[RPG] Would Epic Heroism be an acceptable rule variant for a small, first-time group playing the Lost Mine of Phandelver adventure


I'm DMing a group with 4 players. For all of us, this is our first D&D experience. We'll be playing the Lost Mine of Phandelver adventure from the Starter Set.

I'm concerned about the survivability, especially given how green the players are. At first level, they'll have 10 or 12 hit points, facing groups of goblins that can hit for 1d6+2. I'm adjusting the number of monsters in each encounter, but still worry.

Healing seems to be very rare. At first level, the spellcasters will have the ability to cast two spells in an entire dungeon.

The Epic Heroism resting variant (DMG, p. 267) seems like it could help, but might tip the balance too far the other way into easy mode:

This variant uses a short rest of 5 minutes and a long rest of 1 hour. This change makes combat more routine, since characters can easily recover from every battle. You might want to make combat encounters more difficult to compensate.

Spellcasters using this system can afford to burn through spell slots quickly, especially at higher levels. Consider allowing spellcasters to restore expended spell slots equal to only half their maximum spell slots (rounded down) at the end of a long rest, and to limit spell slots restored to 5th level or lower. Only a full 8-hour rest will allow a spellcaster to restore all spell slots and to regain spell slots of 6th level or higher.

Am I missing some element that would make the party more likely to survive the first dungeon, or would this rule variant be a good way to introduce the mechanics of the game?

Best Answer

It's possible, but casters will have a field day

Lost Mines of Phandelver has a lot, a lot of encounters that consist of mostly low HP enemies that will die to a single AoE spell, two tops. At first this might not seem like a big deal, but it is when you combine a lot of easily AoE'd squishy enemies with the ability to get your spell slots back very, very quickly.

LMoP ends before your players will get access to true powerhouse spells like Fireball which will instantly end encounters, but a lot of first level spells will easily end encounters if you can simply spam them.

Even with only a single spellslot, a warlock who can get their spells back in 5 minutes will have no reason not to blow up everything in sight, then rest 5 minutes and do it again in the next fight. This will make your non-spellcasters feel a lot less exciting, because those classes are generally better in longer drawn out days where you can't simply unload all your resources into a single problem.

Now this might not be a problem if your casters mostly use spells like Sleep, but if you have a caster who specializes in blowing things to kingdom come you'll see a lot of fights end before your rogue and fighter have even gotten to the fight, leading to frustration.

The only fight I can come up with where your players are likely not going to notice the difference is the dragon, in the rest of the fights, classes specialized in spending x-per-rest resources will feel far stronger than your rogues or fighters. Considering you have first-time players, this might make some people think this is how D&D is always going to be, and they'll be turned off from playing characters that work better in drawn-out days because they believe they are vastly inferior to casters with AoE spells. (A problem I've encountered DMing for new players even when not using epic heroism.)