll for this with a small (15%-ish?) chance that the party clears camp before the inhabitants are able to realize the intrusion and/or enact a plan.


DM_Blake wrote:
thejeff wrote:
For your analogy specifically: You forgot to mention that the criminals didn't just get bored and take a nap - they encountered heavy resistance in those first rooms and needed the time to recover. And they have to explore the whole place because you've kidnapped someone or have the MacGuffin.

It's irrelevant why they're camping in your living room for 20+ hours; whatever the reason, THAT is the time for you to take action.

But, if the monsters KNOW that you were FORCED to camp because you were so close to dead, or so out of resources that you can be easily killed, then of course they will take complete advantage of that. Fortunately, I rarely play my monsters as being that omniscient unless for some reason they should be.

It's not irrelevant. It's irrelevant to the monster's decision making from a purely in-world viewpoint, but it's not irrelevant to the GM's metagame decision making.

I'm saying that you as the GM put them there. It's your job to make it possible for them to succeed. (Or in a more sandboxy style, to make sure they're aware of the risks and can freely refuse them.)

It's easy to build a huge, interconnected, reactive dungeon which the party can't possibly handle in one go and which would realistically crush them if they try to hold up and camp or leave and return. But that's a no-win situation and a lousy game.
Don't set it up that way.

Sovereign Court

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Many different kind of dungeons - no one answer that is always right.

You could characterize a dungeon by how the inhabitants are organized.
- Are they all on the same team, or are there perhaps different tribes/gangs/solitary horrors?
- How inclined are the monsters to wander? Hobgoblins might patrol their territory, while a golem stays on guard.
- How much room is there? A ruined city might have a monster every house, every other city block, or maybe just three gangs that keep to their districts.

If you have an idea of the "ecosystem" of your dungeon, you can set up wandering encounters that "make sense". In fact, your players might figure out how the place works, and use that to figure out where they can rest.

For example, if the monsters are territorial gangs, upon defeating one gang there's a swath of territory the PCs can rest in for a while. After a couple of days, the other gangs notice the border isn't being watched anymore and start to scout, and eventually move in to claim the territory.

In another example, the dungeon is a big hobgoblin fortress. While the PCs have the element of surprise they get rooms with encounters they can handle. Some time after initial entry, patrols find trashed rooms and corpses and sound the alarm, and a coordinated search for the intruders starts. This is a "hard" dungeon for PCs because if they dally too long or make too much noise they could be trapped against waaaay more monsters that they're ready for.

Now, if the players have some idea of what they're facing, they can start making plans, like "we have to get the MacGuffin and get back out again before they get organized", or "we need to focus on clearing out one gang completely so that we can use their territory as a base camp". They can make decisions on when to go nova or when they need to count out each spell carefully because they need to do more before it's safe to rest.


Usually when my players try doing this in a dungeon, it's only because someone in the party can cast Shadowy Haven or Rope Trick in a fairly isolated area, and even then usually someone's keeping an eye out. I use this rest period to shuffle the existing encounters in the dungeon around and add some more, but beyond that it really depends on what's in there with them.

A tomb full of undead, this is pretty safe to do. Zombies and skeletons don't make plans or go searching for something that killed one of them. Same with vermin, they just wander around but you're not likely to have one go poking at a rope or shadow on the wall.

Goblins are stupid, but they don't lollygag while something dangerous is in their warren. Trying to camp out there is stupid and dangerous.

Kobolds are smart. If you try to catch some z's in a kobold lair you're probably not going to like what's waiting for you when they've had eight hours to look for you and set up your breakfast buffet for when that hidey-hole runs out of juice, assuming they didn't find it and dispel it.

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