D&D 5E XP Per Adventuring Day Per Player is Ridiculous

MarkB

Legend
That just makes it more ridiculously anticlimactic when they do face it. "Seriously, that thing defeated armies? It only had 500 HP!" I've played in that game before and it was not fun.

Only if it's a solo critter. Maybe it defeated armies before by having armies of its own, and those are the forces it's spending years rebuilding.

It also doesn't have to be a straight-up battle. Look at the classic example, Lord of the Rings - nobody, even the most powerful champions, actually fights Sauron. They defeat him indirectly, largely by denying him the opportunity to fully recover his power.
 

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Only if it's a solo critter. Maybe it defeated armies before by having armies of its own, and those are the forces it's spending years rebuilding.

Any creature which is beatable by four PCs in personal combat was never a threat to armies in the first place. This is true of solos but also of a leader with a bunch of mooks.

Your point about indirect means is well-taken, and I'll argue that you MUST set up the threat such that it can be confronted indirectly, because a genuine army-killer will murder the PCs. E.g. Orcus in OOTA is an army-killer by virtue of his ability to create infinite liches. You could set up a scenario where the PCs are meant to decoy his army away and then hit him behind the lines just when he thinks he is safe, but if he manages to escape, he'll be back with five hundred liches tomorrow and the PCs will be doomed. That would qualify in my mind as an indirect approach because you're avoiding Orcus's main strength, but is also an order of magnitude harder than a WotC-written scenario because you have to both force him to engage and then kill him quickly, on his home ground, before he can Time Stop and escape. Frankly, I'd expect most PCs to lose, especially ones raised in the post-TSR era on a "balanced encounter" mentality. In all probability Orcus will take over the world; in any case he doesn't work as a brooding evil because his strength grows continually.

Edit: I guess he might work as a brooding evil if he lost his wand and all but five hundred liches, and pulled back to a defensive posture while he is searching for it again. His forces are too strong to attack, so the threat cannot be ended, but he also does not want to operate aggressively at present because he COULD lose them. He's going to wait until 100% chance of victory with his wand rather than risking everything on a 90% chance of victory right now. Yeah, that could work.
 
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Just have a 500' radius aura that deals 10 damage per round. Don't need many hp or AC then :)

You still need a lot of HP or high mobolity/stealth or you'll die to siege engines from outside that radius. Or longbowmen actually, though I assume you intended 600' instead of 500', which would exclude longbows.
 

aramis erak

Legend
It is adjusted XP. I'll quote the relevant DMG passage in case you're away from your books:



The passage is poorly written and I can see how you might have looked at the "expected to earn in a day" sentence and interpreted it as an earned XP table. But it is an adjusted XP table.

BTW, I tried at one point awarding earned XP = adjusted XP, but it was way too much XP and it also didn't mesh with the "life force vampire" fluff I had given my players, so I dropped it after the first big fight.

They could have made the whole thing much clearer by calling the "adjusted XP value" something else; "Difficulty value" would be my choice. Especially since you don't actually award the adjusted XP value.
 

Uller

Adventurer
No. I don't think it's ridiculous. It's a guideline that DMs can us to determine what the difficulty is for whatever encounters the party will face without a long rest. It is based on the base assumptions of the game and doesn't have anything to do with actual xp awards or leveling pace.

Your game likely varies from the base assumptions of the game (for instance 8 or 9 PCs in a game that assumes 3 to 5). So you have to adjust the guidelines and your expectations for the usefulness of those guidelines accordingly.
 

procproc

First Post
Based on the XP per day, characters should advance to 15th level in 33 adventuring days. This is beyond ludicrous.

Does anyone else think this pace is utterly ridiculous?

As a general rule for D&D, yes. However, it sounds like a great premise for a campaign.

"DM: The name of this campaign is 'The Worst Month of Your Life.'

Player: Cool, what's it about?"
 

