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"Rules: Effective Character Levels and Challenge Ratings"

Anubis

Villager
After several long debates on the subject of Effective Character Levels and Challenge Ratings, I believe that I have finally found a good formula that works all the way around.

I am unable to take even a majority of the credit for this work, however, because this would not have been possible had many of us here not worked as a team. Upper_Krust was especially essential to this, having originated the system from which this derives. Although there may yet be some debate on this matter, I believe that this takes a HUGE step toward fixing all the problems surrounding ECL and CR.

Here it is, "Rules: Effective Character Levels and Challenge Ratings"! This post will be updated as necessary with additions, corrections, errata, etc. ENJOY!



REVISED ECL/CR RULES

Determining ECL:

CLASS ECL MODIFIERS

+1 ECL per Class Level*
+1/4 ECL per Integrated Class Level**

*Commoners receive +1 ECL/3 Levels. Adepts, Aristocrats, and Experts receive +1 ECL/2 Levels. Warriors receive +3 ECL/4 Levels.
**Integrated Class Levels are when a creature has, for instance, the spellcasting abilities of a Level 20 Wizard or a Level 20 Cleric, such as a Titan.

DIVINE ECL MODIFIERS

+16 ECL for Divine Rank 0
+24 ECL for Divine Rank 1
+4 ECL per Divine Rank over Divine Rank 1

HIT DICE ECL MODIFIERS

+3 ECL/4 Hit Dice (75%) for Dragons and Outsiders
+1 ECL/2 Hit Dice (50%) for Aberrations, Elementals, Fey, Giant, Humanoids, Magical Beasts, Monstrous Humanoids, Shapechangers, Undead (except for Skeletons and Zombies)
+1 ECL/3 Hit Dice (33%) for Animals, Beasts, Constructs, Oozes, Plants, Undead (Skeletons and Zombies), Vermin
+1 ECL per +1 CR increase of a Template

ABILITY SCORE MODIFIERS

+0.1/-0.1 ECL per +1/-1 total modifier to ability score (i.e. an athach has Str 27, Dex 12, Con 21, Int 7, Wis 12, Cha 6, which constitutes Str +16, Dex +2, Con +10, Int -4, Wis +2, and Cha -4 for a +22 total for +2.2 ECL total for ability scores)

SPECIFIC SPECIAL ABILITIY MODIFIERS

+1/4 ECL per SA or SQ (except as noted below)***

Damage Reduction: The modifier for all damage reduction is ECL +0.25 per damage reduction "plus" and for each full 100% increase in actual damage reduction points over 5 points per "plus". Here is a table to demonstrate how this works:


Code:
 5/+1 = ECL +0.25
10/+1 = ECL +0.50
15/+1 = ECL +0.75

10/+2 = ECL +0.50
20/+2 = ECL +0.75
30/+2 = ECL +1.00

15/+3 = ECL +0.75
30/+3 = ECL +1.00
45/+3 = ECL +1.25

20/+4 = ECL +1.00
40/+4 = ECL +1.25
60/+4 = ECL +1.50

25/+5 = ECL +1.25
50/+5 = ECL +1.50
75/+5 = ECL +1.75


+1/2 ECL per 5 points of hardness (includes damage reduction of X/-)
+1/2 ECL per 5 points of Spell Resistance over 10
+1/2 ECL per Energy Resistance
+1 ECL per Energy Immunity
+1/2 ECL per 5 points of Fast Healing or Regeneration

+1 ECL if creature has Spell-Like Abilities that duplicate 1st-3rd level spells that are usable at will, +2 ECL if creature has Spell-Like Abilities that duplicate 4th-6th level spells that are usable at will, +3 ECL if creature has Spell-Like Abilities that duplicate 7th-9th level spells that are usable at will, +4 ECL if creature has Spell-Like Abilities that duplicate spells of 10th level and above that are usable at will (half these values if usable only a certain number of times per day, quarter these values if usable once per day or less); this becomes +1/2 ECL total if the creature's Hit Dice ECL Modifier is equal to or greater than the level needed for a wizard or cleric to cast the spells duplicated by the spell-like ability (half that if usable a certain number of times per day, quarter that if usable once per day or less); apply only the highest modifier as this bonus does not stack for multiple spell-like abilities

+1 ECL per 20 Spellcraft DC of Spell-Like Abilities that duplicate Epic Spells that are usable at will (half that if usable a certain number of times per day, quarter that if usable once per day or less)
+2 ECL for Blindsight
+1 ECL per appendage over two
+1/2 ECL if the creature can summon other creatures, +1 ECL if the creature can summon other creatures of its CR, +2 if the creature can summon other creatures of a higher CR; apply this modifier for each time per day the creature can summon

***Some SAs and SQs not mentioned here are still worth more than ECL +1/4. Modifiers for more powerful abilities are subject to the DM's discretion based on relative power.



