Does the Challenge Rating of a Monster Assume a Party or a Single PC?

Challenge Rating (CR) is the numerical formula used to assess a party of four players’ difficulty in defeating an adversary in D&D 5e. Since the Challenge Rating system is frequently oversimplified, it should not be used to determine whether players can handle a situation. If you’re a DM, trust your instincts about whether or not the combat should be scaled up or down. A party with no healing spells, for example, may not be able to stand up to an attacker with a lot of long-term damage capabilities.

This article will answer some of the most famous questions about Challenge Rating in D&D 5e. So if you’re on the lookout for the same, here is your stop.


Does the Challenge Rating of a Monster Assume a Party or a Single PC?

Does the Challenge Rating assume a single PC or a group of PCs? As a CR3, a challenge for 1 PC (like with 4th Edition) or a group of PCs? If so, for how large a group? How should a DM choose a monster with more or fewer PCs?

Generally, a single monster will present a medium or hard encounter against a party of four PCs of a level equal to its CR. In the case of one or two adventurers, refer to the XP multiplier for the following largest number. Example: When fighting a single monster, use the × 1.5 XP multiplier opposite the Pair of Monsters.

If you have six to eight adventurers, utilize the XP multiplier for the following smallest number of monsters. Therefore, when fighting a gang of monsters, use the × 2 XP modifier opposite the Group of Monsters. For Horde (15 or more monsters), use a × 5 XP multiplier.

For a single monster opponent, use a × .5 multiplier.


Encounter XP Multiplier Table

Number of Monsters XP Multiplier
Single Monster
Pair (2 monsters) × 1.5
Group (3-6 monsters) × 2
Gang (7-10 monsters) × 2.5
Mob (11-14 monsters) × 3
Horde (15 or more monsters) × 4

Unlike in previous D&D editions, CR isn’t used to create combat encounters directly. Instead, the XP values of the creatures (directly tied to CR) are used to determine how many creatures could be used in the encounter. 

CR tells you the upper maximum difficulty of the monster, assuming a party of 4. A reason why they moved from using level instead of CR is so that you do not confuse the monster’s CR with the level of characters fighting the monster. 

As a result, if your characters are level 1, a CR1 monster will be a challenge for them. If they’re level 2, putting one or more monsters into battle will be pretty easy, depending on how you use your XP budget. If the monster has a CR of 1/4, it will be a challenge for a single character without the rest of the party. CR of 1/8 indicates two will be a challenge for an individual, and CR 0 means it will not be a challenge for anybody. 

You will notice that CR 1/8th has an XP value of 25 while CR 0 has an XP value of 10. But the essential criteria you want to use when building an encounter is your XP budget. Use CR only to filter out which creatures are too deadly for the level of your party of any size.

Page 56 of the D&D Basic Rulebook clarifies that the advice about CR therein focuses on the monsters’ XP values instead of their CR. A CR is merely a guideline that indicates at what level the monster becomes an appropriate challenge. When putting together an encounter or adventure, use caution when using monsters whose difficulty rating is higher than the party’s, especially at lower levels. A creature like this may deal enough damage in a single action to overpower lower-level PCs. Even though an ogre’s challenge rating is 2, it can easily kill a 1st-level wizard or sorcerer with a single strike.

So use XP values when creating encounters. When evaluating how lethal a monster is to the party or a player, those XP values and the critical multipliers for party size and multiple creatures are crucial. CR is simply a filter for monsters’ “upper limit” to choose from when using the XP budgets. 

Here is a guide to making calculating CR easier for you.


How to Calculate Challenge Rating?

Calculating an encounter’s CR is critical for developing a compelling tale for your players to engage. Players may become bored with the story if interactions are too easy. However, they may feel disheartened or cease having fun if the encounters are too tricky. The most crucial aspect of any campaign is that everyone involved enjoys themselves.


Using XP Thresholds to Balance Encounters 

The Challenge Rating of a monster decides how much Experience or XP it grants, and each character has a daily XP budget that they can handle.

The chart below shows a character’s adjusted XP budget per day based on their level.

