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D&D 5E Comparing Monk DPR

Noxrim

Villager
Oh boy, math!

I've yet to evaluate this thread, but I can already see major flaws based on the graph alone.

First off, DPR isn't the only measure of damage. Its the expected value but its not the only significant data analysis for damage. I've discussed a bit on the "The Mathematics of D&D" thread I posted a few weeks ago but I'll try giving a more thorough analysis when I'm afforded the time so we can truly determine whether a monk does have a place on the team as a type of damage-dealer.

I am intrigued. Can't wait to hear your thoughts on this!
 

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Noxrim

Villager
I ran some different numbers, accounting for crits, just focusing on 13th level mostly using the OP's assumptions, and assuming the martials have +1 weapons. Note that the +1 item bonus does not apply to monk's unarmed strikes. I also did a single-weapon rogue because the math is easier.

Monk (base): 20.02
Rogue: 23.5
Fighter: 25.06
Monk (flurry of blows): 25.95
Warlock: 26.55

Since sometimes a Monk will flurry, and sometimes he won't, I would argue that his expected damage output puts him comfortably in the martial tier. The fact that Stunning Strike costs only a single ki, and potentially gives the entire party advantage on the target, is a big deal. Boring? Perhaps. But is the monk underpowered? I don't think so.
I am not sure how you calculated this, but I am getting better numbers for Monk with +1:

Fighter: 25.05
Warlock: 26.55
Monk: 27.35
Rogue: 32.7

Rogue is still doing better with 2 chances to apply Sneak Attack, but the Monk is surpassing the Warlock if given a +1 magic weapon and is using Flurry of Blows.
 

jgsugden

Legend
Stunning strike is too good not to use constantly, too powerful for a DM to not plan around, and too outsized a part of the 5e Monk's repertoire to limit without deeply undermining the class.
I very strongly disagree. I played one monk from 1 to 19 in 5E, and am playing another one now (currently level 9).

First of all, from level 1 to 4, stunning strike is not an option. At all. If you follow the guidelines for encounterbuilding, experience, etc..., those levels represent about 1/6 the entire career of a PC that goes from level 1 to 20, and 1/4 of the entire existence of a PC that stops at 10th level (underguidelines, time spent at each level is not equal).

Putting that aside, both characters used stunning strike for about 1/3 of their ki uses after 4th level. I also flurried, and used Ki for movement, for disengaging, and for dodge (in one oddly fun combat I managed to use dodge to kill the entire enemy force by blocking off their escapewhen they were in a damaging area). At the highest levels, it was quivering palm that used up a lot of ki, but I also did go invisible and astral a numbr of times.

When we hit a major threat, I would try to get to that threat before it could go and then stun/stun/stun/stun until it was stunned, but often that didn't work out, and even when it did it required a lot of resources. To stun, you need to hit, and then the opponent needs to fail a commonly strong saving throw (and this when you have to develop both your dexterity and wisdom when trying to increase chance to hit and saving throw DCs). If your chance to hit is 70%, and your opponent makes the saving throw 30% of the time, you have less than a 50% chance to stun them on any given hit. If you have a 50% chance to hit and they have a 50% chance to save, that drops to a 25% chance to impact them.

As a DM, I do not generally counterplan against PC abilities. I make sure that I do not put something in the game that they have no answer for at all, and occasionally drop a challenge in that ony the PCs with the hyper specialization could possibly beat, but in general, I let them use their abilities to best challenges. They're the friggin heroes. They need to win to be heroic. If everything is a constant struggle and their abilities re countered left and right, they do not feel very heroic.
 

I am not sure how you calculated this, but I am getting better numbers for Monk with +1:

Fighter: 25.05
Warlock: 26.55
Monk: 27.35
Rogue: 32.7

Rogue is still doing better with 2 chances to apply Sneak Attack, but the Monk is surpassing the Warlock if given a +1 magic weapon and is using Flurry of Blows.

Well, here's how I did it:


It looks like you're using d10s for the monk's unarmed strikes, and I was looking at 13th level. He doesn't get d10s until 17th level unless there is something I am missing (always possible).
 
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Noxrim

Villager
Well, here's how I did it:


It looks like you're using d10s for the monk's unarmed strikes, and I was looking at 13th level. He doesn't get d10s until 17th level unless there is something I am missing (always possible).