For the purposes of this system, ECL equals CR in all cases. For CRs over 20, use the following table, borrowed from UK's article in Asgard 6:


Code:
    ECL --- CR     
   1-20 --- +1/Level
  21-40 --- +1/2 Levels
  41-80 --- +1/4 Levels
 81-160 --- +1/8 Levels
161-320 --- +1/16 Levels


This format can be continued indefinitely as ECL and CR increases.
 
Last edited:

reapersaurus

Villager
I think before anyone wades into this thread, you shiould have them read the LONG thread that came before this.
Link?

Personally, I don't think what you and UK are proposing can even remotely be done - a universal, all-encompassing, detailed system for properly estimating threats and power levels.

There are too many variables, as proven by your guys' inability to nail it down accurately enough even after months of combined work.
 

CRGreathouse

Community Supporter
reapersaurus said:
Personally, I don't think what you and UK are proposing can even remotely be done - a universal, all-encompassing, detailed system for properly estimating threats and power levels.

There are too many variables, as proven by your guys' inability to nail it down accurately enough even after months of combined work.
What you've said is, I think, undeniably true.

I don't think this is what they're after, though - I think they're trying to get a formula that will give a good place to start.

I'm not sure how close they are - the abilities above aren't even internally consistant. (For example: cast Greater SR 1/day: ECL +1; equivilent SR granted: ECL +2.5.)
 
Personally, I prefer UK's approach, but to throw somthing else out to think about, I think both systems have a flaw in this section:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ECL --- CR
1-20 --- +1/Level

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I don't believe a single humanoid of any class is the same level of challenge as a monster whose CR is equal to that class level.

For example, I don't think a 7th level fighter (or any class) is as challenging a combat as a Hill giant (CR7), whether that fighter is equipped as a PC or NPC. I'm not picking out Giants as especially dangerous, just that character levels don't match up to monster CR's when compared one on one.

The monster's CR is balanced (theoretically) to present a challenge for a team of PCs of that level. A human PC of a given class level is not. It's just a character of a certain level. The DMG says NPCs should be given a CR equal to their level, but this is a fudge and not a satisfactory one for me.
I've placed many NPCs (including teams) up against my players, and they usually have a far easier time of it than when they face monsters of a given CR.

This shouldn't be surprising, since one character of (say) level 4 facing a team of characters of level 4 is obviously outmatched. You might think that since 1 character faces 4 of equal level, the encounter will use up 20-25% of resources. In practice, this is hardly ever the case (in my experience anyway). In simple terms, the defenders can take 4x as much damage but they also have 4x the attacks - you could say this is more like a 16x difference in power level. It's probably not quite that great an advantage, but it's more than the simple 4:1 that CR=ECL would have us accept.

For the sake of comparison, I used a spreadsheet to compare the effectiveness of 1 NPC fighter facing 4 fighters of the same stats, to work out what level difference would produce a 20% use of resources by the team.

A 20th level fighter came out as a suitable challenge for a 16th-17th level, and a 12th level fighter challenged a 9th level team.

Obviously, there are a couple of problems here - first, PC teams aren't all fighters - but the mix of characters is probably stronger than if they were all a single class.
So if we assume that characters of equal level are roughly equal regardless of class (they present different challenges, but the whole idea of D&D assumes they are balanced), this doesn't present a problem.
The comparison also assumed both sides were equipped equally - NPCs are much weaker than PCs due to their poorer equipment, skewing the numbers even more in the PCs favour.

This point of this long diatribe - to argue for some other comparison of ECL to CR at the sub-20 level. If CR = ECL x2/3 or x.8 or something like that (up to ECL 20, the progression continuing as listed in the original table), this might even make the conversion of dragons and the like easier.
A Great Wyrm White Dragon under earlier ECL proposals worked out as CR25+ if I remember correctly. i think the official figure of 20 may not be correct but is definitely closer the mark, and with a system like this it'll be easier to get that.
You have a bit more leeway for modifiers at the lower levels.

Something to think about, I hope.
 

Upper_Krust

Villager
Examples?

