How much is a level worth? A scenario.


Prerelease Discussion


So I was thinking about how much stronger a high level character is, than a low level one based only to their number of levels, so I was thinking of running a scenario to find out about it.

But before I do, I would like to say, I dont expect any roleplaying system to give normal results especially in scenarios that essentially will never happen in them. This is NOT a thread about wether if PF 2 can simulate real life its about me (and you?) having fun with a kind of thought experiment and maybe getting a better feeling of what level actually represents in the new edition.

So on one side we have awesome Joe a 10 level warrior?, it doesn't matter he gets no class features and 8hp per level for a total of 88hp, 8 bonus from being human. He has only a longsword and all his abilities are at 10 to keep things uncomplicated, though if this messes up the results I am ok with changing it and people are free to make their own examples. Ok so he has 88hp, attack+10 and ac 20.
How many average Joe's are necessary to defeat him? Average joe's also have longswords and all their stats at 10, so 16 hp, attack +1, ac 11.
I don't take into account critical hit failures and flanking bonuses.

I am not good at calculating damage per round with the new rules but I think its somewhere at 6,75 for awesome Joe and 3,6 for the Joe's if all 8 Joes are attacking. I am not using iterative attacks because I am not sure if they change anything.
So the Joe's needs around 25 rounds to get awesome Joe down, during which time he has felled around 10 of them(according to my calculations, which are propably wrong). So around 18 average joes are enough to do the job. Seems beyond what is humanly possible especially for a person that has no greater natural abilities than others, but that's level 10 for you.

What do you think? Also if anyone cares enough to do the actual math you have my thanks!


Honestly, that sounds about right for what a level 10 character should be. Think of action movies: the mooks are probably a little better than level 1 average joes but the hero is probably also better than simply having 10 in all stats and no class features, so adjusting for that seems unnecessary. How many mooks could the action hero take on? Probably reasonable to say up to 18 at the least.

Liberty's Edge

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A full attack (three attacks, at +0, -5, and -10) from all eight level one characters averages almost precisely 9 damage on the level 10 character with your specifications, because they still crit on a 20 on their first attacks.

His average damage against them, meanwhile, 13.5 (since he crits a whole lot). He'll also almost certainly win initiative, due to having +10 Perception to their +0. So he'll kill one before they get more than one round of all of them attacking (reducing damage to 7.875 in later rounds).

Expanding on that, I'm pretty sure he'll kill all of them before they kill him, though they'll hurt him, and badly. If there's an endlessly replenishing horde of them, he'll kill the first eight in 10 rounds, right about when he finally falls to his own injuries.

However, there's a fundamental aspect of the game these examples are missing: Armor. The +2 for a Chain Shirt (which may be assumed in most cases...AC will be adding Dex+2 just as attacks add Str) will drastically reduce everyone's DPR, since it removes a lot of criticals.

Removing Str mod to damage is probably also a mistake, as the 10th level guy definitionally has better stats, and the damage makes a big difference. Also, raising stats is a fundamental and inescapable part of leveling

If you assume Str 16, Dex 14, Con 14 and Chain Mail (+4 AC) on the low level people they have +3 to hit for 1d8+3, AC 17, and 18 HP.

Assuming Str 19, Dex 18, Con 18 (just the 1st level ones with level-ups applied to them), and the same gear the 10th level guy has +14 to hit for 1d8+4, AC 26 (assuming max Dex mod of 2), and 128 HP.

The DPR in that situation is actually also 9 for the 1st level guys, but 19.675 for the 10th level guy, and enough to kill one level one guy per turn.

So, assuming an unlimited number, this more reasonable example will kill 15 of them before they kill him assuming an unlimited number of them. He'd also take much less damage before killing 8 if there are only 8.


Ah thanks Deadmanwalking. So I was pretty close in my example with all abilities at 10, I pinged it at 10 people but it was 8. So around 16 people total would bring him down?

Umm why do you count the Joe's as having +0 attack bonus? Are you treating them as level 0s?
Also as far as I understand in the second example the 10th level guy has chain mail right? And the total number of people that can bring him down is 23 (15+8)?

Liberty's Edge

John John wrote:
Ah thanks Deadmanwalking. So I was pretty close in my example with all abilities at 10, I pinged it at 10 people but it was 8. So around 16 people total would bring him down?

You could probably do it with less. I'd have to do the specific math as the damage would drop on the last few if you had less than 16 (as less than 7 wound up attacking each round). I'd guess 12 or so would be enough. 16 is definitely sufficient, though.

John John wrote:
Umm why do you count the Joe's as having +0 attack bonus? Are you treating them as level 0s?

I was assuming a +1 attack, actually. I made reference to a +0 only in regards to Perception for initiative. Which was a mistake (it should be +1), but not one that mattered (I just assumed the 10th level guy won anyway, and would've done the same either way). I actually assumed a +4 attack on the Str 16 low level guys (not that it matters, since they only hit on as 20), I apparently just wrote it wrong. Oops.

