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My question is fairly straightforward: What is the combination of feats/race/class/etc that gives the most damage per round at level 1? I'd also be interested to see the maximum possible damage, but this is not the criterion for judgment--just a bonus.

I'm looking to create a level 1 character who is only concerned by doing as much damage as possible at level 1. I should note that there is no consideration for any level past 1 (albeit I am interested in your speculations about level progression). I'm also interested in the requirements for such a character (e.g. the minimum ability scores needed, DM approval, etc).

Here are the stipulations/settings that need to be known:

  • All Primary Source Books are available. Basically if it is RAW it is good.
  • No home-brewed rules. Starting amount of gold as per the default amount.
  • No exceptional magic items are available (only the common ones available anywhere).
  • All variants described in the rules are available (e.g. the variant human class).
  • Assume no situation modifications (e.g. terrain, advantage, etc).
  • Only assume modifications if they are *almost always available. This means we are only interested in DPR (Damage per round).
  • Assume no outside buffs from party members or other sources.
  • Any temporary buffs can be used as long as they last for the entire combat (or close to it). Rage, for instance, would count.

My research tells me that a Barbarian is likely the best choice for this offhand, I am wondering if anyone can come up with a better idea.

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7 Answers 7

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The short answer:

AC 0-5: Human Great Weapon Fighter with the Great Weapon Master feat wielding a Greatsword

AC 6-20: Raging Human Barbarian with the Polearm Master feat wielding a Polearm

AC 21-26: Half-Orc Two-Weapon Fighter

AC 27+: Human Great Weapon Fighter with the Great Weapon Master feat wielding a Greatsword, part II: the GWF returns.

The significantly longer answer is that here are some calculations I did for the options that seemed obvious to me. Interestingly enough, the Barbarian didn't make the top of the list in terms of pure damage, but it did make the top of the list once we added AC into the mix.

You can also add Caltrops to any of these builds (and you can afford a lot of caltrops) to add up to 1 dmg/r.

Other notes:

  • The only source material used for this was the PHB, as I do not have access to all of the adventure paths and supplements
  • Magic users need not apply: Cantrips are almost universally low-damage, and they never get to benefit from base stats to get those sweet, sweet flat bonus damage numbers. All other spells are too consumable to be considered, so they didn't make it to the number crunching stage.
  • Rogues were briefly considered, but sneak attack just isn't reliable enough when you can't count on nearby allies or advantage.
  • No cheese! I tried to stick to a purist approach here. There may be strategies that your GM approves like this but most reasonably GMs would ban that kind of build from their tables for being too OP. This list fits nicely within very vanilla RAW and RAI.
  • I gave all characters rolls of 18 for their stats, then added any racial strength bonus that applied. Point-buy only allows you to get to 16/17 instead of 19/20, and will lower your dmg/r across the board.
  • All damage is given in expected values, done by hand. It's possible I failed my Intelligence(Statistics) check, so if you see something say something
  • Humans used are Variant Humans, to take advantage of the bonus feat. Half-Orc is used otherwise as they're the only race I could find that can possibly add damage to their attacks through the Savagery feature, as well as giving a handy +2 Str.
  • No magic weapons are used, as they are out of the budget of level 1 characters even if they sell all of their possessions, max out their starting gold rolls, and take the Noble background
  • Using the point-buy system the half-orc takes a bigger hit than humans to both his to-hit values and his damage (the +2 doesn't get him to a higher Ability Modifier tier). This results in the Barbarian Polearm Master reigning supreme all the way to 24 AC, and the GWF picks up the slack at 25+, cutting the half-orc out of our equation completely.
  • You want numbers? Here's a Google Sheet with some numbers.

Without further ado, here is my list of damage-optimized level 1 characters (please refer to the above sheet for numbers with AC factored in).

