Saturday, 28 November 2009

Saturday Night Fight Club - A Paladin in Hell

We all love that picture – Strongheart the Paladin, +5 Holy Avenger in hand, on a precipice in Hell, ready to do battle with the evil that dwells therein.

But what level would that paladin have to be in order to stand a fighting chance against the devils that are just waiting to turn him into a shish kebab?

Tonight, we’re going to try and find out.

Firstly, let’s look at the diabolic opposition.

As can be seen from the picture, Strongheart is facing two barbed devils, one ice devil, one bone devil and a horned devil. A bit of a mixed grill. There is also a barbed devil lying on the ground but we’ll discount him. Only live and kicking devils need sign up.

Barbed devil (lesser devil)

AC 0
HD 8 average 36
THAC0 12
No of atts 3
Damage per attack 2-8/2-8/3-12 - average total damage 17.5
Special attacks Pyrotechnics, produce flame, hold person, summon another barbed devil (30% chance of success)
Size M

Ice devil (Greater Devil)

AC -4
HD 11 average 49.5
THAC0 10
No of atts 4
Damage per attack 1-4/1-4/2-8/3-12 – average total damage 17.5
Special attacks Fly, wall of ice, detect magic, detect invisible, polymorph self, gate in two bone devils or another ice devil (60% chance of success)
Size L

Bone devil (lesser devil)

AC -1
HD 9 average 40.5
THAC0 12
No of atts 1
Damage per attack 3-12 average total damage 7.5
Special attacks Generate fear, create illusion, fly, become invisible, detect invisible, fear, summon another bone devil (40% chance of success)
Size L

Horned devil (Greater devil)

AC -5
HD 5+5 average 27.5
THAC0 13
No of atts 4
Damage per attack 1-4/1-4/2-5/1-3 average total damage 10
Special attacks Pyrotechnics, produce flame, ESP, detect magic, illusion, summon another horned devil (50% chance of success)
Size L

All devils can do:
Charm person.
Know alignment.
Cause fear.
Animate dead.

Phew! Looks like Strongheart is up against Hell’s finest here. What does he have in store for the minions of evil?


Basic paladin abilities:

Detect evil at up to 60’ distance. I think that this one is going to be useful for picking up the invisible devils.

Make all saving throws at +2 – that could be handy.

Immunity to all forms of disease – not quite as handy, that one.

Protection from evil 1” radius at all times – that one comes in very handy as we shall see later.

At 3rd level, the paladin gains the ability to affect undead, devils and demons as if he were a 1st level cleric and so on. If Strongheart were a 16th level paladin, he’d be turning devils as if he were a 14th level cleric, i.e. at 13 on the die. It’s only the bone and barbed devils he could turn anyway – greater devils are immune from turning. Bah. Still, anything that limits the number he has to face at any one time.

The Holy Avenger, if drawn, projects a circle of power in a 1” diameter which is the equivalent of a dispel magic cast at whatever level the paladin is. So that’ll be 16th then. It also gives magic resistance of 50% in a 5’ radius. If the paladin were fighting demons instead of devils, he’d get a +10 damage bonus on CE opponents. Hmmm…possible idea for next week’s SNFC

And let’s not forget that paladins can do clerical spells when they get to 9th level.

Paladin's to hits at 16th level

0 = 6
-1 = 7
-2 = 8
-3 = 9
-4 = 10
-5 = 11

So in order that Strongheart gets an average chance to hit the toughest of his opponents, he needs to be 15-16th level, let’s say 16th. Strength bonuses kick in at 17, so it’s unlikely that he’d get them, since his minimum strength has to be 12. His constitution minimum has to be 9 so again, the hit point bonus is unlikely to kick in.

HP for a paladin are D10 to 9th level then 3hp per level thereafter. So a 16th level paladin is going to weigh in with an average of 70.5 (let’s call it 71 – Strongheart is going to need all the help he can get)

The total average hp of all the devils combined is 189.5.

We can see from the picture that he’s got plate and a shield. Let’s deck him out with the +4 plate and +3 shield from table 4 in the DMG. He’ll also have several other items but the dice can decide on them.

