Usually, most PCs rely solely on their Dexterity ability score modifier for their initiative; however, there are ways to get bonuses to initiative. How high can this bonus get?
For example, there’s the Alert feat (PHB, pg. 165):
Always on the lookout for danger, you gain the following benefits:
- You gain a +5 bonus to initiative.
The Dread Ambusher class feature of the ranger Gloom Stalker archetype (XGtE, pg. 42):
At 3rd level, you master the art of the ambush. You can give yourself a bonus to your initiative rolls equal to your Wisdom modifier.
And the Tactical Wit class feature of the wizard War Mage archetype (XGtE, pg. 60):
Starting at 2nd level, your keen ability to assess tactical situations allows you to act quickly in battle. You can give yourself a bonus to your initiative rolls equal to your Intelligence modifier.
So, a level 6 character who was a Ranger 4/Wizard 2 who took the Alert feat at level 4 would have an initiative bonus of 5 + DEX + WIS + INT. Is there anything else that could get this number even higher?
So, if my Ranger 4/Wizard 2 example above made it all the way up to level 20 (Ranger 18/Wizard 2) and used all their ASIs to max out DEX, INT and WIS, they would then have an initiative bonus of 20. Can anyone beat that with a level 20 character build?
For the purposes of this, let’s assume the PC is a human (+1 to all ability scores) whose player was lucky enough to roll all 17s during character creation; hence the character has +4 in every stat (for convenience). Anything RAW is allowed; multiclassing, feats, magic items, etc, but nothing from Unearthed Arcana.
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