Hi Anubis mate! :)

I don't agree with a lot of your above ideas.

Also you are noticeably devoid of examples. I would be interested in seeing:

Pit Fiend
Planetar
Great Wyrm Red Dragon
Solar

...and the Hecatonchiere as well.
 
Last edited:

Upper_Krust

Villager
Hey reapersaurus! :)

reapersaurus said:
I think before anyone wades into this thread, you shiould have them read the LONG thread that came before this.
Link?
I think that may only serve to confuse them. The contents of that thread (and this) are more akin to brainstorming than an actual treatise on the matter.

Someone wanting to play 3rd Ed. will go look at the core rulebooks; not the brainstorming that led to the core rulebooks.

reapersaurus said:
Personally, I don't think what you and UK are proposing can even remotely be done - a universal, all-encompassing, detailed system for properly estimating threats and power levels.
While CRs are ever ambiguous I think (or rather I know) a system can be devised that will make assigning CRs easy; with a negligable margin for error - which is the crux of challenge ratings.

reapersaurus said:
There are too many variables, as proven by your guys' inability to nail it down accurately enough even after months of combined work.
I believe I have nailed it down and I can't speak for the others but I haven't been working on this for months.
 

Anubis

Villager
Re: Examples?

demiurgeastaroth said:

Personally, I prefer UK's approach, but to throw somthing else out to think about, I think both systems have a flaw in this section:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ECL --- CR
1-20 --- +1/Level

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I don't believe a single humanoid of any class is the same level of challenge as a monster whose CR is equal to that class level.

For example, I don't think a 7th level fighter (or any class) is as challenging a combat as a Hill giant (CR7), whether that fighter is equipped as a PC or NPC. I'm not picking out Giants as especially dangerous, just that character levels don't match up to monster CR's when compared one on one.

The monster's CR is balanced (theoretically) to present a challenge for a team of PCs of that level. A human PC of a given class level is not. It's just a character of a certain level. The DMG says NPCs should be given a CR equal to their level, but this is a fudge and not a satisfactory one for me.
I've placed many NPCs (including teams) up against my players, and they usually have a far easier time of it than when they face monsters of a given CR.

This shouldn't be surprising, since one character of (say) level 4 facing a team of characters of level 4 is obviously outmatched. You might think that since 1 character faces 4 of equal level, the encounter will use up 20-25% of resources. In practice, this is hardly ever the case (in my experience anyway). In simple terms, the defenders can take 4x as much damage but they also have 4x the attacks - you could say this is more like a 16x difference in power level. It's probably not quite that great an advantage, but it's more than the simple 4:1 that CR=ECL would have us accept.

For the sake of comparison, I used a spreadsheet to compare the effectiveness of 1 NPC fighter facing 4 fighters of the same stats, to work out what level difference would produce a 20% use of resources by the team.

A 20th level fighter came out as a suitable challenge for a 16th-17th level, and a 12th level fighter challenged a 9th level team.

Obviously, there are a couple of problems here - first, PC teams aren't all fighters - but the mix of characters is probably stronger than if they were all a single class.
So if we assume that characters of equal level are roughly equal regardless of class (they present different challenges, but the whole idea of D&D assumes they are balanced), this doesn't present a problem.
The comparison also assumed both sides were equipped equally - NPCs are much weaker than PCs due to their poorer equipment, skewing the numbers even more in the PCs favour.

This point of this long diatribe - to argue for some other comparison of ECL to CR at the sub-20 level. If CR = ECL x2/3 or x.8 or something like that (up to ECL 20, the progression continuing as listed in the original table), this might even make the conversion of dragons and the like easier.
A Great Wyrm White Dragon under earlier ECL proposals worked out as CR25+ if I remember correctly. i think the official figure of 20 may not be correct but is definitely closer the mark, and with a system like this it'll be easier to get that.
You have a bit more leeway for modifiers at the lower levels.

Something to think about, I hope.
You are forgetting about the DM factor. If a DM is at all competent, the CRs and ECLs work out just fine as equal. Basically, the normal system assumes that a creature of a specific CR is a 20% challenge for four characters of the same level. With a good DM, this is true.

What UK and I have done is basically taken it a step further and gone with the logical conclusion that if a creature of a specific CR is a 20% challenge for four characters of the same level, then CR and ECL MUST be the same.

xanatos said:

Shouldn't you link the base SR (10) to the CR?

