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Blog (A5E) Class Balance In A5E: How Much Damage Should A Damage Dealer Deal?

In Level Up: Advanced Fifth Edition, we’re creating new incarnations of the 5e character classes. Before we build our new classes from the ground up, we need… a teardown of the originals to see how they work!

Our design goal is to produce characters of approximately the same power level as the ones in the Players Handbook. We’ll need to do some math to figure out the targets we’re shooting for. Before we crunch the numbers, though, let's talk about what we mean by power level.

World Power Level

First, let me say that we're quite happy to expand characters’ abilities when it comes to the social and exploration pillars of the game. Some classes need more expansion than others. Currently, the wizard has dozens of exploration spells: scrying, teleportation, Jump, Find Traps, and many more. The bard has the social pillar covered, with Friends, Glibness, charms of all kinds, and the Expertise class feature which allows her to double her proficiency bonus. The rogue has Expertise but can't compete with the bard's spell tricks. A good roleplayer can do a lot with a fighter, but the class features don't do a lot of the heavy lifting.

We aim for each character class, including the non-spellcasters, to gain unique, powerful non-combat mechanical elements that let them do things that no other class can do. Let the spellcasters be jealous for once.



Combat Power Level

When I talk in this article about preserving the game's current power level, what I really mean is that a party of Level Up characters won't overperform or underperform a standard D&D party in combat. That means that you can play any D&D adventure, official or third party, and get the level of combat challenge that its designers intended.

Most of a class's combat statistics are pretty easy to figure out: How many hit points can we expect a fighter to have at level 10? What's a monk's typical Armor Class at level 3? Harder to calculate, but no less important, is this: how much damage can a character dish out at a given level? Without that piece of information, we can't really balance the classes' combat effectiveness.

There are so many variables in calculating damage that completely answering this question may be impossible. But we've got to start somewhere.

Let’s start with some assumptions.

1. I'll benchmark each character of level X against an enemy monster of CR X. Without some sort of class-granted accuracy bonus, each character hits 60% of the time. (Character attack bonus and monster Armor Class tend to increase at roughly the same rate.) If a class feature grants extra accuracy or advantage, that needs to be factored that into their average damage per round. (A mere +1 bonus to hit can result in an 8% damage boost!)

2. I assume that every area attack hits two monsters.

3. I average a character's damage over the first three rounds of combat.

4. For my benchmarks, I built Players Handbook-only characters, and I leaned towards the simplest subclass available. When presented with a class option, I chose the bigger-damage option. For instance, I built a Great Weapon fighter instead of a Protection build. I didn’t use feats, since I’d like this test to focus on class damage, not on feat effectiveness.

Before we start crunching numbers, we have an important decision to make. Which fight shall we simulate: an easy battle in which the party is conserving their resources, or an all-out assault where the wizards are using their highest spell slots, the fighter is using Action Surge, and the paladin is smiting everything that moves?

Why not both? Some classes can go nova, throwing down a lot of damage in a big fight, and some classes do steady damage throughout multiple fights. We need to be able to account for both of these strengths. So for each of the classes I surveyed, I charted their "no-resources" damage (using only infinitely-repeatable attacks they can perform at will) and their "nova" damage (using up every spell slot and class feature in order to maximize the amount of damage that they can deal).

To start, I charted the four "basic" D&D classes: the fighter, wizard, cleric, and rogue, plus two more I was interested in: the paladin, which I've heard is overpowered in combat, and the ranger, about which I've heard the reverse.

Here's my chart, on which I track average damage per round for the six classes for levels one through twenty. The solid lines represent maximum nova damage, and the dotted lines represent at-will damage. The rogue only has one damage line, because it really has no limited nova powers.

classchart1.png

The first thing that jumps out at me is that most of the classes fall into one of two categories: high-nova/low-at will, or medium-nova/medium-at-will. The evoker wizard and life cleric can really lay down a lot of damage in a boss fight, but when they're not burning spell slots they plink away with low-damage cantrips. Meanwhile, the champion fighter is right down the strike zone on every pitch. It's always producing around the same amount of damage.

Overall, I like the design of these classes. If it was me, I'd differentiate cleric a bit more by having it do more at-will damage and less nova damage than the wizard, but that's just a minor quibble.

