Expectations on recommended number of encounters per day?


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One issue I am seeing in Pathfinder 2e is that there is currently no "recommended encounters per day" guideline. I do not care how the previous edition may or may not have handled this; if an RPG has combat encounters and daily-based resources as a centerpiece, especially when some classes are daily-resource-bound and others are not, this is a crucial guideline to have.

Apparently, James Jacobs' answer to "What is the recommended number of encounters per day?" is:

Quote:
We may have more advice on topics like that in the upcoming GM's guide, but the real answer is still gonna be "As often as the GM feels it makes sense."

Which is completely frustrating, at least to me. There is absolutely no benchmark or common understanding for how many encounters per day there should be.

When comparing different spellcasters' daily resources, or when comparing spellcasters to non-spellcasters, we have no idea how often a given spellcaster can expect to rest and take daily preparations. If the guideline is "As often as the GM feels it makes sense," then any given adventuring day can be expected to have anywhere from just one big fight (where a spellcaster will dominate), to a dozen weaker mook encounters (where everything revolves around high-initiative martial characters rushing in and crushing everything).

How is this actually supposed to play out? Where is the benchmark?

Daily resource management varies from class to class.

Consider a champion. They have no daily resources, at least by default. A champion can go all day simply by using ten-minute breaks and lay on hands. Barbarians, fighters, monks, rangers, and rogues also have no daily resources. Alongside a champion, these martial classes can likewise go on all day.

And then we have spellcasters and their red-headed and unloved stepchild, the alchemist. These do, in fact, operate on daily resources. If they can just call for a day-long break and some sleepy time, then little is stopping the spellcasters from blowing their load in the first one or two encounters and then demanding a rest. There has to be some incentive for spellcasters to judiciously pace out their resources across an adventuring day.

But what is the system's expectation for how many fights should go on before a rest? Is resting after two severe-difficulty (severe, not extreme) fights acceptable? What about two moderate and one severe? One moderate and one severe? Where does the system expect the line to be drawn, basically?

Paizo's premade adventures do not help here. Hellknight Hill, for example, is the kind of dungeon crawl wherein enemies just patiently sit around and twiddle their thumbs, waiting for the PCs to eventually come along and fight.

Liberty's Edge

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It really is starting to sound like what YOU really wanted was a 1500 page CRB that included everything from the existing book, and the upcoming GMG and APG in it.

Maybe it'd be best if you took some time to chill and wait for those supplements since from what I can tell the recurring theme in your threads seems to be X Mechanic/Customization isn't in the CRB- PANIC!

The Exchange

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With equipment wear out mechanic, yeah Im curious too. See how worth it is to invest in exotic material gear in late game.


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Themetricsystem wrote:

It really is starting to sound like what YOU really wanted was a 1500 page CRB that included everything from the existing book, and the upcoming GMG and APG in it.

Maybe it'd be best if you took some time to chill and wait for those supplements since from what I can tell the recurring theme in your threads seems to be X Mechanic/Customization isn't in the CRB- PANIC!

According to James Jacobs, if the the real answer for an encounters per day guideline will be "As often as the GM feels it makes sense" even in supplementary material for GMs, then that is not exactly very reassuring.

I do not think it is unreasonable to expect that the core rulebook for a game with a heavy degree of daily resource management (asymmetrical daily resource management, at that) should offer at least some semblance of expectations for how often a party is expected to be able to take a break from combat encounters.

After all, a central facet of many classes in this game is daily resource management; if there is no baseline expectation for recommended encounters per day, then there is no clear expectation for how often these classes can recharge their abilities, either.


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Do casters do enough damage now to justify waiting around an entire day to get back a handful of spells? With few encounter-enders, I'm thinking it might be a hard sell.


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Colette Brunel wrote:
I do not think it is unreasonable

Perhaps not.

But consider that such guidelines
a) are deeply unpopular (at least if they are meant to be a rule and not just an easily ignored "guideline")
b) are easily bent, stretched or outright circumvented by crafty players
c) not adhered to anyway (by official modules)

This is true of D&D, it is true of Pathfinder.

So the biggest counterargument is: It would be an empty gesture, mostly fueling the white-room flamewars on forums. It it would be meaningless in almost every practical sense and mostly just serve to anger the fan base.

