Short Rests in D&D 5e


Campfire by Temarinde

One of the relatively few things that bothers me a bit in D&D 5e Basic is the decision the player is presented with during a short rest of how many hit dice to recover as a result of the rest.  As people who’ve been following along know, I really prefer “diegesis” in my game mechanics… that is things that present decisions and options from the character’s point of view*.

So while I don’t particularly object to the notion that the characters can get a substantial part of the HP back after a “Short Rest” of an hour or more, I have a bit of trouble picturing what it is the character is deciding when recovering 1 vs. 2 vs. 3 Hit Dice.  It’s not the end of the world, but it could be cleaner.

So, let’s fix it up:

After a Short Rest, a character regains 1 Hit Die (assuming there are any left… )  In order to regain more than a single HD, the character has to take extra steps to make the rest more comfortable and complete.  Each extra step is one more HD recovered.  A non-exhaustive list of extra steps might be:

  • Take off armor,
  • bandage and clean scrapes and cuts,
  • drink something,
  • drink something alcoholic,
  • eat some food,
  • drink a hot beverage,
  • eat some hot food,
  • take a cat-nap,
  • sit around and chew the fat with another PC or NPC (must be roleplayed, and should be idle chatter about backgrounds and such, rather than tense planning about next steps and tactics),
  • play a musical instrument or sing,
  • huddle around a fire,
  • clean weapons and maintain tools,
  • take off boots,
  • bathe,
  • take a hot bath,
  • shave,
  • smoke something,
  • canoodle,
  • write a letter to someone left behind

In other words, just about anything that might be depicted in a story showing the characters in their down-time. (Things like drinking a hot beverage are intended to be allowed to stack with drinking something; this is deliberate to allow recovery of bigger chunks of HD for higher level characters without making them list a dozen things they’re doing.)   The characters can thus have a reasonable proxy for the decision of how many of their HD they recover by deciding just how relaxed and unready for action they’re willing to become to knit body and soul back together.  In addition this will hopefully lead to slightly more vivid descriptions of what the characters are doing during their Short Rest.

This doesn’t really change any of the game mechanics of Short Rests at all, it’s just a way of tying it more tightly into the fictional world.

* It’s my usual complaint about Fate or Luck points: is it something the character knows about in the game world?  If not, then it can get in the way of my thinking about what the character would do.  As the player, I might know that since I have a Fate point to spend, the character will absolutely be able to hit the fleeing villain with a shot without endangering the hostage; the character, though, probably ought to view it as a real risk. Whether to take the risk ought, imo, to depend on my take on how bold or desperate the character is and not whether I’ve got or can scrounge some meta-game resources to reduce the risk.

Naiads of Salmagundi


A new D&D 5e PC race.

Naiads are spirits of the waters. In their natural form they actually appear made of water, though they feel like flesh to the touch.  They are fully capable of operating normally on land, though few choose to do so; they are at a Disadvantage when making survival rolls in Desert conditions.

Stats: +2 Dex Size: Medium

Speed: 30 swim/30 walk Age: Naiads reach maturity at age 14 and can live many centuries.  The oldest may be as old as the world itself.

Alignment: Chaotic Good.Languages: speak Naiad, Fish, and Common.

Weapon Training: proficient with spear, trident, and net.

Low-light Vision: Naiads can see normally underwater and in low-light conditions with no penalty.

Water breathing: Naiads can breathe underwater regardless of form; they can only breath in the air if they are not in fish form.

Form Change: as an Action Naiads may change form into fish, half-humanoid/half-fish, or fully humanoid.  In their fully humanoid form they can pass for human or elf; in their fully fish form they can pass for an ordinary fish (albeit Medium sized).  A given Naiad has one specific appearance in each form.

Liquefy: Naiads may become fully liquid as a Reaction; this will generally let weapons and objects pass harmlessly through them (Successful Dex save for no damage from ordinary weapons, fail and take half damage. Magical weapons and spells still harm them).  Re-solidifying takes an Action.  If they become fully liquid on land, their movement rate drops to 0, and they cannot speak or take any Actions until they solidify.  In water they may move freely, speak, and take actions that don’t involve physically interacting with objects (which means they can cast spells that require no material components).

Siren’s Call: May cast Charm Person once per day.  If you are a spell-caster it doesn’t count against your prepared spells, but you may still spend slots to cast it additional times per day.



Oceanids are the Naiads of the ocean. They are fiercer and wilder than their cousins, the Neriads.

