5E Where did the 6-8 encounter standard come from? - Page 3
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  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sacrosanct View Post
    I disagree. The DM controls the world, and it's a living world. That means everyone and everything in it would act like they would reasonably act in a living world. That means that often, players don't have the choice on whether or not they get a long or short rest. Often they don't need a powerful reason to push on. Often they have to, because the monsters in the surrounding areas just attacked them 30 minutes into their rest once they discovered the PCs location.

    So in that sense, the DM have a lot of control. Player agency means the player has control over their PC, not control over the game world or its inhabitants. (well, I grant that some groups do that in a shared story, but that's not how D&D is assumed to be played).
    Definitely the DM can push the players to some extent but never underestimate player creativity (I guess that might be interpreted as shared story...) I just don't want to shut player ingenuity down just because it doesn't fit with my plan of how the encounters were supposed to run.

    It's a fine line between challenging the players and forcing them to run through a DM's maze

  2. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by robus View Post
    Definitely the DM can push the players to some extent but never underestimate player creativity (I guess that might be interpreted as shared story...) I just don't want to shut player ingenuity down just because it doesn't fit with my plan of how the encounters were supposed to run.

    It's a fine line between challenging the players and forcing them to run through a DM's maze
    Oh, I agree with you if the players find a way to avoid detection (either via spells or mundane means). If it's reasonable, I would of course allow that. I just wanted to avoid the idea that the DM has no control at all and the players can always dictate when they take a rest no matter what.
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  3. #23
    So, I really do like the "6-8 encounters per long rest" benchmark, because in my experience, running only 1-3 encounters per long rest heavily favors classes that rely on a lot of long-rest-refresh resources (like paladins, barbarians, and most casters) over classes that use mostly short-rest-resources (like fighters, rogues, warlocks, and I'd even put wizards and land druids in this category)

    But I, like many in this thread, do have difficulty coming up with narrative justifications for more than one or two encounters per in-game day.

    So, what I do is have a full night's rest (6 hours sleep + 2 hours light activity) count as a short rest, and a more extended period of downtime count as a long rest.

    I'm still tinkering around with exactly what the long rest is, I've tried several different things and I haven't found the perfect one yet. The DMG's suggested 'week of downtime' was a bit too much. I've also tried 'three days', and 'a night and a day and a night', and 'shore-leave'. Next campaign I'm going to try "24 hours of rest in a farm-hold, village, or town".
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  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrogReaver View Post
    To answer the OP. I think they pulled 6-8 encounters out of a hat. Or more likely it came from 4ed. It's been so long since I looked at 4e I couldn't say for sure.
    It's funny, there was no solid or explicit guideline for the number of encounters/day in 4e. In one sense, it didn't really need one - the classes had a rough parity in resources, so a shorter or longer day wouldn't greatly disrupt class balance. In another sense, it did, since everyone had dailies, shorter or longer days would make encounters easier or harder - and the dreaded 5MWD was thus still on the table. Eventually, as best as the community could divine from the material, 3-5 encounters/day shook out as a consensus on the intent (an odd number because of how milestones worked). I vaguely remember, sometime leading up to the playtest, perhaps, someone coming out and saying that at release, the intent had been 8-encounter days, and when it became clear that was not the norm, they dialed up monsters a bit in the MM3, and we got to that 3-5 consensus.

    Why they'd try to push 8 encounters again (if, indeed, I didn't just imagine it the first time) is beyond me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord_Blacksteel View Post
    From a design perspective if you balance the game by having some abilities available all of the time, some available with an easy recharge (a short rest), and some available with a more difficult recharge (long rest) then you need enough encounters to make those a meaningful difference.
    It's more critical when some classes have more of their abilities concentrated in one or the other of those recharge schedules. In 5e, for instance, some classes are mostly at-will with a little short-rest, some more heavily short-rest, and most heavily long-rest-recharge. Thus the 'need' for not only a large number of encounters/day to put meaningful pressure on the classes with many long-rest resources to burn through, but for a rough proportion between short & long rests, and encounters/short-rest.

