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There is a reason why this system is basically never used in newer games - and, no, it isn't because they're dumbed down.  The cipher class is a counter-example: very much in the fantasy domain, no, and very popular?
 
I suppose there are people who enjoy repetitive trash fights, but I've always viewed them as something that I put up with rather than something that I enjoy.  By contrast, the well-designed main battles are the ones that I remember and like.  Per encounter spells are irrelevant for the big fights and just speed up the trivial ones; I don't see keeping slow trash clearing as a core design goal.
 
In terms of spells, would it really hurt if priests had one heal spell instead of restore light, medium, heavy endurance?  If they could remove more conditions with the same spell as they leveled up, as opposed to getting half a dozen different remove condition spells?  Looking through the lists, there are numerous barely different conditions and spells that could effortlessly be merged for the other classes too.  That's pretty much the difference between the few and many spell schools that I'm discussing.
 
It's probably primarily because they're dumbed down, but that's not relevant here.
 
The wizard with a grimoire full of dozens of wacky spells is a beloved fantasy roleplaying archetype. Drop your preconceptions about "good design" and realize that the purpose of roleplaying game design is to facilitate those archetypes. Otherwise, we could all just be playing chess.
 
Pillars of Eternity has of course made all sorts of compromises towards "good design" which have infuriated many a grognard, like its attribute design among many other examples, but Josh Sawyer has been careful to keep the core fantasy elements intact, as he should.
 

 

But you didn't have to cast all four every fight!

 

 

It would be stupid not to. Being able to cast four Slickens with no resource cost is an "I win" button for many battles. Who wouldn't push the "I win" button?

 

It was an overpowered mechanic that was tedious for those who used it to its fullest extent, and it was blatantly obvious that the game wasn't balanced for it. It needed to go. And you should be thankful that it did, because the alternative would be nerfing spells to a degree that would make Baldur's Gate 2-style powerful wizardry in a sequel impossible.

 

I'm okay with Spell Mastery being extended to letting you cast any spell on that level once per-encounter, but no further.

Edited by Infinitron
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I'm okay with Spell Mastery being extended to letting you cast any spell on that level once per-encounter, but no further.

 

 

I think that's a good middle-ground between the two existing alternatives, and I think it would make a lot of sense. It wouldn't stifle the possibility to mix up your tactics in any given encounter, but it wouldn't let you spam those spells battle after battle, either.

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But the real issue is this: if you like chanters and ciphers better, then just run with chanters and ciphers.  There are 11 viable classes, and only three of them are Vancian casters.

I dont think thats the real issue. 

 

I think the issue is as of a week ago of the 11 classes none of them were truly Vancian casters, and now there is 3 that pretty much are.

 

I think there was a fix for a problem that didnt exist. (were an overwhelming majority of players dropping every non caster from their party after level 9 or so?) And did this fix really improve game play or just make it more tedious?

 

 

Meaningful strategic choices are not "tedious", but more to the point, this problem very much existed. The enormous bi-level power spikes of post-level-9 casters was always an issue, but the issue was limited in scope pre-expansion. With 4 more levels, two entire spell ranks suddenly became per-encounter. It turned what was a notable quirk into an insurmountable gulf.

 

The system needed to die before the game was even released - the only problem here is that it took until the second expansion to fix an issue many of us saw from a mile away.

 

[...]

 

I'm okay with Spell Mastery being extended to letting you cast any spell on that level once per-encounter, but no further.

That would only lead to you going through your prepared spells like a checklist in combat. There's no reason to compromise on this issue - the system as it was was always broken, and a "spell mastery" feature was always a reasonable option to give potentially starved late-game casters an available option.

 

Making all spells in a given rank once-per-encounter would still give you an inordinate number of very powerful choices not in any way reflected by any other class' available options.

 

I'd maybe, maybe possibly consider it if you had to shell out a Talent per spell rank.

Edited by Luckmann
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Luckmann, I mean one casting per encounter, with the option to use any of the spells in that level for that single cast.

