Pathfinder 1EPathfinder: Encounter Design Simplified

Wulf Ratbane

Step One: Determine the Encounter Budget

For each PC in the party, look up his level, and add the indicated amount of XP to the encounter budget.

Example: Party of four 1st level PCs each add +100 to the budget; total budget = 400 XP.

Code:
``````Level	XP Budget (per PC)
1	100
2	150
3	200
4	300
5	400
6	600
7	800
8	1200
9	1600
10	2400
11	3200
12	4800
13	6400
14	9600
15	12800
16	19200
17	25600
18	38400
19	51200
20	76800``````

Step Two: Determine Desired Difficulty

Multiply the total XP budget by the following multipliers:

Easy: x2/3 (-1 EL)
Average: x1
Challenging: x1.5 (+1 EL)
Hard: x2 (+2 EL)
Epic: x3 (+3 EL)

Example: Initial budget 400, challenging encounter x1.5, final budget = 600.

Step Three: Purchase Creatures from the Budget

Using the Creature XP values provided by Pathfinder, "purchase" creatures out of your encounter budget.

Code:
``````CR	XP
1/10	40
1/8 	50
1/6 	65
1/4 	100
1/3 	135
1/2 	200
1	400
2	600
3	800
4	1200
5	1600
6	2400
7	3200
8	4800
9	6400
10	9600
11	12800
12	19200
13	25600
14	38400
15	51200
16	76800
17	102400
18	153600
19	204800
20	307200
21	409600
22	614400
23	819200
24	1228800
25	1638400``````

NOTE 1: If you have to purchase more than 10 of any creature, it's probably not going to add much to the challenge of the encounter.

NOTE 2: Buy the most expensive creatures first. When you are done, if you have points left over, you can either toss them aside, or you can "overspend" just enough to buy one creature of the closest available amount.

Pathfinder Examples
These examples are taken directly from the Alpha 2 document.

Let’s say you want your group of four 5th-level characters to fight a group of ogres (CR 3).

Four 5th level characters each add 400 XP to the budget, for a total of 1600 XP.

An average fight (x1 budget multiplier, 1600 budget) is 2 ogres (CR3=800 each).

A challenging fight (x1.5 budget multiplier, 2400 budget) is 3 ogres.

A hard fight (x2 budget multiplier, 3200 budget) is 4 ogres.

An epic fight (x3 budget multiplier, 4800 budget) is 6 ogres.

Let’s say you want your group of six 8th-level PCs to face off against a group of gargoyles (CR 4) and their stone giant boss (CR 8). This is to be a challenging fight.

Six 8th level PCs is a base budget of 6 x 1200XP, or 7200 XP.

It's to be a challenging fight, x1.5, final budget = 10800 XP.

Stone Giant (CR8) costs us 4800 XP, leaving 6000 XP to spend on gargoyles.

Gargoyles cost 1200 XP each; 6000/1200 = five gargoyles.

Last edited:

TheAuldGrump

First Post
I like that! Seems like a simple, consistent system. I think I will steal it right now.

The Auld Grump, tired enough that he thought yelling 'Look it's a monkey!' and grabbing the system would be funny....

Wicht

Hero
That is pretty good work.

Did you post this over on Paizo?

Khairn

First Post
Very nicely done Wulf.

Wulf Ratbane

Wicht said:
That is pretty good work.

Did you post this over on Paizo?

No, I emailed it directly to Jason Buhlman a couple of days ago.

However, I did not hear back from him, presumably because (if I may paraphrase him from his blog) he is trying to get the next alpha out and he has literally thousands of emails and forum posts to comb through.

At the time I also suggested a couple of other things to Jason that I did not include in my initial post here, chief of which is changing the "base" XP from 400 to 240.

• 240 is evenly divisible by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, and 10. It makes it easy to calculate the XP values of creatures less than CR1 without any rounding off.
• It's also easier to divide that XP award equally among a greater number of typical party sizes (obviously missing only 7 and 9). (If you have 11 or more PCs in your party, you need to share some players around, you greedy prick.)
• If you use 240 as the baseline XP, and following Pathfinder's advancement assumptions of 20 average encounters or 13.33 challenging encounters, then the Character Advancement table looks like this (the 3rd column is rounded to the nearest 500 xp):

Code:
``````Level	XP req.		(rounded)
1	0		0
2	1,200		1,000
3	3,000		3,000
4	5,400		5,500
5	9,000		9,000
6	13,800		14,000
7	21,000		21,000
8	30,600		30,500
9	45,000		45,000
10	64,200		64,000
11	93,000		93,000
12	131,400		131,500
13	189,000		189,000
14	265,800		266,000
15	381,000		381,000
16	534,600		534,500
17	765,000		765,000
18	1,072,200	1,072,000
19	1,533,000	1,533,000
20	2,147,400	2,147,500``````

If you change the base value from 400 to 240, the other tables change as well, obviously, but the format is the same.

Anyhow, I posted this here for comment, and in the hopes it might raise the profile a bit.

Obviously I have a vested interest in making sure that the things I am working on are as compatible with Pathfinder as possible.

skelso

First Post
Clever. Spiffy mathing, I say!

Gotham Gamemaster

First Post
Thanks for the alternate system, Wulf! I'm looking forward to trying "point buy" encounter design in my PF game.

Wulf Ratbane

Gotham Gamemaster said:
Thanks for the alternate system, Wulf! I'm looking forward to trying "point buy" encounter design in my PF game.

Much more to come.

Elodan

This is exactly the sort of stuff I want to see in Pathfinder. Keeping the basics of 3E but giving us ways to do things quicker and easier.

Awesome job Wulf! Yoinked.

Scott DeWar

Prof. Emeritus-Supernatural Events/Countermeasure
I am getting ready to plat test the alpha release with some friends here really soon. This is going to be a great help!

thanks!

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