The truth is that there is no single expectation. Like or not, the answer JJ gave is probably the one he himself believes in, and the only one that comes close to the truth:

"As often as the GM or module writer feels it makes sense; as often as the players aim for."


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Takamorisan wrote:
With equipment wear out mechanic, yeah Im curious too. See how worth it is to invest in exotic material gear in late game.

I am sorry; what do "equipment wear out" and exotic materials have to do with an encounters per day guideline?

Apotheosis wrote:
Do casters do enough damage now to justify waiting around an entire day to get back a handful of spells? With few encounter-enders, I'm thinking it might be a hard sell.

Slinging out highest-level spell slots is better than slinging out cantrips, at the very least.

Zapp wrote:
So the biggest counterargument is: It would be an empty gesture, mostly fueling the white-room flamewars on forums. It it would be meaningless in almost every practical sense and mostly just serve to anger the fan base.

I do not think it would be all that empty a gesture. It would, at the very least, help set a benchmark on how often characters are expected to be able to recharge daily resources.


How many encounters were expected in a day for PF1?

It depends on the GM. Casters are better under some GMs, martials under others. In PF2, it’s less of a concern than before because casters have a bit more all-day stuff baked in at the cost of slightly reduced limited resources.

There shouldn’t be a set expectation across games. That would have a negative impact on the game as a whole as optimization guides seized on it and players argued when the GM ran an “extra” encounter.

The Exchange

Colette Brunel wrote:
Takamorisan wrote:
With equipment wear out mechanic, yeah Im curious too. See how worth it is to invest in exotic material gear in late game.
I am sorry; what do "equipment wear out" and exotic materials have to do with an encounters per day guideline?

Well as you being able to throw X ammount encounters on a PT relies on resources and being ready to deal with the problem. If your armor start breaking and your weapons dent well it counts as less resources for the encounters.

Ánd it would justify the new rules for Mithral, Orichalcum and Adamantite that at first glance seems to be lacking.


Having some days where there’s one big encounter and the casters are amazing and some where there’s time pressure and a lot of smaller ones that the martials get to shine in adds to variety. Strict guidelines are impossible.


QuidEst wrote:
How many encounters were expected in a day for PF1?

I do not care how the previous edition handled things. I have no attachment whatsoever to 1e, and I am trying to study Pathfinder 2e on its own merits, because it is an entirely different system.

QuidEst wrote:

It depends on the GM. Casters are better under some GMs, martials under others. In PF2, it’s less of a concern than before because casters have a bit more all-day stuff baked in at the cost of slightly reduced limited resources.

There shouldn’t be a set expectation across games. That would have a negative impact on the game as a whole as optimization guides seized on it and players argued when the GM ran an “extra” encounter.

I do not see it as any different from encounter-building guidelines, and we already have those. Encounter-building guidelines can, likewise, vary from group to group in usefulness, and yet we still have them. Surely, completing the guidelines with encounters-per-day would help?

Takamorisan wrote:
Well as you being able to throw X ammount encounters on a PT relies on resources and being ready to deal with the problem. If your armor start breaking and your weapons dent well it counts as less resources for the encounters.

I do not think that is particularly relevant to what I am asking about.

Now, I personally purchased all of the 2e Pathfinder Society scenarios available thus far. (I like them quite a bit and find them significantly better than Hellknight Hill, but that is another matter.) They have not been too helpful in establishing expectations on encounters per day. They vary significantly, one being just a moderate encounter followed by a severe encounter, another potentially having two moderate encounters and two severe encounters in the same day, and so on.


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Exactly. The expectation is “it varies significantly”.


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I think Jason's answer is not the easiest, but it is true. Moreover, I think it is actually helpful to groups in the long run, as opposed to giving 'guidelines' which would have all kinds of negative consequences.

Suppose we step into an alternative universe. PF2 had just come out and it contains the following text "The Pathfinder rules set assumes that an average group of adventurers can handle 4 moderate combat encounters per day." What would this accomplish?

- A new party of players makes a group of a monk, an alchemist, a wizard and a cleric. They struggle, and generally run out of steam pretty quickly. Still, the GM throws 4 encounters daily at them, because they should be able to handle that? Is he wrong? Should the players feel bad for picking the 'wrong' classes?

