March 1, 2012
A Boot on the Face of Level 1 Damage ... Forever!
Thus, my end goal here is to develop a new, simple chart that shows updated damage-by-level information across all 30 levels of play that keeps the relative amount of damage inflicted the same, starting at the brutality of 1st Level. If you think that the MM3-era math is just fine and are comfortable with the paltry amount of damage your epic tier dungeoneers (who have unprecedented access to healing, resist, boosted defenses, and other ways of negating damage) are taking, then read no further, this article is of no use to you.
To start, here's a basic chart showing the common MM3-era damage-by-level expressions for Minion, Low, Moderate, High, Limited, and Falling damage. Straight out of the books here.
Next, I took these die rolls, found the average results, and then expressed them as a fraction of a typical dungeoneer's maximum hit points at each level. For hit points, I assume a 1st level dungeoneer has 25 HP and increases at 5 HP per level. I feel that's a pretty standard and average rate, and many dungeoneers gain far more than that, but for purposes of this post that would only drive my point home further.
As you can see, at 1st Level Minion damage deals 16% of a dungeoneer's HP, Low damage deals 26% of a dungeoneer's HP, Moderate damage deals 34% of a dungeoneer's HP, High damage deals 46% of a dungeoneer's HP, Limited damage deals 56% of a dungeoneer's HP, and falling damage deals 44% of a dungeoneer's HP.
When you take that further and look at all the levels, you'll see a very sharp decline in how much "punch" a typical monster or terrain power does to a dungeoneer as they increase in level, especially in the Limited Damage expressions. As dungeoneers get closer and closer to Level 30, the damage taken drops and the ability to recover from damage increases. This two-pronged defense creates a very hard to kill dungeoneer using typical methods. For me, this is excessively so.
To rectify this, let's take the damage ratios found earlier at 1st Level and apply them to ALL THE LEVELS, like so:
It's then kind of a guessing game as to how one would like to express these average values in terms of die rolls, but I think I've got something half-decent.
Yikes! Pretty hefty numbers and a big jump even as early as the second half of Heroic Tier. But that is what we're looking for. Finally, we can take a look at a graph of these numbers.
As you can see, there are still some ups and downs, but overall these new damage die expressions give a much more flat and smooth pace throughout all levels. I hope this little tool and exercise helps out other Dungeon Masters get a better working knowledge of how much their creature's damage values are really hurting the dungeoneers, and how best to challenge those dungoneers in a meaningful way.