Oh I see. I am actually using d10 for the weapon (versatile Longsword).
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
IMO, an open hand flurry of blows monk should be proning enemies fairly regularly. Prone helps melee allies damage significantly which in turn can be considered as counting as Monk DPR.

Monks have tricks to increase DPR, it just requires allies. Also, by level 15ish a monk can likely stunning strike and flurry of blows every single round. Which even if the chance of landing stunning strike is low, getting 5 or so stunning strikes a day while still doing solid damage and causing prone is pretty strong.
 

So, one of my biggest complaints about the supposed role of Monks has always been that the two things I as a DM have noticed the most about them are their speed and their anti-ranged abilities. Those stick out far more than stunning strike.


That being said, the last time this came around I was convinced of the problem stemming from level 11 on, and also of a few other things. So, here is a quick breakdown of various solutions I took. An important note. I am assuming that monks will not get magical items that improve their defense, speed, or unarmed attacks. I have noted that the vast majority of these items are armors or simply just don't fit the monk or don't exist. Also, monk's don't benefit from most Feats, not only because of MAD, but because they require specific weapons that monks don't use.

Ki is level + wisdom mod, just gives a little more for higher levels. I know it is a big boost early on, but I think it should work out fine


Class Specific worth mentioning: I made the Way of the Sun Soul and the Way of the Astral Self Wisdom based attackers. Same with 4 elements, partially, though I'm still tweaking that one. This was because I wanted to make a version of the monk that could focus more on increasing wisdom, without feeling like it was only for stunning strike.


Level 10: When the Monk gains Purity of Body, I rewrote it to do the following (I figured it was better than putting a new ability at 11)

At 10th level, your mastery of the ki flowing through you makes you immune to disease and poison.

Every morning after a long rest, you perform a purification ritual. This has removed impure influences from your body
and improved your performance. The following effects now take place.

  1. When you use your Martial Arts ability or Flurry of Blows to make a bonus action unarmed strike, you can make an additional unarmed strike.

  2. When you use Step of the Wind, to Dash or to Disengage, your movement speed is increased by 10 ft.

  3. You can spend a ki to take the Dodge action as a Reaction to an attack being declared against you

  4. You can take two reactions (on different turns) before the start of your next turn.

The idea was to boost all of the key ki abilities you gained at level 2, because they never actually get better as the game progresses

The first ability addresses the damage problem. You get 2 strikes as a bonus action, bringing you back in line, and you can boost it to 3 attacks for Ki. The two reactions is because a lot of the monk's defensive ability comes from reactions, and I wanted to have someone who can act multiple times out of turn. And, well, it is excessive perhaps, but even more speed was all I could think of for Step of the Wind

But the big boost I think actually comes from #3. And it addresses a major issue Monks have. Monks are fast enough to get to the enemy, but this sometimes leaves them surrounded. If they are planning for it, they can Patient Defense as a bonus action, but if they get caught off-guard, then they can do it as a reaction, leaving them quite a bit tankier than expected. Which is good since they have generally poor AC once the armored individuals start getting magical gear.


Level 15: I noticed that timeless body was kind of... pointless crap. So I kept going, right around the time for the level 17 boost. And again, I was trying not to add new named abilities, just mod what was there.

At 15th level, your ki sustains you so that you suffer none of the frailty of old age, and you can’t be aged magically. You can still die of old age, however. In addition, you no longer need food or water.

Your purification rituals have completed, boosting your performace to the highest levels of natural performance. The following effects apply.

  1. You may make a third attack with your attack action.

  2. You may take up to three reactions (on different turns) before the start of your turn

  3. When you use your step of the wind, you may dash and disengage with the same bonus action

Simple, yet effective. The level 10 boost increased their bonus action attacks, but what if you want to use your bonus action for something else? So I gave them the fighters level 11 boost to attack actions. Then increased reactions again, and boosted Step of the Wind. Now it is a single ki for a dash, disengage and +10 spd. Which is a lot, but also... most of the time you only need one or the other, and this allows you to run through a crowd of enemies, which is kind of cool.

And finally, level 20 capstone: Almost all capstone's suck, so I improved this one.

