August 27, 2014

5e Encounter Calculator

After reading and joining a recent Twitter conversation about the complexity of the XP and CR system in 5th edition D&D, it dawned on me that I could throw together a quick Excel sheet to calculate XP for the encounter, XP per PC, and encounter difficulty, according to the current rules (Basic Rules for DMs v. 0.1).

Click here to download the Fifth Edition Encounter Calculator version 0.1.  It's designed for parties of 3-5 PCs.  UPDATE 12/18/14:  See below for an even better one someone else made.

Note:  This is an MS Excel document shared through Google Drive, so you have to download it to edit it.  It's shared for personal use only, not commercial use.  It contains game information from the D&D Basic Rules for 5th edition, available for free from Wizards of the Coast, here.

Edit 9/1/14:  With this update, I clarified that the XP multiplier on p.57 is only used to assess challenge, not XP reward for the PCs. I provided the XP per PC for awarding just the XP from the monsters (no multiplier) as the default and created a field for awarding XP based on the actual encounter difficulty -- which I had to calculate anyway, to calculate the challenge level.

Edit 12/18/14:  There's a better encounter calculator out there that's better than what I made.  I won't keep you away from a better option just to get more clicks.  This is the best 5e encounter calculator I've found:  http://kobold.club/fight/#/encounter-builder

10 comments:

  1. Very useful. I stored it in my own Drive for later use. I would suggest only that you expand the size of the encounter sheet and add fields to write initiative, to attack, damage and HP, so this can be used BOTH as a encounter sheet and a battle tracker sheet.

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    1. FYI The file has been updated slightly. You might want to update your stored copy.

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  2. I strongly disagree with the notion that the XP multiplication tool is "unfair" to the players. A band of five goblins could be a tough fight (Deadly, according to the encounter building rules), but that doesn't compare to fighting an ogre. But if I make it "fair" by the standards presented in this document, my players receive more XP by fighting the goblins.

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    1. I figured that many people would feel this way, which is why I kept the default XP in a prominent place and put my "fair" calculation off to the side.

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  3. The default xp value and the "fair" calculation appear to give the same number. Is this intended or does the formula in the "fair" box need tweaking?

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    1. I just re-downloaded it and checked. The XP per PC number will match the "fair" XP number if there is only one monster. They should diverge if there are more than one monster. The formula in the "fair" box should be =ROUNDDOWN(A27/B4*C13,0) and the formula in the "...is the XP per PC*" box should be =ROUNDDOWN(A27/B4,0) since it does not include the "bigger groups are worth more XP" multiplier (i.e. *C13).

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    2. You should add =VLOOKUP(ROUNDUP(C12/B4),Lookups!B23:C29,2,TRUE) in C13 (the multiplier field) this makes it so it scales with the number of PCs. I have 8 PCs in my group and this makes it so 8 skeletons is the "medium" fight that it should be.

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    3. You should add =VLOOKUP(ROUNDUP(C12/B4),Lookups!B23:C29,2,TRUE) in C13 (the multiplier field) this makes it so it scales with the number of PCs. I have 8 PCs in my group and this makes it so 8 skeletons is the "medium" fight that it should be.

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    4. Brian, that's a good idea, but it's not part of the Basic Rules, which are actually complicated enough as is. I think the 5e designers should read your note, which basically says the group multiplier for monsters should take the number of PCs into account.

      WotC could have just said "The D&D rules are designed for adventurers to encounter monsters in very small groups, so that every monster is dangerous and special. Therefore, the experience point and challenge rating rules assume the PCs outnumber the monsters two to one. If there are more monsters than half the number of PCs, double the encounter XP. If there are 50% more monsters than PCs, triple it."

      That would have been simpler and take into account the proportional benefit of adding PCs to the party.

      Now, in a way they DID that. The encounter difficulty table on p57 of the basic rules gives XP per individual PC, so more PCs means lower challenge.

      But your point is that the exponential challenge increase that results from an action economy in the monsters' favor works both ways if you're GMing for 8 players. And I totally agree, but WotC didn't include that in their math.

      For you, with your odd case of 8 players, I'd recommend using my revised numbers in proportion (that I just typed, above). You could use a nested IF statement to convert the XP calculator spreadsheet to do it for you.

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