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We are looking at an encounter where a dozen or more 2 hit point creatures may be attacking a party of max level 3.

Assuming as a DM we decide against using the “Cleaving through Creatures” optional rule (DMG p.272) - what other ways might a Level 3 rogue maximize their attacks or area of effect (AoE) damage?

We are wondering if dual wielding daggers, throwing knives, or some other approach to using weapons or skills might be effective for spreading damage. For example, it seems as if burning oil could be effective in this situation (depending upon the spread of the opponents.) Though not technically damage, sleep spells might also be effective. 3rd level Moon Druids might turn into a Giant Hyena to get Rampage giving them an additional attack if they kill one creature in a round. Mage’s Burning Hands gives AoE. These are some examples, but perhaps there are other options that are even better for this particular class?

What are the maximum number of attacks or AoE damage that a rogue could achieve at level 3? In other words, what are the ways in which this low level class can spread their damage to be “thin and wide”?

(Note: we have edited this to be class specific as the original was tagged as too broad and put on Hold so couldn’t be answered. Variation questions for other classes have been added.)

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    \$\begingroup\$ What archetype did this Level 3 Rogue go with? If they chose Arcane Trickster, that gives them access to Sleep, Burning Hands, etc; since you've already mentioned these spells, I'm assuming the Rogue is not an Arcane Trickster? \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Feb 12 '18 at 15:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NathanS Ideally, a non-magic using rogue as there will shortly be a mage variation of this question that should cover that variation of the answer \$\endgroup\$ – Praxiteles Feb 12 '18 at 15:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Similar question but for the fighter: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/115284/… \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Feb 12 '18 at 18:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose We did modify the question and limited it to just one class. We then opened others for the remaining classes - but started with just one to see if the answer quality improved. We thought it was a little extreme the original was put on Hold for being too broad but five or so people had shut it down. What are you proposing we do differently? \$\endgroup\$ – Praxiteles Feb 12 '18 at 18:31
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Caltrops seem like a good solution:

As an action, you can spread a single bag of caltrops to cover a 5-foot-square area. Any creature that enters the area must succeed on a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw or stop moving and take 1 piercing damage. Until the creature regains at least 1 hit point, its walking speed is reduced by 10 feet. A creature moving through the area at half speed doesn't need to make the saving throw.

  • At 1gp per bag, a level 3 party should likely be able to afford a fair number of these
  • Since caltrops don't list a condition in which they stop being effective (unlike burning oil), they will hit every creature walking through their space
  • If you can get a good choke point set up (don't know the environment so hard to know what your options are there) and throw down a few bags, you can potentially kill every 2hp creature before it even gets to you
  • Maybe drop an oil in the space right in front of you and drop a torch on it if anything gets through the caltrop field
  • Not sure what 2hp creatures are involved but this assumes they aren't flying (although RAW, caltrops do not specify that creatures must be walking, not flying, to be affected)
  • Even if they choose to walk half-speed (which I wouldn't think something with 2hp would have the wherewithal to consider), that gives you more time to mow them down with darts or your ranged weapon of choice
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Caltrops are scattered to cover a 5' square area. They rest on the ground and have a height of 0. Logically, flying creatures entering the area would not be affected. Also, the walking speed of creatures taking damage from the caltrops is reduced, which supports this view. \$\endgroup\$ – Tenryu May 18 '18 at 3:17
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Dual wielding is just as effective as Rampage.

A moon druid in Giant Hyena form gets two attacks since the Rampage attack uses a bonus action. With the Swashbuckler archetype a Rogue could also forgoe the need to use cunning action to disengage thanks to fancy footwork.

When you choose this archetype at 3rd level, you learn how to land a strike and then slip away without reprisal. During your turn, if you make a melee attack against a creature, that creature can’t make opportunity attacks against you for the rest of your turn.

With Fast Hands, a thief can also use his bonus action as well to throw oil in the manner you outlined to increase the area that can be controlled in that way.

Starting at 3rd level, you can use the bonus action granted by your Cunning Action to ... Take the Use an Object action.

It is impossible without magic to spread damage to more than two targets reliably in one turn at this early level of rogue.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Oil says "as an attack" not "use an object" action \$\endgroup\$ – Yakk Feb 12 '18 at 18:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Yakk Use An Object: "When an object requires your action for its use, you take the Use an Object action." Oil: "As an action, you can splash the oil in this flask onto a creature within 5 feet of you or throw it up to 20 feet, shattering it on impact." That's a Use an Object action. \$\endgroup\$ – Doval Feb 12 '18 at 22:02
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This is ridiculous. Your original question was fine, and not too broad to give a good answer to.

You were on the right track; you need more attacks, not stronger ones. The base answer is that for most classes, fighting with two weapons gives you two attacks, and you're not going to get better than that.

War Cleric also gives you two attacks for a while, but doesn't stack with two-weapon fighting; they both use the bonus action. The Druid can Wild Shape into something with a multi-attack action. A Monk can use his Flurry of Blows to get 3 attacks per turn for a while.

Beyond that, your spellcasters need to be looking at their AoE spells. Bard: Thunderwave, Shatter. Cleric: not much. Druid: Entangle, Thunderwave, Spike Growth. Sorcerer: Burning Hands, Magic Missile, Sleep, Thunderwave, Shatter. Warlock: Arms of Hadar, Shatter. Wizard: Burning Hands, Color Spray, Magic Missile, Sleep, Thunderwave, Shatter. Perhaps a few others, with creative usage.

If you're not 3rd level yet, drop the 2nd level spells from the list above. If you're not 2nd level yet, the Druid and the Monk fall back to two-weapon fighting just like everyone else.

Flaming oil, and nets, and caltrops, and all the spells that affect a 5' area, and so on can be effective if the enemies are bunched up close and are tiny and are not tactically savvy, but that's going to be situational.

Nonetheless, with what is mentioned above, a party shouldn't have much trouble with a dozen or more 2hp creatures.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Agree. Thanks for the answer. The original was put on Hold and as a result no one could answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Praxiteles Feb 12 '18 at 17:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ As an extra suggestion, if a Ranger uses the Hail of Thorns spell, it can hit a bunch surrounding the target, so if they're all clustered together, one bonus action spell and one well placed shot will take out potentially 9 of them... \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Feb 13 '18 at 12:49

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