Human Great Weapon Fighter with Great Weapon Master feat (22.75 dmg/r, +1 to hit)

  • +4 str bonus
  • +10 feat bonus (-5 to hit)
  • 2d6 (reroll 1,2) greatsword attack (22.333333 dmg/r)
  • 5% crit (.41666666 dmg)
  • Total damage on maximum Crit: 14+12+12 = 38 dmg

Human Barbarian with Polearm Master feat (20.3 dmg/r, +6 to hit)

  • +4 str bonus
  • +2 rag bonus
  • 1d10 polearm attack (11.5 dmg)
  • 1d4 bonus attack (8.5 dmg)
  • 5% crit (0.4 dmg)
  • Total damage on maximum Crit w/ both attacks: (6 + 10 + 10) + (6 + 4 + 4) = 38 dmg

Half-Orc Two Weapon Fighter (17.4 dmg/r, +7 to hit)

  • +5 str bonus
  • 1d6 shortsword attack (8.5 dmg)
  • 1d6 shortsword attack (8.5 dmg)
  • 5% crit including extra damage die from Savagery (0.7 dmg)
  • Total damage on maximum Crit w/ both attacks: (5 + 6 + 6 + 6) + (5 + 6 + 6 + 6) = 46

Human Two Weapon Fighter with Dual Wielder feat (17.2 dmg/r, +6 to hit)

  • +4 str bonus
  • 1d8 longsword attack (8.5 dmg)
  • 1d8 longsword attack (8.5 dmg)
  • 5% crit (.45 dmg)
  • Total damage on maximum Crit w/ both attacks: (4 + 8 + 8) + (4 + 8 + 8) = 40 Dmg
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  • \$\begingroup\$ You missed the Charger feat - charge in bonus attack with +5 damage, run away (suffer AoO which is not relevant to OP question) and do it again next round. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dale M
    Mar 23, 2016 at 7:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hmm, good point. The only one of these builds it should impact is the GWF, as all of the others get more out of their bonus action attacks. I'll add numbers for it some time in the bearish future \$\endgroup\$
    – lithas
    Mar 23, 2016 at 14:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think its 0-4, 5-19 AC etc. It's showing the result on the die that has to beat the AC, not tie it. That's why it switches to the must crit result where it does (when the bonus cannot possibly hit on a 19 but could on a 20). Otherwise, the calculation would allow for 20 to hit without critting. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 25, 2018 at 10:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt: With the PHB alone, you can't get Agonizing Blast at level 1 (Invocations aren't gained until Warlock 2). The Eldritch Adept feat (the only way I know of to get an Eldritch Invocation at level 1) was first published in Tasha's, years after this answer was posted. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 30, 2023 at 1:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowRanger Fair point - comment withdrawn. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Mar 30, 2023 at 2:34
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Human War Domain Cleric With Great Weapon Master Feat (42 dmg/r, +1 (+1d4) to hit)

  • +4 Str Bonus

  • +10 GWM Bonus

  • 2d6 Greatsword Attack (21 average With Bonuses)

  • War Priest Second Attack (42 Average With Bonuses)

  • Both Attacks Crits 52 DPR

(add 1d4 to your accuracy with bless, or add 1d4 to each of your attack's damage with Divine Favor)

  • dmg/r 47 With Divine Favor
  • Crits with Divine Favor 60

I tried this build in an Adventure's League setting (with slightly lower stats of course) and it did wonders on the battlefield, It's the best way to consistently dole out the best single target damage at 1st-4th level.