 

Oh, well, yeah, that could work.

 

Especially for those that are already full spontaneous casters, like Druids and Priests.

Edited by Luckmann
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But the real issue is this: if you like chanters and ciphers better, then just run with chanters and ciphers.  There are 11 viable classes, and only three of them are Vancian casters.

I dont think thats the real issue. 

 

I think the issue is as of a week ago of the 11 classes none of them were truly Vancian casters, and now there is 3 that pretty much are.

 

I think there was a fix for a problem that didnt exist. (were an overwhelming majority of players dropping every non caster from their party after level 9 or so?) And did this fix really improve game play or just make it more tedious?

 

 

Meaningful strategic choices are not "tedious", but more to the point, this problem very much existed. The enormous bi-level power spikes of post-level-9 casters was always an issue, but the issue was limited in scope pre-expansion. With 4 more levels, two entire spell ranks suddenly became per-encounter. It turned what was a notable quirk into an insurmountable gulf.

 

The system needed to die before the game was even released - the only problem here is that it took until the second expansion to fix an issue many of us saw from a mile away.

 

I dont think I have ever seen an example of meaningful strategic choice with a vancian system that wasn't simply some form of meta knowledge. Could you expand on that?

In any battle what choice could you be making other than "I know this isn't the toughest fight on this level because I ave been here before."

 

Could you also describe this issue in more depth? What does insurmountable gulf mean in the context of this single player rpg?

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I dont think I have ever seen an example of meaningful strategic choice with a vancian system that wasn't simply some form of meta knowledge. Could you expand on that?

 

In any battle what choice could you be making other than "I know this isn't the toughest fight on this level because I ave been here before."

 

Could you also describe this issue in more depth? What does insurmountable gulf mean in the context of this single player rpg?

 

Metaknowledge where you know exactly what is coming up wouldn't be meaningful strategic choice, since that means you're just going by rote memorisation. In fact, that would be much more similar to resting after each battle, where you eliminate the uncertainty and the risks and the attrition, and play as if each battle happens in some kind of space vacuum. 

 

It doesn't have to be Vancian. It can be non-regenerating mana with costly mana potions, for example, or a more sophisticated fatigue/wounds system. Whatever the case, I like playing a dungeon like it's a dungeon, and I prefer a game where you really feel like you're going to a dangerous and unknown place and you have to survive not just the 3 orcs in the next room but the rest of the area.

 

Another point: such forms of attrition add to the diversity of play when done right. If you rest all the time or everything is per-enc, you can rinse & repeat each battle because you're always starting off with the exact same maximum resources. Whether it's BG or POE or whatever, the most fun and memorable scenarios are when you are running low on spells and abilities but you think you can take on that next group (or you have to), and then you start going creative. Maybe that's when you have to rely on that rare consumable. Maybe that's when you use those abilities you never used before, but now you dont' have Haste and Fireball you're exploring new options. Maybe that's when you finally get your D&D wizard to break out that Staff of Striking, hoping he has the AC to dodge that golem. 

 

To be sure, there's always pros and cons. You don't want to balance it so badly that everybody's casting half a spell a battle (which, by the way, never needs to happen in any D&D CRPG or POE). And the way POE has mixed up per-encs and per-rests are not great - I think the spell mastery change didn't fix the real problem, and didn't even fix the problem it was trying to fix. But while I'm sure some players just want to have a relaxing romp casting all those powerful spells every battle and watching the explosions, and fair play to them, I would find it very dull and repetitive. 

 

 

Basically, anything even slightly different from Icewind Dale and Baldurs Gate is a bridge too far for some.

 

Those people wouldn't be playing POE in the first place. Not sure how this matters.

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There is a reason why this system is basically never used in newer games - and, no, it isn't because they're dumbed down.  The cipher class is a counter-example: very much in the fantasy domain, no, and very popular?

 

I suppose there are people who enjoy repetitive trash fights, but I've always viewed them as something that I put up with rather than something that I enjoy.  By contrast, the well-designed main battles are the ones that I remember and like.  Per encounter spells are irrelevant for the big fights and just speed up the trivial ones; I don't see keeping slow trash clearing as a core design goal.

