D&D 5E Level = Challenge Rating

Yaarel

🇮🇱He-Mage
This is so interesting...
Shouldn't the number of rests vary with the number of encounters per level?
Also, did you notice any imbalances between classes as a consequence of this?

It is a good idea to decouple resource management from passage of time, for story purposes.
I was toying with the idea of short rest = 8 hrs., long rest = 24 hrs. But I believe yours is better.
Yes, it is possible to vary the number of "Deep" Long Rests per level, when Counting Encounters. A great part of Counting Encounters is, the DM can easily suit the chart to taste.

The tier of Levels 5 thru 8 seems to be the sweet spot for 5e. There the math has 15 Encounters for each level. So two Long Rests means about five encounters between each Long Rest on average. Where the math expects about six encounters, five is slightly generous. The slack is to help players pace themselves when choosing to spend their Long Rest. If things go wrong, they have chance to spend it early, and still have one to make the stretch.

Originally, I had the starting tier of Levels 1 thru 4 with only one Long Rest. But this tier tends to be fragile, and I zoom thru it anyway. For the advanced tiers, of Levels 13 thru 16 and 17 thru 20, I tend to throw deadlier encounters at the players. So I left it at two Long Rests for everything.

For a grittier campaign, make every tier only one Long Rest. Then in the sweet spot of Levels 5 thru 8, there are about eight encounters until the next Long Rest (instead of the mathematical six). Also, for settings that are low magic, keep everything in only the first two tiers, Levels 1 thru 4 and 5 thru 8. Then increase the number encounters until the next level, to stretch the length of the campaign out longer.


Regarding imbalances. There are two concerns, but they havent happened in my games.

One is, it is possible that two near TPKs happened. The players are stranded, low on hit points, having spent their Long Rests and there are many encounters still to go. Some DMs are happy with a "two week vacation" automatically counting as Long Rest. In any case, to reboot the game by refreshing all of the player characters seems like DM discretion. I dont worry about this because two Long Rests per level is plenty.

The other concern hasnt happened but could. Because social encounters count, it is possible to rely mainly on social encounters, thus allow the casters to keep their slots and other resources, thus be more powerful relative to the martials. So far, players enjoy combat, and their casters do face new combats after having already spent their best slots. Thus the martials shine protecting the casters. Meanwhile, because social encounters count, casters tend to use magic for various reasons for social encounters too. If any DMs find that caster-martial becomes noticeable, the solution is to corner the party and force the party into combat − a Hard one to burn up the caster resources.
 

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jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
Along with the "descriptor" (artillery, skirmisher, etc), it is one of the things that I thought 4e actually did well, and it's a shame they threw out the monster baby with the bathwater.
You might like this book--I just got my copy from Kickstarter, and it looks like they're taking late orders:


It breaks down 5E monsters into something similar to the 4E descriptor categories and suggests strategies for them. (Just in time for a revised Monster Manual, of course, but there may be substantial carryover).
 

Yaarel

🇮🇱He-Mage
You might like this book--I just got my copy from Kickstarter, and it looks like they're taking late orders:


It breaks down 5E monsters into something similar to the 4E descriptor categories and suggests strategies for them. (Just in time for a revised Monster Manual, of course, but there may be substantial carryover).
This is definitely the time to think about 2024 Monster Manual and even the DMs Guide.
 

Yaarel

🇮🇱He-Mage
Note, certain monsters in the 2014 Monster Manual have a Challenge with a much higher damage dealing and a much lower defense. These however are undesirable because they make combat swingy and unpredictable, which defeats the purpose of having Challenge rating in the first place. The more recent Mordenkainen tends to correct these monsters with new stats where the attack and defense correlate more tightly with the expected average.

On the other hand, Mordenkainen does have examples of extreme defense with lower damage dealing, such as Clockwork Stone Defender, which is a high HP high AC Construct concept, and is probably an example of a low tier Solo.
 

The problem is that the level system is for single characters and the challenge rating system is for groups

IIRC the challenge rating system is based on adding up the challenge rating of all the creatures in the fight and that being equal to the level of the party for a 5 character party (the arbitrary "standard" party size), and then scaling up or down for more or less characters, respectively

It sounds good in theory but it kinda breaks apart in practice, as it means, for a level 20 party of 5, fighting 160 stirges (1/8 CR), 10 intellect devourers (2 CR), 2 aboleths (10 CR), or an unlimited number of cats (0 CR times ∞) is exactly the same as fighting one ancient white dragon (20 CR)
 
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Yaarel

🇮🇱He-Mage
The problem is that the level system is for single characters and the challenge rating system is for groups. IIRC the challenge rating system is based on adding up the challenge rating of all the creatures in the fight and that being equal to the level of the party for a 5 character party (the arbitrary "standard" party size), and then scaling up or down for more or less characters, respectively.
Yes. But the fact that Challenge is measured for groups, is why the math is opaque, confusing, and DMs need extreme system mastery − and even after mastery must guestimate anyway.

