So a while back I was tinkering around with extended rests and healing surges. I love the idea that players bounce back with full HP after a night’s rest. But what got me is that there was no difference between the guy that got put through the meat grinder, and a fellow that was picking flowers all day. Functionally there was no difference in the amount a player healed, everybody would get a 6 hour extended rest and be ready to jump back into hacking monsters apart.
Now I get this. The players are heroes. They are exceptions to the norm. Plus totally hampering the players takes away from the fun. Yet I still wanted to slip in a little tweak to how extended rests worked. I liked that abilities and HP were topped off, but I tinkered with the recovery of healing surges.
In my mind, healing surges are more than just a measure of someone’s vitality. It was also the gumption, spirit, and desire for a person to keep pushing on. Typically after a night’s rest that person would recharge his batteries and be ready to go. But I thought if the guy got cut down to an inch within his life, the next day he might be a little sapped of energy as exhaustion and trials of the previous day might mean he was not quite at 100%.
So originally I lopped off a few healing surges, largely dependant on the number of HP a player lost before they rested. I liked the idea and it worked pretty well. However, I realized that healing surges were being used as a currency for other game mechanics. Some magic items used them. I also found I was using them as penalties for bad skill checks and failed skill challenges. So I looked at the numbers and realized it was a bit much and fiddled with them a little more.
So my house rule for extended rests are as follows:
A) Players regain all HP and abilities. They should also regain all their healing surges, but that is dependent on 2 other conditions.
B) If players are bloodied before they rest, they regain 2 less healing surges from their maximum (full HS -2).
C) If players spent spend more than 4 healing surges before they rest, they regain 1 less healing surge from their maximum (full HS -1). This penalty is cumulative with being bloodied.
D) If players take a comfortable rest they gain back one additional healing surge. A comfortable rest means the players are in a sheltered location (not exposed to the elements), eating a prepared meal that is not trail rations, and are in a relatively secure location (not taking guard shifts). This bonus healing surge can be above the player’s maximum number.
So if a bloodied character that has exhausted all their healing surges takes an extended rest, the next day they will be at full HP and have HS -3 (-2 being bloodied, and -1 for spending more than 4 HS). If they were resting in an inn however, they would be at full HS -2. Give them 2 full days of rest and they would be ready to go.
I also like this as a bloodied player needs to spend their healing surges before they rest. They are penalized more for being bloodied than for spending excessive healing surges, so if they’ve got em’, then use em’. Also, I like giving players a bonus for resting in an inn or through some other more comfortable means. There are some crafty uses for rituals and magic items that can give the players a little more game milage out of using them. I want to encourage that.