The next thing I notice is that people are right about the paladin and ranger. The nova paladin puts out almost twice as much damage as the nova ranger (and my ranger is trying hard, using bonus action spells every turn and Conjure Volley when it becomes available). And the paladin doesn't give up much to the ranger in any other category to make up for all that extra damage. The paladin's at-will damage is only a hair under the ranger's. The paladin has better armor, the same hit points and better healing abilities.

I know I'm cherry-picking a bit here since I've chosen classes I know to be badly balanced against each other, and I'm compounding this by sticking to the Players Handbook ranger when I know there are higher-damage options in Xanathar's Guide. Nevertheless, it's good to get a sense of what the combat-effectiveness extremes look like.

The last class I want to talk about here is the thief rogue. Since it doesn't have any nova capabilities, you can judge it as either an at-will or a nova attacker. As an at-will user, it's among the better ones, keeping pace with the champion fighter. But judged as a nova class, it's by far the worst. It gets left in the dust by the nova champion fighter. In fact, it gains a big edge over only one nova class—the ranger—and only at levels so high that they are seldom played.

It's worth noting that so far I've only graphed one subclass for each of the classes I've examined, and subclass can make a big difference. To illustrate that, here's the battlemaster fighter graphed onto the same chart.

classchart2.png

The battlemaster is a much better nova subclass than the champion! It almost challenges the paladin for the melee damage-per-round crown. If we accept the fighter as the "right down the middle" class who always produces medium damage, this widens the strike zone a great deal.

So now that we've squinted at some charts, what conclusions can we draw for our character class redesigns?

Lesson 1: Character damage increases linearly with level.

It's a bumpy ride along the way, especially at the first level of each tier (5, 11, and 17), but on the whole, the classes I've graphed do somewhere around 5 + level damage when not using any resources, and somewhere around 5 + (3.5 x level) when they're going all out.

More work is needed here. These patterns need to be borne out with an examination of the rest of the classes and subclasses, more sets of different assumptions (what if character level doesn't equal opponent CR? What if area attacks hit 4 enemies?), and, of course, double checking the math.

Lesson 2: We should try to stay true to the AGGREGATE average damage numbers instead of maintaining each class's current Damage Per Round.

I don't think there's anything sacred about the paladin being the best nova melee class and the backstabbing rogue underperforming everybody. I'd be happy to adjust the damage outputs of the specific classes to better match peoples' story expectations.

D&D doesn't need to be perfectly balanced - it's not a pvp game - but there shouldn't be classes that are much stronger or weaker in combat. Most peoples’ D&D games feature a fair amount of combat, and everyone deserves to have fun during that chunk of their week.

Lesson 3: Damage isn’t dealt in a spreadsheet.

This isn’t something I learned from this graphing exercise, but it’s a reminder not to take it too seriously. The circumstances of every battle are different. And that’s vital to remember when we’re designing class combat features. Depending on the location and the opponents, each class should have a chance to shine.

Wizards should excel against big groups of weak foes clustered within fireball range. Clerics should wreck undead. Rogues should deal the most damage when attacking from ambush. As for the rest of the classes… that’s where you come in.

For the people who have stuck with me through this long post, I have some questions for you. I'd love it if you posted your answers in the comments.
  • For each character class (or for a few classes that you have opinions about), what are the combat circumstances in which you'd expect them to excel?

  • Am I overthinking this? Does combat damage matter to you?

Continue reading...
 
