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A Bugbear (Long Limbed: reach +5 feet) wielding a reach weapon (10 feet of reach) can make a melee weapon attack with a reach of 15 feet.

If said Bugbear is a Battle Master with the Lunging maneuver, he can extend his reach of 5 feet for a single attack (achieving 20 feet of reach).

My question is: Can a player character's melee weapon reach be extended even further than that, or is 20 feet the absolute maximum?

Note that I'm searching for official non-playtest material; Unearthed Arcana would qualify as playtest material and be excluded. (Therefore currently excluding the "Giant Growth" Mystic Discipline from Unearthed Arcana).

If a spell/magic item/other can extend melee weapon reach (nonexistant example: "Scroll of Praying Mantis - Your arms grow bigger! You have more reach!"), it qualifies for the question. Material related to melee spell reach does not qualify.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Does something count if it's like a once per long rest attack, or are you looking for something that can be used turn after turn? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 12, 2021 at 18:03

4 Answers 4

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There is some confliction in your question but I'll assume you want to make Melee Weapon Attacks at reach.

The highest reach would be 35 feet with a Giant-sized Bugbear Battlemaster Fighter/Way of the Four Elements Monk's unarmed strike whose flesh has been warped by an ichor-coated weapon. It costs 1 Superiority Die and 1 Ki point.

The target’s arms become tentacles with fingers on the ends, increasing its reach by 5 feet.

This combo works because of the Player's Handbook Errata, which changed future printings of the Player's Handbook. It reveals how the unarmed strikes can be used for the battlemaster's lunging strike.

Instead of using a weapon to make a melee weapon attack, you can make an unarmed strike ... You are proficient with your unarmed strikes.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Potion Miscibility optional rule can also double the numerical effects of the potion, but it's an optional rule, up to you to mention it or not. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 22, 2021 at 19:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ does adding in an Echo Knight count as reach? \$\endgroup\$ Jul 20, 2023 at 21:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ There’s something I wouldn’t want to have to fight. \$\endgroup\$
    – DMofDoom
    Jul 20, 2023 at 21:16
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As far as I can tell, you have gotten everything there is to get on this, barring polymorphing into creatures with longer reach. I built a character recently on this concept, and came up with the same design and conclusions you have.

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On top of all the options mentioned above, there are two more that I can think of, though neither are permanent.

The first is the item Eldritch Claw Tattoo from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything which requires attunement. It has an ability called Eldritch Maul which change your base reach to 15 feet instead of 5 feet.

Eldritch Maul. As a bonus action, you can empower the tattoo for 1 minute. For the duration, each of your melee attacks with a weapon or an unarmed strike can reach a target up to 15 feet away from you, as inky tendrils launch toward the target. In addition, your melee attacks deal an extra 1d6 force damage on a hit. Once used, this bonus action can't be used again until the next dawn.

This is stackable with any bonus to your reach but it last only 1 minute. That being said, it is enough to cover most combat situation, but it requires you to have access to this item.

The second one is a Dark Gift from Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft. Being setting specific, it may be accepted or refused in other settings, you would have to check with your DM. You would also have to check if Dark Gifts are accepted at your table.

This Dark Gift is called Living Shadow it has the feature Shadow Strike which gives a number of attacks a +10 to your reach.

Shadow Strike. When you make a melee attack roll, you can increase your reach for that attack by 10 feet. Your shadow stretches and delivers the attack as if it were you. You can use this feature a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus, and you regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.

This feature can be used only 2 to 6 times per long rest, though.

Meaning that if you have them both and activate them too, you could have:

Base: 15 ft. (Eldritch Maul)

Bugbear: +5 ft.

Lunging Strike: +5 ft. (Battle Master)

Fangs of the Fire Snake: +10 ft. (Monk)

Potion of Giant Size: +5 ft.*

Shadow Stike: +10 ft.

Avernus’ Demon Ichor: +5 ft.

(see the specifics for most of those in posts above)

Which gives a total of a 55 feet reach.

*The miscibility optional rule for potions (see comment above) has also the possibility to double its effect which would bring it to a grand total of 60 feet. Though this is completely unpredictable and based on an optional rule that your DM may not use.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd argue about the tatoo. As written, it states that while active, "each of your melee attacks with a weapon or an unarmed strike can reach a target up to 15 feet away from you". This doesn't increase your base reach, but instead sets the actual maximum reach you can use for an attack. This is actually a downgrade, since it explicitely limits your reach at 15 feet, which is lower than without the tatoo active. Or is there some rule text that states that this increase stacks with other reach increases, that you forgot to quote? \$\endgroup\$
    – Matthieu
    Nov 9, 2022 at 9:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree, the tattoo explicitly sets the reach to 15 feet, rather than adding to any existing reach (such as +5 from Bugbear). Since it activates on each use after permanent buffs like Bugbear arms extended by random Demon Ichor mutation, it negates any existing reach & sets to 15. The dark Shadow Strike feature of the Living Shadow dark gift, would stack with any of them however, as it extends reach when you make an attack roll, so even a temporary 15ft reach set at Eldritch Maul's activation (1min duration), would get an on-demand increase of 10 feet each time Shadow Strike is applied \$\endgroup\$ Nov 9, 2022 at 12:07
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110 ft

(but you're not going to like it)

You can attack with your reach melee weapon (such as a Lance) to a range of 45 + 60 + 5 ft in a horribly convoluted way.

A Sharpshooter Wild Magic Barbarian Echo Knight Fighter can hit once per turn while raging with any reach melee weapon at 110 ft but wild magic is unpredictable (and it's not really reach any more because it is no longer a melee attack).

Firstly, a level 3 Wild Magic Barbarian with the Sharpshooter feat has to rage multiple times (maybe even over several days) while holding their reach weapon until they roll a 4 on the Wild Magic table and trigger:

Magic infuses one weapon of your choice that you are holding. Until your rage ends, the weapon's damage type changes to force, and it gains the light and thrown properties, with a normal range of 20 feet and a long range of 60 feet. If the weapon leaves your hand, the weapon reappears in your hand at the end of the current turn.

Then you can extend the range by multiclassing as a level 3 Echo Knight Fighter. Manifest your echo as a bonus action 15 feet ahead, then "mentally command the echo to move up to 30 feet" further, then the attack "can originate from … the echo's space".

It's not written anywhere explicitly (because LOL!), but I'm assuming here that if you throw a reach weapon it also retains its +5 ft.

If you don't want to wait around multiple rages until you get a thrown weapon, you can always throw your melee weapon as an Improvised Weapon for the same range:

"An improvised thrown weapon has a normal range of 20 feet and a long range of 60 feet."

The Tavern Brawler feat would give you proficiency, but the damage would only be a 1d4, and the Lance wouldn't come back to you every turn like it does for a Wild Magic Barbarian.

If you leave out throwing your weapon, you can get +45 ft with an Echo Knight and should be able to use (many or all of) the other bonuses to reach discussed in other answers here from your echo's position.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This doesn't really answer the question. The question specifically asks how to increase the reach stat, not just how to attack as far as possible with a melee weapon. \$\endgroup\$
    – smbailey
    Jul 21, 2023 at 15:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ I take your point @smbailey, my answer is intended as an edge case at best. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 21, 2023 at 21:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ My answer helps you extend the distance that you can attack with the melee weapon in your hands, which might be a useful answer to the question "how do I extend my reach?", but it won't work with features like Barbarian Rage bonus. It won't work with opportunity attacks too, but most of the ways of extending reach don't work with them either. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 22, 2023 at 8:28

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