How to determine challenge rating

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ScanMan's picture
How to determine challenge rating

How do I calculate the total challenge rating of a group of monsters? I don't think adding all the individual challenge rating is right.

For 3 PCs of 2nd level; I am preparing a goblin war-band consisting of fifteen 1st level goblin warriors, three wolves, and one 3rd level goblin fighter. I want to challenge them appropriately.

(.33*15)+1+1+1+1=8.9 this doesn't seem like it should be a ninth level encounter to me. Please help.

deadDMwalking's picture

Usually, when you double the number of opponents, you add +2 to the Encounter level (EL). So one CR 3 opponent is EL 3, two CR 3 opponents is EL 5. The thing is, fractional opponents don't quite work correctly. 2 CR 1/3 opponents isn't a EL 2.33.

But let's work it out.

Fighter level 3 is CR 3.
The wolves are CR 1 each; two would be EL 3. Combined with the Fighter we have an EL 5 (1 wolf unaccounted for).

For the 15 CR 1/3 goblin warriors, I'd combine them into groups of 3, each equivalent to a CR 1. So 5 groups. 1 group is EL 1, two is EL 3, 4 is EL 5. We combine that with the other EL 5 and we're up to EL 7.

We have a small remainder (1 wolf and 1 group of 3 goblins), but they're not going to push up the EL appreciably.

That's pretty close. Combined they have a lot of attacks, but since most of the monsters are indiviudally weak they're not a very difficult EL 7 encounter. A group of three 2nd level PCs is going to have a hard time with this fight, unless they have something to incapacitate a large number of enemies ([i]wand of fireball[/i] or [i]entangle[/i]. With 19 attacks to the PC's 3 (total) per round, even if the party drops a goblin or wolf each round, it's a 6+ round combat. I'd expect this to most likely turn into a long drawn out fight with the PCs ultimately defeated without some serious advantages. It's a weak EL 7, but the PCs aren't very tough, either. I'd expect four 5th level PCs to defeat the enemies much more easily than the EL might indicate.

ScanMan's picture

Thanks for the explanation. I don't plan to drop this entire war-band on three 2nd level PCs. I will probably trim this down to three or four separate encounters. This is to represent the entire current force available to the 3rd level fighter. With your explanation I can chop this up into appropriate leveled encounters. a group of sentinels, the lookouts at the lair, the main bulk, and a boss fight.

deadDMwalking's picture

Keep in mind that very few warrens will be on a 24-hour high-alert cycle. Usually you'd expect 1/3 to 1/2 of your forces to be awake and in a position to deal with the PCs.

You might want to bump up the numbers, but make sure that PCs that spend any effort on being quiet have the opportunity to bypass 'off-duty' goblins. And you gotta include a shaman (adept).

Talanall's picture

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

ScanMan's picture
Glick the Cruel, Glick the Cunning / The Wolf Tamer

Male Goblin Fighter3, small goblinoid, HD 3d10; HP 24; Init +2 (+2 Dex); Speed 30'; AC 17 (+2 Dex, +3 armor, +1 size, +1 shield) touch 13, flat-footed 13; BAB/Grapple +3/-1; Atk +5 melee (1D6/19-20x2, MW small long sword) OR +6 ranged (1d4/20 x2, small javelin); Space/Reach 5 ft./5ft.; AL CE; SV Fort +3 (+3 base,+0 con), Ref +3 (+1 base +2 Dex), Will +2 (+1 base, +1 Wis); Str 10, Dex 15, Con 11, Int 13, Wis 12, Cha 9
Skills (18 total fighter): Climb+4(4ranks), Handle Animal+5(4ranks,+2animal affinity, -1CHA), Hide +6(+4size, +2DEX), Intimidate+2(3ranks,-1CHA), Jump+1 (1rank), Listen+2(+2 Wis), Move Silently +6 (+4racial, +2 Dex), Ride +10 (4ranks,+4 racial, +2 Dex), Spot+2 (+2 Wis) Swim+1(1rank);Languages: Common, Goblin, Elven.

Feats: Animal Affinity, Mounted Combat, Ride by attack.

Possessions: MW Studded Leather armor(175g), MW Small Long sword(315g), x3 Javelins(3g), MW light wooden shield(153g), explorer's outfit(10g), horn(signal whistle)(.8g), x2 thunderstone(60g), potion of haste(750g), potion of cure moderate wounds(300g), winter blanket, flint and steel, rations.