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Pail Hughes

Comments

tetrasodium

Hero
Supporter
D&D doesn't need to be perfectly balanced - it's not a pvp game - but there shouldn't be classes that are much stronger or weaker in combat. Most peoples’ D&D games feature a fair amount of combat, and everyone deserves to have fun during that chunk of their week.
@Bawylie mentioned it, but it depends on how you define "weaker in combat" & limiting it entirely to damage is the wrong metric. A class that uses charisma as a primary ability score is likely to dominate social encounters & should absolutely not stand even with it's nearest match using int or strength because int & strength are much less useful skills. You can say well it lets the party move a heavy obstacle or learn important details... but if the party failed at those things because nobody had the needed attrib/skill the GM would need to get the info/detour to the party somehow. Taking that a step further are a few good quotes from a great 3.5 wizard guide
  • "This role involves one thing: Doing HP damage to BBEG. The Glass Cannon is like the Big Stupid Fighter except he does not want to take damage. Usually this is not due to superior intelligence - but instead due to inferior HP or AC (or in most cases - both). The Glass Cannon is often a Rogue (Or Rouge for our 13 year old readers), a Gish, an Archer, or a Blaster (the inferior wizard). "
  • battlefield control "In order to be an effective battlefield controller - you should consider your primary goal to line up your enemies flanked by your Glass Cannon and Big Stupid Fighter one at a time and backwards, all while standing on their heads. This will make the BSF and the GC win the combat with little damage to themselves - and they will feel like "they" won. That's the point - you're God after all, let the mortals have their victory. "
  • debuffing "In order to be an effective Debuffer - you should consider your primary goal to have your BBEG standing in front of your GC and BSF dazed, stunned, nauseated, STR = 1, Dex = 1, Level = 1, and Blind for good measure. This will make the BSF and the GC win the combat with little damage to themselves - and they will feel like "they" won. That's the point - you're God after all, let the mortals have their victory. "
  • buffing "
  • In order to be effective at buffing - you turn your Big Stupid Fighter into a Colossal, Stupid Fighter on crack, and your Glass Cannon into an Adamantium Chain Gun. This will make the BSF and the GC win the combat with little damage to themselves - and they will feel like "they" won. That's the point - you're God after all, let the mortals have their victory.

    Which is better? It depends. They all rock - but Debuffing tends to be better against a single BBEG, while Battlefield Control tends to work better against multiple foes with my experience. Buffing is more of a tertiary role for GOD.
    Which should you concentrate on? Depends on your stats - which is what we'll get into next. "
  • Here's the PF version

In both systems I've seen that type of wizard literally forget to attack with a sling/crossbow/etc or say things like "no sense wasting time for the miss bob's up next." It's ok to be "weaker in combat" if you massively excel in some area & are still pretty good or you absolutely dominate some aspect of combat that doesn't show up in a DPR graph. While you will find plenty of 5e guides on how to win the DPR race with various classes, you really won't find any for that sort of battlefield control/buff/debuff role because it doesn't work in any meaningful fashion in 5e :(
edit:typo
 
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@Bawylie mentioned it, but it depends on how you define "weaker in combat" & limiting it entirely to damage is the wring metric. A class that uses charisma as a primary ability score is likely to dominate social encounters & should absolutely not stand even with it's nearest match using int or strength because int & strength are much less useful skills. You can say well it lets the party move a heavy obstacle or learn important details... but if the party failed at those things because nobody had the needed attrib/skill the GM would need to get the info/detour to the party somehow. Taking that a step further are a few good quotes from a great 3.5 wizard guide
  • "This role involves one thing: Doing HP damage to BBEG. The Glass Cannon is like the Big Stupid Fighter except he does not want to take damage. Usually this is not due to superior intelligence - but instead due to inferior HP or AC (or in most cases - both). The Glass Cannon is often a Rogue (Or Rouge for our 13 year old readers), a Gish, an Archer, or a Blaster (the inferior wizard). "
  • battlefield control "In order to be an effective battlefield controller - you should consider your primary goal to line up your enemies flanked by your Glass Cannon and Big Stupid Fighter one at a time and backwards, all while standing on their heads. This will make the BSF and the GC win the combat with little damage to themselves - and they will feel like "they" won. That's the point - you're God after all, let the mortals have their victory. "
  • debuffing "In order to be an effective Debuffer - you should consider your primary goal to have your BBEG standing in front of your GC and BSF dazed, stunned, nauseated, STR = 1, Dex = 1, Level = 1, and Blind for good measure. This will make the BSF and the GC win the combat with little damage to themselves - and they will feel like "they" won. That's the point - you're God after all, let the mortals have their victory. "
  • buffing "
  • In order to be effective at buffing - you turn your Big Stupid Fighter into a Colossal, Stupid Fighter on crack, and your Glass Cannon into an Adamantium Chain Gun. This will make the BSF and the GC win the combat with little damage to themselves - and they will feel like "they" won. That's the point - you're God after all, let the mortals have their victory.

