AvocaD&D and Tabletop Gaming: Yig Snake Granddaddy, Part 26

Welcome back to the weekly D&D and Tabletop Gaming thread!  Here’s a place where we can talk about Dungeons & Dragons or any other tabletop games that you nerds might be into.  Tell us about the games you’re playing, speculate about future expansions, recruit your fellow Avocados into new groups, whatever you want.

One key aspect of D&D 5e is resource management. Every player character has certain special abilities that can only be used a limited amount of times. Once those abilities are used up, your character will need to rest for a while in order to refresh. Resting allows your Wizard or Cleric recover their spell slots, your Monk to recharge their Ki, and your Barbarian recover their Rage. Resting also allows for some natural healing after a combat, without using up those precious spell slots. A good way for a DM to ratchet up the tension during an adventure is to stage multiple encounters designed to drain the party’s resources a bit before leading into a final combat encounter with the Big Bad Evil Guy (BBEG), and then find ways to prevent the party from resting along the way. That could mean giving them a set time limit in which to find and kill the BBEG, or just having orcs attack whenever they try to take a breather.

The core rules break resting up into two categories. A short rest takes about an hour, during which time the character takes no strenuous activity. During a short rest, any character can choose to recover some of their hit points by rolling any number of their Hit Dice1 and adding their CON modifier for each die rolled. Some characters also have other resources that can be recovered during a short rest. For example, Monks regain all of their expended Ki points, Dragonborn characters recharge their breath weapon ability, Warlocks’ spell slots get replenished, etc.

Alternatively, a long rest takes at least 8 hours and involves the character actually going to sleep. During a long rest, your character’s hit points are restored up to their maximum, and they also replenish expended Hit Dice up to half of their total (ie, a 4th level character gets 2 Hit Dice back with each long rest). Finishing a long rest also resets all of your characters abilities, including all spell slots, class abilities like the Barbarian’s rage, and innate racial abilities like the Half-Orc’s Relentless Endurance. The short/long rest dichotomy sets up situations where some PCs get little to no benefit from only a short rest (other than recovering hit points), while others can be basically at their full power level with an hour of sitting quietly.

Of course, some of this may be about to change. Wizards of the Coast recently published Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse, which includes over 30 updated playable races. Across the board, one of the biggest changes this book makes is that any racial ability that was previously useable only once per short rest is now usable a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus2 and recharges with a long rest. This change has led many D&D pundits/YouTubers to speculate that the upcoming “5.5e” revision (scheduled for 2024 release to coincide with D&D’s 50th anniversary) will see the core rules updated to get rid of the short rest mechanic altogether.

What do you think? Are short rests destined to be scaled down or phased out of D&D? Does the resting mechanic accurately convey the fantasy of the party recuperating around a campfire after a hard-won victory? Does your group use those campfire scenes for RP moments, or just elide them to get back to rolling dice? How do other game systems deal with resting/resource management, if at all?

Players and Characters

Wafflicious is back in the DM’s seat this week to continue our 5e Cthulhu Mythos adventure. Our players include:

  • JosephusBrown as Anton Illinois (Human Inquisitive Rogue/Fighter), a disgraced archaeology professor who has turned to seeking arcane rituals
  • CleverGuy as Bastian Updelver (Deep Gnome Alchemist Artificer), an eccentric local potionmaker
  • TheHayesCode as Hazel Green (Dhampir Spirits Bard), a flapper, séance MC, and aspiring spiritualist
  • Spiny Creature as Ku (Kenku Twilight Cleric), a local priestess of Bastet, goddess of protection
  • The Wasp as Leah Zann (Tiefling Great Old One Warlock), a professor from Miskatonic University who accepted a deal with Yog Sothoth to get an advantage over her male colleagues
  • The Ugly One with the Jewels as Minty Rocksmasher (Dwarf Berserker Barbarian), survivor of an eldritch accident which decimated her tribe
The Dreamlands

Excerpts from the notes of Bastian Updelver…

I had the strangest dream. And the strangest part is that it’s hard to say exactly where real life stopped and the dream began. My friends and I had just killed a giant alien spider and destroyed the last of Gehir’s serpent totems, when the mummified feline representative of Bastet, Dandelion, appeared and told us that she had arranged for us to meet some more potential allies in our fight against the serpentfolk. To get there, we’d have to go to sleep.