Total Weight Carried: 27 lbs
Light Load Maximum: 33 lbs

Timber (Wolf)
Medium Animal; HD 2d8+4; HP 15; Init +2 (+2 Dex); Speed 50 ft.; AC 14 (+2 Dex, +2 natural) touch 12, flat-footed 12; BAB/Grapple +1/+2; Atk +3 melee (1d6+1/20x2, bite);Space/Reach 5 ft./5ft.; SA Trip; SQ Low-light vision, scent; AL N; SV Fort +5, Ref +5, Will +1 Str 20, Dex 13, Con 17, Int 2, Wis 13, Cha 6.
Possessions: Military Saddle(exotic) (60 gp), saddle bag.
Trained for purpose: Combat riding
tricks known: Attack, Come, Defend, Down, Guard, Heel

Personality: Glick has gained notoriety among his fellow goblins after leading a successful marauding expedition. He allies himself only with weaker and less intelligent goblins, that he can exploit. He commands his war-band with an iron fist and conspicuously slays any that dare threaten his position or sometimes for fun, to show his superiority. His followers obey his commands out of fear of his bloodlust. Although his war-band suffers many casualties at his own hands, there are always new goblins seeking to join him for a share of the plunder due to his successful reputation.

Combat: Glick prefers to attack those weaker than his war-band. He uses surprise tactics to gain the advantage in combat. His warrior vanguard ambushes, soaking up initial damage, while he and his two most able warriors flank, mounted atop vicious wolves.

deadDMwalking's picture

Talanall wrote:


As much time I spend on the SRD website, I don't know how I missed that. Thanks!

But it did just reaffirm what I said.

ScanMan's picture

I'm going to make a little retinue for the fighter, and include an adept like you suggested. I'm only going to increase the warriors by adding two 2nd level warriors, and adding an expert, and 8 or so commoners as laborers and/or hunters.

Glick's retinue

female goblin, Adept2, small goblinoid, HD 2d6; HP 7; Init +0; Speed 30'; AC 11 (+1 size) touch 11, flat-footed 11; BAB/Grapple +1/-5; Atk -1 melee (1D3-2/19-20x2, small Dagger) OR +1 ranged (1d6/19-20 x2, small light crossbow); Space/Reach 5 ft./5ft.; AL NE; SV Fort +0, Ref +0, Will +5 (+3 base, +2 Wis); Str 6, Dex 10, Con 11, Int 13, Wis 15, Cha 11
Skills: (15 total Adept): Concentrate+4(4ranks), Heal+6(4ranks,+2WIS), Hide +4(+4size), Knowledge Arcana+2(1rank +1INT), Knowledge Local+2(1rank +1INT), Knowledge Nature+2(1rank +1INT) Listen+5(+3 Familiar +2WIS), Move Silently +4 (+4racial), Ride +4 (+4 racial), Spot+2 (+2 WIS) SpellCraft+3(2ranks +1INT), Survival+4(2ranks +2WIS); Languages: Common, Goblin.

Feats: Brew Potion

Possessions: Backpack, Sack, traveler's outfit, Small Dagger, Small light crossbow, 10 bolts, 2x candles, Clay Jug, Bowls, potion of Aid(300g), potion of cure moderate wounds(300g), winter blanket, waterskin, rations. 253gp, 24sp, 5cp

Total Weight Carried: 29 lbs (If carrying all possessions)
Light Load Maximum: 20 lbs

Spells typically prepared: 3/1+1: guidance, purify food+drink, touch of fatigue/ cause fear, cure light wounds.

Familiar: Humphrey, bat, diminutive magical animal, HD 2D6; HP 3; Speed 5' or 40'fly(good); AC 17(+1 natural, +4 size, +2 DEX) Touch 16; Flat Footed 15; BAB/Grapple +1/-17; Attack -; SV Fort +2, Ref +2, Will +5; STR 1, DEX 15, CON 10, INT 6, WIS 14, CHA 4
skills: Concentrate+4, Hide+14, Listen+8, Move Silently+8, Spellcraft+0, Spot+8, Survival+4
Special Abilities: Alertness, Improved Evasion, Share spells, Empathetic link.

Personality: Flake is a miserly goblin who lives comfortably in the protection of Glick and his warriors. Although she is quite frail, she is powerfully willed. She could never think to overpower Glick. Instead She lives vicariously through him taking great pleasure in the pain he inflicts on others. Under his protection she is assured to grow in power, The looting war-band provides her with plenty of opportunity to plunder magic and spell components.