- Another group has done a dungeon crawl. They've had three fights, in which they were pretty unlucky. They decide to back out, while the GM knows that it's just the BBEG left at the end. (4 encounters a day, right?) Does the Core rulebook give him justification for springing the BBEG on the party as an ambush while they retreat?

- Another group is doing an urban adventure. They're not the most diplomatic, and have had to fight during two encounters in which the GM thought they'd talk their way out of this. At the end, do they complain to the GM because he let them fight 6 times?

I hope Colette can answer these questions, consider what their asking of Paizo (especially in an allready bursting Core rulebook) and what that would mean in practice, for players and GM's of all kinds of experience with RPG's.

My point would be: Any rules or advice that Paizo prints will do more harm than good. What's really helpful for all of the groups above: To realize that there's no such thing as an average group, and that this is an interaction between the GM and the group. Figure it out, learn what works as you go.


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It is less "X encounters per day" that would be helpful as a number of sample spreads. Maybe "X low, Y moderate, Z severe," or "so-and-so moderate, so-and-so severe," or any other number of permutations.

If a group is struggling in the middle of an adventuring day, and they have not even come across their final fight yet? Well, that is just tough luck. This is a game with daily resource management as a central facet for some classes, and it behooves the players to manage their resources wisely. It defeats the point of daily resource management if the spellcasters can go, "You know what, let us just take a break from all this and get some sleep," with no negative consequences.

Certainly, they could go ahead and do that, but there should be some measure of repercussions, as opposed to the antagonists just twiddling their thumbs and patiently waiting for everyone to replenish their resources.

There is no point to a daily resource management scheme if it can be circumvented with zero repercussions the moment someone goes, "I think I tapped out my own resources. I would like to take a break."

You cannot just say that it is meaningless to have an encounters-per-day guideline for the reason that different groups have different power levels, because by that logic, then the encounter-building guidelines are also useless (what is "severe" to one group may be merely "moderate" to another), yet we still clearly have those.

As for your example with bungling up social skill checks, that is fine by me. Page 494 suggests, "As with any other encounter, the stakes of a social encounter need to be high! A failed social encounter could mean a character is imprisoned or put to death, a major rival becomes a political powerhouse, or a key ally is disgraced and ostracized." Getting thrown into fights unfavorably sounds like an appropriate consequence for failing a social encounter.


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Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Think about it a second without metagaming. If you are a character your very life is in jeopardy. Without knowing what you may face around the next corner/bend in the river, without other constraints, would you want to face possible death without maximum readiness?

If the GM isn’t pleased with the party’s risk aversion, he can handle it in several ways:
1. Have wandering monsters attack during the rest interval
2. Let them continue and run out of rations
3. Add a reason that time matters and the players have to weigh recharging vs spending time to recharge


I'd posit it's up to the group how many encounters they have to an extent.

eg, we avoided a CR3 encounter by using stealth. We still got the xp as we bypassed the encounter and got the treasure, but didn't have to fight a lvl 3 creature with 4 lvl 1 party members.

Our reward was not having resources depleted in a pointless fight.

On the other hand, my goblin sorcerer tested if a meal was poisoned by eating some. Good news was that he confirmed it was poisoned. Bad news was that it was poisoned.
After 2 crit fail medical checks he was dying. But wotcha going to do? How else is a WIS 8 goblin going to check for poison? That's roleplay baby!

***********************************************************

In terms of party sustain, I've come up with the following. For rogue, slower for other classes:

lvl 1: medicine trained. Assurance - medicine. (useless lvl 1)
lvl 2: medicine expert. Quick recovery.

Character can now treat a character every 10 minutes with guaranteed result 16 for 2d8 healing.

(Unless assurance not valid for some reason).

lvl 3: Ward medic. Treat 2 characters every 10 minutes. By level 15 whole party gaining auto 3d8 heals every 10 minutes.


isn't that an "impossible to answer" question though?

i mean, if you slog your way through a goblin infested cave and if you spent a day in the city gathering information and revealing the disguised villain is the GM supposed to somehow alter reality and remove goblins and add henchmen till he reaches a magical "perfect number"?

there will be days/modules with a lot more fights per day, and others with a lot less. It all depends on the actual adventure/campaign, hence... the GM.

that was always the case. If the players find themselves running low on resources, they can always flee and regroup (and the world will respond accordingly).


