So, I was attempting to theory-craft a character that could deliver a massive amount of damage in a single melee attack. I know that there are builds to deliver a massive amount of damage in a single round that can most definitely out-damage this one, but I was specifically looking for a single melee attack.

So, my idea was a Half-Orc Paladin/Hexblade Warlock/Sorcerer multiclass. Using a combination of Divine Smite, the Warlock's Eldritch Smite Invocation, a +3 magic weapon, the Half-Orc's Savage Attack feature, Absorb Elements, and Hex, with max damage and crits, I got a lot of damage (I don't have the exact math's, I lost the paper I was doing my calculations on). I think it was over 100.

However, I'm sure that this is nowhere near as high as it can possibly be. So what is the greatest maximum amount of damage you can do with a single melee attack?

Anything from books published by Wizards is allowed, whether it be race, class, magic items, etc, as long as you make it a single melee attack. This includes 20th level characters and epic boons. UA should not be considered.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ I kind of want to see a version of this question for every character level. Or at least 1, 5, 11, 15. Is that awful? \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 15:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mattdm While the middle levels would probably be a little complicated, trying to see what would be possible for 1st level characters would be interesting. Hell, even a breakdown of all the character classes & subclasses with how much damage they could do in a single attack at first level, depending on spells, potential feats, magic items, weapons, etc, in a kind of grid display. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jay Kay
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 17:53
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ Rules on setup or anything goes? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 25, 2018 at 6:03

13 Answers 13


If you're looking at a single melee attack, you're absolutely going to need at least 17 levels in Rogue (Assassin) for Death Strike. I can't think of anything in the game better for increasing single-hit damage than the deadly combo of Sneak Attack (9-10 d6), Assassinate (automatic crit), and Death Strike (double damage). I'd take two levels in Paladin on top of that for smites, and then your final level could be Barbarian (for rage damage). Additionally, take the charger and martial adept feats.

Average Damage without items: 222

Max Damage without items: 364

Damage Breakdown

  • Rapier: 1d8 + 5
  • Sneak Attack: 9d6
  • Smite: 2d8
  • Rage: +2
  • Charger feat: +5
  • Maneuver (several choices): 1d6
  • Dueling fighting style: +2

This gives us a total of 3d8 + 10d6 + 14 damage. However, if we assume ideal conditions this Rogue will be attacking a surprised enemy that hasn't taken a turn yet, so the attack will auto-crit. That brings the damage to 6d8 + 20d6 + 14. That averages 27 + 70 + 14 = 111 damage (182 with max rolls).

Death Strike doubles that damage, for 222 average or 364 max.

Now let's add in weapons, items, and enchantments that could boost it above those numbers:

  • Vorpal Sword would add +3, as well as +6d8 on a nat 20
  • Enlarge: +1d4 damage (cast by a friend, or potion)
  • A library of Manuals of Gainful Exercise would add another +5 from STR

These would add a total of 1d4 + 6d8 + 8 to the numbers above. Auto-crit to 2d4 + 12d8 + 8, and double, and you get an additional 134 (average) or 224 (max)

Then add Purple worm poison for another 12d6 damage (that doesn't crit or double, thanks Jonatan) - 42 average or 72 max.

This gives us a total bonus from weapons & spells of 176 average or 296 max.

Average damage with items & spells: 398

Max damage with items & spells: 660

  • 17
    \$\begingroup\$ You can actually use Strength with sneak attack. The only condition is that you be using a finesse or ranged weapon, not that you actually be using dexterity. But I did need to change "manuals of quickness of action" to "manuals of gainful exercise" to reflect this, so that was still a good catch. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dacromir
    Commented Dec 5, 2017 at 20:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Mindwin Please avoid using backticks for quoting, as it marks the text as code, which is considered harmful on non-code text. Just use quotation marks or italics or something — anything that's normal for quotations in text. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 6, 2017 at 4:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ How about adding Green-Flame Blade (as a bonus cantrip for High Elf for example)? It will increase damage by 6d8. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 8:52
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Could we somehow cram in another 6 damage for epicness?! \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Commented Feb 4, 2020 at 19:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ As a note, Vorpal Sword cannot be a rapier as it must be a sword that deals slashing damage. The best finesse weapon that deals slashing damage in the PHB is a scimitar which deals 1d6 instead of the rapier's 1d8. This would only lower your average damage (with items & spells) by 3 points and your max damage by 6 points, but figured it's worth mentioning. \$\endgroup\$
    – smbailey
    Commented Jun 17, 2020 at 18:22

