D&D 5E The Adventuring Day has nothing to do with encounter balance.

FallenRX

Adventurer
I remember a while back i made a post about how the adventuring day is based on hit dice, as resources and nothing else, and after thinking about it more and looking into a few matters on this.

Jeremy Crawford asserts that the adventuring day is a maximum but not a minimum here.

So why is the problem people have with the adventuring day? Some fights feel a bit easy than they should, most people think its because the game is balanced around the party being withered down due to the 6-8 adventuring day.

Well that has nothing to do with that, the actual issue is the encounter building rules for fifth edition are broken.

I've come to realize the adventuring day has nothing to do with our issues with encounter balance but encounter building rules themselves.

You see the adventuring day basically is just a gauge of how many fights they can take before they run out of hit dice, thats it, ive talked about this in length in my post here. Where I go into some things about how it is just a measure of how many fights you can take before your you run out of hit dice. And how class balance and resources have less to do with it.

In fact, i will argue monsters are designed with the idea that the players have all of their strongest resources, this is backed up the lead designer of 5e saying this himself

But after experiencing with a different set of encounter building rules, and some points, i've come to realize something.

The actual issue we are having is coming from the fact the encounter building rules in the DMG are nonsense, and simply do not account for the fact that when the party outnumbers a solo monster, the action economy different breaks it.

I when into this more here in this post. but ill give it a bit of an excerpt.

Now this is all fine and sound, and it actually works really well, but there is one fundamental issue with encounter building, one that broke it.
In the DMG, there is guidance on how to deal with multiple monsters, it starts at a 1x modifier and goes up for the multitudes of monsters you add starting at one monster. This seems sound, but it has one fundamental error, that actually breaks the encounter building of the game.
It does not account for action economy, the game tells you to adjust the XP modifier of the monster for each additional monster added to the encounter, but...doesnt account for your party size, and how to adjust it the monster's XP if its outnumbered.
Action economy is king in 5e, because of bounded accuracy, higher level monsters cannot just stat stick their way to tanking everything, they can reasonably be affected/hit by a bigger party, the actual math of the multipliers in the DMG are actually straight up broken and nonsense. A monster is worth less XP in the budget, because since they are outnumbered and out-actioned, they will due to this, likely take significantly more damage before they can act, meaning they less likely chance of doing their average damage expectation in the encounter before dying. This means when outnumbered monsters XP Budget is lowered in the multiplier, The multiplers in the DMG do not go into this or account for this at all. And instead gives you a completely broken methodology that actually does not work, its all complete nonsense, it was a rush job. Action Economy matters for the monsters too, because even if they can do the damage in stats, if they are outnumbered the odds of them having enough turns to do so is lessened. (This does not apply to legendary monsters since legendary actions actually lets them match the action economy.)
This fundamentally breaks 5e's encounter building, this poor multiplier guidelines in the DMG leads to encounters being easier, because its giving actively bad guidance on how to account for monster action economy, Even accounting for an average party of 4, Monsters drop a whole tier of difficulty if accounted for, Medium becomes Easy, Hard becomes Medium.
This is a Critical error in guidance in the DMG's part. And Its why 5e's encounter balancing is broken
Also note that The games current damage expectations from each encounter also lend itself to being easier, because they turned their old Easy difficulty from the playtest too the current medium.
And after adjusting the encounter difficulty appropriately, most of the issues i had, kinda went away.

The core issue is, the encounter building rules of 5e are actually busted, they do not account for the action economy different of normal monsters vs the party well at all.

They do for monsters but not quite for players.

This causes whole encounters to basically be a tier of difficulty easier if the party outnumbers a monster by like 3, two tiers of difficulty if outnumbered by 5. Because the action economy kinda makes those fights hyper easier.

Luckily a quick fix for this above sorts out the issue for the monster part, just dont use it for legendary monsters as their action economy can keep up for the most part.(The fix is consider the difficulty of the encounter one tier less if the party outnumbers the monster by 3, if they outnumber it by 5 reduce the difficulty tier by two.)

This adjusts most of the issues but there is still one more critical issue, which is how some fights can just get kinda blown up on bad saves.