Male Goblin Expert1; Small goblinoid; HD1D6; HP 6; Init +0; Speed 30';AC 13 (+2 armor, +1size) Touch 11, Flat Footed 13; BAB/Grapple +0/-4; Atk +0 melee(1D6-1/20 x2 small Morningstar) OR +1 Ranged (1D4-1/20 x2 small Javelin); Space/Reach 5ft./5ft.; AL CE; SV Fort +0, Ref +0, Will +6(+2 base, +4WIS); Str 8, Dex 11, Con 11, Int 14, Wis 18, Cha 8.
Skills: Handle Animal+3 (4ranks -1CHA), Hide+4(+4size), Knowledge Geography+6 (4ranks, +2INT), Knowledge Nature+6 (4ranks, +2INT), Move Silently+8 (4ranks +4racial), Ride+4 (+4racial), Search+8 (4ranks +4WIS), Spot+8 (4ranks +4WIS) Survival+8 (4ranks +4WIS), Swim+3 (4ranks -1STR)
Feats: Track
Possessions: Leather armor, small Morningstar, x2 small javelins, Explorer's outfit, backpack, tanglefoot bag, 50' silk rope, waterskin, rations.

Personality: Dalk relishes his position in Glick's war-band, and is well aware of his skill set, that makes him a nigh untouchable ally under Glick's protection. With the protection of Glick, his abilities have made him smug and arrogant, he despises the goblins of lesser station, and enjoys harassing, and playing tricks on them, even going as far as getting them in trouble with Glick. In truth though, Dalk is a craven. He can always be found at the back of a charge and will be the first goblin to flee at any sign he feels he is in danger. Yet he is always one of the first to claim his share of the loot. When fights are going well he can be found boasting, and deriding his wounded enemies. Ironically, One of his favorite events is tracking down enemies that have fled a fight, and terrorizing them before sicking the warriors and wolves on those who are fleeing or hiding.

Romp + Serg

Male Goblins Warrior2; Small goblinoid; HD 2D8+2; HP 13; Init +1; Speed 30'; AC 15 (+1 size, +1 Dex, +2 leather armor, +1 light shield), touch 12, flat-footed 14; BAB/Grapple +2/-2; Atk +3 melee (1d6 small morningstar) OR +4 ranged (1d4 small javelin); Space/Reach 5'/5'; AL CE; SV Fort +4 Ref +1 Will -1; Str 11, Dex 13, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 9, Cha 6
Skills: Hide +5, Listen +1, Move Silently +5, Ride +5, Spot +2
Feats: Mounted Combat
Possessions: Small Morningstar, small light wooden shield, 3x small javelins, leather armor, waterskin, rations.

Fang + Yarl (Wolf)
Medium Animals; HD 2d8+4; HP 12; Init +2 (+2 Dex); Speed 50 ft.; AC 14 (+2 Dex, +2 natural) touch 12, flat-footed 12; BAB/Grapple +1/+2; Atk +3 melee (1d6+1/20x2, bite);Space/Reach 5 ft./5ft.; SA Trip; SQ Low-light vision, scent; AL N; SV Fort +5, Ref +5, Will +1 Str 20, Dex 13, Con 17, Int 2, Wis 13, Cha 6.
Possessions: Military Saddle(exotic) (60 gp), saddle bag.
trained for purpose: Combat riding
tricks known: Attack, Come, Defend, Down, Guard, Heel.

Personalities: These guys are glicks most trusted warriors. They follow around Glick wherever he goes to make sure none of the others try to assassinate him, they also accompany him into battle on their wolves. They each lack the confidence to confront Glick and secure the war-band for themselves, but not necessarily the desire.

The War-band

-fifteen 1st level goblin warriors (as per the MM) they fight to the death until 75% are dead, their numbers are less than 2 to 1, OR if Glick is killed which ever happens first.
-Eight 1st level goblin commoners with varying ranks in profession:Porter/Hunter/Tanner or just laborers. two of this, two of that. none have armor the two hunters are proficient with small light crossbows, the rest are proficient with clubs. They flee at the first sign of danger whenever possible.

