As you progress through Darkest Dungeon, you'll often need to stop to build a Camp. When you have Firewood in your inventory, you can right-click it to build a Camp. You can only camp in cleared rooms, though this also includes rooms with curios or treasure, and even Secret Rooms. A room with a battle must have that battle completed before you can commence camping.
You are only given Firewood at the start of lengthy expeditions. Medium expeditions start you with one, Long gives you two, Exhausting gives you four. Epic expeditions in the Courtyard don't give you any Firewood to start with, but you can loot Firewood from certain curios to start a camp.
Camping consists of two phases: the food phase and the skill phase.
In the food phase, you must choose how much food is eaten. You can eat:
- [Starve] 0 food and take 20% damage and +15 stress
- [Half] 2 food and have no effect
- [Full] 4 food and gain 10% health
- [Feast] 8 food and gain 25% health and -10 stress
If you have lost one or more members of your party, the required food for each tier is reduced by one quarter for each dead party member (thus, if you have a party of three, you only need six food rather than eight). Keep in mind that diseases and quirks which modify how much a hero needs to eat will affect the cost here as well. Someone with Stress Fasting, for instance, won't require any food if over 50 stress, lowering the feast cost from 8 to 6 and so on. Someone with a tapeworm, however, will make the feast cost 10. Afflicted heroes can sometimes refuse to eat (or receive camping buffs), suffering further stress and health damage.
After that, the skill phase will start, where you can use Camping Skills. Each skill costs a certain amount of Respite points, of which you have a total of 12 (by default) to spend. Skills can heal heroes, lower their stress level, or buff them. Before you stop to camp, you can right click any hero to select which camp skills you'd like to use, assuming you've trained more than the starting 3. Additional camping skills for each hero can be purchased at the Survivalist.
If you've constructed an Outsiders' Bonfire in the District Panel and have a Leper, Hellion OR Abomination in your party, then you start the skill phase with additional 2 Respite points, 14 total. More than one of such heroes does not increase the bonus.
Each class has their own skill sets. There are also shared ones which can be used by all heroes except the Flagellant:
- Encourage - (Time Cost: 2) Reduce stress by 15 for one companion.
- Wound Care - (Time Cost: 2) Heal 15%, remove target bleeding and blight for one companion.
- Pep Talk - (Time Cost: 2) -15% Stress damage for one companion for 4 combats.
Once you are out of Respite points, you are ready to sleep. Clicking the Rest button will end the camping session.
After Camping, there is the possibility of a Night-Time Ambush, unless you used a camping skill to prevent a night-time ambush. Once you resume exploration after a Camp, the Torch level will be reset to 100, regardless of whether you've been ambushed or not.
If you have enough food and torches to last an entire expedition, you could save one stack of Firewood for the very end of the expedition, using it purely to reduce your party's stress and even remove diseases with the right skills in tow. Doing so saves on time and money that would be spent on committing heroes to Stress relief or disease treatment, but this also depends on the party being capable enough to last many battles through the expedition. This strategy is ideally performed during a Long expedition so that you can still fall back on one camp in the middle of the quest if things begin go awry or you want to utilize camp buffs.
Alternatively, if you are fighting a boss as the quest objective, you can save the single Firewood you get to camp right before the boss, gaining additional healing and battle buffs before entering.
If a Shieldbreaker is in your party, there is a chance that you will face a special fight against a party of illusionary snakes, which can't be prevented by skills like Vestal's Sanctuary. If you have a Shieldbreaker in your party at the start of a Medium or Long quest and a Nightmare will occur during the night of Camping, the Shieldbreaker will warn about it with a specific bark at the start of the Skill Phase. There are a total of seven encounters:
- 3 encounters in Novice level dungeons
- 2 encounters in Veteran level dungeons
- 2 encounters in Champion level dungeons
As soon as you have completed every encounter per dungeon level, they will stop occurring for every mission of that difficulty. They also don't have to be completed by every Shieldbreaker individually (f.e. if you complete the 3 Novice level Nightmares with 3 different Shieldbreakers it still counts). Also note that only one Nightmare can occur per expedition, meaning that you can't face 2 Nightmares during one Long quest.