[RPG] How do long rests work for small parties


If there are three characters in a party, and each can stand watch for only two hours, how can they benefit from a long rest while also posting watch throughout the long rest?

From PHB:

A long rest is a period of extended downtime, at least 8 hours long, during which a character sleeps or performs light activity: reading, talking, eating, or standing watch for no more than 2 hours.

Please confine your answers to mundane means of enabling the party to get a long rest: no spells and no magic items. I'm asking because I'm about to start DMing for three players and this came up in discussion with a couple of them. We're at character creation stage at the moment.

Best Answer

A party of 3 can finish a long rest in 10 hours

Lets say we have 3 characters, Aberforth, Barte, and Caius. During the first 2 hours, Aberforth can keep watch while the others sleep. Then during hours 3 and 4, Barte can be awoken to take watch, while Aberforth goes to sleep. Caius continues to rest until hour 5 and 6 when he is awoken for his watch. Barte then goes to sleep while Aberforth continues to sleep until hour 7 when he takes a second watch. He can then finish his long rest during hours 9 and 10 while either of the others, who have both finished their long rests, keep watch.

For a visual representation:

\$\begin{array}{r||c|c|c|c|c|c|c|c|c|c|} &1&2&3&4&5&6&7&8&9&10\\\hline\hline A&\blacksquare&\blacksquare&(\;\;&&&&\blacksquare&\blacksquare&&\;\;)\\\hline B&(\;\;&&\blacksquare&\blacksquare&&&&\;\;)&\blacksquare&\blacksquare\\\hline C&(\;\;&&&&\blacksquare&\blacksquare&&\;\;)&\blacksquare&\blacksquare\\\hline \end{array}\$

\$\begin{array}{l|l} ()&\text{Long rest period}\\\hline \blacksquare& \text{1 hour of watch}\\\hline &\text{1 hour of sleep} \end{array}\$