13th Age DPR builds by class (level 1)

Written by Martin K.

This article aims to figure out what damage output typical character builds in 13th Age bring to the table. 

The most important stat to measure this is "DPR" or damage per round. This measure assumes that the character can do this every round, i.e. he does not burn any resources like once per battle racial features or daily spells.

However, this measure does not give the complete picture for classes like the Sorcerer, who rely on daily spells for their major damage output. For these classes, more complicated considerations are necessary.

The Highlights
Class Build DPR Condition / Resource cost
Barbarian  2H + Rage  9.78 Recharge 16+ 
  2H + Slayer (+feat) 8.20 Target staggered, not engaged at start of turn
  2H + Rage + Slayer (+feat) 14.27 Target staggered, not engaged at start of turn
  2H + Rage + Whirlwind 18.95 Must be engaged to two enemies at start of turn 
Paladin Smite (+feat) + Hammer of Faith 14.45 1/battle + Cha/day // 1 battle/day
Ranger Double Melee Attack +
Two Weapon Mastery +
Favored Enemy / First Strike /
Lethal Hunter + feat
  1 enemy group / 1 attack per enemy / 1 enemy per battle
Ranger Double Melee Attack + Animal Companion 8.76 None!
Ranger Drow + Heritage of the Sword +
TWF + Double Melee Attack +
Animal companion (Panther)
  Win initiative against target (for panther crit bonus)
Rogue Improved Sneak Attack +
Murderous (+feat) +
Deadly Thrust
9.90 Target staggered, engaged to ally

 

 

Basics

Before diving into class features, let's calculate DPR for a basic melee attack. On the monster side, we'll assume a standard level 1 monster: AC 17 / PD 15

We'll also assume an 18 (+4) in the main attack stat, for +5 to attack (including +1 for level) and +4 to damage.

This gives us the following possible attack results:

Result  Die roll   Chance Damage
Critical hit  20 5%  2x hit
Hit  12 - 19  40%  die + 4
Miss  2 - 11  50%  1
Fumble 1 5% -

 

To calculate the DPR, all we need to do is multiply the damage of each of the four outcomes by their chance, and add it up. As a result we get the following DPRs for different weapon dice.

Die Average Hit damage Hit damage * (Hit chance + crit chance * crit multi) + miss damage * miss chance DPR
d4  2.5 6.5  6.5 * (0.4 + 0.05 * 2) + 1 * 0.5 3.75
d6  3.5  7.5  7.5 * (0.4 + 0.05 * 2) + 1 * 0.5 4.25
d8 4.5 8.5 8.5 * (0.4 + 0.05 * 2) + 1 * 0.5 4.75
d10 5.5 9.5 9.5 * (0.4 + 0.05 * 2) + 1 * 0.5 5.25
d12 6.5 10.5 10.5 * (0.4 + 0.05 * 2) + 1* 0.5 5.75

So what is the effect of the escalation die? Each round, your chance to hit goes up 5% and to miss down by 5%. That means your DPR goes up by 5% times the difference of hit and miss. For a d10 damage die, that's (9.5 - 1) * 0.05 = 0.425.

 

Two Weapon Fighting

Two-weapon fighting rule allows you to reroll natural 2 on the attack roll. The reroll counts, so the reroll could result in a 2.

That means every number on the die, except two, has a chance of 1/20 + 1/400 = 21/400 = 0.0525 to be rolled. The chance for a 2 is 1/400 = 0.0025.

A hit on 12 - 19 now means a chance to hit of 8 * 0.0525 = 0.42. Miss on 3 - 11, plus 2 on reroll is 9 * 0.0525 + 0.0025 = 0.475.

Die Average Hit damage TWF DPR
d4  2.5 6.5  6.5 * (0.42 + 0.0525 * 2) + 0.475 = 3.8875
d6  3.5  7.5  7.5 * (0.42 + 0.0525 * 2) + 0.475 = 4.4125 
d8 4.5 8.5 8.5 * (0.42 + 0.0525 * 2) + 0.475 = 4.9375
d10 5.5 9.5 9.5 * (0.42 + 0.0525 * 2) + 0.475 = 5.4625
d12 6.5 10.5 10.5 * (0.42 + 0.0525 * 2) + 0.475 = 5.9875

(Note: There are no one-handed weapons with a damage die higher than d8. The last two table entries are only relevant if you have an ability to boost the damage die, such as the Hammer of Faith spell)

  

Barbarian

We'll start with a two-handed martial weapon = d10 = 5.5. Average damage on a hit is 1d10+4 = 9.5. A quick look at the table above gives a total "naked" DPR without talents and class features of 5.25.

