A former DM has had the same recurring NPC/GMPC since I started playing in his game. This was 20+ years ago and we started in 1st edition and slowly made our way through the years and editions. We updated our characters as we went to the new editions. Now this NPC/GMPC is the most reviled in his games, any time he shows up all the players immediately want him dead. We stick to character though.

The question will be broken up to hopefully get expert answers from each of the editions in which we played in this particular question it will be specific to 1e. I am skipping 4e (as we all hated it and only played one session) and 5e because I know for a fact that it is not possible there (yet).

The question is as follows:

Give the following constraints what is the maximum number of attacks in this edition:

  1. NPC is an Elf (This is just to set the prerequisite for the below multiclass possibility).
  2. He was a Thief-Acrobat and I assume multiclassed, probably Fighter-Thief.
  3. The weapon of choice was throwing knives.
  4. Assume unlimited ammunition as he had a bandalier that had the knives return.
  5. I know he could throw 3 knives at a time (pretty sure this was a thing for shuriken from Oriental Adventures).
  6. Assume all official sources and Dragon Magazine since the first issue are open.
  7. I know of this question and assume there is a variant with knives.
  8. If I recall he threw with both hands as well.
  9. We were always between 8th and 15th level when I met this character.
  10. I do not recall spell-casting but not ruling it out entirely but main build would likely have been focused on mundane means.
  11. Assume focused magical item augmentation as well, just calling it out even though the aforementioned bandolier alluded to it, but for the most part official items other than that.

The end result in game was quite literally at least 2 dozen attacks per round, perhaps more. Which I have questioned him multiple times about the build and legitimacy but he as refused to provide any answers. I know DMs do not have to justify but this, combined with a number of other things over the years has lead to distrust. I have since stopped playing his games altogether, so this is just a verification on whether I have overreacted.

This was broken into 3 questions for each of the editions.

AD&D, AD&D 2nd Edition, and Dungeons & Dragons 3.X.


2 Answers 2


The simple answer is that a Missile Specialist throwing daggers has 5 attacks per round at the highest level, and a Haste spell can double missile rate, so that would make 10 attacks per round.

Speed-related spells do not stack, and I am not aware of any standard items that increase missile rate beyond specialisation. Using both hands might possibly add up to 50% to rate, but accuracy is likely to suffer.

Also note that, contrary to the question you mention in item 7, missiles do not get STR bonuses, they only get a ToHit bonus from DEX. And the range is so short that you can rush the character in a single round, limiting the damage potential.

But the DM is God and they can can change the rules or invent any kind of item that they choose. In the end, you either go a along with it or find a different campaign.

My recommendation would be to invest in a Scroll of Protection from Magical Missiles, or get yourself a high level Monk who can catch them :)

  • \$\begingroup\$ The NPC is actually an ally... but we all hate him in both attitude and build mechanics. I also wasn't worried about the damage just the number of attacks. So 15 x 3 (knives per hand pretty sure this was something adapted from OA) comes to 45... \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 13:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've already +1ed this, but I was briefly (ahem) thrown off by the no-bonus-from-Strength-on-thrown-weapons thing because, while that's totally accurate, I'd either forgotten that or never played that way. (Maybe the assumption was everybody had ranged weapons enabling them to take advantage of their Strength as described on DMG 66? Sure. That must be it.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 13:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ The STR thing is difficult. It does apply to thrown hammers (or at leasts a Hammer of Thunderbolts) but there is no way my DM will let my missile specialist get away with a 10+ damage bonus for each of 6 darts per round just because I gave her my Girdle of Frost Giant Strength and Gauntlets of Ogre Power! \$\endgroup\$
    – Tim
    Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 15:22

Using the Oriental Adventures rules, a 13th level small star shuriken specialist could throw six shuriken per round, just like darts, except that the shuriken do d4 damage, like daggers. A potion of speed or haste spell would double that. There are various items that could produce haste on command, so that it might seem to be constantly available: a ring of spell storing could hold up to five of them at a time.

Whether two-weapon fighting applies to thrown weapons is ambiguous in 1st edition. This passage occurs in the section on melee combat, but does not use the word 'melee' unlike all of the surrounding paragraphs:

Attacks With Two Weapons:

Characters normally using a single weapon may choose to use one in each hand (possibly discarding the option of using a shield). The second weapon must be either a dagger or hand axe. (DMG p. 70-2).

Based on the context, I would rule that this does not apply to thrown weapons, but it's open to interpretation. Also, shuriken, knives, etc. are not daggers, and technically wouldn't be eligible as off-hand weapons, so that would also require some creative rules interpretation. However, if allowed, this would make it possible for the shuriken specialist to throw two dozen weapons per round with damage equivalent to daggers. Also, high dexterity can reduce or even negate any penalties with two-weapon fighting.

Also note that strength bonuses to hit and damage are allowed (on top of dexterity bonuses to hit) for thrown weapons, as long as he "takes steps to equip himself or herself with special weapons" (DMG p. 64-1), which it sounds like he has.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Sage Advice #219. "Q: If an ambidextrous thrown dagger specialist uses both hands to hurl daggers, what are his rate of fire and combat modifiers? A: A PC hurling missiles is already assumed to be using both hands somehow; the other hand might be extended for balance, or might hold extra missiles, or what have you. The character can use a shield while hurling a missile (or perhaps hold onto a rope or other support), but that's all." dragonsfoot.org/forums/… (but that's 2e era, IIRC) \$\endgroup\$
    – Erics
    Commented Nov 16, 2020 at 11:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Erics, that does look like it's solidly in 2e, where they put a bit more effort into defining these sorts of things. \$\endgroup\$
    – ucbpaladin
    Commented Nov 18, 2020 at 3:17

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