[RPG] Our DM keeps interrupting our long rests


In the latest campaign, we're still around the third level, but every single night we've spend in the wild so far, we were interrupted by hard combat encounters (as in DMG-worded "hard"), forcing us to use our resources (like HP, spell slots, Ki, once-per-day stuff) and not restoring any of those lost the previous days. I feel like the combat is still short, as it lasts four to six rounds, so we usually say that we'd like to resume our rest but the answer is always "you've been interrupted, your rest is over, you can't restart any until dusk". So the only real long rests we could have always were in town.

We've always used watch-turns, and being interrupted in the first night of the campaign, we now always spend one hour to find a safe place to rest and we make that intent very clear to the DM. But yet, kobolds, goblins, ghouls and gnolls always find us in the middle of the night, but never when we travel for ten hours during the day (which is comparable to "fast travel" in his own word). Once on the second day in the wild, we were faced to a deadly encounter (as in DMG-worded "deadly") which we survived only by fleeing. And we're kind of forced to get back to the deadly encounter, which is more than one day away from the nearest town.

We're five players and I'm the only one with PnP RPG experience… from ten years ago. I don't remember being this resourceless. We asked if it was a survival campaign and the answer was that it was only a normal introduction campaign found on the Internet that he spiced up a bit. We've also asked if we did anything wrong and the answer was that we followed the normal story.

The DM is mastering his second campaign (the first one is still ongoing, but with veteran players). The DM also plays a lot of survival campaigns as a player.

Is this situation normal? If yes, why? If not, what should I say to the DM?

Note that I'm fully aware of the "long rest" rule as written on page 186 of the PHB. This is why I encouraged my team to say that we resume our rest. (thanks Bloodcinder)

Best Answer

The situation is neither normal nor abnormal

Every campaign is different. But it is normal for survival games to have nightly encounters.

That said, I played in an attrition-heavy campaign and we did not get nightly combats often; and even when we did, they did not interrupt our long rests.

Are you having fun?

Ask yourself and the players at your table if it's still fun. That is, is the survival aspect of the game ruining your fun? If it was taken away, would the experience be better?

If you and the rest of the players are having fun regardless, then nothing is wrong. If you are not, then you have to make it clearer to the DM that you are not.

Get on the same page

Since the DM is running a pre-made adventure, then make it clear to the DM that this one sucks and you are not enjoying it. Try and be calm and reasonable about it, maybe buy him beer too. What he doesn't need to know is the campaign is hard (he made the encounters, he knows this already). What he does need to know is that the players do not like the adventure.

If he is a sensible DM, he will adjust and ask you guys what you want in the game. Then, depending on if you are all able to agree on a type of game you want to play, he will either continue the campaign, modify it to fit everyone's interests, or stop the campaign.

If you do not like this particular experience, try and figure out what kind of experience you are looking for and be transparent about it. The DM needs to know this stuff so he can provide a better experience for you.

The rules on rest interruptions

A long rest is only interrupted if you do at least 1 hour of strenuous activity. You can fight for 59 minutes and still not have your rest interrupted.

Even if the rest was interrupted, you can immediately start it up again. The only rule for long rests is that you can only benefit from one once every 24 hours, not that you can attempt one once per dawn. So if you did not benefit from a rest within the last 24 hours, you can start one up any time.

Solutions from an in-universe perspective

While keeping everything about the game the same, you, as characters, have a lot of opportunity to influence the adventure.

  • Hire bodyguards while in town

    • If you have NPCs follow the party for the purposes of protecting you, you can get away with nightly encounters without fighting the monsters. You also don't have to pay the bodyguards in money, but rather in promises, favors, blackmail, etc.
  • Stay in town longer

    • Why are your characters adventuring away from the safe confines of civilization? Is there a pressing concern, or are you more "classical" adventurers who go out into the wilds for the sake of adventuring? If it's the second one, then you can spend a lot of time in town stocking up on money and supplies. This is money you can use to hire guards, buy scrolls, potions, etc.
  • Engage the towns so they can travel

    • In survival games, the assumption is that the wilderness is unexplored and dangerous. That is why it's common to have nightly encounters. Then, your characters can build outposts between the towns, or they can engage the different towns to build these outposts that create a "safe route" for travelers. This will involve more RP than combat, though, which may not be something your DM is up for.
  • Establish outposts with defensive features

    • When setting up camp, bring fortifications, set traps, put out the fire from your campfire (to not attract attention), create a decoy tent, create a decoy camp, etc. Get creative so that your rests aren't interrupted, and when they are, you can immediately go to safety while avoiding combat.
  • While in town, take a day to rest

    • I think that no characters have died yet, from your question. So you can just take a long rest in town. If nobody has died in the party yet, you should consider that the DM is just doing a good job of challenging you as players while avoiding character deaths.
  • Ask the farmers

    • As contributed by @GMJoe, ask the farmers and merchants how they travel. If there is any hint of trade at all between different towns, then they should have a way of moving between towns without being attacked every night. But as provided by @IllmariKaronen, just note that there might not be any farmers trading outside town at all.
  • Find someone who can cast Leomund's Tiny Hut

    • As offered by @Nat, cast Leomund's Tiny Hut. This is a ritual spell that is available to Wizards and Bards, as well as anyone who has Ritual Caster, or the Book Pact/Invocation for Warlocks. This is a spell that guarantees a long rest and will stop nightly encounters from bothering you, at least until your DM starts using spellcasters against you.
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