[RPG] the expected damage / to hit / saving throw / DC per level


While reading through monster stats and 1st edition adventures, I noticed that at some point, PCs should dish out 2dX instead of only 1dX damage; else, an adequate monster will become a serious threat to the whole party and almost unbeatable.

  • For example: if I take a Wyvern (CR 6), with 3 heroes doing about 2D
    per hit it goes down pretty nicely – the heroes take quite a few
    blows but it's still manageable. But, if the heroes only do 1D
    per hit… then it takes double the time to take care of the
    Wyvern and will probably result in 1 or 2 PC deaths.

Based on the monster stats already released and a few adventures, do we have any list per level of what the expected number of damage dice, to-hit bonus, saving throw bonus, and class DC is, per level?

Best Answer

Pathfinder 2e has a version of Bounded Accuracy

Paizo created their own system of Bounded Accuracy; the intent is that for any given roll, the possible outcomes are within a reasonable scope. This is counter to D&D 3.P logic of allowing creatures to hyper specialize. The end ideal is that a small bump of one or two bonus is significant and could legitimately swing the odds into or against your favor.

Most rolls and a number of static statistics (even including Armor Class) in Pathfinder 2e use your proficiency bonus and one ability score, and may add a small amount of other bonuses, such as Item bonuses. In order to estimate appropriate statistics, we have to understand these bonuses.

  • Proficiency is HD +2/4/6/8 depending on level of proficiency
    • Trained proficiency is pervasive beginning at the first level of play
    • Expert proficiency is uncommon at 1st level (used for some Saves and Perception primarily) but is easily available starting at 3rd level
    • Master generally becomes available at 7th level
    • Legendary becomes available at 13th level
  • Ability Scores tend to be easily risen to 18 (+4) and difficult to raise further.
    • Specializing in one Ability Score should result in a total of 24 (+7) - 18 on creation +1 x4 for Ability boosts +2 for an Apex item
  • Item bonuses range from +1 to +3 (or +1 to +9 for armor)
    • +1 bonuses are mostly seen starting at level 3
    • +2 bonuses are mostly seen starting around level 7-10
    • +3 bonuses are mostly seen starting around level 13-15
    • Armor bonuses from +1 to +6 are "available" to starting characters (if they can be afforded)
    • Magical armor increases the value by +1 to +3 about 3 levels later than other

I made a table that I believe is accurate, by-the-book. I do not have extensive knowledge at levels beyond 1-2 to confirm these values. Paizo will have more robust rules for creation in the DMG (see the next section).

$$ \begin{array}{|r|r|} \hline Level & Class DC & Saves & Skills & Totohit & AC & Damage \\ \hline 1 & 7 *1 & 7 *2 & 5 *2 & 7 *1 & 17 *1 & 1d(4\text{ to }12) +4\text{ or }1d4+4 \\ \hline 3 & 9 *1 & 9 *2 & 8 *2 & 9 *1 & 19 *2 & 1d(4\text{ to }12) +4\text{ or }3d4+4 \\ \hline 7 & 15 *2 & 14 *3 & 15 *3 & 14 *3 & 24 *3 & 2d(4\text{ to }12) +4\text{ or }7d4+4 \\ \hline 10 & 18 *2 & 17 *3 & 19 *3 & 18 *4 & 29 *3 & 2d(4\text{ to }12) +5\text{ or }10d4+5 \\ \hline 13 & 24 *3 & 21 *4 & 23 *4 & 22 *4 & 33 *2 & 3d(4\text{ to }12) +6\text{ or }13d4+6 \\ \hline 16 & 28 *2 & 25 *4 & 27 *4 & 27 *3 & 38 *2 & 3d(4\text{ to }12) +6\text{ or }16d4+6 \\ \hline 20 & 33 *4 & 30 *5 & 31 *4 & 30 *3 & 42 *3 & 4d(4\text{ to }12) +7\text{ or }20d4+7 \\ \hline \end{array} $$

Notes about the table:

  • The smaller number preceded by the asterisk* shows an estimated range for "typical" use. It probably does not include the full range seen in play.
  • I assume a normal amount of investment (level-appropriate items, appropriate Ability score, average-high proficiency for the level)
    • Notably, I assume lower Ability Scores for lower levels of Saves and Skills than Attack and Armor because they "key" off of a range of Abilities whereas it is easier (almost a given) that you will specialize in your offensive Ability and choose a Dex-appropriate armor.
    • Class DC will almost always be as high as possible, leading to a smaller gap. However, not all classes attain Legendary Proficiency in their DC, so the gap increases at level 19.
  • You may notice that To-hit and AC's ranges increase and decrease separately from the more linear Saves and Skills. This is because Skills/Saves are pretty standardized across the classes, but the classes gain weapon and armor proficiency at varied times. I made an effort to "average" the level at which these bonuses had larger gaps and the times when they converged.
  • The two damage ranges are typical PC Strike damage and typical Cantrip damage. Cantrips typically cost 2 actions (and are therefore usually only used once per turn) while Strikes can be performed up to 3 or in some circumstances 4-5 times per turn.
    • I did not and don't intend to try to typify potential blasting damage from higher level spells. Consider checking the Pathfinder 1e Spell Benchmarks' 2e counterparts
  • This table does not account for any form of "buffs" such as any of a plethora of spells. These tend to add +1 to +3 each, following bonus type/stacking rules.

@Delioth brings up that Paizo has released the (current draft, as of Oct 9, 2019) DMG rules for Monster creation.

It includes Low, Moderate, High, and Extreme values for Ability Modifiers, Perception, Skills, AC, Saves, Hit Points, Resistance/Weakness values, Attack bonus and Damage, Spell DC and Attack bonus, and guidelines for creating Special abilities.

Notably, my numbers at lower levels seem to be fairly accurate to their Moderate values, but run a little low at higher levels. I definitely recommend referencing it if you intend to make a boss creature or high level monster.

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