6-8 Encounters a long rest is, actually, a pretty problematic idea.

As someone who has run quite a few 3E, Pathfinder, and 4E D&D games and only a handful of 5E D&D games, I have to say that running large numbers of encounters in a 'workday' is problematic for two reasons:


1) A lot of players get very disengaged by their character going 'I Fire Bolt it.' 'I Fire Bolt it.' 'I Fire Bolt it.' repeatedly because they have to budget their abilities. There are a lot of players who legit don't mind describing how they're swinging their sword after taking the Attack action ten rounds in a row, but there are a lot of players who DO in fact mind, and I think it's both projectionist and unfair how the gaming community paints the former group as Proper Roleplayers Making The Best Use Of A Limited Toolkit and the latter group as Dirty Powergaming Munchkins Who Want To Show Off All The Time.


2) If things go south and the players end up blowing a lot of their abilities in the first one or two encounters, they feel like you're picking on them as you drag their characters through the rest of the gauntlet. This is also true if the players are casual or new to the group and aren't in tune with how D&D structures workdays. They aren't going to be sympathetic to your rejoinder of 'that's just bad luck/you not getting the rhythm of the game; better budget your abilities better next time', especially if it runs up against caveat one.

I also think that 6-8 encounters does violence to the narrative of action-adventure fiction (since it's a D&D-specific trope that doesn't have genre or metafictional justification) that can only be justified as a gameplay/story tradeoff but that's a separate discussion altogether. Just speaking from a gameplay perspective, it disengages certain kinds of players and I'm getting rather tired of boards like these treating such players as powergamers or n00bs.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I think [MENTION=6857506]Harzel[/MENTION] pointed out in another thread recently, the DMG states that 6 to 8 medium to hard encounters are what the PCs can handle per adventuring day, not that they should necessarily be doing this many encounters per day.

As for the concerns presented in your points 1 and 2, I would say that comes down to how the DM presents things in my experience.
 

Mistwell

Hero
As someone who has run quite a few 3E, Pathfinder, and 4E D&D games and only a handful of 5E D&D games, I have to say that running large numbers of encounters in a 'workday' is problematic for two reasons:
I thought you were going to give examples of things that actually happened in your 5e games. But it sounds like you're talking about theoretical concerns you have rather than things that happened in your games.

Is that the case? If so...why don't you play 5e and then decide if this is actually a problem or just theoretically one?
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
That is certainly an opinion which you can have. I'm not sure that I would characterize the gaming community as you do, but I'm also not about to deny your lived experience.

Six encounters per adventuring day can definitely get wearisome, especially if they devolve into trading at-will attacks back and forth until one side is dead. I would place the blame for that more on the HP bloat than on the encounter guidelines, though.
 
iserith said:
As for the concerns presented in your points 1 and 2, I would say that comes down to how the DM presents things in my experience.
Look, I've done more than my share trying to set up situations where a player will try to use something other than Eldritch Blast or waste it with their crossbow (or at least make the experience exciting, like being graphic with the description), but all the same a lot of players realize that if their probable actions have a 1-to-1 or 1-to-2 correspondence with what's available they get bored or frustrated.

I seriously can't tell you how many times as a DM for various D&D games I've seen eyelids start to droop (especially with newer or more casual players) the 4th or so time they use their best At-Will ability in a single combat. When I was running 4E D&D games, I NEVER ran a game that started at less than level 7.

MichaelSomething said:
Would you be happier with the five minute workday?
I'd be happier with a resource system that didn't, when it was firing on all cylinders, force people to be stingy with their most exciting abilities and default to using seriously weak beer abilities. That D&D thinks eschewing this necessarily will lead to a five-minute workday (its justification for implementing such a problematic system) reveals more about its lack of imagination than any hard dichotomy.

I thought you were going to give examples of things that actually happened in your 5e games. But it sounds like you're talking about theoretical concerns you have rather than things that happened in your games.

Is that the case? If so...why don't you play 5e and then decide if this is actually a problem or just theoretically one?
Look, I've played a lot of 5E D&D. I like the game a lot. I played since it first came out and I play a combination of home, online, and AL games an average of 8 hours every week. I even wrote a 150-page guide for a class of it. You even gave me XP on it.

I have, however, not DMed a lot of 5E D&D. That's there for full disclosure. Though maybe I should have been more dissembling if I knew people were going to try to No True Scotsman me on this.

