5E Average number of enemies per encounter
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    Average number of enemies per encounter

    In 5e, an encounter against many low-CR enemies are considered to be (and usually, actually) much deadlier than an encounter against single or small number of higher CR monsters. Also, PCs gain much less XPs from encounters against many low-CR enemies, though the encounter itself is deadly.

    So, assuming a party is composed of 4-6 PCs, how many opponents, in average, do you DMs use per encounter?

    Also, how many opponents are "too many"?

    I am considering to run some adventures and campaigns of older edition D&Ds in 5e. But older adventures tend to use a lot of monsters. For example, in G1 module PCs will meat 20-30 ogres or giants in a single encounter. Even 3.Xe-4e adventures tend to use 10+ monsters from time to time. I guess such encounters will not work at all in 5e.
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    I use 7 to 10 enemies from a range of CR much lower than the party is at 11th level. To amplify the difficulty two or three monsters will be about the same number of HD as any given player.

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    I never use more than 2.5x the number of player. That's the absolute maximum. Because it gets dangerous, even with lowly monster, because each of them as a chance to crit. And also because it's a pain to run. The Monster's Book has plenty of options to provide a challenge without relying on enormous numbers.

    If the players encounter a band of 30 ogres, I'd assume all of them do not engage in combat right away. Maybe a dozen of them will charge head on, while the others watch for the outcom. reinforce their friends by wave of 3 or 4 if need be, flee if things don't go well, or prepare some kind of nasty surprise.
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    It's rare that I use a single enemy. It's more common for me to have somewhere around 4-12, sometimes a little more with mounts. Every once in a while I do more and start using mob rules, or just assume that on average so many will hit.

    It kind of depends on how many attacks the monsters have and how effective you are at rolling dice and doing math in your head. I also tend to break up groups of monsters when I have more than 5 of a single type - so if 10 orcs are attacking it's broken into group A and group B.

  5. #5
    I typically use everywhere between 1 and 12 enemies for a party of 4. Though my players did choose to take on an entire clan of 45 orcs once. Would have been really tough if I hadn't been using FG with it's combat tracker.

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    The one thing I dislike second-most about 5e* is the multiple monster problem.

    Solo monsters are almost never a challenge for a party.

    In addition to tactics, the primary way to challenge any half-way competent party is monsters.

    Which is why the proverbial Big Bad or boss will always be anti-climactic, unless said Big Bad is surrounded by tons of minions, and can't be targeted.



    *The thing I dislike most is, of course, the over-reliance on and over-abundance of spells. What? You were expecting something else? I beat that dead horse in ALL EDITIONS.

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    The solo monster is always a problem. Even 4es solo monster was always more effective with some lackeys and minions.

    I use the mob alternate rule a bit to run large groups of monsters. I have 6 players, so often I have at least 6 monsters, and find the encounter run time can be pretty long

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    Quote Originally Posted by lowkey13 View Post
    The one thing I dislike second-most about 5e* is the multiple monster problem.

    Solo monsters are almost never a challenge for a party.

    In addition to tactics, the primary way to challenge any half-way competent party is monsters.

    Which is why the proverbial Big Bad or boss will always be anti-climactic, unless said Big Bad is surrounded by tons of minions, and can't be targeted.



    *The thing I dislike most is, of course, the over-reliance on and over-abundance of spells. What? You were expecting something else? I beat that dead horse in ALL EDITIONS.
    I too wish single monsters were a legitimate challenge.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wiseblood View Post
    I too wish single monsters were a legitimate challenge.
    Yeah. A whole back, I ran a converted version of Castle Amber (Chateau D'Amberville). The module was so much fun!

    But there's this part at the end (kind of spoilers) where the party has to defeat a sequence of guardians. In the old rules, this was an exceptional challenge. In 5e, this was the easiest part of the module because it was just a sequence of individual Big Bads.

    If I run it again, I'll re-do that part, but it was a big eye-opener, and it made an awesome adventure incredibly anti-climactic.

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    In my current campaign i tend to use "Boss" with "subboss" and "minions" style encounters. those might be like a Orc captain 6HD two orc seargents 4Hd 6 orc pikemen 2HD and 2 orc archers 2HD for a Level 4-5 Party with 3-4 PC.
    But this is pretty hard to balance.


    An easier method is two Groups of Mobs with vastly different characteristics. E.g. 2 demons and 6 Skeletons.

    You can finetune quite easy using these sort of combination.

    The hardest Thing are solo bosses. It is easier to give the Boss a companion even if this one only buffs heals distracts etc.

    If you really need single bossmobs make them hit hard with a low number of attacks and have them be bags of hitpoints.
    or average hp and damge Output to a lower Level but give them a good ac 19+ and good saves against spells or immunities.


    In my lates session the Party was opposed by 100 orcs of different Levels, they won using an artifact and a scroll as their only actions, thereby creating a low power "rain of colorless fire" effect (see greyhawk Canon for what this does, it is basically a dpr effect, which is really deadly and has big reach and area of effect) and killing the orcs off from a distance, it was not without them paying a price in HP and life though, because they had to power the magic using their own lifeforce and the Party mage had to make a lot of arcana checks to keep things in control (He botched one of these with a natural 1 hehe, that lead to the instant death of anothter player, and some interesting roleplaying of this Player with a divine avatar, resulting in his resurrection).

    Of course they did get the XP for that Encounter based on a deadly mob for them and not added up XP for the single Mobs.

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