If your Dungeons and Dragons character aspires to be a speed demon, just how fast can you reasonably expect to go? Letís consider characters at low levels (1 to 10) and high (11-20). Using only the core rules and cash guidelines for PC wealth in the DMG, how fast can you push that speedometer?
If you want to use just your own two feet, letís rule out dwarves, halflings, and gnomes -- these short folk are too slow. A first level barbarian human travels at 40; make him an ex-barbarian/monk, and by level 7 (barbarian1/monk6) he can move at 60. Put Boots of Striding and Springing on that barbarian/monk to boost him up to 70. The Longstrider spell can also give a +10, but that does not stack with the Bootsí enhancement bonus. The Run feat helps for short bursts, but not for marathons.
If you are not tied to a humanoid form, you can eke speed out of a shapechange. A druid in cheetah form with a longstrider spell moves at 60, with sprints (once per hour) up to 510. A mage using Alter Self can swim at 60 as a Locathah; a wizard with Polymorph can run, in the right form, up to 60 or fly up to 120, but only for the very short duration of the spell.
A better bet may be a mount. A mundane, boring old light warhorse can run at 60; slap Horseshoes of Speed on that nag for a sweet +30 boost up to 90. For only 3,000 gp, its well worth it, and easily affordable even by a relatively low level character.
At the top end of the low level limit, a mage with fifth level spells has a few interesting options. Overland Flight gives a speed of 40, but you would be better served by using Charm Monster on a speedy creature, such as a giant eagle (fly 80) or a pegasus (fly 120 ft). Teleport is the ultimate in quicktitude, of course, but you can only go places you know, so that is less useful.
Running on your own feet can be satisfying at high levels. Stretching the rules as far as they can go, the ex-barbarian/monk centaur wearing horseshoes of speed tops out at around 140.
For higher level changes of form, the druid does pretty well in air elemental form. An Air elemental flies at 100, and a huge water elemental swims at 120. A mage with the Shapechange spell can take an older dragon form and cover vast distances quickly at a rate of 250.
Almost a low level option, the Horizon Walker (a prestige class in the DMG) can gain the ability, at 6th level in the PrC (character level 11 or so), to Dimension Door every 1d4 rounds. Take a Horizon Walker mounted on a Pegasus. The pegasus flies at 120, or 240 in a double move. The Dim Door blips the rider and mount forward 400 feet plus 40 feet per Walker level. For a 10th level Walker, thatís 800 feet every 2.5 rounds, or, over 5 rounds, 1600 feet plus the 1,200 feet the pegasus flies over that time. 2,800 feet every five rounds is the equivalent to a per round standard (not double) move of 280, or 5,600 feet per minute, or over 60 miles per hour!
Thatís about the same speed as the 6th level cleric spell, Wind Walk, which has the advantage of applying to more people, but the disadvantage of being gaseous. At top speed, the Wind Walker has a move rate of 300.
But either way, that should satisfy the most hungry of speed demons in your game.
(By the way, if you are looking for my review of the Book of Erotic Fantasy, try next Monday.)