Adjusting a published adventure's difficulty


Hi folks

I am new to Pathfinder in general and am interested in playing P2. I have experience playing lots of AD&D, little D&D5e, Starfinder, Savage Worlds & Genesys/Star Wars.

I will be GMing for a group of 5-6 players. I will be using the "The Fall of Plaguestone" adventure as your test adventure.

Question 1:
I am wanting to adjust the difficulty of the encounters because there will be 5-6 players.

Encounter 1: Mangy Wolves Severe 1
3 mangy wolves (C -1) = 30 XP
1 Caustic Wolf (C +2) = 80 XP

I think I should add 3 more Mangy Wolves (for the character adjustment of 30XP).

Is that correct?

Question 2:
If I was creating an encounter for a 1st level 4 person group, and I wanted it to be a Severe challenge. My XP Budget is 120XP.

I could use the "Sod Hound" Earth Elemental(Bestiary pg. 146), a Creature 3, which on the Core pg. 489 Table 10-2 is a Party Level +3 = 120 XP


I could choose 3 Electric Eels (Bestiary pg 142). Each is a Creature 1 which are worth 40XP each. Total Worth 120XP of the encounter, for a party of 4, being 120 XP.

Is that correct?

Thanks for the help.

Question 1: since the encounter is for 1st level characters, the XP value of the mangy wolves is 20 each, and the caustic wolf is 60. However, that does mean there is no simple way to get exactly the 30 xp adjustment for an additional character.

I would suggest adding just 1 more mangy wolf for a 5 person party, but go for 3 more if you have a 6 person party because then the math lines up.

Question 2: Correct.

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns Subscriber

You could also start with 1 extra wolf, then see how it is going and have a backup wolf hiding in the woods. Best stick with the theme and not try to find something to fill in the exact gap that might not fit the narrative.

To start with I would recommend making severe encounters with low level enemies. I almost TPK'D my party with 4 orcs (level 0 enemies). Noone died, but it got close.

Thanks everyone for your input!

I just had a thought about why I thought 3 mangy wolves would work.

In Genesys, you have 3 levels of threats: Minions, Rivals and Nemesis. Minions are weak and kind of "one hit monsters" (you use a group of 3-5 minions per PC). Rivals are about equal to the PCs indivudally (one rival per PC) and Nemesis (1 nemesis is a challenge for a group of PCs). It is not a very exact system, for instance I pulled a Star Wars Nemesis and used it in a fantasy game and it was way over powered. The PCs were unable to injury it significantly, (because they could not get past the damage resistence of the creature). The PCs did stop the monster by Critically Hitting it enough so that it was Injuried enough that it could not fight effectively any more and just gave up.

When I was looking at the Mangy Wolves, I was reading a group of 3 mangy wolves as a minion group worth 30XP as a group.
Therefore to make the encounter more appropriate for a larger group an extra Minion group should be added.

I see I have some retooling to do. :)

I'll add just one mangy wolf and see who it goes. Don't want a TPK in the first fight. :)

I’m currently treating things like this:
* Level-2 = minion (can typically be one shotted. Zombie shamblers might look like they aren’t one-shottable, but with low AC and weakness slashing they’re pretty close. Plus slow 1 is a big deal).
* Level-1 = standard monster (4 level-1 foes is a severe fight).
* Level+1 = boss fight.

This puts level+0 monsters in a strange spot. I use them carefully (this is all for level 1 PCs).


The CRB has advice on this, from pg 489: "It’s best to use the XP increase from more characters to add more enemies or hazards, and the XP decrease from fewer characters to subtract enemies and hazards, rather than making one enemy tougher or weaker. Encounters are typically more satisfying if the number of enemy creatures is fairly close to the number of player characters."

Want an easy method of adjustment without retooling encounters?

Too hard? -2 to monster stats
Too easy? +2 to monster stats

For your specific situation maybe add 1 more mangy wolf and increases monster stats by 1 to balance against the extra party member. If you got to six players I would add 3 mangy wolves as suggested previously and leave the stats unchanged.

Balancing these sorts of things can be a challenge because there's no exact science to it, but adding or subtracting up to 2 can really shift the tone of the encounter in the direction you want.

Do keep in mind the general advice is trying to keep the total number of enemies equal to the number of players, but it isn't always possible, easy, nor always make sense to do so.

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

You cn also jiggle the adversaries' tactics. Every time they do something non-optimal with their actions, you're making the encounter easier. And more "realistic" in the sense that not everyone has to be a murderhobo killing machine.

A perfect example is the goblins from RotRL with their pickle fetish and tormenting gulls hobbies. Less alert monsters means more space for the PCs to shine.

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