Based on a previous suggestion, I’m going to mix up the combat comparison.
The field will be covered with Orcs, to borrow a phrase. Basic orc warriors, as far as the eye can see. They will be charging down against one of the 6th level characters, plus one bog-standard, not terribly well thought out 5th level Champion human fighter, made with the Standard Array.
Why 5th level? So he gets two attacks, so that any buffing spells that are available to our 6th level hero that actually scales with the number of attacks gets the appropriate credit.
The situation will be thus: the companion fighter Hilde is on the left, and the PC on the right. Before them is an endless horde of orcs.
The orcs will attack the PC once each per round using their greataxe. The damage dealt will assume fractional hits (such as 50% hits) and average damage each round. The orcs are straight out of the Monster Manual, p. 246.
The key stats: AC 13, 15 HP. 1d20+5 to hit, 9 damage per successful strike.
Hilde (5th Level Champion)
Hilde is a great-weapon fighter, armed in chain mail armor and carrying a halberd. She will optimize her attacks such that her companion can use his skills the best. If fighting, for example, next to a partner with three solid attacks (thus being able to strike all three of his foes in front of him in one turn), she’ll strike out with the halberd at the second rank. If all close-in foes can’t be touched, she’ll first strike the close ones, then the far.
This is a knock-down, drag out brawl to the finish. The only stats Hilde has that matter are
Attack: 1d20+7 to hit, 1d10+4 slashing damage, two attacks.
- Great Weapon fighting – rerolling 1s and 2s boosts the average for the d10 from 5.5 to 6.3
- Critical Hits – the champion has a 10% chance of a critical hit, which adds 0.6 per strike
- Strength – Hilde adds +4 to each successful damaging attack from STR
- Total damage: 11 per hit, and Orcs have AC 13. 75% chance to hit, so 8 damage per attack on the average.
Basically, Hilde will kill one orc (15 HP) per turn. A bit more, actually, if you let fractional damage carry over. It won’t, but we’ll pretend it will.
On the defense, Hilde has AC 16 and 44 HP, plus 11 more due to Second Wind. 1d20+5 for the orcs will hit 50% of the time, so 4.5 damage per round, so Hilde will last about 12 rounds of combat before hitting 0 HP, and will kill 13.2 Orcs in the process.
So the basic, unbuffed OrcPower even without a friend is 13.
The Barbarian berserker is Mr. Furious, getting his power from his boundless Rage. He cannot buff his friends, so he’s just a killing machine.
The rage powers last a minute at a time, and has some drawbacks if you use it certain ways.
- +2 damage on attack rolls
- Resistance to bludgeonong, piercing, slashing, which effectively doubles HP
- Frenzy allows 3 attacks per turn instead of two, but costs a level of exhaustion. So he’ll be able to do this twice.without impacting his ability to stand and fight in the (artifical) combat environment I’ve laid out.
AC 18 with a shield. He will be hit by the orcs rolling 13 or higher, or 40% of the time. So 3.6 damage per attack, halved to 1.8 for resistance. His partner will only last 12 rounds. After that, he’ll take two attacks per round (7.2 damage), but be able to reach two foes, as well.
So he’ll take 21.6 HP of damage in the first 12 rounds, and then fall below 0 HP on the 14th round after that – standing tall and frenzied for 26 rounds.
Attack: 1d20+7 to hit, 1d8+4 basic slashing damage, two attacks
- Rage – adds +2 to damage, for 1d8+6 per hit
- More Rage – three attacks per turn, getting an extra as a bonus action
- Critical Hits – the barbarian has a 5% chance of a critical hit, which adds .5 per strike
- Strength – Hilde adds +4 to each successful damaging attack from STR
- Total damage: Average 11 per hit, and Orcs have AC 13. 75% chance to hit, so 8 damage per attack on the average. Just below 25 HP per turn, evenly spread over three attacks.
The barbarian will average about three killed orcs per two turn: 42.9 orcs. Call it 43.
Total OrcPower: 12 from the companion fighter, 43 personally: 55 Orcpower.
The bard is one of the reasons I added the companion fighter. Four times, the bard can increase Hilde’s attack or damage roll by +1d6, which is basically +17.5% to hit or +3.5 damage. The damage is better: 75% to hit, 14.5 damage, twice = 17.4 orcs. Call it 17 Orcpower.
The Bard himself?
AC 18, which isn’t bad. He will be hit by the orcs rolling 13 or higher, or 40% of the time. So 3.6 damage per attack. His partner will only last 12 rounds. But the Bard himself has but 45 HP, so he’ll last 13 rounds himself.
The Bard is a true spellcaster, with 10 spell slots. There aren’t really any offensive 3rd level Bard spells, so we’ll be looking at higher-slot castings of lower-level spells. The good ones are sleep, thunderwave (both 1st level), and Shatter (2nd).
Sleep at 3rd level will snooze out an average of 2.7 creatures. Shatter will do 4d8 damage (18) on a failed save, and 9 on a successful one, in a 10-foot radius sphere. Orcs have CON +3, so will roll 1d20+3 vs DC 15, saving 45% of the time, so an average of about 14 points of damage each.
Each casting will basically reduce 12 orcs to 1 HP each. Given the odds, this can also be said to kill an average of 11.2 orcs per casting at 3rd level, and 8.4 at 2nd level.