Tyrson

First Post
It is worth mentioning that some of your math in the initial post is entirely wrong.

First, to find the adjusted XP value of the monsters, you multiply their total XP (sum of their individual values) by an amount shown on DMG p.82 (x4 for more than 14 monsters).
Second, if you have a large group (8-9 players qualifies) you use the multiplier from the next step down (x3 for 11-14 monsters).
So your 4 Ettercaps (CR 2, 450 XP ea) and 12 Giant Spiders (CR 1, 200 XP ea) encounter does not come out to 4200 XP, it comes out to 12,600...
It's a 12,600 XP encounter for balance & challenge purposes (well over "Deadly", which would be about 9-10,000) that actually rewards each player only about 500 XP (based on the monsters' actual XP totals).
The amount each player should get per day is based on the effective XP, not the monster's actual XP, so your 12,600 encounter divided by the 8 players means they're each getting 1575 of their daily recommended 3500... probably not worth it from their perspective, since it's only providing 1/15th of what they need to reach the next level (525 XP, but they need 7,500 more to reach level 6).

4 ettercaps & 12 giant spiders- 12,600 effective XP

2 wereboars & 6 giant boars- 9800 effective XP

3 wyverns - 10350 effective XP

Coven of 3 green hags- 8100 effective XP

12 harpies & 1 harpy queen (custom CR 6)- 11750* effective XP
(probably less, since the CR 1's are largely irrelevant next to a CR 6)

Hope that helps.
 

Emerikol

Adventurer
I haven't read the whole thread so I am responding directly to the OP's original question.

I'm old school so my target would probably be 1 adventure or 1 level (in a multi-level large dungeon) for a first level character to advance. Then 2 for a 2nd level character to advance and so forth all the way to 10 for a 10th level character to advance. At that point I'd probably just cap it at 10.

Now that is a rough overview and perhaps 10 is not the ideal cap but it's high. So I fall on the slow side of advancement.

I also find my group is usually much better than the DMG thinks they'll be in most editions of D&D. I admit I tend to have tactically smart groups who know how to get the advantage. I haven't played 5e but from what I've heard I doubt it would be different.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
I thought my complaint seemed familiar... and now my Enworld search-fu has been totally owned by [MENTION=6936039]Tyrson[/MENTION], on a first post no less!

I am humbled!
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I am sitting here putting together potential encounters for one of my campaigns. I assembled a list of 5 DEADLY encounters that still fall short of the suggested XP for a day.

This campaign has 8, sometimes 9 players of 5th level. I did all my calculations based on a party of 8. Here is what I was playing around with for ideas ( forest encounters):

4 ettercaps & 12 giant spiders- 4200XP

2 wereboars & 6 giant boars- 4900XP

3 wyverns- 6900XP

Coven of 3 green hags- 5400XP

12 harpies & 1 harpy queen (custom CR6)- 4700XP

All that earns each character 3262.5 XP each. The "standard" is 3500 XP per day.

Based on the XP per day, characters should advance to 15th level in 33 adventuring days. This is beyond ludicrous.

Does anyone else think this pace is utterly ridiculous?

Honestly, I'd say those encounters would be easier for a party of 8 than halving the party size and having the players fight half the number of enemies. Magic tends to be much more effective when you are facing a large group of enemies and you are likely to have multiple spell casters on your side.

Just for example. In the first fight. 1 fireball handles a good number of the spiders (maybe 4) and greatly injures a good number more (maybe 4 more). Any martial characters attacking an injured spider likely kill it. This leaves 3 mages left. They will do some cantrip damage and healing if needed on the party.

Round 2. (2 ettercaps and 4 giant spiders remaining)
3 giant spiders die through basic attacks and cantrips

Round 3. (2 ettercaps and 1 giant spider)

Round 4. (2 ettercaps 1 injured)

Round 5 (1 ettercap injured)

Round 6 Victory

It's actually very possible 1 extra ability or 2 could end the fight a turn or 2 early. Divine Smite or Action Surge or a few magic missles etc.


