5E Where did the 6-8 encounter standard come from? - Page 5
+ Log in or register to post
Page 5 of 9 FirstFirst 123456789 LastLast
Results 41 to 50 of 83
  1. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by Nevvur View Post
    From the DMG, p.84 "Assuming typical adventuring conditions* and average luck, most adventuring parties can handle about six to eight medium or hard encounters in a day," and a little later, "This provides a rough estimate of the adjusted XP value for encounters the party can handle before the characters will need to take a long rest."

    The reason that 6-8 encounters per adventuring day figure gets tossed around is because people interpret "can" as "should."
    Either way, though, this is the tail wagging the dog.

    They didn't write Chapter 3 of the DMG first. They decidedly wrote it last. That's why it came out in December, while the PHB had an August release and the MM was released in September. If you remember, WotC kind of made it clear that they didn't really know how to plan encounters when the PHB and MM were released because those rules hadn't been finalized yet. That's why there's no basic framework at all in the PHB or MM for encounter building, and nothing on WotC's website for doing the same thing. That means the DMG and the encounter building rules were written after the Experience Points by Challenge Rating table on MM p9, and after the Character Advancement table on PHB p15.

    However, those two tables by themselves don't give you enough information to create the XP Thresholds By Character Level on DMG p82, or the Adventuring Day XP table on DMG p84.

    What Crawford had to do is sort of work backwards from the above two tables and knowing how quickly they wanted PCs to advance. Then he had to decide how difficult an encounter should be. Like you look at the XP Thresholds By Character Level table, and there's nothing obvious that says X is what he used for Easy, Y is Medium, etc. If the design idea holds water -- that Challenge represents how well effectively resources are consumed -- then the relative columns on that table are completely arbitrary. There's no reason that "Easy" couldn't start at 50 XP at level 1. It's really an arbitrary breakdown where you're putting a pin into a board somewhere and saying, "This is how many encounters we want per day."

    I think what Crawford did was set the encounter difficulty very low. I think the primary motivation for doing this is two-fold:

    His first reason was to encourage groups that don't prefer combat to play the game. Some groups don't care about combat at all, basically. They want a more narrative-driven game. It's easier to do that if the story pacing isn't thrown off by the constant need to stop and do nothing for 15 hours, then sleep for 8 hours, and only then be able to continue on your way. One of the big complaints about 4e (yes, and 3.x, but the point is that it survived into 4e) was the "5 minute adventuring day," and I think in a lot of ways this came about because of the encounter difficulty and general tankyness of everything in 4e. When I played 4e, I felt like I had to use at least 1 Daily power every encounter. Maybe WotC decided that meant encounters were too difficult in general, or maybe they got a complaint that 4e was too complex in general and they decided that contributed to the poor player retention rates for 4e.

    This reason, by and large, is pretty irrelevant because it doesn't have any mechanical game impact. An individual group will always find whatever level of difficulty that they want for their encounters. That's what the range exists on the XP Thresholds by Character Level for.

    Crawford's second reason is because short rests have to happen. What really seems hidden by the game is that -- as a DM -- you're really supposed to be designing your encounters to allow short resting as often as possible. At least once a day. If short rests don't happen, then Fighter and Warlock get pretty shafted because they run out of abilities, Monk can get kind of shafted without Ki points early on, etc. So now the game needs to be built in a way that your PCs want to take short rests, and have the ability to take short rests. That means encounters need to be built in such a way that enough resources get consumed that you need to short rest, but not enough resources get consumed that you must long rest. The easiest way to guarantee that groups always hit this short rest threshold and don't meet the long rest threshold is to use weaker and more numerous encounters. That makes resource expenditure more granular, which means the PCs should hit short rests more often. So, you instruct DMs to nickel and dime the party with weaker encounters. In other words, DMG "Deadly" is actually closer to Medium-Hard, DMG "Hard" is actually closer to Medium, DMG "Medium" is really Easy, and so on.

    This... presents a real problem. Some groups like hard combat, or just want fewer combats. If groups want to decrease the number of encounters and increase their difficulty to meet their Adventuring Day budget, well, they have to do that at the expense of certain class abilities. This is somewhat of a new phenomenon in D&D. Previously, you could adjust encounter difficulty as you wanted. The only problems you'd introduce are exactly what you'd expect: TPKs and faster advancement. Now, however, harder encounters risk pushing one or more PCs to the long rest threshold -- the point where they don't want to short rest because they can't meaningfully continue adventuring. So, what does the party do when short rest PCs often want to short rest, long rest PCs don't need to short rest, and encounters are hard and by their very nature resources aren't spent evenly across the board.