Ability Score Increase: +1 Con

Wild Form: an Oceanid’s fish form may include sea creatures such as sharks, octopuses, porpoises, mantaMermaid-syndrom rays and the like, and may be size Large although their normal form remains size Medium.  The Wild Form has the movement, attack, and other attributes of a natural creature of its type.

One with the Seas: you are never lost as long as you are in the ocean or within sight, sound, or smell of the shore.


Neriads are Naiads of brooks, streams, fountains, and lakes.

Ability Score Increase: +2 Cha

Watery Embrace: You have Advantage when trying to Grapple while standing in water.

Gift of Breath: while you hold another creature with at least one of your hands, you may permit it to breath normally under water.

Naiad Notions

Elves: “Cousins but not for the kissing.”

Dwarves: “Dwarves sink like stones sink like Dwarves.”

Humans: “Fun right up until the drowning part.  And sometimes a little after.”

Halflings: “Some were took but some fewer were taken.”

Naiad Personality Traits

Roll in addition to or instead of Personality traits associated with your background.

  1. Everything’s better, down where it’s wetter, take it from me!
  2. Full fathom five thy father lies, and of his bones are coral made…
  3. I want to be where the people are…I want to see them dancing.
  4. I’ll destroy any man who dares abuse my trust!
  5. Wey, hey, blow the man down!
  6. She pushed her in to the river to drown, Oh the wind and the rain
    and watched her as she floated down, oh, the dreadful wind and rain
  7. I’m marching inland from the shore, over m’ shoulder I’m carrying an oar,
    When someone asks me: “What – is that funny thing you’ve got?”
    Then I know I’ll never go to sea no more, no more
  8. ‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
    Push off, and sitting well in order smite
    the sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
    To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
    Of all the western stars, until I die.

Trollsmyth’s Death & Dismemberment Table, revamped for 5e

I’ve long been a fan of Trollsmyth’s Death & Dismemberment table for D&D-like games… Arduin’s Critical Hits are more amusing, but quite a bit deadlier than I’m usually willing to play with (though I read somewhere recently that the way Dave Hargrave used them they were only 1 in 400 chance… a 20 followed by a 20 required a roll on the Crit Chart, rather than just a 20 the way we did back in High School.)  At any rate, one of the things that kind of bothers me about 5e Basic is that there’s not really any way to sustain a real injury. I’m OK with Hit Points representing pure Stamina, or at least I’m willing to give it a try and see how my players like it, but it kind of bugs me that except by GM fiat there really isn’t any way to suffer a broken bone or serious laceration.  Even if your HP go to 0 and you have to start making saves against Death, once you’ve stabilized a Long Rest will patch you right up.

So my current thought is to use a slightly modified version of Trollsmyth’s D&D chart to fix that.  We’ll ignore the time-to-death results from the original chart, and just use the 5e three success before three failure Death save to determine when and if you die.

If you get taken down to 0 HP, and every time you get hit when you’re at 0 HP, roll on the following table.  Apply a -1 modifier to the die roll for each time you’ve failed your Death save, a +1 for each success.

2 or lower Grievous wound: Increase Exhaustion Level by 5, if that would take you to 6 Instant Death (decapitation or the like).
3 Fatal wound (gutted, stabbed through lung, broken back, etc.); Increase Exhaustion Level by 4.
4 Severed limb (DM’s choice or roll randomly); Increase Exhaustion Level by 3.
5,6 Severe Wound. Needs surgery. Increase Exhaustion Level by 3.
7,8 Broken bone (DM’s choice or roll, randomly); Increase Exhaustion Level by 2. Requires 2d4+9 weeks to heal; can’t use the bone until that first 2d4 weeks have passed. After that are at a Disadvantage for checks that rely on it until it’s healed the rest of the way.
9 Moderate Wound.  It’s going to need stitches. Increase Exhaustion Level by 2.
10 Light wound: cut, gash, contusion in random place, and according to weapon type. Needs bandaging. Increase Exhaustion Level by 1.
11 Knocked out for 2d6 rounds, unless wearing a helm. With helm, only stunned for 1 round. Increase Exhaustion Level by 1.
12+ a surge of adrenaline returns 1d4 hit points per HD; these vanish at the end of combat & you gain 1 level of Exhaustion.

The upshot of using this table is pretty much anything that takes you to 0 HP will also give you at least one level of Exhaustion… I think that’s fair for an ever so slightly grittier take one what it means to be out of HP and dying.  If you want to stick to straight 5e for HP and conditions, you could just use the wounds as flavor text with no mechanical effect.

For an even grittier, though still not super-gritty, effect you can also use the table for critical hits in a variant on the Hargrave method: a crit is double damage, and 1/20 chance of having to roll on this or some other favorite critical hit table.