 

In terms of spells, would it really hurt if priests had one heal spell instead of restore light, medium, heavy endurance?  If they could remove more conditions with the same spell as they leveled up, as opposed to getting half a dozen different remove condition spells?  Looking through the lists, there are numerous barely different conditions and spells that could effortlessly be merged for the other classes too.  That's pretty much the difference between the few and many spell schools that I'm discussing.

 

 

This was the first game of this type made since DA:O.  The reason it's not used in newer games is because we've had one representative in the genre for five years.  D:AO used a mana system that was effectively per encounter.  The optimal way to play the game was to cast storm of vengeance, mop up the extras, and wait for mana to recharge.  That's more tedious, not less.

 

If all the fights in the game except bosses are repetitive just play on easy mode until you get to bosses.  That will also trivialize many fights.  The purposes of a system isn't to make the game easy, it's to make it challenging but doable.  If you don't like the challenge, then lower the challenge level.  The lesser fights aren't some aberration of good design, they are the game.  The game is about fighting through dungeons.  When they erred, it was normally that the fights needed more variation: that's a level design problem, not a system design one.

 

And the game is built on using limited resources.  That's why there's health as well as endurance.  That's why there are resting bonuses and four different types of consumable item.  Daily abilities are only one reflection of this.  Some classes have more, some classes have less.  But strategic planning is a core feature.

 

Your final argument is incredibly reductive.  Most of the status effects noticeably change gameplay beyond stats:

blind - makes you bad at attacking and vulnerable.

charmed - makes a character switch sides and autoattack slowly.

distracted - less engagement makes you lose some control over the field.

dominated - switches sides and lets you use enemy abilities, which allows you to blow through their best ones.

flanked - opens enemies up for damage if they're surrounded.

frightened - characters run away.

hobbled - slows your character way down.

maimed - means this character is about to die for good.

paralyzed - character can't do anything.

prone - character was pushed on the ground.

stuck - character can't move but can attack nearby people.

 

That's 11 unique afflictions without looking at stats, and stats do make a difference.  Confused, petrified, sickened, terrified, and weakened have significantly different effects in practice.  The only two I would change are dazed and confused.  Dazed could do with a bit more differentiation, and confused should be more like beserk in BG where the enemy attacks whoever's near it.

 

(And that list didn't even include expose wounds and combusting wounds).

 

Having different spells to cure and prevent them become a matter of tactics.  If you know an enemy paralyzes and charms your party, which is more important to protect against in the limited time you have before the first attack?  Essentially you want to turn the priest from a character with 20 to 30 valid actions into a character with 10, drastically reducing the complexity of the game and therefore the required thinking.

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There is a reason why this system is basically never used in newer games - and, no, it isn't because they're dumbed down.  The cipher class is a counter-example: very much in the fantasy domain, no, and very popular?

 

I suppose there are people who enjoy repetitive trash fights, but I've always viewed them as something that I put up with rather than something that I enjoy.  By contrast, the well-designed main battles are the ones that I remember and like.  Per encounter spells are irrelevant for the big fights and just speed up the trivial ones; I don't see keeping slow trash clearing as a core design goal.

 

In terms of spells, would it really hurt if priests had one heal spell instead of restore light, medium, heavy endurance?  If they could remove more conditions with the same spell as they leveled up, as opposed to getting half a dozen different remove condition spells?  Looking through the lists, there are numerous barely different conditions and spells that could effortlessly be merged for the other classes too.  That's pretty much the difference between the few and many spell schools that I'm discussing.

 

 

This was the first game of this type made since DA:O.  The reason it's not used in newer games is because we've had one representative in the genre for five years.  D:AO used a mana system that was effectively per encounter.  The optimal way to play the game was to cast storm of vengeance, mop up the extras, and wait for mana to recharge.  That's more tedious, not less.

