Encounter XP? how much do i actually give my players?


Advice


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

So i'm having this issue running Fall of Plaguestone. We have 5 party members And i am very confused on how much XP to give from encounters.

I'm aware that this adventure is designed for 1st level players and that you should be approximately level 2 when you finish it. But adding up all the XP rewards listed in the adventure only gets you roughly 800 ish XP. So my first thought was that it didn't include encounter experience...

Soooo how much to combat encounters give? And when an Encounter is listed as "Severe 2" or "Moderate 3" what does that actually mean? i know in the Encounter building section, "Low, Moderate, Severe" basically determines the encounter budget when you build the encounter. And the "creature xp and role Table" seems to mimic the adversary table in the XP Rewards section. But i don't see how the number following it is involved. my guess is that it's in reference to the adversary level for that encounter?

EX: If an encounter is listed "Low 1", does that mean it's a Low threat level with an adversary level of 1? And if a group of five lvl 1 PCs defeat the encounter how much XP do they get?

A) do they get just the encounter budget, regardless of the party level? 60 xp for a "low" encoutner?, then what's the "1" supposed to represent?

For reference these are the Threat level budgets on pg. 489:

Trivial - 40 or less
Low - 60
Moderate - 80
Severe - 120
Extreme - 160

B) Or do they get the total from each creature/hazard using the the Adversary Table listed in the EXP Rewards section? And if so why isn't that total listed in the encounter rewards? Most combat encounters in FoPS don't even have a rewards section unless there's treasure involved.

Adversary Table on pg. 508):

Party level – 4|10 XP
Party level – 3|15 XP
Party level – 2|20 XP
Party level – 1|30 XP
Party level == |40 XP
Party level + 1|60 XP
Party level + 2|80 XP
Party level + 3|120 XP
Party level + 4|160 XP

C) is it a combination of both? Is the Threat level the "base" EXP, then the number indicating the adversary level of the Encoutner? Meaning "Low 1" should indicate 100 EXP, 60 for a "Low" threat, then 40 for an adversary level of the same as the party level? (according to Adversary Level Table)

or in a different example (this happened in a session earlier today) a Severe 3 for a second lvl party would be 120(severe)+60(Partylvl+1), 180 exp? if this is correct my party might even end up lvl 3 by time the adventure is over x.x

D) Do I still split the XP 5 ways? Assuming a option C is correct then a Low 1 (100 xp) encounter nets the PC's only 20 XP? that seems really low.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

The rules for XP rewards can be found here:
https://2e.aonprd.com/Rules.aspx?ID=572

For combats each party member gets the default encounter XP budget as XP reward. So if your party is level 3 and wins a moderate encounter, each member gets 80XP, regardless of party size (You only modify the budget due to party size for encounter building, not for reward).

If your party is a different level than the target level of the encounter, modify the serverity a step up or down. So if the encounter is written as "Moderate 3" and your party is still level 2, it would be "Severe" for them and each party member gets 120XP (instead of 80XP for level 3) as reward.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
masda_gib wrote:

The rules for XP rewards can be found here:

https://2e.aonprd.com/Rules.aspx?ID=572

For combats each party member gets the default encounter XP budget as XP reward. So if your party is level 3 and wins a moderate encounter, each member gets 80XP, regardless of party size (You only modify the budget due to party size for encounter building, not for reward).

If your party is a different level than the target level of the encounter, modify the serverity a step up or down. So if the encounter is written as "Moderate 3" and your party is still level 2, it would be "Severe" for them and each party member gets 120XP (instead of 80XP for level 3) as reward.

Ok i can see where you're coming from there. but I still don't see anything about the "target level" for the encounter in the link u sent. And in Fall of Plaguestone there are a couple of Severe 3 Encounters towards the end. It's less of an issue for my lvl 2 party but how does that work for a lvl 1 party?

