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I've been discussing critical strikes with a friend. He states that there is no way to get more than 11-20 range in any D&D version, but he refuses to explain how he gets there, and it's based on a game that implements D&D 3e (the first two games in the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic series).

However, in a game as expansive as D&D, I'm fairly sure it should be possible to get a bigger range than 11-20 in 3rd edition D&D.

What combination of race, class, equipment, feats, buffs, debuffs, etc gives the largest possible melee critical range? Assume that all sourcebooks are available for D&D 3e and 3.5e.

Note: I'm talking about consistent melee critical ranges. Temporary effects that only last a few rounds, or "your next spell/attack crits" effects, which can only be used once in a while, should be avoided — unless something can help to keep them up. I'm looking for something that can feasibly be consistently applied to an entire encounter.

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up vote 21 down vote accepted

Easy: 9-20.

Let's start by disproving that 11-20 is the highest threat range possible in D&D 3.0/3.5.

Take the Improved Critical feat, which doubles your threat range. Also take Disciple of Dispater (Book of Vile Darkness, 3.0) up to 8th level, which triples it. These abilities explicitly stack. D&D multiplication rules turn this into a quadruple modifier.

Use a weapon (which must be iron or steel for DoD to work) with a natural 18-20 threat range. Quadrupled, that's 9-20 from one 3.0 book and the Player's Handbook.

Combining 3.0 sources: 7-20 or even 1-20?

Sticking with 3.0, we have the Weapon Master class (Sword and Fist). Its 7th level Ki Critical ability increases a weapon's threat range by +2. If this stacks multiplicatively with DoD (which it probably does), we have (3+2)*4 = full 1-20 crit range. If it stacks additively with DoD, we have a comparatively unimpressive 7-20.

Answering the question of whether it's possible to get both DoD and WM to the required levels pre-epic in 3.0 is left as an exercise to the reader.

There is also the 3.0 Stump Knife (also Sword and Fist), which has an interesting property:

Against foest to whom you have dealt damage during the course of a continuous melee, the stump knife's critical range is doubled (17-20).

So for the small price of losing a limb, we can increase the multiplier to x5.

3.5 and 3.0 together: Very hard to tell.

3.5 did lots to nix the range-stacking that was rather popular in 3.0. Muddying the waters are changed critical stacking rules, how those interact with DoD, and whether the Exotic Weapon Master from Complete Warrior counts as an update to the 3.0 Weapon Master.

One specifically 3.5 crit-enhancer is the 7th level of Streetfighter Barbarian, which grants a +1 to your threat range when charging.

Honorable mentions: Things that don't apply

Taking up to the 7th level of Psychic Weapon Master (3.5) is frequently mentioned. This doesn't actually work with DoD, as PWM works with crystal weapons and DoD with weapons of metal. (The Aptitude weapon enhancement from Tome of Battle also doesn't work, as that one applies to feats rather than class features.)

Serrated weapons are also frequently mentioned in discussions (increase threat range by +1). These are 3rd party additions, not from D&D books. Chainblades (a native 17-20 range) fall in the same boat.

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Worth mentioning that DoD still works in 3.5e because 3e material that was never reprinted is said to be still valid but the wording on the PrC, that was intended to just distinguish between Keen and Improved Critical probably needs to be reworded according to the new rules (where the two don't stack). Also, there's precedent on declaring that effects apply on whichever order the owner deems more useful, therefore multiplicative stacking does not always happen but is perfectly legit if the wielder so chooses. – Zachiel Jun 4 '14 at 10:31
The Rules Reference article "Feats, Prestige Classes, and Spells" lists those items that have been officially updated to D&D 3.5, therefore no longer available. The prestige class disciple of Dispater remains valid, but SF's prestige class weapon master isn't, having been unfortunately subsumed into CW's prestige class exotic weapon master. – Hey I Can Chan Nov 18 '14 at 13:32

I would like to add that there is a way to have a metal/crystal weapon, with Reidran Crysteel From Eberron p 126 with the special property that as long as you have 1 power point in your reserve, the weapon/armor functions as if it has a natural +1 enhancement and costs +1500 gp... This would allow you to be either DoD, PWM and Weapon Master, and if you want ranged weapon bonuses along the same line, check out Deepwood Sniper.

I would suggest Fighter 2 levels, Barbarian 1 level (For either Frenzy or Berserk, whichever you choose to give you the prerequisites for Exotic Weapon Master if you want to take that class, but it is a nice class), Psion 5 (this gives you the BAB, Feats, and access to 3rd level Powers that you require to enter PWM as well as more Power Points than any of the other psionic classes), and go from there, take 8 Psychich Weapon Master, Disciple of Dispater 7, and then Weapon Master (Kensai - Kensai from Oriental Adventure has yet to be Errattad, so it still gives the same benefits as the origonal) 7. By this time you are of course epic level, but with the threat range you have, you should be epic!

This is jumping through hoops, but you get an amazing critical threat range! Add Exotic Weapon Master 3 gives you proficiency with all exotic weapons, and 5 gives you the benifits of Weapon Focus (that stack with the actual Weapon Focus feat with a particular exotic weapon) and Weapon Specialization (that stacks with Weapon Specialization of a particular weapon) with all exotic weapons! as well as throw anything and Improved throw anything!

If Your DM allows different templates to be added to weapons, try and have Kaori, Jagged, Laminated, and Serrated, increasing the weapons threat range and critical multiplier. You should also check out the the splat book Planar Metals, that has Dwarven Blackrock (aka Godsteel). This increases a weapons damage by 2 sizes, increases the crit threat by 1, and multiplier by 1, as well as has a hardness of 30, and is described as "This masterwork material is a mixture of metal and stone." This could be taken to be crystal as crystal is a form of stone, and metals take on a crystaline structure (gotta love material sciences). This same splat also givs info for 3 levels of Masterwork for both weapons and equipment. I've found other sources that give more templates that could be added to equipment but I'll leave that up to you to discuss with your DM.

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Could you discuss what the critical threat range actually is? Answers must stand alone. We're not a normal forum. – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Nov 18 '14 at 7:08
I recommend looking at the tour and the help centre to gain an understanding of the requirements for answers on this site. – Miniman Nov 18 '14 at 7:15
I'm familiar with Katori weapons from the Random Encounters column, but unfamiliar with the weapon modifications jagged, laminated, and serrated (except from an issue of Dragon magazine). Planar Metals, for example, appears to be an 8-page unlicensed, unpublished homebrew PDF. I urge updating the answer to provide sources and note their official or unofficial status. – Hey I Can Chan Nov 18 '14 at 16:19
Crysteel is official being in the official Eberron Campaign setting. Though if a DM is willing to allow it is another matter. Another option could be to try and use Glassteel from Champions of Valor. Being a clear crystal metaloid (combining glass and adamantine) could do something similar. But you would have to talk with your DM about that... Jagged, and Serrated are from Arms and Armor 3.5; Laminated and Serrated are from AEG Mercinaries. Many splats are unliscensed, from other companies that use a similar system so things can be crossovers. – AOKost Nov 19 '14 at 1:02

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