Thus, three castings each of Shatter at 3rd and 2nd level will drop 58.8 orcs. That still leaves seven rounds of action for the Bard.
Thunderwave can be cast four times, and impacts a 3×3 grid, for 9 creatures, at 2d8 damage each. That’s 9 points on the average, so two castings will kill about 9 orcs, so we should expect the math to yield about 18 dead orcs in 4 rounds. In fact, it yields 21.6.
Then we are down to the blade, with two attacks at 70% chance to hit each, for 1d8+3 (7.5) damage on the average: 10.5 HP per round for 3 rounds will fell two more orcs.
Total OrcPower: 17 orcpower for the companion fighter, and a surprisingly awesome 82.4 for the Bard! 99 Orcpower – Not too shabby!
Note: the high Orcpower of the bard definitely depends on the nearly insane starting condition of an infinite number of orcs packed every 5′. This vastly increases the power of area effect spells. The way I’m smearing hit points around also probably increases the count. The Barbarian will stay up for more than twice as long as the Bard. And if confined to melee, our Bard will only account for 8 orcs, less than 20% of the Barbarian. So the Bard orcpower will range from 25-99 depending on foe density, while the Barbarian has the movement to fight many clusters of foes, which means his Orcpower will stay closer to his max of 55.
Another reason to simulate the high packing density of foes. The Cleric of the Tempest has Call Lightning on his side, which is a very nice 3rd level offensive spell that will be particularly good where the packing density of foes is high. He’s also got a nice cantrip going on in Sacred Flame.
AC 19, which is pretty sweet. He will be hit by the orcs rolling 14 or higher, or 35% of the time. So 3.15 damage per attack. The Cleric has powerful healing magic and he’s within 5′ of his partner, so the Orcpower of the partner will likely be extended by a bit.
The Cleric has 51 HP, and so can last 17 turns. Some of those turns will be used to extend the life of his friend. Since his companion fighter is basically 1 orc per turn.
The Cleric is another true spellcaster, with 10 spell slots. The 3rd level Call Lightning has the interesting effect of lasting for 100 rounds of combat, but since our Cleric will be taking damage each round, the rate limit is the DC 10 CON save, which he’ll make 70% of the time. I think he’ll go about three turns each until the probability he fails his save is close to 100%. So each casting will last 3 combat rounds.
Each blast does 3d10 (16.5/8.25) with a 65% chance of the higher damage: 13.6 points to four creatures. 3.6 orcpower per strike. Huh. Still not as cool as Shatter. which is an 11.2 Orcpower spell.
Spirit Guardians would also be pretty nice, since it impacts for an average of 12 HP per foe that steps into 15′ range for a goodly long time, and can potentially hit 10 creatures per turn. That’s about a 23 Orcpower spell per spell slot, so since you can make melee attacks in the interim, that’s how we’ll open combat.
Cast Spirit Guardians, attack, attack, attack, concentration breaks on the fourth round. Repeat. Then heal the fighter! Each weapon attack is like the Bard, and three attacks will account for 2 orcs. So total Orcpower for this sequence is 25.
One casting of Cure Wounds will keep Hilde alive for 2 more rounds at 1st level, 3 more at 2nd.
Rounds 1-4: Spirit Guardian sequence. 25 orcpower, 1 3rd level slot gone.
Rounds 5-8: Again. 25 more. 1 3rd level slot left.
Round 9: Heal fighter with 1st level spell. He will now expire on Round 14 (+2 Orcs)
Round 10: Shatter. 8.2 orcpower.
Round 11: Shatter. 8.2 orcpower.
Round 12: Shatter. 8.2 orcpower.
Round 13: Heal fighter with 1st level slot (+2 orcs, expires Round 18)
Round 14: Heal fighter with 1st level slot (+2 orcs, expires Round 20)
Round 15-17: Spirit guardian sequence, 16 orcpower. Dies last round.
Total OrcPower: 20 orcpower for the companion fighter, and a surprisingly awesome 90 for the Cleric if I got the rules right on the Spirit Guardian sequence. 110 Orcpower
Again, this very much depends on my smearing of the damage as each orc rushes into the beaten zone of the Spirit Guardian spell. It will not really act like this, because it only hits each creature once. It will hit them hard: each orc will approach the cleric with but 3 HP remaining, so a solid Thunderwave or any area effect spell that can do even 1d6 damage will tend to take all of those affected out of the action. But much like the Bard, this high “average” Orcpower will be very highly variable and depend on the tactical situation. If down to melee, our cleric is not really better than the bard. Sacred Flame is a ranged spell attack, and not as attractive as the hammer when pressed by foes.
I will return to this exercise using the Orcpower method, for all its flaws, periodically. I got some very destabilizing news at work last Thursday, so my posting frequency is likely going to be down. But on the other hand I need the distraction, so you never know.
The spellcasters float in the 100 Orcpower range, which given the target density is not surprising. More realistic would be to roughly halve that or more for target density, which puts all three classes right about the same place, but with the Barbarian doing more certain damage, while the potential for the Bard and Cleric to be either very high or very low is there.
The best way to boost the casual orcpower when dealing with disperse foes? Heal the fighter. Or even better, heal the Barbarian, who is about twice as effective as the 5th level Champion/Great Weapon Fighter in terms of orcs per round.