Which the issue comes down to, a flaw in monster design...where most monsters do not have saving throws proficiencies.

See according to the rules of the monster design, monsters can have 2 saving throw proficiencies and the CR is unaffected, despite this...no monster has saving throw proficiencies, this is a minor but big important effect on the game, which is big spells like hypnotic pattern that can shut down encounters are way more powerful because most monsters are likely to fail the saving throws since they have no proficiencies, this makes encounters extremely easy to circumvent unless its a legendary monster or one that have resistances, or actually has saves.

This is luckily an easy error to fix as you can just give them proficiency is their best strong save(Dex, Con, Wis) and their best weak save(Str, Int, Cha). you can do this on the fly easily since PB's are on statblocks now, making the game much easier.

The point of what im saying is,

TLDR: The Adventuring day is just a gauge of how many encounters can they take before they run out of hit dice, it has nothing to do with encounter balance or game balance, the actual issues we have with 5e are being caused by bad encounter building rules, and an odd monster design choice making monsters much easier to circumvent if they arent legendary or dont have resistances.

This is also backed up by JC himself saying that the adventuring day doesnt have much to do with balance, and i think it explains the disconnect between us and him. He knows the adventuring day has nothing to do with encounter balance, its just a gauge of how long you can go before you run out of Hit Dice, like it was in 4e.

We think it is the reason our encounters are much easier, and the issue with the game, this is not the case.
This is why they mentioned nothing about adjusting the adventuring day for One DnD, because it has nothing to do with the encounter building issues, but you know what they did announce?
Fixing their monster design, and updating their encounter-building rules. The actual problem.

What are your thoughts on this?
 

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DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
My thoughts are that we are about 18 months away from a new DMG with new rules being built. So the current system that we've been working around for 8 years can survive being worked around for another year and a half. We've made due this long with whatever our own corrections and system changes have been... so just keep on keeping on until the new books get released.
 

Im still firmly of the opinion that 5e is just 4e and most of the issues people have with it stem from things that got removed to cover up that its still just 4e under the hood.

That being said, Ive found that all the encounter rules in the DMG provide for is guaging how a particular encounter stacks up to what the book expects to be the standard leveling rate for a party.

It you want to build an encounter that best integrates your PCs capabilities with your chosen Monsters inna way that produces the desired challenge, then you should playtest them solo.

This is especially useful in high level play, and isn't limited to just being useful for 5e. I design encounters the same way for DCC and I can honestly say while it won't be the sole recommendation in my own game, I do plan on emphasizing just how worthwhile it is as a practice.

You not only become intimately familiar with what your PCs can do but also aren't left having to fully improvise on the spot; you can anticipate swings in the encounter and can design accordingly, and with repetition you can plan for a number of different scenarios, which will make it easier when the PCs inevitably do the unexpected at the table.
 

payn

I don't believe in the no-win scenario
I do wish we could get out of this weird half legacy half modern deign space. Make the adventuring day matter or make it all about encounters. Even PF2 suffers from this. Id prefer the adventuring day attrition of old, but would be fine with encounter based too. Just pick a lane already.

Also, what is wrong with paragraphs?
 

jgsugden

Legend
This has been litigated a lot, but I stick with my statements:

1.) There are too many variables for us to ever get a system that prececisely balanceds combat.

2.) The design space in the DMG encourages more encounters of lower difficulty and very, very, very few DMs use these. They think that medium and easier encounters can't be interesting because the PC heroes do not feel threatened. I argue in the alternative that it is these battles that make the heroes feel powerful by showing their lives, much like a super hero, were never really in danger ... but I also argue that they can be a challenge as there are thousands of ways to challenge PCs that do not require you threaten their lives. Stopping kobolds from escaping with something, rescuing someone before they are slain, preventing a ritual from being completed, etc... all can give the PCs scenarios they can fail - without ever being threatened.

To that end, I build and balance my combats as follows:

1.) Does it contribute to the story in a good way?
2.) Can the PCs reasonably be expected to survive it with decent tactics and use of some of their finite resources?

