Methods for Downscaling Difficulty Levels


So I'm GMing for the first time in many many years and I'll be running Starfinder with a group of three people.

Given that AP's and other content is usually balanced for four or more people, what's the best way to scale it down for three?

Remove number of enemy NPCs
Lower stats on enemy NPCs
Run an extra npc as part of group
Keep the players a level or so above recommended with side quests or bonus xp

Any suggestions as to what works best.

I haven't played Starfinder yet (though I fully intend to do so), but it seems to be pretty close to Pathfinder, so I'll use that logic:

The primary draw-back for a three-man party is that they're one man short compared to the prepared encounters.
The secondary issue could be that they're not able to cover all roles - this does not need to be the case.

It's dangerous to tweak stats - different enemies will pose different challenges, some tweaking won't even get noticed while the tweaking of other stats may trivialize the encounter.

Some players don't like GM-PC:s. Check with your group.

I would suggest that you occasionally remove some enemies from the combat encounters.

While I haven't played many, I've heard rumours that the AP's tend to be easy, so that unoptimized players can beat them. I think that if they coordinate their classes well so that they don't overlap, they should be fine. Be cautious for the first bit, and then assume that the extra gear and xp makes up the difference.

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