D&D 5E Which characters are the DPR (damage per round) leaders at your table(s)?

Mort

Legend
Supporter
In another thread @Hussar observed that in his experience in 5e, casters' (specifically casters that can put out big AoE such as wizards and sorcerers) overall damage output is higher than martials' overall damage output and that that's just a given.

That has not been my experience. I've found martials, especially well optimized martials, can and do out damage casters, even with AoE counted in.

At your tables (DMing, playing - whatever), what have you noticed? Which classes tend to lead in overall damage output?

This is NOT a question on "effectiveness" or about how classes can contribute in different ways. This is a narrow question on which classes, at the tables you play at, lead in damage output.

Please provide some context for the group. A group that has a bard as the primary caster is going to be very different than a group that has an evoker or blaster sorcerer. And a group that has a sword and board fighter focused on defense is going to be very different from a group that has a crossbow expert/sharpshooter combo!

Thoughts?
 

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I have never encountered dedicated spellcasters being consistently the damage MVPs in 5e parties. Occasional clutch AoEs can make their one round damage insane, when someone feels inclined to add it all up (which people I play with usually only do if they rarely get off an AoE so effectively), but between all the combats where there is no way to get more than one or two enemies in an AoE, all the combats where allies are misplaced for an AoE, all the combats where geography doesn't play ball, and all the combats where enemies have resistances to whatever elemental damage is being dropped I just haven't encountered AoE damage being some sort of king overall.

If someone believes AoE damage is king at their table then perhaps they have a DM who is setting up combats (conciously or otherwise) for AoE success and/or martial failure. Alternatively they may simply have players for the spellcasters who optimize more, play more efficiently, or brag about their numbers more than the players for their martials. Or the rare, very successful AoEs may simply be getting all the attention.

Characters that have stood out in my mind for insane damage have mostly been characters exploiting Great Weapon Master or Sharpshooter, smiting Paladins, Reckless Attacking Barbarians, Rogues who managed to snag Booming Blade, and any combination of the above you can devise.
 
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Mort

Legend
Supporter
Again, as I said before in the other thread, my suggestion is to actually track the damage and not go with your gut. It’s often surprising.

Sure, which is why I'm asking for people's experience in their own campaigns and to make sure to provide context. actual # tracking would certainly be a plus. And is not too hard with online play for ex.
 

Stormonu

Legend
Until the fighter in our group got boosted with a Flamestongue sword, me as the dragonborn Paladin (riding the back of a dienychius named Diana), were the damage dealers - averaging about 30 damage a round (I had misread the smite rules, think you could only smite once a round like the rogue's sneak attack, now it's habit). Recently, the warforged Cleric of Tempest has been giving me a run for my money. The other fighter in our group, an aarokna champion, is hard to hit but rarely deals large amounts of damage.

We don't have a wizard in the group, and the druid in the party isn't a combat machine. The rogue's a DMNPC.
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In the 2nd game I'm in, the minotaur barbarian is a freakin' beast, laying low enemies with a single swipe - easily dealing 50+ damage a round. My cleric tends to spread it out, but I think if it were counted up, we'd be doing close to similar damage, mine just isn't focused. The ranger/monk in the group is trying, but I don't think the damage he's doing is outstanding. The group's Sorcerer is a DMNPC.
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In the last game I DMed, the triton fighter battlemaster was easily the damage king, with the warlock a close second - if he could hit with all his eldritch blasts. The group's aasimar cleric of life could definately nova for a lot, but rarely did so as she focused on healing or buffing. The group's kenku arcane trickster/monk was too busy doing crazy shenanigans to be the DPS - but he negated a lot of fights before they started.
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
In the group I run, the barbarian is the one hitting the highest DPR.

The group is made up of:
Goliath Barbarian
Kenku Rogue
Aasimar Cleric
Gnome Artificer
Tiefling Warlock

The barbarian has a Flying Sword, and uses it in combination with Extra Attack to put out some serious hurt.