John John wrote:
Also as far as I understand in the second example the 10th level guy has chain mail right? And the total number of people that can bring him down is 23 (15+8)?

Again, you can do it with less, the math just gets trickier as the damage goes down a bit for every one they lose once there are less than 8 of them. I'd peg it at around 20, but again I'm not doing the detailed math that requires. 23 is definitely sufficient, though.

Liberty's Edge

I think the Lvl10 might know a few tricks that help him kill weak opponents in drove. Either with one attack fully affecting several enemies (a bit like PF1 Cleave) or unleashing a martial AoE low damage attack


The >10> system also plays a role if they are Fighters, as they get features reliant on moving and critical failures.

Liberty's Edge

The Raven Black wrote:
I think the Lvl10 might know a few tricks that help him kill weak opponents in drove. Either with one attack fully affecting several enemies (a bit like PF1 Cleave) or unleashing a martial AoE low damage attack

Well, he'd also almost certainly have a +3 weapon, making his damage 4d8+4 instead of 1d8+4 (for nearly triple the damage), and might well have a shield, which would make him borderline invulnerable to 1st level characters (who couldn't get through its DR, and are basically never gonna actually hit him more than once per round...maybe twice if they get super lucky).

If we're talking an actual situation, there's almost no limit to how many 1st level people a 10th level adventurer can likely kill in melee combat (being shot by, say, 24 archers per turn is another matter).


I feel like adding the equipment and considering any cleave-like abilities is a bit beyond scope of the idea, which is to determine exclusively the effect of level. I'd run this math at 10 stats across the board, except the bonus stats granted by levels themselves (+2 to one physical stat at level 1 assumed to be STR and also +something for the level 10 guy for levelup advancements).

This exclusively indicating the minimum power up from levels alone, regardless of which class is leveled and what feats are chosen, effectively simulates what the smallest token of advancement in combat you can possibly get even with fully non-combat chosen direction (such as a wizard taking only utility spells and abilities with no investment into melee except the stat points).

Also are we assuming max hit die or average? I think I recalled somewhere that pf2 just took max every level since it was a very common houserule, but I'm not confident that I didn't just have a conversation with someone saying they should.

All other numbers, gold included, set entirely aside, I'd say a level roughly indicates the number of mooks you can take at one time. This is close to reasonable, since a trained fighter in real life can frequently handle 2-3 people in a brawl. A true professional fighter can handle 5-10 with any luck, but getting to the point of taking 20 men on at a time and surviving would be a legendary feat in the real world, a name known across continents and pressed into movies and biographies.

Liberty's Edge

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Shiroi wrote:

I feel like adding the equipment and considering any cleave-like abilities is a bit beyond scope of the idea, which is to determine exclusively the effect of level. I'd run this math at 10 stats across the board, except the bonus stats granted by levels themselves (+2 to one physical stat at level 1 assumed to be STR and also +something for the level 10 guy for levelup advancements).

This exclusively indicating the minimum power up from levels alone, regardless of which class is leveled and what feats are chosen, effectively simulates what the smallest token of advancement in combat you can possibly get even with fully non-combat chosen direction (such as a wizard taking only utility spells and abilities with no investment into melee except the stat points).

I assumed almost all of this pretty precisely (including identical equipment), except for assuming decent physical stats to start with.

Shiroi wrote:
Also are we assuming max hit die or average? I think I recalled somewhere that pf2 just took max every level since it was a very common houserule, but I'm not confident that I didn't just have a conversation with someone saying they should.

There are no hit dice. The concept does not exist. Fighters do get 10 HP per level and Clerics 8 HP a level, and so on though, so it's somewhat the equivalent of maxed HD in PF1 (though they also add a bonus from Ancestry).

Shiroi wrote:
All other numbers, gold included, set entirely aside, I'd say a level roughly indicates the number of mooks you can take at one time. This is close to reasonable, since a trained fighter in real life can frequently handle 2-3 people in a brawl. A true professional fighter can handle 5-10 with any luck, but getting to the point of taking 20 men on at a time and surviving would be a legendary feat in the real world, a name known across continents and pressed into movies and biographies.

You can handle more than this in melee. It's more like 1.5 times level to double level, depending. And yes, that means PCs transcend realistic human stuff at about 7th level. That's accurate to the rest of the system, though, so I think it's probably an intended result.


The Raven Black wrote:
I think the Lvl10 might know a few tricks that help him kill weak opponents in drove. Either with one attack fully affecting several enemies (a bit like PF1 Cleave) or unleashing a martial AoE low damage attack

Ofcourse that is why I mention that I am interested only in the pure effect of the level's bonuses.


The old CR system claimed that a +2 increase to CR was a doubling in power. A level was worth a 41% increase in overall power.

I.e. A CR 3 opponent was supposed to be the equal of two CR 1 opponents and a CR 10 warrior is supposed to be the equal of ~23 CR 1 warriors.

In practice it didn't really work that way, but that was the theory.

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