Last week, I posted a short exercise in seeing how expected creature damage expressions stacked up against expected dungeoneer hit points through the entirety of their careers (Levels 1 through 30). What was found, very convincingly, was that as Level increased, creature damage expressions became less and less potent compared to the ever-expanding dungeoneer hit point totals. Looking at this, I asked the question, "If the math involved in Level 1 creatures vs. Level 1 dungeoneers is taken as an ideal, how would that translate to all of the other Levels? The answer came out that, to keep pace with the amount of threat from Level 1, damage expressions need a significant boost even as low as the mid-Heroic Tier.
A very interesting counter-exercise was then posted by The Hydra DM looking to see the inverse: if Level 30 is taken as an ideal, what does that make Level 1 damage expressions look like? the answer, of course, being that Level 1 damage expression become laughably low, which then suggests that published Level 30 damage expressions have been laughably low. Compound this with the ever-increasing means that high level dungeoneers have of negating or avoiding damage, and you can clearly see a complete lack of any real threat at high level play.
This post expands upon my first, by providing a few more Levels of examination to give guidelines for Deity-Level opponents, providing PDFs of the assembled charts, as well as the original calculations in MS Excel format.
- PDF - MM3 Damage Average Values
- PDF - MM3 Damage Die Rolls
- PDF - Adjusted Damage Average Values
- PDF - Adjusted Damage Die Rolls
This level of adjustment may not, in fact, be enough for some campaigns. For Dungeons & Dragons games that wish to be truly brutal, to test the skills of the dungeoneers to the utmost limits, I give you Nightmare Mode Damage Expressions.
Nightmare Mode is a Fourthcore concept wherein the game gets progressively harder as the dungeoneers gain levels. traditional 4E Dungeons & Dragons is designed in the opposite, a Level 9 dungeoneer is far more likely to see Level 10 than a Level 2 dungeoneer is to survive to see Level 3. In Nightmare Mode, merely surviving is a challenge and a reward. It's the Ninja Gaiden of D&D; frustratingly hard, and not meant for casual players.
To achieve this effect, I will simply increase the percentage damage dealt across all damage expressions by a fixed, small amount; in this case, an increase of 1% per three levels. For example, if a 1st Level Limited Damage Expression deals 56% of a typical 1st Level dungeoneer's Hit Points, then a 4th Level Limited Damage Expression deals 57% of a 4th Level dungeoneer's Hit Points, and a 30th Level Limited Damage Expression deals a whopping 65% of a 30th Level dungeoneer's hit points. As well, four solid hits from 30th Level Minions should drop a dungeoneer to the floor. This is an entireluy arbitrary number, but one percent per three leevls seems pretty modest from a first glance, so we'll stick with it.
The numbers that come out of the grinder here have a sticke shock to them: kicking upwards of 6d20+68 damage! BUt take a moment to breathe in and examine what we're looking at. We're numerically representing a devastating strike from a powerful diety. Shouldn't that be a little over-the-top? Shouldn't those numbers be a little ridiculous? Shouldn't they be, dare I say it, a little epic?
On The Fly Adjustments
If you're in the middle of running an adventure, or want to use something pre-published, or in any situation where you want to use these adjusted values, but don't want to go through the hassle of rewriting every single stat block, here are some quick and simple bonuses to damage by creature level you can slap right on top of your rolls at the table. These values are done with some fast and loose averaging, getting approximately where you want to be without too much thought.
To get to the "Adjusted Values", meaning damage normalized to be inline with the punch of Level 1 damage, add the Level -1 of the creature to all damage expressions, plus an additional +1 for both Paragon and Epic Tier.
To get to the "Nightmare Mode Values", the adjustments needed are actually very simple. Add the +2 damage per Level to every damage expression, ignoring Level 1.