Pushing the Speed Limit (5e Optimized Character Build)
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So. You want to go fast. Really fast. What if I told you that a character going over 100 miles per hour is not only possible, but laughably pathetic compared to what’s been brewed here? Through the use of several source books and Unearthed Arcana, your character can reach insane speeds. Keep in mind however that we're not building a character who can always run this fast all the time, but instead puts everything into one round, an in-game six seconds.
This build uses nearly every official source that can increase a character's speed, even if only by 10 feet.
- Tabaxi (Volo’s Guide to Monsters) Tabaxi has a base speed of 30 feet, but its Feline Agility trait can double its speed as a free action, the only limitation is that it must spend a turn moving 0 feet in order to use it again. This doesn’t matter, because we are building a sprinter.
- Class Levels
- 10 Monk, giving a +20 bonus to speed
- 5 Barbarian (Path of the Totem Warrior, Elk (Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide)), Fast Movement gives +10, Elk gives +15 while raging
- 2 Fighter, allowing an action surge,
- 2 Wizard (Bladesinger) (Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide)
- 1 Mystic (Celerity Discipline's Psychic focus)
- Mobile, gives +10
- Longstrider, gives +10 bonus
You now have a base walking speed of 70 feet while not applying any effects to yourself, and a walking speed of 115 while Bladesinging, Raging, and under the effects of Longstrider as well as the Celerity discipline's psychic focus.
You can dash with your action, your bonus action (thanks to the monk’s Step of the Wind), take an additional dash action thanks to Action Surge, and double it all thanks to Feline Agility. This all together allows you to move 920 feet on your turn.
What’s more, you can have readied movement on your previous turn, expending it as a reaction with the condition being some guy saying go, giving you an additional 115 feet on that round, for a total of 1035 feet in one round. Unfortunately, this means that for your rage to have persisted multiple rounds, you must have an enemy attacking you. But, you will do it for the speed.
It does not end there. This is you sprinting across the land naked holding only a sword, without any help. A few simple magic items significantly increases your velocity.
- Magic Items
- Boots of Speed. These allow you to use your bonus action to double your speed, which lasts for ten minutes.
- Potion of Speed. Drinking this potion gives you the effect of the Haste spell for one minute. This doubles your speed, and grants an additional action.
Adding these two items to the build, you have doubled your speed twice, and gained the use of another action, which you can use to dash.
You now have a walking speed of 460. Using your normal action, action surge, haste action, bonus action, and Feline Agility, you can move 4200 feet in one turn. With your readied moving that you expend as a reaction, you can move 5060 feet in one round, or 843 feet per second. That’s 575 miles per hour. Of course, there’s still more to cover.
Your speed obsessed Tabaxi does not have to go alone on this quest for velocity. Have a druid friend that is also level 20 with you, who is in the Circle of Dreams (courtesy of Xanathar's guide to every thing). Druids of the Circle of Dreams gain Balm of the Summer Court, which gives them a pool of d6’s equal to their druid level, and can spend as many as half their druid level at a time to heal an ally. Someone healed by this feature gains a bonus to speed equal to 5 feet per die spent which lasts for 1 minute, effectively increasing our Tabaxi’s walking speed by 50 feet without multipliers.
Along with your druid friend, you also have a level one Alchemist Artificer (from the Artificer Unearthed Arcana). One of the potions that they can conjure up is the Swift Step Draught, which allows the drinker to gain a 20 foot bonus to speed for 1 minute.
Additionally, a Transmuter wizard can create a transmuter's stone at level 6, choosing an effect from a list, and giving whoever holds the stone the chosen effect. One of the effects is an increase of speed of 10 feet while the creature is unencumbered.
Your tabaxi now has a walking speed of 780 before dashing at all. With your normal action, action surge, haste action, bonus action, Feline Agility, and additionally a reaction before all this nonsense, you can move 8580 feet in one round, which is 1430 feet per second, or 975 miles per hour. Here's a fun fact: did you know that the speed of sound at sea level is 767.269 miles per hour? Did you also know that the current land speed record is 763.035 miles per hour as well?
If merely going super sonic only makes your hunger for velocity grow insatiably, well, you’re in luck, because we aren't even close to the maximum speed that fifth edition has in store for us.
Before any features, traits, or magic items, you have a base speed of 30 feet. This, quite frankly, is too slow. Let’s try to pump it up.
We can do this by turning into something that goes faster. Many beasts have speeds of 50, but this too is pathetic. How about 60? My grandmother goes faster. 80? That’s getting a bit warmer.
What if I told you that you can be something that has a base walking speed of 120 feet?
Well, you can.