Colette Brunel wrote:
It is less "X encounters per day" that would be helpful as a number of sample spreads. Maybe "X low, Y moderate, Z severe," or "so-and-so moderate, so-and-so severe," or any other number of permutations.

There isn't going to be a magic number, or a magic table, or even a magic massive flowchart that includes all classes that have been released, all classes that will eventually be released, with all of their feat and skill choices. Any attempt at answering it will be wrong for some set of groups and players. Not just mildly inaccurate - horribly wrong.

Colette Brunel wrote:

You cannot just say that it is meaningless to have an encounters-per-day guideline for the reason that different groups have different power levels, because by that logic, then the encounter-building guidelines are also useless (what is "severe" to one group may be merely "moderate" to another), yet we still clearly have those.

Yes. And it was (and probably still is) horribly wrong at times. Especially for high level play in PF1 from what I hear.


Bidmaron wrote:
Think about it a second without metagaming. If you are a character your very life is in jeopardy. Without knowing what you may face around the next corner/bend in the river, without other constraints, would you want to face possible death without maximum readiness?

You... uh... you accidentally metagamed there.

Real people, even those in lines of work with particularly high levels of danger to them, don't behave in the way you are suggesting makes sense for characters to behave. Nobody knows what the day is going to bring, so they go out and live their life (and do their dangerous job) without intense worry in the general sense.

People don't typically only go on one drive per day even though any drive could result in their death or serious harm, as an example.

It is only because you as a player are aware of the nature of the game - your meta knowledge - that you can say "of course characters that aren't forced to hurry for some reason would..." as an explanation of character behavior.

Side note: it's not your fault. Metagaming in its entirety as a concept is junk, and should never have been slipped into the mindspace of table-top games.


Thenobledrake, I think you misunderstand. The problem isn't that adventuring is dangerous. The problem is that it becomes more dangerous as the party loses resources. A PC may be willing to adventure for loot, but adventuring while you're wounded and the cleric is out of heals is a bad idea. If retreat is the best option, wise PCs will either retreat, or will suffer a sudden case of plot hole as their players decide to keep going.


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Driving is hardly hazardous compared to fighting to the death. I don't see how you can even draw a comparison between those activities. If there were real adventurers, there wouldn't be a GM who ensured that the encounters they will face are balanced. In a real world where people would adventure, they have no guarantee that what is around the next corner isn't a red dragon. So, if people were to live in a world where adventuring occurred, for the most part, they would be very cautious. Those who aren't would be dead quickly.


The kind of caution that leads to slinking away to take the rest of the day off and then sleep is the kind of caution that leads to five-minute adventuring workdays.

Where are the expectations against five-minute adventuring workdays in Pathfinder 2e? I do not care how the previous edition may or may not have laid out expectations; I am trying to evaluate 2e on its own merits.


Lordcirth, I don't think I do misunderstand. Real life activities become more dangerous as a whole the more of them a person does in a day... and yet? Cops don't go on one call and then quit for the day unless something went very wrong.

And Bidmaron, I only have two things to say: driving doesn't have to be as hazardous as a fight to the death to illustrate that real people are at constant risk of death or serious injury and it doesn't sway them from continuing to do non-rest things, and there are/were "real adventures" - and yes, people were very cautious or they'd die... but "very cautious" and the way that some people try to only ever face an encounter when at 100% full resources are vastly different things.


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thenobledrake wrote:
Lordcirth, I don't think I do misunderstand. Real life activities become more dangerous as a whole the more of them a person does in a day... and yet? Cops don't go on one call and then quit for the day unless something went very wrong.

Cop runs out of bullets he's probably gonna try to avoid firefights until he can restock.


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Iff wrote:
Suppose we step into an alternative universe. PF2 had just come out and it contains the following text "The Pathfinder rules set assumes that an average group of adventurers can handle 4 moderate combat encounters per day." What would this accomplish?

Just to note: we live in this alternate universe.

