Fast, Unkillable, Deadly: The 7 Supreme D&D Character Builds for One Thing

Have you ever wanted to play a Dungeons & Dragons who boasted the highest armor class, the fastest speed, the deadliest attacks, or another extreme ability? This post shows the way to making the most amazing character at one of 7 things.

Fastest

For the fastest character, start as a monk. Your choice of race depends on what your campaign allows.

  • Wood elves gain the fastest walking speed.
  • Tabaxi from Volo’s Guide to Monsters make better 1-turn sprinters. Their Feline Agility trait doubles their speed for a turn, but they must spend a turn moving 0 to use it again.
  • Aarakocra, also from Volo’s Guide, gain a flying speed of 50 feet, which combines perfectly with the monk class. Not every campaign allows flying characters, especially to start.

Take 10 levels of monk for a 20-foot speed bonus. Then add 5 levels of barbarian for Fast Movement and another 10-foot bonus. Choose the Path of the Elk Totem Warrior from the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide to increase your walking speed by 15 feet while raging. Sadly for aarakocra, this bonus doesn’t improve your fly speed.

For even more speed, add two levels of fighter for the Action Surge.

Along the way, choose the Mobile feet to add another 10-foot speed bonus. Also consider the Magic Initiate feat to learn the longstrider spell, which adds another 10-foot speed bonus for an hour. Obviously, seek Boots of Speed, Potions of Speed, and friends able to enchant you with haste.

Even without the magic, this build yields a 70-foot base, doubled to 140 by feline agility. For maximum speed, choose a dash action, add a dash using the monk’s Step of the Wind ability, plus a dash using Action Surge to move 560 feet in 6 seconds. That amounts to 63 mph or 102 kph!

See How to Build a D&D Monk So Good That DMs Want to Cheat.

Most skilled

For the most-skilled character, start as a half-elf rogue. This gains you 4 rogue skills, plus 2 skills from being a half-elf and 2 more from your background. Don’t pick proficiency in Nature or Survival. You gain those skills when you select the Scout archetype at level 3.

Remain a rogue until level 4 when you can choose the Skilled feat for 4 more skills.

For level 5, multiclass into bard for another skill. At level 7, select the College of Lore for 3 more skills. Then at level 8, elect the Prodigy feat for that last untrained skill plus Expertise in a choice of skill. Expertise doubles your proficiency bonus for that skill.

At level 8, your character boasts proficiency in every skill in the game.

Most damaging

The highest, most consistent damage output comes from characters who combine the Sharpshooter and Crossbow expert feats with a hand crossbow.

Start as a human with the Sharpshooter feat. Your class can either be fighter or ranger. Either way, select the Archery fighting style to gain +2 on your ranged attacks.

For a fighter, choose either the Battle Master or the Samurai archetype from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. As a ranger, choose the Gloom Stalker archetype, also from Xanathar.

At level 4, take the Crossbow Expert feat to gain the ability to make extra attacks with a hand crossbow as a bonus action.

For more, see How to Build a Sharpshooter Who Wins D&D.

Highest AC

The simplest route to a maximum AC uses heavy armor. Select a paladin or fighter and then select the Defense fighting style. Equip plate mail and shield for AC 21. Then seek magic that improves AC. If you find +3 plate, +3 shield, plus a Cloak of Protection, a Ring of Protection, and an Ioun Stone of Protection for your three attunement slots, your AC reaches 30. If you attune a Staff of Power instead, you reach AC 31, the highest permanent level you can achieve. Plus, the munchkins make you their king or queen. Also your absurdly indulgent dungeon master wants to date you. If you learn the shield spell, then you can vault your AC 36 for a turn.

Someone in half plate with a 16 Dexterity and the Medium Armor Master feat can reach the same ACs.

A barbarian with just a shield can reach a 24 AC without any magic, but that requires a 20 Dexterity and the 24 Constitution attainable by the class at level 20.