Volo’s Guide to Monsters presents the Quickling, a tiny chaotic evil fey creature that is known for its high speed and tendency to tie peoples’ shoelaces together.
But, how can you turn into one of these things without losing all of the juicy bonuses we talked about before? All you need to do is cast shapechange to turn into one, and you’ll keep your class, race, and magic item bonuses.
Granted, you are only a level 2 wizard, but this doesn’t stop you from casting shapechange from a spell scroll.
Yes, you’ll need to succeed on a DC 19 Intelligence check or the scroll is wasted, but let’s assume that you succeed, or at least have a bunch of back ups. This also means you don’t get that elk totem warrior’s speed bonus while raging, because you can’t rage and concentrate on spells at the same time. However, the barbarian’s Fast Movement is still good enough to keep. In the end, this will provide a +75 base profit.
So, you’ve turned into a quickling (with a tiny little sword in hand, because no self-respecting bladesinger will go without one). After replacing 30 with 120, and sadly removing the +15 while raging, you achieve a velocity of 11880 feet per round, or 1350 miles per hour. Now surely your thirst for speed has been slaked, right?
Wrong. You need to go faster, and will do absolutely anything to achieve this.
On the table for major beneficial properties for artifacts in the DMG, one of the potential gains is a +10 bonus to your base speed. Let’s assume that your insane little cat man is lucky enough to get this option twice, and attunes to two different artifacts to get this. The tabaxi is now attuned to as many magic items as the rules allow.
What artifacts can you get that allows this benefit? The Eye and Hand of Vecna make a nice pair, so go ahead and take those.
Yes, you’ll need to gouge out an eye and saw off one of your hands, and you’ll become neutral evil, but it’s for the speed, right?
- Epic Boons
sadly finally one last thing that your crazy, neutral evil, roided up speed dude can acquire to maximize speed. With all this speed already, and after getting a total class level of 20, there is no way that your techniques will go unnoticed by the gods themselves. Your character is capable of attaining a new kind of upgrade at Lv20 known as epic boons (an optional rule provided by the Dungeon Master’s Guide). The Boon of Speed allows a permanent +30 increase to your base walking speed.
- Even Faster with rocket boosting
but this mind blowing speed is a speed for mere mortals, for the true maximum you can have other people carry you and drop you once they are at thier max speed thus if on person carrys you up to thier max speed and they also use all these same tricks you can go 28,160 feet in one round. So now to find the maximum possible.
First all of you need to have enlarge/shrink cast on you so that your weight is reduced to 1/8th and the carrying capacity reduction from going to tiny to diminutive reduces your capacity by half. so you net 4x of the amount of people that can be carried total. can be cast by one of your friends if they multi class as a sorcerer.
quickling weight (absolute minimum) + transmuters stone + two artifacts for attunment + Eye and Hand of Vecna + 2x boots of speed + belt of giant strength (storm giant for 29) + potions of speed (40+1+2+2+2+1+2)*.125 (50 pounds)*.125= 6.25 pounds each with a carry capacity of (466)*.25=116.5
so you could go 18x as fast in one round. This could be pushed further with the last Quickling not having a belt of giant strength, more strength boosting, larger but still fast creatures carring all the Quickling and larger creatures carring them and so on. So this is the current ceiling but could be improved.
The Grand Total
Let’s tally it all up:
- The quickling: base 120
- Lv 10 monk: +20
- Lv 5 barbarian: +10
- Lv 2 bladesinger: +10 (While bladesinging)
- Lv 1 Mystic: +10 (While focused on Celerity)
- Mobile Feat: +10
- Longstrider Spell: +10
- Lv 20 Druid Friend: +50
- Lv 1 Artificer (Alchemist) Friend: +20
- Lv 6 Wizard (Transmuter) Friend: +10
- Eye of Vecna: +10
- Hand of Vecna: +10
- Boon of Speed: +30
This adds up to 320.
- Potion of speed: x2 (grants additional action)
- Boots of speed: x2
That creates a staggering walking speed of 1280. What's left is to use your stupid number of actions to increase this. But before that let's use feline agility to double that. whitch gives us a whopping 2560 BASE speed. Okay, we good now let's go on to running warp speed.
- Normal movement: 1280
- Dash: +1280
- Action Surge dash: +1280
- Haste action dash: +1280
- Bonus action dash: +1280
This gives a current total of 6400.
- Feline agility: x2
- Reaction movement: +1280
- x18 from the carry stack
This gives a grand total of 253,440 feet in one round. That’s an average of 42,240 feet per second. achieving 28,800 mph. That surpasses the speed of the fastest orbital re-entry vehicle which entered at 28,000 mph.
