Level Up (A5E) How to reach 20th Level in 45 days — An analysis of "adventuring day" per character level

Xethreau

Josh Gentry - Author, Minister in Training
Which suggests that the number of encounters per level in A5e is SIGNFICANTLY lower, often taking just 5-8 encounters to gain a level.

If you look at the sweet spot levels of 3-11, the average encounter per levelup is right around 8 (7.93)

Yes exactly! We know that the numbers are lower, but it is unclear to me why they are lower. Or really, SO MUCH LOWER.

Like "mega dungeons aren't possible past level 11 in 5e because a character-level's worth of encounters does not begin to sufficiently challenge the party's daily resources" lower.

Even the observation that A5E observes that player characters can actually face harder challenges than those suggested by the O5e system is not enough to make sense of this. That would explain a 7.5% difference, not a 75% difference.

I'm honestly just so confused.
 

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Ondath

Adventurer
Yes exactly! We know that the numbers are lower, but it is unclear to me why they are lower. Or really, SO MUCH LOWER.

Like "mega dungeons aren't possible past level 11 in 5e because a character-level's worth of encounters does not begin to sufficiently challenge the party's daily resources" lower.

Even the observation that A5E observes that player characters can actually face harder challenges than those suggested by the O5e system is not enough to make sense of this. That would explain a 7.5% difference, not a 75% difference.

I'm honestly just so confused.
It's probably related to the changing playstyles 5E was designed for (and A5E - probably knowingly - inherited). I went through my archive of Legends & Lore articles that were published right around the time D&D 4E was abandoned and D&D 5E (then called D&D Next) was starting to be designed. In his article on 9 April 2012, Mike Mearls puts the following as one of the design goals of D&D Next:

Goal #3: Reunification through Accessibility​


D&D has traditionally required large amounts of time, a large play group, and a sustained commitment. The design process must focus on play time, group size, speed of play, and length of campaigns, with an eye toward reducing the minimum required from each area. Players who want a longer play time and so forth can easily scale up the game to meet their needs and opt into the various rules modules we'll provide or that they'll build themselves. However, our standard goal is to remove minimum group sizes, allow for a complete adventure in one hour of play, and satisfying campaigns in 50 hours of play. [emphasis mine]
So it's clear that 5E was designed with short adventures that can be finished in 1 hour in mind, and the grand total of expected campaign length was around 50 hours. Placing such a premium on short adventures means that things like megadungeons become harder to run. I assume they started with this goal and then dealt with the level pacing once they knew what the "sweet spot" they wanted to keep players in was.

Granted, you can still do megadungeons in 5E (Dungeon of the Mad Mage is pretty good from what I've heard, and it goes from 5 to 20!). Levels 5-10 are probably more suitable since the number of encounters per level is higher there, but other levels can still accomodate megadungeons if you can account for players going out to level up and the dungeon repopulating in the meantime.

But I've personally never managed to run a megadungeon in a satisfying way, so I can't say I'm the most reliable source on this particular style of play.
 

Xethreau

Josh Gentry - Author, Minister in Training
So it's clear that 5E was designed with short adventures that can be finished in 1 hour in mind, and the grand total of expected campaign length was around 50 hours.
So first of all, this is a great post, thank you.

Second of all, what adventure can I run in 1 hour??
 

Ondath

Adventurer
So first of all, this is a great post, thank you.

Second of all, what adventure can I run in 1 hour??
There's actually another article where he discusses how he thinks the one-hour adventure should be (the long story short is that he looks back at B/X D&D as an example and gives the design principles that'd make it possible). I can send it to you via PM if you'd like.

Granted, this article is from 2012 so 5E's final version might not have kept one-hour adventure as a goal (not to mention the midway design philosophy change that came with Tasha's), but I think especially low-level games could have 1-hour adventures if the DM knows their stuff.
 

Xethreau

Josh Gentry - Author, Minister in Training
There's actually another article where he discusses how he thinks the one-hour adventure should be (the long story short is that he looks back at B/X D&D as an example and gives the design principles that'd make it possible). I can send it to you via PM if you'd like.

Granted, this article is from 2012 so 5E's final version might not have kept one-hour adventure as a goal (not to mention the midway design philosophy change that came with Tasha's), but I think especially low-level games could have 1-hour adventures if the DM knows their stuff.
First of all, please do send the PM.

But secondly. Yes I do seem to remember that in the playtest the combat encounters were fast because the monsters were basic and the players were only just a little complex. We got away from that. :|
 

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