5th Edition encounter design

4th Edition

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32


I'm starting a new campaign in a few months for six 1st level PCs.

The PCs so far:

Female Halfling urchin Trickery cleric
Male (?) Aasimar sage Brontomancer (homebrew thunder tradition) wizard
Male Human (?) Feypact warlock
Male Human (?) sage Knowledge cleric 1/shadowcaster (3pp) X
Male (Wood?) Elf Path of the Four Elements monk
Male Human (?) Sky Pirate (homebrew background) Swashbuckler rogue

Anyways, since it's a party of six instead of four, am I correct in planning to increase the average encounter XP by 50%?

For example, three CR 1/2 baddies instead of two?

If I do that, six "level appropriate" encounters will get them from level 1 to level 2, and eight "level appropriate" encounters will get them from level 2 to level 3.

Seriously, my players, don't peek! This means you!:

I plan on the PCs to meet on a dark and rainy night. Each will have received a mysterious envelope with the date, time, and address of the rendezvous, which will be a huge abandoned mansion in the middle of the city, as well as an alchemically-wrought brass key. The manor's locks will require all six keys in order to enter.

Once inside, the shenanigans ensue. And in the end, the PCs will have a homebase with a mechanical butler and roof-mounted airship (some assembly required!).

Sound cool?

Just determine the XP for one PC and then multiply by 6, instead of "multiplying by 4 and increasing by 50%."

For one PC, a medium encounter is 50 XP. For six, that's 300 xp worth of bad guys.

So that's one bad guy worth 300, or two bad guys worth 100 XP each (with a 1.5 multilayer, that's 300 value), or 3-6 worth about 25-50 XP each.

However, since 5e is designed for simplicity, and if you're using premade encounters, I'd just increase the premade encounters by 50-100% and call it a day.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

It's a homebrew campaign. Most will be from the MM, though. :-)

When I ran CotCT I started off using the experience budgets suggested in the DMG and the encounters were way too easy. My group generally handled anything less than a "deadly" encounter with minimal expenditure of resources.

Ultimately, I ended up beefing up monsters (all from the MM) by giving them maximum hit points, increasing the number of enemies slightly in each encounter and then 'discounting' the experience points I awarded as otherwise they were going to shoot up in levels quicker than we wanted.

By the end though, we abandoned experience points and levelled by milestone, which simplified things enormously.

This set of rules in the DMG is easily the worst part of 5e. They put it out in beta during the basic days (after the PHB and stuff though). The feedback was negative but still it didn't change much from those early versions of basic?
These rules just don't work, I've had PC deaths from easy encounters and players winning super hard encounters.

I'll also add that the player skill makes such a huge difference. In the beginning like one goblin was very dangerous to them. And now a couple of stone golems they can just laugh at it even when the players are many many levels below the recommended CR.

My solution is that I just don't really care. If the fight is easy for the players, then fine. Let them have their wins. If the fight is hard for the players, then fine. If they die they can roll up new characters or start saving for raise dead.
If the fight is over quickly, even against bosses, fine. 5e has this glass-cannony nature generally. Most fights look very one-sided. But when you run them a couple of times, the same fight, you see that sometimes it's one-sided in the other direction :D

The problem for me is when fights are super slow and grindy (I'm not used to 3e/4e:s long, epic, glorious combats, I'm used [and prefer] to B/X's "oh gulp, skeletons we died" combats) so I'm trying to decide on a good set of morale rules. But so much is undead or constructs so morale don't really help.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

My RotRL 5ed converted campaign just ended, and while some people kind of panicked when we did 200 or 300 points of damage to a BBEG and it didn't die, we were in general hitting almost all the time. Hitting is fun! Missing sucks. So if a battle lasts 5 rounds because you hit twice and missed thrice (PF model) or because you hit 4 times and missed once (5ed model), I like the 5ed model better.

I'm a big fan of adding more monsters to the encounter "on the fly" if the encounter is too easy or ends too quickly. For example, if rolling initiative takes longer than the actual fight, or some people don't even get to take one turn, then the fight ended too quickly 99% of the time.

I've also been known to just add more hit points to a BBEG to make the fight more exciting.

DonJon's encounter generators are pretty spot on.

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