It sounds good in theory but it kinda breaks apart in practice, as it means, for a level 20 party of 5, fighting 160 stirges (1/8 CR), 10 intellect devourers (2 CR), 2 aboleths (10 CR), or an unlimited number of cats (0 CR times ∞) is exactly the same as fighting one ancient white dragon (20 CR)
Referring to levels actually ends up clearer. For example, suppose for two monsters, Level 5 + Level 5 ≈ one Level 8 monster. This is precise information, can be a simple reference table, and helps the DM understand exactly how powerful creatures are with predictable outcomes in a battle. The DM can also build villain character sheets and monster statblocks interchangeably.

Most importantly, there is a single measure for how powerful something is: "Level". This unit of measurement is consistent and meaningful.
 

Most importantly, there is a single measure for how powerful something is: "Level". This unit of measurement is consistent and meaningful.

This is true only if the creature has levels. Creatures that don't are outside of this calculation.

Dragons don't have 'levels', they have approximate ages and the power they've accumulated, as well as their color
Golems have what they were made with
Soldiers (npcs) have their rank
Goblins have tribal hierarchy
a "level one" soldier, golem, goblin, and dragon, would be vastly inequal

And a measurement can't be consistent if, using your example, 5+5 equals approximately 8
The math must math to be math.
By pure number, 5+5=10, which is what CR is trying to go for
By xp, level 5 (6,500xp) + level 5 (6,500xp) equal approximately level 6 (14,000xp)
Number of features? (using fighter) lvl5 has 6 features, so two times that would be lvl 11 (12 features)

There's a lot more to it than that, which is why they made CR, and haven't replaced it because there really isn't a better one, yet, as poor as CR is
 

Yaarel

🇮🇱He-Mage
This is true only if the creature has levels. Creatures that don't are outside of this calculation.

Dragons don't have 'levels', they have approximate ages and the power they've accumulated, as well as their color
Golems have what they were made with
Soldiers (npcs) have their rank
Goblins have tribal hierarchy
a "level one" soldier, golem, goblin, and dragon, would be vastly inequal
It is defacto levels. For example, "Ancient" Dragons would be Epic Levels 21 and higher.

The low tier monsters (CR 1 and lower) are a bit all over the place and need sorting out and systematization. But the higher stuff tends to correlate with Level plus extra hit points.

And a measurement can't be consistent if, using your example, 5+5 equals approximately 8
The math must math to be math.
By pure number, 5+5=10, which is what CR is trying to go for.
Actually that is the math. Two player characters working together isnt the same thing as simply adding their levels together.

By xp, level 5 (6,500xp) + level 5 (6,500xp) equal approximately level 6 (14,000xp)
Number of features? (using fighter) lvl5 has 6 features, so two times that would be lvl 11 (12 features).
XP might help in the way you are pointing out. But if so, then XP becomes fundamental unit of measuring power.

The D&D game would become a game about "XP" − not a game about "levels". Not to mention "big math" numbers.


There's a lot more to it than that, which is why they made CR, and haven't replaced it because there really isn't a better one, yet, as poor as CR is
CR is absolutely worthless, currently. The correlation between level, party level, number of party members, is little more than an educated guess. Moreover the reason why one creature is one CR and an other an other CR is opaque. There is often no reason. Certainly, the Monster Manual monsters ignore the DMs Guide formulas. CR is currently a sloppy meaningless mess.

It is better to end the term "CR", and go with a unit of measurement that has meaning. Namely, "Level", or perhaps "XP" if it defacto replaces Level.
 

You're doing all this but you still have not explained what this "defacto level" IS, how it is quantified. Without that, it's literally just CR by a different name. You use ancient dragons as an example, but an ancient brass dragon (cr 20) is significantly weaker than an bronze dragon, and even more so an ancient black (both CR 21), and terribly weaker than an ancient red, who's marginally weaker than an ancient bronze (both CR 24). And what, pray tell, is an "Epic" level? How is it different than a "standard" level? If we're using levels as the "defacto", why are there more than one type of level?

