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A few years back our group tried to come up with the fastest possible D&D character. If I remember correctly we could build a character that could go faster than the speed of sound, but I can't find my notes of this character ("The Running Man") anywhere anymore.

My question: what's the fastest D&D 3(.5) character possible?

The constraints we used in our experiment:

  • Has to be a "personal" speed: running, swimming, or flying (no mounts, vehicles, being shot from a cannon, etc).
  • Max character level 20.
  • No gold limit on items.
  • Any Wizards of the Coast published rulebook allowed, including psionics.
  • We did this experiment in D&D 3rd ed., but an answer in 3.5 is acceptable too (though I suspect that's tougher).

Basically, the question came down to creating a character that could make at least 6780 feet in a round (6 secs), which is 1130 feet per second, which is roughly 345 m/s: the speed of sound at about room temperature.


Update

There were several good comments (some of which I should've anticipated :D) on what is and isn't allowed. My above question wasn't exactly clear on those points. Although I'm not sure what SE etiquette tells me to do here, so I'm adding the additional constraints I forgot to mention here in this update (as opposed to editing the question itself).

  • No "cheating" or obvious "shortcuts". This includes miracle/wish. I realize this is vague and invite anyone to edit my Question and make this constraint more explicit.
  • Handbooks/rules on epic and deities are excluded.

Technically any answer to the question is valid if it follows the constraints in my original question, but I'd prefer answers that follow the additional constraints in the update as well.

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7 Answers 7

up vote 39 down vote accepted

A properly optimized character can break the speed of light.

The build "Chuck E. Cheese" asserts that it can break c:

Round 1: Activate Belt of Battle to cast Footsteps of the Divine(Fharlaghn) as a Swift Action, expending 7 Turn Undead attempts to Persist the spell via Divine Metamagic and then Extending it via Lesser Metamagic Rod of Extend. Between Extend Spell, Suel Arcanamach and Spellcarved Soldier, Footsteps of the Divine lasts for 4 days.

Chuck drops the rod as a free action, drawing a scroll of Favor of the Martyr as a move action and as a Standard Action he makes the DC 27 UMD check to cast the spell from the scroll. He succeeds on a 1.

Max Turnage casts Owl’s Wisdom on Chuck.

Round 2: Chuck chooses to “employ a burst of truly inhuman speed” to gain +10ft to his land speed(in addition to the +50 ft from selecting Farlanghn) for every round remaining in the spell’s duration. There are 4 days minus 1 round remaining in the duration, so Chuck gets +576,990 ft bonus to his land speed, for a total land speed of 576,070 ft. His Jump check is +230,416. That’s a 43 mile long jump.

As a move action, Chuck draws his Scroll of Greater Visage of the Deity from his pack. Thanks to the spell being on the Cleric list and having a Wisdom of 19, all he has to do is make a DC 18 Caster Level check to activate the scroll. His caster level for Cleric spells is 9. Too bad he can’t just take 10. Oh wait, yes he can thanks to Arcane Mastery! So by taking 10, he succeeds on the check and casts Greater Visage of the Deity as his Standard Action gaining +4 Charisma and a fly speed of twice his land speed, or 1,152,140 ft.

As a swift action he activates his belt of battle to get a move action, which is used to draw his Staff of Greater Celerity.

He then proceeds via Divine Impetus for 1,104 swift actions which translate to Full-Round actions from the Staff of Greater Celerity. Favor of the Martyr protects Chuck from the nasty side effect of daze. How he uses those actions depends on what he wants to do.

Judging from the literature on the topic, you can pretty trivially exceed four times earth's escape velocity, or 120,000 ft/sec

This thread suggests:

Footsteps of the divine says you can expend the spell to add "...an additional +10 feet to your speed per round remaining in the spell's duration." Therefore, you gain a bonus of 10 x 10 x 60 x 24, or 144,000 ft/round. Times FIVE for the Run feat gives 720,000 ft/round, or 120,000 ft/sec.

To put this in perspective, this hypothetical cleric is running at more than four times Earth's escape velocity. He's running so fast that an atomic clock could detect the relativistic time dilation he undergoes as he moves. He's running so fast that, if this weren't magic, his body would be torn apart as he instantly accelerated to 100 times the speed of sound.

By strict RAW, I think this is legal. Persistent Spell states, "Spells of instantaneous duration cannot be affected by this feat, nor can spells whose effects are discharged." Since footsteps of the divine (the spell in question) has Personal range, and its duration entry is "1 round/level" rather than something sensible like "1 round/level or until discharged", it would seem to be a legal target for Persistent Spell. (DMM: Persist is also not required; footsteps of the divine is only Cleric 3rd.)

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7  
Technically, Chuck was killed by Errata, and is no longer legal. There are still some hilarious ways to get movement speed extremely high, though I'm not sure if light speed is still reachable. I believe the Jumplomancer has the highest still-legal movement speed, but I could be mistaken. –  KRyan Oct 29 '12 at 16:58

The question only asks about speed, it doesn't specify the direction of motion.

