I have a question on how to give the correct experience to my party. In the first fight they had:

  • 6 x Skeletons (6 x CR 1/3 = EL 2)
  • 1 x Ogre Skel. (CR 3)
  • 1 x Level 2 Cleric (CR 2)
  • 2 x Gnoll (2 x CR 1 = EL 2)

According with the table in the DM manual, page 49 (italian ed.), I have something like 4 creatures on CR 2 (except for the big skel.) and this should be a EL 6. The party is composed by 5 adventurers on level 4 so, looking at the other table they should get 2.400 experience points more or less.
The second fight happened when they were resting, so they had no access to their best spells and they had to fight:

  • 6 x Gnolls (6 x CR 1 = EL 5 really, you serious WotC?)
  • 1 x Human Cleric lvl 2 (CR 2)
  • 1 x Troglodyte Cleric lvl 2 (CR 3)

Considering the condition of the party and the number of enemies, this should be something like EL 7 or 8, worthing 3.200 or 4.200 experience points.

Am I doing well or not? Thank you for your assistance.

  • \$\begingroup\$ It's "Return to Temple of Elemental Evil" campaign set. \$\endgroup\$ – IssamTP Aug 28 '15 at 14:27

Encounter Level doesn't affect XP Awards

This is explained in greater detail in the Dungon Master's Guide on Experience Rewards (36-7), but creatures generate XP through their Challenge Ratings. The DM can modify both the Challenge Rating (hence the XP award) and the Encounter Level of an encounter as described in Modifying XP Awards and Encounter Levels (DMG 39). This makes Table 3–1: Encounter Numbers (DMG 49) unimportant when determining XP; rely instead on Table 2–6: Experience Point Awards (Single Monster).

I've broken down both encounters below. Note: PCs will like your numbers better.

Encounter 1

If all the creatures in the first encounter are overcome, the encounter generates 2,600 XP for level 4 PCs. With 5 level 4 PCs participating, each PC earns 520 XP.


  • 6 CR 1/3 skeletons (300 XP each but each divided by 3 equals 100 XP each for a total of 600 XP)1
  • 2 CR 1 gnolls (300 XP each for a total of 600 XP)
  • 1 CR 2 cleric (600 XP)
  • 1 CR 3 ogre skeleton (800 XP)

Encounter 2

If all the creatures in the second encounter are overcome, the encounter generates 3,200 XP for level 4 PCs. With 5 level 4 PCs participating, each PC earns 640 XP.


  • 6 CR 1 gnolls (300 XP each for a total of 1,800 XP)2
  • 1 CR 2 human Clr2 (600 XP)
  • 1 CR 2 troglodyte Clr2 (800 XP)

1 The division is as per the Dungeon Master's Guide on Monsters Below CR 1, which says

Some monsters are fractions of a Challenge Rating. For instance, a single orc is not a good challenge for even a 1st-level party, although two might be. You could think of an orc as approximately CR 1/2. For these cases, calculate XP as if the creature were CR 1, then divide the result by 2. (37)

2 6 CR 1 gnolls have, in fact, a combined Encounter Level of 5. Remember that gnolls, unlike the previous skeleton horde, think independently and employ tactics. They like setting ambushes and flanking, and a critical hit from a gnoll's battleaxe (after switching to a two-handed grip as a free action after dropping the shield as a free action and using the feat Power Attack) can deal over 40 points of damage.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Uhm... there's something I can't get from your explaination: the numbers are the same. What am I missing? \$\endgroup\$ – IssamTP Aug 28 '15 at 15:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @IssamTP Our numbers are close but not identical. If you continued using EL instead of CR, at higher levels the numeric differences would be much more pronounced (for example, 12 CR 5 creatures earns a party of 5 level 12 adventurers 144 XP each, but 1 CR 12 creature earns the same party 720 XP each, yet both are an EL 12 encounter). \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Aug 28 '15 at 15:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ I guess I should read again the manual... \$\endgroup\$ – IssamTP Aug 28 '15 at 17:45
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @IssamTP It's not that big of a deal if everyone's happy. As an aside, so you know, many folks—even by-the-book rules monkeys such as I—dispense with XP altogether. XP as a currency is a deeply flawed paradigm anyway, and there are numerous, playtested workarounds for the most common expenditure, item creation. Just something to consider. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Aug 28 '15 at 17:53

You may be interested in Encounter Calculator if you don't already know of it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I can't pinpoint where but there must be something wrong in calculations, since the Encounter Calculator gives different results. \$\endgroup\$ – Zachiel Aug 28 '15 at 11:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Zachiel I'm sorry but I didn't grasped your comment realy well (not first language). Do you doubt Calculator or IssamTP's calculations? They assume 4 CR2 creatures instead of a bunch from the first part for simplicity as I got it. Don't think 200 exp make significant difference here. \$\endgroup\$ – annoying imp Aug 28 '15 at 12:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ You said IssamTP's calculations were ok but the automatic calculator gives different results. Hey I Can Chan's answer has why (and points out that the difference grows with levels) \$\endgroup\$ – Zachiel Aug 28 '15 at 19:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Zachiel Got it. Really becomes invalid in corner cases. I think, I'll leave the answer though for the link. \$\endgroup\$ – annoying imp Aug 29 '15 at 12:59

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