At 20th level, when you roll for initiative and have no ki points remaining, you regain 4 ki points..

Additionally, Flurry of Blows, Distant Eye, Patient Defense, Step of the Wind, and the reaction from Deflect Missiles no
longer cost any ki.

Finally, your unarmed strikes gain a +2 to hit and damage and you may take up to four reactions (on different turns) before the start of your turn


Why not? Level 20 is supposed to be crazy, and using your level 2 or 4 abilities for free is going to feel really like you've mastered these techniques. Boost the unarmed strikes, because you likely don't have any and if you want to go fully unarmed, it should be more viable than using a magic item.

A lot of people might tell me this is too much, but I wanted a Monk to feel just as effective as an SS fighter with a magic bow and magic plate, or a Paladin with Magic Plate and a Holy Avenger with GWM. I've boosted a lot of classes for late game play. This just felt like it was going more towards the fantasy of the Monk.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I know this is focused on DPR but a few other ideas that would have made the monk shine. First give the option for calculating AC as 10 + Dex Mod + Wis Mod or instead 10 + Dex mod + Proficiency, it would make the monk less MAD but start with a lower AC which increases regularly while really only maxing at 21 +5 Dex Mod and +6 Proficiency Bonus. They should get Expertise on Athletics or Acrobatics at level 1 it feels like this would play nicely with their niche and allow grapple or shove type builds. At high levels, somewhere around 11+ allow them to spend a ki point to grant advantage on a skill check (as they focus mentally on a single task). It also feels like they should have at least a tier increase in their unarmed attack die. It is a small change to DPR but feels much better for the player.
Good ideas. I had suggested a ki ability where you add your martial arts die plus wisdom mod to all strength and dexterity ability checks until the end of your next turn, gained alongside Stunning Strike. I think I’d revise my previous suggestion and leave out a damage boost at level 5, because Monks do solid damage until level 10-11 or so.

But at level 11ish, I would suggest just adding Wisdom mod to all damage rolls from weapon attacks (which would include unarmed and ranged attacks, both of which are “weapon attacks”), and the ability to add Wisdom mod to all attack rolls until the start of your next turn for 1 ki.

I think a couple ki features alongside stunning strike, and some upgrades to existing features at 11, and the monk can be more interesting and versatile, without losing balance, since they’d mostly all cost ki. Adding wisdom mod to damage for free at 11, IMO, doesn’t add too much to the class, it just feels good and makes it more feasible to play the monk as a damage build.
 

IMO, an open hand flurry of blows monk should be proning enemies fairly regularly. Prone helps melee allies damage significantly which in turn can be considered as counting as Monk DPR.

Monks have tricks to increase DPR, it just requires allies. Also, by level 15ish a monk can likely stunning strike and flurry of blows every single round. Which even if the chance of landing stunning strike is low, getting 5 or so stunning strikes a day while still doing solid damage and causing prone is pretty strong.

Indirect effects tend to get less attention becaue they're hard to compute. However, in the case of a typical high-level martial character, advantage accounts for a roughly 1/3 increase in damage output. A stunned enemy's damage output drops by 100%, meaning fewer healing resources are consumed, and the chance of saving against Disintegrate or Lightning Bolt drops to 0%. We don't typically tally these up in the monk's column, but they're things a single round of Stunning Strike is responsible for.
 

A lot of people might tell me this is too much, but I wanted a Monk to feel just as effective as an SS fighter with a magic bow and magic plate, or a Paladin with Magic Plate and a Holy Avenger with GWM. I've boosted a lot of classes for late game play. This just felt like it was going more towards the fantasy of the Monk.

If the Paladin has got Magic Plate & a Holy Avenger, I feel like the least you could do for the monk is grant him a Ring of Protection and a Shortsword Frost Brand or something.
 


auburn2

Adventurer
Also, monk's don't benefit from most Feats, not only because of MAD, but because they require specific weapons that monks don't use.
Tasha's greatly expands the weapons Monks can use and more or less makes this not applicable any more.

Sharpshooter in particular works really well with just about any Monk using a crossbow or shortbow, it also works with a Kensei and a longbow.