Well not actually infinity but arbitrarily large. Since you said any official items are allowed, the answer keeps getting higher the more time you have to setup. This is because of the Moonblade:

A Moonblade gains a new rune for each master it has served, meaning that with more former masters, it will have collected more and more runes. Two of the runes have a property that increases damage without a limit on how many you can have:

91-92 When you hit with an attack using the moon blade, the attack an extra 1d6 slashing damage.

93-94 When you hit a creature of a specific type (such as dragon, fiend, or undead) with the moonblade, the target takes an extra 1d6 damage of one of these types: acid, cold, fire, lightning, or thunder.

Nothing states that multiple instances of these runes don't stack, so your melee attack will deal a maximum damage which approaches infinity as time goes on (I'm ignoring the other factors that affect its damage since the runes provide much more damage, comparatively, then the damage from the possible vorpal feature of the Moonblade, among others).

For details on the approximate damage based on the number of runes, see this Q&A.

Note: yes, the one rune truly does not include the word "deals" and it STILL has not been errata'd. I assume that is the intent for the purpose of this answer


I think we can do a little better. Let's try a Half-Orc Tempest Cleric 9/Whispers Bard 5/Hunter Ranger 4/Paladin 2, with Strength 19 and three feats, casting the spell Booming Blade with a Greataxe. Let's assume we crit.

  • Greataxe does 2d12+4 (average 17, max 28).
  • Booming Blade does an extra 6d8 thunder damage (we'll come back to that).
  • Half-Orc's Savage Attacks add 1d12 (average 6.5, max 12).
  • Orcish Fury feat: 1d12 (average 6.5, max 12).
  • Great Weapon Master feat: 10.
  • Martial Adept feat: 1d6 (average 3.5, max 6).
  • Absorb Elements spell (9th level): 18d6 thunder damage.
  • Searing Smite spell (8th level): 16d6 (average 56, max 96).
  • Divine Strike: 2d8 thunder damage.
  • Venomous Blades: 6d6 (average 21, max 36).
  • Divine Smite vs undead: 12d8 (average 54, max 96).
  • Colossus Slayer: 2d8 (average 9, max 16).

So thunder damage. The nice thing we have is Destructive Wrath; we can use our Channel Divinity to maximise our thunder damage. So we have 8d8 and 18d6 thunder damage which maximises to 160.

And one more thing: if we hit our enemy with the spell Contagion, we can make them vulnerable to all damage. So let's double everything.

Average base damage: 687

Max base damage: 942

Then we add a Vorpal Sword; going from 1d12 to a 2d6 greatsword loses us average 5, max 12, but Vorpal gives us 6d8+3, so a total of average 25, max 39. Then Purple Worm Poison adds 12d6, average 42, max 72, and 6 from Manual of Exercising our Strength up to 30. And, of course, double EVERYTHING :D

Average damage with items: 833

Max damage with items: 1176

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, it's not clear to me: the attack as laid out requires a maximized Absorb Elements that was used against thunder (or lightning) damage. So this attack requires that you are hit by this type of damage in the round preceding this attack, right? That's not mentioned in your answer. Also, you might clarify that you need to use both channel divinities, one for Booming Blade and one for Absorb Elements, and not that the same one can be used for both. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rykara
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 1:30

Here's what I got for maximum damage from one attack on one turn without help only using class and racial features, meaning no magical items.

I did this using a Bugbear Paladin 2 / Grave Domain Cleric 2 / Assassin Rogue 3 / Fighter 2 / Hexblade Warlock 11. STR 14, DEX 20, CON 10, INT 8, WIS 13, CHA 14.

I realize it'd be more efficient to use strength as the attack modifier, but I wanted to pump up dex to make stealth as high as possible, ensuring that the enemy is surprised.

Step 1: Be stealthy/deceptive enough that you surprise your enemy to get a guaranteed critical hit from being an assassin.

