D&D 5EXP for monsters is bonkers

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
ETA: Math is hard! I forgot the XP value of an encounter was to be multiplied by the number of PCs, so my whole thesis is wrong. Hooray!

I was looking over the encounter building and XP rules in order to figure out how to build equivalent XP rewards for completing an adventure (as opposed to awarding XP per encounter; sort of half-way to milestones). What a mess this is.

It takes 10 Hard encounters to accumulate enough XP to level up. And you have to multiply that by the number of PCs getting awarded XP. So that is 40 or 50 encounters per level. But, that assumes fighting singular enemies. As soon as you make those Hard encounters involve multiple enemies, you start reducing the XP reward for the encounter in half or quarters. Now you are looking at 75 or 100 Hard encounters to level up the 5 person party.

For example, it takes 7500 XP to go from 5th to 6th level. A Hard encounter for 5th level is 750 XP. That is a CR 3 monster plus a 1/4 CR minion. Except it is not, because a Hard encounter with 2 enemies has a real XP cap of 500 XP (which is a CR 2 and a CR 1/4). But looking at that encounter, is a single wererat and a swarm of rats really a Hard encounter for 5th level PCs? I don't think so. Or A Hobgoblin and 5 goblin lackeys?

Has anyone built encounters and awarded XP strictly by the book for an extended period of time? Does it work? In my experience, there are a lot more "deadly" encounters in 5E modules and it does nto take dozens or more encounters to level characters.

Last edited:

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I was looking over the encounter building and XP rules in order to figure out how to build equivalent XP rewards for completing an adventure (as opposed to awarding XP per encounter; sort of half-way to milestones). What a mess this is.

It takes 10 Hard encounters to accumulate enough XP to level up. And you have to multiply that by the number of PCs getting awarded XP. So that is 40 or 50 encounters per level. But, that assumes fighting singular enemies. As soon as you make those Hard encounters involve multiple enemies, you start reducing the XP reward for the encounter in half or quarters. Now you are looking at 75 or 100 Hard encounters to level up the 5 person party.

For example, it takes 7500 XP to go from 5th to 6th level. A Hard encounter for 5th level is 750 XP. That is a CR 3 monster plus a 1/4 CR minion. Except it is not, because a Hard encounter with 2 enemies has a real XP cap of 500 XP (which is a CR 2 and a CR 1/4). But looking at that encounter, is a single wererat and a swarm of rats really a Hard encounter for 5th level PCs? I don't think so. Or A Hobgoblin and 5 goblin lackeys?

Has anyone built encounters and awarded XP strictly by the book for an extended period of time? Does it work? In my experience, there are a lot more "deadly" encounters in 5E modules and it does nto take dozens or more encounters to level characters.
You're not quite right. A single hard encounter for 5 PCs is not 750 xp, it's 3750 xp. That chart says 750 is for each individual of level 5, not the total encounter.

The adjusted XP for numbers still grants more xp, it just doesn't change the base XP value of an individual monster.

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
You're not quite right. A single hard encounter for 5 PCs is not 750 xp, it's 3750 xp. That chart says 750 is for each individual of level 5, not the total encounter.

The adjusted XP for numbers still grants more xp, it just doesn't change the base XP value of an individual monster.
Gotcha. So the rule of thumb appears to be 10 Hard encounters in order to level up. And a Hard encounter for 5th level PCs would be a druid riding a giant elk with a couple awakened trees. Which sounds more reasonable (and fun!).

aco175

Legend
I would have a revolt if the players had to make it through 40-50 hard encounters in order to level up. The game might fall apart first since it would be over 6 months of play.

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Gotcha. So the rule of thumb appears to be 10 Hard encounters in order to level up. And a Hard encounter for 5th level PCs would be a druid riding a giant elk with a couple awakened trees. Which sounds more reasonable (and fun!).
I don't think it's exactly 10 hard encounters. For instance, going from level 17 to 18 is 40k xp. 10 hard encounters for level 17 PCs is 59k, which is significantly higher. Going from 11 to 12 is 15k, but 10 hard level 11 encounters is 24k.

It looks like the formula jumps ship as you get higher in level.

the Jester

Legend
I don't think it's exactly 10 hard encounters. For instance, going from level 17 to 18 is 40k xp. 10 hard encounters for level 17 PCs is 59k, which is significantly higher. Going from 11 to 12 is 15k, but 10 hard level 11 encounters is 24k.

It looks like the formula jumps ship as you get higher in level.
Yeah, it varies a lot. You may even notice that there's a level where you need fewer xp to advance than you did the level before; I've not analyzed that vis-a-vis encounter budgets and all that, but it's certainly eye opening in its own right.

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Man I level my parties after like 3-5 encounters. Those are almost always deadly encounters, but still.

Maybe I’m letting them level too often lol

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
I don't think it's exactly 10 hard encounters. For instance, going from level 17 to 18 is 40k xp. 10 hard encounters for level 17 PCs is 59k, which is significantly higher. Going from 11 to 12 is 15k, but 10 hard level 11 encounters is 24k.

It looks like the formula jumps ship as you get higher in level.

Yeah, it varies a lot. You may even notice that there's a level where you need fewer xp to advance than you did the level before; I've not analyzed that vis-a-vis encounter budgets and all that, but it's certainly eye opening in its own right.

But why??? There must be a reason. it was more work to change the progression.
While googling about for the XP charts I saw something called "the XP valley" but the video looked very click-baity so I did not look into further.

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
I still think the XP adjustments based on number of foes is broken and doesn't necessarily reflect how action economy works. If anything, I would halve XP for solos, rather than making multiple opponents count for more. Or maybe "more than twice the number of PCs raises the encounter one difficulty level" or something.

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
But why??? There must be a reason. it was more work to change the progression.
While googling about for the XP charts I saw something called "the XP valley" but the video looked very click-baity so I did not look into further.
Yeah, I have no idea why they balanced things around the adventuring day or with the numbers that they decided to go with.

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