Teleport 100,000 miles straight up. Fall.

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3  
Unfortunately the same physics system (our real one) that would make this acceleration possible also includes a terminal velocity for people that is far below Mach 1. Both the acceleration and the terminal velocity are mentioned in a question featured in the 3.5e Main FAQ - for convenience it is quoted here. Nice try though. ;) –  doppelgreener Jan 14 at 23:09
2  
Loren, if you want to post a build that discusses, by the rules, what magics are needed to achieve what speed, that's fine. As it stands, this is a bad answer. –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Jan 16 at 22:35

Edit: For all ye kind people inclined to downvote, please note that this answer was written for a previous version of the Question. :) Please, read the comments below. Thank you.

Why complicate things? (Okay, apart from complicating things' being funny. :)) Use a carefully worded Wish spell, which can

Transport travelers. A wish can lift one creature per caster level from anywhere on any plane and place those creatures anywhere else on any plane regardless of local conditions.

+

You may try to use a wish to produce greater effects than these, but doing so is dangerous. (The wish may pervert your intent into a literal but undesirable fulfillment or only a partial fulfillment.)

...and there you go, faster than anything, ever. ;]

In fact, if you're bringing physics into DnD, any variation of magical teleportation fulfills the requirements of the Q.

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1  
In fact, it's possible that no magical teleportation actually breaks causality. If we consider the teleportation effect as a temporary folding of Space (especially "true" in the case of a portal), nothing ever goes any faster than their own movement between those two points. –  Nigralbus May 22 '12 at 9:48
1  
+1 thanks for taking the time to put up this answer! I must apologize though, because I forgot to be explicit enough in my question to rule out wish/miracle. I've updated the question to mention I prefer answers w/o wish or miracle, but left the original constraints as well because your answer was technically correct for my original question. –  Jeroen May 22 '12 at 10:09

Another approach that I unfortunately can't be sure applies to 3.5:

On the astral plane you can move by Newtonian means--throwing something to gain 10'/round of movement. There's no limit on the number of things you can throw, the effect is cumulative. (Just beware of the stopping distance!)

Take enough arrows and a first level character of any class can go supersonic. 550 arrows will be bulky but not all that heavy. Get one of those quivers with infinite arrows and even that's not a problem.

While of course this doesn't come anywhere near the accepted answer it works without cheese.

I was trying to look it up without success so I don't know what version(s) use this rule.

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I'm not sure the Manual of the Planes supports that rule. –  KRyan Sep 11 '13 at 23:31
    
@KRyan As I said, I'm not finding it now so I don't know what versions it applies to. I specifically recall thinking about the fact that you could get some pretty insane speed when I first encountered it. –  Loren Pechtel Sep 12 '13 at 1:45

Inspired by the many wonderful responses to this question, I tried to reconstruct my group's answer from a few years back. I know that (a) I'm missing a few tricks we used, and (b) I've probably mentally blocked all the cheats we rationalized back then.

Even though I was extremely intimidated by the far, far superior answer above, I still decided to share this for your amusement! In my defense, at the time none of us had anything besides 3rd edition PHB, DMG and Psionics rulebook.

The Running Man:

            SOURCE                             TYPE     SPEED
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Additions   Fly (spell)                        base        90 ft
Additions   Speed of Thought (psionic feat)    insight     10 ft
Additions   hmm what did I forget?                          0 
Additions   hmm what did I forget?                          0 
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
SUBTOTAL                                                  100 ft
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Multiplier  Boots of Striding and Springing    none¹       x2 
Multiplier  Running
            - with run feat
            - and extra partial from haste spell           x6 
Multiplier  Expeditious retreat                enhancement x2 
Multiplier  hmm what did I forget?                       
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
TOTAL                                                   2.400 ft/round
                                                    or:   400 ft/s
                                                    or:   122 m/s

¹ Okay, okay, the 3rd edition DMG technically mentions no bonus type for the boots of striding, but if I'd be fair it's probably the same as expeditious retreat, given that's spell is used to create the item.

So there it is. The answer (with a few "minor" gaps) that took our group hours of debating, thinking, puzzling, and cheating. The answer that is utterly destroyed by Chuck E. Cheese, and his four-times-Earth's-escape-velocity speed.

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Oh, that's the initial version. Chuck in his final version exceeds C :) But as a reasonable "hey, how can I go fast" yours looks good. Have you thought about sources of extra actions and spells? –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton May 22 '12 at 21:05
    
@BrianBallsun-Stanton Yeah my first thought was towards gaining additional actions. Earlier tonight I dug up my 3rd ed PHB, browsed through it (while weeping about Chuck's superiority to Running Man), but couldn't find any besides Haste :(... which is of course what I expected and what made me ask the question in the first place :) –  Jeroen May 22 '12 at 21:09
    
Sources that I can think off off the top of my head: polymorph, monk levels, more items, speed of thought feat. –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton May 22 '12 at 21:09

Fastest Man alive!

