Are you looking for an Encounter Generator for D&D 5e or Dnd 3.5 and 3.0? The RoleGenerator platform has launched its calculator that serves as a DND Encounter Generator. But, what is the purpose of such a thing, is it really necessary, what does the D&D rules say about it? Click here to access the new module to Generate Encounters!
When creating an encounter in D&D, DM's must know some extra parameters, apart from the type of monster they want to place. In order for the encounter (players vs enemies) to be leveled to the difficulty value you want, the D&D Dungeon Masters Guide lays out how these calculations should be done. This is tedious and somewhat complicated the first few times you use it. Also, you will not always have enough time to prepare a campaign with all the encounters, so it is necessary to speed up these mathematical calculations and make the results easy to use.
For this reason, several websites have random encounter generators. These are online programs that, after defining the level of the players, directly show how difficult the enemies will be. In this case, the Rolegenerator generator goes a step further, and also shows what average stats these enemies have (to improvise if there is no time to get the monster manual) and, most novel, allows you to generate mixed encounters.
What is a mixed encounter? When a DM wants to put 5 enemies to the players, but that one of them is more powerful, the mathematical calculations for its balanced implementation involves additional work, since it is necessary to take into account modifiers such as the total experience per monster, the modifier factor for multiple monsters, the size of the group of players and the threshold difficulty of the encounter. All this means that putting, for example, 5 enemies and one of them being more powerful than the rest, is not always intuitive.
Sometimes a DM considers that a number of low level enemies will pose a very low threat to the players, so he adds to the boss other enemies that, a priori, should not pose a problem. This will not always be the case, since the more enemies, the more factors besides the combat quality of the enemies, can unintentionally put the players in a big trouble without knowing it. Sometimes even the large number of small enemies, no matter how bad their stats are, will be more likely to fatally injure players than the boss itself. So that this does not happen, D&D always recommends making these calculations before encounters. So that this does not involve a high expenditure of time in mixed encounters, this calculator is an ideal solution to avoid compromising the health of the players in impossible encounters.
The method used for the Rolegenerator calculator is the same as the one recommended by D&D in its 5e version and can be used in other editions of the game such as D&D 3.5 or D&D 3.0, being a more or less valid approximation. We are going to break down all the factors and logic that this calculator performs instantly, in order to show how much time it saves DM's in their games if they had to do it by hand for each encounter:
- The first thing is to know the experience thresholds per player and per level, always depending on the difficulty chosen by the DM for the encounter. What does this difficulty mean? If a DM wants the encounter not to be a barrier to the plot, but a simple chance encounter that is not going to have any relevance and is there to give action to the players, Easy will be chosen. On the other hand, if you want the confrontation to be a balanced level, the Medium difficulty will require the players to spend resources. Finally, the Hard difficulty should be reserved for those moments when players have done something wrong or against final bosses when players still have the best resources available. This difficulty will mean that player characters will spend all their resources to get out alive or even run away. The "Deadly" and "Nightmare" difficulty are extra difficult or near impossible difficulties, for when players are very experienced and have very well equipped and optimized high level characters, creating challenges truly at the epic height of the situation.
- Once the difficulty of the encounter is known and the threshold has been calculated, the experience points of the enemies must be added up to equalize it. To do this, each enemy has a CR (Challenge Rating). The more DV an enemy has, the more powerful it will be and the more experience points it will add to this threshold. For example, a party of 4 players of level 4 can easily face a creature of DV 2 (easy mode) or a creature of DV 3 (medium difficulty), while a creature of DV 4 is already a difficult difficulty and a challenge that will squeeze the players' resources to the maximum. Although it seems at first glance the opposite, a confrontation of this group against two CR 2 monsters, or against 10 CR 1/2 creatures means the almost assured death of the group. How can that be? Is a CR 4 monster inferior to two CR 2 or 10 1/2 creatures? The answer is yes.