Step 2: As an action, use your grave domain cleric channel divinity: path to the grave. This makes the target vulnerable to all damage from the next attack, guaranteeing that your damage will be doubled.

Step 3: Bonus action cast banishing smite.

Step 4: Action surge, cast booming blade, using your pact weapon rapier to attack.

Step 5: Use all available abilities to do as much damage in a single hit as possible.

a) 2d8+8 damage from the rapier, +2 from the dueling fighting style and +1 from improved pact weapon.

b) 6d8 damage from the booming blade cantrip.

c) 4d6 damage from rogue's sneak attack.

d) 4d6 damage from bugbear sneak attack.

e) 10d8 damage from a 5th level divine smite. You have to use a 5th level pact slot for this, but divine smites can't exceed 5d8. Sorry.

f) 12d8 damage from a 5th level eldritch smite.

g) 10d10 damage from banishing smite.

So just to be clear, that's (10d10+30d8+8d6+8 damage)×2, for a range of 112-792 damage and an average of 452 damage. I believe the 4d8 from booming blade is not doubled because it's triggered by the enemy moving, not the melee attack, so it only does 4-32 damage and an average of 14 damage. However, pact spell slots, channel divinity, and action surge all come back on a short rest, so assuming you do this on the leader of whatever group you're fighting, you can accept their surrender, rest up, and do it to someone else in an hour.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Please don't use space in your answer to correct details of other answers (at least for questions like this). Once you get the rep you can comment on those answer which is the way that works for pointing out errors. (I therefore removed that bit from your answer because it was just really confusing.) \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Commented Jun 16, 2020 at 23:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ But where are my manners, Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already and see the help center or ask us here in the comments (use @ to ping someone) if you need more guidance. Good Luck and Happy Gaming! \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Commented Jun 16, 2020 at 23:49

Using your suggested methods, here's the breakdown. All of the dice values are on crit

Weapon: Great Axe +3 2d12+3
Race: Half-Orc: 1d12
Notable Stats: 20 Charisma +5
Classes: Paladin 8 / Warlock 9 / Sorcerer 3
Class Features: Hexblade Warlock Eldritch Smite, the rest don't matter for damage.
Feats: Great Weapon Master +10 , Orcish Fury +2d12
Spells: Absorb Elements 10d6, Hex (or Hunter's Mark) 2d6
Abilities: Smite 12d8, Eldritch Smite 12d8

When you crit an undead creature, you roll the following damage: 12d6 + 5d12 + 24d8 + 18, for a maximum damage of 72 + 60 + 192 + 18 = 342.

How to: Cast Absorb Elements as a 5th level spell (1st warlock slot) and get hit by any of the damage types listed. As a bonus action, cast Hex. On your next turn, crit an undead creature with your +3 Great Axe while taking a -5 attack roll penalty for +10 damage. Expend a 4th level spell slot (multi-class spell slot table) for Divine Smite and a 5th (2nd warlock spell slot) for Eldritch Smite. On crit, your half orc racial gives you +1 weapon die (1d12) and your racial feat grants you two additional weapon die. Being a Hexblade Warlock allows you to use your charisma for damage modifiers.

Ways to increase this based on target: Attack a creature vulnerable to Slashing, Radiant, Force, and whatever type Absorb Elements used for double damage to any of those types.


Assassin 17 / Grave Cleric 2

Here is a much simpler build which gives has good damage.

  1. Character: 20 dex (+5 damage bonus)
  2. Assassin 17: Assassinate (automatic crits on surprised creatures), Death Strike (double damage when attacking surprised creature who fail a con save), 9d6 sneak attack
  3. Grave Cleric 2: Path to the Grave (vulnerability to your next attack)
  4. Vorpal Scimitar: 1d6 + 3 + 6d8 (on nat 20, which we are going to roll)

Without items: (9d6 (sneak attack) * 2 (Assassinate) + 5 (dex)) * 2 (Death Strike) * 2 (Path to the Grave) = 272 average, 452 max

With vorpal scimitar: ((1d6 + 6d8 (vorpal scimitar) + 9d6 (sneak attack)) * 2 (Assassinate) + 5 (dex) + 3 (vorpal scimitar)) * 2 (Death Strike) * 2 (Path to the Grave) = 512 average, 832 max

