Need some quick-and-dirty tips for how to adjust APs by player count


Pathfinder Adventure Path General Discussion


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So, I'm gearing up to run Mummy's Mask for my group, but I also want to try and make sure the difficulty level is about where it was designed to be. Unfortunately, my group is five PCs, and I seem to remember seeing that APs assume four-PC parties.

I know I can get a lot of mileage out of the Advanced template and doing a +1 or +2 to monster counts when there's a lot of them about, but are there any good hints/tips anyone can give for how to adjust the treasure amounts or just in general for dealing with larger groups?


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I really don't make many adjustment for 5 man parties, usually. If we got to a 6th player, I would increase the CR either by using advanced template or number of enemies where appropriate, but with 5, I haven't always gone to the trouble. Sometimes, if it's throwing another goblin into a group fight I may "beef" it up a bit, but not breaking my back doing so.

I still track XP's and use the 4 man split for parties of 5.

The XP's and treasure still seems to work itself out and the players haven't complained (much) about lack of loot. There still seems to be plenty to go around.


The simplest trick is do nothing, or at least nothing that affects the amount of XP handed out. Slower leveling in larger groups assists with the problem on its own.


DM's secret weapon has always been either +2 or -2 adjustments on the fly.....


Maximize monster hit points. Even go +50-100% hp if the PCs are cranking out a lot of damage. It will minimally make fights last longer, which provides the bad guys with more opportunities to do something and gives all the PCs a chance to do the cool stuff in their builds.


I'm currently running my ninth adventure path. Most of them were with five players. Here's what I usually do to adjust the difficulty:

Nothing.

Really, with five players, it's not worth the trouble. They might steamroll some inconsequential encounters, but I'm perfectly fine with that.

BBEGs, on the other hand, should test them, but boss fights often need some tinkering to work properly (I had to massively boost the BBEG of Jade Regent).


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Quick adjustment rules:

AP's are based on a 4 person party - 1 full BAB, 2 3/4, 1 arcane

Based on above:

Full melee = full BAB
cleric/rogue/etc = 3/4
arcane = Sorc/Wiz/etc.

After you fill those 4 roles - figure out who's left then adjust:

For each full BAB class over 1 - add 50% hp's to the monsters

For each 3/4 BAB class over 2 - add 1 to *mook* DCs and saves

For each full arcane over 1 - add 1 party CR equivalent to the monsters

Apply these rules at level 2 and up - at level 1 everyone is still to squishy to affect the game much.

:) Works fairly well.


If you're using XP for advancement, everything should work out pretty even. But you'll want to keep an eye on the challenge levels and make sure it's still challenging.

Now, it's my opinion that using XP properly requires a lot of careful consideration, and it's really generally not worth it to use XP in adventure paths because the "track" is so obviously laid out. (Kingmaker is the exception).

If you're leveling by fiat (which is common, especially with APs) then you'll want to consider the following:

  • The advanced template can give bosses who need to be impressive for a few rounds at least a better shot.

  • For encounters that rely on multiple enemies, you'll want to increase the number of enemies by one or two rather than just adding hit points.

    Generally, this is more important the larger the party gets. With only five, you should be okay. 6-7 is where problems really start to show up, in my experience, because the players control so much of the field and have so many more actions, they tend to crush even buffed encounters.

    The downside to adding extra monsters, though, is that your turns can start to crawl.


  • Ckorik wrote:

    Quick adjustment rules:

    AP's are based on a 4 person party - 1 full BAB, 2 3/4, 1 arcane

    Based on above:

    Full melee = full BAB
    cleric/rogue/etc = 3/4
    arcane = Sorc/Wiz/etc.

    After you fill those 4 roles - figure out who's left then adjust:

    For each full BAB class over 1 - add 50% hp's to the monsters

    For each 3/4 BAB class over 2 - add 1 to *mook* DCs and saves

    For each full arcane over 1 - add 1 party CR equivalent to the monsters

    Apply these rules at level 2 and up - at level 1 everyone is still to squishy to affect the game much.

    :) Works fairly well.

    This is a brilliant approach, but I'd like to see it expanded, actually. Good thinking!


    Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
    Mythic Evil Lincoln wrote:
    The downside to adding extra monsters, though, is that your turns can start to crawl.

    At least on this front, I tend to find that it helps a bit if I break up the init values for the monsters into individuals rather than moving all of them at once. I use the Pathfinder Pawns, and used a silver paint pen to number the bases so that it's easy to tell which one goes when. Helps with tracking HP for those army-of-kobold encounters, too.

    Sovereign Court

    My long running groups have 5 players each. We use 20pt buy for chargen. Here are my GM pro-tips:

    I max out HP for all enemies. Occasionally, I double them.

    Use the advancement track. After level 5 start holding PCs back a level.


    Mythic Evil Lincoln wrote:


    This is a brilliant approach, but I'd like to see it expanded, actually. Good thinking!

    I have to admit - I didn't come up with the idea - I found it when looking for how to deal with my rise of the runelords party - at one point it was 7 people strong...

    I use DM's familiar for combat tracking - and some nifty counters for monsters (little sticky numbers that I pop on the mini/pog/pawn) - so when I have an encounter I just 'drag' it to the combat board and it sets up the monsters for me (I have the players already on there - just for initiative) - the program auto-numbers monsters (so it says goblin #1, goblin #2) which matches up with the number trackers. It also rolls hp's per monster (it will do average if you want - I prefer a bit of random that the computer can handle where the average hps are because rolling each is a PITA).

    I then click a button and it gives each an initiative - so the combat is pretty fluid between players and mooks usually.

    The above rules worked out well for me - I've lost players to RL reasons which happens and I'm down to 5 - which is much more manageable.

    What exactly are you interested in expanding on the idea? This (admittedly is more of a 'simple' template) - I see it more as a start - you do have to adjust for your own party if you have a player who spends 90% of the time working on social stuff and roll playing and really tanks in combat situations (they don't really make much difference after all).


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    I've long speculated about a more refined challenge rating system...

    This would involved looking at the actual classes, capabilities, and ratings of the party to determine an appropriate challenge. This would necessarily include party size as a variable with much more importance than it currently has under the CR system.

    All of my anecdotal experience with PF has shown that CR does not scale properly with additional party members. The system seems to imply that more characters only means more resources. In truth, it means wider control of the battlefield, and wider bandwidth to use those resources. We've all seen the NPC or monster with a huge list of awesome powers who never lives to use them.

    What I like about the above system (as a starting point anyway), is that it looks at what the party actually is instead of assuming a kind of a priori adventuring party.

    Very interesting stuff.

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