Rage

Barbarians can RAGE!!! Rage allows you to roll twice and take the better result.

The easiest way to calculate this is to ignore fumbles for now and look at the miss chance. You have Y% chance to miss the first time. Of those misses, Y% will also miss the second roll, for a total miss chance of Y%*Y% = Y%^2. Ignoring crits, your hit chance then is 100%-Y%^2. With a 55% chance to miss or fumble, we're looking at 1 - 0.55^2 = 1 - 0.3025 = 0.6975 = 69.75% hit chance during Rage. So rolling twice is almost a +5 bonus to hit in this case.

Rage has a second advantage. You crit when both rolls are natural 11+. That's a 0.5 * 0.5 = 0.25 chance.

Plus, there is the chance that either the first or the second roll is a natural 20, in which case you crit even when the second roll is 10 or lower. Doesn't look like much, but there is still 0.05 * 0.5 * 2 = 0.05 chance for that to happen, for a total of 0.3 to crit. (Although if you're very thorough, a double 11 is a miss in our scenario, so the crit chance is 1/400 = 0.0025 lower...)

Substracting our crit chance from the hit or crit total: 0.6975 - 0.3 = 0.3975

For miss damage, we're looking at a 0.3025 chance to miss, but we need to exclude a 0.0025 chance of a double 1 fumble for 0.3.

9.5 * (0.3975 + 0.30 * 2) + 0.3 = 9.5 * 0.9975 + 0.3 = 9.47625 + 0.3 =  9.77625

Slayer

Slayer requires a staggered enemy that you were not engaged with at the start of your turn to give +1d6 damage on hit.

(9.5 + 3.5) * (0.40 + 0.05 * 2) + 0.5 = 13 * 0.5 + 0.5 = 7

With the Adventurer feat, you add +2 to attack (for 55%).

(9.5 + 3.5) * (0.50 + 0.05 * 2) + 0.4 = 13 * 0.6 + 0.4 = 8.2

Raging Slayer: 13 * ((1 - 0.45^2) - 0.3 + 0.3 * 2) + 0.45^2 - 0.0025 = 13 * (0.7975 + 0.3) + 0.2025 - 0.0025 = 13 * 1.0975 + 0.2 = 14.2675

Barbaric Cleave

A 1/battle bonus attack, so that adds whatever your DPR is that round.

Building Frenzy

This one is a PITA to calculate as you end up with a decision tree of hit / miss every round, with each consecutive miss adding 1d4 = 2.5 damage to each hit down the road. So each round, either you hit, in which case you "collect" the extra damage from each previous miss, or you miss, which adds another d4 to the pool.

We can calculate the average damage from Building Frenzy as (chance to gain a die = miss chance) * (damage per die) * (chance to trigger = hit chance) * (number of remaining rounds). So damage output depends on the length of combat.

In the following table, I'll ignore the effect of the escalation die and just set the hit/miss chance at 50%. Keep in mind that these are not the precise numbers. In-game numbers will be lower since the formula uses hit * miss. For hit + miss = 1, Max(hit * miss) = 0.5 * 0.5 = 0.25.

Round Extra damage Cumulative Bonus DPR
Last 0
Last -1 0.5 * 2.5 * 0.5 * 1 = 0.625 0.625 0.3125 
Last -2 0.5 * 2.5 * 0.5 * 2 = 1.25 1.875  0.625 
Last -3 0.5 * 2.5 * 0.5 * 3 = 1.875 3.75 0.9375
Last -4 0.5 * 2.5 * 0.5 * 4 = 2.5 6.25 1.25
Last -5 0.5 * 2.5 * 0.5 * 4 = 3.125 9.375 1.5625

 

What that means is that a battle has to last at least 5 rounds for Building Frenzy to be better than Barbaric Cleave.

Whirlwind

Simple, two attacks = double DPR. You don't get piddly miss damage without the feat but it's still amazing: 2 * 4.75 = 9.5 before adding in any other talent. While raging, this improves to 2 * 9.47625 = 18.9525. Nice.

However, getting yourself engaged to two enemies and then taking a voluntary AC penalty could mean a quick death.

 

Cleric

The Cleric is a supporter class, not a striker. Still, in 3E they were famous (notorious?) for using all those buffs meant for the other PCs on themselves, so let's see how we can build a damage-dealer Cleric in 13th Age.