There we are – he’s now AC –2 at the very least. That means that he can be hit by

Barbed 16 (5 out of 20 or 25%) - he will hit them on a 6 (15 out of 20 or 75%)
Ice 14 (7 out of 20 or 35%) - he will hit them on a 10 (11 out of 20 or 55%)
Bone 16 (5 out of 20 or 25%) - he will hit them on a 7 (14 out of 20 or 70%)
Horned 17 (4 out of 20 or 20%) - he will hit them on an 11 (10 out of 20 or 50%)

Average chance for the devils 26.25%

Average chance for Strongheart 62.5%

Note that I have taken into account the –2 on the devils’ to hits because of the continual Protection from Evil that paladins get as a nice little bonus. Who says being good sucks?

This gives Strongheart a ratio of 2.38 hits to 1 against the devils, and being over 13th level, he gets 2 attacks per round, therefore that’s doubled to 4.76.

Let’s call the average damage that Strongheart can do with his holy avenger 10.5 per hit, since it does (1-12) + 5 for large targets and (1-8) + 5 for medium targets and double that because of his two hits per round, making it 21. Then multiply it by 62.5% to get the average damage he’s going to do over the space of a whole combat.

Barbed 25% x 17.5 = 4.375 - to kill Strongheart will take 16.22 rounds
Ice 35% x 17.5 = 4.375 - to kill Strongheart will take 16.22 rounds
Bone 25% x 7.5 = 1.875 - to kill Strongheart will take 37.86 rounds
Horned 20% x 10 = 2 - to kill Strongheart will take 35.5 rounds

Barbed 36hp - Strongheart to kill devil takes 2.74 rounds
Ice 49.5hp - Strongheart to kill devil takes 3.77 rounds
Bone 40.5hp - Strongheart to kill devil takes 3.08 rounds
Horned 27.5hp - Strongheart to kill devil takes 2.09 rounds

Okay, so that’s one devil vs. Strongheart each round. No problem for our brave paragon of Lawful Good there. What if he faces two per round?

2 x barbed, 25% 17.5 x 2 = 8.75, to kill Strongheart – 8.11 rounds. Strongheart to kill both, 5.48 rounds

1 Barbed, one Ice 10.5 per round, to kill Strongheart – 6.76 rounds. Strongheart to kill both in 6.51 rounds

One Ice, one Bone 7.5 per round, to kill Strongheart – 9.46 rounds, Strongheart to kill both in 6.85 rounds.

One Bone, one Horned 3.93 per round, to kill Strongheart – 18 rounds, Strongheart to kill both in 5.17 rounds.

Hm, a bit trickier. He's up against it now. The Barbed and Ice combo is the most dangerous. Let us not forget that Strongheart is going to be slapping the Cure Lights on himself to repair the damage that the devils have inflicted.

It’s going to be difficult to work out the magic attacks, given that the devils have attacks including fire, ice, invisibility. Strongheart has a magic resistance of 50% against anything the devils can fling at him while he is holding his sword. He also gets a dispel magic at 16th level.

So there we have the figures. If Strongheart can limit the attacking devils to two per round or fewer, he’s in with a chance. It seems obvious now why he’s standing on that precipice in the picture – tactical considerations. Flying devils can attack him from behind, yeah, but he can detect evil and knows they're there Teleportation is no good since they can't materialise in thin air.

And another thing we’ve learned – horned devils – boy, do they suck. Yeah, they’ve got AC –5 but the damage – pitiful.

So, what do you think? Do the figures add up or have I muffed my maths?
Why not try out some trials by combat, now that we have the figures. Let me know who comes out on top.

And order a side salad just in case Strongheart muffs his To Hits.


  1. Did you forget about the devils' ability to gate in more allies, or were you more interested in simply seeing if the paladin could handle the foes in the picture?

    I like this series of posts, by the way. That paladin can do some serious damage!

  2. It was just the foes in the picture; if we take into account the summon allies ability, then Strongheart is definitely toast with a generous helping of strawberry jam.

    I agree about the paladin. When he gets to high level, he can really kick evil ass, especially if he gets his hands on a Holy Avenger. But even at low level, the continual Protection from Evil is a neat ability.

    If I was playing one now, I'd probably run him like Ace Rimmer from Red Dwarf. What a guy!

  3. I always thought the Ice Devil was down for the count in that picture. If you look, not only is it prone, but has several of the stalagmites sticking through its right forelimb, and it is seemingly bleeding from its mouth. I think that sucker is out of the fight.

    Interesting speculation about why he's on the edge of a cliff-- makes perfect sense now that you say it.

  4. You are indeed correct, Joe - the artist clearly seems to have joined the fight a couple of rounds in.

    Strongheart's DM must be in the order of the D30 and the paladin has just rolled the big purple one.