    Now, yes, the DM can add contrived reasons that the party can short rest and not long rest, but now we're restricting adventure design to get the mechanics of the game to behave the way we want. And, yes, we do that already, but that doesn't mean doing it more is good for the game. Furthermore, we're restricting adventure design further than what previous editions did, so in theory there may be adventures that are much more difficult to adapt to 5e because there isn't the kind of encounter rate that you'd need to have for everybody to feel satisfied.

    This strikes me as a pretty fundamental and unavoidable design issue in 5e. I hesitate to label it a flaw, since I think some groups will find the outcome favorable. However, the groups I've played in definitely have not found it favorable. The real issue is that it causes arguments within the party. I imagine that the design was to cause that tension to make "interesting choices," but I really don't find this choice particularly interesting. Fighter wants to rest and recover all his spent abilities because he's stuck on auto attack. Rogue wants to keep going because he avoided damage and has no short rest abilities. Cleric kind of wants to short rest because he's spent his short rest recovery, but doesn't mind continuing because long rest is fine. Barbarian wants to long rest because she took a beating in the last encounter, and he knows that if she short rests she won't be able to recover all of her Hit Dice with the next long rest, meaning she'd be short healing for tomorrow. This complexity leads to party indecision and party arguments. Except for towns, the only time I've seen my group decide to do different things (i.e., split up) has been when they wanted different rest schedules. If your game cooperative game design causes the players to argue... that's a problem!

    Overall I find this incredibly frustrating because I think most people would agree that, in previous editions, 2-4 encounters per day was standard. I think most groups want to continue to play that way, and I think most groups are fairly unwilling to move away from that and doing so feels rather awkward. So not only is 6-8 an arbitrary number to encourage short rests, it feels excessive to people already familiar with the game. 4e's healing surge and rest system much better handled this issue, as did 3e, and I'd go so far as to say that even 1e/2e handled it better. I don't ever remember arguing about what to do in those editions.

    I think this is one of the reasons that some of the most common house rules I've seen modify the rest schedule directly. Some say, "short rests are once a day, long rests are once a week." Others say, "short rests just require time, long rests require comfort of an inn." Those work around the issue by forcing short rests to be actually necessary to gameplay. However, I'm not convinced they actually help, or they just "solve" the problem because the decision is taken away from the PCs. However, the underlying resource scarcity problem is still there. Maybe that increased scarcity is desirable, but it's decidedly a major change.

    I expect the knee-jerk response here is going to be some form of, "Just play the game like we do and you won't have this trouble." Well... no. That's not an acceptable solution. My groups have played D&D the way we play 5e for 20 years. Every edition of the game -- including 4e -- has supported our play style. If 5e suddenly doesn't support our playstyle, that's not my group's fault. That tells me that the designers changed something that they should not have. D&D is a game that's intended to be played the way the table wants to play it. If the table runs into problems just by changing the encounter rate and encounter difficulty, I consider that a very significant problems. There's no magic solution to the short/long rest dichotomy except to fundamentally alter the rest schedule or eliminate one or the other type of ability.

    "Ok, well, just don't play 5e." Well, what happens when 6e comes out? Won't it be the same issue if everybody who has this problem abandons the game? We like 5e. We like 5e's content, too. 5e is our game as much as it is anybody's, and dismissing us because we have a problem that you don't is patronizing. Except for this issue, 5e is clearly the best version of D&D. It just has this hole in the middle. The hole is not as big as 1e multiclassing and obtuse mechanics, 2e THAC0 and multiclassing, 3e QWLF and item creation, or 4e radical mechanics and mathematic treadmill, but -- with the exception of 4e -- none of these previous issues have caused argument or division at our table.
    XP guachi, Ancalagon, Rofel Wodring gave XP for this post

  2. #42
    Member
    Waghalter (Lvl 7)



    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Salem, OR
    Posts
    171
    Reviews
    Read 0 Reviews

    Block Nevvur


    Friend+
    @Bacon Bits

    You wrote about feeling dismissed and patronized because some people state they don't share the problem. It certainly wasn't my intent to disparage anyone, sorry if I came off that way. I agree with the bulk of your post, particularly arguing about rests. It's come up only once in the game where I'm a player, and yeah it was a little frustrating, but our DM generally paces things out pretty nicely.

