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4th edition Dungeons & Dragons had a standard party size of 5 players. I can't seem to find an equivalent definition of what the standard party size is in 5th edition. The tables in the DMG mention adjusting encounters if there are less than 4 or more than 5 players, but doesn't seem to make a difference between 4 and 5.

Is there anything in the rules, errata, or sage advice defining what the standard party size in 5th edition is? Are the official adventures designed for 4 or 5 characters?

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As you're aware, the DMG's guidelines for building encounters are designed for parties of three to five characters:

The preceding guidelines assume that you have a party consisting of three to five adventurers. (page 83)

Many of the published adventures contain recommendations:

  • Lost Mine of Phandelver: "...adventure for four to five characters..."
  • Hoard of the Dragon Queen: "The ideal party size is four characters."
  • Rise of Tiamat: "Four characters is the ideal party size."
  • Curse of Strahd: "...for a party of four to six characters..."
  • Storm King's Thunder: "adventure for four to six player characters"

Tales from the Yawning Portal contains seven separate adventures, and two of them include recommendations:

  • The Sunless Citadel: "It is designed for a party of four or five 1st-level player characters."
  • The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan: "...is designed for a group of four or five 5th-level player characters."
  • Adventurers League rules require a table of 3-7 players, so all WotC-published modules will hew to that assumption. Further, rules for adjusting encounter strength will typically put 3-PC and 7-PC parties at very weak or very strong, putting the expectation for "standard" parties at 4-6 PCs.

Princes of the Apocalypse and Out of the Abyss do not appear to contain any such recommendation. From the recommendations provided, it would be reasonable to conclude that, while there is no single number of characters that makes up a "standard" party, parties are generally, just as in the DMG, four or five characters.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there anything in the later published adventures that goes against this trend? (It's up to you whether to add them all to your answer, but you may at least wish to note whether the same trend continues.) \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Sep 29 at 23:01
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Is there anything in the rules, errata, or sage advice defining what the standard party size in 5th edition is?

So far as I am aware, there's no strict definition of preferred party size in the core rules (PHB, DMG, MM).

Are the official adventures designed for 4 or 5 characters?

In the adventure Rise of Tiamat, page 4, it says

Four characters is the ideal party size.

I don't have any other adventures to reference, but (as always) I certainly welcome well-cited edits from other adventures.

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I find that a party of four is good for normal play. However, if you have a table of FNGs I like to have one experienced player to act as an in character guide and to lead by example. If I have a table of experienced players I have done upwards of 10 as they know how to keep things flowing. The group I am currently running is 3 FNGs and one experienced. As the new players are all 12-13 we are simplifying the rules and each session adding in more formal rules. This has worked well to keep the flow.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The question is about the intent of the designers, reflected in official material. Not what is playable or advised. \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Dec 19 '17 at 17:55

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