And as an added bonus, I’m reposting the Quick Hit Location Chart I posted on G+ a little while back, which lets you quickly determine a hit location without an extra die roll, and a relatively sensible weighting of heavier hits with more dangerous places:

Damage Chart


Dryads of Salmagundi


A new race for D&D 5e Dryads are a race of humanoid plants.  Their appearance generally matches that of the vegetation in the region they’re from: a Dryad from a coniferous northern forest might have evergreen needles for hair and bark-like skine, while a dryad from a marshy area might look more like cattails and algae.

Stats: +2 Dex Size: Medium Speed: 30 Age: Dryads mature at approximately the same rate as trees, and can live many centuries.  The oldest may be as old as the world itself. Alignment: Chaotic Good.

Camouflage: Dryads may take a Hide action as a bonus action as long as they are in natural surroundings similar to their homelands.

Tree Merge: Dryads may merge into trees or other substantial vegetation (at least as big as they are) as a half move.  Once merged with a tree they may move their consciousness from tree to tree at their normal pace, re-emerging from another suitable tree; during any turn that they are in transit and not currently occupying a tree they may not take any action except move, not even a free or bonus action, and are not really aware of their surroundings beyond knowing where the vegetation in the area is in relation to themselves; they may not re-emerge as a physical body until they reach a tree at least as big as their body.  If they are occupying a tree, they may take such actions as don’t require appendages or speech, and can perceive normally (facing as if they retained their normal form inside the tree).  If the tree is destroyed with the Dryad in it, the Dryad is forced out but does not suffer damage; the Dryad may choose whether to re-emerge physically or travel spiritually to a different tree.

At One With Nature: need not eat as long as there is sunlight and water available; without water needs both food and water to survive.

Languages: speak Dryad and Common.

Weapon Training: proficient with blowgun, net, and whip



Wilder Dryads are humanoid in shape but are clearly plants in all other respects.  Wilder Dryads tend to prefer the deep wilderness, and rarely interact with other races except Wood Elves.

Ability Score Increase: +1 Con

Tough Hide: Natural AC 12, does not stack with metal armors.

Natural Weapons: Thorns (d4 piercing, finesse, light) or Spores (poison, basic, save DC10 or d4, thrown range 5/15)

Wild Aspect: Wilder Dryads may alter their appearance to make themselves look more like a natural feature, giving them Advantage when hiding in undergrowth.


Fairer Dryads are more human in appearance, and more interested in other races and civilization.

Ability Score Increase: +2 Cha

Natural Grace: proficiency in Song and Dance.

Charming: You may cast Charm as a Cantrip.

Fair Aspect: Fairer Dryads may alter their appearance to fully pass as Elf or Human: this just serves to conceal their Dryad features, it does not amount to disguising themselves as somebody else entirely.

Sunny Disposition

Elves: “The Wood Elves are so much fun, and they dance so well.  The High Elves know ever so many of the old songs.”

Humans: “They can be quite vexing, they just don’t seem to be able to see a tree without wanting to chop it down.  But they come up with the most astonishing and delightful variety of things…it’s always something new with them!”

Halflings: “They’re quieter in the woods than human children, but otherwise quite hard to tell apart. You generally only find them in the tamed areas, unless they’re picking mushrooms.”

Dwarves: “What are they?”

Dryad Personality Traits

  1. Oh, that looks fun, can I try?
  2. Woodman, spare that tree!
  3. The forest shall feast on your bones, intruder!
  4. Won’t you tarry with me a while?
  5. I go where the wind takes me.
  6. Friendship starts as an acorn, but can grow into a mighty oak.
  7. Even the elves are as mayflies to the forest.
  8. Where there is life, there is hope!

Goblins of Salmagundi


A new race for D&D 5e Goblins are evil, or at least mischievous, creatures, no two of whom are alike.  Skin, eye, and hair color vary as do number and arrangement of eyes, limbs, ears, mouths, etc.  Every goblin should roll on the Goblin Random Features chart (see bottom of post).  Goblins are often employed by evil wizards, because of their large numbers and lack of fear…but their equal lack of discipline makes them less than ideal as guards.

Stats: +2 Dex Size: Small (approx same as Halfling) Speed: 25 Age: Goblins reach maturity at age 3, and while max lifespan is 100+ years, average is closer to 20. Alignment: Chaotic

Foolhardy: Advantage on saves vs. Fear; Disadvantage on Wisdom checks related to prudence or patience (such as Perception checks on guard duty, but not while skulking around looking for a snack or treasure).