If a lvl 1 party (somehow) beats a Severe 3 encounter, does the EXP cap out at Extreme (160xp), even though the "target level" would technically push it one step beyond extreme?


darktemplar45 wrote:
masda_gib wrote:

The rules for XP rewards can be found here:

https://2e.aonprd.com/Rules.aspx?ID=572

For combats each party member gets the default encounter XP budget as XP reward. So if your party is level 3 and wins a moderate encounter, each member gets 80XP, regardless of party size (You only modify the budget due to party size for encounter building, not for reward).

If your party is a different level than the target level of the encounter, modify the serverity a step up or down. So if the encounter is written as "Moderate 3" and your party is still level 2, it would be "Severe" for them and each party member gets 120XP (instead of 80XP for level 3) as reward.

Ok i can see where you're coming from there. but I still don't see anything about the "target level" for the encounter in the link u sent. And in Fall of Plaguestone there are a couple of Severe 3 Encounters towards the end. It's less of an issue for my lvl 2 party but how does that work for a lvl 1 party?

If a lvl 1 party (somehow) beats a Severe 3 encounter, does the EXP cap out at Extreme (160xp), even though the "target level" would technically push it one step beyond extreme?

Your party should hit level 4 by the end of plaguestone. So, they should be level 3 when they start running into severe 3 encounters.

Remember, the XP reward is per player, not divided among the number of players.


masda_gib wrote:

The rules for XP rewards can be found here:

https://2e.aonprd.com/Rules.aspx?ID=572

For combats each party member gets the default encounter XP budget as XP reward. So if your party is level 3 and wins a moderate encounter, each member gets 80XP, regardless of party size (You only modify the budget due to party size for encounter building, not for reward).

If your party is a different level than the target level of the encounter, modify the serverity a step up or down. So if the encounter is written as "Moderate 3" and your party is still level 2, it would be "Severe" for them and each party member gets 120XP (instead of 80XP for level 3) as reward.

The xp is given not for the Moderate Encounter but for each creature in that encounter originally, not count additions due to party size:

"Encounters with adversaries and hazards grant a set amount of XP. When the group overcomes an encounter with creatures or hazards, each character gains XP equal to the total XP of the creatures and hazards in the encounter (this excludes XP adjustments for different party sizes; see Party Size on page 508 for details)."


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Demonknight wrote:
masda_gib wrote:

The rules for XP rewards can be found here:

https://2e.aonprd.com/Rules.aspx?ID=572

For combats each party member gets the default encounter XP budget as XP reward. So if your party is level 3 and wins a moderate encounter, each member gets 80XP, regardless of party size (You only modify the budget due to party size for encounter building, not for reward).

If your party is a different level than the target level of the encounter, modify the serverity a step up or down. So if the encounter is written as "Moderate 3" and your party is still level 2, it would be "Severe" for them and each party member gets 120XP (instead of 80XP for level 3) as reward.

The xp is given not for the Moderate Encounter but for each creature in that encounter originally, not count additions due to party size:

"Encounters with adversaries and hazards grant a set amount of XP. When the group overcomes an encounter with creatures or hazards, each character gains XP equal to the total XP of the creatures and hazards in the encounter (this excludes XP adjustments for different party sizes; see Party Size on page 508 for details)."

Ah thanks, you are right! I read the text from the chapter before that "When the PCs face direct opposition, such as a fight or a social conflict, the XP earned is based on the level of the challenge the party overcame." and thought the XP was based on the encounter budget.

So it's per creature which also answers darktemplar45's question:

darktemplar45 wrote:
If a lvl 1 party (somehow) beats a Severe 3 encounter, does the EXP cap out at Extreme (160xp), even though the "target level" would technically push it one step beyond extreme?

The party would gain XP for each creature. And for creatures, the XP reward is given for level-4 to level+4 which should be enough range.