 

If all the fights in the game except bosses are repetitive just play on easy mode until you get to bosses.  That will also trivialize many fights.  The purposes of a system isn't to make the game easy, it's to make it challenging but doable.  If you don't like the challenge, then lower the challenge level.  The lesser fights aren't some aberration of good design, they are the game.  The game is about fighting through dungeons.  When they erred, it was normally that the fights needed more variation: that's a level design problem, not a system design one.

 

And the game is built on using limited resources.  That's why there's health as well as endurance.  That's why there are resting bonuses and four different types of consumable item.  Daily abilities are only one reflection of this.  Some classes have more, some classes have less.  But strategic planning is a core feature.

 

Your final argument is incredibly reductive.  Most of the status effects noticeably change gameplay beyond stats:

blind - makes you bad at attacking and vulnerable.

charmed - makes a character switch sides and autoattack slowly.

distracted - less engagement makes you lose some control over the field.

dominated - switches sides and lets you use enemy abilities, which allows you to blow through their best ones.

flanked - opens enemies up for damage if they're surrounded.

frightened - characters run away.

hobbled - slows your character way down.

maimed - means this character is about to die for good.

paralyzed - character can't do anything.

prone - character was pushed on the ground.

stuck - character can't move but can attack nearby people.

 

That's 11 unique afflictions without looking at stats, and stats do make a difference.  Confused, petrified, sickened, terrified, and weakened have significantly different effects in practice.  The only two I would change are dazed and confused.  Dazed could do with a bit more differentiation, and confused should be more like beserk in BG where the enemy attacks whoever's near it.

 

(And that list didn't even include expose wounds and combusting wounds).

 

Having different spells to cure and prevent them become a matter of tactics.  If you know an enemy paralyzes and charms your party, which is more important to protect against in the limited time you have before the first attack?  Essentially you want to turn the priest from a character with 20 to 30 valid actions into a character with 10, drastically reducing the complexity of the game and therefore the required thinking.

 

I think that the health / endurance mechanism is brilliant, and gives real incentives to periodically rest. That's a great example of good organic design: you stop when you have a reason to, e.g. your party got beaten up.   Looking over all of the classes, only 3 have the "use resources until rest" mechanic.   So it's entirely possible to have characters in a game like this, balanced just fine thank you, without making them stop every third time that they do something interesting.  I'd also note that the game restricts how many spells you have at any given time too - and it works fine - so maybe the dozens of spells at your fingertips aren't really key.  I just don't see a reason why wizards and druids can't operate in a manner similar to how chanters and ciphers work.  Now if the spells are too powerful if you can chain cast them, that's an argument for a different spell design - slower, less reliable, or weaker.

 

Slight variations on spells aren't exactly the same, of course, but notice that priests get all the spells anyhow, and it's just a matter of a bunch of different icons doing the same thing.  You can keep the various status effects while having a cure spell that just gets more powerful, just as you can have a heal spell that gets more powerful without needing cure light, medium, heavy wound spells.  That's the sort of thing that you do in (effectively per encounter) resource systems.

 

As someone who started out with 3 little d&d books and who goes back a long ways in computer games, it's not that I can't do some of these things; it's that I've just seen better solutions.  And this appears to be a case of having people who've cracked the game and are on their fifth play-through trying to add artificial difficulty for spice.  Once you've cracked the game, however, you've cracked it - sorry - and you're not going to make it hard with these sorts of changes, e.g. removing per encounter spells.  And if that's the way that the game design goes, maybe we don't need to deal with so many taking-out-the-garbage trash encounters, so that not having per-enc things doesn't matter as much.

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I think per-rest isn't a great mechanic but really it's not very restrictive and resting supplies are plentiful enough, that's part of the reason I don't really see what the point of it is because it's not like it actually restricts you unless you're trying to get the 10-rests achievement. I suppose it's mostly just atmospheric.

 

Only time I've felt I've had to pull out and go buy resting supplies even on PotD has been when going through the endless paths and with the main staircase it's basically built for you to do just that.

