In Dungeons and Dragons (D&D), rests are an important game mechanic that allow characters to recover hit points, spell slots, and certain class features. There are two main types of rests in D&D 5th edition – short rests and long rests. Understanding the differences between short and long rests is key to managing resources and being an effective player.
A short rest is a period of downtime that is at least 1 hour long. During a short rest, a character can spend one or more Hit Dice to regain hit points. A character regains spent Hit Dice equal to half their total number of Hit Dice (minimum of one die) at the end of a long rest. Here are some key things to know about short rests:
- A short rest is at least 1 hour long.
- A character can spend one or more Hit Dice to regain hit points.
- A character regains half their total Hit Dice (minimum of one die) after a long rest.
- Some class features reset after a short rest like a fighter’s Action Surge.
Short rests allow characters to recover some resources and hit points without needing a full night’s sleep. They are useful between fights or when exploring dangerous locations like dungeons. Short rests should be taken strategically to refresh abilities and conserve Hit Dice.
Recovering Hit Points
During a short rest, a character can spend one or more Hit Dice to regain hit points. For each Hit Die spent, roll it and add the character’s Constitution modifier. The character regains hit points equal to the total. For example, if a fighter with 14 Constitution (+2 modifier) spends two Hit Dice during a short rest, the player would roll the dice, getting a 4 and a 6. Adding +2 for Constitution, the total hit points regained would be 4 + 2 (6) + 6 + 2 (8) = 14.
A character can decide to spend some or all of their remaining Hit Dice during a short rest. Unspent Hit Dice are retained at the end of a short rest. Hit Dice are a resource to manage carefully, since they are limited by a character’s level. It’s usually smart to save some Hit Dice in case they are needed later.
Resetting Class Features
Some class features reset after a short rest rather than a long rest. For example:
- Fighter: Action Surge, Second Wind
- Monk: Ki points, Martial Arts
- Warlock: All spell slots
These short-rest recharging features allow those classes to recover certain powers more frequently. A fighter can use Action Surge more often than a wizard can recover spell slots. Tracking which features recharge on a short vs long rest is important when managing your character.
A long rest is an extended period of downtime that is at least 8 hours long. A long rest allows a character to regain hit points, spend Hit Dice, regain spell slots, and restore most class features. Here are some key things to know about long rests:
- A long rest is at least 8 hours long.
- Characters regain all lost hit points.
- Characters regain all spent Hit Dice.
- Spellcasters regain all expended spell slots.
- Most class features reset after a long rest.
Long rests serve as a full recovery period for most characters. While short rests refresh some resources, long rests recharge almost everything. Taking a long rest usually requires stopping for at least 8 hours and getting a good night’s sleep.
Recovering Hit Points and Hit Dice
A long rest allows a character to regain all lost hit points and reset all spent Hit Dice. No rolls or Hit Die expenditure is required – characters are assumed to be getting treatment, food, and rest during the downtime. Hit points and Hit Dice essentially recharge to maximum after a good night’s sleep.
Resetting Spell Slots
For spellcasters like clerics, druids, and wizards, long rests are when they prepare spells and regain all expended spell slots. The spellcasting classes only recover their magical energy after a full night’s sleep. Careful spell slot management between long rests is important for maintaining acaster’s effectiveness.
Resetting Most Features
In general, most class features that recharge do so after a long rest. Things like a rogue’s Sneak Attack, a barbarian’s Rage, a monk’s Ki points, or a fighter’s Superiority Dice all reset after a long rest. The main exceptions are certain features that recharge on a short rest instead.
Short Rest vs. Long Rest
The main differences between short and long rests can be summarized as:
|1+ hour duration
|8+ hour duration
|Spend Hit Dice to recover some HP
|Regain all lost HP automatically
|Regain half of total Hit Dice
|Regain all spent Hit Dice
|Very limited spell slot recovery
|Regain all expended spell slots
|Some class features recharge
|Most class features recharge
- Short rests allow partial recovery, letting characters spend limited resources like Hit Dice to heal up a bit without a full 8 hour recovery period.
- Long rests allow total recovery, resetting almost everything with a full night’s sleep.
Some DMs use rest variants that change short and long rest mechanics to fit their campaign style. Common rest variants include:
- Gritty Realism: Short rests are 8 hours, long rests are 7 days. Makes rests take longer in-game.
- Epic Heroism: Short rests are 5 minutes, long rests are 1 hour. Makes rests faster for action-packed games.
The DMG provides guidelines for customizing rest length and recovery. The most common approach is leaving long rests at 8 hours but limiting the number of short rests per 24 hours. Talk to your DM about how they handle resting in their game.
Here are some tips for managing short and long rests effectively in your D&D games:
- Take short rests strategically to recharge your limited resources when needed between fights.
- Save some Hit Dice during short rests in case you need them later.
- Track your daily class features so you know when you need a short or long rest to recover them.
- Plan long rests carefully – you usually can’t take more than 1 per 24 hours.
- If resources are low, prioritize a long rest so you start fresh the next day.
- Don’t let long rest dependent characters like wizards constantly push for long rests after just 1-2 fights.
Understanding the differences between short rests and long rests is an important part of mastering D&D 5th edition. Short rests allow partial recovery during an adventure day, while long rests fully recharge characters between adventures. Use short rests to recover your limited resources carefully when needed. Take long rests at narratively appropriate times when your daily powers are depleted. Rest mechanics are a fun way to make resource management decisions that bring strategy to D&D combat and adventure pacing.