Still being rather new to character-creation, I want to see if the character I create has the appropriate power for its class and level. Are there average damage-per-round per level tables to be found? Maybe per class/role?

Alternatively, if there are no such tables, could estimations be made?

I know that damage-per-round is not the only thing characters can be good at in a campaign, but in this instance I wanted to compare only DPR. I want to identify a fitting role for a character I am creating, and DPR plays a role in this process.


5 Answers 5


KRyan's answer is correct, of course, but if you're bored or whatever...

You can try the Same Game Test

The basis of the Same Game Test (SGT) is that a character's degree of ability to participate meaningfully in combat encounters is best determined by comparing the character's abilities to creatures it may encounter in the environments in which the character may encounter them. For example, here's one SGT:

A reasonable lone level 5 character should be able to overcome about half these encounters:

  1. A locked door behind an arbitrarily high number of assorted CR 4 traps.
  2. A huge animated iron statue in a throne room.
  3. A basilisk in its desert burrow.
  4. A large Fire Elemental in a mystic forge.
  5. A manticore on the wing above a plain.
  6. A phase spider anywhere. They're tricky creatures like that.
  7. A couple of centaur archers in a light to medium wood.
  8. A howler/allip tag team in an abandoned temple to a dark god.
  9. A grimlock assault team (4 members) hidden in a cavern.
  10. A cleric of Hextor (with his dozen zombies) in a crypt.

As mentioned, a character needn't triumph in all of these encounters. For example, a viciously optimized charging barbarian is likely to defeat most of these with relative ease, but may still lose in scenario 8 and maybe scenario 5 if she's spent all her gp on being that viciously optimized charging barbarian and leaving little coin for utility.

You needn't feel as though you must actually run all of these tests to get a feel for how a character'll do; once you've a little system mastery—including a monster's tactics and the character's tactics—you can totally just hypothesize the outcome of a specific test.

Here're some items from around Web that explain more about the SGT:

Below level 5 is, I think, considered too swingy to use the SGT.


No, and it wouldn’t really be all that useful

You’d have an “average” with really, really wide variance, and that average wouldn’t be meaningful.

D&D 3.5 is a wildly imbalanced game. Characters of a given level can have vastly different abilities and power level, and moreover, so can monsters of a given challenge rating. A naively-built monk or ranger could have low HP and AC, and very low damage, while a decently-built barbarian at the same level could literally one-shot anything he can get his axe on. And a spellcaster can just rewrite reality in her favor. As for monsters, some things are pushovers for almost anyone anywhere near their challenge rating (e.g. pretty much any big brute; the tarrasque is the quintessential example), while others are almost impossible even for parties somewhat above their challenge rating (e.g. that damn crab, anything incorporeal or swarming at low levels, the adamantine horror, most angels and dragons).

Moreover, damage is often not the most important part of a fight. In 3.5, spellcasters have great ability to effectively (or literally) shut threats down, by being able to reliably apply a wide array of crippling conditions. After this is done, finishing the threats off is closer to mopping up than it is to a real fight, and differences in damage dealt is less important.

Ultimately, it is much more important to build a character that is in line with the expectations of your table. There is a ton of room to build something vastly stronger or weaker than they were expecting, and neither is a great experience for you or them. Unfortunately, it’s also really hard to describe expectations; your best bet is to ask the group for advice building. They’ll suggest things that they themselves consider appropriate, and that should give you a feel for how things go at that table. They may even mention things that are not appropriate, like “oh, don’t take that feat; you’ll never get any use out of it,” or “well, you could take that prestige class, but don’t, it’s broken,” which will help more (even if you or I might disagree about either designation).

But since we’re not playing at your table, we really cannot help you figure this out.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I was afraid for an answer like this. Sadly, I am the most experienced player at the table (and the only one even remotely bothered about power-tiers and the playability of certain builds and classes), so turning to others for guidance is not always an option. However, DPR is easily calculated and compared, no matter how experienced the players are, so this advice could work. Could you expand on what I can do on my own, however? \$\endgroup\$
    – Joninean
    Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 14:32

It was mentioned in the comments that damage per round does not matter much since there are many methods of taking foes down without actually damaging them. And even more of that, a character can be highly beneficial to the party even if he doesn’t take out foes effectively. Opening locks, disabling traps, negotiating NPCs, identifying magic items and many more things can be very important out of combat.

