5E Some numbers on Greenest (HotDQ spoilers)


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I was seized by a fit of low-level number crunching, and decided to see how experience played out for the first episode of Hoard of the Dragon Queen. Here's what I have. A generally successful party of 4 is assumed.

Seek the Keep
There are a number of different ways to approach this. The 8 kobolds fighting the family generally have to be engaged somehow, so these provide a constant 200 XP. If the party entirely avoids the three checkpoints, and picks up the minimum of frightened villagers, they arrive at the keep with 8 NPCs, worth 400 XP total. That means 600 total XP, or 150 per PC. If we use the average for the d6 of randomly encounter villagers, we end up with 15 total NPCs (5 initially rescued, and then 10 stragglers), for 950 XP, 237 per PC.

The party can choose to engage all three check-points, for 600-1025 XP. Tack on one of the highest XP encounter (ambush drake and 3 kobolds attacking 6 villagers), and the total comes to 1750 XP, for 437 per PC. Of course, technically the XP for this mission is unlimited, since the party can remain outside fighting random encounters until day break. But generally, 437 XP per PC is the upper limit. This gives an average of 293 XP per PC.

The Old Tunnel
The 2 rat swarms have to be cleared to make the tunnel usable, that's a virtually guaranteed 100 XP, even if the party stealthily hides and lets the patrol go by unchallenged. 100 XP, 25 per PC, is our floor. They can engage the patrol for 300 XP (150 per PC). Or, they can let one of the patrol go and also fight the reinforcements for maximum XP: 675 XP (168 per PC). The average for the encounter is 96 XP per PC.

The Sally Port
This is pretty straight forward. The party can defeat the first sorty for 250 XP, and barricade the door so they don't have to fight the second. If they fight the second sorty, the mission comes 450 XP, or 112 per PC. The average is 87 XP per PC.

The Dragon Attack
This is also straightforward. Either run off the dragon before 10 NPCs are killed (50 XP per PC) or after 10 NPCs are killed (25 XP per PC). The average is 37 XP per PC, but really this is either/or.

This is a straight 25 XP per PC if successful. However, it may also involve fighting a random encounter, the highest XP of which is 175 (3 kobolds and ambush drake). 175 split four ways is 43 XP, plus 25 each for the prisoner comes to a total of 68 XP per PC. Average is 46 XP per PC.

Save the Mill
Also straightforward. Minimum combat (2 kobolds, and then the ambushers) comes to 250 XP, or 62 per PC. The maximum is possible if the initial group luring the PCs is made up of an ambush drake and 3 kobolds. Kill a kobold and the drake, kill the ambushers, AND figure out it's a trap in time, and you get 525 XP total, or 131 per PC. The average is 96 XP per PC.

The absolute minimum for this 50 XP per PC for bringing back villagers with out engaging any of the forces. Group A is also worth 400 in XP. Group B is worth 525. Group C is worth 200. Going on a rampage and saving the villagers by taking out all three groups is worth 1925 XP, or 481 per PC. The average is 265 XP per PC.

Half-dragon Champion
Another either/or. Either 0 XP for not doing anything, or 50 XP each for someone fighting Cyanwrath. I suppose the real highest is 1,100 XP (275 XP per PC) if you manage to kill the half-dragon.

At any rate, for the whole episode, the minimum XP a PC can skate by on by going on all the missions but only getting the minimum is 399 XP. The maximum is 1,497 XP per PC. The mean is 948 XP per PC.

But, to add some context to those numbers. Practically, it's unlikely a group could go on all the missions. If you figure each mission takes an hour, and then an hour is spent in a short rest before going to the next one, and the attack goes from 9 pm to 4 am, basically you have the time for 4 missions: Seek the Keep and Half-dragon Champion as book ends, and then two others in between. It looks to me like the idea is for Episode 1 to fit into one 4-hour session or two 2-hour sessions (roughly an hour per mission in real time), after which the characters should have more than enough XP to level up at the end of the Episode. A group might end up with enough fighting and NPCs on the Seek the Keep mission to level up on that mission alone (our Encounters group actually did that), but in doing so they're probably going to expend a lot of resources that'll keep them from raking in XP on other missions.

I must admit, looking at it this way, I'm pretty impressed with the design. It gets the characters to Level 2 by the end, but with a lot of different possible paths to that end.



I must admit, looking at it this way, I'm pretty impressed with the design. It gets the characters to Level 2 by the end, but with a lot of different possible paths to that end.
Did you find that the XP multipliers for large groups made sense?

In our game, we actually made 3rd level and the DM went back and said, time out, this is way too much XP, adjusted it, and we only made 2nd level.


Does the book propose to keep track of XP or to level up at a certain milestone like in the Starter Set?


I dropped Greenest into my Birthright campaign in the realm of Coeranys, and my two player characters are nearly at the end of the first section; They did a couple of encounters on the way to the keep, the tunnel, mill, sally port and temple missions successfully, passed on one to rest, bravely ran away from the dragon (but only after attempting diplomacy it first) and they just hit 3rd level at the end of the first session, with about 6 hours of play. They have come very close to death several times, mostly due to the dwarf fighter's personality trait of tackling things head on with his greataxe, but they've gotten lucky and played smart enough. The ranger is doing well, alternating between being deadly with the bow and marksmanship feat, and closing in to cut kobolds down with her two short swords. I cut back on the number of monsters in most of these encounters when they were 1st level, but when they hit 2nd I let them have it, and they did ok anyway. :) They're having fun, and I'm sort of amazed they are doing so well. I expect advancement to slow down considerably.

Next session they will face the half dragon, and I plan to make him a draconian; my thinking is that the Chimaera is actually Tiamat...not a god, but a powerful awnshegh (a human corrupted 500 years ago by the power of the dying god of evil Azrai) . I refer to her as the Chimera though. The Cult of the Dragon replaces the Chimaear's council of leaders and is trying to wake her from a deep sleep, and is summoning her spawn from the Shadow Realm: chromatic dragons and draconians to conquer all of Anuire and beyond. Big fun stuff, sort of bringing Dragonlance themes into Cerilia. The PCs aren't regents yet, but might be revealed to be blooded scions later. Hope to have two new players in a couple weeks to round out the group.


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XP multipliers don't actually change the XP received. It just acts as a guide for the DM when gauging how tough the encounter is.

Both. XP is offered for everything, but then it recommends the PCs level up at the end of each episode.
It doesn't really recommend it. You can track XP as usual, or you can use "milestone advancement". If you use the latter, it suggests leveling up at the end of an episode. If you just track XP normally, it'll say things like, "The PCs might reach level 3 here, but it is not essential that they do so." Except for the first episode, where it's almost guaranteed that they'll reach level 2, as these numbers show.