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    \$\begingroup\$ While the build is interesting, you should take into account the AC from enemies, as it's currently misleading - the 42dmg/r is not actually dmg/r, it's dmg/r|hit. (i.e. "given that you hit") \$\endgroup\$
    – HellSaint
    May 30, 2018 at 22:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ The average attack roll is a 14 so it should hit most low-level enemies fairly consistently. It works wonders on Zombies but falls short on Skeletons. For higher Ac targets I would recommend not using the +10 damage and go for two smacks for a 22dpr, still better then the polearm master builds and with a higher hit ratio (Average roll of 19 compared to polearm barbarian's 16.5) generally at low levels it either has good Ac or good Hp, rarely both and this build cleaves either apart more effectively than it's fighter/barbarian counterparts. (at least at first level) \$\endgroup\$ May 31, 2018 at 20:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ Fairly consistent is not 100%. Your actual damage/round is \$ 42 \cdot P(\textrm{hit}) \$ (actually we also need to consider 1s and 20s, but anyway) which will be stricly lower than 42. As I said, the answer is misleading. Optimization questions are mostly about math, so your answer needs to be more mathematically precise. \$\endgroup\$
    – HellSaint
    May 31, 2018 at 20:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ I see where you are coming from now, is there a way to offset the damage calculations compared to an opponent's ac if we don't have the ac? I could run up the numbers for every ac from 4-24, or is there a better way to display? Could I just insert a dmg/r/hit? Thanks for your help I'm still new to these forums. \$\endgroup\$ May 31, 2018 at 22:11
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TL;DR: 21.805 DPR vs an AC 13 creature

Variant Human Hexblade Warlock with the Inheritor background and Polearm Master feat. We assume 18 in Strength because other answers did so, although V.Human (+2) and point buy (15) can't quite reach this - so you'd have to roll to get these stats (which is RAW)

You sell most of your starting gear (except for the armor and component pouch) to purchase a Scroll of Find Familiar, a Poisoner's Kit, and a Glaive.

Summon a rat. Collect as much poison as possible. In combat have the rat use his action to apply poison to your weapon. Glaive + Hex + Poison + Polearm Master attack = 21.805 DPR against 13 AC.

The build:

First, a baseline for how the existing answers fare against 13 AC - the average at level 1:

  • V.Human GWM Fighter: 10.05 + 0.4 (crits) (assumes you use GWM for -5 to hit)
  • V.Human PAM Barbarian: 14.21 + 0.4 (crits) (assumes you're raging, a twice-per-day mechanic)
  • Half-Orc TWF Fighter: 13.05 + 0.7 (crits)
  • War Cleric GWM: 18.9 + 0.7 (crits) (only benefits from War Cleric for 4 attacks per day, then DPR is cut in half)

Next, we'll have to make some assumptions about how a normal adventuring day will play out. You'll see why later. For now, we'll assume the following:

  • You will engage in 2 battles per short rest
  • Each battle will last 5 rounds of combat
  • In combat it will take 2 rounds to kill an enemy
  • You will rely on stealth to initiate every fight

The last bullet point allows us to assume Hex is cast at the start of the fight. We don't use it to factor in surprise rounds or advantage.

Here's how the build starts:

  • Start Variant Human (+2 CHA, Polearm Master feat)
  • Roll stats (We're assuming 18 STR, like the other answers)
  • Hexblade Warlock (Hex)

Warlock grants us the benefit of Hex. This lasts an hour and can be transferred between enemies, so it will generally last one or two combats. Furthermore, your spell slots reset on a short rest, so we can assume nearly 100% uptime in most campaigns.

Now we need to choose our background and starting equipment.

As a Warlock, your starting gear will be:

  • (a) a light crossbow and 20 bolts (sells for 13g) or (b) any simple weapon
  • (a) a component pouch (keep) or (b) an arcane focus
  • (a) a scholar's pack (sells for 20g) or (b) a dungeoneer's pack
  • Leather armor (keep), any simple weapon (choose light crossbow and sell for 12.5g), and two daggers (optionally keep)

That's 45.5 gold from your class. For your background you want to choose Inheritor, who starts with 70 gold. That's a total of 115.5 gold to buy our starting gear. Buy the following:

  1. A Glaive (10gp)
  2. A Scroll of Find Familiar (50gp, see below)
  3. A Poisoner's Kit (50gp)
  4. A backpack (2gp)

There are various rules on the cost of a spell scroll. Per the DMG a magical item of common rarity costs 50-100 gold, and consumables cost half as much. This puts the cost between 25gp and 50gp. We'll summon a Rat as our familiar. He'll live in our backpack. Familiars move on your turn and can use any action a normal player can use, including Use an Object.

