[RPG] What does the first number represent in the damage section of some monster/NPC attacks


I understand most of what each number represents, but monster/NPC statblocks often have a number in the damage section before the damage roll in parentheses. For example, for a Sahuagin Priestess (MM, p. 264), one of her attacks looks like this:

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 3 (1d4 + 1) piercing damage.

What does the 3 in "3 (1d4 + 1)" mean?

Best Answer

It represents average damage

The Introduction to the Monster Manual discusses how to read the damage of attacks in the stat block:

Hit. Any damage dealt or other effects that occur as a result of an attack hitting a target are described after the “Hit” notation. You have the option of taking average damage or rolling the damage; for this reason, both the average damage and the die expression are presented.

The average result of 1d4 + 1 is 3.5, which rounds down to 3.