XP rewards are a little complicated in PF2 because the way they are stated as working requires that even if a GM knows their campaign is going to be played by 6 players, the experience value of an encounter requires building that encounter for 4 players - whatever creatures would be in that version of the encounter, total up their XP value which is relative to the characters' level when they face it, and give that to each player in total, not divided - then adjust the encounter for 6 players.

Or you can go with the "close enough" method and instead of handing out the exact value of the actual creatures present, hand out the budget that the encounter is nearest, adjusted up or down the scale for the level the players face the encounter at if it wasn't built assuming their current level for budgeting.

For example of using this alternate, if an encounter in a published adventure says "moderate 3" and the party is level 3 when they face it that would be 80 XP each, but if they were level 2 it would be 120 XP each instead.

The official method comes out the same if the encounter budget is exactly the right number, but if your "moderate 3" encounter is made up of 5 Level 0 creatures (or mixes levels of creatures) the XP value is slightly different from the budget (in this case it'd be 75 XP each instead of 80)

And while this is complex, it also feels like the only XP system other than a flat "this much per thing, give or take a few because reasons" style of system that I think I'll eventually just have memorized and never have to reference the charts to use.


thenobledrake wrote:

XP rewards are a little complicated in PF2 because the way they are stated as working requires that even if a GM knows their campaign is going to be played by 6 players, the experience value of an encounter requires building that encounter for 4 players - whatever creatures would be in that version of the encounter, total up their XP value which is relative to the characters' level when they face it, and give that to each player in total, not divided - then adjust the encounter for 6 players.

Thinking of it that way makes it harder than it needs to be. In reality you choose a difficulty for the encounter and level you expect them to fight it at.

That gives the exp amount to award. Adjustments for encounter budget never have to be written down. Especially as it is always a quarter more per player.

I currently run 5 and 6 member parties and it takes no effort for me to build encounters for them budget wise. And distributing exp is as easy as knowing how much a difficulty category gives.


The way it is annotated in APs is due to the fact that the XP value of a given encounter would change based on party level. The AP expects your party level to match what they wrote down so it's easy if that's the case, you can just use the chart showing XP values per encounter.

If your party level is too high or low, it gets tricky. The most precise way to calculate XP in those cases is to disregard the label like "Severe 3" and calculate the XP manually based on the monsters present and their XP values related to the players actual level.

However, if we do a few examples, we can see that we can apply a general rule here. Usually the party being one level too high shifts the encounter difficulty down a step (severe 3 becomes moderate 4), and being one level too low shifts the difficulty up one step (severe 3 becomes extreme 2). The math works out well most times, though multiples of 3 enemies seem to throw it off a bit, but when it's off it's only by 5 or 10 XP most times, so it's a fine rule of thumb to help you with your situation.

I hope my explanation is helpful!


The Gleeful Grognard wrote:

Thinking of it that way makes it harder than it needs to be. In reality you choose a difficulty for the encounter and level you expect them to fight it at.

That gives the exp amount to award. Adjustments for encounter budget never have to be written down. Especially as it is always a quarter more per player.

I currently run 5 and 6 member parties and it takes no effort for me to build encounters for them budget wise. And distributing exp is as easy as knowing how much a difficulty category gives.

The other part of my post you quoted is basically the same thing you just said to me. It isn't, however, how the book actually states that this whole thing works. I'll use an example to illustrate:

I'm setting up a campaign for my 6 players. I have an encounter that I want to be a Moderate threat for their level, so I take my 120 XP budget and start to spend it: I pick out creatures for the encounter that happen to 1 level lower than the party, so each is worth 30 XP. I put 4 in the encounter, and I'm good to go.

I of course can reward each character 80 XP for overcoming this threat and call that "close enough" - but if I follow the exact process laid out by the book, I've got "...each character gains XP equal to the total XP of the creatures and hazards in the encounter (this excludes XP adjustments for different party sizes)" to work with.

So if I scale the encounter to 4 players, the budget is 80 XP, so the closes these particular creatures would get to the budget is if there were 3 of them - and that means this encounter is worth 90 XP for each character, rather than 80 XP.