A Poisoner's Kit allows you to extract poison from unconscious or dead creatures for free, so long as you spend 1d6 minutes doing so and make a DC 20 Nature (Intelligence) check. This means that given enough time to prepare for an adventure, you could theoretically have infinite poison. Just locate a Giant Centipede, Giant Poisonous Snake, Hellwasp Grub, Awakened Giant Wasp, or similar. These creatures all have poison that deals 3d6 damage on a failed DC 11 Constitution save, or half as much on a success. They aren't even that hard to find, as the Monster Manual explicitly states a Giant Poisonous Snake can be found in the Desert, Forest, Grassland, Swamp, Underdark, or Urban environments.

Combat plays out like so:

  • At the start of combat you will apply poison to your glaive and Hex an enemy
  • Every round thereafter your familiar with come out of your backpack to re-apply poison to your weapon
  • When an enemy dies, you will use your bonus action to re-target your Hex onto a new enemy
  • If the enemy you're attacking is not dead, you will use your bonus action to make a second attack with the butt of your glaive

Damage Calculation:

With the assumptions we made previously, we can now see how combat will play out:

  1. Action: 1d10 + 1d6 + 3d6 + 4 = 23.5, Bonus: 1d4 + 1d6 + 4 = 10
  2. Action: 1d10 + 1d6 + 3d6 + 4 = 23.5, Bonus: Retargeting Hex
  3. Action: 1d10 + 1d6 + 3d6 + 4 = 23.5, Bonus: 1d4 + 1d6 + 4 = 10
  4. Action: 1d10 + 1d6 + 3d6 + 4 = 23.5, Bonus: Retargeting Hex
  5. Action: 1d10 + 1d6 + 3d6 + 4 = 23.5, Bonus: 1d4 + 1d6 + 4 = 10

That's a total of 147.5 damage over 5 rounds, or 29.5 DPR before factoring in accuracy. With 70% chance-to-hit (assumes 18 STR) that's 20.65 DPR before crits.

To calculate crit damage we take only the damage from dice and multiply by our crit chance. 115.5 dice damage, divided by 5 rounds, times 0.05 = 1.155 crit damage.

20.65 + 1.155 = 21.805 DPR (against an AC 13 creature)

Recommended Progression

Now that you have an optimized level 1, what about the other levels? Turns out, these are super strong, too!

  • Level 1 is clearly described above, although one variant you might consider is buying a Quarterstaff instead of a Glaive. Since it's one-handed it can benefit from Hexblade to use CHA instead of STR, eliminating the dependence on two stats. You will switch back to Glaive at level 3
  • Level 2: Warlock again, pick up Agonizing Blast (improve your ranged damage fallback) and Repelling Blast (good crowd control, and allows you to attack while "disengaging")
  • Level 3: Warlock again, Pact of the Blade. Swap Agonizing Blast for Improved Pact Weapon. This increases your DPR as you gain a +1 to-hit and a +1 to damage. A summoned Glaive can replace your level 1 weapon
  • Level 4: Warlock again, pick up War Caster to help maintain concentration on Hex and gain Eldritch Blast as an opportunity attack, which comes into play next level
  • Level 5: Warlock again, pick up Thirsting Blade for the Extra Attack feature. We'll also swap Repelling Blast for Agonizing Blast as Eldritch Blast has now become the better option for opportunity attacks (making two beam attacks instead of one Glaive attack)
  • Level 6: It's finally worth it to start multiclassing. Go Paladin, as Smite provides good nova to complement our poison, and the class will provide some of the best long-term benefits
  • Level 8 (Paladin 3): Pick up Oathbreaker, giving access to Control Undead (another body hitting things = more DPR)
  • Level 12 (Paladin 7): Aura of Hate. This turns your undead helper into a slightly stronger undead helper (plus it buffs your own attacks)
  • Level 14 (Paladin 9): We finally get Animate Dead. Surrounding yourself in 8 skeletons. All skeletons benefit from Aura of Hate. You're now a whirlwind of death
  • Level 15: Back to Warlock, giving us Spectre (which also benefits from Aura of Hate) and letting us swap out (now useless) Thirsting Blade for a more useful invocation. I recommend picking Repelling Blast back up.
  • Level 16: Warlock again, by this point we've likely found a +2 Glaive, so our Improved Pact Weapon may also be worthless. Swap it out, and pick up two invocations (one to replace Improved Pact Weapon, one because we've reached Warlock 7). I recommend Relentless Hex and Eldritch Smite.
  • Levels 18 (Paladin 11): Two more levels of Paladin. It takes us until level 18 to reach "tier 4" instead of 17, but by level 18 we receive Improved Divine Smite - granting+1d8 to all attacks! This helps us keep pace with Fighters who will soon be doing 5 attacks per round to our 3

