To answer the question of how many encounters per day you can have in 5e you need not look far.
The Dungeon Master’s Guide clearly states on page 84 that:
“Assuming typical adventuring conditions and average luck, most adventuring parties can handle six to eight medium or hard encounters in a day. If the adventure has more easy encounters, the adventurers can get through more. If it has more deadly encounters, they can handle fewer.”
And that’s basically it. Yet, we still have to focus on other parts of the adventure – specifically the adventure creation process.
This article will be a continuation of sorts of previous articles we’ve done, especially the one on how to be a DM in DnD 5e.
For more details and context consult the previous articles.
Now, let’s get into it. What we want to look at and discuss today is the following: How many encounters can a typical adventuring party have in DnD 5e, and how to build these encounters properly so that everyone can have fun.
Let us begin.
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How many Encounters per day in DnD 5e?
As we mentioned in the introduction. The DMG clearly states that the average amount is 6-8 encounters per day. This number can go up and down of course based on the difficulty of the encounter.
Seeing as there is no hard cap on how many encounters your party can have, the number is practically infinite. So if you want to subject your players to a soul-grinding experience of only killing boars for an eternity just so that they can level up. (Kind of like something they did in the “Make Love, Not Warcraft” episode of South Park) You can. But that won’t be the most exciting gameplay.
Some people enjoy repetition in games – most people don’t though. And that should be your target group when designing adventures, the majority of players.
So, try to find an optimal balance between engagement and leisure time. Because remember, the time spent between adventuring and encounters is imperative to story-building.
You can’t spend the entire adventure in a bloodthirsty slaughter. You have to have balance.
Speaking on balance, let’s talk more about that in the next part.
How to Structure Your Encounters
Now we get to the other important question of the day. How to structure your encounters?
I always believe that this should be done in two parts: The theory, and the practice.
In theory, every good adventure should have the following: Exciting encounters, challenging foes/encounters, rewarding experiences, and a natural progression.
All the previously mentioned elements you should think up and include before you start your adventure or even session.
The location and backstory of the encounter are important, as they flesh out the world.
The foes you come against are important because they add variety and a sense of progression to your adventure.
Proper rewards at the end of each encounter are the most important, as they are what the players ultimately want.
And finally, the feeling of natural progression. You get this if over time the players get to face more difficult and challenging situations and problems as they advance in level and knowledge.
What we’ve said up until now covers the theory aspect – now comes the practice.
In practice, be ready to throw all of that out of the window. Remember, your ultimate goal is to have fun. If one of these elements proves to be too much or proves to be inadequate – then don’t be sorry about sacrificing it.
It’s all fine and dandy if you’ve spent hours – or even days thinking about an adventure. But if halfway through your planned adventure all of the players meet their demise then it’s just not fun. That is why I say that this part should be divided into two parts.
It’s all fun and games in theory to create an adventure that has only Deadly encounters, or only Easy encounters. But in practice, it couldn’t be farther from that.
That is why it is important to strike the right balance as a DM. You want it to be challenging and fun – but not too challenging and fun. It all has to feel natural in the end, instead of just forced.
That basically covers all the relevant aspects about the question of “How many encounters per day in DnD 5e?” Consult our other articles on similar topics to learn more.