While that's not a big deal if it happens rarely and/or is balanced by some encounters being under-budget but still giving full budget XP, I figure it would be dissatisfying to a not insignificant number of players if they found out they were not getting what the game says they should be.


thenobledrake wrote:
The Gleeful Grognard wrote:

Thinking of it that way makes it harder than it needs to be. In reality you choose a difficulty for the encounter and level you expect them to fight it at.

That gives the exp amount to award. Adjustments for encounter budget never have to be written down. Especially as it is always a quarter more per player.

I currently run 5 and 6 member parties and it takes no effort for me to build encounters for them budget wise. And distributing exp is as easy as knowing how much a difficulty category gives.

The other part of my post you quoted is basically the same thing you just said to me. It isn't, however, how the book actually states that this whole thing works. I'll use an example to illustrate:

I'm setting up a campaign for my 6 players. I have an encounter that I want to be a Moderate threat for their level, so I take my 120 XP budget and start to spend it: I pick out creatures for the encounter that happen to 1 level lower than the party, so each is worth 30 XP. I put 4 in the encounter, and I'm good to go.

I of course can reward each character 80 XP for overcoming this threat and call that "close enough" - but if I follow the exact process laid out by the book, I've got "...each character gains XP equal to the total XP of the creatures and hazards in the encounter (this excludes XP adjustments for different party sizes)" to work with.

So if I scale the encounter to 4 players, the budget is 80 XP, so the closes these particular creatures would get to the budget is if there were 3 of them - and that means this encounter is worth 90 XP for each character, rather than 80 XP.

While that's not a big deal if it happens rarely and/or is balanced by some encounters being under-budget but still giving full budget XP, I figure it would be dissatisfying to a not insignificant number of players if they found out they were not getting what the game says they should be.

So, you lost me a bit here. Whether it is 6 players or 3 they get 80 xp each in this example according to the book. they would just fight more or fewer enemies if you are making your own encounter.


I had some issue with this when I first got that adventure as well. There are a few threads in the 'adventure' section as well some gm info if you are running it here in the 'adventures' section of the forums.

A so the 1 is the level for which the encounter is 'low'. Since all encounters are based on party level now. So if it is low 1 and your party is level 2 it would drop to 'trivial' as I understand it.

B As far as I can tell for combat encounters that xp is the encounter xp. All other xp appears to be listed in the AP, avoiding traps, talking people out of something instead of combat etc.

I'd definitely take a jot over to the https://paizo.com/community/forums/pathfinder/adventures section to see what people have already gone over. If you get to playing or finishing this adventure please remember to let us know what you thought and how things went!


Darksyde wrote:
So, you lost me a bit here. Whether it is 6 players or 3 they...

Lemme try another way:

Because the XP reward for an encounter is always what a 4 person party would get for the creatures actually involved - you have to build the 4 person version of an encounter no matter how many players it will actually be for.

The reason is because of things like 3 party level -1 creatures being 90 XP and and 5 party level -3 creatures being 75 XP and both of those being examples of a valid Moderate encounter for 4 players. So even though the adjusted-for-more-players versions of those encounters hit their exact budget numbers, the rule book says they are worth the slight-off-budget value.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I've honestly never built for one group size then adjusted. Although I also largely dont run pre written stuff. Just take the xp budget adjusted for your group and build.


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

The Difficulty Level header is basically dictating the milestone XP that should be given. Use the rule book value for that difficulty if you want to make it easier on yourself, or ignore that rounding and calculate the exact XP for a four person party for its monster selections. The differences are washed out, if you are off a bit at the end of the level, just give it some minor quest XP to level up because you do not want to deal with mixed party levels.

Being a player down is increased difficulty, but because a level difference is life or death in this version the rules do not say just give them more XP. Instead it says make the encounter easier by recalculating the XP budgets, but give them the milestone XP.