 

This was true of IE games too though, only time I can recall where I actually felt restricted by per-rest spells was Trials of the Luremaster because the attacks you could suffer while sleeping could be kind of brutal especially if you were completely out of spells.

 

Edit: Also at level 15 you now have 4 spells per-encounter and for those encounters that are really just speedbumps that's easily enough.

Edited by limaxophobiacq
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The vast majority of classes have per rest abilities that are more powerful than per encounter abilities.  Not to the extent of casters, but they have less abilities than casters in general.

 

Barbarians have Heart of Fury,

Paladins have Deprive the Unworthy,

Rogues have Fearsome Strike,

Rangers have Binding Roots,

Monks have Clarity of Agony.

 

Chanters and Ciphers are the exception to the rule.  Even they can get per rest abilities from talents like Envenomed Strike.  I don't want to remove per encounter abilities, I think per encounter abilities are great.  I think there's something to be said for more powerful abilities being per rest, and weaker ones being per encounter.

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the new system seems to go more towards traditional BG combat, which is kind of disappointing since OB has tons of creativity.

 

I think it would have been more balancing if the per encounter spells were removed, just as they were, instead add in more talents.  For example, freeze damage has a chance to freeze an enemy, fire can burn, etc.

Gaming is meant to be fun.

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Vancian spellcasting was a terrible idea from the beginning, and the sooner it goes away the better. It ends up rewarding metagaming; but the worst part is that you end up not using your spells because you're saving them for emergencies. So casters end up being crappy ranged damage dealers that you uncork for large battles. Instead of a limited number of specialized and overpowered spells, better to have balanced abilities that you can use indefinitely.

This man speaks the truth.

 

In fact anything that gets big benefits from metagaming are really bad

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What I'd really like for POE2 to do is come up with its own restrictions mechanic. I like Vancian but I'm not blind to its problems, and the weird mishmash they've got going in POE serves nobody particularly well. The latest spell mastery change is a futile effort to tinker with what's more fundamentally screwed up. 

 

The system needs to have real attrition and tactical cost and discourage boring spamming, so it can't be cooldowns (hit that button when it's lit up hurr dudrr), and it can't just be per encounters. Possibly there's a way to have per-encs be the core of the system, throw out the resting, and then build in supplementary mechanics. I always liked the upkeep mechanism in Arcanum - where a given character could only maintain a limited number of duration spells at a time. One might consider cases where casting too many spells in quick succession gives a kind of magic overload and risks bad results, like the bad rolls in wild magic - always more interesting to have failure content - as well.

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Per rest systems are good and metagaming is part of PnP and computer games. Complainers just don't care about challenge. And knowing what is coming (after you loaded a save game or meet same enemy again) and countering with right spells ability is just part of the gameplay. Complaining about that is like complaining that Xcom sectoid has mind control and you know that. Just like in Xcom the roll to succeed for these abilities is still random. You the player just manage percentages to succeed in your plan.

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What I'd really like for POE2 to do is come up with its own restrictions mechanic. I like Vancian but I'm not blind to its problems, and the weird mishmash they've got going in POE serves nobody particularly well. The latest spell mastery change is a futile effort to tinker with what's more fundamentally screwed up. 

 

The system needs to have real attrition and tactical cost and discourage boring spamming, so it can't be cooldowns (hit that button when it's lit up hurr dudrr), and it can't just be per encounters. Possibly there's a way to have per-encs be the core of the system, throw out the resting, and then build in supplementary mechanics. I always liked the upkeep mechanism in Arcanum - where a given character could only maintain a limited number of duration spells at a time. One might consider cases where casting too many spells in quick succession gives a kind of magic overload and risks bad results, like the bad rolls in wild magic - always more interesting to have failure content - as well.

 

That runs the risk of encouraging the player to ride the RNG more.  I really don't see what the problem is with the system as it stands.  I really think just taking the complaints and rolling them into suboptimal talents is the way to go, just like they did with health recovery.

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I think the current system makes it too difficult to balance the different abilities and classes, especially if POE2 goes to even higher levels.