    Which is better? It depends. They all rock - but Debuffing tends to be better against a single BBEG, while Battlefield Control tends to work better against multiple foes with my experience. Buffing is more of a tertiary role for GOD.
    Which should you concentrate on? Depends on your stats - which is what we'll get into next. "
  • Here's the PF version

In both systems I've seen that type of wizard literally forget to attack with a sling/crossbow/etc or say things like "no sense wasting time for the miss bob's up next." It's ok to be "weaker in combat" if you massively excel in some area & are still pretty good or you absolutely dominate some aspect of combat that doesn't show up in a DPR graph. While you will find plenty of 5e guides on how to win the DPR race with various classes, you really won't find any for that sort of battlefield control/buff/debuff role because it doesn't work in any meaningful fashion in 5e :(
I absolutely HATE de-buffing as a strategy. It is designed to make the person on the other side of the table (opponent or DM) perform worse and have a less fun time. I desperately wish there was a way to de-emphasize it. But, it's effective, so I guess we're stuck with it.
 


vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I absolutely HATE de-buffing as a strategy. It is designed to make the person on the other side of the table (opponent or DM) perform worse and have a less fun time. I desperately wish there was a way to de-emphasize it. But, it's effective, so I guess we're stuck with it.
Thank you for that. I cannot agree more.

I must say though, debuffing is okay, in the sense of slowing, lowering AC or Damage etc. Its okay because they add a variable that makes both sides of combat more fast and active: one side tries to exploit that new variable, the other must navigate the combat while considering the new variable. Having a side unable to do stuff while the other go into auto-attack mode is not okay.

Stun-locking and rendering the position absolutely danger-less WHILE not fast-forward the fight only means less fun for the DM and a boring mop-up job for the non-controller player. Its even worse at larger table. I have 8 players at my table, so having your turn come up maybe once per 15-20 minutes and having nothing to do but hit a defenseless creature for a few HP or just skipping you own DM's creature's turn because you can unable to do anything means it will actually be MAYBE 40 minutes before you can try to have an impact.
 

tetrasodium

Hero
Supporter
I absolutely HATE de-buffing as a strategy. It is designed to make the person on the other side of the table (opponent or DM) perform worse and have a less fun time. I desperately wish there was a way to de-emphasize it. But, it's effective, so I guess we're stuck with it.
"sorry bob that thing you enjoyed doing is badwrongfun, be a blaster if you still want to play a caster." is not the answer. If you or your GM is throwing an optimized debuffing/battlefield control monstrosity at your players & playing it at the top of their game it's the equivalent of throwing a dragon at the party & having it focus on the squishies one by one & a PC buit for buff/debuff/Battlefield control had o juggle knowing when to use their abilities & to what degree was justified Two archers & a minitaur might leave them putting quite a bit into the minotaur & nothing the archers... but if those archers are quicklings that might seriously change the weight on each of those scales.

You are wrong about "designed to make the person on the other side of the table (opponent or DM) perform worse and have a less fun time." though. Taje the 3.5 wraith ghoul or trog. BBEG, 2 skeleton archers, a zombie, vrs a party of level fives & sixes might be a total cakewalk that really doesn't even rise to the level of being a significant threat to the squishies... but add one ghoul or one wraith(along with a few or even several PC levels) & those insect level baddies are suddenly a real threat that demands strategy to safely approach while the bbeg finishes something, monologues, or just walks off stage allowing the campaign to develop with depth as the party now has a npc who went from random bbeg to long term villian. in 5e you need to throw in much more powerful monsters and/or vastly more of them to achieve the same result but doing so is a slog. Same thing with the old trogs meant that suddenly those weak badies around them were capable of being a challenge because you didn't need to roll "not a one" to hit them on your first/second/third attack
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
You are wrong about "designed to make the person on the other side of the table (opponent or DM) perform worse and have a less fun time." though. Taje the 3.5 wraith ghoul or trog. BBEG, 2 skeleton archers, a zombie, vrs a party of level fives & sixes might be a total cakewalk that really doesn't even rise to the level of being a significant threat to the squishies... but add one ghoul or one wraith(along with a few or even several PC levels) & those insect level baddies are suddenly a real threat that demands strategy to safely approach while the bbeg finishes something, monologues, or just walks off stage allowing the campaign to develop with depth as the party now has a npc who went from random bbeg to long term villian. in 5e you need to throw in much more powerful monsters and/or vastly more of them to achieve the same result but doing so is a slog. Same thing with the old trogs meant that suddenly those weak badies around them were capable of being a challenge because you didn't need to roll "not a one" to hit them on your first/second/third attack
Its a little tangent, but I think you are right about debuff (and buffing!)...in the particular case of 3e and 4e (never played much older editions, so I cant say for sure).