5th Edition D&D does precisely what the OP wants, with poor results:
a) it really wrecks storytelling if you're compelled to have 6-8 encounters a day. Meaning that good stories aren't predictable and sloggy
b) it fosters resentment of the "my Monk didn't get enough encounters today; I could totally have used more Ki in the last one" or "what is the DM thinking. That should have been the day's last encounter, now my Wizard is out of spells!" variety
c) no official material adheres to it in the slightest. By that I do mean "this module does not appear to even try for 6-8 encounters per day", but more importantly I mean that neither the rules nor the modules enforce adventuring days with 6-8 encounters! The rules hand out lots of toys to player characters which can be used to trivialize or circumvent encounters that the players don't want to encounter. The modules seems to recognize this and rarely even makes a token attempt at compelling heroes to stay on the adventuring trail for Just One More encounter.

Which is just a long-winded way of saying I totally get why Paizo tries to avoid having to commit to an answer.

The best advice I have for the OP is to analyze why you thought there would be an answer. Because I totally get the desire to have one.

I was in your place once. It's just that five years with 5th Ed have made me realize it's not only a hopeless quest to find an answer, there isn't even a point to finding one. There shouldn't be just one answer. There is not just one answer.

Cheers


Spell slots, once-per-day abilities (e.g. the fighter's Determination), and so on had to be balanced around some expectation of encounters per day, no? They had to be balanced around some expectation that they could only be used every so often, as opposed to every encounter.

I would like to know what that expectation is.

Just because 5e handles the matter poorly does not mean that another RPG cannot. It is a moot point, anyway; I am concerned about how Pathfinder 2e handles the matter on its own merits.


Colette Brunel wrote:

Spell slots, once-per-day abilities (e.g. the fighter's Determination), and so on had to be balanced around some expectation of encounters per day, no? They had to be balanced around some expectation that they could only be used every so often, as opposed to every encounter.

I would like to know what that expectation is.

Just because 5e handles the matter poorly does not mean that another RPG cannot. It is a moot point, anyway; I am concerned about how Pathfinder 2e handles the matter on its own merits.

again, it depends on the situation.

going to fight a dragon and going into a goblin cave, you can't expect the same amount of encounters.

Amount of spell slots is based primarily on experience and trial by error: something like this: "Casters had more than enough slots on average, if we make their cantrips actually worth using, and we want to lower the burstiness of spells, we can simply reduce their slots by a bit." Do a playtest "Were there enough spells? Yes/No. Adjust".


I don't really think it's necessary, in my experience.

In almost 10 years of running Pathfinder campaigns, the hypothetical "number of encounters per day" never happened. It all depended on the circumstances of the moment how the players felt they needed (or wanted) to behave. I've never played with a group that was this heavily focused on daily resources and how many encounters they did in a day.

Of course, I'm sure other people have players that are hyper focused on daily resource allowances; that's just completely outside of my experience.


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Colette Brunel wrote:
Just because 5e handles the matter poorly does not mean that another RPG cannot. It is a moot point, anyway; I am concerned about how Pathfinder 2e handles the matter on its own merits.

Sure, but I wasn't really talking about 5E specifically.

Colette Brunel wrote:
I would like to know what that expectation is.

Now you come across as either ignoring or not accepting our point?

You will sooner or later have to realize you are on a Quixotic quest.

Other than that, I'm leaving the thread but not before wishing you luck with your PF2 gaming!


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The concept of fixed "number of encounters per day" sounds really stupid to me.

That breaks all the narrative, realism, makes the game predictable and dull.

Why would anyone use a fixed number? As a GM I would use as many encounters I feel are necessary to keep the game entertaining.

A GM is not a computer, it's cool to have tables and things, but in the end the rhythm of the game is something that the GM themselves should handle.


SaffronCR wrote:

The concept of fixed "number of encounters per day" sounds really stupid to me.

That breaks all the narrative, realism, makes the game predictable and dull.

Why would anyone use a fixed number? As a GM I would use as many encounters I feel are necessary to keep the game entertaining.

A GM is not a computer, it's cool to have tables and things, but in the end the rhythm of the game is something that the GM themselves should handle.

It's not a fixed number. It could be several difficult encounters, or many easy encounters. The point is that it's an assortment of encounters that can push the players close to running out of resources, and potentially force them to retreat if they use up their resources too soon.

5E has an accurate formula for how many encounters, and what difficulties to use to accomplish this. Pathfinder 2E evidently does not, or the devs don't want to tell us what it is.