Bye
Max
No. An SR of 10 is bascially worthless, as even a Level 1 Wizard can break through it 55% of the time. It is not worth consideration until SR 15. I think UK and I could probably agree on this one.

Upper_Krust said:

Hi Anubis mate! :)

I don't agree with a lot of your above ideas.
You don't? Funny, more than half of them are the same as your proposals! (The main things that are nearly identical are the ECLs for Levels, Templates, Hit Dice, and most SAs and SQs, and to a certain extent, Divinity as well.)

Upper_Krust said:

Also you are noticeably devoid of examples. I would be interested in seeing:

Pit Fiend
Planetar
Great Wyrm Red Dragon
Solar

...and the Hecatonchiere as well.
Those specific ones, except for the dragon, do indeed come out overestimated. Your system, however, doesn't do any better. I did the calculations, and your system overestimates those specific examples as much, if not more, than mine does!

For examples, my Pit Fiend works out to ECL +19 (which is very close to being correct) . . . Yours works out to ECL +23!

As such, I think both systems need minor tweaking, although I am currently a bit closer than you are. The above system works for roughly 80% of the monsters in the Monster Manual, everything except for Celestials, Devils, and Demons. Heck, even the dragons work out perfectly!

Anyway, my tweaking and testing is still coming along nicely. How are your tests going?
 

Upper_Krust

Villager
Re: Re: Examples?

Hi Anubis mate! :)

Anubis said:
Those specific ones, except for the dragon, do indeed come out overestimated.
Well if you know your system is overestimating then how can you advocate it!?

Anubis said:
Your system, however, doesn't do any better. I did the calculations, and your system overestimates those specific examples as much, if not more, than mine does!
How can you know that when I haven't posted my system yet?

Anubis said:
For examples, my Pit Fiend works out to ECL +19 (which is very close to being correct) . . . Yours works out to ECL +23!
I actually worked it out at CR20.

Anubis said:
As such, I think both systems need minor tweaking, although I am currently a bit closer than you are.
:D

Anubis said:
The above system works for roughly 80% of the monsters in the Monster Manual, everything except for Celestials, Devils, and Demons. Heck, even the dragons work out perfectly!
Anything less than 100% is broken.

Anubis said:
Anyway, my tweaking and testing is still coming along nicely. How are your tests going?
Almost finished. Its looking pretty much perfect.
 

Anubis

Villager
Re: Re: Re: Examples?

Upper_Krust said:

Well if you know your system is overestimating then how can you advocate it!?
I'm being realistic. There will ALWAYS be the need for ad hoc adjudicating, even in the best systems. As someone said earlier, the purpose here is not to find the perfect system that works 100% of the time. That would be impossible. The best we can do is come close to good approximations.

Upper_Krust said:

How can you know that when I haven't posted my system yet?
I've been listening and keeping notes on how you rate many things.

Upper_Krust said:

I actually worked it out at CR20.
You just proved my point that I am closer than you are. Pit Fiends are weaker than Balors, which in practive and testing are onyl about CR 17, so the Pit Fiend should be about CR 15 or CR 16. Mine comes out to CR 19, which although high, is still closer than your CR 20. :D

Upper_Krust said:

Anything less than 100% is broken.
Nah. 100% is impossible. That would take, pardon the pun, divine intervention. Because there is such a vast array of strange creatures out there, there is no system that works correctly for everything. Whatever system you or I come up with, I can create a creature that will break the system without a problem.

Upper_Krust said:

Almost finished. Its looking pretty much perfect.
With Pit Fiends at CR 20, you're far from perfect, at least by your reasoning that anything less than 100% is broken.
 
I don't know if this will be lost on you guys, but I'm beginning to see similarities between your electronic interactions and the egotistical trumping that went on between the likes of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. Granted, those men went on to excel in their chosen fields (by constantly pacing themselves against each other), but I would say it's harder to work together than it is to work by yourselves.

Go for the unified work guys. Give and take. Compromise. If you can both admit that creating a "perfectly" accurate Challenge Rating system is futile, due to the inherent "arbitrary" nature of a Challenge Rating system in the first place, then I am sure you can both adjust your calculations to reach some common ground.

Speaking as a dungeon master interested in the final product of your work, I'd rather see one arbitrary system that works "all of the time", than two arbitrary systems that work "most of the time". Know what I mean?
 
Last edited:

Upper_Krust

Villager
Re: Re: Re: Re: Examples?

Hi Anubis mate! :)

Anubis said:
I'm being realistic. There will ALWAYS be the need for ad hoc adjudicating, even in the best systems.
I would say there is scope for ad hoc adjudication but I don't think it will be necessary with this new system.