I was also playing with another group for a while, made up of:
Goliath Barbarian
Half-Elf Druid
Half-Elf Sorcerer
Dwarf Fighter
Dwarf Cleric
Dwarf Wizard

In this group, the Druid had the highest DPR. The DM house-ruled an ability for the Moon Druid to Wildshape into swarms, and those did some serious damage!


I actually find play style has a lot more to do with DPR than anything.

In the first group, the Barbarian's player loves to be effective in combat. They took the Sentinel Feat to lock down enemies. They use their Flying Sword to flank. They have a lot of fun when they do a lot of damage.

The rogue in that first group could be doing serious DPR with Sneak Attack and their Sun Blade, but they are the type of player who likes to find ways to interact with the environment, running around and blocking doors, manipulating traps, etc.

In the second group, the Barbarian could be really effective in combat, but the player prefers to do crazy, cinematic things, like knocking over columns, grappling big creatures, etc.

I played the Wizard in the second group, and because the rest of the group was so capable in combat I took almost no damaging spells!
 

Clint_L

Villager
In my experience strong melee classes (paladin, barbarian, fighter) deliver way more damage over time than any caster, but then I run mostly low level campaigns (levels 1-10). There are situations where casters can do great with AoE, but outside of that the reliable, strong damage offered by those first three classes is tops.
 

Our current 10th-level party has a GWM paladin, an arcane trickster, archer ranger, and Light domain cleric. The GM runs a stat tracker through Fantasy Grounds, so we have very good records on who did what damage.

Almost always, the cleric is the one doing the most damage. Just all the big area affects - fireballs and Radiance of the Dawn - he's able to throw around, in combination with us often fighting large groups means the numbers adds up fast, though i suspect if you did a deeper analysis you'd find he deals more damage to weaker targets and is less effective against the really big nasties. The ranger probably should be coming second, but the player forgets the -5/+10 function of Sharpshooter all the time. Playing the paladin, it's feast or famine. I don't really have a great long-ranged option, so I can sometimes find myself twiddling my thumbs while everyone else stacks the damage on from distance until we get to melee range. Once I'm there though, if i can find a way to attack with advantage more often than not, then I'm usually good for a crit or two most combats. Once you start smiting on criticals and using GWM, you can outpace almost everyone while your spell slots last, especially if you had time to prepare with Sacred Blade and Bless before the fighting started.
 



I've found so much variability in this: differences in the number of encounters for a typical adventuring day vastly outweigh differences in character class.
Yep. In campaigns with shorter AD's (fewer encounters between long rest recharges) Paladins are DPR kings, because they can Nova. Battlemaster Fighters are OK here as well, presuming feats are allowed and they're spamming GWM or SS.

The closer you get to the 6-8 encounter recommended median, the more it all evens out.
 

Again, as I said before in the other thread, my suggestion is to actually track the damage and not go with your gut. It’s often surprising.
Yeah, I've done this. The characters whose players think they're doing the most damage are often not the ones who actually are. The least surprising thing was, yes, Warlocks really do a ton of damage if they just keep casting EB+AB with Hex, it just annihilates monsters. Rogues on the other hand, even played well, just don't seem to actually do that great damage-wise. Of course both the Rogues I've tracked are melee Rogues. There's no issue with DMs being difficult about them getting Sneak Attack, but there is an issue with them having to manuever to stay alive at times and/or getting CC'd or messed with more than other classes. The Samurai Fighter thinks he's Mr Megadamage because his burst is very high, but he's rarely top damage dealer in his group (fairly short adventuring days do factor in there).
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
Yeah, I've done this. The characters whose players think they're doing the most damage are often not the ones who actually are.

Indeed, and that's because people are terribly bad at statistics when they are not doing it seriously (which few of them can anyway). They will remember the unusual spikes and think it's the average.