Level Adjusted XP Per Day
1st 300
2nd 600
3rd 1200
4th 1700
5th 3500
6th 4000
7th 5000
8th 6000
9th 7500
10th 9000
11th 10500
12th 11500
13th 13500
14th 15000
15th 18000
16th 20000
17th 25000
18th 27000
19th 30000
20th 40000

So, if one has four 1st-level characters in their party, their adjusted XP budget is 1200 (300 + 300 + 300 + 300). They can use this as a guide to figure out what kind of creatures to utilize in their fights.


XP Per Encounter Thresholds 

The XP Per Encounter Thresholds inform the DM about how much a character can handle in a single encounter instead of the entire day.

The following table indicates the encounters that will pose the best challenge for your parties.

Level Easy Medium Hard Deadly
1st 25 50 75 100
2nd 50 100 150 200
3rd 75 150 225 400
4th 125 250 375 500
5th 250 500 750 1100
6th 300 600 900 1400
7th 350 750 1100 1700
8th 450 900 1400 2100
9th 550 1100 1600 2400
10th 600 1200 1900 2800
11th 800 1600 2400 3600
12th 1000 2000 3000 4500
13th 1100 2200 3400 5100
14th 1250 2500 3800 5700
15th 1400 2800 4300 6400
16th 1600 3200 4800 7200
17th 2000 3900 5900 8800
18th 2100 4200 6300 9500
19th 2400 4900 7300 10900
20th 2800 5700 8500 12700

The monster’s XP values determine the CR of a monster. Easy, medium, hard, and lethal are the four obstacles that a party can face. You should choose your CR level based on your party’s overall XP rating.

During combat, it is difficult for players to compute the CR. If you are fighting a single creature responding to your healings and spells, the monster’s CR is equal to your level. Meanwhile, if the monster continues to knock you out, the creature’s CR is twice your strength.


Challenge Rating 5e Calculators: Encounter Balancing Calculations 

Encounter Balance has spawned a slew of internet calculators designed to make the task of encounter balancing for DMs easier. These tools are ideal for newer DMs that require more assistance in balancing encounters. You can utilize the following online calculators.

  • D&D Beyond: The website for D&D Beyond contains an encounter builder. Since the functionality is in beta, you can expect more features to be added to the tracker in the future!
  • Kobold+Fight Club: Kobold+ Fight Club is one of the most popular D&D Encounter Balancing websites. You can add characters and monsters to a list and track their current HP values to assess how dangerous the encounter has gotten in Kobold Fight Club.
  • Kastark: Kastark’s website includes an Encounter Balancing software and an initiative tracker. It’s a little more basic than Kobold Fight Club and D&D Beyond, but it’s easier to operate on your computer or phone!


Related Questions-

When Do We Use CR?

When making on-the-fly encounters, CR is the best option. If your group has exhausted all of its planned encounters, it’s time to fire up Kobold Fight Club on your phone and start tossing opponents at them at random.

If your encounters are consistently too simple or challenging for your players, you might want to look into CR. When your players begin to obtain magic items that may tip the scales too far in their favor, it’s also a good idea to look at CR.


How Does Homebrew Monster Calculate Challenge Rating?

The harsh reality is that calculating CR for your homebrew monsters will be difficult because CR isn’t remarkably accurate for official Wizard’s stuff. CR doesn’t take anything into account besides level. To ensure that your monster block has a proficiency score, you should come up with a CR.

When creating a custom monster, you calculate its CR based upon two factors:

  • Offensive CR: It includes proficiency bonus, attack bonus, and average damage/round.
  • Defensive CR: It has AC, hit points, resistances, and immunities.
  • Average the foregoing. 

One of the best tools for the purpose is Dot Encounter Planner.

Furthermore, you can find the guidelines for offensive and defensive CR on the following chart. 


Source: Quora


We hope that this post helped you understand how to calculate CR 5e. When coping with tense situations, the CR is usually a critical aspect. It refers to the difficulty of the game’s NPCs and creatures. As a result, make sure your CR is higher than the monsters’. Calculating the CR, in simple terms, helps you to determine how much a player can handle on any given day. You can prepare yourself for a challenging encounter once you realize how difficult it will be.