Not bad at low levels

The good thing about this build is that it comes online very quickly. At level 5 you can have an Assassin 3 / Grave Cleric 2, 16 dex, with a rapier, and deal:

((1d8 + 2d6) * 2 (Assassinate) + 3 (dex)) * 2 (Path to the Grave) = 52 average, 86 max


Bugbear +2d6 surprise attack

Feat: heavy weapon master +10

Lv 2 cleric, grave domain x2 all damage

Lv 2 Paladin smite 5d8

Lv 3 Rogue assassin, auto crit

Lv 3 Fighter surge, +1d8 superiority

Lv 10 Bard, whisper college psychic blade, 5d6 dam and secrets for banishing smite 5d10

Action: path to the grave curse opponents gets vulnerability to all damage. (x2 damage)

Bonus: banishing smite 5d10

Surge: Booming blade, great axe 1d12+15,3d8

+4d8 thunder (doubled from vulnerability)

Fighter: 1d8 superiority

Surprise attack: 4d6

Psychic blade: 5d6

Smite: 5d8

Assassin : auto crit, all rolled damage x2

1 round, no prep or help.

134 to 846 damage.

490 average damage, plus banishment.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I have it set up so booming blade triggers the melee axe attack, which in turn triggers the divine smite, and Psychic Blade feature from bard, and Banishing smite, and the fighter superiority dice, and the sneak attack... whew! the only thing I am not 100% certain of, is the 2nd part of the booming blade damage which happens on the opponents turn. I am not sure if it is doubled from the cleric curse feature or not. I believe it is, but I dont have the book here with me. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 4, 2020 at 21:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ There is only one weapon attack. it happens after I cast Booming Blade. The rest of the booming blade damage happens on the opponents turn, but it is still from the original attack. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 4, 2020 at 22:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ it's based on spell slot. so I use the 4th lv spell slot I get from Bard. That makes it 2d8 for a first lv slot +1d8/slot lv after 1. 5d8 Again I have to triple chk it.. as this is from memory. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 4, 2020 at 22:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ FYI: You don't need to signal your edits in text. The "Edit", "Edit 2" etc lines we're used to on forums are lines we avoid here. (Basically our Q&A operates a little bit like a wiki, so we just want answers to be up-to-date perpetualy. You wouldn't see "Edit:" lines in a wiki article, we wouldn't see them here.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 5, 2020 at 0:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ No one seems to have done this, so I am not sure if it breaks the spirit of the original post.. but if we add purple worm poison its potentially an extra 12d6 damage, and that is double if the target is made vulnerable by contagion or the death domain curse. that's an extra 144 to damage max \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 5, 2020 at 15:32

Bumping this now, the new total would be 2266 - with the absolute maximum rolls and 3 crits. But we'll start with just one attack. ... for 1246 damage.

Human (variant), Wizard 10 - Evocation, Cleric 8 - Arcane, Paladin 2.

The feats that matter: Great Weapon Master, War Caster (for setup/preference), and Elemental Adept Thunder (Reliable Damage)

Items needed: Vorpal Greatsword Book of Exalted Deeds (optional - explained later - Illusionist's Bracers) Access to libraries full of: Tome of Understanding, Tome of Clear Thought, and Manual of Gainful Exercise. Purple Worm Poison

Help from other players needed. 1. Cast Enlarge on player 2. Cast Contagion on the enemy 3. Trigger Absorb Elements the prior round.

Spells needed. Booming Blade Cantrip (Chosen as Arcane Initiate option under Arcane Cleric - Counts as both Wizard and Cleric spell for appropriate abilities: Potent Spellcasting and Empowered Evocation) Absorb Elements Cast at 9th Level Searing Smite (Cast at 8th Level as Paladin Spell, made 9th by Book of Exalted Deeds)

Stats needed: 30 x x 30 30 13

Order of Events:

  • Round 1: Ally 1 Casts Contagion on the enemy, Ally 2 casts Enlarge on Player, Player Casts Searing Smite at 8th(9th) level.
  • Round 2: Ally triggers Absorb elements on Player (9th Level)
  • Round 3: Player casts Booming Blade, and strikes with the Vorpal Greatsword after activating Great Weapon Master. Player Crits, and expends a 4th level spell slot to use Divine Smite. Booming Blade Procs when the enemy moves later