I would place the blame for that more on the HP bloat than on the encounter guidelines, though.
I'd try that the other way around; the 6-8 encounter workday is what makes hit point bloat necessary. If you did that many encounters but they ended up in 1 or 2-round Rocket Launcher Tag battles, I think it'd only further reveal the schedule to be a narrative farce.
 

Mistwell

Hero
As someone who has run ...only a handful of 5E D&D game
Look, I've played a lot of 5E D&D. I like the game a lot. I played since it first came out and I play a combination of home, online, and AL games an average of 8 hours every week. I even wrote a 150-page guide for a class of it. You even gave me XP on it.

I have, however, not DMed a lot of 5E D&D. That's there for full disclosure. Though maybe I should have been more dissembling if I knew people were going to try to No True Scotsman me on this.
You're over reacting. I was not trying to No True Scotsman on you...I was responding to what you wrote rather than what you were apparently thinking (and assuming everyone knew...I am not memorizing the names of everyone here I interact with. My memory isn't that good. Sorry I didn't recall your name before).

What you wrote was you DMed a lot of prior versions of the game, but DMed this one only a handful of times - without mentioning you had played it a lot. And the rest of your post was phrased as theory rather than examples from any games. So I responded to what you said - which was advice to play it more and see if your concerns happened in practice. What I said had nothing to do with calling you somehow not a true fan or not a true player or not a true anything.

What would be helpful is if you gave concrete examples from the games you've played which describe running into this problem and whether it was dealt with in those games and the results.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Look, I've done more than my share trying to set up situations where a player will try to use something other than Eldritch Blast or waste it with their crossbow (or at least make the experience exciting, like being graphic with the description), but all the same a lot of players realize that if their probable actions have a 1-to-1 or 1-to-2 correspondence with what's available they get bored or frustrated.

I seriously can't tell you how many times as a DM for various D&D games I've seen eyelids start to droop (especially with newer or more casual players) the 4th or so time they use their best At-Will ability in a single combat. When I was running 4E D&D games, I NEVER ran a game that started at less than level 7.
Whereas I've seen players have their characters loose an arrow or cast toll the dead or some other cantrip every single turn and have a blast. My regular players perform the same grapple, prone, kick-until-dead routine almost every combat without becoming bored or frustrated. So it might be worth looking at what other DMs are doing that you or your DMs are not.
 

Harzel

Explorer
As someone who has run quite a few 3E, Pathfinder, and 4E D&D games and only a handful of 5E D&D games, I have to say that running large numbers of encounters in a 'workday' is problematic for two reasons:


1) A lot of players get very disengaged by their character going 'I Fire Bolt it.' 'I Fire Bolt it.' 'I Fire Bolt it.' repeatedly because they have to budget their abilities. There are a lot of players who legit don't mind describing how they're swinging their sword after taking the Attack action ten rounds in a row, but there are a lot of players who DO in fact mind, and I think it's both projectionist and unfair how the gaming community paints the former group as Proper Roleplayers Making The Best Use Of A Limited Toolkit and the latter group as Dirty Powergaming Munchkins Who Want To Show Off All The Time.
I would not call them DPgMWWTSOATTs, but - from your description - it does seem like they are a bit focused on mashing ability buttons. Even amongst the "standard" actions, there are things to do other than Cast a Spell and Attack (with a weapon). Improvised actions provide an effectively indefinite number of additional possibilities.

2) If things go south and the players end up blowing a lot of their abilities in the first one or two encounters,
If that was absolutely necessary for their survival, then it seems like the challenges they are facing must be running pretty close to the edge of feasibility. If it was not necessary, well, choices have consequences.

they feel like you're picking on them as you drag their characters through the rest of the gauntlet.
This sounds like a situation in which the PCs have very limited choices about engaging encounters and in which the stakes are strictly life-or-death. Maybe they should have the option of ending a day early at some cost other than death? Now, to be honest, I am not very good at setting up those sorts of adventures. However, I view that as my own shortcoming (that I am working on), not a problem with the system.

This is also true if the players are casual or new to the group and aren't in tune with how D&D structures workdays.
Yes, that is something that is not covered in the PHB (I presume because it's not exactly a rule), but it is (IMO) something that players need to understand at some level. (Or at least they need to know how workdays are structured in your world.) You could be explicit about it out of game (although that can be sort of a weird conversation), or, in game, you can use foreshadowing and/or explicit intelligence about the challenges they will face.

They aren't going to be sympathetic to your rejoinder of 'that's just bad luck/you not getting the rhythm of the game; better budget your abilities better next time', especially if it runs up against caveat one.
Perhaps if they are better informed, as mentioned above, they may be more forgiving?

