How useful is Challenge Rating for determining difficulty?

I’m thinking about my loot script. It would be easy (and probably in the spirit of D&D) to use the CR as a modifier for generating loot.

My concern is that some things are way too tough for their CR (bloated dire spider, anyone?) and other things are way too easy, which would result in loot that is better or worse than what I consider fair.

Areas will have monsters within the same level range, so I could simply base loot off an area, but it would still be nice if a level 3 golblin had better chances for better loot than a level 2 kobold, even if they are in the same area.

I don’t feel like adding an integer to every creature I make and use that as a custom CR, although I may do it anyway.

So… Are CR precise enoguh? Or am I right in thinking they’re not? Any advice or suggestions?


Challenge Rating (CR) IS the metric for determining difficulty. If a builder believes that particular monster is harder or easier than their Challenge Rating, then it is trivial to create a copy of the monster and adjust the CR up or down. That way, the experience awarded is appropriate. Basing your treasure system on CR is exactly what you are supposed to do. Also keep in mind that environment is supposed to change the CR of an encounter/creature as well. For example, a ranged attacker who is far a way and difficult to reach is a greater CR than one who is within attack of opportunity range. The NWN engine does not change CR on the fly – it is up to the builder to adjust the CR. The D&D Dungeon Master’s Guide has other examples of when to adjust up or down the Challenge Rating.

In other words, there is nothing more useful in determining difficulty than the Challenge Rating.

And since the GetChallengeRating function returns a float rather than an integer, you have the opportunity to finetune your script so that a 1.6 Challenge Rating has a lower treasure chance than a 2.4 CR even though both are rounded to a CR 2.

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For some reason I was under the impression that CR was locked at whatever value was determined by levels, powers, attributes and such. Had no idea you could manually change it. That certainly makes things a whole less compliated. Thanks. :slight_smile:

I don’t think I will change the CR based on circumstance. Strictly by the rules stepping on a trap should give you xp for “surviving an encounter” if still alive so I’m not that worried about strictly following the rules, although I might increase CR if they are behind city gates/destroyables (which are effectlively extra HP.)

Thanks for the feedback!