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Old 12-27-2018, 10:03 AM
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[5e] adventuring day

I'm working on a new mechanic balanced around the adventuring day, as described in the DMG (5th edition). The problem I'm facing is that I'm not sure how accurate the DMG is in terms of what was considered balanced when it was published and what is considered balanced when people actually play the game. The book says an adventuring day should consist of about 8 hard or medium encounters and about two short rests. It feels like actual play is somewhat less than that. If these were Easy Encounters, it would be around 13-14.
So my question. If I create a game mechanic to simulate easy encounters at a rate of 13-14 per day, would that be making them too easy?
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Old 12-30-2018, 03:43 PM
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Would those encounters be all combat or would you count situations such as a pit trap, or perhaps a giant boulder rolling towards you while poison darts go by?
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Old 01-01-2019, 05:51 PM
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I am not including traps because the DMG is very ambiguous about how to award XP for traps and how they would fit into the encounters per day table in terms of difficulty. It is something I could probably back calculate if I had to, but I don't see the need to do so. Also, traps don't usually require rolling initiative, making maps, turn order, etc. So they haven't really been on my radar.
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Old 01-01-2019, 08:22 PM
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Fourteen encounters in one game day seems a bit much. Do you have a regular tabletop group? If so, how many does that group average?
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Old 01-02-2019, 08:51 AM
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Despite their best efforts, the 5e DMG is really vague in a lot of places that DMs need it to be clear on. As I understand, that number of encounters per day should include everything. Social encounters, exploration encounters, traps, and yes - combat encounters. But there's a few other things, too.

First: that's the number of encounters that a party can take on average. There's a lot of randomness in DnD, so give it a standard deviation of about 30% - that is, 9-19 easy encounters, not 13-14. Or 5-10 medium encounters.

Second: that's the number of encounters before a party uses all of their resources, which includes hit points and consumable items. In other words, it's the number of encounters an average party can survive before the next one kills them. If you want to challenge a party, you want to hit between 50-75% of that. So, 5-15 easy encounters, or 3-7 medium ones.

Third: the ten minute workday. This is a tough one to deal with, but it's the idea that the typical party will stop adventuring well before they run out of adventures. This is mostly a meta-game problem, but the gist of it is this: the party will not take more adventures in a day than they need to.

Good luck!
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Old 01-02-2019, 08:57 AM
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Oh, and fourth: CR only works in very small groups of monsters. In 5e, they made all the numbers much smaller. This is good in most ways, but it had a dramatic and likely unexpected effect on encounters against groups of monsters. Basically, number of creatures has a much bigger impact on difficulty than the strength of those creatures. Three CR 1/3 creatures is more dangerous to a typical party of level 1 adventurers than three seperate fights against one CR 1 creature. This problem isn't formally recognized (AFAIK) anywhere. I don't know if this affects your system, but it felt worth noting.
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Old 01-02-2019, 12:19 PM
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The ten minute workday is one of the big problems in being a GM.

The players will blow all of their powers on every encounter, then leave and rest after 2-3 encounters. This actually makes them more powerful than assumed by the game since it also takes attrition into account, assuming the players do not unload in every encounter.
As the GM realizes they are easily beating these encounters, the difficulty is increased which now requires all powers be used to win. This both reinforces the ten minute adventure day and sometimes shortens it.

There are several ways to handle this...most of them not very good.

1. Accept it an move on. Adjust CRs accordingly.
This will lead to adventures taking massive amounts of in-game time.
Time based adventures will be massive challenges to the group.
Significant decrease in realism - encounters don't refill/reset, monsters don't realize the next room is empty, the king is patient, etc.

2. Apply a level of realism. Encounters DO refill/reset, monster realize they are being attacked and prepare, the king makes demands.
You can piss off your players this way. Prepared monsters are much more difficult.
I did this once and it was...bad.

3. Discuss it with your players in detail, with all relevant information.
It is often difficult to get your players to actually discuss, they will often just shrug that part off then complain later. But if you review the potential issues with them there is a chance they will adjust and/or give suggestions on what they are actually looking for.

Overall, I suggest a player discussion to see what they want. This is designed to be fun for all, so find out what is fun for them.

-me
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Old 01-02-2019, 04:58 PM
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Thanks for the feedback, everyone.
Zevonian, the 13-14 encounters I refer to are specifically easy encounters. For example, for a party of four second level characters, this would be something like 3 skeletons. Roughly half the time, they can probably defeat this encounter without even losing any hit points.
Admin Ronar’sCoruption, thanks for sharing this information. It is largely in line with my own gauging of things in terms of the variance, etc. There is a CR adjustment in the DMG that is probably sufficient for Easy Encounters anyways.
The one issue I am having some trouble with is the consumable resources. There isn’t really even a guideline for how many consumable resources a party should even have. So saying they use up all of their resources if they max out encounters per day doesn’t even mean much. But yeah, right now I’m looking at the 50-75% range for 14 encounters as the median (and the variance is high enough that I don’t really feel comfortable saying the majority of the time), and that is leaning less on consumable resources and more on hit points, hit dice, spells, etc.

