After today's D&D session I had an argument with one of our players. He insisted that a single level 30 wizard or ranger can defeat Orcus solo. Another player and I strongly disagreed with that statement.

So, are there any builds including only material from Player's Handbook 1 (feats, magic items, powers, ...) that stand a reasonable chance of soloing Orcus?

Of course, current errata applies to all used material, so no infinite Blade Cascade. ;-)


None of them

The character that before errata that could drop Orcus was the blood mage with blood pulse, a power that inflicts damage based on the enemy moving (see discussions one, two).

When discussing the present "state of the art" it is also important to clarify which Orcus, as there are many versions.

For high DPR builds, look here. But I doubt any of them are restricted to PHB1 material.

To provide evidence of the null hypothesis:

  • There exist no "core only" records in the DPR King threads at level 30, so unusually high damage is right out.
  • Regeneration (via demigod) is not an effective survival strategy when your HP is set to 0:

    Heal Each Turn: If a creature has regeneration and at least 1 hit point, it regains a specified number of hit points at the start of its turn. However, if its current hit point total is 0 or lower, it does not regain hit points through regeneration.

  • There are no unhittable characters with "PHB only".
  • There are no effective energy immunities to the amount of necrotic orcus is throwing in the PHB after errata.
  • There are no provisions for consistently acting after unconsiousness in the PHB
  • There are no provisions for infinite healing of the amounts needed in the PHB.
Therefore, it is very unlikely that Orcus can be defeated by a PHB only character after errata has been applied.


Short answer: If anyone's going to do it, it'll be a ranged combatant

Don't have the time to build such a monster, but I can make a few assumptions.

(This is assuming you're talking Orcus, the level 33 Solo Brute, although similar logic will apply to Orcus Empowered, who is a level higher but looks to have substantially the same abilities).

First: Orcus is rated as a difficult encounter for a full table of level 30s. To solo means that you're taking the full brunt of all his powers.

Second: You're going to want a striker of some sort (because you'll need to deal all 1525 points of damage), and that means you're going to be light on healing.

Third: Melee is right out. Touch of Death deals your bloodied value in damage on a miss, and auto-kills you on a hit. And it recharges. As a solo, you can't afford to be at half damage on your first round, with a 1/6 chance of eating the other half each round. And his at-will attack is Reach 4 as well.

Fourth: Orcus has a fly speed of 10. That means his effective range each turn is 24 (fly + fly-charge + reach 4). The good news is that he'll only get you for 3d12+12 damage. The bad news is that unless you get 15+ squares away on your turn, he'll be in range of Touch of Death next turn. (And this discussion assumes the GM throws you a bone and doesn't move-move-action point-Touch of Death. Orcus has two Action points, by the way).

So, put it all together, and the only character that's going to survive protracted combat is going to be someone who can shoot from very far away (I'm thinking Greatbow), and has a repeatable ability to move 20+ squares every turn. That turns the combat into one big aggro draw (as you get Orcus to chase you around while you ping him with arrows).

Alternatively, if you're allowed to choose the location of your fight, you just need to find somewhere that gives you a clear shot at him but prevents him from closing to within 4 squares. (He's Gargantuan, so any hallway would do.)


A warlock with Doom of Delban and the demigod epic destiny could possibly solo Orcus if

  1. They had an ability score of 30+ (so they could use their demigod utility to regenerate)
  2. A choke point Orcus can't reach.

These are very big ifs. However, since Doom of Delban can be repeatedly used, dealing an extra 1d10 damage each time, and the sustain damage being negated, you could probably kill Orcus in a fairly short amount of time.

  • A rod of reaving could probably let you deal with the ghouls Orcus might somehow summon, gloves of piercing will get around his variable resistance.
  • A scarab of invulnerability will protect you if you really think he's going to get you,
  • A star opal ring will get you out of tough situations,
  • A ring of freedom of movement will let you take advantage of terrain.

  • If you are really gutsy, dimensional shackles will give you no need to run away.

  • You'll also need potions. Lots of potions.
  • If you get 40+ on your arcana check, You could conjure a phantom steed with a fly speed of 20 using the phantom speed ritual (easily letting you outrun orcus)

Lvl 30 wizard with Int 30, Demigod regeneration and Resistance (lvl 10 daily utility. Choose necrotic) activated. Resist 40 necrotic ensures that only Touch of Death and his Melee basic attack can hurt you.

ToD doesn't kill you on a hit. It just reduces you to 0 hp. Next turn you'll regenerate 30 hp and be conscious. Also, it doesn't negate resistance on a miss, so resist 40 necrotic is very handy.

