The Dungeon Master's Guide explains that DMs

Do not award XP for creatures that enemies summon or otherwise add to their forces with magic powers. An enemy’s ability to summon or add these creatures is part of the enemy’s CR already. (You don’t give PCs more XP if a drow cleric casts unholy blight on them, so don’t give them more XP if she casts summon monster IV instead.) (37)

Does this mean the DM should not award XP for enemies added to the battlefield via spells and magic powers even if those spells and magic powers have been employed prior to the encounter?

Further, what about enemies added to the battlefield via means other than spells and magic powers yet that still expend or exploit the creature's resources? A druid's animal companion and a paladin's mount are among the "magic powers" obviously included in the creature's Challenge Rating, but what about cohorts and followers via the feat Leadership (DMG 106) or animals that have been purchased using the creature's NPC Gear Value (DMG 127)?

In short, did I miss--in the DMG or elsewhere--the section addressing creatures using their magical or nonmagical resources to have more creatures on their side before an encounter begins? If I didn't miss that section, is it a reasonable house rule to extend the rules above from the DMG to cover such encounters?

(By the way, I know that Challenge Rating and Encounter Level are guidelines--wildly subjective and often inaccurate guidelines--, and therefore I'm unconcerned with an evaluation of the encounter's perceived difficulty. I know I must adjust Challenge Ratings and Encounter Levels based on the characters and circumstances.)


I'm designing an encounter with a hag covey (MM 144), and when 3 hags are within 100 ft. of each other one can employ the spell animate dead [necro] (PH 199) as a spell-like ability 3/day as a 9th-level caster. The covey's had both time and access to corpses. That means 12 9-HD CR 4 skeletons (the group of which is an EL 11 encounter) can be present alongside them.

Further, one of the hags is a cleric who can cast planar ally [conj] (PH 261), and the hag's NPC Gear Value is sufficient to add to the enemies a 12-HD elemental or outsider to perform a "long-term task, one requiring up to one day per caster level" (PH 261), and that outsider or elemental could reasonably include a glabrezu (MM 43), kelvezu (MM2 61), rukarazyll (MM2 181), or an extremely liberal arcanaloth (MM2 203) with its at-will spell-like ability shapechange [trans] (PH 277-8). Yeah, I know--the Monster Manual 2 has some crazy stuff.

Also, all 3 hags possess sufficient class levels to take the feat Leadership and, narratively, should have it. And, narratively, their cohorts should be present during their encounter with the PCs, and their followers should be nearby.

Don't worry about the PCs' survival. They're tough. But I am worried about rewarding them appropriately if they defeat the covey. The hag covey has a lot of baggage but mechanically only generates treasure appropriate for an EL 18 encounter (3 CR 15 creatures) unless their animated dead, planar ally, cohorts, and followers all count toward that EL.

I know I can totally ignore the entire Encounter Level calculation and instead use the skeleton horde and the planar ally as one encounter, the cohorts and followers as a second, and the hag covey as the boss fight, but I'd still like to know the actual rules.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This question has answers that answer my question, although mine is more general. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 12:34

1 Answer 1


Does this mean the DM should not award XP for enemies added to the battlefield via spells and magic powers even if those spells and magic powers have been employed prior to the encounter?

Generally speaking, correct. The DM should not add XP for those.

I say "generally speaking", because there's cases where common sense says otherwise. If an NPC uses something like Planar Ally and adds something incredibly dangerous for the PCs, you probably want to count that as a new creature and add to the EL. Planar Ally is kind of a weird spell when NPCs use it as compared to Summon spells simply because they can trade a favor later (that the PCs may never know about) and some XP (not relevant to NPCs) to get some big help right now. They also don't have to spend a turn casting it during combat, unlike a summon.

It also adds more book keeping for the DM. Are you removing the cost of hiring the Planar Ally from the Hags treasure? If the PCs wait a while, does the ally time run out and the ally departs? How can the PCs learn about that? If this is just considered a class feature and thus not adding to the EL, those details start to matter more. I've known PCs who will get very upset if you say "oh that doesn't count for XP because it was magically added" only to learn that you weren't following the rules around doing that in terms of it leaving and such.

If you're adding the creature to the EL and simply using Planar Ally as the story reason for why it's there, then those issues can be fudged away fairly safely.


This is another "generally speaking" and exception case. Normally, feats and what they do don't factor into EL or XP calculations. You don't change the EL of a fight because an NPC took Mobility instead of Power Attack.

Leadership is not that. It's incredibly powerful. By adding more people to the group, it's altering the dynamics of the fight and adding considerable power.

Personally, I simply avoid giving NPCs the feat. If you add their henchmen by using the normal adding extra NPCs to an encounter rule, the EL rules are a lot easier to work with. The NPC also then gets to use that feat for something else. If an NPC did have it, I'd count the cohort (who is likely to be high enough level to be able to influence the fight) and not count the followers (they're so low level that they aren't as big a deal, so I'd just consider them the benefit of the feat).

IIRC, there is no NPC in the Monster Manual with the Leadership feat. There might be a reason for that. :)

NPC Gear Value on Animals

I'd not count these, as that gear value could have been spent on something else instead. The value is already factored in to the NPC's EL, how you spend it doesn't alter that. That said, I'd also avoid going overboard on this, as throwing 30 animals into a fight will slow combat way down.

Your Specific Case

The rules don't really go into how to handle this with things an NPC can use to augment their forces in the long term, such as a Cleric spending two weeks building up an undead army. If you're adding those to an encounter, they should be added to the EL. If the Cleric had sent those undead minions to fight the PCs on their own, you'd treat that as an encounter, right?

IMO, the reason why the book doesn't go into this is that it makes it easy to overthink things. If you're putting things there that are a permanent fixture of the encounter and not just a class feature (like an animal companion, familiar, or special mount), you should probably count them no matter how they got there. Summons are excluded because they're both temporary and require the NPC to spend time and spells casting them during combat.

By a literal strict reading, you could make a case that your Hags can take Leadership then cast Planar Ally, and their cohorts can all spend the entirety of their gear budget hiring mercenaries and animals to help, and you don't have to count any of it.

But, doing that gives you an encounter that is way out of whack with an otherwise identical EL one where the Hags don't take Leadership and don't use Planar Ally. I don't think it's within the spirit of what's intended for the EL.

That's why I would count the Planar Allies and Cohorts. Your PCs are going to be facing a LOT of foes and a much tougher fight due to those choices, and the XP reward should reflect that.


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