I am making a boss fight. The boss can cast animate objects, a spell that can animate statues.

The spell gives information for, eg., 1 Large Construct:

Large - HP: 50, AC: 10, Attack: +6 to hit, 2d10 + 2 damage, Str: 14, Dex: 10

How much XP should I award for this Large construct?

I'm estimating CR1 (200XP) each.

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    \$\begingroup\$ [Related] How does the summoning ability affect the encounter difficulty? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Aug 14 '18 at 0:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ I know an answer has already been accepted and everything, but... will this boss animate the constructs and then leg it, so that the constructs are actually the current boss fight, or will the boss stick around to take part in the fight as well? I feel as though this detail impacts which answer is actually correct... \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Aug 14 '18 at 7:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Dulkan See this FAQ for why your comment was removed. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Aug 14 '18 at 8:22

Your intuition is (mostly) correct

Defensively, the construct has 50 HP, placing in the CR 1/2 category. However, its AC of 10 is 3 points lower than the suggested AC for a CR 1/2, so its defensive CR is reduced to 1/4.

Offensively, the construct is expected to deal 13 damage per round with its one attack, placing it in the CR 1 range. Its attack bonus of +6 is 3 points higher than suggested, so its offensive CR is bumped up to 2.

Taking the average yields a value of 1.125. This rounds down to the nearest overall CR, 1.


The animated object has several drawbacks compared to a normal creature:

  1. If the caster looses concentration on Animate Objects, then the objects revert to an inert state.
  2. The caster must use his/her bonus action to direct the animated object, otherwise it does nothing.

These drawbacks mean that an encounter with the boss+ animated statues from Animate Object will likely be easier than an encounter with the boss+ (insert CR 1 monsters here). I can't say how much easier, since that would depend a lot on the boss's abilities.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This answer does a nice job of answering from a game mechanics perspective, and also puts the potential for the CR/XP benefit into worthwhile contrast to the monster that summoned it. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 14 '18 at 2:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ Please note that the other answers contradict this answer and have a very strong argument. \$\endgroup\$ – Philipp Aug 14 '18 at 10:36

Zero XP

If your boss can cast Animate Objects, that’s already factored into the boss’s own CR. Spells are always part of the caster’s CR, including spells that can add new opponents, whether by summoning, conjuring, creating, or animating them.

Since XP awards are derived from CR and the animated statues don’t contribute, they don’t affect XP awards.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Technically, the most upvoted answer there says it is not factored into the CR, or am I misunderstanding? \$\endgroup\$ – HellSaint Aug 14 '18 at 0:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HellSaint That answer has… methodology issues. Anyway, the intent wasn’t to cite it, just add a related link. That’s not obvious though, so I’ve removed the link and made it a [related] comment. :) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Aug 14 '18 at 0:44

It isn't clear if summoned creatures add experience at all

So, you are jumping to "How much does it add", but we don't even have the answer to "Does it add?". Check How does the summoning ability affect the encounter difficulty? - note that we actually don't know if the summoned creatures are expected to be considered in the creature's CR already, if it should be added or what.

From my point of view, a creature that can cast Animate Objects shouldn't, at least not without playtesting, have a higher CR than other spellcasting creatures that can cast other 5th level spell, with the same stats. But there is also the fact that increasing the number of enemies changes the action economy fundamentally, since now there are more enemies.

Possible Mearls talking:

In ENWorld, I've found this thread that mentions an answer by Mike Mearls, stating:

Q: For monsters that can summon in help, like the pit fiend, do the summoned monsters count toward the pit fiend’s XP, or must they be accounted for separately when building encounters?

A: If a monster can summon other creatures, that ability will be accounted for in the monster’s XP value, so the DM won’t need to make any adjustments.

Sadly the link is broken, so I can't verify. Also, Mike Mearls answers are not official, even though he is a developer.

Current DM's Basic Rules

From the DM basic rules, in the Experience subsection:

Unless something tells you otherwise, a monster summoned by a spell or other magical ability is worth the XP noted in its stat block.

Animate Objects doesn't state a CR, though.


For now, it's not clear that we should add any experience at all. Personally, I don't see why a creature casting Animate Objects should give more total experience than one casting Cone of Cold or Cloudkill. So, essentially, zero.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Given how often Mearls' answers are off the cuff, it's a tough sell to use his responses on a rules point. On the other hand, he's not short of vision in terms of "what the game can be" and the art of the possible, which is reflected in 5e design principles. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 14 '18 at 2:12

Regardless of any rules, I recommend against awarding any experience for summoned creatures, because it incentivizes players to metagame your encounters with summoners.

Once players catch on to the fact, that you reward XP for every summon, they may try to extend encounters to get the summoners to use all of their summoning abilities. They can defeat the summoned creatures for extra experience. It's low-risk for them, annoys you, and extends encounter duration unnecessarily.

You are then forced to revise your policy regarding summon XP or redesign your encounters to discourage this extension of the fight, neither is a good situation.

I'd also like to echo HellSaint's statement: Why should the same caster be worth more experience when he spends his spell slots on summons instead of damage spells?

(Note: of course, there are plenty of players who will not try to exploit this situation, but you can never be sure what type of player someone is, when you don't know them.)

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    \$\begingroup\$ Even though WoTC recommends awarding XP for summoned monsters, you recommend against. Unless something tells you otherwise, a monster summoned by a spell or other magical ability is worth the XP noted in its stat block. (Under Experience) You have not explained why it is wrong for players to be awarded experience for defeating monsters, be they summoned or otherwise. I don't understand the "DM as victim" presumption in your first and second paragraphs. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 15 '18 at 12:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ Follow up: you can never be sure what type of player someone is, when you don't know them Do you actually DM for a group, or are you guessing here? This answer is perplexing, unless one buys into the assumption of "Player versus DM" as the prevailing mind set at the table. Have you had actual experience of people doing that, at the table, in the game, this "metagaming to get more summons for XP" behavior? \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 15 '18 at 12:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Yes, in fact I'm a player who would try that. I like min-maxing and if I know I can get easy experience by killing summoned creatures with low risk, I certainly would jump at the opportunity. The explanation why players shouldn't get XP for summons is the 2nd paragraph. It has nothing to do with a "player vs dm" mindset, it just allows the players to reap extra rewards for little effort at the cost of holding up the game. Which is why I started the answer with "Regardless of any rules". I'm actually baffled as to how WotC could miss this obvious exploitation potential. \$\endgroup\$ – Dulkan Aug 15 '18 at 12:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ OK, it's an interesting answer that seems to miss out on a rather salient point (in my experience) in that nothing requires the DM to summon another monster for the players to farm XP. ;) Your second paragraph assertion is why I asked if you are a DM; as a DM of long experience, I found that sentence funny. *You are then forced to revise your policy ... * Actually, no, you aren't forced to do anything. This edition isn't built to be Player versus DM. Didn't vote either way, I was just trying to understand what is behind this answer. Thanks for explaining. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 15 '18 at 12:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ Further that point, the DM doesn't somehow lose when players get XP awarded. In any case, I hope you have lots of fun ... \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 15 '18 at 12:49

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