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The Hunter ranger's 11th-level Multiattack feature has two options. One of them is Volley:

You can use your action to make a ranged attack against any number of creatures within 10 feet of a point you can see within your weapon’s range. You must have ammunition for each target, as normal, and you make a separate attack roll for each target.

My original interpretation is that you make a large number of single attacks as a result of your action, but the I read this section of the "Sage Advice Compendium":

No. Whirlwind Attack is unusual, in that it’s a single attack with multiple attack rolls. In most other instances, an attack has one attack roll.

The description of Whirlwind Attack states:

You can use your action to make a melee attack against any number of creatures within 5 feet of you, with a separate attack roll for each target.

Since Whirlwind Attack is worded almost identically to Volley, is Volley considered a single attack?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ If it's a single attack, how would it interact with a feat like Sharpshooter? "Before you make an attack with a ranged weapon that you are proficient with, you can choose to take a -5 penalty to the attack roll. If the attack hits, you add +10 to the attack's damage." \$\endgroup\$ – Rykara Jun 10 at 19:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rykara Sounds like you might have a basis for a good question there! Consider asking it. I might recommend waiting to see how this Q&A goes first though since people might argue it is not a single attack. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jun 10 at 20:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch Another use case is the same one that is addressed in "Sage Advice Compendium" (Moving between attacks) \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Jun 10 at 20:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ Related question - volley with extra attack \$\endgroup\$ – JohnP Jun 10 at 20:13
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Sage Advice sets the precedent that Volley is one attack with multiple rolls

At level 11, a Hunter ranger gets a "Multiattack" feature per the PHB. That multiattack manifests in one of two ways: Either a ranged type (Volley) or a melee type (Whirlwind Attack):

Multiattack

At 11th level, you gain one of the following features of your choice.

  • Volley. You can use your action to make a ranged attack against any number of creatures within 10 feet of a point you can see within your weapon's range. You must have ammunition for each target, as normal, and you make a separate attack roll for each target [...]

  • Whirlwind Attack. You can use your action to make a melee attack against any number of creatures within 5 feet of you. with a separate attack roll for each target [...]

In essence, a Hunter ranger gets the Multiattack ability but can tailor it to match the melee or ranged combat style they have chosen to develop. The wording of the rules are identical other than the ranged/melee qualifications.

Both are unclear as to whether the ranged/melee "attack against any number of creatures" is a singular attack (which targets multiple creatures), or multiple attacks against each of the creatures.

The Sage Advice Compendium specifically allows only the former interpretation for the Whirlwind Attack feature:

Whirlwind Attack is unusual, in that it’s a single attack with multiple attack rolls.

Because there is common wording between the two variations of the Multiattack feature and because the Sage Advice Compendium informs us that one of these two variants is one attack with multiple rolls, the other (Volley) must necessarily be treated the same way.

Lead rules designer Jeremy Crawford tweeted in September 2014 that this interpretation matches designer intent:

Like Whirlwind Attack, Volley is a single attack with multiple attack rolls.

(Hat tip Speedkat & Rubiksmoose.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think it's worth quoting the feature description and discussing it to identify what makes Whirlwind Attack and Hunter so special in this regard; I've done so in my answer to the question "Does the Slow spell limit the number of Eldritch Blast beams?", in examining why the Hunter ranger's features are unique in this regard. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Nov 9 at 5:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not saying "only quote the rules and ignore the SAC", simply suggesting that you should support that the "official ruling" matches what the rules actually say :) \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Nov 11 at 23:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @v2 Answer is edited. Is that kind of what you were thinking? \$\endgroup\$ – Rykara Nov 12 at 0:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yep, looks good now! :) \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Nov 12 at 1:56

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