You can also do a Kensei build with GWM and tavern brawler using a longbow in melee to get +10 damage (although you miss out on the other benifit of the GWM feat for a crit or dropping a foe as that requires an actual melee weapon, which the longbow isn't).

Using martial arts and stun to start, you can get advantage on 4 of these attacks over two rounds with either of these builds, which largely overcomes the -5 penalty to the attack roll.
 

If the Paladin has got Magic Plate & a Holy Avenger, I feel like the least you could do for the monk is grant him a Ring of Protection and a Shortsword Frost Brand or something.

True, but... that's sort of the odd thing I've noticed about the monk. Them and the Druids don't really have a lot of magic item support. And Monk's especially seem to lend themselves to a vision of "self-reliance" instead of having magical items.

I know it isn't anything to do with the class, and more to do with my particular players, but Monk's always seem to end up with the fewest magical items after they divide them up.


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Tasha's greatly expands the weapons Monks can use and more or less makes this not applicable any more.

Sharpshooter in particular works really well with just about any Monk using a crossbow or shortbow, it also works with a Kensei and a longbow.

You can also do a Kensei build with GWM and tavern brawler using a longbow in melee to get +10 damage (although you miss out on the other benifit of the GWM feat for a crit or dropping a foe as that requires an actual melee weapon, which the longbow isn't).

Using martial arts and stun to start, you can get advantage on 4 of these attacks over two rounds with either of these builds, which largely overcomes the -5 penalty to the attack roll.

It is true, I wrote this before Tasha's, and I haven't quite decided how that will effect this.

I will note, I do get a mild bit annoyed that every monk build that ends up mentioning weapons always makes them Kensei. I know they are supposed to be the "weapon monk" but if we are saying "Monks can use these feats because Kensei allows..." Then it feels like Kensei use the feats, and the rest of the monks get left behind.
 

Asisreo

Archdevil's Advocate
I am intrigued. Can't wait to hear your thoughts on this!
Firstly, DPR isn't a complete metric for how good of a damage dealer a character is. DPR is basically expected value, which is definitely nice to know. However, dispersion measurements are also extremely important and shouldn't be left out of the discussion.

I calculated that at level 15 (no feats and assuming a rogue sneaks attacks every turn they hit) that combatants have these measurements.

Expected Value/Standard Deviation
Rogues (twf): 28.61/14.18

Monks (w/o flurry): 17.77/9.21

Monks (w/ flurry): 23.70/10.63

Fighter (SnB): 21.37/10.78



Not only is the rogue's standard deviation higher, but they're also 2.5x more likely to not contribute in a round at all. Both the un-flurried monk and SnB fighter has a 6.4% chance to miss while the rogue still has a whopping 16% chance. And while they hit harder when they land a hit:

DPR is a measure of the average of numbers across infinite trials. However, what you average over infinite trials doesn't matter because you're not infinitely fighting a single monster that isn't threatening your resources, you're fighting a finite number of trials "rounds" where each prolonged number of trials can cause resource drain.

For example, if choosing between an attack that has a 50% chance to kill or an attack that guarantees to kill on round 2, it would be safer to choose the second option in all cases except when your resources cannot sustain lasting for 2 rounds. If you can last for 3 rounds, the first attack sequence gives you a 25% chance to die while the second attack gives you a 0% chance to die. In this scenario, its technically best to try the first attack first then do the second attack option. But if you don't know how long you can last in a fight, option 2 is more appealing because there's lower risk.

Higher Deviations are basically a negative unless your characters are on their last legs. While you have a higher chance to kill earlier and save resources, you also have a higher chance to kill later and, worst case scenario, increase the likelihood of a TPK.

The big issue is that it doesn't actually matter that you saved the team 10HP or 2 spell slots at the end of the day because they were getting all of that back anyways. What matters is that you could have caused the team to lose an extra 10HP or 2 spell slots which could have brought them to a TPK. Not saying rogues are awful now, they still contribute fine, but they aren't reliable and their higher RNG increases the chances of the party losing important resources and leading to a TPK.


TL;DR Rogue's have high "expected value" but they play a riskier game which can swing the game in greater extremes. While rogues seem to be the king of at-will DPR, they're risking alot more than the fighter, monk, or barbarian.
 

auburn2

Adventurer
It is true, I wrote this before Tasha's, and I haven't quite decided how that will effect this.