If he wins initiative and reduces you to 0 before your first turn, then you instantly heal half your hp before your turn starts (demigod lvl 24 ability) and are able to take your turn anyway. Spend your first turn activating regeneration and resistance as mentioned.

If he reduces you to less than 0 hp, you'll heal from 0 with regeneration. So your minimum hp at the start of Orcus turn will never be less than 30.

His maximum damage: Reduce you to 0 with ToD + AP to attack you with MBA: 2d12 + 12 (the last d12 is necrotic, so you'll ignore it). Worst case you'll be at -36 hp. You'll have more than 72 hp in total, so at the start of your next turn you regenerate 30 hp, counting from 0 and regain consciousness to continue the fight .

His maximum damage 2: Miss you with ToD and deal your bloodied value minus 40 (from necrotic resistance) + AP to MBA for max 36 damage. Total damage = Your bloodied value minus 4. This can never kill you, when you start at 30 hp.

Avoid granting him attacks of opportunity.

Now spend half the night munching through his 1525 hp using only Magic Missiles.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Does this work considering Orcus' Action Points? \$\endgroup\$ – Zachiel Jan 14 '13 at 12:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, that's why he has two attacks in each 'Maximum damage' scenario. \$\endgroup\$ – Anders Jan 14 '13 at 19:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh I got it AP is Action Point. Stupid me. \$\endgroup\$ – Zachiel Jan 14 '13 at 21:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, as a point of order, how are you dealing with the fact that regeneration stops if you're at 0 hp. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Jan 29 '14 at 3:18

I say that a level 30 dwarf cleric with the demigod epic destiny could solo this. You can spam channel divinity: divine fortune, healing word, and sacrificial healing for great damage output and constant healing. Just make sure you take durable, dwarven durability, iron ring of the dwarf lords, etc. and make sure you have at least 24 constitution to keep your healing surges close to 20. All you need beyond that is a warhammer, heavy shield, and chainmail and you can sit there as you soak in damage. Also, this pc, a half-elf paladin, and a human infernal warlock took on orcus without any trouble whatsoever. And then, orcus had two level 31 lurkers (wraiths i think) from scales of war to help him

  • \$\begingroup\$ Please show your work, round by round. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Jan 29 '14 at 3:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, if rounds are identical, you can indicate as such. But if you're assuming that, make sure you assume that orcus is maximally lucky and you are maximally unlucky. Or do your work by averages (but make sure you show how you calculate the average damage). \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Jan 29 '14 at 3:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are for clarification requests only. Please edit details into your answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Jan 29 '14 at 3:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ oh sorry im new. ok, so i see what you mean. I guess its possible for this guy to lose. still, healing word comes in every round pretty much \$\endgroup\$ – user9941 Jan 29 '14 at 3:16

Orcus can be taken out single-handlely by an Astral Demigod build, posted by Arismir to the Wizards of the Coast Community in 2008.

Here's the Astral Demigod build:

Level 30 Elf Paladin / Astral Weapon / Demigod


  • Elven Accuracy
  • Pray for More
  • Divine Miracle
  • Vorpal Weapon

[!] Given this build, there are no additional feats, optional class powers, or ability scores that are required to accomplish the trick.

How it works:

Setup: Before attacking you must expend every encounter power you have except Elven Accuracy.


  1. Approach your enemy.
  2. Perform a basic melee attack.
    • Regardless of the roll (even a natural 20), use Elven Accuracy to reroll.
  3. Reroll your attack. After rerolling, Elven Accuracy has been expended and you can use Divine Miracle.
    • If you roll a natural 20, you hit. Use Divine Miracle to recover Pray for More.
    • If you do not roll a natural 20, you might not hit. Use Divine Miracle to recover Elven Accuracy. Repeat Step (3).
  4. Roll for damage.
    • If you roll max damage, roll an additional die as provided by Vorpal Weapon. Repeat Step (4).
    • If you do not roll max damage, use Pray for More to reroll your damage. Upon expending Pray for More, use Divine Miracle to recover it. Repeat Step (4).
  5. Repeat Step (4) until your damage is greater than your target's hit points and other miscellaneous modifiers such as temporary hit points or resistances.
  6. To end the cycle after completing Step (5), Use Divine Miracle to recover Elven Accuracy instead of Pray for More. Thus, you will be able to repeat this trick upon your next attack.
  • \$\begingroup\$ I feel like Pray for More's "You must use the second result" precludes this. \$\endgroup\$ – wax eagle Oct 10 '12 at 19:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ Moreover, Divine miracle prevents the loop: The first time you expend your last remaining encounter attack power during an encounter, you regain the use of one encounter attack power of your choice. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Oct 10 '12 at 21:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, beware of citing 4 year old threads, as much has changed. Free action restrictions and so forth. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Oct 10 '12 at 21:11

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