We set up a quick camp in the forest, and Dandelion started to cast some sort of ritual spell over us, promising to keep us safe. I started to drift off, but suddenly instead found myself standing in the same forest, but under a purple sky. The sun was up, but suspended in a perpetual partial eclipse. My friends were all there, too, though none of us had any weapons or armor and all my tools and supplies were missing. Dandelion was there as well, but she was much bigger, almost the size of a tiger. Off in the distance, in the direction of Gehir’s lair, we saw a giant snake stretching up toward the sky, attempting to devour the sun. Dandelion told us to follow and led us through the forest toward Parabasti. It would take us days to get there on foot, but she said that here in the Dreamlands we wouldn’t need to stop and rest at all.

It wasn’t long before we ran into trouble. A group of skeletons with long tails blocked our way, three warriors, two archers, and a mage on a skeletal horse. Without my weapons and alchemy supplies, I’m not very good in a battle. Luckily, Leah, Ku, and Hazel could still use at least some of their magic. Minty and Anton very bravely closed in and fought with their bare hands, and Dandelion did her best to defend us as well. I mostly just tried to stay out of the way, but after a while I noticed that some of the equipment these skeletons were holding looked familiar. One of the archers was using my Upshot instead of a bow, and the mage had tools hanging off of its belt!

I am glad that my friends are so capable, even unarmed. They pretty quickly defeated the skeletons, though not without injury. And after it was over, we found that it wasn’t just my equipment these things had taken–they had Minty’s axe, Hazel’s magical bow, basically all of the weapons and armor that we normally carried.

Dandelion pushed us along and we walked for hours and hours, but none of us felt tired. Along the way, we met another Dreamland cat, but this one was red and a little more muscular than Dandelion. Leah said it was a Martian cat. The red cat offered to travel with us for protection. Dandelion didn’t seem very pleased about this, but she didn’t offer any real objection and the red cat didn’t seem to be threatening or trying to lead us astray.

Some time later, we encountered three fleshy mounds of eyes and tentacles floating in the air in front of us, each playing strange discordant melodies on some kind of flute-like musical instrument. Leah and the cats immediately started to run past them, and the rest of followed. Three more of them appeared as we passed, one of which was low enough in the sky to reach out hit Hazel with a cold, slimy tentacle. We kept running, and Ku and Minty both also got slapped by tentacles. But thankfully, the monsters didn’t follow. We looked back and saw that the floating tentacle things had summoned some other indescribable nightmare creature. I was glad that we didn’t stick around.

I’m not sure how long we walked after that, but we eventually made it to the temple of Parabasti. Here in the Dreamlands, though, it wasn’t a ruin but a magnificent temple, with a beautiful golden gate carved to look like a feline face with six eyes. Dandelion said that since we aren’t cats, in order to gain entry into the temple we’d need to make a sacrifice. She used her claws to cut each of our hands and as we pressed our blood into the door we were able to pass through into the temple.

We were just in time to meet our potential allies, who included a couple of familiar faces. Axina Redwing, the mayor of the elven city of Althe Yinumel, was there. He told us that he was being held prisoner inside Gehir’s temple, along with the remainder of his people. Gehir was using them as sacrificial victims in order to repopuluate the serpentfolk race and eventually resurrect Yig himself. We also saw Nesmenhit, the High Priestess of Bastet from the temple back in Ventissa. She said that Ventissa had been under siege by the Elder Things for some time, but now the Elder Things raids had ceased and the town’s leaders were suddenly cooperating with them. Most of the priestesses of Bastet were holed up in the inner sanctums of the temples, but Nesmenhit wasn’t sure how much longer they could hold out.

But the most interesting being at the table was the Yithian, a creature that I cannot possibly describe accurately. He went by the name Xuxuxlu, and he said he was a rebel in the Yithian community. It seems that most of the “Great Race of Yith” had allied with Gehir and the Elder Things, but Xuxuxlu felt that this partnership was unwise and untenable. Xuxuxlu was working with the cats, but he seemed unimpressed with our little group, despite Dandelion’s good words, and demanded that we prove our worth. Hazel and I tried to persuade him that we were capable in battle, having destroyed Gehir’s totems all around Yilan, and moreover that we had some personal stakes in seeing Gehir’s plans disrupted and the beast himself put down. But when that didn’t seem to work, Ku very calmly banished him from the Dreamlands, with a spell. When he returned, he was a bit more willing to work with us. He told us that the Elder Things had taken control of Ventissa’s leaders using their ability to control minds–or maybe they just swapped out the minds of the town leaders with their own. Meanwhile, Yithian scientists were developing weapons for Gehir–some were technology that could be mounted on Gehir’s resurrected dinosaurs, others were biological experiments on the dinosaurs themselves.

We started to talk about what we could do about any of this, but in the middle of making plans, we all were suddenly pulled from Dreamland. We were back in the forest, and a black-and-white Dreamlands cat was clawing us awake. The serpentfolk had found us…