I also think that 6-8 encounters does violence to the narrative of action-adventure fiction (since it's a D&D-specific trope that doesn't have genre or metafictional justification) that can only be justified as a gameplay/story tradeoff but that's a separate discussion altogether.
As has been said, the PCs do not have to face 6-8 encounters every day; they just have to know that it is possible that they will face a series of encounters that will tap them out, and that sometimes the number may reach into the 6-8 range.

However, I actually agree somewhat with your sentiment, as I feel that even those looser requirements box me in significantly. I generally prefer a much slower pacing (lower ratio of challenging events to fictional days). While the DMG purports to give advice suitable for doing this, and there have been any number of thoughtful suggestions in threads on this board about this general topic, I have not so far come across a solution that suits me personally.

Just speaking from a gameplay perspective, it disengages certain kinds of players and I'm getting rather tired of boards like these treating such players as powergamers or n00bs.
I think what many of us are saying is considerably more nuanced.
 

happyhermit

Explorer
What exactly is your goal here? Edition warring, or you just want to have a bunch of people agree with you, what are you looking for? If you don't like 6-8 encounters/adventuring day, but still want to run 5e good news, you don't need to run 6-8 encounters/adventuring day. Even without any optional rules or tweaks, the "problems" from deviating from the "expected" are relatively minor and if you are ok with 3.x then issues like balance between classes probably isn't a huge deal anyways.

Not everybody is going to like the defaults but luckily in D&D you don't need to use them and there are usually many ways to solve the same issue.
 

dave2008

Adventurer
I am not sure what your suggesting. As [MENTION=97077]iserith[/MENTION] pointed out in the 2nd post, the 6-8 encounters per day is not a requirement for the system. It is simply one example of what PCs are expected to handle. Also implied in that description is that they can handle more Easy encounters or fewer Deadly encounters. It is not a requirement, just an example of what can be expected. You can have however many encounters per work day that works for you and your group. We typical only have 1-2 combat encounters, occasionally 3-4, and rarely 5-6 per long rest. I think we once had 8+/-
 

dave2008

Adventurer
I'd be happier with a resource system that didn't, when it was firing on all cylinders, force people to be stingy with their most exciting abilities and default to using seriously weak beer abilities. That D&D thinks eschewing this necessarily will lead to a five-minute workday (its justification for implementing such a problematic system) reveals more about its lack of imagination than any hard dichotomy.
Maybe my group is a little old school, this is not a problem we are having. How does the "system" force you to be stingy?
 

ccs

39th lv DM
Well then, I guess it's a good thing that there's absolutely nothing (except lack of actual experience) preventing a DM from running however many encounters per day their group enjoys.

My DMG indicates that 6-8 medium/hard encounters is what the designers think an average party can handle. Nowhere does it mandate that I MUST run that many.
And so, just as in every other edition (or even other game systems), I'll run as many encounters per day as is story appropriate at the moment. Anywhere from 0-way more than 6-8.

As for the problem you note of gamers getting bored etc after x encounters? That's not a rules problem. That's a DM problem. Mainly that the DM isn't paying attention to/doesn't know/doesn't care what the group likes. You can't fix that with rules, or words, just practical experience.
 

TheSword

Explorer
Encounters don’t all have to be combat. Also they don’t all need to have six. Some days will have one, particularly if in a town or on a journey. A wilderness section may have 3 or 4. While a dungeon section may have 6-8.

These days I get a bit tired of interminable dungeon crawling so I tend to max out at 4 or 5, but they will be made up of a few smaller encounters combined - so tougher overall.

The problem about blowing all your spells should only really be a problem levels 1-4. Also don’t forget that cantrips are good, wands recharge and any action is possible.
 

Nevvur

Explorer
I've never used the encounter building guidelines in the DMG until just recently. One of the things that surprised me was that I overran my daily XP budget front loading the adventuring day with one hard and one deadly encounter. Basically, the math provides you with 6 MEDIUM encounters... +1 easy encounter, if you really want to hit your max budget (Kobold Fight Club is handy for quickly calculating your budgets)

If you're going to include any hard or deadly encounters, you need to throw some easy ones in there, too, and that's where I think a lot of DMs err when trying to meet the 6-encounter quota. I feel like many DMs expect each encounter should be threatening or challenging, but the DMG encounter builder doesn't seem to think so. It appears the 'typical adventuring day' includes stomping on some mooks. I've had some easy combats resolve in less than a minute with a choice spell, and even when the PCs opt to forego resource expenditure, it's usually less than a 10 minute affair. It's... not always 'exciting,' but it's hardly a slog, and my players still take satisfaction in turning weak monsters into paste.

