How many players = 1 CR?


Rules Questions


Gonna be DM'ing my first game of starfinder soon, and I'm a touch confused about how CR works.

the rules say average party level = the CR (with a +1 or -1 for under 4 or over 6) but, 5 players at level 1 are the same APL as 10 players at level 1; which would of course be a drastic difference in how challenging they found an encounter.

Is the intention that 1 player is equivalent to one creature of a CR that matches their level? That is to say, if I have three players at level 1, should I have them fight three CR 1 creatures?


To determine APL you add all the pc's levels together and divide that by the the number of players they are and round up if necessary, adding 1 to this total if there are 6 or more players or subtracting 1 if less than 4.

So for three 1st level character's their APL would be 1 and three CR 1 enemies would be a CR 4 encounter, where as a single CR 1 enemy would be an average encounter for the party.


specimen700102 wrote:


So for three 1st level character's their APL would be 1 and three CR 1 enemies would be a CR 4 encounter, where as a single CR 1 enemy would be an average encounter for the party.

So 1 CR 1 enemy would be adequate for three players- is that about the standard? Because, the Average party level for a party of ten first level players would still be 1... ...but I'd assume that fighting ONE CR 1 enemy is a lot easier for ten people than it is for three.

So, if I had a ten (or nine) party group, would I have them fight three CR 1 enemies in that case?

Basically I suppose I'm wondering what starfinder would consider an 'average' party size, if matching APL to CR exactly gives a balanced challenge.


Storm Williams wrote:
specimen700102 wrote:


So for three 1st level character's their APL would be 1 and three CR 1 enemies would be a CR 4 encounter, where as a single CR 1 enemy would be an average encounter for the party.

So 1 CR 1 enemy would be adequate for three players- is that about the standard? Because, the Average party level for a party of ten first level players would still be 1... ...but I'd assume that fighting ONE CR 1 enemy is a lot easier for ten people than it is for three.

So, if I had a ten (or nine) party group, would I have them fight three CR 1 enemies in that case?

Basically I suppose I'm wondering what starfinder would consider an 'average' party size, if matching APL to CR exactly gives a balanced challenge.

The game assumes an average party size of 4-5 players. But the APL for a group of 10 level 1 pc's would be 2 because you add 1 to the APL for parties of 6 players or more, so for them a CR 1 encounter would be easy and a CR 2 encounter would be average.


CR is tricky. Let's put it on paper.

9 players level 1, the equation is something like this.

((9×1)/9)+1+1=3

Now I've added 2 +1s, as in my experience 4-6 is your average, so for every 2 players above or below 5, add one to the equation (so 7 would be the first adjustment, 9 would be the second. The opposite way 3 then 1). However, always take your party's CR with a grain of salt, as player experience and build optimization can tilt it one way or the other.

In an even level party, this is linear. In party's with varying levels, say Society play where a player can miss a session and not get EXP that week, this can become important.

Example, I took part in a D&D AL game when I came back to my hometown. I'd been living in a place without, so I has a fresh level 1, and my party mates were I think two 3s and a 4. So ours would look like this.

(4+(2×3)+1)/4=2.75 Rounded 3

My level 1 character died. I didn't have the hit points to survive one attack from the first enemy we fought.

So grain of salt. 10 level 1s will decimate one CR 1 creature. I find when you have extreme numbers that quantity balances much better than quality. 2 CR 1s, rather than 1 CR 3, since the bigger the CR difference between the players actual level and the target, the less likely they are to hit it at all, and more likely that it'll one shot them.


Mmmkay- thanks y'all ^^ I think what threw me for a loop was that the core book, while it did say to add +1 to APL for parties larger than six, didn't present that as a repeating formula to continue with beyond that (No matter how unlikely a larger party would be X3 )- so I wasn't 100% certain how the match was supposed to go.


A monster with a cr = pc level would be about on par with a single PC, with a strong chance of killing them. However a monster with cr = party level against a party of 4-5 is "average", meaning the party is expected to go through a few of those in a single day, mixed with some easier ones or maybe a single harder fight.

This also applies if a group of monsters has a combined cr equal to a single player level or APL, though not as obviously due to numbers.


Do keep in mind that unlike Pathfinder, Starfinder intends for challenges equal to the party's CR (assuming party of 4) to be mildly challenging. In my experience this is accurate, and increasing the CR above this (without mitigating reasons like number of PCs) will likely make the fights more challenging than you want.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

In particular, if the CR of a fight is 4 above the APL, expect that PCs will die, unless you have provided some kind of safety net or special advantage. It is analogous to having a fight between two parties of equal number and level, which is to say, coin toss. This is specifically contrary to how it often was in Pathfinder. Do not assume that PCs can take on fights far beyond their level. Insofar as they could, Paizo rendered this impossible in Starfinder.


1 CR encounters even at level 1 APL are a breeze for the most part. I ran SFS society scenario last night with a CR 3 Dragon nightmare copy and the pcs at level 1 still stomped him pretty bad even though 2 chars did go down once each. I think the biggest part of running challenging scenarios for the most part is back to back encounters without rests allowing the party to feel more at risk then having the ability to always count on 10 mom rests between most encounters.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Eh, a CR 3 fight is not exactly a terrifying fight for level 1 PCs. That's only APL +2. Dangerous, but honestly I'm kind of surprised even one PC got incapped. Was it the first time for those players, or at least with those specific characters?


Metaphysician wrote:
Eh, a CR 3 fight is not exactly a terrifying fight for level 1 PCs. That's only APL +2. Dangerous, but honestly I'm kind of surprised even one PC got incapped. Was it the first time for those players, or at least with those specific characters?

APL+2 or 3 can still be big. Particularly, you're looking at a minimum +3 damage per hit on characters with 16-ish total hit points and stamina, possibly compounded by being in prior fights.

My team of 6 level 2 players had a pretty rough time with a CR 5 creature. It could pretty easily one or two shot every member of our party, including our Soldier, simply because it was about our third encounter of the day.

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