I will note, I do get a mild bit annoyed that every monk build that ends up mentioning weapons always makes them Kensei. I know they are supposed to be the "weapon monk" but if we are saying "Monks can use these feats because Kensei allows..." Then it feels like Kensei use the feats, and the rest of the monks get left behind.
Well any monk can use sharpshooter with a shortbow or crossbow. A Kensai does more damage due to his Kensie damage bonus and can use a longbow, but sharpshooter is a viable build for any monk.

If you want attack damage, Kensei is undeniably the best monk build. It gives up quite a bit to way of the shadow, sun sould and way of the elements to get that though.
 
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The piece of this type of analysis that I find problematic is that it includes an inherent assumption that all participants will have an equal opportunity to inflict their DPR...every round.. always.

No actions/turns lost to movement. No actions/turns lost to status effects, no actions/turns spent toward mitigating damage.
And this assumption undercuts one of the strengths of the monk, especially at high level, in that they are harder to shut down than other martials, and have more tools to allow them to more reliably inflict their damage across a range of potential battlefields.

Has anyone done an analysis of the breakeven point for incremental monk attacks required to catch up to their peers across an encounter/campaign(11-20)?
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Firstly, DPR isn't a complete metric for how good of a damage dealer a character is. DPR is basically expected value, which is definitely nice to know. However, dispersion measurements are also extremely important and shouldn't be left out of the discussion.

I calculated that at level 15 (no feats and assuming a rogue sneaks attacks every turn they hit) that combatants have these measurements.

Expected Value/Standard Deviation
Rogues (twf): 28.61/14.18

Monks (w/o flurry): 17.77/9.21

Monks (w/ flurry): 23.70/10.63

Fighter (SnB): 21.37/10.78



Not only is the rogue's standard deviation higher, but they're also 2.5x more likely to not contribute in a round at all. Both the un-flurried monk and SnB fighter has a 6.4% chance to miss while the rogue still has a whopping 16% chance. And while they hit harder when they land a hit:

DPR is a measure of the average of numbers across infinite trials. However, what you average over infinite trials doesn't matter because you're not infinitely fighting a single monster that isn't threatening your resources, you're fighting a finite number of trials "rounds" where each prolonged number of trials can cause resource drain.

For example, if choosing between an attack that has a 50% chance to kill or an attack that guarantees to kill on round 2, it would be safer to choose the second option in all cases except when your resources cannot sustain lasting for 2 rounds. If you can last for 3 rounds, the first attack sequence gives you a 25% chance to die while the second attack gives you a 0% chance to die. In this scenario, its technically best to try the first attack first then do the second attack option. But if you don't know how long you can last in a fight, option 2 is more appealing because there's lower risk.

Higher Deviations are basically a negative unless your characters are on their last legs. While you have a higher chance to kill earlier and save resources, you also have a higher chance to kill later and, worst case scenario, increase the likelihood of a TPK.

The big issue is that it doesn't actually matter that you saved the team 10HP or 2 spell slots at the end of the day because they were getting all of that back anyways. What matters is that you could have caused the team to lose an extra 10HP or 2 spell slots which could have brought them to a TPK. Not saying rogues are awful now, they still contribute fine, but they aren't reliable and their higher RNG increases the chances of the party losing important resources and leading to a TPK.


TL;DR Rogue's have high "expected value" but they play a riskier game which can swing the game in greater extremes. While rogues seem to be the king of at-will DPR, they're risking alot more than the fighter, monk, or barbarian.
And yet at level 15 most enemies are going to have 100+ hp. By the time it takes 3+ actions to take down an enemy the variance across a single action matters very little.
 

Asisreo

Archdevil's Advocate
And yet at level 15 most enemies are going to have 100+ hp. By the time it takes 3+ actions to take down an enemy the variance across a single action matters very little.
If the enemies are lasting longer than 3 rounds, then the more consistent the better. Because higher health correlates to higher CR which also correlates to higher damage output. An extreme is that a fight with a balor lasts longer and is more dangerous than a fight with a Glabrezu on average.