It's the same at our tables (not that we care much - since we have very fights anyway - just people making comments now and then), the warlock is a consistent damage dealer fight after fight after fight that shreds the opposition, whereas the "optimised" gloomstalker assassin is noted for the first round spikes but completely fades away after that. And that is absolutely fine as far as we are concerned, especially since most of our players don't care, they are just there to have fun roleplaying their characters having adventures anyway.
 

beancounter

(I/Me/Mine)
The OP question can be level dependent, so it's not easy to answer.

In my first 5E campaign, I played a barbarian, while the other guys played a paladin and a rogue. For levels 1-5, I was the DRP leader, but by the time we reached 7th level, I was clearly behind the curve.

By then it was usually the Paladin, but when the rogue got a sneak attack (which was quite frequently), he was the DRP leader.
 

Oofta

Legend
Depends on levels and encounters, so it varies significantly. Do you count those low levels where the wizard is down to cantrips after a few turns or that encounter where they took out a large group of enemies with a meteor storm?

Overall it seems to have been the dual wielding fighter/rogue in one group, paladin in another, wizard in another at higher levels.

So much depends on enemies, approach and style. Have 2-3 encounters where the wizard can go nova every encounter? Do enemies have varied tactics, show up from different directions in waves? Does the player have solid tactics?

But I think this also misses the boat. DPR is not always king. It's a team game, different characters have different roles on the team. Too often people focus on the holy DPR at the cost of every other aspect.
 

I have no idea how I'd know this. Neither myself nor the dozens I've played with have ever cared about a couple HP damage here or there.

The last battle was with two wyverns attacking an airship suspended from 2 balloons flying through a mountain pass. Everyone enjoyed that experience and no one will remember who did the most damage.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
Depends on levels and encounters, so it varies significantly. Do you count those low levels where the wizard is down to cantrips after a few turns or that encounter where they took out a large group of enemies with a meteor storm?

Overall it seems to have been the dual wielding fighter/rogue in one group, paladin in another, wizard in another at higher levels.
Sure, tier matters quite a bit as more attacks and higher level spells/abilities kick in.

I'd be surprised if damage potential doesn't shift around quite a bit.

So much depends on enemies, approach and style. Have 2-3 encounters where the wizard can go nova every encounter? Do enemies have varied tactics, show up from different directions in waves? Does the player have solid tactics?
Yes, that too. If the DM sends the villains at the party in perfect AoE formations that's going to be very different than a DM with different tactics.


But I think this also misses the boat. DPR is not always king. It's a team game, different characters have different roles on the team. Too often people focus on the holy DPR at the cost of every other aspect.

The nice thing about message boards is we can focus on specifics every once in a while.

DPR is far from the be all end all and different characters have different focuses (heck bards DPR tends to be abysmal yet they are clearly top tier).

But it's interesting to explore specific claims too.
 

The barb 4th/champion 6th is doing a lot of damage and he's the top damage dealer against single target if that target's AC isn't too high. The great weapon master feat is quite instrumental in that. But as soon as the AC becomes a bit higher than 17, the evoker steal the show, even on single target.
 

So far in DMing 5E I've seen the most damage from an Oath of Vengeance Paladin (Vow of Enmity increases crit chance thanks to advantage). After that it's been a Rogue.

Personally, when I DM I try to pick monsters according to the party's composition. Monks are highly mobile and can attack multiple times, so I place several monsters with lower HP for them to tear through, sometimes putting them in places the monk can more easily access than other party members (such as on a ledge or across water). Wth a Rogue I put two or three monsters that have a bit more survivability and abilities that can do things like ability score drain, maximum HP reduction, save-or-dies, etc, so that they can take out these targets before they can wreak havoc on the party.

This way it doesn't matter so much who does the most damage. The Monk can focus on taking out a large number of ghouls with lower HP while the Rogue can focus on sniping the maurezhi with higher HP who want to try and Charisma drain the Monk to death.
 
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