In 5e, debuffs are wonky because the the swiping Dis/Advantage and Resistance/Vulnerability rules. You dont have creatures that gives -2 to CON saves in an aura, or creatures that gives Vulnerability 5 to Fire when next to it (4e example). So you have debuff that are mostly are Disadvantage on X, grant Advantage to Y or (too few) are Vulnerable to Z.

On the other hand, you have monsters that only are bags of hit points with only a few attack options beyond dealing damage and barely proficient in any meaningful skills or saves. So controlling them doesnt not really give an crucial edge to your party. Advantages and Disadvantages are plenty cheap to come by, PC's HP is pretty high and easily recovered, and conditions are mostly death sentence to your average monster because they dont have many option to be impactful once Dominated/Stunned/Paralyzed.

If there were more options between fully functional and unable to perform any actions the control game would be better. That would also make using conditions against your players more acceptable, because it would amount to a ''lose your turn, Pat!'' effect directed to your player.

This is one of my pet-peeve in 5e: many completely legit way to play the game and build a character to have impact beyond DPR were completely left out of the game:
  • Dedicated healer or white mage ala FF or MMOrpg (Healbot) are fun to some people
  • Exploration or crafting focused character are faced with handwaved or missing rules.
  • Full supporters or controllers dont have at-will option for combat.
Those are legit ways of playing D&D and should be supported in the base game!

Sorry for the tangent. :p
 

Warlord476

Villager
I think I see where you are coming from. My opinion, a fighter should be distinctly better at countering and or damaging armored human/oid foes and a ranger should excel at countering and or damaging monstrosities and beasts.
 

"sorry bob that thing you enjoyed doing is badwrongfun, be a blaster if you still want to play a caster." is not the answer. If you or your GM is throwing an optimized debuffing/battlefield control monstrosity at your players & playing it at the top of their game it's the equivalent of throwing a dragon at the party & having it focus on the squishies one by one & a PC buit for buff/debuff/Battlefield control had o juggle knowing when to use their abilities & to what degree was justified Two archers & a minitaur might leave them putting quite a bit into the minotaur & nothing the archers... but if those archers are quicklings that might seriously change the weight on each of those scales.

You are wrong about "designed to make the person on the other side of the table (opponent or DM) perform worse and have a less fun time." though. Taje the 3.5 wraith ghoul or trog. BBEG, 2 skeleton archers, a zombie, vrs a party of level fives & sixes might be a total cakewalk that really doesn't even rise to the level of being a significant threat to the squishies... but add one ghoul or one wraith(along with a few or even several PC levels) & those insect level baddies are suddenly a real threat that demands strategy to safely approach while the bbeg finishes something, monologues, or just walks off stage allowing the campaign to develop with depth as the party now has a npc who went from random bbeg to long term villian. in 5e you need to throw in much more powerful monsters and/or vastly more of them to achieve the same result but doing so is a slog. Same thing with the old trogs meant that suddenly those weak badies around them were capable of being a challenge because you didn't need to roll "not a one" to hit them on your first/second/third attack
All I know is, when the players pull out constant counter-spell, stunlock, and save or suck effects in a combat, I have less fun, and so do the players in the long run because they don't get to see what the monsters are capable of. And it's the same experience when the situation is reversed.
 

3) One of your assessments that I strongly disagree with. "Lesson 1: Character damage increases linearly with level. "

Looking at the data, I think its much better to say: "Character damage is mostly flat by tier, with strong bumps by tier".

This is a very different conclusion, and its important to the "feel" of the mechanics, because remember that Going from levels 5-10 lets say could be a LONG time for a game (it could in fact by the whole campaign). If character 1 is getting a damage bump every level (even if its small) while character 2 is not increasing at all.... it doesn't matter that 4 levels from now character 2 will get a large damage bump that will equal (or exceed) character 1. All character 2 will see is number 1 is getting cooler and they are not.

Put more simply....the journey is much more important than the ending. And a linear character damage increase is not the journey core 5e provides.
I agree, it is the tiers that matter, for determining damage.

At the same time, I want a somewhat smoother transition by defining 4-level tiers.