    Anyway, like yourself, I want 2-4 encounters per adventuring day, but I think we perceive the problem from different angles. You want to modify the rest mechanics to make the game right for you. If I were inclined to modify a system, it would be the class features themselves. That's why I called them out on page 4.

    Which is easier? Well, if you adjust the rest mechanics you're affecting all the classes in one way or another. Maybe it makes the short resters stronger and the long resters compartively less so. If you adjust the classes, you only have to adjust the classes in your current group, and then only for the people who are feeling short changed. Is the fighter the only one complaining about the lack of short rests? #$% it, give him 3 more BM dice. Warlock feeling useless? BAM extra spell slot.

    Fortunately I haven't even considered house ruling class features to accommodate this complaint, because no one in my group is complaining. Again, not saying this to be dismissive, only to share my experience. I don't do house rules willy nilly, and when I do, it's almost always because the players want it, not me. Even then, though I abide by a philosophy of service to my players, it's a hard sell to get me to implement them.

  3. #43
    Member
    Spellbinder (Lvl 16)



    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
    Posts
    8,414
    Reviews
    Read 0 Reviews

    Block Stalker0


    Friend+
    Quote Originally Posted by Bacon Bits View Post
    Either way, though, this is the tail wagging the dog.

    They didn't write Chapter 3 of the DMG first. They decidedly wrote it last. ...
    A pretty good post overall. I think your argument ultimately boils down to the problem with short rest abilities. Comparing 3e and 5e, that is the key difference. 3e had plenty of long rest abilities, so you have always had the always on fighters competing with the long rest needing wizard. But now its a 3 way, always on, short resters, and long resters.

  4. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by Oofta View Post
    So you've never read (off the top of my head) The Dresden Files? Watched a Die Hard movie?
    Die Hard is a very poor example, because A) it involved strictly 'realistic' combats, B) John solved like half of the problems in the movie without resorting to combat C) aside from bullets, his feet, and exhaustion John McClane didn't really have any 'resources' and D) Most importantly, John McClane was by himself.

    You want to use something like Lord of the Rings or Star Wars or Justice League or The Avengers or even Conan the Barbarian instead. Those are more representative of the situations D&D characters get into instead of a single-hero action movie.

  5. #45
    Member
    Greater Elemental (Lvl 23)



    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Indiana
    Posts
    7,476
    Reviews
    Read 0 Reviews

    Block Dausuul


    Friend+
    Quote Originally Posted by Rofel Wodring View Post
    You want to use something like Lord of the Rings or Star Wars or Justice League or The Avengers or even Conan the Barbarian instead. Those are more representative of the situations D&D characters get into instead of a single-hero action movie.
    Okay, let's do Star Wars, starting with Luke's first appearance. I am counting small skirmishes and ambushes as well as big fight scenes, since those are explicitly supposed to be included in the 6-8. I'm also doing this from memory, so forgive any errors.

    • Luke, 3PO, and R2 encounter the Sand People and are rescued by Obi-Wan the DMPC.
    • Short rest.
    • Luke and Obi-Wan get in a bar fight. Shortly after that, Han Solo shoots Greedo... first. Counting these as one combat since the participants have no overlap.
    • Luke, Obi-Wan, Han, and Chewie blast their way out of Mos Eisley and outrun some Star Destroyers.
    • Long rest.
    • The party briefly engages a TIE fighter, then gets caught in a tractor beam and captured by the Death Star.
    • The party ambushes some poor Imperial technicians and a couple of stormtroopers.
    • The party busts into an Imperial command post and kills everyone in it.
    • The party busts into the detention block, kills the guards, and picks up Leia.
    • Garbage chute, fight with the thing in the garbage compactor, and the compactor itself.
    • I'm gonna be generous and say there's a short rest here. At least, the party has time to clean themselves up, though it's hard to believe they'd spend an hour on it.
    • Han Solo goes chasing off after stormtroopers, because there's always that one guy in the party. Luke and Leia have a moment, shoot some more stormtroopers, and swing across a pit. There are blast doors.
    • They skirmish with stormtroopers on their way to the Falcon, while the DMPC fights the boss.
    • Space battle with TIE fighters, and they jump to hyperspace.
    • Long rest.
    • Big set-piece battle over the Death Star.


    So, we have one "on the way to the dungeon" day with just a couple encounters. Then we have a full-length adventuring day in the dungeon itself, with 8 encounters (a mix of very quick ambushes and more extensive shootouts) plus one sorta-short-rest. On the third day, there's a single extended boss fight where everybody blows their wad.