Toughest

For the toughest character, start as a hill dwarf for a +1 hp bonus per level. Select the Barbarian class. At 3rd level, pick the Path of the Bear Totem Warrior to gain resistance to all damage but psychic while raging. At fourth level, take the Toughness feat for 2 more hp per level, and then use your ability score increases to maximize Constitution.

Biggest damage nova

When characters unload all their abilities to deal maximum damage in a single turn, they go nova. You could just level a Wizard up to level 17 and cast meteor swarm on a hoard of foes, but true nova builds aim for focused damage more than once a day. Thanks to the Divine Smite ability, paladins bring big nova potential, but the class lacks enough spells slots to fuel maximum damage. For the biggest numbers, combine 2 levels of paladin with either sorcerer or warlock.

For a sorcerer combination, your dream turn starts when you cast a quickened hold monster on your foe, and the hit with green flame blade plus a smite that spends your highest-level spell slot. On a paralyzed enemy, you automatically score a critical hit and double all your damage dice. (If you don’t paralyze your target, booming blade makes a better cantrip combination.)

While sorcerers bring more spell slots, the warlock combination boasts better synergy. Start by creating a paladin with maximum charisma and the 13 strength required for multiclassing. After reaching 2nd level as a paladin, multiclass to a warlock and choose the Hexblade pact. At warlock level 3, choose the Pack of the Blade boon, and then at level 5, choose the Thirsting Blade invocation for multiple attacks. Your dream turn starts when you lay a Hexblade’s Curse on your foe for a damage bonus, and then strike twice, scoring critical hits on a roll of 19 or 20. Back each hit with a smite. After a short rest, you can reload slots to repeat the combination.

An all-in nova build adds 2 levels of fighter for an Action Surge, another swing or two, and as many smites as you have spell slots to fuel.

See D&D’s Best Multiclass Combinations With Paladin.

Most healing

Update: Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything enables a new build to take the best healer crown.

The older best-healer build combined of life domain cleric with enough bard levels to gain the paladin spell aura of vitality via the bard’s Magical Secrets feature. Tasha’s Cauldron paves a short cut by simply adding aura of vitality to the cleric’s spell list. Forget multiclassing; just play a life cleric. For each of the 10 rounds of aura of vitality’s 1 minute duration, you can use a bonus action to heal 2d6 hit points. The cleric’s Disciple of Life feature boosts that to 2d6+5 hp.

Now, to claim the crown as best healer in D&D, take the Metamagic Adept feat, also in Tasha’s Cauldron. “You learn two Metamagic options of your choice from the sorcerer class.” Select the Extended Spell option. “When you cast a spell that has a duration of 1 minute or longer, you can spend 1 sorcery point to double its duration, to a maximum duration of 24 hours.” When you cast aura of vitality, spend 1 of your 2 sorcery points to double the duration and the healing. One third-level spell heals an average of 240 hp. At just level 5, you can perform the trick twice. Remember when folks fretted about pairing the life domain with goodberry for 40 points of healing?

For the easy path to a character who vies for the best healing, play a cleric and choose the Life domain. Done. By the time you reach 17th level, nothing else comes close. But hardly anyone plays at tier 4. In tiers 2 and 3, you can become the best healer as a bard with just a one level dip into cleric.

Start 1st level as a human Life domain cleric. Choose the Healer feat, which lets you spend one use of a healer’s kit to restore 1d6 + 4 hit points, plus additional hit points equal to the creature’s maximum number of hit dice. A creature can only regain hit points this way once between each rest, but this still counts as the cheapest healing in the game. See The Two D&D Feats Everyone Loves (For Someone Else’s Character).

After level 1, switch to only taking bard levels. At bard level 3, choose the College of Lore, and then at level 6 choose the paladin spell aura of vitality for your Magical Secrets feature. For each of the 10 rounds of aura of vitality’s 1 minute duration, you can use a bonus action to heal 2d6 hit points. The cleric’s Disciple of Life feature boosts that to 2d6+5 hp. One third-level spell heals an average of 120 hp. You will have 3 third-level spell slots.

Plus, the bard spell list includes most of the cleric’s best remedies, including the restoration and resurrection spells. You can raise dead through song!

