In our last scene within our 4E D&D game on Google Wave the player characters had to camp in the wilderness for the first time.  We’ve been playing on Wave for nearly nine months now, but for all of us this is still our first foray into 4th edition.

The group managed to find an abandoned hovel in a forest to settle down for the night, and set watch.  My intention as DM was always to have an encounter during the night – there were no random factors at play.  However, we wanted a modicum of realism in that the party needed to set an appropriate watch and get a good night’s rest for it to class as an Extended Rest to regain healing surges and powers.

One of the items I decided upon was that sleeping in armour would be quite difficult, and pushed this idea over to the players.

Full plate would be difficult to sleep in, for instance, so Rindall would discard most pieces. Scale would be uncomfortable, as would chain. You could get away with leather, and cloth would be fine. I guess most people would put their weapons (and shields) within easy reach. Donning armour in the middle of an encounter would be next to impossible (without getting skewered).

If people want to keep armour on during the night, I’m going to suggest they need an extra 1 hour rest wearing leather, 2 hours wearing chain, 4 hours wearing scale, and 6 hours wearing plate.

Everyone seemed fairly happy with this, and the three main melee combatants (human fighter in chain, dwarf warlord in scale, and dwarf paladin in plate) stripped their armour for the night.  During the wizard’s watch in the night the group were attacked by a pack of wolves including a couple of dire wolves.  With the alarm taking a little while to be raised and the wolves taking advantage of surprise the fighter and the warlord were reduced to single-figure hit points in the first round.  Hits that might not have happened had they been wearing their usual armour.  In the end the party scraped through without anybody being reduced to unconsciousness or worse, but only with a couple of the wolves taking stock of the situation and heading off into the forest when they could have gone in for the kill.

As it happens, I am sure I will be able to use the disappearing wolves as a future plot point at some undisclosed time, but I felt that the encounter was unbalanced in the favour of the monsters.

The group and myself are quite happy to use a good amount of realism in our games, but we also want to preserve play balance and make things as easy as possible for ourselves.  Therefore, I’ve had a rethink on how to handle sleeping in armour.

In the Player’s Handbook there are five Heroic Tier feats that deal with armour under Armor Proficiency for chain, leather, hide, scale, and plate.  The benefit they imply is ‘training with ‘x’ armor’.  My assumption with this training is that it also allows you to find the right position in which to sleep for an extended period in that armour, however repeated nights within the armour will soon take their toll.

The basic rule I think we’ll try next time is given below:

Characters can sleep in armour they are trained in.  At the end of an extended rest sleeping in such armour the character should make an Endurance check at a moderate difficulty level to avoid losing healing surges from their daily total.  No check is required for sleeping in Cloth, Leather, or Hide armours.

If the check is failed, the number of healing surges lost from the daily total is as below:

  • Chainmail – 1 surge
  • Scale – 2 surges
  • Plate – 3 surges

The character can apply an magical bonuses of the armour to the Endurance check roll.

For each extended rest in succession that the character sleeps in their armour they receive a -2 penalty to the Endurance check, and the number of healing surges lost increases by 1.

I’m sure this will need a little tidying up and some playtesting, but this should allow the players to sleep in their armour and for us all to be more confident that any random or otherwise encounters during the night are balanced and fair.

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