By level 18 your DPR should be something like:

  • Your main attack: 1d10 (Glaive) + 1d6 (Hex) + 3d6 (Poison) + 3 (Magic Weapon) + 5 (CHA) + 5 (Hate) + 1d8 (Smite) @ 70% to-hit = 25.9
  • Your second attack: Same, minus the poison (7.35) = 18.55
  • Your bonus attack: 1d4 (Butt) + 1d6 (Hex) + 3 (Magic Weapon) + 5 (CHA) + 5 (Hate) + 1d8 (Smite) @ 70% to-hit = 16.45
  • Your skeleton army: 1d6 + 2 + 5 (Hate) @ 20% to-hit x 8 boney bois = 16.8

34.2 of this is from modifies and not dice (mostly Aura of Hate), so crits add 2.14 DPR

That means at level 18 you're seeing 77.7+2.14 DPR. This beats out a level 20 baseline Fighter (57.8125 DPR). So this build not only had the best level 1 damage, but remains good the whole game!

You also have 2 levels to spare at the end (Warlock 7 / Paladin 11 / X 2), so feel free to put a cherry on your build with something like Peace Cleric, Clockwork Soul Sorc, etc. You could even pick up Druid if you wanted to add some fun utility with Wild Shape (like finally becoming your own snake for the sake of gathering poison)

Final Note

Truthfully, this is all a little bit optimistic since it assumes the poison will do the full 3d6 every round. On a DC 11 the poison only deals half damage, so approximately 3.675+0.2625 of the calculated DPR has a chance to not land.

This means the level 1 DPR is actually between 17.8675 and 21.805 (depending on the creature's Constitution save modifier)

The level 18 DPR is less affected since most of the damage comes from Aura of Hate rather than poison. Its modified DPR is between 75.9025 and 79.84 (depending on the creature's Constitution save modifier)

Despite 17.8675 (our worst case DPR, against a creature with a +11 Constitution modifier) being slightly less than the War Cleric's 19.6 DPR, I still believe this is the superior build because:

  • Our damage is consistent throughout the whole adventuring day (not just 4 attacks and we're done)
  • Unlike the Cleric, we have a good ranged option (Eldritch Blast)
  • After level 5 we have a stronger Opportunity Attack option (War Cast + Eldritch Blast)
  • I never factored in Hexblade's Curse, which grants us a huge bonus to damage against one enemy per day
  • Thanks to Aura of Hate, our damage scales better into late game
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  • \$\begingroup\$ It doesn't seem like he allows for infinite money because the question mentions: "Starting amount of gold as per the default amount.", so maybe you can consider if the gold used to buy these things even exists given that you also need to buy whatever weapon the character is using. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 29, 2022 at 16:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ Good catch. I read “no home brew rules” and stopped reading that bullet point there. I’ll edit the answer tomorrow when I have time to remove ridiculous suggestions, but still see if we can use that gold to good effect to improve DPR 🙂 \$\endgroup\$
    – stevendesu
    Nov 30, 2022 at 5:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is not a damage in a single round question but damage per round question. The barbarian in the previous answer uses a bonus action to set up rage, so dpr is lower in the first round. This character uses two bonus actions (hex and hexblade's curse) to get to that level of dpr, and requires another bonus action to retarget hex (and cannot retarget hexblade's curse) meaning actual in-play dpr would be significantly lower. It's not a terrible answer to the question, but it is misleading. \$\endgroup\$
    – user2754
    Nov 30, 2022 at 7:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ In optimized play actually the players almost always have a round or two to prepare for combat: the whole party is hiding, so upon finding the enemies you can spend a round casting Hex or using Rage then begin the battle with a surprise round. The bonus action to retarget hex would impact DPR, but any bonus actions to prepare for battle can (and should) be ignored if we're assuming this character is played by a professional with the intent to maximize their damage. \$\endgroup\$
    – stevendesu
    Nov 30, 2022 at 7:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ On the topic of familiars applying poison. It seems like this is technically allowed by RAW, but it's ultimately going to be up to the GM. I don't see it being allowed in most games, simply because from a logical standpoint it doesn't make sense for a rat to be able to open a flask and apply poison to a weapon. Cool idea though. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matthieu
    Dec 1, 2022 at 7:02
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Fun cheese build

Human Monk with Magic Initiate Feat take Hex +1d6 to all attacks (22.7 dmg/r, +6 to hit)

+4 dex bonus

1d8+1d6+4 (avg 4.5 + 3.5 + 4) from spear attack + hex + dex bonus (12 dmg)

1d4+1d6+4 (avg 2.5 + 3.5 + 4) from unarmed attack + hex + dex bonus (10 dmg)

5% crit (0.7dmg) Total damage on maximum Crit w/ both attacks: (4 + 8 + 8 + 6 + 6) + (4 + 4 + 4 + 6 + 6) = 56 Dmg

This assumes a bonus action was spent on a previous round hexing the target, and that the hex is not lost due to failed concentration checks.

Also if you buy 17 dex & wis +1 to each as human variant you get 18 AC. The downside is that you have to cast the hex as a bonus action which costs you the unarmed attack for 1 round per target. Also it can be lost to con saves.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you explain how you buy +1 dex and +1 wis in a level 1 character? Standard Array doesn't set this up, point buy does not set this up, so rolling for those stats and being lucky does. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 17, 2017 at 17:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ You are right, you would need to roll stats to get the 18. In previous versions you could buy up to 18 though. So the plan was to buy 17 in two stats and get assign the two +1 scores for variant human. \$\endgroup\$
    – Shaolin
    Jan 18, 2017 at 2:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ It might be worth pointing that out in your answer in terms of the roll for 17 +1 for two, or rolling 18. Rolling up is a valid way to generate a character per the rules. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 18, 2017 at 2:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ Your calculations appear to be adding Hex twice. Spear attack two-handed is 1d8 plus 1d6 hex averaged is 8 damage, not 12. unarmed attack is 1d4 plus 1d6 hex which is 6 damage, not 10. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 18, 2019 at 15:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Spear 1d8 for the weapon average is 4.5 + 1d6 Hex is 3.5 + dex mod 4 = 12, not 8. What am I missing? Same with unarmed. hex adds on each successful attack, so both attacks can use it. I don't see an overcount. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 6, 2020 at 19:31
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Not sure if this counts as it does require some set up:

Human variant hex blade warlock, with 2 rapiers (take dual wielder feat).

Turn 1: use action to cast hex and bonus action to cast hexblade curse.