ScanMan's picture

Now according to the calculator and DDMW's direction, I think this is an EL8. Should a full Eighth level treasure be rolled for defeating this encounter?

deadDMwalking's picture

When I use the EL calculator that Talanall provided, I get roughly the same treasure value as for a single CR 8 opponent. I think that means it comes out roughly equal if you roll each monster independently and add them together or treat it as a single opponent for the purpose of the rolls.

Either way - make sure they use any equipment they can that is part of their treasure.

Talanall's picture

Note quite. Treasure generation is complex because some monsters use different values than others, and it pegs against

That's fine if your encounter is just a dragon; the EL equals the CR unless you've done something weird to the environment so that it makes the encounter harder than standard, and hence adds to the EL.

But if it's a dragon at CR 10 plus something else at CR 8, you have a choice. Do you: 1) generate the entire treasure as if it were for the dragon, but do it at EL 11 (generating 22,500 gp in treasure), 2) generate one treasure for the dragon at EL 10 with triple value and another for EL 8 (leading to 17,400 gp for the dragon and 3,400 gp for the somethign else, total of 20,800 gp), or 3) split the difference?

I'd probably just do option #1. But it is not clear-cut.

Even more complicated, a monster that has class levels gets treasure as a standard monster (use the Monster Manual CR rating to generate an EL-appropriate treasure), and as an NPC (use the NPC gear values table). And then, as DDMW suggests, you'd probably have the monster use any randomly generated equipment that it can.

The sole exception here seems to be monsters with a single level in an NPC class, who get treasure as if they were just regular monsters.

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

ScanMan's picture

So I rolled the treasure as follows: One third level treasure for the level 3 fighter: 180sp, 2art, no items.
one third level treasure for three wolves: 100gp, 1 gem, no items.
I grouped the NPC classes with CR 1/3 into groups of three for eight first level treasures
1st group: 40gp, no goods, no items
2nd: no coins, no goods, no items
3rd: 1,000cp, 1 gem, no items
4th: 50gp, no goods, no items
5th 1,000cp, no goods, no items
6th: 150gp, no goods, no items
7th: 80gp, no goods, 1 mundane item
8th: 300sp, no goods, no items

For a total of (lol): 420gp, 480sp, 2000cp in coins; two citrines(50gp ea), one pearl (100gp); One jeweled electrum ring (5,000gp!), one silver chalice with lapis lazuli gems (105gp); one suit of full plate armor (1,500gp)

Total treasure value: 7,293gp "Cha-Ching!"
So 7,293go + PC's current wealth - however much recources they expend during the encounter / three = what is probably around what is appropriate for 3rd level PC wealth.
What do you guys think?

deadDMwalking's picture

First off, I really like your descriptions of Glick and his retinue. Awesome sauce!

This may seem like a lot of treasure at first glance (and it is) but this represents Glick the successful goblin warlord. Let him live a little. But just because that's the treasure he has in his lair, don't expect that the PCs are going to acquire all of it.

Glick seems like the kind to hoard all the gold for himself, and so the goblins only have the copper coins (he's beneficient, he gives them heaping scoops of copper coins!) unless they're able to hide the valuable stuff from Glick and the rest of their companions.

The silver ring is deep in a crack (DC 25 Search chec). The goblin that found it is planning on leaving the band soon before he gets murdered - but he needs to find a way to escape with the ring. Maybe the PCs will be just that opportunity.

The armor is too large for the goblins. It's not assembled on a stand guarding his throne - it's spread among a pile of refuse and bones. It's not like they were going to sell the armor to Sir Gorin, Goblin Slayer. Maybe they're using it for cups and plates, so it's spread all over their dining area. Search DC 20 to find all the pieces and assemble the full suit of armor.

Glick is afraid of being murdered and his treasure being stolen, so you might want to spend some of his 420 gp on a nifty trap to protect his treasure. Or not. Either way, there's a chance that the PCs miss more than half the treasure, which is fine.

As the DM be okay with them finding it or not finding it - either way, they're going to transcend the gold economy sooner rather than later.

But feel free to give them lots of ways to spend their money. Expensive call girls, exotic wines, decorative weapons, fancy clothes.

The only issue is when PCs spend all of their wealth on increasing their power (magic items). Be very careful with item avaialility and even that isn't much of an issue.

ScanMan's picture

Nice, I really love your ideas, particularly the armor being used as cups and plates, that's such a fun idea! The ring idea is great too, it adds a lot of depth to goblins and isn't a freebee 5000g on top of the pile. Thanks again for the suggestions Im really pleased with how well this fleshed out.