I'd say the easy encounters can be had more or less infinitely as long as they're once every 10 minutes. Other than that, I guess the expectation remains roughly 3-5 challenging encounters or chains of easier encounters per day (assuming each of them would drain a couple of higher-level slots from each caster, and a martial-only party won't get too far).


Strill wrote:
5E has an accurate formula for how many encounters, and what difficulties to use to accomplish this. Pathfinder 2E evidently does not, or the devs don't want to tell us what it is.

5E doesn't have an accurate formula, they just give an overall idea on how to balance the encounters, but in the end it depends on party size, player experience, if they prefer combat over roleplaying (or not)... if you look online the 6-8 encounters/day rule doesn't apply to a lot of D&D players, so in the end it's only an estimate to give new players an idea on where to start, and it's already broken because it assumes you're playing only in dungeons, because it makes no sense to have 6-8 encounters per day if you actual story is the players traveling around a well guarded road in a secure part of the country.

So as you can see, in 5E they just gave a tip to new players, that doesn't really mean anything, because in the end, it depends on how you are playing, or want to play, the game.

Experiment, and have fun!


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Strill wrote:
5E has an accurate formula for how many encounters, and what difficulties to use to accomplish this. Pathfinder 2E evidently does not, or the devs don't want to tell us what it is.

Except it's wildly inaccurate, a direct obstacle to the telling of many fantasy storylines, widely ignored by scenario writers, and still not accomplishing any of its goals by a long shot.

Other than that, you're completely correct.


For all the doom and gloom people are throwing around about how somehow having Paizo offer a suggestion about reasonable baselines, 3.5 gave GMs a suggested average number of encounters per day and the game never fell apart, it didn't stop GMs from running longer or shorter adventurer days. 5e gave GMs some suggestions on the average number of encounters per day and that game is dominating the tabletop market (although I think 5e falls into the trap of not giving GMs enough guidelines in some other departments).

I can't really wrap my head around this notion that somehow Paizo giving new GMs some guidelines would somehow "ruin storytelling" or any of the other immensely over the top claims people are making about it.

RPGs have survived for literally decades with developers providing suggestions to GMs, Paizo offering a similar suggestion to PF2 GMs isn't going to make the sky come crashing down.


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Nor does it make a difference to new GMs. Most new GMs are going to use published material (most old ones do), so what does it matter? Few people launch into RPGs straight-away as a GM, so what value is this kind of recommendation? As has been pointed out, the # drastically depends upon the challenge of the encounters. So, if there were to be one, it would need to be along the lines of X number of easy+Y number of moderate....

Bottom line is that a recommendation is either so trivial as to be useless or so complex as to be a straight-jacket (and therefore also useless). If a GM can't develop their own sense for encounters/day, they should probably not be GMs. Additionally, how would a GM enforce it? If the players decide to take a break (maybe because they believe the big baddie is two rooms over?), what is the GM going to do? "I'm sorry, you can't take a break right now, you still have one encounter left before you reach the recommended number of encounters per day."

I agree having a guideline won't ruin storytelling ... but only if the storyteller ignores the guideline.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

It seems like James Jacob's answer has always been the answer in my opinion...every group is different, every encounter is different. So I am ok with leaving it up to the GM's call...it seems that is the GM's job.


Bidmaron wrote:
Bottom line is that a recommendation is either so trivial as to be useless or so complex as to be a straight-jacket

Simply declaring that to be true doesn't mean it is.


Zapp wrote:
Strill wrote:
5E has an accurate formula for how many encounters, and what difficulties to use to accomplish this. Pathfinder 2E evidently does not, or the devs don't want to tell us what it is.

Except it's wildly inaccurate, a direct obstacle to the telling of many fantasy storylines, widely ignored by scenario writers, and still not accomplishing any of its goals by a long shot.

Other than that, you're completely correct.

It may well be an obstacle to storytelling, but every single game balance decision was predicated on it, so it's still necessary to know if you want to work around it and produce an interesting campaign.


SaffronCR wrote:
Strill wrote:
5E has an accurate formula for how many encounters, and what difficulties to use to accomplish this. Pathfinder 2E evidently does not, or the devs don't want to tell us what it is.

