If you have five players, increase the hit points of the monsters by 25%. If you have six players, give the monsters full hit points. Also, don't be afraid of fudging hit points and the like - especially at higher levels, sometimes the players end up going through monsters rather easily, especially with a larger group.
There's actually one chap doing a Runelords game with eight or nine players; they all do journals on here and he'll often post on how he's increased the difficulty to compensate.
In our long running group, (they are working on retaking Fort Rannick right now) we have 6 regular players an an occasional stand in that may play an npc or something.
It has been pretty standard so far, increase all hit points to Maximum and add 50% more mooks (low cr combatants) like in the fort I have added 50% more regular Ogres and maxed all enemy hitpoints.
The 50% more mooks is basically to eat up some action economy and give out some extra xp for the increased number of players. BBEG at Max Hitpoints are pretty rough but not impossible by any means.
The group had its first death today however when a halfling rogue went upstairs to scope things out and ran into the waiting leader of the Ogres who immediately moved to block his retreat.
The rogue tried to tumble past him and failed his check, took an AoO for 31 points of damage. The n a full round attack of 28 points and 21 points. Basically killing him dead.
The rest of the party ended the session at the bottom of the stairs trying to decide if they wanted to run or go up after the body. (Scared the hell out of em by the way.)
Same here. I have 6 players, so 50% more minions in most fights, and I add a class level or 2 to most bosses and most bosses have at least 2 minions to block for them. I use the advancement track instead of XP and I try to keep my players about 1 level behind where the advancement track says they should be.
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Paizo AP\adventure scale rules:
AP's are built on a 4 person party with:
1 full arcane
What counts as a melee?
Anything who's primary mode of damage is hitting, with multiple attacks at higher levels. This includes caster classes that focus on this such as (but not limited to) druids, alchemists, even sorcerers or wizards (although less likely to be a wizard).
What counts as full arcane?
Anything who has 9 levels of arcane spells and doesn't use those spells to enhance their own ability for melee.
What counts as utility?
Anything that isn't the above. Seriously - in general these guys have class features that focus on buffing/debuffing or altering the odds in the players favor in some manner - this includes clerics (9 spell levels and if you really pay attention you note that most of them are add numbers to party or subtract them from enemy).
How do I use this to balance the adventure?
Look at your party - put each character in a category based on the above criteria. Fill in the slots for what the adventure assumes (1 melee, 1 arcane, 2 utility) - now look at what you have left.
- For each melee left Add 50% Hit points to every monster
- For each full arcane left Add monster(s) to every encounter equal to the party CR - use best judgement here if the CR of an encounter is already equal or less than the party and meant to be easy then adjust down - never adjust higher than CR = party - use multiple lower level foes when possible rather than one large one
- For each utility left Increase all saves, and special ability DC's by 1 per utility character
When do I use these guidelines?
Start after level 2 - the first 2 levels are difficult for players and it is this GM's personal opinion that changing things during these levels requires a much more delicate and careful brush than general guidelines can give you - otherwise your game may be very...
If you don't mind a little bit of work...
Take the experience points for an encounter and divide it by 4 (so if an encounter is worth 2,000 XPs, you get 500). This is the amount of spare XPs you have to use for additional monsters for encounters.
For instance, let's say you have a 1,600 XP encounter with four level 2 Goblin Rangers. You have an additional 400 XPs with which you can add extra enemies - you could add a level 2 Goblin Bard for 400 XP or another Goblin Ranger. Or you could add two level 1 Goblin Fighters, or a level 1 Goblin Rogue and a level 1 Goblin Bard.
Sometimes things are easy - for instance, if you have four Ogres and five players, adding a fifth Ogre makes it easy. However, if you had three Ogres, you'd only have 600 XPs to play with - a level 2 Ogrekin Fighter could be a good addition in that case.
This scales, by the way. You gain a sixth player? Then you take the XPs for an encounter (let's say it's 2,400 XPs), divide by 4, and then you multiply it by the number of players above 4 - in this case, two, meaning you have 1,200 XPs to play with to balance the encounter with the number of players.
To put it mathematically:
X = Amount of XPs to increase the encounter by
Y = Existing encounter XP total
P = Number of Players over four
X = (Y/4)*P
These two links suggest ways to deal with extra party members (and ramp up difficulty):
The math behind CR, XP rewards for fun and profit.