Using your action for 0 damage is the same as deciding to skip your action altogether, which hurts the action economy of the individual fight. Now, all of this is accounted for (to an extent) in the CR, but that's only on-average assuming average rolls. But the swing of the game can easily make things difficult and tpk your party and introducing more unnecessary swing is just going to increase those odds of TPK. Killing monsters as fast as possible is nice, but ultimately the important part is avoiding a TPK.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
If the enemies are lasting longer than 3 rounds,
I said 3+ actions not 3+ rounds. Could be 3 actions from you or a combination of 3+ actions from you and your allies.

then the more consistent the better. Because higher health correlates to higher CR which also correlates to higher damage output. An extreme is that a fight with a balor lasts longer and is more dangerous than a fight with a Glabrezu on average.

One could make a pretty strong case that in most games the encounters you face are somewhat dependent on your groups abilities. If so then less consistency may actually help as the encounters you face may actually decrease in strength as the DM and players will be more likely to experience some bad runs of bad luck and thus be more careful overall regarding the encounters they engage in.

If your point is that against 2 identical challenges that the lower variance always better then I would have to disagree. It will depend on whether it's a challenge you are likely on average to win. If so then low variance helps. If not then high variance helps. (Assuming equal DPR of course)

But going back to my main point - by the time your party is spending 3+ actions (some with multiple attacks) to defeat an enemy the additional variance due to you being a rogue or a fighter is pretty miniscule.

Using your action for 0 damage is the same as deciding to skip your action altogether, which hurts the action economy of the individual fight.
Using your action for a high risk high reward action doesn't turn that into a bad decision even if unsuccessful. Taking a risk and not having it pay off isn't the same as skipping your action altogether.

Now, all of this is accounted for (to an extent) in the CR, but that's only on-average assuming average rolls. But the swing of the game can easily make things difficult and tpk your party and introducing more unnecessary swing is just going to increase those odds of TPK. Killing monsters as fast as possible is nice, but ultimately the important part is avoiding a TPK.
The higher the CR, then typically the more rolls you are making to defeat the encounter - meaning variance is reduced due to number of rolls. Your variance on a single attack or turn doesn't matter much if it takes 2 rounds of the whole party acting to down the enemy.

I wanted to add, I agree that reducing your odds of a TPK is a worthy goal - but 1 out of 5 characters being a rogue instead of a fighter isn't going to alter the group damage dynamics enough to matter in regards of TPK in 99.99999% of situations. Then you've got to account for the TPK's that happened due to more reliable but lower DPR and the most I think we can conclude is that damage with the same DPR but less variance is ever so slightly better than the same damage with higher variance. (Obviously variance is significant on lower hp enemies).
 
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Asisreo

Archdevil's Advocate
But going back to my main point - by the time your party is spending 3+ actions (some with multiple attacks) to defeat an enemy the additional variance due to you being a rogue or a fighter is pretty miniscule.
The standard deviation/variance shouldn't be mistaken for a + damage tolerance or the range.

If you miss your attacks, you are giving up 8d6+10 damage, even with 100+ hp, 38 average damage can be very important to ending the fight early.
Using your action for a high risk high reward action doesn't turn that into a bad decision even if unsuccessful. Taking a risk and not having it pay off isn't the same as skipping your action altogether.
Taking unnecessary risks are bad decisions. A bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush. Now, most rogues don't have alternatives within their means, so its not like they chose poorly to use their action, but they are a swingier class by nature of having fewer attacks.

The higher the CR, then typically the more rolls you are making to defeat the encounter - meaning variance is reduced due to number of rolls.
Variance is never reduced no matter how many rolls you make. You're thinking about the average of rolls versus the expected average roll. 2-4 rolls are definitely not enough to evoke the Law of Large Numbers as a relevant point, though.

Don't forget that its about likely scenarios as well. Actually, in the rogue's case, the most likely damage output the rogue produces in a round is 0, almost 4x as likely as their second most likely damage of 31. Their chart is heavily skewed such that alot of their average damage is due to their very high damage upwards of 106 damage theoretically possible but highly improbable. I'm talking a 1.48x10^-7% chance of occuring and less than a 1% chance to do higher than 70 damage. So they have a large chunk of probability on the left-hand side of the curve and a very thin tail skewing all the way to the right.
 

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