JJ Wolven: The ten minute day: yeah, I know this is a problem. Not a huge concern of mine at the moment, however. Actually, my hope is to come up with something that finds another solution to this, at least when easy encounters are concerned.
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Old 01-02-2019, 06:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Admin RonarsCorruption View Post
Three CR 1/3 creatures is more dangerous to a typical party of level 1 adventurers than three seperate fights against one CR 1 creature. This problem isn't formally recognized (AFAIK) anywhere. I don't know if this affects your system, but it felt worth noting.
I think you're right that this problem isn't formally recognized by the RAW. But it is a problem that is well-known.

If you use the kobold fight club encounter generator, they've built their own scaling into the difficulty. They say that a single monster is only HALF the challenge that the CR indicates. Two monsters, they call "correct" by CR. Then as you add more and more enemies, they scale up the implied challenge rating polynomially. Once you get to a mob of 8 creatures that are ostensibly medium, you're talking about an encounter that is twice as deadly as CR calculations would indicate. I couldn't tell you how they came up with their "XP adjustment", but I've found it to be pretty trustworthy.

@goatmeal: sorry that I only have meta-discussion of your issues. I've more or less adopted jj_w's "option 1", particularly for PbP. The idea of 8 encounters per adventuring day (much less 15!) seems laughable to me in a slow format like PbP. It'd take months, most of which I'd rather be RPing. But that's just my own preferences, there. Treating PCs like glass cannons and throwing groups of enemies at them has been my GMing strategy. I won't say it's the greatest approach, but I can make it work.
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Old 01-04-2019, 12:48 AM
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I've used KFC before. I had always assumed it was simply applying the Adjusted XP method from the DMG.

That approach can work, but I'm looking into a way of making the other work as well...
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Old 02-04-2019, 01:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goatmeal View Post
So my question. If I create a game mechanic to simulate easy encounters at a rate of 13-14 per day, would that be making them too easy?
I think the snag with that approach is less about degree of difficulty than pacing: lighter weight with more repetitions means longer workouts for your players, and a typical PBP/PBEM campaign is glacial enough as it is.

The adventuring day in previous editions of D&D was essential because the party usually had no other way to regain hit points and spells. So you rise early, kill a beholder at breakfast, and call it a day (or two) so that Claire the Cleric can heal the wounded. The 5E adventuring day matters less, because the party has so many ways to recover its strength besides taking long hours off and spamming up the healing spells. Rolling hit dice during short and long rests is an obvious example, but you also have Healing Spirit, Catnap, and Arcane Recovery, among others.

The positive upshot of 5E's cheap healthcare plan (besides the reduction in party downtime) is that every monster challenge rating in 5E assumes that the adventurers begin the fight at full strength. Gone are the days when the party had to face the big bad boss on 50% hit points and a few remaining spells, just because they had to beat down several waves of evil underlings first. At least, that was the intention of the game designers: D&D is no longer necessarily a game of attrition.

So revolutionary and unorthodox is this fast-and-easy recovery in 5E, that some of the gamer community actually mistook a spell like Healing Spirit for a foul-up instead of a feature. But, after a half-hearted effort to walk back the power of Healing Spirit as a mistake on Twitter, the folks who bring you Sage Advice finally admitted that the spell was super-powered by intent, and does not break the game as they envisioned it.
"We actually balance the game assuming player characters are at full health. We have to do that, since an encounter could happen at any point. An extra powerful healing spell doesn't unbalance the game. But it can disrupt what feels right to a group. That's what concerns us." - Jeremy Crawford
Why am I telling you this? I ended up going for the polar opposite approach in my 5E game: Right now, for instance, the 4th-level party
is battling over 60 monsters with CR 1/2.
heavy lifting with fewer reps. Besides having fewer but tougher encounters, I also I may let short rests count as long ones, for
example, if it better suits the story and situation,
and I have the players advance 2 levels at a time.
look for ways to lengthen the adventuring day, speed up PC recovery times, and boost the advancement rate. If the party struggles, I compensate with magic items. In other words: I try to have the players do more, and get more, with fewer efforts over less time.

I think the high stakes, high reward, high uptime, and rapid level-ups help hold the players' interest, and counterbalances the inherently slow progress of PbP/PbEM games. It helps maintain a sense that the party's actions matter and are getting them somewhere. I know from personal experience that player enthusiasm often wanes if they join a game at 1st level, play for six months, and they're still at 1st level--no matter how much they fight, how much in-game time actually passes, or how faithful I am to any structural rules for advancement.

It's just my two cents, except, allowing for a few decades of inflation, it's worth about nine cents now.
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Last edited by GallupsMirror; 02-05-2019 at 11:04 AM.
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