- Multi-monster experience multipliers apply to each and every enemy involved in the combat. This means that they also affect mixed combats, where a CR 5 enemy is lower in difficulty than 5 CR creatures (1/4) + a CR 3 leader. This is explained in the official Dungeon Master Guide 5e rules, and is that by comparing the total experience with the quantity factors, the maximum thresholds for such difficulty can be greatly exceeded, creating encounters so unbalanced that they will create frustration in the players without having done it on purpose. For the calculations to be correct, Rolegenerator's encounter calculator gives an exact number and is complemented by an external check, which re-verifies that everything is correct or not. The logic is that the more enemies, the more attacks the players will receive, the more turns they will have to respond before them and the more chances to be wounded by natural 20 rolls.
- Finally, encounters will not be equally balanced if the players have a small party (1-2 characters) or if they are large (more than 6 characters). This has a huge influence on the challenge thresholds, so we also have to add more factors that make an already tedious calculation even more difficult.
- The experience players receive for killing monsters depends on the level of the monsters. However, D&D recommends using the Adventuring Day table where the experience will depend on the players' level and only on the days he is on the quest. This helps a lot, as it is a rough estimate of the maximum number of encounters the players will face and helps not to have to count the experience points of the enemies along the way one by one. In our opinion this is the best thing for D&D DM's.
When using the encounter calculator or doing it manually with the official manual in front of you, the result will be an experience that will have the set of enemies with a Challenge Rating. For example, an Ettin (two-headed ogre) has a Challenge Rating value of 4, with 1,100 experience. This would be a really Difficult opponent for a party of 4 players of level 4, so do not be fooled, as the CR levels never correspond to the levels of the player characters.
Alternatively, if you don't have the monster manual in front of you, or if you don't have time to use it because the moment requires improvisation, RoleGenerator adds generic stats for each Challenge Rating. With this, you can perfectly improvise an Ettin in stats, equipment and everything needed to perform the combat. These stats are generic and assume the average for a monster of that level. This means that it is an estimate, but a very accurate estimate. Here are some examples of how to use this information to improvise in case you don't have the Monster Manual at hand.
Depending on its Challenge Rating, a monster will have varying attributes, although these are enhanced by its equipment + skills. As a whole, if you want to create an improvised monster for an encounter, the most important and indispensable factors are the following:
- Proficiency Bonus: This is a bonus value to skill tests, saving throws or for attacks that by skill the character is proficient at. In short, it is an express advantage to perform certain actions that an enemy controls. This factor is very important as it determines the expertise of an enemy when performing an action, whether it is combat or non-combat. If you create a Goblin archer, and he has to fight in melee at some point, he will lose the proficiency bonus he was using when shooting arrows with his ranged weapon, as he may not be as proficient with the dagger due to clichés. Proficiency bonuses are never added to damage or healing rolls.
- Armor Quality (AC): This is the threshold that a player's attack must exceed in order to wound an enemy. As a general rule, melee enemies will be better armored, with stronger and more resistant armor, while wizards, wild humanoids or ranged/flying enemies will have a lower AC.
- Hit points (HP): they are the maximum number of hits an enemy will withstand before falling down.
- Attack to Hit: After choosing the target of an attack and determining the modifiers for cover, advantages or disadvantages, the attack is resolved. This is called the attack roll and will determine whether or not the player's AC is exceeded. To this roll will be added the monster's Attack on hit (plus the competence bonus if any). A result of 1 on the D20 is always a failure regardless of attack or competence modifiers. If the result is a natural 20 on a D20, the attack hits regardless of the target's AC, even when this AC exceeds 20.
- Unitarget Damage (Dmg): This is a factor that determines the total hit points the player will lose if hit by the attack (once the player's AC is exceeded). In the case of having a fixed number, this will be the average value of the roll, in case of being dice a random number will be consiserará. Fixed damage is interesting so that there are no surprises and no unbalances, allowing a combat difficulty adapted to the chosen one. Otherwise, it can happen that an attack is very powerful by chance, complicating the combat situation a lot, or on the contrary, that they are so low that they do not bother the players at all, resulting in a boring combat without tension. If the fixed damage has several values, the first one usually corresponds to ranged attacks, the second one to melee attacks, although sometimes it simply determines the approximate range.