Related:
You Can Play These Supreme D&D Characters, But Should You?
7 Dungeons & Dragons character builds absurdly good at one thing

7 thoughts on “Fast, Unkillable, Deadly: The 7 Supreme D&D Character Builds for One Thing

  1. Andrew

    Hi David! I love your content, and, as someone who thinks about some of these types of builds from time to time, I found this article to be a very enjoyable read.

    When you calculated the 70-foot base speed for the fastest character, I’m guessing you forgot the 15-foot bonus from the Path of the Elk. I came out to a speed of 85 feet per round (30-foot base, plus 20 from monk’s Unarmored Movement, plus 10 from barbarian’s Fast Movement, plus 15 from Elk Totem Spirit, plus 10 from the Mobile feat), or 170 after being doubled from the tabaxi’s Feline Agility. Using the dash action three times (action, second action from Action Surge, and bonus action from Step of the Wind), and you can move 680 feet in one round, which equates to 77 mph or 124 km/h.

    For the most skilled character, I have a build that gains proficiency in every skill at 7th level. Start out as a variant human rogue, choosing the Skilled feat. That’s 10 skills (4 from rogue, 2 from your background, 1 from human, and 3 from Skilled). At level 3, select the Scout subclass for 2 more skills (12 total). At 4th level, multiclass into bard (1 more skill, for 13 total). Take 2 more levels in bard and select the College of Lore for 3 more skills (16 total). Finally, take 1 level of cleric and select the Knowledge Domain, which gives you your last 2 skills (assuming you haven’t taken two or three of Arcana, History, and Religion). At level 7, as a level 3 rogue / level 3 bard / level 1 cleric, you have proficiency in every skill. (You can also multiclass into cleric before multiclassing into bard. In fact, after 1st level, it doesn’t actually matter what order your next 6 levels are taken in, as long as they consist of 2 rogue levels, 3 bard levels, and 1 cleric level.)

    Again, I really enjoyed this weeks’ article!

    Reply
  2. alphastream

    Enjoyable read, generally horrible at the table. But, I do enjoy the concepts.

    When it comes to healing, I like to look at preventing damage as much as restoring it. The artificer with the Eldritch Cannon feature and the Protector option can endlessly (okay, once a round) provide temp HPs to party members within 10′ of it. It’s 1d8+Int, which at low levels (especially since you can start with them) is absolutely enormous in combat. Really, very few things at low levels will get past that constant temporary HP shield.

    At any level of play, the Aid spell is amazing. When you upcast it, the spell takes the fundamental expectations of the game regarding how much damage you can take and completely breaks it. It is effective at any level of play. Because it isn’t temp HPs, a feature that grants temps also works with Aid, and the combination (whether something like the Inspiring Leader feat or a spell or a class feature) will be truly impressive. What I most like about it is that it sits there quietly in the background, and isn’t frustrating to DMs and players. The PCs simply live through everything.

    Reply
  3. Atilla

    Great article as always!

    I have another and potentially a more potent way to deal nova.

    Take your Paladin to level 5 for +3d8 divine smites (and later level 11 for +5d8) and choose Oath of Vengeance. Then go all the way as a Hexblade Warlock. They have two level-5 spell slots at level 9 which you can use to cast both divine smite and eldritch smite at the same time you strike, to deal +5d8 radiant (or +6d8 radiant at level 11 as a paladin) and +6d8 force damage.

    Yes! Paladin smites can use warlock spell slots. And you can use both your smites at the same time. It’s legal in RAW!

    Since you’re a level 5 vengeance paladin, you have two level-2 paladin spell slots you can use to cast hold person as well.

    Otherwise, you can crit-fish by using your first round bonus action for wow of enmity to gain advantage on attack rolls (doubling your chances) and your second round bonus action for hexblade so that you can crit on a 19 (quadrupling your chance for a crit).

    This build synergizes greatly with a grave domain cleric who can give vulnerability to all damage for the next hit to a single foe for one round. The theoretical average damage you would deal in a single strike with a non-magical greatsword would be ~240 this way.

    Reply
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