Tghose two questions do not take much to answer, and do not require XP calculations or any of that other garbage.
 

pogre

Legend
I find CRs a somewhat useful tool for designing encounters, but otherwise, I completely ignore the encounter design guidelines. We are a very heavy combat group, but six encounters a day is unusual even for us. If we do have 6 to 8 encounters it is because the party is in the dungeon.

I'll be interested to see what they come up with in the new books. However, I'm an old dog, I probably will keep using my intuition on what makes an interesting and challenging fight.
 

FallenRX

Adventurer
I do wish we could get out of this weird half legacy half modern deign space. Make the adventuring day matter or make it all about encounters. Even PF2 suffers from this. Id prefer the adventuring day attrition of old, but would be fine with encounter based too. Just pick a lane already.

Also, what is wrong with paragraphs?
The adventuring day isnt something of old, is a concept from 4e.
Because characters have a limited pool of healing from healing surges, and a lot more daily abilities.

5e's concept is just this basically. In old editions your adventuring day 100% depended on healing items and healing spells. thats it. So it was a variable.
 

payn

I don't believe in the no-win scenario
The adventuring day isnt something of old, is a concept from 4e.
Because characters have a limited pool of healing from healing surges, and a lot more daily abilities.

5e's concept is just this basically. In old editions your adventuring day 100% depended on healing items and healing spells. thats it. So it was a variable.
It's much older than 4E, the conditions the game is designed around have changed edition to edition. In 3E many abilities had X use per day. It wasn't just healing that determined the keep going ability for adventure parties. Though, yes 4E put a harder limiter on it. Id argue one of the biggest flaws of 3E was just how much you can hack out of its adventure day design. I'm not sure what is up with 5E at the moment but you seem to have a good idea about it.

What I'm talking about is encounter powers that refresh every combat or during short rests. I find this one foot in and one foot out to be more hassle than its worth. Day or encounter but pick one and go with it.
 

MGibster

Legend
.) There are too many variables for us to ever get a system that prececisely balanceds combat.
I don't expect perfection, but the challenge rating system was the opposite of helpful. Ideally, it should give me a broad guideline for threat levels but I found that it fails to do so miserably.

2.) The design space in the DMG encourages more encounters of lower difficulty and very, very, very few DMs use these. They think that medium and easier encounters can't be interesting because the PC heroes do not feel threatened.
I do like combat in D&D, but it's not exactly a speedy system, and when you have multiple lower difficulty encounters that don't really matter they become tedious slogs. Don't get me wrong, it can be fun to flex your adventuring muscles and whip those orcs into shape, but when you're doing it for the third time that day.....eh?
 

Oofta

Legend
I remember a while back i made a post about how the adventuring day is based on hit dice, as resources and nothing else, and after thinking about it more and looking into a few matters on this.

Jeremy Crawford asserts that the adventuring day is a maximum but not a minimum here.

So why is the problem people have with the adventuring day? Some fights feel a bit easy than they should, most people think its because the game is balanced around the party being withered down due to the 6-8 adventuring day.

Well that has nothing to do with that, the actual issue is the encounter building rules for fifth edition are broken.

I've come to realize the adventuring day has nothing to do with our issues with encounter balance but encounter building rules themselves.

You see the adventuring day basically is just a gauge of how many fights they can take before they run out of hit dice, thats it, ive talked about this in length in my post here. Where I go into some things about how it is just a measure of how many fights you can take before your you run out of hit dice. And how class balance and resources have less to do with it.

Hit points and hit die are rarely the issue. It's other resources, primarily spell slots. In most games I've ever been involved with the party is fully healed when an encounter starts. The cleric may have used precious spell slots to accomplish this, or they may have chugged all their healing potions. In some cases they may have spent hit die during short rests, but after a few levels it isn't normally an issue.

In fact, i will argue monsters are designed with the idea that the players have all of their strongest resources, this is backed up the lead designer of 5e saying this himself

But after experiencing with a different set of encounter building rules, and some points, i've come to realize something.

The actual issue we are having is coming from the fact the encounter building rules in the DMG are nonsense, and simply do not account for the fact that when the party outnumbers a solo monster, the action economy different breaks it.