• Levels 1 to 4: Student
• Levels 5 to 8: Expert
• Levels 9 to 12: Master
• Levels 13 to 16: Sovereign
• Levels 17 to 20: Legend

Damage can improve accordingly.
 

tetrasodium

Hero
Supporter
All I know is, when the players pull out constant counter-spell, stunlock, and save or suck effects in a combat, I have less fun, and so do the players in the long run because they don't get to see what the monsters are capable of. And it's the same experience when the situation is reversed.
We are talking specifics, jumping past the method to a possible death spiral situation allows no room for discussion. Unless I missed one, I'm the only one to reference anything specific that could lead to something worth calling "stun lock" Yes, 1d4+1 rounds of paralysis that a ghoul could cause was terrifying... It also had a dc13 con save and was found on an ac14 creature with 13 hp & +2 to hit who ad to hit you before you even were subject to making that save. If we assume a massive 10 dex......
1599680244404.png

1599680261157.png

1599680380762.png

1599680415509.png

The ghoul was't terrifying because it was certain to stunlock you & trigger a death spiral/tpk. It was terrifying because the risk of it rolling high & you rolling low was enough to force the party to step up their game somehow. If d&d were a single player game it would probably be an overpowered creature, but the unlucky guy who gets hit and fails the save has the rest of the party to save themfrom the yard trash. Not only that but now bob is probably severely wounded or Alice the cleric dumps way too many spell slots healing him to risk chasing the bbeg today.
 

Sunsword

Adventurer
I think when it comes to area-effect damage you should include more than 2 targets. Experienced spellcasters carefully choose where their spell drops. I think 4 targets would be a better number.
 


I love seeing things like this, and I’m not even the target audience for Level Up. It occurred to me that one thing missing is to take account of the difference between short rest based classes and long rest based classes when looking at nova damage. Perhaps running each class through a standard adventuring day of 2 short rests and 6-8 encounters would provide an idea of the expected DPR that takes that into account.
 

tetrasodium

Hero
Supporter
I love seeing things like this, and I’m not even the target audience for Level Up. It occurred to me that one thing missing is to take account of the difference between short rest based classes and long rest based classes when looking at nova damage. Perhaps running each class through a standard adventuring day of 2 short rests and 6-8 encounters would provide an idea of the expected DPR that takes that into account.
The problem there is at least in core. Short rest classes work like this:nova or close to it> "tank is on E, take a short rest guys." It turns into this perverse inversion of intent because they tend to cast the same spells as long rest characters.
They've said that they designed 5e with the assumption that you'd be going into every fight with full hp & short rest classes come close to adding spell slots/wildshape/ki points/etc
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1599694933084.png
 
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Anarchclown

Explorer
Rogues actually get hurt more by the fact that their items for combat suck. Not only is their armor never going to get very high. The effects of a magic weapon is so much less significant than for those that have more than one attack. Just both the fighter and the rogue having a +1 weapon each actually widens the gap by one. If they both get a flame tongue, you can pretty much forget about it. So if the party is only trying to optimize, the rogue is the last one to get access to magical weapons. My personal solution was to make a blade of the scoundrel for one of my campaigns, that instead of adding damage per strike changes sneak attack dice to D8's but in the game proper there is no such thing.

Footnote: When adding feats the Battle Master with Crossbow Mastery and Sharpshooter feats equipped with a hand crossbow is very difficult to beat when it comes to damage. The build is basically done at level 5, 1d6+13, 5 times in one turn (with action surge) is pretty hard to beat and should you miss because of the -3 (-5 but +2 for achery) you can always use Precision Attack to add a superiority dice to the dice roll. Don't forget to take menacing attack so the enemy can't get closer either. Things do not get any more balanced with level when you get more to hit, higher ability scores and more attacks.

If someone can cast Bless that is also helpful of course. :)
 

Matthan

Explorer
I used Spiritual Weapon (no concentration) and Spirit Guardians ASAP, often with higher-level spell slots. I'll grab numbers and add them to this reply in a minute.

Edit: OK, so let's take a look at life cleric at level 11, where it does higher damage than the evoker.

Round one: As a bonus action, cast Spiritual Weapon (not a concentration spell) at level 5: 13.5 (3d8) each turn for 3 turns, for 40 damage overall. Then cast Spirit Guardians at level 4 (concentration), 18 (4d8) damage for 3 turns against 2 targets. 108 damage - or 72, if you assume that the cleric's concentration gets ended one turn early.