Taking into account this new information, we can now build the inhuman speed of gods.

Xeph - Cleric 5 / Monk 15 (stat array: 16,14,13,12,11,10) AL[L/N]
Domains: "Celerity" and "Planning"
Feats by Level: Note: This dose not including class weapon and armor proficiency.

1st(Extra Turning)"PHB" (8 Turn Undead)
2nd(Persistent Spell)"Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting"
3rd(Divine Metamagic)"Complete Divine"
4th(Speed of Thought)"Expanded Psionics Handbook"
5th(Run)"PHB"
6th(Dash)"Complete Warrior"
7th(Sprinter)"Dragon#323"

Monk bonus Feats:

(1)Stunning Fist
(2)Combat Reflexes
(3)Improved Trip

Spells(Divine)

Domain Spell = Blur
0lvl: Create water, Guidance, Cure Minor Wounds, Resistance, Mending
1lvl: Omen of Peril, Snowshoes, Endure Elements, Nimbus of Light
2lvl: Augury, Status, Brambles
3lvl: Footsteps of the Divine, Water Walk

Items:

Head-Headband of Dex +6
Waist-Belt of Battle
Feet-Boots of Temporal Acceleration
Neck-Reins of Ascension
Ring-Ring of Entropic Deflection
Ring-Ring of Freedom of Movement
Body-Vest of Resistance +5
Arms-Bracers of Wind
Hands-Gloves of Lightning
Shoulders-Cloak of Battle
Equipped-Lesser Metamagic Rod of Extend Spell 

Base land speed 30ft
Xeph racial burst of speed +10/four levels(max +30ft) for 3 rounds/day.
Monk levels +50ft Enhancement to base land speed.
Domain Celerity +10ft to base land speed. [Untyped]

Feats:

Speed of Thought +10ft to base land speed. [Untyped]
Dash +5ft to base land speed. [Untyped]
Sprinter +10ft to base land speed for number of rounds equal to con/mod 3/day.
Run x5 base land speed using a full round action.

Actions:

  1. st Use Belt of Battle to gain bonus slandered action.
  2. nd Cast Footsteps of the Divine using Divine Metamagic with Persistent Spell.
    [This will cost all 8 turn undead attempts]-(Select Fharlanghn for the spell)
  3. Use the Burst of Inhuman speed from the spell Footsteps of the Divine
  4. Use Xeph racial burst of speed.
  5. Use Run with Sprinter, Dash and Speed of Thought and take off.

This makes: 30+30+50+10+10+5+10 +143,990ft x 5 = 720,675ft in 6 seconds.

This translates to 120,110 feet in a single second and - 81,895 miles an hour.

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Since this got bumped, I’ll submit this variant on the Jumplomancer, one of the most hilarious theoretical-optimization builds ever. It attains a movement speed of 25,800 feet, which works out to 2,932 miles per hour. That dramatically exceeds the speed of sound through air at any location on earth1

This would not be worth mentioning, since Chuck attains far greater speeds, except that errata gave footsteps of the divine the word “discharge” which prevents applying Persistent Spell to it. To the best of my knowledge, this marks the only time that Wizards specifically errata’d a theoretical optimization trick (unless you count the errata on Arcane Thesis, but that wasn’t a trick so much as “you really didn’t consider the ramifications of this feat, did you?”).

Still, the concept of getting footsteps of the divine to have as long a duration as possible, and then discharging it all at once for a tremaining×10 ft. movement speed bonus remains sound. The above-linked variant uses a combination of Extend Spell, which doubles a spell’s duration, and the Rainbow Falls magical location from Complete Mage, which triples it (1/day Transmutation only). That gets you a duration of 120 rounds; you discharge it around later for +1,190 ft. bonus to your speed. Add in cheetah’s speed for a (relatively) minor speed bonus, and the ability to sprint to multiply your speed by 10. Throw some other bonuses in there, and then sprint on a charge.

The build also adds in five levels of Exemplar, and the Leap Attack feat to take a huge Jump, taking advantage of the bonus that high speeds give to bonus and the Exemplar’s ability to substitute some other skill for a Diplomacy check. With +10,347 to that check, anyone who sees the jump is automatically made fanatical to your cause.

Also, it should be noted that the parameters in the question don’t prevent Pun-pun, unless you want to call that a shortcut. Most TO endeavors ban infinite loops (like Pun-pun). Without such a restriction, Pun-pun can have any movement speed he cares to give himself.

1 Unlike the speed of light through a vacuum, the speed of sound is not at all constant, but rather relies on a great many factors. This is why all those supersonic car attempts take place in Death Valley: the hot, dry air makes sound travel slower, so the car doesn’t have to go as fast to break it.

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