 

 

Paladin

Str 18 and a two-handed martial weapon (d10) again. Baseline DPR is 5.25 as per the Basics chapter.

Smite

The Paladin's most important class feature and damage source. +1d12 damage and half damage on miss. Base damage increases to 9.5 + 6.5 = 16.

DPR: 16 * (0.4 + 0.05 * 2 + 0.3 * 1/2) = 16 * 0.65 = 10.4

Not bad, but if we add the feat for +4 to attack, we're in business.

16 * (0.6 + 0.05 * 2 + 0.3 * 1/2) = 16 * 0.85 = 13.6

You get one free smite per battle and one per day per Charisma bonus. Fewer combats or faster victories allow you to smite more often between full heal-ups, which brings up your average DPR. For example, assuming Cha 14 and 4 3-round battles in a day, that's 6 smites in 12 turns or exactly half. Your DPR over that day would be 5.3 * 0.5 + 13.6 * 0.5 = 9.45. Too bad Smite doesn't scale well and is much stronger (relatively) at 1st level than at 4th level.

 

Cleric Training: Hammer of Faith

Increases your damage die from d10 to d12, for 10.5 base damage. DPR 5.75 as per table.

If you combine with Smite + feat, we're looking at (10.5 + 6.5) + 0.85 = 17 * 0.85 = 14.45.

Unfortunately, this spell costs you a standard action (5.3 damage) to activate until 3rd level, so it's not really worth it at low levels unless you expect an unusually long, drawn-out fight over 10 rounds or more, or if you're planning to thrown in all your smites. If you normally wield a Shield and a d8 weapon normally the spell is more desirable as your damage without it is lower.

 

There are a number of other good talents for Paladins, but nothing that effectively increases DPR.

 

Ranger

Let's start with an 18 Strength or Dexterity and a d8 = 4.5 weapon for 8.5 base hit damage. As per the table in Basics, this nets us a base DPR of 4.75.

 

First Strike / Favored Enemy / Lethal Hunter

All of these expand your crit range by 2 under different circumstances. In other words, you gain double damage on 3 instead of 1 number on the die. Before we get into the complicated interactions with Double Attack, let's look at the baseline with a d8 weapon. By the way, you can take several of these talents, they stack, it's just unlikely you'll get to apply them all at the same time. You can also take a feat to increase the crit range by 3.

For comparison, I'll include the numbers in case you decided to wade into melee with a greatsword / greataxe...

Weapon Crit Range Hit damage * (hit chance + crit chance + crit multiplier) + miss damage * miss chance DPR
d8 +2 8.5 * (0.3 + 0.15 * 2) + 1 * 0.5 = 8.5 * 0.6 + 0.5 5.6
d8 +4 8.5 * (0.2 + 0.25 * 2) + 1 * 0.5 = 8.5 * 0.7 + 0.5 6.45
d8 +6 8.5 * (0.1 + 0.35 * 2) + 1 * 0.5 = 8.5 * 0.8 + 0.5 7.3
d10 +2 9.5 * (0.3 + 0.15 * 2) + 1 * 0.5 = 9.5 * 0.6 + 0.5 6.2
d10  +4  9.5 * (0.2 + 0.25 * 2) + 1 * 0.5 = 9.5 * 0.7 + 0.5 7.15
d10  +6  9.5 * (0.1 + 0.35 * 2) + 1 * 0.5 = 9.5 * 0.8 + 0.5 8.1

 

Double Melee Attack

With this talent, we'll take the two weapon fighting (the the basics chapter at the top), reduce the d8 damage die to d6 for 7.5 average hit damage and add a 50% chance of getting a second attack.

Well, almost. See, natural 2 (5% chance) is natural even, but you reroll that one, and then there is a 50% chance to get a second attack through that reroll. So you only get a reroll with a 50% - 5%*0.5 = 47.5% chance.

(Hit damage * Hit chance + crit chance * crit multiplier) + miss damage * miss chance) * (1 + chance of second attack) = 

(7.5 * (0.42 + 0.0525 * 2) + 1 * 0.475) * 1.475 = 4.4125 * 1.475 = 6.50844

But what if you have the feat for +2 attack on the second attack against a different target?