Calculations: (for this I will use double dice quantity as to show critical damage)

  • Enlarge 2d4
  • Vorpal Greatsword 4d6+13 +10 GWM
  • Booming Blade receives a + 20 to its spell roll due to class features 6d8+20 and 8d8+20
  • Vorpal Effect on Nat 20 (Not Doubled) 6d8

  • Divine Smite 10d8

  • Searing Smite and Absorb Elements 18d6 + 18d6
  • Purple Worm Poison (Not Doubled) 12d6 Assuming the odds are REALLY in your favor, and you roll maximum: that's - in order-
  • 8+24+13+10+48+20+64+20+48+80+108+108+72 = 623 But wait that's not 1756

    The Illusionist's Bracers allow you to cast a cantrip as a bonus action if you have cast it that turn. This means that you can cast Booming Blade a second time. The total for that bonus attack equates to 255 damage - Same calc, stopping after the Vorpal effect. Still, that's only 878.

Contagion makes a target vulnerable to all damage. Only slightly overpowered. 878 x2 =1756

An additional thing to note. (If you have War Caster) Using a reaction to cast a cantrip with this feat casts that cantrip on an opponent's turn. Via the wording on Illusionist's Bracers:

While wearing the bracers, whenever you cast a cantrip, you can use a bonus action on the same turn to cast that cantrip a second time.

This may imply that the user is able to use a bonus action to cast a cantrip on an opponents' turn. This would result in the following possible total if on "Round 3" an opponent triggered War Caster, and gave you the use of a cantrip as a Reaction. The Reaction would serve as your first attack, the bonus your second, and an action on your turn as the third. The attack from your turn is also worth 255 damage, bringing the subtotal to 1133, and the total to 2266... However, this all regards more than one melee attack, so in conclusion: 1246 damage for 1 attack.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Your approach seems to make two melee attacks (two castings of booming blade) whereas the question asks for the damage of a single one. I think you still have a good answer if you edit out the second casting. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Commented Dec 3, 2019 at 10:37

Hit it with your Vorpal Barbarian

Race: Half-Orc
Class: Barbarian 17/Paladin 2/Warlock 1
Relevant Ability Scores: Strength 29
Weapons and Magic Items: Vorpal Great Sword (2 handed), Belt of Storm Giant Strength
Feats: Great Weapon Fighting, Magic Initiate (for Absorb Elements), Savage Attack
Relevant Class and Race Features: Brutal Critical (3 dice), Great Weapon Fighting Style, Divine Smite

Setup: Assume the target is a legendary undead creature who has been afflicted with Hex that is hit by a crit and is neither vulnerable nor resistant to any element being used. In the prior round, you were hit by some sort of fire attack that enabled you to trip Absorb Elements.

I am simplifying the math to assume that because of the chosen Fighting Style, the dice range for the great weapon is between 3 and the upper end of the relevant die.

Effect of Hit:

\begin{array}{rlll} 21 &= &2\text{d}6+3+9 &\text{(Vorpal Sword)} \\ 13.5 &= &2\text{d}8+1\text{d}8 &\text{(Radiant damage from Divine Smite on an undead creature)} \\ 3.5 &= &1\text{d}6 &\text{(Necrotic damage from Hex)} \\ +\quad3.5 &= &1\text{d}6 &\text{(Fire damage from Absorb Elements)} \\ \hline 41.5 & \rlap{\text{average (48 max)}} \end{array}

Additional effects from crit (please note the following on Vorpal weapons):

\begin{array}{rlll} 225 &= 3\times(2\text{d}6+12\text{d}8) & \text{(Brutal Vorpal crit)} \\ 75 &= 1\times(2\text{d}6+12\text{d}8) & \text{(Savage Attack racial)} \\ 13.5 &= 1\times(2\text{d}8+1\text{d}8) & \text{(Smite dice are rolled twice, but not thrice because} \\ & & \; \text{they are not melee weapon attack dice)} \\ 3.5 &= 1\times(1\text{d}6) & \text{(Crit on a Hex)} \\ +\quad 3.5 &= 1*(1\text{d}6) & \text{(Crit on Absorb Elements)} \\ \hline 320.5 & \rlap{\text{average (468 max)}} \end{array}