Yes, lower CR does need sorting, and I would wager even higher than just CR1 and below (see the infamous intellect devourer at CR2). But who is going to do it and by what metric? You started off with just levels but now we have epic levels too, it's already starting to get more complicated.

Correct, two player characters at lvl 5 are not one character at level ten. But again, where is your metric? And just saying 'levels' means nothing without a consistent definition and result. You might as well call it jujubees. So no, it is not the math, unless you have and can show the math, and it equals out the same every time. You can't just claim that's what it is with no proof, this is math, not religion. And that's nothing to say of class, either. Is a lvl 5 cleric and a lvl 5 barbarian the same as a lv 5 wizard and a lvl 5 ranger? what about 2 lvl 5 warlocks? Where do they stand against a lvl 5 sorcerer and a lvl 5 monk? These are things I take into account when making an encounter for my players, even more so than any other metric. CR just gives me an approximate pool of creatures I can pull from without letting things get too wonky.

YES, xp would help, but how is xp being the fundamental unit worse than these "levels"? Surely not big maths, as it stands, that is certainly a shorter and less complicated metric than whatever your definition of levels, epic or otherwise, has yet to be shown as? And even think, it'd simplify the process, as both levels(player) and creature CR can both be directly transferred to XP, can't they? So how is "levels"(undefined) better?

CR Is not amazing, but I'd call it more than absolutely worthless, more of a jumping off point that is then refined. Using the XP system inherent to CR, it's more than an educated guess, not by much, sure, but do you have a proposed, on paper, working replacement, that includes all levelled players and NPC creatures? Not just your statement of "levels"(undefined) which are certainly at best as opaque as you claim the CR system to be, but an actual working, visible, explainable, repeatable system?

They did the math, and it was bad math, but at least they showed their work.
Where is yours?
 

Yaarel

🇮🇱He-Mage
You're doing all this but you still have not explained what this "defacto level" IS, how it is quantified. Without that, it's literally just CR by a different name. You use ancient dragons as an example, but an ancient brass dragon (cr 20) is significantly weaker than an bronze dragon, and even more so an ancient black (both CR 21), and terribly weaker than an ancient red, who's marginally weaker than an ancient bronze (both CR 24). And what, pray tell, is an "Epic" level? How is it different than a "standard" level? If we're using levels as the "defacto", why are there more than one type of level?
This weaker and stronger being the same CR is why it is better to discontinue the concept of CR.


Yes, lower CR does need sorting, and I would wager even higher than just CR1 and below (see the infamous intellect devourer at CR2). But who is going to do it and by what metric? You started off with just levels but now we have epic levels too, it's already starting to get more complicated.
But "levels" need to go there anyway.

For example, in 2024 the "background" will be a substantial amount design space, even including an extra background feat. When dividing up

Correct, two player characters at lvl 5 are not one character at level ten. But again, where is your metric? And just saying 'levels' means nothing without a consistent definition and result. You might as well call it jujubees. So no, it is not the math, unless you have and can show the math, and it equals out the same every time. You can't just claim that's what it is with no proof, this is math, not religion. And that's nothing to say of class, either. Is a lvl 5 cleric and a lvl 5 barbarian the same as a lv 5 wizard and a lvl 5 ranger? what about 2 lvl 5 warlocks? Where do they stand against a lvl 5 sorcerer and a lvl 5 monk? These are things I take into account when making an encounter for my players, even more so than any other metric. CR just gives me an approximate pool of creatures I can pull from without letting things get too wonky.

YES, xp would help, but how is xp being the fundamental unit worse than these "levels"? Surely not big maths, as it stands, that is certainly a shorter and less complicated metric than whatever your definition of levels, epic or otherwise, has yet to be shown as? And even think, it'd simplify the process, as both levels(player) and creature CR can both be directly transferred to XP, can't they? So how is "levels"(undefined) better?

CR Is not amazing, but I'd call it more than absolutely worthless, more of a jumping off point that is then refined. Using the XP system inherent to CR, it's more than an educated guess, not by much, sure, but do you have a proposed, on paper, working replacement, that includes all levelled players and NPC creatures? Not just your statement of "levels"(undefined) which are certainly at best as opaque as you claim the CR system to be, but an actual working, visible, explainable, repeatable system?

They did the math, and it was bad math, but at least they showed their work.
Where is yours?
 

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