The party still has most it's hp left (after healing) and a large number of level 3 spell slots still remaining.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
It is worth mentioning that some of your math in the initial post is entirely wrong.

First, to find the adjusted XP value of the monsters, you multiply their total XP (sum of their individual values) by an amount shown on DMG p.82 (x4 for more than 14 monsters).
Second, if you have a large group (8-9 players qualifies) you use the multiplier from the next step down (x3 for 11-14 monsters).
So your 4 Ettercaps (CR 2, 450 XP ea) and 12 Giant Spiders (CR 1, 200 XP ea) encounter does not come out to 4200 XP, it comes out to 12,600...
It's a 12,600 XP encounter for balance & challenge purposes (well over "Deadly", which would be about 9-10,000) that actually rewards each player only about 500 XP (based on the monsters' actual XP totals).
The amount each player should get per day is based on the effective XP, not the monster's actual XP, so your 12,600 encounter divided by the 8 players means they're each getting 1575 of their daily recommended 3500... probably not worth it from their perspective, since it's only providing 1/15th of what they need to reach the next level (525 XP, but they need 7,500 more to reach level 6).

4 ettercaps & 12 giant spiders- 12,600 effective XP

2 wereboars & 6 giant boars- 9800 effective XP

3 wyverns - 10350 effective XP

Coven of 3 green hags- 8100 effective XP

12 harpies & 1 harpy queen (custom CR 6)- 11750* effective XP
(probably less, since the CR 1's are largely irrelevant next to a CR 6)

Hope that helps.

I think you may be misunderstanding what the tables are saying.
 

Irda Ranger

First Post
Based on the XP per day, characters should advance to 15th level in 33 adventuring days. This is beyond ludicrous.

Does anyone else think this pace is utterly ridiculous?
From a "D&D's a game" perspective, no. Players like leveling up and getting stuff. From a "D&D tells a story that should take place in and produce an internally consistent game world", yeah, it's ludicrous.

A solution could be to (1) throw out the XP awards for combat and replace it with story awards, and (2) advance the timeline a lot between adventures.

I could easily see campaign run on the basis of 1 level per adventure, and 1 adventure per six months or year of internal game time. You go on the adventure, and then everyone writes down what they do with their downtime. Maybe they go back to the farm, or study and teach magic at the academy, or go back to the cloister for a while. Whatever.

Obviously this doesn't work for the big campaign books that WotC publishes and assumes that you'll advance from 5th to 15th level in the course of seven set-piece and close-related locations. But it could easily work in a homebrew campaign.
 

Xetheral

Three-Headed Sirrush
Look at the classic example, Lord of the Rings - nobody, even the most powerful champions, actually fights Sauron.

Finrod and Huan want to have a word with you. (And Huan won his fight with Sauron.) And Fingolfin too, even though it was Sauron's boss that he fought. Otherwise yes, few people fight Sauron, but that's largely because he has a tendency when overmatched to run away (during the War of Wrath, and again from the White Council) or surrender (to Ar-Pharazôn).

The final time anyone tried to directly confront Sauron was the White Council, during the timeline of the Hobbit, so yes, by the time of The Lord of the Rings, no one was left who was powerful enough to directly confront Sauron. So you're technically right, but only by about 60 years.
 

jgsugden

Legend
We have some strong necromancers raising up a post from 2015 and addressing it as new...

Experince and CR should be used to help guide the shape of encounters for balance purposes, but I am amazed people use it for leveling. I have used landmark leveling since AD&D era (although obviously a bit different then) - it has always been so much better. You advance PCs when they get to an achievement, not when they happen to kill enough goblins.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
We have some strong necromancers raising up a post from 2015 and addressing it as new...

Experince and CR should be used to help guide the shape of encounters for balance purposes, but I am amazed people use it for leveling. I have used landmark leveling since AD&D era (although obviously a bit different then) - it has always been so much better. You advance PCs when they get to an achievement, not when they happen to kill enough goblins.