Turn 2: attack with your rapiers one in each hand

  • Damage: Crit max damage: 72 (4d8 or 32 from rapiers, 4d6 or 12 from hex, 8 damage from hexblade curse, 8 damage from bonus to stats)
  • Damage: Max not crit: 44 (2d8 or 32, 2d6 or 12, 8,8
  • Damage: average: 32 (9+7+8+8)

This is assuming you have 18 in all stats if you are playing AL then subtract 4 from each total. Likely hood of max damage happening: (1% for rolling crits) (0.00024414062% for rolling max damage for the d8's) (0.00077160493% for rolling max damage on the d6's) If i've done my math right that means to roll max damage your odds are 1 in 530841600 or 1.88380112e-9% of the time

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    \$\begingroup\$ On your middle calculation I think you have a typo. Also I think your math isn't quite right. You're adding 8 from Hex Blade's Curse but the curse adds a character's proficiency bonus, not ability score bonus. For a level one character, that would be a combined +4 from both attacks, not +8. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rykara
    Jun 18, 2020 at 20:29
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The best level 1 character I've ever made is a variant human with the sharpshooter feat. d8+3+10 is pretty good, averaging 17.5 damage with a longbow, or you could double a hand crossbow for 2d6+3+20 possible damage, averaging 30 damage (which is perfectly fair for this goblin fight, I swear).

As long as you have arrows, two arms, a bow, and a dream you can do this. Have fun, and remember to ask permission to use the Xanathar’s guide, because it doesn't work without it. Sharpshooter gives a -5 to hit so it isn't actually that broken, but when it works it's beautiful.

On a side note, you COULD theoretically do infinite damage with chaos bolt, but the chances are MUCH lower than getting a crit. For chaos bolt, you roll 2d8 and deal that damage, but if you get the same number, chaos bolt jumps to another target as long as that chaos bolt hasn't already hit the target that casting. With enough enemies, there isn't technically a limit, but it's spread out, and the spell isn't that powerful. Watch zee bashews video on infinite damage at level 1 for more info.

One more honorable mention, although it isn't that high damage, magic missile is the most consistent way of dealing damage in the game. The damage at level 1 from targeting 1 creature with all of the missiles 3d4+9 I believe, a minimum of 12 which is guaranteed. Not the highest, but it's worth mentioning since it's so great.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The question asks for average DPR, not damage possible with crit (and house rules). As such I'm not sure this answers the question, but I'm sure an edit to clearly address the question would convince me :) (btw, see the tour and help center as an intro to the site and why we want answers to clearly answer the question) \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Oct 6, 2020 at 18:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ I added an edit, but I don't see where it says it needs to be average. If anything, the crit wouldn't apply because it's situational, but a lot of the answers involved crits. I might still be missing something though. I won't remove the edit, but I think that what I said applies, as it is per round, and can be done repeatedly, albeit with some rediculous luck. Sill, thanks for the feedback. P.s. I didn't realize that bonuses aren't doubled. My bad. \$\endgroup\$
    – The Slime.
    Oct 6, 2020 at 19:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ I edited your post to incorporate your changes, feel free to edit them if I made a math mistake. I tried to fix the math, but I’m a little busy so it may be off. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 6, 2020 at 20:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you! I appreciate the help. I'll try to figure everything out. \$\endgroup\$
    – The Slime.
    Oct 6, 2020 at 20:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Just a quick note: The "double hand crossbow" build a lot of people are fond of doesn't actually work. While Crossbow Expert allows you to ignore the Loading property of the crossbow, it doesn't allow you to ignore the Ammunition property. The ammunition property states that you need a free hand to load the weapon. \$\endgroup\$
    – stevendesu
    Nov 30, 2022 at 14:08
-4
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Also you can play a half-orc war domain cleric and use both of your attacks to cast inflict wounds Max with crit: 140 (3d10 for each inflict wounds, double because of crit, add 1d10 for each attack because of half-orc)

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    \$\begingroup\$ You cannot cast spells with the attack from War Priest, Cast a Spell is its own action. The half-orc's Savage Attacks trait only applies to weapon attacks. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 29, 2020 at 18:48

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