A point of order, an encounter doesn't have to be monsters. It can be a trap or a social challenge or whatever. Those might be good for filling out easy and medium encounters if you want actual combats to stay on the hard-deadly difficulty.
 
I also think that 6-8 encounters does violence to the narrative of action-adventure fiction (since it's a D&D-specific trope that doesn't have genre or metafictional justification) that can only be justified as a gameplay/story tradeoff but that's a separate discussion altogether. Just speaking from a gameplay perspective, it disengages certain kinds of players and I'm getting rather tired of boards like these treating such players as powergamers or n00bs.
I agree with this, but also any fixed number of encounters goes against the freedom of narrative. The "daily budget" of abilities really shouldn't get in the way of the story featuring both sparse encounters on some days, and some "battle days" as well, particularly when nearing the end of an adventure. I think it's quite common in fiction to have a story that starts with an occasional fight or two, then building up to a climax with a lot of fighting in a short time (whether a single big fight, or a lots of consecutive ones).

I also think there is a general flaw in the whole discussion tho... I don't know how you run your games, but I definitely do not normally force-feed encounters to my PCs. Yes, sometimes they are followed and attacked purposefully, and sometimes there are random encounters that seem unavoidable. But in general, it is the PCs who decide whether to get into trouble one more time for the day (by continuing exploration of a dangerous area, inflitrating an enemy base, or engage someone in combat) or to call it quit and seek some rest. I don't always let them choose freely, but in general I think the players have more control over the number of encounters than I have as a DM!
 

Coroc

Explorer
As i pointed out in similar threads i can hardly imagine that a Group can survive (even with short rests) 8 medium combat Encounters even if the Group is well balanced and are experienced players. And this goes especially if the DM Plays the Mobs like they are intelligent beings not just assets on a battlemap.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
"I fire bolt it" is an absolute feature.

Having enough spells that every round of every combat you can cast one of them, which is more powerful the weapon attacks, means that casters are back to absolutely ruling. If you have enough limited resources that you can use them without limit, they aren't limited.

If we didn't have "I firebolt it", then the average spell for a caster would need to be the power of an average at-will attack. It would mean severely nerfing all spells in order to preserve the balance between classes.

I really don't want to return to Linear Warrior, Quadratic Wizard again - having times when casters chose to conserve resources and instead "I firebolt it" is critical to keeping a balance between classes.
 

GameOgre

Explorer
Strangely I to have DMed those role playing games as well and each one of them has the same issues as 5E.

If you run a huge mega encounter in Pathfinder and the Wizard blows her spells to get the party through it (regardless of if she needed to or not) guess what? She is out of spells and effectively reduced till she can regain her spells. If she does this one the first difficult encounter of the day in Rise of the Runelords or whatever adventure path im running she has a looong wait.

so the issue is either: Your encounters are not ranked right for your party, the wizard is too spell crazed and blew it all too soon or maybe the player is playing the wrong class. Loads of players hate the resource management of spellcasting.

Now on to the theory crafting you seem to be wanting. (Note im not even going to touch the loads of players want to do something besides swing a sword and firebolt every round)

So you want wizards who can go nova on several encounters to still have their spells left afterwards? You want them to have lower level spells and just loads more of them or ........your fine with higher level spells just more of them? I am not grasping what system you want instead.

What I would like for you to do is point out things in Pathfinder or 3E (D&D or copy of it) that worked better.

Or was this mostly about 4E? I their encounter. Daily and at will powers were indeed more balanced especially over the long haul but then again it has many issues all it's own.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
One way to encourage players to engage in more encounters per day is to incentivize it with an XP house rule. This would be particularly good in my view in a campaign where the theme is war or the PCs are mercenaries or something like that.

Love the Bloodshed
For the fifth and each subsequent combat challenge you overcome in an adventuring day, gain +5% XP, cumulatively.

By the eighth battle, they're earning +20% XP. They're trading an increase in difficulty due to resource depletion for faster character advancement.

For milestone advancement, this would just be a set amount of bonus XP for overcoming a given number of challenges. If you use story-based or session-based advancement rather than standard XP, you might instead offer a useful blessing from the deity of the War domain in your setting.
 

Advertisement

Top