I would prefer to use milestones myself, but every time I've proposed the idea my players have rebelled against it. They enjoy being rewarded with XP.
 

I would prefer to use milestones myself, but every time I've proposed the idea my players have rebelled against it. They enjoy being rewarded with XP.
As someone who played in a game that used milestones, it wasn't so much that it was a terrible way of doing things, but it definitely doesn't mesh with the default rapid healing rate in 5E.

If you have a game that uses XP rewards for combat, then the point of combat is to gain XP. If you have a game that uses slow healing, then the point of combat is to consume resources.

In a game that uses milestones and has fast healing, combat seems pretty pointless. By the next morning, you would be in the exact same position having run through the fight as if you had just handwaved the whole thing as inconsequential.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
As someone who played in a game that used milestones, it wasn't so much that it was a terrible way of doing things, but it definitely doesn't mesh with the default rapid healing rate in 5E.

If you have a game that uses XP rewards for combat, then the point of combat is to gain XP. If you have a game that uses slow healing, then the point of combat is to consume resources.

In a game that uses milestones and has fast healing, combat seems pretty pointless. By the next morning, you would be in the exact same position having run through the fight as if you had just handwaved the whole thing as inconsequential.

I disagree. The DM of my other group uses milestones and normal healing. We've had plenty of combats in that group and we don't find it to be a waste of time. Sometimes we get treasure, and even when we don't it typically removes an obstacle from our path. Plus we often enjoy combat.

I like it quite a bit. I've talked my way out of a number of fights, and when I do I don't feel like I've cheated the party out of XP. I find milestones liberating for this reason. It doesn't much matter (from a mechanical perspective) whether you fight the encounter, bluff your way past it, or sneak around it.

I have convinced my regular group to award XP for overcoming encounters without fighting, so there are other means to reach similar ends. But using milestones is so much easier (alas)!
 

5ekyu

Hero
I disagree. The DM of my other group uses milestones and normal healing. We've had plenty of combats in that group and we don't find it to be a waste of time. Sometimes we get treasure, and even when we don't it typically removes an obstacle from our path. Plus we often enjoy combat.

I like it quite a bit. I've talked my way out of a number of fights, and when I do I don't feel like I've cheated the party out of XP. I find milestones liberating for this reason. It doesn't much matter (from a mechanical perspective) whether you fight the encounter, bluff your way past it, or sneak around it.

I have convinced my regular group to award XP for overcoming encounters without fighting, so there are other means to reach similar ends. But using milestones is so much easier (alas)!

I concur... this seems a baffling issue for me.

Thge way i have used milestone and even session Xp is to absolutely divorce "methods" from carrot/stick out of game. There is no pressure on players from out-of-game aspects like "Xp and advancement" to choose one method or another. They can choose their courses within the character and within the game setting with the thoughts being what is happening there and how they want to influence and change it. They can choose their method without worry over which particular one gets full xp vs partial xp vs maybe no xp. Their decisions have consequences but those consequences are not so much driven or at all driven by advancement concerns out of character.

As for hand-waving fights - sometimes we have - but mostly the reason to fight is to accomplish some goal that is the reward in itself (or to survive if you are the target as opposed to the attacker.) But the idea of "might as well handwave..." has not come up as an issue because so much can depend on the specifics AND its something we enjoy playing out.

To me, even when Xp was used, when it came down to "we should do this because of how Xp works" which some might consider the carrot motivator of XP... that always felt wrong. It was practically never a "good thing" to do something for out-of-game considerations. So, not something we tended to find worthwhile. that means we do not see any real changes in play when playing without it.

But different strokes.

Currently my game uses a session based variant which levels characters every 8 sessions more or less for six levels gained in a year more or less at tiers2+. This might switch ti 12 sessions once they hit tier-2 but not sure yet.
 

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