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Partially inspired by (but distinct from) this question: What is the maximum number of attacks a single character can make themselves during their turn?


I have a character concept for a character that makes several attacks every turn like a whirlwind of blades, so I was wondering what the maximum number of melee weapon attacks a single character could make in one turn every turn was. (So no consumable resources like spell slots or Action Surge.)

Stipulations:

  • Must be reliable and repeatable ad infinitum. (over and over again without end)
  • Must not rely on any consumable resources such as spell slots or action surge unless you have a way to not run out of the resource.
  • Hit or miss doesn't matter. If your strategy relies on hitting, provide counts for both with and without hitting.
  • Must be able to be accomplished by a single character with no help from another.
  • Must not require any magic items.
  • You can use any weapon, provided it's not a magic item and is a melee weapon (and is being used as one).
  • You make take any needed feats, provided they come from a racial ability (like variant human) or are taken in place of an ASI.
  • Assume there is only a single target.

What is the maximum amount of melee weapon attacks a character can make reliably every turn?

The most I have come up with is dual-wielding light one-handed weapons as a level 20 fighter. This grants 4 attacks in a normal Attack action, plus 1 bonus-action attack.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Wouldn't this also depend in part on how many enemies are around to attack and their positions? (I'm thinking of your example of ranger's whirlwind attack action here). \$\endgroup\$ – Rykara Oct 11 at 18:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rykara I'll edit to clarify but let's assume single target. \$\endgroup\$ – Himitsu_no_Yami Oct 11 at 18:28
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Here's what I've come up with:

Feat: Ritual Caster. Use this to get Find Familiar. This will allow your familiar to use Help to give you advantage on an attack. Choose an owl so that it can back out without getting hit by an attack of opportunity. As Mattdm pints out, a hostile creature can take the ready action to trigger a reaction attack against the owl, bypassing its flyby ability. So the owl familiar could be a finite resource if you're not careful with it.

Feat: Polearm Master. You will use this to give yourself a bonus action attack. It has two other great benefits: While wielding a glaive or halberd, you can continue to backout of reach so that the target continues to have to move into your reach and retrigger an opportunity attack. Second, if you then take Great Weapon Master, all of your attacks may use the -5 to hit / +10 damage bonus, turning you into a freight train against lower AC targets.

Fighter 20 (Samurai). Choosing Samurai gives you Rapid Strike at level 15. You'll convert the advantage conferred by your familiar's help action into an additional attack.

This gives you 5 attacks from your attack action plus a bonus action attack and a potential reaction attack each turn for total of 6 to 7 melee weapon attacks each turn without using any resources.

The nice thing about Samurai is that you can give up the one bonus attack to give four of your five attack action attacks advantage. This combines really nicely if you take Great Weapon Master and use its -5/+10 feature on those attacks.

It's worth noting that you'll be taking an attack of opportunity yourself each round as you move away from the target to "reset" the Polearm Master reaction attack. Choosing the Mobile feat will resolve this problem but, depending how your character's stats are generated, you may need to use a few ASIs to boost your strength to 20. This might leave you in a position where you don't have too many ASIs left and you're forced to choose between damage boosting feats and feats that increase survivability.

In short, this core template could be customized a number of ways.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Check with your DM before assuming the owl trick is an infinite automatic resource. (See this.) \$\endgroup\$ – mattdm Oct 12 at 4:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mattdm nevermind the semantics. I've added your caveat to the answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Rykara Oct 12 at 20:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks! Works for me. \$\endgroup\$ – mattdm Oct 12 at 20:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ You cannot use Polearms with Dex \$\endgroup\$ – András Oct 17 at 9:12
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CODENAME: HYDRA (ARBITRARY NUMBER OF ATTACKS)

Step 1: True Polymorph yourself into a hydra.

Step 2: Cut off its heads and have new ones grow back until you are satisfied with the number of heads, healing as needed as you go.

TOTAL: Arbitrary number of attacks depending on number of hydra heads.

CODENAME MARILITH

STEP 1: True Polymorph yourself into a Marilith (7 attacks/round)

TOTAL: 7 attacks/round, without using resources.

Regarding Prereqs

This can all be pulled off without outside assistance, from a single L18 character. True Polymorph has a permanent duration. It fits the bill.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You're forgetting spell slots are consumable \$\endgroup\$ – Himitsu_no_Yami Oct 17 at 20:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ You're forgetting the wording of the challenge. "Must not rely on any consumable resources such as spell slots or action surge unless you have a way to not run out of the resource." My way to "not run out of the resource" is to cast permanent spells. Because the spell is permanent, it will not "run out". Your character could have casted a True Polymorph 10 years ago, and it would still be running. Similarly, Animate Dead and Planar Binding both have durations which exceed a full adventuring day - they do not effectively "run out" for all intents and purposes (though this is perhaps debatable). \$\endgroup\$ – James Oct 17 at 21:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ the other thing you're missing is that I said it must be done by a single character. Which is to say every attack must me done by the same character \$\endgroup\$ – Himitsu_no_Yami Oct 17 at 21:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, a simulacrum, skeleton, or greater steed isn't a character. That being said, my answer considers this as well. True Polymorph --> Hydra or Marilith beats out the existing build with infinite base APR/7 APR. \$\endgroup\$ – James Oct 18 at 3:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ All of those things are characters. They may not be player characters, but they are definitely characters. \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Oct 23 at 14:32

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