Anubis said:
As someone said earlier, the purpose here is not to find the perfect system that works 100% of the time.
That was probably me. ;)

Anubis said:
That would be impossible. The best we can do is come close to good approximations.
Exactly. But there are approximations and glaring mistakes.

Anubis said:
I've been listening and keeping notes on how you rate many things.
You checking up on me. ;)

Anubis said:
You just proved my point that I am closer than you are. Pit Fiends are weaker than Balors, which in practive and testing are onyl about CR 17, so the Pit Fiend should be about CR 15 or CR 16. Mine comes out to CR 19, which although high, is still closer than your CR 20. :D
If this new system says they are CR20 then they ARE CR20! :D

Incidently Balors come out at CR20 also.

Anubis said:
Nah. 100% is impossible. That would take, pardon the pun, divine intervention.
My specialty. ;)

Anubis said:
Because there is such a vast array of strange creatures out there, there is no system that works correctly for everything. Whatever system you or I come up with, I can create a creature that will break the system without a problem.
Only a creature that was purposely designed to break the system should ever naturally break it.

Anubis said:
With Pit Fiends at CR 20, you're far from perfect, at least by your reasoning that anything less than 100% is broken.
Perhaps our next test is going to be me taking a Pit Fiend and you taking a party of four 16th-level characters. :D
 
Re: Re: Examples?

Anubis said:


You are forgetting about the DM factor. If a DM is at all competent, the CRs and ECLs work out just fine as equal. Basically, the normal system assumes that a creature of a specific CR is a 20% challenge for four characters of the same level. With a good DM, this is true.

What UK and I have done is basically taken it a step further and gone with the logical conclusion that if a creature of a specific CR is a 20% challenge for four characters of the same level, then CR and ECL MUST be the same.
A non sequitor. It doesn't matter whether thje DM is "good" DM or a bad one, the numbers just don't add up.

CR is, as you say, the rating a monster is given IF it challenges a group to the extent that they can expect to use 20% of their resources to fight it.

Putting a single charecter (even a PC) up against a team of the same level is not this level of challenge - most commonly, the team will go through that character without breaking sweat. (The higher the level, more resources will be used so victory might not be instant - but greater resources are available).

It's true that a cunning DM can make such a character an interesting challenge, in the same way he can make a squad of kobolds and interesting challenge in the right circumstances - but then the DM has the deck stacked in his favour. But he probably has to try harder to achieve this than if he were to use, say, a Troll.

Put any of the Iconic 5th level characters up against a team of 5th level characters, then put that same team up against a Troll, an Ettin, a Phase Spider, a Large Elemental, a Djinn, a Greater Barghest, or a Basilisk. I expect the monsters will provide a noticeably more challenging encounter.

(I chose 5th level purely because I know the CR 5 monsters fairly well; any level/CR comparison would do.)
 

CRGreathouse

Community Supporter
Re: Re: Examples?

Anubis said:
What UK and I have done is basically taken it a step further and gone with the logical conclusion that if a creature of a specific CR is a 20% challenge for four characters of the same level, then CR and ECL MUST be the same.
Yeah, better PC equipment, stats, etc. are all irrelevant.
 

Anubis

Villager
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Examples?

Upper_Krust said:

If this new system says they are CR20 then they ARE CR20! :D
Not by any stretch of the imagination, unless you've given them new powers that aren't in the books.

Upper_Krust said:

Incidently Balors come out at CR20 also.
Even though they are more powerful than Pit Fiends?

Upper_Krust said:

Perhaps our next test is going to be me taking a Pit Fiend and you taking a party of four 16th-level characters. :D
Been there, done that, got the kill count. Or rather, my players have the kill count. I threw a Balor at a Level 16 party, and they rolled over it like nothing, all thanks to one full attack and Horrid Wilting! Trust me, a Level 16 party can TROUNCE a Balor.
 

Anubis

Villager
Re: Re: Re: Examples?

CRGreathouse said:

Yeah, better PC equipment, stats, etc. are all irrelevant.
As a matter of fact, that is absolutely correct. Those variable are indeed irrelevant. ECL and CR are a measure of a character's powers, and never takes into account equipment. Ad hoc adjudication may be called for with regards to some characters because of greater or lesser wealth, but taken all averages, equipment is no true factor.

Another big reason for this is BECAUSE CR and ECL take PC equipment into account already, and thus are non-factors.
 

