[RPG] the maximum number of attacks a single character can make themselves during their turn

attackdnd-5eoptimization

In a recent D&D game, I believe a member of the party was able to make six attacks during his turn (I actually lost count, so it might have been 5-7). Other characters seemed able to consistently manage to make 4 attacks a turn even without Haste or using an Action Surge.

Next time I create a character, I'd like to try to maximize the attacks it can make. So I'm wondering, given all the options, what is the absolute maximum number of attacks a character could make in a single turn (and how)?

To clarify, all possible effects are allowed (magical items, spells cast by other characters, natural character abilities, etc), assuming they are allowed to stack.

Best Answer

Under the DMG Diagonals variant (DMG 252)

  • 55 attacks against ground-based Medium-sized enemies

  • 175 attacks against flying Medium-sized enemies

  • 181 attacks against tightly-packed, ground-based, Tiny-sized creatures

  • 661 attacks against tightly-packed, flying, Tiny-sized creatures

Under the default rules for movement

  • 63 attacks against ground-based Medium-sized enemies

  • 263 attacks against flying Medium-sized enemies

  • 213 attacks against tightly-packed, ground-based, Tiny-sized creatures

  • 1013 attacks against tightly-packed, flying, Tiny-sized creatures


Build: Hunter Ranger 11/ Fighter 2/ Sorcerer 6

  • Ranger's features: Horde Breaker, Volley

  • Sorcerer's features and spells: Quickened Spell, Scorching Ray, Haste

  • Fighter: Action Surge

  • Feats: War Caster, Magic Initiate (Eldritch Blast)

  • Caster Level: Eleven (5 from Ranger, 6 from Sorcerer)

The Ranger is carrying all the weight here. Let's break it down.

  • Action: Volley. "You can use your action to make a ranged attack against any number of creatures within 10 ft of a point you can see within range." In a grid, this means you can choose a space as the center, and count two spaces from there to the up/down and left/right directions. This forms a cross that is 5 squares tall and 5 squares wide, which already contains 9 squares. If we count the diagonals as well, we can cover the tiles to the northeast, northwest, southeast, and southwest of the center square; we can also get the "Knight squares," or the ones you can reach by going two squares in one direction and one square in the perpendicular direction. There's 4 of the first and 8 of the second, adding up to 21 squares in total that is within range of your Volley. This counting rule uses the DMG Variant in DMG 252 where diagonals are measured as 10ft every other square, and 5ft otherwise; without the variant, we can cover 25 squares.

    • Side Note: If you went up against packed Tiny-sized enemies, each 5ft x 5ft area can fit 4 creatures in 2 dimensions. This means a single Volley would allow 84 attacks (100 without the variant).

    • Side Note 2: If they are flying Tiny creatures and the center point was in the air, and we were able to cover a full sphere, a sphere with a 10 foot radius can contain 81 cubes, or 324 flying Tiny creatures. You can work this out by 3D symmetry: all the cubes in a larger 3x3x3 cube are in range of Volley, and 9 cubes on top of each face of the larger cube would also be in range due to the diagonal movement rule (and there are 6 faces); without the variant, we are looking at a 5x5x5 cube, for a total of 125 cubes in range. Against flying Tiny creatures, we can reach 500 of them this way.

  • Horde Breaker: after you make your first attack, you can attack a different creature within 5 feet of the first attack's target. This is one more attack.

  • Action Surge: Use Volley a second time, adding 21 more attacks.

  • Haste Action: Make one more attack.

  • Bonus Action: Quickened scorching ray at level 6. At this level, scorching ray will make 7 attacks.

  • Reaction: Trigger an Opportunity Attack with War Caster and cast eldritch blast, adding a further 4 attacks.

Final Notes

  1. You cannot replace the Sorcerer levels with a ring of spell storing, or else you cannot cast scorching ray as a high level bonus action.

  2. You don't need a spellcasting focus, as scorching ray and eldritch blast require only VS, and not M.

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