No version of D&D has handled solo monsters well. Lair and legendary actions help, but the default assumption is a 4 person party. Have more than 4 people and I agree that the number of "extras" legendary creatures get falls behind. I add extra legendary actions, I consider adding a second set of lair actions for groups of 6 or more.

I when into this more here in this post. but ill give it a bit of an excerpt.


And after adjusting the encounter difficulty appropriately, most of the issues i had, kinda went away.

The core issue is, the encounter building rules of 5e are actually busted, they do not account for the action economy different of normal monsters vs the party well at all.

No version of D&D has handled solo monsters well. Lair and legendary actions help, but the default assumption is a 4 person party. Have more than 4 people and I agree that the number of "extras" legendary creatures get falls behind. I add extra legendary actions, I consider adding a second set of lair actions for groups of 6 or more.

There's no limit to the number of monsters you can throw at a party. Sometimes the PCs outnumber the enemy, sometimes that's reversed. Therefore the action economy is also reversed.

They do for monsters but not quite for players.

This causes whole encounters to basically be a tier of difficulty easier if the party outnumbers a monster by like 3, two tiers of difficulty if outnumbered by 5. Because the action economy kinda makes those fights hyper easier.

Luckily a quick fix for this above sorts out the issue for the monster part, just dont use it for legendary monsters as their action economy can keep up for the most part.(The fix is consider the difficulty of the encounter one tier less if the party outnumbers the monster by 3, if they outnumber it by 5 reduce the difficulty tier by two.)

This adjusts most of the issues but there is still one more critical issue, which is how some fights can just get kinda blown up on bad saves.

I don't use the default calculations, primarily I ignore the numbers multiplier. But when calculating difficulty you always have to adjust for your group because it will always vary from one group to the next.

Which the issue comes down to, a flaw in monster design...where most monsters do not have saving throws proficiencies.

See according to the rules of the monster design, monsters can have 2 saving throw proficiencies and the CR is unaffected, despite this...no monster has saving throw proficiencies, this is a minor but big important effect on the game, which is big spells like hypnotic pattern that can shut down encounters are way more powerful because most monsters are likely to fail the saving throws since they have no proficiencies, this makes encounters extremely easy to circumvent unless its a legendary monster or one that have resistances, or actually has saves.

This is luckily an easy error to fix as you can just give them proficiency is their best strong save(Dex, Con, Wis) and their best weak save(Str, Int, Cha). you can do this on the fly easily since PB's are on statblocks now, making the game much easier.

The point of what im saying is,

TLDR: The Adventuring day is just a gauge of how many encounters can they take before they run out of hit dice, it has nothing to do with encounter balance or game balance, the actual issues we have with 5e are being caused by bad encounter building rules, and an odd monster design choice making monsters much easier to circumvent if they arent legendary or dont have resistances.

This is also backed up by JC himself saying that the adventuring day doesnt have much to do with balance, and i think it explains the disconnect between us and him. He knows the adventuring day has nothing to do with encounter balance, its just a gauge of how long you can go before you run out of Hit Dice, like it was in 4e.

We think it is the reason our encounters are much easier, and the issue with the game, this is not the case.
This is why they mentioned nothing about adjusting the adventuring day for One DnD, because it has nothing to do with the encounter building issues, but you know what they did announce?
Fixing their monster design, and updating their encounter-building rules. The actual problem.

What are your thoughts on this?


As I said above, solos simply don't work and never really have in any edition unless you have a small group of PCs. Hit dice have little or nothing to do with attrition after the first few levels, it's all about other resources.

There's this myth that you can't challenge PCs after a certain level that I've never understood. Yes, encounter balance is as much an art as a science but I don't know any way around that. Party build, synergy and simple tactical acumen of the players makes too much of a difference. But I've run groups to level 20. My current group is 19th and in the last fight it came close to a TPK when the big bad was the last enemy standing and was down to 3 HP. Then the dice went south for the PCs and it was a close call.

I try to get 4-10 fights between long rests and it seems to work fairly well, although at high levels it tends to be at the low end because combats get complex. It give the non-casters a chance to shine because the wizard can't nova every combat, or at least not as often. There's a lot you can do to counter that, but I'm not 100% sure what you're trying to get at.
 

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