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I'm starting a new campaign with 7(!) PCs, and I'm a little worried about designing properly tuned encounters for them.
The rules tell me to start with APL, and add +1 if there are more than 4 PCs. They're all starting at 1st level, so APL = 1 + 1 = 2. Then let's say I want it to be a "challenging" encounter, so I add another +1 to that, for a total encounter CR of 3. This gives me a total XP budget of 800 -- or two CR 1 creatures.
I cannot help but worry that 7 level 1 PCs are going to absolutely demolish two CR 1 creatures.
Am I wrong about that? I mean we're talking about a mechanic, a soldier, an operative, an envoy, a solarian, a nanocyte, and a witchwarper against... a pair of trained squox. The squox will be lucky if they last 2 rounds.
Any advice? Should I bump up the APL by one more? Or should I just relax and trust the math?
* My players are not really min-maxers, and neither am I (none of us has the head or the patience for it).
** Please don't say "split the party up". I could offer each player $100 in real money to split up and they still wouldn't do it.