    You could disagree on some of the minor encounters; the "engage TIE fighter and captured by the Death Star" one might not really count, for instance. However, no matter how you slice it, it's pretty close to an adventuring day.
    Last edited by Dausuul; Wednesday, 15th November, 2017 at 06:28 AM.
    XP Rya.Reisender, KahlessNestor, Oofta, robus, Satyrn and 4 others gave XP for this post

  6. #46
    Member
    Acolyte (Lvl 2)



    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Okinawa, Japan
    Posts
    113
    Reviews
    Read 0 Reviews

    Block ClaytonCross


    Friend+
    Quote Originally Posted by jgsugden View Post
    If it helps, many of us are actually *effectively* playing the 6 to 8 encounters per LR when we play 3 to 4 encounters per LR.

    Why?

    Because what people tend to drop out are the real easy combats the book suggests we add to the game. A lot of games have difficult and deadly encounters, but none of the easy ones. In those battles, PCs rarely use limited resources and often lose little or no hps. So, by dropping them out of the game, you're not changing balance perceptions much.

    What you are doing is missing out on fun ways to challenge the party with threats that are not battles for survival, but instead are challenges n other ways. Can the third level PCs kill the 5 goblins before one of them escapes with the pouch? Can the 9th level PCs kill the fire elemental before it burns down the town hall? Can the PCs endure attacks from the townsfolk long enough to escape without having to kill one of them?
    Not only do I agree with you but I wish my DM would do something like this. He is a "Role Play GM" and uses 1 life and death encounter per day almost as solid rule because he gets board with combat after combat quickly. Creative combat could be really fun. Instead, we mostly get 1 or 2 enemies of 2-3 CR above player character level so not only each fight is deadly but each round can be.

  7. #47
    Member
    Waghalter (Lvl 7)



    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Salem, OR
    Posts
    171
    Reviews
    Read 0 Reviews

    Block Nevvur


    Friend+
    Quote Originally Posted by Saelorn View Post
    Just as an example, a level 7 wizard has four fireball slots and can recover another one during their first short rest, while a level 7 warlock has two fireball slots per short rest.

    An ideal routine (two encounters, short rest, two encounters, short rest, two encounters, long rest) would let the wizard cast a fireball in every encounter up until the last one, at which point they are reduced to burning hands or thunderwave; a warlock in that same situation can cast a fireball in every encounter.

    A variant routine (as above, but omitting the second short rest) would have no effect on the wizard, but it would reduce the warlock to cantrips for the last two encounters.

    In terms of total contribution per day, the wizard looks to be right in the middle of the ideal warlock and the variant warlock. In practice, I think that warlock is going to be pretty sad for two entire combat encounters.
    I ran the variant routine through a white room, and I was a bit surprised at how big a difference the 1 rest makes in a DPR race between a wiz and lock (~100 damage over 15 rounds of combat, or ~6 DPR). Many of the assumptions I used heavily favored the wizard though. That each encounter would have 4 targets affected by each fireball, for instance.

    When the warlock got 2 full rests, he did about 2 DPR more than the wizard. The numbers I found do lend weight to the 2SR/1LR + 6-8 encounters formula as a standard.

    Again, though, white room contrivances. The actual play I've witnessed has never featured a wizard saving all his spell slots for nothing but DPR, whereas I've DMd for 3 warlocks who were dedicated hex + e-blasters with a nuke on standby. Full spell casters in my games rarely spend every slot available in a single adventuring day, which again, for me, is normally comprised of 2-4 encounters. All those unused slots are effectively wasted.

    Is it fair that a nominally utility based class can so greatly out-damage a striker class if the party misses a rest? Not really, but there's more to this picture. The warlock has a better chance at overcoming social challenges at no cost, for instance. Class balance means different things to different people. It has been my experience that 1 SR doesn't greatly upset it, though my experiment has made me reconsider the notion of adventuring days with 0 SRs. They rarely happened at my table in the first place, but I can see a little more clearly now how great a handicap it would be, and doubt I will intentionally design a series of encounters around it in the furture.

    Conclusion: consider me half-convinced.
    XP clearstream gave XP for this post

  8. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by Dausuul View Post
    I am counting small skirmishes and ambushes as well as big fight scenes, since those are explicitly supposed to be included in the 6-8.
    And this doesn't seem to be a problem with encounter design to you when blandly ported over to TTRPGs? You padded your analysis with action scenes that don't advance the plot or introduce Chekov's guns for future scenes. And frankly, if you're going to count 'Luke and friends get railroaded into a conflict with something insurmountable and have to rely on a non-participants' actions' or 'Luke and friends ambush a few soldiers and face no danger' as an encounter -- and in all likelihood the game designers do -- I question why we even have these useless guidelines.