This insanely nasty crit will deal, on average, 362 damage. It has the potential to deal as much as 516 damage.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Brutal critical and Savage attack only let you add one additional die to the damage roll. So, savage attacks with a greatsword will add an extra 1d6, and brutal critical(3) will add an extra 3d6 for a total of only an extra 4d6. I'm not sure how they react with the extra 6d8 from the vorpal sword, but at best you would get only an extra 4d8. \$\endgroup\$
    – Adam
    Commented Dec 5, 2017 at 21:44

Or 1860
Or 1956 with UA

Before we get into this a word of warning: you could use the books and the Morgan Freeman method detailed in Acumen's highest ability score video for infinite damage, so that's the max, but following is the maximum finite I've found.

First of, make your character a lv. 17 Rogue Assassin, lv. 2 Paladin, and lv. 1 Mystic. You'll need 5 other members in your party: a druid, bard, 2 paladins, and a wizards. You're able to replace the wizard with a sorcerer, and one of the paladins with a cleric. Second, choose bugbear as your race. Choose Dueling as your fighting style for Paladin. Be a good alignment. Get the Martial Adept ability, along with any skill that lets you add your superiority die to damage.

As far as magic items go, we only need 1. Get a Vorpal Scimitar. Also obtain Purple Worm Poison.

Now is when things start getting desperate. We need 1 level in Mystic for the Brute Strength discipline. If you don't like UA, then sadly we lose quite a bit of damage, but you get a free level. Second, we must be in the plane of Mount Celestia. Good-Aligned creatures here benefit from the effects of the Bless spell, and along with that you need to somehow get a fiend there. We also must acquire the Boon of Luck, and 10 boons to increase DEX and CHA to 30, making this section easily the most controversial of all.

Time to put it all together. Have the druid in your party cast Flesh Rot Contagion on the fiend. The Bard needs to use bardic inspiration on you, and cast Bestow Curse on the fiend. One of the paladins needs to use Crusader's Mantle, while the other uses Holy Weapon on your weapon. The druid should then cast Elemental Bane on the fiend, choosing thunder. Finally, cast Thunderous Smite, Apply Purple Worm Poison, and sneak attack. On the damage roll for this attack use Boon of Luck, Bardic Inspiration, Divine Smite, 2 Uses of Brute Strike, Your Martial Adept ability, Channel Divinity Sacred Weapon, roll a nat 20, make sure your opponent is immune to Vorpal Insta-Kill, and Death Strike.
All damage dice gets doubled on a crit (I believe, I may be wrong about this), meaning you'll be dealing 2d12+2d10+12d8+50d6+6d4+25 damage, multiplied by 4 for Death Strike and Vulnerability you have 8d12+8d10+48d8+200d6+24d4+100 damage, and assuming you roll max on all of them:

1956 Damage. Nearly 2000.

Excluding UA like OP said it's 1860 damage.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Your block of text is kind of hard to parse the steps. But can you clarify the "Contagion cast on target (x2)"? It also appears you may have multiple concentration spells going at once. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Feb 6, 2019 at 20:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ All of the spells other than Thunderous Smite are cast by other party members. By x2 on Contagion is from the Flesh Rot ability, because you're dealing several types of damage here so it would be simpler just to give the target vulnerability to everything. As specified, if your entire party was working on it, but this would take several party members. \$\endgroup\$
    – Appledirt
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 0:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hmm. It doesn't say no outside buffing, but no other answers use it and I dont think it's the intent. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 0:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ I fixed the formatting to make it look better. Replacing Contagion and Bestow Curse with their respective scrolls and removing the rest of the outside help this setup reaches 8d10+32d8+184d6+16d4+100 for a max of 1604 damage. \$\endgroup\$
    – Appledirt
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 3:09

A Bugbear with Rogue level 3, Paladin level 2, and Wizard level 15 can deal 560-840 damage at once in two swings.

