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I know there's a few questions floating around about Challenge Rating and I think I'm pretty happy with calculating it based on simple creatures with regular attacks, resistances, etc, but the one thing I can't figure out is how an ability can affect a creature's CR.

I want to create a Goliath Barbarian enemy, with the Rage ability. How does Rage affect Challenge Rating and how does it fit into the calculation?

Ideally, I'd like an answer that can apply to several abilities, including but not limited to Second Wind, Action Surge, Flurry of Blows, etc, but Rage is what I'm focused on right now.

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When calculating challenge rating, use abilities as you would in combat.

Recall that one component of calculating your monster's offensive CR is its "overall damage output" (DMG p.278). In this section we are told

(a) to use special abilities/attacks that the monster has, (b) to use the average damage output through three rounds.

Another component is "effective hit points" (DMG p.277). Since your monster will have resistance to bludgeoning/piercing/slashing weapons while raging, use this section's guidance on HP multipliers for resistances.

These same methods will work for action surge (double your expected damage one of the three rounds), second wind (bump up your effective hp by a half-dozen), flurry of blows (pump your expected damage), &c. And a number of features/traits/abilities are cataloged on DMG pp.280-281; some may stand in well for certain class features.

Then go playtest/simulate. There's no substituting for it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 for playtesting... I had a calculated CR 7 monster that ended up being a CR 3 if it didn't go first, and a CR 12 if it went first. \$\endgroup\$ – Jeff Dec 14 '16 at 15:40

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