    Between the trip to the Death Star and the escape, only four of those should have counted as discrete encounters in any sane system: Ambushing the command post, busting into the detention block, swinging across a pit while being shot at, and fighting their way to the hangar. And a lot of encounter setups (such as the FFG Star Wars) would combine some of these. The fights with the TIE fighters should not count as encounters by 5E D&D reckoning since they use an entirely separate resource mechanic system than what the team did on foot. It's like having Secret of the Stars or Fire Emblem: Gaiden-style party switching.

  9. #49
    Member
    The Grand Druid (Lvl 20)



    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    San Diego
    Posts
    4,611
    Reviews
    Read 4 Reviews

    Block Saelorn


    Friend+
    Quote Originally Posted by Nevvur View Post
    Again, though, white room contrivances. The actual play I've witnessed has never featured a wizard saving all his spell slots for nothing but DPR, whereas I've DMd for 3 warlocks who were dedicated hex + e-blasters with a nuke on standby.
    The way I figure it, the only reason someone isn't casting fireball is because they have something better to do, which sets a minimum value for utility spells. It might be hard to quantify a hex, or a teleport, but it has to be at least as valuable as a fireball or else they'd just cast fireball instead.

    Most of my experience with level 7 spellcasters is also from a warlock who really liked fireball, though, so that might be skewing my base point of reference.

  10. #50
    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.
    Quote Originally Posted by Satyrn View Post
    Oh it definitely evolved from 4e.
    I think @Tony Vargas is right about this. 4e doesn't need a "standard" adventuring day, because every character is on more-or-less the same resource schedule, and so there is no need to rely upon some particular rate of encounters to ensure a balance of mechanical effectiveness across characters.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nevvur View Post
    As @dropbear8mybaby notes, it's a good number for dungeon type environments, or really any time when there's pressure to keep moving. The point of the number is to push the party to expend resources til they're low, thereby evoking the possibility of failure/death. However, nowhere in the DMG (that I know of) is it suggested every adventuring day ought to include 6-8 encounters.
    I think the main point is to ensure balance of mechanical effectiveness between characters who have different resource schedules. (Thus the difference from 4e, where this is not an issue.)

    Quote Originally Posted by OB1 View Post
    Sure, a Barbarian can theoretically rage in every encounter if you are going 3 Deadlies, but that assumes first that the Barbarian knows there is going to be exactly 3 encounters and that there would be a need or desire for the Barbarian to rage in each of 8 medium encounters.

    As for LR spellcasters, the fewer number of encounters per day is balanced by the fact that the number of combat rounds per day stays roughly the same.

    <snip>

    Balance between classes only requires that PCs believe that they could face the maximum daily xp. If they are going Nova too often, you may be too predictable in your combat encounter structure.
    I would say that this raises a slightly different issue. Is it a sign of things going well, or things going badly, that the players renew their resources (by way of resting) with renewable resources unspent (ie unused spell slots, or rages, etc)?

    Speaking purely for myself, I don't like an approach to intra-party balance of mechanical effectiveness that relies upon some players not using all their resources due to uncertainty about the challenge environment. I tend to find it makes for frustration.

+ Log in or register to post
Page 5 of 9 FirstFirst 123456789 LastLast

Quick Reply Quick Reply

Similar Threads

  1. Standard encounter budget - too easy?
    By OchreJelly in forum Roleplaying Games General Discussion
    Replies: 15
    Last Post: Tuesday, 11th August, 2009, 05:20 PM
  2. Encounter Critical-Encounter in the Forbidden Wastes
    By Thrazar in forum Playing the Game
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: Thursday, 7th August, 2008, 02:37 PM
  3. Best standard, non-standard races?
    By greycastle in forum Pathfinder, Starfinder, Older D&D Editions (4E, 3.x, 2E, 1E, OD&D), D&D Variants, OSR
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: Friday, 13th June, 2003, 04:06 AM
  4. Challenge Ratings, Encounter Levels, and Non-standard Parties
    By Kryndal Levik in forum Pathfinder, Starfinder, Older D&D Editions (4E, 3.x, 2E, 1E, OD&D), D&D Variants, OSR
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: Thursday, 16th January, 2003, 08:02 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •