Sleep Deprivation

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MinusInnocence
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Sleep Deprivation

This has come up in a few of our PbP games recently, so I thought I would start a discussion here to see how everyone feels about it. What are or should be the consequences of deliberately foregoing a period of sleep, let alone rest? Fatigue/exhaustion? Nonlethal damage? Ability score damage?

Fixxxer
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I wondered when this was gonna come up.

Fatigue leading to the exhausted condition is the obvious start. Non-lethal damage does make a degree of sense, but is likely rendered impotent by the ease with which magical healing can be acquired. At the extreme end of things, should someone get lucky enough to push past exhaustion, applying spell effects to them might be interesting. For example, beginning to hallucinate and hear things ala ghost sound might be amusing. Or applying the effect of the blur spell to opponents. Or something.

Talanall
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At low to middle levels, I think I would basically treat it as a forced march; eventually you're just going to start getting hit with non-lethal damage, which fatigues you (and then exhausts you if you are still fatigued/damaged next time you fail a Con check). For a little while, your natural healing will cancel that out if your hourly damage rolls are on the low side, but eventually, a low-level character will basically slide into fatigue and exhaustion, and then fall unconscious based on accrued non-lethal damage. I treat that as going to sleep.

There are problems with that approach at higher levels, because natural healing for non-lethal damage is a function of character level. The party in Ancestral Burdens is just getting to the point where they can effectively force march forever (because they can naturally heal non-lethal damage from a forced march as fast as they get it).

I fancy that after a couple of days' worth of wakefulness I would begin to track non-lethal damage based on a hustle progression, which is geometric. It's something that I basically would eyeball, just on the basis that it's unlikely to be a real issue because any party with an arcane spellcaster in its membership is going to have to stop every so often and let the geek rest for eight hours.

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

MinusInnocence
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I guess this speaks to a larger issue which is that not everyone agrees on how realistic the setting should be, at least insofar as PCs are concerned. Even if fatigue from staying up for a week straight is a thing for regular 1st level Commoners, should it be relevant to the heroes? When, if ever, is emphasizing something like that beneficial to the game or conducive to making it more fun for the players?

For 2EE, I have ruled that everyone can pretty much stay up for longer than 24 hours. So the first day without sleep is a freebie. Maybe if you weren't adventurers currently on an adventurer it would be different; but the PCs in that game are NOT like regular people. They have hero points, levels in PC classes and use the highest amount of points possible for generating ability scores. They're superheroes, and everyone gets a pass on that first day of not going to bed.

But after that, if you aren't getting at least six hours of sleep (more for arcane casters, as has already been observed), Constitution checks to avoid the fatigued condition (followed by the exhausted condition, as per the rules) is the order of the day. It would get harder and harder as time goes on, and I am toying with the idea of an exhausted character needing to make checks every hour instead of every day to avoid just falling asleep.

I like your idea about nonlethal damage, Ed, except for the problem you've already observed: it isn't actually that serious a penalty after awhile. If I were to rule that way, I would probably dispense with rolling altogether.

Fixxxer
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Ed, how did you handle Chuul passing out from lack of sleep during Ryster's cremation?

Talanall
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After awhile, I just treated his ongoing activity as a hustle. It piled up fairly quickly, because hustle works out hourly like so:

1st -- 0
2nd -- 1
3rd -- 2
4th -- 4
5th -- 8
6th -- 16
7th -- 32
8th -- 64

Chuul is 7th level and has 61 hit points. So in an endurance contest that tracks based on non-lethal damage, he effectively has DR 7/--, which means that he can (theoretically) force march forever. Hustling is different. After you account for his level-based healing factor for non-lethal damage, his progression looks like this:

1st -- none
2nd -- none
3rd -- none
4th -- none
5th -- 1
6th -- 9 (plus 1, total 10)
7th -- 25 (plus 10, total 35)
8th -- 57 (plus 35, total 92)

At hour eight, he went under. If it had mattered whether he could/would wake up sooner, I would have backed out of that total of 92 points of non-lethal damage in the same way, until I had a figure that would have indicated that he had suffered non-lethal damage equal to or less than his hit point total. In this case, it would have been about five hours before he could possibly wake on his own, and then he'd have been functional but still fatigued for another nine hours or so.

There was no reason to bother about that, so I just let him sleep for fourteen hours instead.

This approach works pretty decently, I find. If you want to keep a PC going against this routine, it's possible in the short term, but you have to pour magic into him in a way that is basically prohibitive for anyone who's not extremely high level.

The 3.5 rules treat fatigue from a forced march or hustle slightly differently from other sources of fatigue. Normally, once you are fatigued you must rest for 8 hours. But the rules for forced marching and hustling specifically stipulate that if you eliminate the non-lethal damage, it takes the fatigue with it. For a character who is 6th level or higher, he basically just doesn't have to worry about damage from a forced march.

At first, a character's natural healing can keep ahead of the damage from a hustle, too. As I remarked, your level is basically "DR x/--" against this damage. And after that point, you can start using cure spells, because the Combat section of the core rules stipulates that when a spell or magical power cures hit point damage, it also takes an equal amount of non-lethal damage with it.

After a few hours, that can't keep up with the damage from a hustle unless you're pouring on the magic. Cure critical wounds tops out at 4d8+20, and that isn't going to keep you on your feet for very long unless you're using multiple castings every hour.

If I were going to formalize this into a system, I'd probably allow any character to stay up for 24 hours with little to no difficulty, and then call for a Constitution check (DC 10) to check for the onset of this hustle-based progression. If you pass the check, I'd probably call for another one after 1d4 hours and elevate the Constitution check's DC by 2 points.

I imagine that it would make the ring of sustenance a lot more popular.

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

MinusInnocence
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Another concern for those who just refuse to sleep is that until they get that mandatory eight hours of sleep a night, they won't be naturally healing lethal damage at all.

Talanall
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Yes, and that can be a real nuisance if you are unable to obtain magical healing for some reason. It's especially troublesome in a low-level campaign like Cataclysm.

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold