My DM is insisting that he is not giving us DEADLY encounters, so I am bringing one example to this community to see if I am calculating incorrectly.

I am in an adventuring party as one of THREE 12th level characters [wizard, warrior, cleric]. We came upon (4) Ooze, Corrupting (Tomb of Beasts 311). According to the DMG to determine threshold I should:

Determine XP Threshold

12th Level: Easy=1,000 xp; Medium=2,000 xp; Hard=3,000 xp; Deadly=4,500 xp

Determine the Party's XP Threshold

[Easy] 3×1,000 = 3,000 xp
[Medium] 3×2,000 = 6,000 xp
[Hard] 3×3,000 = 9,000 xp
[Deadly] 3×4,500 = 13,500 xp

Total Monsters' XP

[4] Ooze, Corrupting (Tome of Beasts pg.311) 4 × 1,800 xp = 7200 xp

Modify Total XP for Multiple Monsters

Number of Monsters: 3-6
Multiplier: × 2

Result: 7,2000 × 2 = 14,400 Monster XP

Compare XP

Party Threshold for DEADLY encounter is 13,500 XP
Monster XP is 14,400 XP
MY UNDERSTANDING: This is a DEADLY encounter.
Is this a DEADLY encounter?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ What the combat circumstances were? \$\endgroup\$
    – enkryptor
    Nov 3, 2019 at 11:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @sevenbrokenbricks has given a good answer, but I'd like to know how the encounter actually went. Did you, in fact, barely survive (or not)? Or did you manage to defeat the oozes with 'only' moderate injuries and a fair amount of resource expenditure? \$\endgroup\$
    – PJRZ
    Nov 3, 2019 at 16:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is your GM running a homemade campaign or a ready-made module? \$\endgroup\$
    – kviiri
    Nov 3, 2019 at 17:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ Future researchers might consider using kobold.club/fight/#/encounter-builder \$\endgroup\$
    – Destruktor
    Nov 3, 2019 at 23:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ To comment on how well designed the encounter difficulty system is, I can share that I threw a group of 5 level 3 players into an over triple-deadly encounter, and thanks to a tight corridor and some good tactics, nobody went even unconscious. This last week the same group, now level 5, went against a 150% deadly encounter. After two fireballs only three of fifteen enemy combatants still stood, and only one of the PC's has lost more than 25% hp at the end. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark
    Nov 4, 2019 at 7:55

1 Answer 1


Carcer and I can independently verify that all your math checks out.

That said, take a deep breath. I doubt this question was prompted by your lack of faith in your own math and reading skills, but instead by your DM's insistence that this encounter wasn't deadly, and this much bold formatting and all-caps in a question (prior to style edits at least) makes it pretty clear that personal feelings are running hot (and probably being hurt) over this issue. If the game is causing you that much stress, maybe it's time for a break, or for a different activity - or for just walking away. No game is preferable to a game prompting this kind of emotional response.

So why are they saying it's not a deadly encounter? I'm not your DM, so I don't have direct access to their thought processes and reasoning, but if I had to guess?

Maybe they don't realize they need to add the additional difficulty multiplier for groups of monsters, as this is something that causes some confusion in 5E. Under this math, the encounter would incorrectly show as medium.

Maybe, and this is what I believe is most likely, you're not talking about the same thing when you say "deadly encounter". They could be using "deadly" to refer to the encounter in plain English - like "trivial" or "effortless" or "frustrating" - while you use it to describe this very specific 5E concept of encounter difficulty. Few things are more frustrating than being separated by a common language like this.

Maybe the oozes were at some disadvantage: surprised, distant enough for your ranged folk to get a licking in before they closed the distance, or something else specific to the encounter that only the DM knew about. Per the DMG, a disadvantage like this drops the encounter one step from deadly to hard.

Maybe the encounter was the first, last, or only encounter in the adventuring day. All of these affect the perceived difficulty of the encounter, despite having identical XP values and theoretically taking up the same fraction of the party’s resources (hp, hit dice, spell slots, etc) per adventuring day. Earlier encounters give you more flexibility in matching the right resource to the encounter (such as using your spell slots to get around damage resistances that would prolong hp-draining melee combat) and more assurance that if things do go pear-shaped you can still handle it, and so they feel easier even if they take more out of the party. The later an encounter gets, though, the less these apply. If you lose almost all your resources to an encounter, it still feels like you made it by the skin of your teeth, even if it was only a small fraction of your adventuring day’s resources. Spending half your Hit Dice and all your spell slots is still going to feel less tense than spending a single hit die, if its your very last one.

If you haven't already done so, I would recommend just talking to them to see if it's any of these. And when you do, give them the chance to explain; they may ultimately be in the right here.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I love the fact that you considered the life of the players and the climate of the group etc. instead of just answering the question via rules. That inspired me, I'm too rational sometimes and this is very appreciated. Good job. \$\endgroup\$
    – Maxpire
    Nov 3, 2019 at 7:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ The Corrupting Ooze from Kobold Press's Tome of Beasts does indeed have a given challenge rating of 5 (1,800 XP). \$\endgroup\$
    – Carcer
    Nov 3, 2019 at 11:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Bryan I’m sorry for the misunderstanding, but please find another way to express this. All caps, bold, and large text comes off in print the way shouting into a megaphone comes off in verbal conversation. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 4, 2019 at 2:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @sevenbrokenbricks - This is useful information. I will try to figure out how to use the Ordered List better. I see now that would have led to less misunderstanding. The exact problem with Ordered List is when it came to sub-points. It wouldn't let me nest an Un-ordered List within the Ordered List. I only gave it a couple tries before I gave up and used bold and capitals. Again, kind of you to give me this pointer and to be quick to reconcile. I will gladly accept your answer now. \$\endgroup\$
    – Bryan
    Nov 4, 2019 at 2:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Bryan: You can find a general overview of formatting tips here, but if you have further questions, feel free to ask in Role-playing Games Chat! \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Nov 4, 2019 at 3:06

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