- Area-of-effect damage (AoE Dmg): Unlike the "single-target" damage that is the previous case, it is possible for an attack or spell to do an expansive area of fire or energy that damages multiple players at once. This is known as area damage, and likewise, if you have multiple values, the first may determine the fixed value for ranged attacks and the second for melee attacks.
- Spell DC: This is a property of each ability, that to take effect the player must exceed the indicated value in a D20 + modifiers roll. Although it is specified as being for spells, it can also be used for skills that require a skill check, contributing the difficulty of the roll. If the player does not exceed this value, the effect of the spell/skill will be resolved, on the other hand, if he exceeds it, it will have no effect. It is very useful when enemies have poisoned weapons, mind control spells or try to paralyze their enemies with ice spells or by instilling fear.
- Perception, Initiative and Stealth: These are three very important parameters for enemies, since the first is used to detect players, the second to initiate combat and the third to attack players undetected in ambushes.
- Save: This is a simplified parameter in D&D 5e that is similar to the old Fortitude/Reflexes/Volunteer. This factor encompasses the bonus to any saving throw. In the case of monsters, Save is a generic parameter that streamlines the rolls so that other factors do not have to be calculated.
- Statistics: Although the Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma factors are important, the bonuses derived from them are even more important. For this reason, in many random generators the bonus is given directly, which is the practical data for an enemy that has relevance in combat.
The most practical way is to use an example to show how to use the RoleGenerator tool in this aspect. If the calculator tells us that the opponent of our encounter is a CR 3 (Challenge Rating 3) monster, the following information will be displayed for any type of monster with this difficulty, varying only the interpretation:
- If we want this enemy to be, for example, a fighting ogre, we can improvise the combat using the improved melee values (CA 15, Attack +6, HP 60 and dmg 20) using the rest of the values as they are, but without using the spells (since the ogre will not have access to these) or area attacks (unless we want to put a special sweeping attack).
- If we prefer to put a demon spell caster we can use the AC 12, HP 45, Attack +4 but using the Spell DC 11 and the damage we deem appropriate depending on the spells that this spell caster casts. If, for example, he wants to paralyze a player, we will use DC 11, if he wants to cast a fireball at a distance, we will use Aoe Dmg 9 (reserving Aoe Dmg 12 for area attacks in melee), and if he is going to cast an ice stake as a mono-target projectile, we will use damage 15 (leaving damage 20 for a melee attack, such as an icy hand spell).
- If the enemy is a stealth expert and a ruthless halfling assassin we will use AC 15 to denote the great agility he has, HP 45 because he is a delicate class, attack +6 because he is a combat expert and mixed damage, being for example: dmg 15 to throw paralyzing darts with DC11, damage 20 for stabbing, damage 9 when throwing explosive bombs at a distance in area, and damage 12 when in melee he makes acrobatic attacks with multiple targets. In this case, the proficiency bonus (or Prof Bonus) can be added to the bonus for stealth and initiative.
- Even if the monster is a great dragon, but its CR is 3, we can interpret the combat. CA15 for its powerful scales, HP 60 for being huge, Attack +6 for being a terrifying beast with killing experience and mixed damage depending on the attack. A bite or claw strike could be damage 20, and throwing a flare could be in this case damage 12 to magnify the power of such an attack (but without exceeding the average values of this difficulty). In the same way, the proficiency bonus could be added to the save, interpreting the magical resistance of this dragon to magical attacks.
But how and why would a DM want to put a CR 3 dragon to the players? If they do not have enough level, why would he want to put it? There are several reasons. The first one is the epicness of the event. The dragon narrative can be amazing and the players, even if they are level 4, would love to measure themselves against such monsters. If the DM would directly use the official values, the player characters would be destroyed, since in reality, they have no chance to win. With these stats the dragon can be "adapted" to the encounter so that the players have a chance of winning depending on the DM's chosen difficulty. In addition, a dragon can be under the effects of a debilitating spell, be seriously injured, sick or be an anomaly of its race, weaker than its fellows. There are many reasons to justify a great dragon having CR 3, although the most important thing is to have fun and look for balanced confrontations, with exciting narratives that leave a great memorable memory for everyone.