5E doesn't have an accurate formula, they just give an overall idea on how to balance the encounters, but in the end it depends on party size, player experience, if they prefer combat over roleplaying (or not)... if you look online the 6-8 encounters/day rule doesn't apply to a lot of D&D players, so in the end it's only an estimate to give new players an idea on where to start, and it's already broken because it assumes you're playing only in dungeons, because it makes no sense to have 6-8 encounters per day if you actual story is the players traveling around a well guarded road in a secure part of the country.

So as you can see, in 5E they just gave a tip to new players, that doesn't really mean anything, because in the end, it depends on how you are playing, or want to play, the game.

Experiment, and have fun!

It's not a "tip". It's the fundamental principle from which everything else in the game is balanced. If you just throw it out, the whole system collapses and you wind up with DMs complaining that "Warlocks are underpowered because we never use short rests, which invalidates their core mechanic", or "Paladins overshadow the rest of the party because they used all their spells in a single fight and beat everything single-handedly", or "Dragons don't work as bosses because the players just stunlock them". Problems like these only happen when each player is able to come into a fight with full resources, and the spellcasting classes dump 10 spells into a single encounter. If you have to ration your resources like the game is designed, these problems vanish.

You solve problems like this by adjusting how often players get to rest, and changing the definition of what constitutes a rest, not by sticking your head in the sand and pretending the problem doesn't exist.


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I think a big problem with giving a recommended number of encounters is I don't see how it could remain the same as you level up and the size of your resource pools swell. The new new heightening paradigm offsets this a little, but you still taking more focus points, slots, reagents, and so on. And you wind up collecting more usage per day items as well. Then you have skill feats like Ward Medic and Continual Recovery that mean characters are going to be getting patched up faster and faster.

That being said, if I were gonna try to come up with a guideline, I probably wouldn't try to frame it in the number of encounters but an XP budget. You'll probably burn a lot more resources in a severe encounter or two than several low difficulty encounters.


Captain Morgan wrote:
That being said, if I were gonna try to come up with a guideline, I probably wouldn't try to frame it in the number of encounters but an XP budget. You'll probably burn a lot more resources in a severe encounter or two than several low difficulty encounters.

That is what 5th edition does.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Colette Brunel wrote:
I do not think it is unreasonable to expect that the core rulebook for a game with a heavy degree of daily resource management (asymmetrical daily resource management, at that) should offer at least some semblance of expectations for how often a party is expected to be able to take a break from combat encounters.

Honestly, I have played a lot of table top games. This is a rare explanation in most systems. Most of the time, its the party takes a 'rest' and continues when they are ready when they choose. Honestly, I have never used the baseline for anything. Hell, the AP's rarely do also. Its always been up to the GM and party. Not every party is equal and not every GM should treat every party as such.


Alenvire wrote:
Colette Brunel wrote:
I do not think it is unreasonable to expect that the core rulebook for a game with a heavy degree of daily resource management (asymmetrical daily resource management, at that) should offer at least some semblance of expectations for how often a party is expected to be able to take a break from combat encounters.
Honestly, I have played a lot of table top games. This is a rare explanation in most systems. Most of the time, its the party takes a 'rest' and continues when they are ready when they choose. Honestly, I have never used the baseline for anything. Hell, the AP's rarely do also. Its always been up to the GM and party. Not every party is equal and not every GM should treat every party as such.

Then you're playing a different game. D&D is fundamentally a game of resource management. If you're ignoring the resource management, then you're basically homebrewing your own system.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Strill wrote:
Then you're playing a different game. D&D is fundamentally a game of resource management. If you're ignoring the resource management, then you're basically homebrewing your own system.

That's a assumption. Its not a homebrew nor did I say I ignore resource management. I even pointed out that the encounters per day don't follow pathfinders AP's. However, if you create a encounter and it does not fit your very defined number of encounters what then? Do you then refuse to allow a goblin to die before they waste those resources? Do you then amp up your next encounters until they use a subjective amount of resources? That's my point, 'resources' and parties are not the same. And you as a GM should be able to role with that. Some parties may clear a whole dungeon. Some may get in only 2 encounters. Either way there is no failure as a GM or as players for having a group capable of either. Killing a party because they can't hit that number in a single day, or overclocking every encounter to make them rest after that number of encounters is not for the best.

