Damage: This is the damage budget for all the monster’s attacks. Limited-use (daily, recharge, or situational) attacks do 4x the damage budgeted. Multi-target attacks do ½ the damage budgeted. Limited-use multi-target attacks do 2x. All other damage sources are 1 for 1, including at-will and legendary single-target attacks, auras, reactions, and variable-length effects like Swallow. If a monster has several at-will options (such as melee and ranged), the lower-damage options are free.

The example stat block that the author uses to illustrate these rules involves a low-level creature that can only make a single attack per round, and in this situation the rules seem to work out. I'm having more trouble figuring out how the rules work when you start throwing multiattack into the mix or when you get into the higher levels with powerful creatures that have legendary actions, for instance.

The Monster Manual lists the Adult Red Dragon as a CR 17 creature. According to the blog's rules, this would give it a damage budget of 85. The dragon's fire breath is a limited-use, multi-target attack that deals an average of 63 points of damage to those who fail their saves, so as per the rules this should use up 31 out of the 85 budget, leaving 54.

The legendary Wing Attack also falls into this category and so should use up 7 more of the budget, leaving 47.

The blog's rules indicate that only the most powerful at-will attack, which is a 1 for 1 on the budget cost, requires any budget, which means that the Bite attack eats up the 26 of the remaining budget, leaving 21.

Is this correct? Does the fact that the dragon has multiattack come into play in the budget calculations? Or is it that the dragon is a powerful creature and thus based on "concept" it should be up to 50% higher on the damage budget? In this case, we're looking at a budget of up to 127, and then it seems like accounting for every attack available works out: 31 for the breath weapon, 7 for the wing attack, 26 for the bite, 15 x 2 for the claws, 17 for the tail, for a total of 111.


2 Answers 2


1) The article states that the calculations are not accurate.

But because of the variance in damage, she could be pegged as anything between a strong CR 2 (on par with a pentadrone) and a very weak CR 10 (on par with a CR13 rakshasa).

This clearly states that there is not one correct answer to what damage corresponds to what CR.

2) Multiattack is the best at will option

Considering only the information in the stat block, there is no restriction whatsoever that would make the dragon unable to use Multiattack every for the entire fight. It is therefore an at will option. Incidentally, the damage is higher than that of a single bite, claw, or tail attack, making it the most powerful at will option.

3) Legendary actions need to be considered.

The legendary actions need to be considered following the article. This is comprehensible since they include attacks that can be used every turn and completely independently from the "normal" action economy. They contribute significantly to the damage output. It is reasonable to assume that the consideration of the most powerful at will option applies here as well. Legendary actions can only be used three times per turn but that is not any more restrictive than normal attack (once per turn). For the legendary actions the most powerful combination of attack using three legendary actions should be considered. This is the use of three tail attacks (51 damage). Using wing attack is inferior (in the calculation rules used) since it does 30 damage (15 to two targets) but costs two legendary actions.

4) The total damage budget is 138.5. This is calculated like the example from the article using Multiattack and three tail attacks (vide infra): 56 (multi) + 51 (tail) + 31.5 (breath).

5) This is similar to the result from the rules provided in the DMG(p. 278).

The DMG tells us to calculate the average over three rounds. Doing this would give 3 * 51 + 2 * 56 + 126, i.e. Legendary Action Tail Attack every turn, plus one breath attack (can usually only be used once in the three turns because of recharge) plus two Multiattacks for the turns with no breath attack. The total is 391 or about 130 per turn on average which is about six percent off. Considering the inaccuracy of the overall challenge (vide infra) this is not very much. A similar comparison can be made for the example in the article (26 damage with DMG rules instead of 25). Side note: There is an example calculation (for the DMG rules) with a dragon breath attack on DMG p. 278.


It doesn't make sense to me to ignore multiattack in this scenario. If you can attack 3 times, then you deal more damage, so that needs to be taken into account. The original blog post doesn't say to take it into account, but I think it's fair to say that it should definitely have some effect on the damage calculations.

The Tail weapon attack should be ignored because it is a lower damage at will option. However when it comes to legendary actions there is Tail Attack there, so that part shouldn't be ignored since it says to count legendary actions.

  • Multiattack (bite, claw, claw) 26 + 15 + 15 damage = 56 points (1:1)
  • Fire Breath: 63 damage = 31.5 points (2:1)
  • Wing Attack: 15 damage = 30 points (1:2)
  • Tail Attack: 17 damage = 17 points (1:1)

Total: 56 + 31.5 + 30 + 17 = 134.5 points

Note: It doesn't say to round, so I didn't.

  • \$\begingroup\$ @AlienAtSyI Yeah, OP mentioned that it says in the post that there is a 50% allowance for outliers (which is pretty huge). \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 30, 2020 at 13:37

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