Moreover, many abilities may be more or less beneficial depending on the style of the campaign. Will you spend more time under open sky or in a dungeon? In the first case fly is valuable, in the later meld into stone is more preferable. Will it be an urban or wilderness adventure? In the first case skills like diplomacy or gather information will work well, in the later gather information is virtually useless while survival is almost a must. The clue to making a good character is working with the party and with the GM. Working with the GM will help you to get some hints on what type of challenges your character will face. Working with other players will help chosing your role in the party in order to form an effective team (if the style of the campaign is cooperative).

If you still want the DPR, which is not completely useless, I suppose, here are some guidelines.

DPR as it is.

If you want to have an average damage your character is able to deal, you can calculate it.

First thing you need is the average roll for each die. It is the sum of all numbers you can roll divided by the number of die sides. (Dice average is useful in many other situations)

  • 1d2: (1+2)/2 = 1.5
  • 1d3: (1+2+3)/3 = 2
  • 1d4: (1+2+3+4)/4 = 2.5
  • 1d6: (1+2+3+4+5+6)/6 = 3.5
  • 1d8: 4.5
  • 1d10: 5.5
  • 1d12: 6.5

So, replace the dx in your damage entry by the corresponding average and you’ll have your average damage per hit. For example, if you are playing a fighter with strength score 18 fighting with Greatsword you’ll have your damage entry 2d6+6. Greatsword damage for medium character is 2d6, your strength bonus +4 multiplied by 1.5 for two handed weapon gives a total of +6. In this case your average damage per hit will be

2d6+6 = 2 × 3.5 + 6 = 13 hp.

To get the damage per round you’ll have to account for your chance to hit. It, basically, depends on two numbers: your Attack Bonus and the target’s AC. Since the distribution of target’s AC highly depends on the monster selection, it is too difficult to estimate your average DPR, but it is quite easy to estimate your DPR vs a fixed AC. Subtract your Attack Bonus from target’s AC, and you’ll get the minimum score you need on a natural d20 roll. Thus all the rolls smaller than that (AC - Attack Bonus - 1) will be a miss, and 20 - (AC - Attack Bonus - 1) will be a hit. As each point on d20 represents a 5% (or 0.05) chance, your chance to hit will be

(20 - (AC - Attack Bonus - 1)) × 5%

For example, if your target’s AC is 16 and your Attack Bonus is 10, then

(20 - (16 - 10 - 1)) × 5% = 75% (or 0.75)

I.e. you’ll hit 3 times per 4 attacks on average.

If we assume the fighter from above example has BAB +6, which gives him two attacks per round at +10/+5 (for his +4 strength), his DPR vs AC 16 will be:

0.75 × 13 hp + (20 - (16 - 5 - 1)) × 0.05 × 13 hp = 1.25 × 13 hp = 16.25 hp

This calculation does not take into account critical hits. It can be calculated, but I wouldn’t bother you with more math, since DPR is not so important for the game.


You should be able to put down an enemy of comparable challenge rating with your character in less than 5 rounds more or less, because in combat there maybe a lot of variables, such as more enemies, difficult terrain, enemy abilities that disable some characters, positioning and such. Therefore the ideal DPRounder is a character thar can put an enemy down with his fullround at all levels without much effort. Such characters only exist in theoretical optimization most of the times. For example: If you are facing a monster with average 700hp in a open plains at lvl 20 and you have more than 50% of chance of hitting it with every attack you should be able to put him down in no more than 5 rounds by yourself, which is more or less 140 points of damage per round. The ideal amount should be 350 damage so you could put it down with only 2 rounds. that is purely damage wise, other variables delay the combat and also monster attacks and skills may hinder the amount you can dish on then (such as high AC, immunity to sneak attack, impossibility of charging then, negating damage from power attack, resistances do elemental damage, damage reduction and etc)


I used to have a rule that if you're trying to test balance. Take a character you're checking and have it 1 v 1 a simulated combat against a monster from the manual with the same # of hitdice. If it seems to have a significant advantage against that, and even worse if it always wins--you may have a problem.

There are exceptions to this rule--if it's a magic-user and them popping all their spells or something makes the combat cake--consider normal conditions in your scenarios and campaigns. If magic-users can restore their entire pool after each combat--that may be a problem. Context with this is a big thing, but my starting point is to have the character(s) face what in theory should be a 'fair' combat and it is listed in my 2nd AD&D handbooks that the sum of hit dice vs. sum of player class levels is a starting point to make balanced fights.

  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ A lot of things changed between AD&D and D&D 3.5; most notably, D&D 3.5 would say that you should use challenge rating (CR) rather than hit dice (HD) to compare monsters to player characters. This answer would be better if it were written from the perspective of and in the parlance of the edition being asked about. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 20:02

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