Round two: Lv 6 Flame strike hitting 2 targets for 63 (18d6) or half on a failed save.

Round 3: Lv 4 Inflict Wounds for 33 (6d10) damage.

Reduce that all for misses chances and saving throws, divide by 3 over 3 rounds, and it's still a lot.

The cleric competing so well with the evoker wizard may actually be a function of me underestimating the wizard, who mostly slings fireballs.
I may be missing something. Cleric can't cast two leveled spells on the first round, can he? You would need to pick Spiritual Weapon or Spirit Guardians.
 


Tormyr

Adventurer
I see no reason for clerics to be enemies of undead. As said above, they should turn what is antithetical to their god. Genericizing is one reason DnD is less fantastic than it could be
I like the concept, but maybe that makes them too much like the paladin?
 

NotAYakk

Legend
I'm going to do a sanity check on your level 20 rogue (thief).

So we hit 60% of the time and have two short swords.

The first hits for 1d6+5, the second for 1d6.

We use sneak attack on the first one that hits.

This gives sneak attack a 91% accuracy and a 7% crit rate (miss first swing, crit on second).

0.91 * 35 = 31.85
0.07 * 35 = 2.45

We get 1.2 sword hits (4.2), 0.1 sword crits (0.35), and 0.6 DEX bonus (3) damage)

Total 41.85 damage per round.

Over 3 rounds you get 4 (thief feature), so 55.8 damage per round.

---

For the Paladin, over 3 rounds you get 3.6 hits and 0.3 crits.

We use a great weapon for 2d6R12 or 8.33 dice damage per swing, +4.5 from imp divine smite, +9 from holy weapon (either cast it round 1, or have it up before hand; you have little use for bonus action in this combo). You can even recast it if it goes down (2 5th level slots).

21.83 damage dice per swing. Times 3.9 is 85.15 over 3 rounds.

+5 static damage for 18 damage.

Before combat (hour long buff) you have holy weapon up (+9 damage per hit/crit). On turn 3 you make it burst for 4d8 aoe (21.6) for a bonus action.

You have a griffon companion (find greater steed). Your accuracy is +11; it has +6, so it hits 35% of the time. 11.5 dice damage times 3 rounds times 0.4 is 13.8, plus 8 * 3 * .35 is 22.2 from the griffon. (either use it as an intelligent independent mount, or dismount and have it attack as an allied creature).

We have enough slots to drop 5d8 smites on every hit; so 22.5 * 3.9 is 87.75 smite damage. (If you do run short of 4th/5th slots, a 3rd slot only costs you a tiny bit of damage).

Total is: 87.75 + 22.2 + 21.6 + 18 + 85.15 = 234.7, divided by 3 is 78.2 damage per round.

You seem to be underselling the Paladin.

This uses 0 subclass features.

---

For the BM, you'd want to choose mostly precision and riposte to spend dice on.

Those are highly efficient ways to spend dice, and you burn them pretty quickly that way.

6d12.

Your basic hit is 13.333 damage.

Your basic swing is worth 13.333 * .6 + 8.33*.05 = 8.4163.

A die spent on a miss by 1 is worth 13.33 damage.
By 2 is worth 12.2
By 3 is worth 11.1
By 4 is worth 10
By 5 is worth 8.9
By 6 is worth 7.8
By 7 is worth 6.7
By 8 is worth 5.6

A riposte is worth 12.7 but you probably don't get enough of them.

A die spent after a hit is worth 6.5, after a crit is worth 13.

So you burn dice on (a) crits, (b) ripostes, then (c) on near miss attacks.

You get 5 actions, each with 4 attacks, so you get 20 attacks. You can expect 1 crit.

We'll give you 3 misses from monsters.

That leaves 2 dice for precision. At 20 attacks, you'll get an average of 1 that misses by 1, and 1 that misses by 2.

So 13.3 + 12.2 + 13 + 12.7*3 = 76.6 damage from your 6 BM dice.

On top of that 20 swings at 8.4163 = 168.326 from just attacking
= 244.926, or 81.6 DPR

(BM dice get more complex because you can run short or have extra; note, however, that we can save them for misses by 1 or 2, crits, and when an enemy misses us, and get 11-13 expected damage per die. That is a lot of opportunities... If we expand to using it on misses by 3 or 4 we get a plethora, and nearly the same damage output.)
 
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