- The Verdict
Yeah, that's fast.
But Wait, There's More
Why have a limit at all though? The article may be about pushing the limits, but why not ignore the limits entirely? Let's talk about infinite resources, and a particularly fun exploit known as the rail gun.
- The Rail Gun
How this works is that you decide upon how many ally NPCs you want. For the purpose of this, let's make sure that everyone is strong enough to carry and pass along a gnome with ease, and that there are an unlimited (or an arbitrarily large quantity) of these strong people.
What we do next is line up all of these NPCs, so that they are all within five feet of each other, and forms a one way path. Each of these NPCs will take the ready action. The trigger for this action is that a gnome will be passed along to them, and the specific action taken is that the gnome will be passed along to the next person.
And now, all this chain reaction needs is for the gnome to climb on top of an NPC on one end. That NPC will pass the gnome onto the next person, and that person will do the same, and so on. Because there are no written limits on how many reactions can be taken in one round, the gnome will be passed along the entire chain of NPCs within that one round, covering 5 feet per NPC used in the process.
- The Real Verdict?
You reached an infinite speed (assuming an infinite number of NPCs are willing to transport a gnome). Yes, this means that all of the other techniques, features, multiclasses, specific PC allies, magic items, spells, feats, boons, and artifacts talked about above no longer matter.
GEOMETRY TIME, BOYS
Now it is time to step beyond the realm of mere algebra, adding and multiplying by increasingly intimidating numbers. Now is the time to transcend to the realm of geometry. Sniffing around the most basic of spells, seeing Longstrider and Expeditious Retreat, it is easy to gloss over the most undervalued spell in the game as far as movement speed: Tenser's Floating Disc. Without abusing Free Actions, picking up and dropping PC's at insane (or infinite) speeds, lets take a look at this wholly kosher spell.
As long as the caster remains within 100ft of the disk, the disk will move within 20ft of the caster, unless impeded by a 10ft change of elevation. Speed is not limited. We cannot abuse the third dimension, because steep stairs or slopes could be ruled to break the connection to the disk.
A track must be specially structured, with 10ft walls moving zig-zag, with a Tiny sized hole for the Quickling to move through. The disk, moving through the maze with 1-inch-thick walls, will travel along semicircles of 100ft radius, moving an additional 2pi100/2 feet for every foot moved by the Quickling.
This means, without the drop-creature, pick-up creature shenanigans, the quickling has a movement speed of 2,346.6ft/s. Every 3 ft (and 1 inch) of movement from the quickling equates to 314.159 feet of movement for Tenser's Floating Disk. Given 760 3'1" sections of the wall per second, the disk moves at 238,971.3 feet per second. Completely legally. No shenanigans with multiple free actions.
However, we can do even better than that. The disk "can’t cross an elevation change of 10 feet or more", and is 3 feet off the ground. Under the strictest possible interpretation of this ruling, wherein the lowest elevation the disk ever achieves to the highest elevation it ever achieves must differ by no more than 10 feet, you can build three levels, each with 4 feet of vertical space, such that it must traverse the semicircle on each of them before progressing to the next semicircle. The vertical distance requires the semicircle directly above and below you (it works best if you're in the middle) to only have a radius of 99.92ft, so this multiplies our previous figure by 2.9984. Thus, we can actually reach 716,531.4ft/s, or Mach 661.8, as our highest speed.
On the other hand, if the DM interprets that restriction as referring to the one-time change in elevation, we can abuse the entire 100ft sphere around you for maximal speed. By placing circular tracks along that sphere at 4 ft intervals vertically, and making the disk travel across all of those tracks, plus the vertical space between them, we can make the disk travel 12500.1ft for every 3ft and 1 inch our Quickling wizard moves. This gives us a multiplicative factor of 4,054x our original speed, for a final velocity of 9,513,324ft/s. At this point, our disk is travelling at Mach 8787, which is also 1% the speed of light.
Lastly, Have fun with Mach 8787. Set up some supposedly indestructible object at the end of the track. Attach the maximum 500lbs of weight to the disk (within the 1ft vertical clearance that this structure gives) to achieve 2,157,621,889 kg m/s of momentum. An average human at terminal velocity has 3,286 kg m/s of momentum, and would take 20d6 damage. Assuming the damage taken is directly proportional to the momentum (admittedly, this last bit goes a bit beyond RAW), a target at the end of the track who took the brunt of the impact would end up taking 13,132,208d6 bludgeoning damage. Taking an average of 45,962,730 damage, this might also be the highest amount of bludgeoning damage achievable in the game.