I have just spent altogether too much time trying to answer a simple question in my arena combat game:

Would a level 1 group like to take on a level 4 character, PVP? How many players do you think would be required? How would the rewards/XP be sorted for such a match?

I looked over this, this, this and this, but the math is melting my brain so I'm throwing up my hands and hoping y'all can come up with a better answer than I have been able to.

The combat should be balanced for each side. All my attempts just confuse me further. Ahhh.

  • \$\begingroup\$ What class would that lvl4 PC be ? ANd how many players do you have ? \$\endgroup\$
    – Lymakk
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 18:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ The number of players flucuates, but roughly 5-8 1st level and 5-8 4th level players. Thus far they have only done PVE combat with 4 players of each level facing off against whatever NPCs and monsters I throw at them. I'm not sure what class the 4th level PC will be, I don't know who will want to try this match. \$\endgroup\$
    – OzzyKP
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 18:47

2 Answers 2


Make the higher level as a CR 2 creature

You'll notice a few things after looking at monsters and stats for games, and this holds true for both DND and other roleplaying/video games.

Enemies have high health and accuracy, but low damage.

Players have low health and accuracy, but high damage.

This is for a few core reasons:

  • Fights last longer than a few turns
  • The high accuracy and low damage from monsters against low health players means that healing is impactful, without the risk of players dying being unable to react against threats
  • Damage from players seems like they hit major organs, and feel much more dramatic, while still making the monster able to get hit a few times.
  • Enemies are a constant threat, who's tough to take down without being frustrating.

If you've ever played an RPG video game, had one of your characters get confused, and hit one of your own players, you'll know exactly how devastating it can be.

On the same note, there's a reason you can't just let low levels take on a Rakshasa. They have inherent abilities that are supposed to be trumped by powers available at higher levels.

From my experience, PVP, especially with different levels, is not worth the hassle, and is fun for the last people standing, since everyone else died in the second round.

My recommendation is to avoid having the higher level player be a standard PC, and rather build him to be a CR 2 creature. That kind of fight would be designed for a group of 4 level 2 players, which would be a balanced fight for 6 level 1s, and handles the experience handout at the same time.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The PCs are already created, so I can't level them up or down or build something new. \$\endgroup\$
    – OzzyKP
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 21:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, sorry about that. In that case, compare to how the single player will do against a CR 2 or CR 3 boss solo. Use that as a baseline for what the level 1 players can expect. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 22:36

CR by my Experiance and the Examples you gave

So to begin, 3 of those 4 examples showed you how to split experience and rewards for combat rather than tell you how CR works. However, THIS page is an extremely wordy way of proving how CR works. I understand that it's a very daunting thing to read through, since it's basically a college+ research paper, so I'll give you the short version. The way that CR is structured is so that one dude of whatever level can take on something that has a CR equal to that level. So whenever I put together a combat, I follow the information that the god-awfully long paper gave me and use this as my rule of thumb : CR = Party Level + Party Size

That being said, Pathfinder NPCs using just PC classes, as archived on this page, have a constant diference of one less CR than its level.

Therefore, if you were planning to fight a Level 4 character, you would need either 2 lvl 2s or 3 lvl 1s. (Lvl4 = CR3 | '3 = 1 + x' or '3 = 2 + x')

As for the rewards, you compare the CR of the encounter to the chart here. At that point, you either give everyone the shown amount of experience under the party size (ergo 265 exp for 1-3 dudes fighting a CR3) or you divide the total experience by the number of guys in the party and distribute it that way (CR3 = 800 exp)


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