    If you stick to the standard definition of short & long rests, trying to impose balance via time pressure in 5e is extremely constraining to the DM, and can put the DM and some of the players in an adversarial position, in which the DM must find ways to prevent 'premature' resting. But, the Empowered DM can, alternately, simply rule that resting is not possible, take more or less time, or delivers other than the usual benefits depending on the scenario and the situation....

    (...heck, I've done that as a dis-empowered 4e DM.)
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  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by OB1 View Post
    I agree this section is worded horribly and lends itself to confusion. @Nevvur correctly quoted the DMG, but in your response you are already dropping the key words of CAN along with MEDIUM TO HARD. These are all very important factors in the guideline.
    No, they are not key factors. As a matter of fact, those are factors that should be discarded because they are misleading.

    Remember, I'm talking about actual usage - which is based on that guideline but is NOT that guideline.

    First, while the guideline say "can", actual usage say "pretty needed to maintain inter-class balance with different resource recorvery rates".

    Actual play also shows that lots fewer but harder encounters do not balance well or a recurring, day to day basis, regardless how high you crank it up. Again, not in being able to defeat the characters, but in the resource usage and recovery between classes.

    Plus every table has different amount of optimization, different amounts of synergy between characters, and different amounts of tactics on both the players and the DM - "medium to hard" shouldn't be used as an absolute XP value but rather a guard of actual difficulty.

    In othwer words, I'm not going from the guideline at all, but ti happens that the guideline matcdhes up with actual play But because of trap words like "can" and "medium to hard" and the XP budgets, it's doesn't model reality and can be actvely misleading to anyone to tried to use the XP budgets slavishly. But if you have 6-8 meaningful (for your table) encounters per day, it works out well.

    (Again, I am not defending that it should be 6-8 encounters - that doesn't fit my DMing style at all. Just what works out across multiple tables.)
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  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by OB1 View Post
    1. The guideline in the DMG is designed to warn DMs about the MAXIMUM number of encounters a party can handle before running out of resources.
    2. The guideline is for 3 five round Deadly fights, 6 3 round Hard fights, or 8 2 round Medium fights split into 3 sets of six round combats per short rest and 15-18 rounds of combat per long rest
    In my experience, a high-level party can face three 5+ round Deadly fights per short rest, and can manage at least three such clusters per long rest. I never found a MAXIMUM.
    Last edited by Saelorn; Tuesday, 14th November, 2017 at 08:45 PM.

  7. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by FrogReaver View Post
    To answer the OP. I think they pulled 6-8 encounters out of a hat. Or more likely it came from 4ed. It's been so long since I looked at 4e I couldn't say for sure.
    Oh it definitely evolved from 4e. But that had evolved from 3e's guidelines on using CR, and Encounter Levels which IIRC recommended 5 per day.

    And that - and the whole idea of CR and EL was bound to have evolved from advice on how to use monsters in 2e. I don't know what that advice was, though.

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saelorn View Post
    In my experience, a high-level party can face three 5+ round Deadly fights per short rest, and can manage at least three such clusters per long rest. The design guidelines are meaningless.
    Well the key there surely is "high-level party"? I think we all agree that the guidelines really don't work after about level 12 (if that). There are just too many factors in play (player skill, character ability etc) for any math to reliably work.

    I think there's been a thread or two to that effect?

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by robus View Post
    Well the key there surely is "high-level party"? I think we all agree that the guidelines really don't work after about level 12 (if that). There are just too many factors in play (player skill, character ability etc) for any math to reliably work.
    If it's not reliable at high levels, then I have no reason to trust it at low levels. Given that I'm going to second guess everything anyway, it's easier to just ignore the guidelines and go with my intuition at every step along the way.

  10. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Warmaster Horus View Post
    Encounters don't need to be fights, either - they can be traps, puzzles, use of spells to bypass barriers, etc.
    This came up in an argument I had awhile ago and I swear that there was a tweet or something where Jeremy or Mearls said that for the purposes of the 6-8 paradigm, an "encounter" was absolutely meant to be a combat encounter.

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