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I am GM and my group's party is 3 level 4's. They went to a black market and bought two CR 2 creatures. I forget how much they paid but they spent roughly 50 gold. One is a Orc and the other is a Homebrew Kobold swarm. They are controlled by one of the players since they are deciding to start a cult.(They did just buy the slaves to help startup the cult, yes) They intend to use them in combat and I'm unsure how to calculate them for future encounters. I have been scouring the internet with little help to figure this out.

I am using Pathfinder 1st edition.

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    \$\begingroup\$ What do you mean they "bought two CR 2 creatures"? Are those creatures NPC allies? If so, who controls them? Are they controlled by the players (and thus likely to be more effective) or by the DM? \$\endgroup\$
    – divibisan
    Apr 16 '20 at 0:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ An interesting question because familiars and animal companions are already included in the CR of a class. Summoning abilities of other ones like the summoner are also included. But anyone can buy a war trained mount and it will be in battle. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fering
    Apr 16 '20 at 1:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just to be extra clear: You're the GM, right? And the PCs have bought slaves to fill the ranks of their cult? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 16 '20 at 13:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hello, Convel, and welcome to RPG.SE! Sadly, we need more details before we can answer your question. What is exactly the role of this orc and a kobold swarm? Are they slaves, or were they persuaded to join the party? You can edit your question to add those details. Until then, I am voting to put this question on hold. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 17 '20 at 9:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, swarms are usually made of creatures of at least Tiny size -- are your homebrew kobolds also Tiny? If no, swarm rules are possibly not a very good representation of a bunch of kobolds. If yes -- please, share your kobold concept with us so we can understand what's going on. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 17 '20 at 9:25
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You don't generally subtract CR for equipment, animal companions, or mounts, so I don't see this as any different. Your characters levels, and the appropriate gear for those levels, is incorporated in CR calculations already. You don't say the PCs get less XP because they have +1 weapons, for example. Treat purchased creatures as gear because they cost money that could otherwise be spent on gear. That being said, if characters have access to more gear than they should for their level, then you would need to make your monsters tougher to compensate.

The difference between these creatures and other gear, however, is that they are independent creatures with their own personalities and motivations. Just like an intelligent magic weapon might refuse to do what the PC wants (or even convince the PC to do what they don't want to), the same could be said of NPC hirelings. If the PCs decide they want a tiger to attack their enemies, they can purchase a trained one or train one themselves (requires animal handling), but in order for the Tiger to do what the PCs want in combat, they would need to roll animal handling. They also need to pay to feed and take care of it (and spend time doing so). The same should be true for hirelings, using persuasion instead of animal handling (and possibly a higher DC because people are more difficult to convince then animals). Otherwise they will act in their own best interests. As these are slaves they might run off during a fight to try to escape while the PCs are busy in combat, unless the PCs can intimidate or persuade them otherwise. Honestly slaves are not best suited for combat. Hirelings (that the PCs pay every day) are better but still, the better the PCs treat them, the better they should obey. Even hirelings will quit if the PCs constantly put them against challenges much beyond them, risking their lives needlessly. If they mistreat these NPCs, they should get a penalty (or higher DC) on their checks to convince them to follow orders.

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When a combat involves NPC monsters which fight on the side of the players, then it is usually a reasonable approach to subtract their CR from the CR of the opponents. If the CR calculations are correct, then you can expect that the monsters on the player-side will occupy monters on the opponent-side which are roughly equal to their own CR.

But the usual caveats of CR calculation do of course apply. Encounter design is no exact science. Party composition, party strategy, house rules and a myriad of situational circumstances can result in encounters being a lot harder or easier than they should be "on paper". Having NPC monsters fighting for the players makes encounter balancing harder, not easier.

And by the way, you should not let the player who "bought" these creatures control them directly. Controlling a second character usually requires a feat. Allowing players to just buy more characters to control is rarely balanced. A better approach is to let the DM play these characters. This ensures that the NPC monsters act the way they should act according to their intelligence, personality and loyalty to the player-characters (just like the opposition). The creatures the players bought are mercenaries at best and slaves at worst. The players should not expect unconditional loyalty from them.

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