Likewise being a player up is easier difficulty. So you make the encounter easier by recalculating the XP budgets, but give them the milestone XP.

You do not give the recalculated XP, because of the switch to the linear XP system. If you get more XP for being understaffed, that adventure quickly turns into trivial difficulty because you will be overleveled. If you get less XP for being overstaffed, then the adventure quickly becomes more severe difficulty because you will become underleveled.

Being over/underleveled is the same difficulty change as being over/understaffed. Which gives an easier way to adjust the adventure. If you know you will always be 3 player then do a warmup level from pathfinder society to be always one level ahead or just start PC at level 2. If you know you will always be 5 player than skip the first level of adventure or do not award its completion then you will always be one level behind.


thenobledrake wrote:
The other part of my post you quoted is basically the same thing you just said to me. It isn't, however, how the book actually states that this whole thing works.

What I said is entirely by the book as long as you don't go over or under the budget. I wasn't arguing that you were doing it wrong, just saying that your explanation makes it seem more convoluted than it is (especially since this is a thread for a person who was struggling with it).

thenobledrake wrote:

I'll use an example to illustrate: I'm setting up a campaign for my 6 players. I have an encounter that I want to be a Moderate threat for their level, so I take my 120 XP budget and start to spend it: I pick out creatures for the encounter that happen to 1 level lower than the party, so each is worth 30 XP. I put 4 in the encounter, and I'm good to go.

I of course can reward each character 80 XP for overcoming this threat and call that "close enough" - but if I follow the exact process laid out by the book, I've got "...each character gains XP equal to the total XP of the creatures and hazards in the encounter (this excludes XP adjustments for different party sizes)" to work with.

So if I scale the encounter to 4 players, the budget is 80 XP, so the closes these particular creatures would get to the budget is if there were 3 of them - and that means this encounter is worth 90 XP for each character, rather than 80 XP.

The issue with this example is that your adjusted four person encounter would be over budget for moderate as well. Balancing for difficulty is going to give a more consistent reward experience and something I will direct GMs to doing, especially if they are confused as to how to do it.

"Note that if you adjust your XP budget to account for party size, the XP awards for the encounter don’t change—you’ll always award the amount of XP listed for a group of four characters."

This is the part I believe you are referencing, I present the argument that it says nothing about the number of foes. Difficulty awards apply just as accurately :).

This is to say, your way of approaching it can be correct but as written there is nothing to suggest my way is not RAW. :D


The Gleeful Grognard wrote:

"Note that if you adjust your XP budget to account for party size, the XP awards for the encounter don’t change—you’ll always award the amount of XP listed for a group of four characters."

This is the part I believe you are referencing, I present the argument that it says nothing about the number of foes. Difficulty awards apply just as accurately :).

This is to say, your way of approaching it can be correct but as written there is nothing to suggest my way is not RAW. :D

That is the part I am referencing, and your argument that changing the number of foes isn't exactly what "adjust your XP budget to account for party size" means doesn't hold up for reasons that should be evident from the quote alone.

Also, I think that you got hung up on that the example was slightly over-budget and missed that you can be off-budget while following the guidelines by being low too.

You can fill up your 120 XP budget for a Moderate encounter for 6 people with party level -3 creatures at 15 XP each and hit the budget precisely by including 8 of them - but by the RAW this encounter is worth 75 XP, not 80 XP - because 1) the XP award for the encounter is not changed due to the accounting for party size, 2) the XP award for an encounter with creatures is (page 507) "...each character gains XP equal to the total XP of the creatures and hazards in the encounter...", and 3) The 4-person, and thus not adjusted for different party size, version of this encounter would use 5 creatures of the party's level -3, which at 15 XP each means 75 XP.

