Why Challenge Scoring Calculators Will Always Be Wrong

Encounters in Dungeons & Dragons have too many variables to boil down to perfect science no matter how hard fans keep trying.

Much of the fun of Dungeons & Dragons comes in the freedom to do whatever you want, but that same freedom can be terrifying when Dungeon Masters are trying to plan the perfect session for their party. Balancing a game is one of the hardest parts of DMing, and that makes it tempting to turn to challenge odds calculators.

The problem is, the challenge odds and the calculators that calculate their numbers are far from perfect. Lots of DMs accidentally threw their players into a much easier or harder fight than they all wanted because they were over-trusting what the numbers were saying. Given the nature of the game, pin Dungeons & Dragons until something that a CR calculator can work with may prove to be an impossible task.


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the Player’s Manual and Dungeon Master Guide Present CR ratings as a way to roughly estimate the difficulty of monsters and the amount of resources a party would likely consume to defeat them. As with everything in the game, it works wonderfully as a sketch, and obviously the process of comparing two different creatures isn’t entirely subjective. An adult red dragon will be more of a challenge than a beetle swarm, and it’s a useful way for DMs to quickly familiarize themselves with a creature, whether they’re prepping for a session or quickly needing to prepping for one. encounter.



Along the same lines, many calculators have started appearing online over the years in an attempt to accurately determine the difficulty of a dating. A user simply enters the number of CPs participating in the encounter and their respective levels and compares it to a number of monsters and their CR ratings to get a rough estimate of ease, death, or something in between. Again, there is nothing wrong with using this lightly, but users should always keep in mind how rough these estimates are and all of the untold factors that go into a match in determining its difficulty.


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The number of encounters a party has faced in the past, the resources they have expended, and the physical terrain on which the encounter takes place are all factors that can greatly influence the course of a fight. If the party wizard has already used most of their spell slots, or if the resident fighter relies entirely on melee that he cannot properly use against ranged opponents, a fight may seem easy on paper but turn out to be quite difficult once players get to the heart of the matter. .

Online calculators try to account for a lot of this, but the makeup of a party is just too difficult to quantify easily. Making characters unique and personalized is one of the best parts of the game experience, and to think that every wizard will behave as intended or that all barbarians fight alike is too restrictive to think about what. D&D can do. Players deliberately acting in unconventional ways can be what makes dating fun, and imagining a skinny, boneless elf archer throwing his bow to fight a minotaur with his bare hands could be the most memorable fight of a party.


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In attempts to quantify the difficulty of encounters, players sit on one side of the equation; one influence that is perhaps greater is the DM on the other side. Not only responsible for shaping much of the encounter from the start, but also deciding the behavior of the monsters in it, it’s really the DM that makes the encounter a cinch or game. a brush with death. An inventive map with leaf pendulums could turn a rote goblin brawl into a fun, gory puzzle, and even creatures with low CRs can be pretty deadly if handled properly.


A perfect example of a low-level threat on paper but deadly in practice is the Quickling, tiny fairy creatures that often stalk wooded areas. Quicklings only have a CR rating of one, likely due to their low armor class and low health, but they have 120ft speed and a blurry movement ability that puts all attacks at a disadvantage. against them. If they’re not using their speed at all, a party can easily take them down one shot at a time. However, the ability to get in and out of range much faster than any PC can move allows a bunch of quicklings to deal serious damage before a group can think of a creative solution.


Inventiveness and imagination are what shapes the difficulty of a date, and DMs should keep that in mind. It’s easy to lose the forest for the trees when it comes to numbers behind Dungeons & Dragons‘mechanical, but at the end of the day the focus should be on making dating fun. While that would be handy, there is simply no fun in calculating.

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