When I write a campaign, I see most people will give an EL for every encounter they write. Basically, it would be equal to the encountered creature if that's an encounter with just one creature.

And then I see demons and devils have the abilities called "Summon" that can call their friends to help them out. For example, a Balor can call another Balor once per day, and that called Balor can further call another Balor again, potentially generating an army of infinite Balors if the PCs don't cast things like Dimensional Lock on the battlefield as their first action in the encounter.

In such a case, it seems EL should not be 20 here unless I otherwise rule "this Balor somehow cannot summon anyone". Perhaps it should be "varies" depending on how the fight progresses?


1 Answer 1


In general, creatures' summon abilities are built into their CR already.

For quick comparison, you would not increase the CR of a 5th level wizard who picked summon monster III instead of fireball.

That said, CR is a guideline. You can very easily construct deadly encounters at low nominal CR, or trivial encounters at high nominal CR. It's even easier if you are building those encounters against a specific group. You can and should be adjusting EL and XP awards to whatever makes sense.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Agree with the last (and probably the first) paragraph but not the example. The summon monster series has noted that those summoned monsters lose their summon abilities (if any). If they can chain-summon their friends like that Balor, the situation will definitely be different. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 22, 2023 at 2:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TerryWindwalker A balor can't, in combat, chain summon: "A creature that has just been summoned cannot use its own summon ability for 1 hour." Still, facing 2 balors sucks. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 22, 2023 at 5:32

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