Goblin Nimbleness: Can move through the space of any creature at least 1 size larger

Sneaky: can attempt to hide even when only obscured by a creature at least 1 size larger than you.

Languages: speak Goblin and Common.



It had better be food, ’cause I’m gonna eat it!timmymonster

Ability Score Increase: Str increases by 1.

Iron Stomach: Advantage on Poison Saves and Resistance to poison.

Devour: During a grapple, you may attempt to use a Shove attack to shove the grappled creature in your mouth. Creatures so grappled may attempt to escape as usual, but the Grappled condition does not end automatically when you are incapacitated (though the next attempt to escape the grapple will succeed since you can no longer resist it), and things that move you (such as a Thunderwave spell) will move both of you instead of disrupting the grapple.


Sticks and stones? It is to laugh.cousinit

Ability Score Increase: Con increases by 1

Boyoyoing: Advantage on saves vs. falling and crushing.  Resistance to Bludgeoning damage.

Squeeze Through: You can move through openings as small as a key-hole.  This takes your full move (so you start and stop on either side of the opening), and the distance you can traverse while squeezing yourself through a narrow opening can be no greater than the length of one of your limbs (you have to be able to shove one of your body parts through before the rest can follow…)


cheech Ability Score Increase: Cha +1

Behatted: you can (and usually do) fit your entire body except your feet into a Medium-sized creature’s hat. Any Prodigious physical features also stick out (see chart). You may also fit as much gear as you can carry unencumbered…any gear over that has to be carried outside the hat.  You may use gear and wield weapons normally, by extending your hands and arms outside while you’re using them.  The hat does not interfere with your perception.

Poker Face: you gain Advantage when trying to brazen things out (resisting Insight), but not on your own attempts to persuade.


Ability Score Increase: Wis +1stealthygoblin

Nimble Escape: may take the Disengage or Hide actions as bonus actions in any turn.

Full of Attitude

Elves “If they had those sticks any farther up their butts, they’d be dryads”

Dwarves “If rocks could make beer, Dwarves would never get invited to another party.”

Halflings “Come the Revolution, they’ll be first up against the wall!”

Humans “OK, I guess.  Really, really touchy about sharing their children.  You’d think they can’t just make more.”

Goblin Personality Traits

You may roll on this instead of, or in addition to, the Personality Traits associated with your Background

  1. What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is mine!
  2. That looks edible/drinkable/humpable!
  3. Boom!  Hahahaha!
  4. Pull my finger!
  5. I will hug him and pet him and squeeze him and call him George!
  6. Gee, it never hurts to help!
  7. What’s the matter?  You wanna live forever?
  8. When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.

Goblin Random Features

Roll d20

  1. Scaly skin (roll d8 randomly for ROYGBIV, reroll twice and you’re spotted/checked/striped/plaid)
  2. Prodigous feature (counts as Tool):
    1. Ears
    2. Eyes
    3. Nose
    4. Lips
    5. Hands
    6. Arms (extremely long and bendy, not beefy)
    7. Legs (extremely long and froglike)
    8. Feet
    9. Hair
    10. Tail
    11. Gut
    12. Genitals
  3. Hairy to the point no other features visible
  4. 1d4 extra (on a 4 re-roll and add), arranged (1-3 Symmetrically, 4-Asymmetrically):
    1. Eyes
    2. Ears
    3. Noses
    4. Arms
    5. Legs
    6. Mouths
  5. Tiny fanged mouth on the tip of a serpentine tongue.
  6. Big sad puppy eyes.
  7. Webbed fingers and toes. And arms. And legs.
  8. Sloughing leprous skin.
  9. Second Head
  10. Part creature:
    1. spider
    2. bird
    3. shark
    4. bear
    5. monkey
    6. bat
    7. wolf
    8. horse
    9. goat
    10. choose
  11. Part random element
    1. fire
    2. water
    3. ice
    4. air
    5. dark
    6. Earth
  12. Fur (random ROYGBIV)
  13. Can climb walls like a gecko or spider
  14. Antennae
  15. Big butterfly wings
  16. Blind, uses sonar to identify targets.
  17. Two hearts (gets an extra save vs. Dying before expiring at 0 HP)
  18. Is much larger than the average goblin (counts as Medium instead of Small)
  19. Is much smaller than the average goblin (counts as Very Small)
  20. Has styled its hair
    1. dreads,
    2. mohawk,
    3. “horns”,
    4. greaser pomp,
    5. slickback,
    6. “the Bieber”.

Where My Players Get Their Ideas

The Marketplace of Ideas


with much the same results…


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