 

I have no sympathy for people who voluntarily waste their time saving and loading repeatedly in a single-player video game - designers shouldn't need to worry about that, such people will game the system one way or another.

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I think the current system makes it too difficult to balance the different abilities and classes, especially if POE2 goes to even higher levels.

 

How so?

 

It's not like there aren't classes that don't use per-rest spells but can keep up with the vancian casters. Ciphers are right up there with Wizards/Priests/Druids and Paladins/Chanters I think are pretty close, and the rest are keeping up waaay better than in BG, IWD, or NWN games.

Edited by limaxophobiacq
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I think the current system makes it too difficult to balance the different abilities and classes, especially if POE2 goes to even higher levels.

 

How so?

 

It's not like there aren't classes that don't use per-rest spells but can keep up with the vancian casters. Ciphers are right up there with Wizards/Priests/Druids and Paladins/Chanters I think are pretty close, and the rest are keeping up waaay better than in BG, IWD, or NWN games.

 

Beserkers, Barbarians and some paladins as well as Archer subclass kept very well in BG games.

In NWN games, fighters killed enemies faster than wizards and some multiclass combinations just owned everything. My barbarian/bard/Red Dragon Disciple in NWN2 killed stuff before wizard got to do much. Wizard in the end just buffed the barbarian and let him kill things more efficiently.

 

As for balancing in PoE, grazing system is the biggest problem for that. Spells should not graze.. ever. Because even if for few seconds most of these spells debuff or frack up things too much.

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I've proposed transforming "rest" from a discrete to a continuous variable, with different abilities requiring different amounts of rest to replenish. Then you can change "per-encounter" abilities to abilities that require only a little bit of a rest (a 15 minute power nap :p ). This would fit in well with the rest supplies mechanic.

Edited by Infinitron
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As for balancing in PoE, grazing system is the biggest problem for that. Spells should not graze.. ever. Because even if for few seconds most of these spells debuff or frack up things too much.

 

Grazes from non-damage effect have the benefit that there's no DR for non-damage effect, or rather there is but it's very limited (those abilities that say -X seconds duration for certain status effects like the Prayer Against spells used to have are essentially like DR vs. satus effects).

 

I think Sawyer talked about that for a sequel they'd look over grazes for non-damage effects and instead of (or in addition to) halving the duration non-damage grazes would have a lesser effect, so f.ex. a graze from a Terrified effect would only cause Frightened, and maybe a graze on a Confusion would only cause Daze or something like that.

Edited by limaxophobiacq
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I've proposed transforming "rest" from a discrete to a continuous variable, with different abilities requiring different amounts of rest to replenish. Then you can change "per-encounter" abilities to abilities that require only a little bit of a rest (a 15 minute power nap :p ). This would fit in well with the rest supplies mechanic.

 

That seems waaay to fiddly for something that basically doesn't matter, given that rest supplies are actually limitless and pretty much have to be limitless, as making them not limitless would let people end up in situations where its impossible to continue the game and force reloads from many hours before so not really workable.

Edited by limaxophobiacq
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I've proposed transforming "rest" from a discrete to a continuous variable, with different abilities requiring different amounts of rest to replenish. Then you can change "per-encounter" abilities to abilities that require only a little bit of a rest (a 15 minute power nap :p ). This would fit in well with the rest supplies mechanic.

 

That seems waaay to fiddly for something that basically doesn't matter, given that rest supplies are actually limitless and pretty much have to be limitless, as making them not limitless would let people end up in situations where its impossible to continue the game and force reloads from many hours before so not really workable.

 

 

It's not that much more fiddly than mana-based magic systems are, and people can deal with those.

 

It's also a kind of system that pen-and-paper roleplaying games have used: http://5edndwiki.wikidot.com/howtoplay-combathealingresting

 

 

Resting
 
The most expedient method of healing is through magic, but when magic is not available, you can also regain hit points by resting. You can take two different kinds of rests: a short rest and a long rest.
Edited by Infinitron
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