How to Calculate Damage in DnD 5e?

Knowing how to calculate attack and damage rolls in a round of DnD 5e can be quite confusing at first, as there are many factors you have to take into consideration when doing so. That being said, it isn’t as confusing once you get the gist of it.

So, in this article, we will explore just that. How to calculate damage in the 5e of DnD and which factors are important to remember.

Important factors while calculating damage.

Before you can start calculating damage or whatever, you have to get into an encounter first. More of this is specified in another article on our site. To learn more visit that article.

You also obviously have to have a weapon with which to attack. Any ranged weapon, melee weapons, fists, and or a finesse weapon will do. Even magic items will do when attacking an enemy.

With that out of the way, let’s explain the basics.

What is an Attack roll and why is it important when you calculate damage in DnD 5e?

Attack rolls are an integral part of combat in DnD 5e. In plain terms, they serve to see if you will actually hit your opponent or not.

In less plain terms. Every character has an AC (Armor Class), the goal of your roll is to get the same value or a higher number than their AC. For example, say your opponent has a 12 AC. You in turn have to roll a 12 or 12+ to land a hit on your target.

Attack rolls are also affected by your proficiency you have with the class and specific weapons you are using to attack. Most classes start with a +2 to proficiency at Level 1 and this goes to +6 at Level 17.
Class features, any relevant ability bonus, and proficiency modifier can increase this.

To calculate them you need to make a d20 roll, the result you then take into consideration with the character’s proficiency to which you add item stats and any other effects present.

Natural 20s are also important to mention here. If you successfully land a natural 20 then that is considered a critical hit and you straight up ignore an opponent’s AC, not only that – it also doubles your dice that you can use in the Damage roll.
Check the damage column for your weapon to see just how much it gives you. Although the principle is a static bonus of x2 damage dice.

What are Damage rolls and how do they differ from Attack rolls?

Damage rolls follow a successful Attack roll, if the Attack roll was unsuccessful then there cannot be a Damage roll.

But what are Damage rolls you may ask?

Damage rolls are what determine how much damage you actually inflict on a target. Important factors that determine this are the Weapon/Spell damage modifier + Ability damage modifier + any other bonuses that are gained by items, abilities, or spells.
This means that the weapon damage as shown in the relevant rulebook, probably won’t be the exact damage you do.

It’s best to learn by example, so let’s present an example.

Say you’re a monk with a quarterstaff that gives you 1d6 bludgeoning. Rolling this combined with your ability modifier gives you a result of 10. To this add a strength modifier of let’s say +1. After all this, you end up with a result of 11 damage dealt to your opponent.

We will not go into all the variables that items abilities and spells give as they are practically infinite, just remember to consider them in your final calculation. And don’t forget your natural 20s, as that’s an extra damage roll that can decide the fate of either you or your opponent.


So, to make it easy to remember this let’s make a short list as a recap to what is important in the calculations.

  • d20: This is the most important part as the roll will determine any possible future action you can take. On top of that if you land a natural 20 in the Attack roll phase you get a bonus dice roll for the Damage Roll that comes after.
  • Weapons and Proficiency: Weapons and Proficiency always gives you a flat-out boost depending on the item the character has and their proficiency based on level.
  • Abilities and Skills: Abilities and Skills give a boost depending on the class you are using, carefully read and take them into consideration with each roll.

In conclusion on what you need to calculate damage in DnD 5e.

The entire process is complex but streamlined and allows players to take into consideration every asset that they have at their disposal. Of course, it takes some time to get used to it of course, but practice makes perfect.

Calculating attack and damage dice doesn’t have to be a consuming thing. Weapon attacks with any sort of weapon are pretty straightforward – you just have to read the relevant information regarding that weapon.

Just follow the instructions outlined in this article and you’ll get the hang of it in no time. And for any further questions, check out other relevant articles on our site or consult the player’s handbook.

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