Upper_Krust

Villager
Re: Examples?

Hi Anubis mate! :)

Anubis said:
Not by any stretch of the imagination, unless you've given them new powers that aren't in the books.
Nope.

Anubis said:
Even though they are more powerful than Pit Fiends?
The two are virtually identical. Any difference is certainly negligable.

Anubis said:
Been there, done that, got the kill count. Or rather, my players have the kill count. I threw a Balor at a Level 16 party, and they rolled over it like nothing, all thanks to one full attack and Horrid Wilting! Trust me, a Level 16 party can TROUNCE a Balor.
I would be sceptical that it was played to its full potential if they just rolled over it. In fact if it went down without at least one player character fatality I would be more than surprised.

Naturally it automatically started with Unholy Aura already active...?
 

Anubis

Villager
Re: Re: Examples?

Upper_Krust said:

I would be sceptical that it was played to its full potential if they just rolled over it. In fact if it went down without at least one player character fatality I would be more than surprised.
The players won initiative, which isn't too difficult. The sorcerer cast Mass Haste, the fighters ran up at full speed, the cleric did the same. The Balor tried Implosion, save was successful. One of the fighters hit with a 20, no crit though, disrupted the Implosion spell (which requires concentration). Sorcerer cast Horrid Wilting once, failed to penetrate SR. Cast it again with partial action, killed it. Both fighters and the cleric survives the Death Throes, and the sorcerer was out of range and no hit by it. All three made the simply DC 15 massive damage save without a problem.

Bam, Balor dead, rolled over with ease.

Upper_Krust said:

Naturally it automatically started with Unholy Aura already active...?
Uh, no. I am pretty certain encounters start flat out unless long buffs are on and it's a planned encounter. This was planned, but Unholy Aura is a round/level spell, not a long duration buff. Besides, why would that matter? Unholy Aura wouldn't have changed a thing. The SR would be moot because Balors already have more, and the fighter got a 20 to hit, and the fighters only hit once.

The Balor was a decent "challenge", taking 25% of the party's resources, but it didn't do hardly anything to the PCs.

A Level 20 party would crush a Balor like nothing.

As for it being "ready" with buffs, I am 100% certain that a planned encounter like THAT would warrant a 150% increase in XP as the DMG states outright. CR is determined by a flat fight starting with normal abilities, remember?
 

Upper_Krust

Villager
Re: Examples?

Hello mate! :)

Anubis said:
The players won initiative, which isn't too difficult.
True.

Anubis said:
The sorcerer cast Mass Haste, the fighters ran up at full speed, the cleric did the same.
Okay.

Anubis said:
The Balor tried Implosion, save was successful.
First Balor tactical error right there.

Anubis said:
One of the fighters hit with a 20, no crit though, disrupted the Implosion spell (which requires concentration).

Sorcerer cast Horrid Wilting once, failed to penetrate SR. Cast it again with partial action, killed it.

Both fighters and the cleric survives the Death Throes, and the sorcerer was out of range and no hit by it. All three made the simply DC 15 massive damage save without a problem.

Bam, Balor dead, rolled over with ease.
High-level encounters can often be short and sweet - 3rd Ed. initiative certainly facilitates this.

Anubis said:
Uh, no. I am pretty certain encounters start flat out unless long buffs are on and it's a planned encounter. This was planned, but Unholy Aura is a round/level spell, not a long duration buff.
Its an at will ability. Theres technically no reason why it should ever be 'off'.

Anubis said:
Besides, why would that matter? Unholy Aura wouldn't have changed a thing.
+4 to AC and +4 to saves.

Anubis said:
The SR would be moot because Balors already have more, and the fighter got a 20 to hit, and the fighters only hit once.
One non-critical hit and a single horrid wilting felled it, I am dubious.

Anubis said:
The Balor was a decent "challenge", taking 25% of the party's resources, but it didn't do hardly anything to the PCs.
How would a 20th-level character have fared differently under the same circumstances?

Anubis said:
A Level 20 party would crush a Balor like nothing.
Depends how you play the Balor. Obviously a 20th-level party should win, but I don't think its so clear cut with a 16th-level party.

Anubis said:
As for it being "ready" with buffs, I am 100% certain that a planned encounter like THAT would warrant a 150% increase in XP as the DMG states outright. CR is determined by a flat fight starting with normal abilities, remember?
I think you have to use a modicum of purpose for NPCs otherwise PCs are always going to 'roll over them'
 

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