  • Assassinate: All to-hit Dice x2

  • Absorb Elements 9d6 + 9d6

  • Wrathful Smite Scroll for 9d6 + 9d6

  • Booming Blade for 4d8 + 4d8

  • Short Sword + Sneak Attack + Surprise Attack = 5d6 + 5d6

  • Divine Smite for 5d8 + 5d8

  • Finally All spell damage maximized because of lvl 14 evoker ability: Overchannel since almost all of the damage is spell damage.

Damage spread is from 280 Damage to 420 damage in a single swing. You take damage from quaffing a flagon of alchemist's fire and from overchannel.

Add vorpal and purple worm poison and a bunch of other stuff and it gets ridiculous. Then you get a second swing.

This is viable in almost all situations. No vulnerability or other wierd tweaks, just damage dealt not how the damage is received. No magic items or poison either. Pure build mechanics.

This build also gives you high AC, Trapping, 8th level spell slots. A bunch of other fun things too.


1 round, no prep or help.

230 to 1700 damage.

979 average damage, plus banishment.

Half-Orc +1d12 on crit

Feat Orcish fury +1d12

Feat: heavy weapon master +10

Skill: Poisoners Kit

Ring of 3 Wishes

Scroll of time stop

Vorpal Great axe 1d12 +3, 6d8 vorpal

Belt of storm giant strength +9

Purple worm poison (12d6)

Lv 3 Rogue assassin, auto crit

Lv 15 Bard, whisper college psychic blade, 8d6 dam, secrets for Banishing Mmite 5d10, Booming Blade, Wish.

Lv 2 Cleric Grave domain, Path of the grave X2 damage from vulnerability

Round 0

Action: cast time stop from scroll, gain 2 - 5 rounds of prep time.

Round 0.1

Action: Wish-Glyph of warding Banishing Smite 5d10 (no concentration required)

Round 0.2

Action: Wish-Glyph of warding Banishing Smite 5d10 (no concentration required)

Round 0.3

Action: Wish-Glyph of warding Banishing Smite 5d10 (no concentration required)

Round 0.4

Action: apply poison

Round 1

Bonus action: Cast Banishing Smite 5d10

Action: Booming blade, great axe 1d12+22,3d8

Orcish fury +1d12

Orcish crit +1d12

Psychic blade: 8d6

Vorpal: 6d8

Path of the grave, target is vulnerable to all damage x2

Assassin : auto crit, all rolled damage x2

198-1492 Damage

On enemies turn:

4d8 thunder from booming blade

12d6 Poison

Both doubled from vulnerability


  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you assuming the target fails all 3 contagion saves? This also means that you need to wait the three turns for that, so I'm not sure this is a viable strategy for a single melee attack damage. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Feb 6, 2020 at 18:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Keep reading the spell description. The next paragraph clarifies "At the end of each of the poisoned target's turns, the target must make a Constitution saving throw. If the target succeeds on three of these saves, it is no longer poisoned, and the spell ends. If the target fails three of these saves, the target is no longer poisoned, but choose one of the diseases below. The target is subjected to the chosen disease for the spell's duration." \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Feb 6, 2020 at 18:18
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ If you feel strongly, you should provide a new answer here. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Feb 6, 2020 at 18:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, it was really vague pre-errata, but a reading of immediate was reasonable. With the errata, they made it clear it wasn't immediate. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Feb 6, 2020 at 18:27
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Given that this is now incorrect by RAW, I'd change it. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Feb 6, 2020 at 18:33

The Monk class has the way of the open hand discipline, which has the quivering palm ability at level 17. Using an unarmed strike and an action the target must make a Constitution saving throw. If they fail, the targets hit points are reduced to 0. If the target succeeds, they take 10d10 necrotic damage.

Max damage is infinite, since any amount of hp can be reduced to 0.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already. Technically, this answer isn't true; Quivering Palm simply automatically reduces the target to 0 HP if it fails the Con save, without doing damage. (The banshee's Wail action works similarly.) \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Sep 29, 2018 at 7:35
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ Reduced to 0 is not the same as taking damage. An effect that triggers on taking damage would not be triggered by this, for example. I don't think this actually answers the question as posed. This answers a different question entirely. \$\endgroup\$
    – user47897
    Commented Nov 16, 2018 at 0:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ And even if Quivering Palm dealt damage, it still would not cut it because it is not an attack. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ruse
    Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 8:24

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