So yes, actually, the quote from the rules we're talking about does say that your interpretation isn't RAW - it is directly contradicted by the words presented on page 507.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns Subscriber
thenobledrake wrote:
And while this is complex, it also feels like the only XP system other than a flat "this much per thing, give or take a few because reasons" style of system that I think I'll eventually just have memorized and never have to reference the charts to use.

It is actually easy to derive once you see the pattern, no need to cheat sheet or memorize the table. Big bosses are 40XP times level up, and that is all you need to know.

+4 is 160XP for extreme campaign boss
+3 is 120XP for severe level boss
+2 is 80XP for moderate encounter boss

The lower levels are half XP for two levels down

+4 is 160XP
+2 is 80XP
0 is 40XP
-2 is 20XP
-4 is 10XP

+3 is 120XP
+1 is 60XP
-1 is 30XP
-3 is 15XP

PC over/understaffed is almost the same as PC over/under level, and since it is only used to adjust the encounter and not the award, might as well just do it as PC level up/down so you do not need to ever look at that table since the bestiary options will just get you close anyways.


So explain this too me. How much XP should the members of a Party of 4 level 1 characters receive in this encounter.

The encounter is 10 zombies and 2 Akatas? All twelve are Creature 1 beings.


Each enemy at the same level as your party is 40 XP. So if there are 12 that would be 480 XP, or 3x the value for an extreme level encounter. In other words, do not send this encounter at a group of level 1's and expect them to win, they should run if they want any chance of surviving.

Incidentally this proposed encounter may not be that severe since zombies have obvious weaknesses that are easy to exploit, namely that they're slow (don't know what akatas are). As long as the party can stay out of melee they might be able to whittle them down over many, many rounds. But if they try to stand their ground they will die.


I have set the encounter up where there is environmental advantages the players can use. Using those the players could eliminate 3 or 4 at once. Ex: a 5 gallon barrel of lamp oil and a pit.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Mayhemm001 wrote:
I have set the encounter up where there is environmental advantages the players can use. Using those the players could eliminate 3 or 4 at once. Ex: a 5 gallon barrel of lamp oil and a pit.

This is a bit out of the woods for a basic encounter building rules (I expect there will be advise in the gmg) so it's going to be gm call territory. I'd judge how much the environment reduces the effectiveness of a foe and change the reward by the same.

E.g an elder fire elemental fight under the ocean is only going to net a small amount of story xp. If you reckon your environment reduces the effective combatant size of the encounter by 50% reduce the xp by that much.

*big note I'd only use these adjustments for gm contrived scenarios. If the players wrangle such conditions with their own ingenuity they should get full reward.


Mayhemm001 wrote:
I have set the encounter up where there is environmental advantages the players can use. Using those the players could eliminate 3 or 4 at once. Ex: a 5 gallon barrel of lamp oil and a pit.

1. They have 50 HP each, so that barrel will need to do a lot of damage. Unless you just handwaive it as auto-killing, which is fine.

2. Even after that you have 6-7 zombies and 2 akatas, which is still a totally lethal fight to take head on. A typical first level character is going to do less than 10 damage per hit (unless you have an all barbarian team or something), so you'll need more than 5 hits per zombie, or around 30+ successful attacks just to kill the zombies. In turn the zombies will hit about half the time, grabbing the character automatically and then biting them to death in a few rounds (with more than one zombie attacking the same character they could drop in the first round) .

The numbers are balanced around your party fighting two or occasionally three level 1 enemies at a time, four level 1 enemies would be difficulty of a strong boss encounter (good chance one PC could die). They cannot win a straight fight against 12 of them without extreme fudging in their favor, the only thing not guaranteeing a TPK here is that the party can run away and the zombies are too slow to chase them. There is in fact a creature -1 variant of the zombie (called zombie shambler) which you could use instead, which won't have quite so much HP, if you really want a zombie swarm at level 1. That would change the fight to 280 XP, still a very good chance of TPK but at least winnable in the right circumstances.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder Second Edition / Advice / Encounter XP? how much do i actually give my players? All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.