And yes, D&D and pathfinder give you a expected encounters per day, but, try some other systems. They are in the minority for giving you a expected encounter limit per rest period.

***Edit Honestly, PF2 is more about XP based encounters. If you increase all encounters so that your party uses a specific amount of resources before resting, all your doing is creating a bigger problem as they level significantly faster then you plan. If everything is significantly harder then it should be with the xp your awarding your players are not stupid and will get annoyed. And that's just a Draconian attitude to have.


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Resource management and number of encounters per day really aren't necessarily the same thing.

Some players constantly nova their abilities, even when unnecessary, thereby always hitting far fewer than the theoretical encounters per day before deciding they need to rest.

Other players will only use limited resources when absolutely necessary, making due as well as possible by coming up with clever tactics to replace those resources. These players will often see far more encounters per day than the theoretical number.

The number of players who will tailor their play style around the expected encounters per day is so vanishingly small as to be irrelevant.

Granted, anecdotal evidence is always suspect, but I'll give it to show my experience. I have been playing D&D since 1978. I've played Basic, AD&D, AD&D 2E, D&D 3e, D&D 3.5, Pathfinder, D&D 5e, and now Pathfnider 2e. At no point in that 41 year period have I ever worried about hitting a theoretical "encounters per day" number as either a player or as a DM designing home-brew adventures. It's not necessary. As a player, I do what I need to do to achieve the adventure results without dying; if that means one big combat in a day or 20 small combats, so be it. As a DM, I'm far more concerned about having interesting combats and compelling story lines than I am about whether or not I'm hitting an "encounters per day" number; the players themselves will determine how many encounters they're willing to deal with on a daily basis.


Apotheosis wrote:
Do casters do enough damage now to justify waiting around an entire day to get back a handful of spells? With few encounter-enders, I'm thinking it might be a hard sell.

Bingo. I think this is the reason why encounters per day is not really a front-page issue anymore. From what I've seen & read, a nova-ing caster can roughly keep up with the fighter on damage (much better vs. mook crowds, worse vs. 1 boss), and as mentioned control/debuffs are very limited/situational and usually won't affect bosses in any significant way.

So the GM doesn't have to worry about a fresh caster dominating a solitary big/boss encounter. Conversely, damage cantrips mean the caster can fight all day long (granted it will suck so hopefully the GM isn't going overboard).


I personally think the game is much more fun when you don't know how many encounters per day there's going to be, it makes every expendable resource very important. It's also very immersion breaking to me if you're in a situation where in reality there would be no resting for a long time, like a city siege or infiltrating an enemy castle, or some time constraint like a kidnapping and everyone has to stop and sleep. Having a suggested number of encounters would force GM's to have to make silly reasons for breaks every few fights.

And as others have said, cantrips being buffed and focus powers really help with caster longevity in this game. One of the reason I like it so much.


Pathfinder Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

So I know you don't want anything related to PF1, Colette, but read these articles. They're relevant, promise.

Part 1

Part 2

The lessons in those articles apply to PF2 on an almost 1:1 basis. See the core rulebook for 2e on encounter design using xp (pg 489).

Treat Trivial as CR+0 or lower. So weak it typically won't eat a party's resources unless you're looking at probably 6-8+ encounters of such a difficulty and your party gets wasteful.

Low is CR+1, effectively. Uses 20-25% of the party's resources. These are your rough "4-5/day of these" you're looking for.

Moderate is CR+2. 40-50% of party resources equivalent. A solid boss monster, but if it's going to be the only fight of the day, likely to still get dropped without much issue.

Severe is CR+3. 60-75% of party resources equivalent. Running several of these back to back will be dangerous for an average party, but they may be okay if they get to heal up.

Extreme is CR+4. 80-100% of party resources equivalent. This or Severe is about right for a 1/day fight, though some judging versus your party is required, because as stated, it could be deadly if the PCs also lack an action economy advantage.

You typically aim for something totaling up to CR+4 in a given day. Spacing them out means the PCs are less likely to get overwhelmed in one go from being outclassed, but still strikes a balance between the martials making use of longevity and spellcasters getting to be big and flashy with spells.

This is clearly not going to apply to every party even close to evenly. But there's your guidelines.

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