7.5 * (0.42 + 0.0525 * 2) + 0.475 + 0.475 * (7.5 * (0.525 + 0.0525 * 2) + 0.37) = 4.4125 + 0.475 * 5.095 = 6.83263

As an elf, you could burn a feat on Heritage of the Sword for +2 damage. Unfortunately, the feat doesn't scale, so the bonus becomes negligible as you level. It also says doesn't specify whether the bonus applies only to hits or to misses too. (I assume not, but there is no FAQ ruling yet)

(9.5 * (0.42 + 0.0525 * 2) + 0.475) * 1.475 = 5.4625 * 1.475 = 8.05719

There are quite a few other talents you can take to boost damage further: Two Weapon Mastery, the crit boosters First Strike, Lethal Hunter and Favored Enemy, and Ranger Ex Cathedral for Hammer of Faith. Of course, you only have two talent slots left, so you need to decide. I'll quickly analyze the option and then give a table with the results.

 

Double Melee Attack + Two Weapon Mastery

With the two weapon mastery talent, we're adding +1 to hit.

And even though we just reduced our chance to miss with that talent, it offers the option to burn a feat on +1 miss damage. Note that this feat gets less useful the higher the escalation die climbs. When the die is 6, we attack at +5+1+6=+12. Unless we roll a 3 or 4 against that AC 17 monster, the feat does nothing.

 

Double Melee Attack + Ranger Ex Cathedral: Hammer of Faith

You can use this popular daily cleric spell to boost your weapon die to d12, although Double Weapon Fighting shrinks it back to d10.

Ranger Options
Talent 1 Talent 2 Talent 3 (feat) DPR calculation Result
Double Melee Attack  --  --  -- (7.5 * (0.42 + 0.0525 * 2) + 0.475) * 1.475 = 4.4125 * 1.475 6.50844
Double Melee Attack  --  -- DMA 7.5 * (0.42 + 0.0525 * 2) + 0.475 + 0.475 * (7.5 * (0.525 + 0.0525 * 2) + 0.37) 6.83263
Double Melee Attack  --  -- HotS (9.5 * (0.42 + 0.0525 * 2) + 0.475) * 1.475 8.05719
Double Melee Attack Two Weapon Mastery  --  -- (7.5 * (0.4725 + 0.0525 * 2) + 0.4225) * 1.475 7.01178
Double Melee Attack Two Weapon Mastery  -- TWM (7.5 * (0.4725 + 0.0525 * 2) + 2 * 0.4225) * 1.475  
Double Melee Attack Favored Enemy / First Strike /
Lethal Hunter
 --  -- (7.5 * (0.315 + 0.1575 * 2) + 0.475) * 1.475  
Double Melee Attack Favored Enemy / First Strike /
Lethal Hunter
 -- crit +3 (7.5 * (0.2625 + 0.21 * 2) + 0.475) * 1.475  
Double Melee Attack Favored Enemy / First Strike /
Lethal Hunter
Two Weapon Mastery  -- (7.5 * (0.3675 + 0.1575 * 2) + 0.4225) * 1.475   
Double Melee Attack Favored Enemy / First Strike / 
Lethal Hunter
Two Weapon Mastery crit +3 (7.5 * (0.315 + 0.21 * 2) + 0.4225) * 1.475  
Double Melee Attack Ranger Ex Cathedral:
Hammer of Faith
 --  -- (9.5 * (0.42 + 0.0525 * 2) + 0.475) * 1.475  
Double Melee Attack Ranger Ex Cathedral: 
Hammer of Faith
Two Weapon Mastery  -- (9.5 * (0.4725 + 0.0525 * 2) + 0.4225) * 1.475  
Double Melee Attack Ranger Ex Cathedral: 
Hammer of Faith
Favored Enemy / First Strike / 
Lethal Hunter
 -- (9.5 * (0.315 + 0.1575 * 2) + 0.475) * 1.475  
Double Melee Attack Ranger Ex Cathedral: 
Hammer of Faith
Favored Enemy / First Strike / 
Lethal Hunter
 crit +3 (9.5 * (0.2625 + 0.21 * 2) + 0.475) * 1.475  

 

Animal Companion

As the only talent in the core book that costs double, this better be good. The companion has its own attack, so it adds a fixed amount to your DPR regardless of what your other stats are. Its attack bonus (+5) is the same as yours. It doesn't use the escalation die... so while the DPR from your own attacks goes up as the combat progresses, this remains a flat bonus. Damage die for a lvl 0 companion is d8. It doesn't look like there's a way to get a bonus to that. 

There is no specific rules text on that but it appears that animal companions can crit on 20 but deal no miss damage.

4.5 * (0.4 + 0.05 * 2) = 2.25

Panther animal companions get +2 crit range against enemies with lower init...

