Encounter EL & XP Calculator 4.01

For 3.5 use, by arcady based on work from Tiera Starr and John Dells


XP Awards

(per character)


Enter the number and ECL of characters in the party.

Note: For PHB races, ECL = class level.

Num. ECL CR based (3.5) Difficulty based Enter the number and CR of each opponent the party faces.

Note: CR's may be entered as fractions (2/3, 3/4, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5, 1/6, 1/8, 1/9, 1/10).

If encountered in:
Spotting checks start at:
Num. CR
Uniform XP per Character (3.0-similar): Treasure Value:

Effective Party Level: Encounter Level: Difficulty:
Average Party Level: % of this EL to use: Advice to Party:

XP Awards (per character): Four different versions available for a DM to choose from.
CR based Individual XP (listed per ECL) uses the 3.5 DMG rules and numbers to determine XP based on the actual character levels (treated as a minimum of 3), individual opponent CR's, and the number in the party. This grants higher XP to lower level participants, allowing them to catch up to their higher level comrades. CR based Uniform XP uses the 3.0 DMG rules with 3.5 DMG numbers to determine XP based on Average Party Level (treated as a minimum of 3), individual opponent CR's, and the number in the party. Analysis proves this only really works for a party of four with the same ECL's. Difficulty based Individual XP is based on the idea that it should take 13 1/3 typical (ECL = Average Party Level for a party of 4) encounters to advance a level. However, using this method, differing level companions will never catch up in either XP or level. Difficulty based Uniform XP uses the guidelines that 13 1/3 typical encounters to advance a level. However, because Average Party level is used as a multiplier instead of the individual character levels, differing level companions will eventually catch up in level (but not XP).
Effective Party Level and Average Party level will show the difference in the 'CR' of the PCs if the group has more than 4 characters. Once there are more than 4 Effective Party Level will start to go up even if the extra members are lower level and thus drive the average down. % of this EL to use shows how many encounters in a balanced adventure design should use ELs of this difficulty. This along with Difficulty and the Advice to Party provide tools for gauging encounter design.
A further caution: EL and CR become less and less reliable the further the PCs differ in stats from '25 point buy / standard array'. However there's no agreement on exactly how much of an impact this has.

Version History:

Version 4.01 - arcady

4.01: Added Spotting Distances - ever DM I've had has cheated these too short (often having armies unseen until melee range), so I figured DMs need this lesson.
4.0: Cleaned up the rounding and made the numbers match 3.5 for the CR-based system.
Fixed difference of more than 7 levels for 'Difficulty based' system.
Added calculation for determining the '% of this EL to use' in a 'balanced' adventure design.

Version 3.13:

Designed and written by Tiera Starr

Version 2.1:

Designed and written by John Dells.

You can contact these people through whatever means they allow on their sites, which are linked above.