4.5 * (0.3 + 0.15 * 2) = 3.15

Double Melee Attack + Animal Companion

Adding the two entries, we're looking at 6.50844 + 2.25 = 8.75844

That's in fact the best DPR so far that doesn't require any special condition or daily / per battle resources (not that this PC would have any...). However, this is blown out of the water by what can only be called "The Drizzt"

Drow + Heritage of the Sword + TWF + Double Melee Attack + Animal companion (Panther) + Win initiative

 

(This build also gets to deal 5 ongoing damage on an even hit 1/battle...) 

Rogue

We'll start with 18 Dexterity and a d8 = 4.5 weapon for 8.5 base hit damage. As per the table in Basics, this nets us a base DPR of 4.75.

Sneak Attack

Sneak attack is fairly easy to get in 13th Age, but at first level only gives +1d4 damage, for a total 11 base damage.

11 * (0.4 + 0.05 * 2) + 0.5 = 6

Not impressive yet, but we can add the Improved Sneak Attack talent for a 1d6 sneak attack die or 12 base damage.

12 * (0.4 + 0.05 * 2) + 0.5 = 6.5

Mhh. Still not impressed. Not sure why Sneak Attack was nerfed during playtest.

Sneak Attack + Murderous + Deadly Thrust (against Staggered)

There are some options to increase Rogue DPR. This one only works against staggered enemies though. Murderous gives +2 crit range and Deadly Thrust adds Strength to attack. Let's assume a Str 14 (+2).

11 * (0.4 + 0.15 * 2) + 0.4 = 8.1

There is room for improvement. Add the Murderous feat for another +2 to attack.

11 * (0.5 + 0.15 * 2) + 0.3 = 9.1

And finally, we're adding Improved Sneak Attack...

12 * (0.5 + 0.15 * 2) + 0.3 = 9.9

Shadow Walk

This is counter-intuitive but Shadow Walk doesn't do that much to increase your damage per round. Yes, you deal double damage, but you could have attacked twice instead. The biggest advantage of Shadow Walk is in defense, because monsters can't attack what's not on the map. It also makes it easier to get Sneak attack as you can effortlessly get into flanking positions.

There is a little damage benefit still because of the escalation die. When you reappear, it's one higher. So that's double damage at +1 attack instead of single damage at +0 and +1 each.

Two consecutive Sneak Attacks: 11 * (0.4 + 0.05 * 2) + 0.5 + 11 * (0.45 + 0.05 * 2) + 0.45 = 6 + 6.5 = 12.5

Shadow Walk + Sneak Attack: (11 * (0.45 + 0.05 * 2) + 0.45) * 2 = 13

Shadow Walk + Sneak Attack + Sure Cut

This works more reliably if your DM agrees that the Shadow Walk "attack" counts as an attack for granting Momentum. 

Shadow Walk + Sneak Attack: (11 * (0.45 + 0.05 * 2) + (2.5 + 1) * 0.45) * 2 = (6.05 + 1.575) * 2 = 7.625 * 2 = 15.25

 

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  • A few thoughts about the Paladin:

    1) Smite scales poorly only if you skip the feats for it. With the full feat chain, it remains a solid damage increaser even in epic tier, aided by the fact that most characters will have gained another daily use by 7th level due to increased Charisma.

    2) The Fearless talent offers an easy +1 accuracy bonus as long as you don't mind soloing the target in melee. This increases to +2 versus fear-causing enemies. 5-10% extra damage is non-trivial. More situationally, the epic tier feat for Paladin's Challenge expands your crit range by 10% against your victims, which is another decent late-game boost.

    3) Using Clerical Training for Hammer of Faith is probably not your best option on a greatsword paladin, although its added benefits at higher levels may give it the edge by a small margin, especially in long battles or when you're out of daily smites (when the half damage on miss means more). Bless will increase your own accuracy and two allies by 5% (10% at 7th level) for the entire battle, and only requires a quick action to cast. Strength of the Gods gives you and two allies between +1d8 to +3d10 damage per melee attack for the battle, and is again a quick action - although it's probably better cast single-target on a raging Barbarian or crit-fishing Ranger to maximize the number of times the bonus damage will double.

    4) The Divine Domain talent gives you the Strength option. The basic ability is useless for paladins as written and should therefore be modified by GMs per the paladin DD talent description (and should further increase your DPR, since that's what it does for clerics). Even without that the feat chain offers some devastating once/battle attacks. At first level 4d4 extra damage that can be applied after the attack roll (allowing you see if you crit first) is good - at tenth, 10d8 (bursting to 10d20 once per day) is great. The invocation for x3 crits for the whole party is also pretty good with the right builds.

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