Two-Weapon Fighting D&D 5E - How It Works. (2023)

Two-weapon fighting is synonymous with D&D. But how does it work in 5e? Luckily, it’s not too complicated.

When you take an attack action and are wielding two light melee weapons, you can use your bonus action to make a second attack with your other weapon. If the weapons have throwing properties, you can throw them as well. The second attack does not include your modifier unless it is a negative.

What does the book say?

Page 195, Players Handbook

Two-Weapon Fighting

‘’When you take theAttackaction and at⁠tack with a light melee weapon that you’re holding in one hand, you can use a Bonus Actionto attac⁠k with a different light melee weapon that you’re holding in the other hand. You don’t add your ability modifier to the damage of the bonus atta⁠ck, unless that modifier is negative.’’

‘’If either weapon has theThrownproperty, you can throw the weapon, instead of making a meleeattackwith it.’’

Seems simple right? Now let us go through a step-by-step breakdown to understand this in combat.

Step-by-step breakdown.

Let’s say you are a level 1 Ranger wielding two short swords. When it’s your turn in combat it would go something like this.

  • You move to your enemy and use your attack action with your first short sword.
  • For your first attack, you get a +5 attack bonus. You roll a D20 and get 10, then add your attack bonus for a total of 15, and it’s a hit.
  • 1st short sword damage is 1d6+DEX modifier (+3). You roll a D6 and get a 3 for damage and add +3 for your DEX modifier for a toll of 6 damage.
  • Now, you decide to use your bonus action to make the second attack.
  • For your second attack, you get a +5 attack bonus. You roll a D20 and get 11, then add your attack bonus for a total of 16, and it’s a hit.
  • 2nd Short sword damage is 1d6, but no DEX modifier is added for the second attack. You roll a D6 for damage and get a 5, giving you a total of 5 damage.
Two-Weapon Fighting D&D 5E - How It Works. (1)

Can everyone use two-weapon fighting?

Yes, everyone can use two-weapon fighting. It does not require any special features or feats. If you have a bonus action and the right weapons, you can two weapon fight.

What light weapons should I use?

Here is a list of all the best light weapons for two-weapon fighting. In descending order from best to worst.

Two-Weapon Fighting D&D 5E - How It Works. (2)
Short Sword

A shortsword is one of the best weapons for two-weapon fighting. It is among the highest damage on the list (1D6), and the finesse quality is the perfect weapon for a dexterity-based two-weapon fighter.

Scimitar

When I read scimitar, all I ever think of is Drizzt Do’Urden, one of the most popular two-weapon fighters in the genre. The shortsword and scimitar are virtually identical in damage die and properties, except scimitars deal slashing damage while shortswords deal piercing.

Handaxe

Handaxes would be my choice for any strength-based two-weapon fighter. They’re in the higher light weapon dice damage range (1D6), and they have a throwing property range of 20/60.

Imagine a barbarian running into battle in a rage, slaying his first enemy with his handaxe, but oh no, he’s out of movement. Don’t worry. He throws his second handaxe at the nearest enemy, slaying them as well. Who wouldn’t love that? Probably your DM, but who cares about them.

Dagger

This classic weapon is great for rogues. Daggers deal less damage (1D4), but pairing it with a shortsword is one of my favorite two-weapon fighting combos for rogues. Just like handaxes, daggers have a throwing property range of 20/60, which adds a whole new dynamic to your two-weapon fighting style.

(Video) Two Weapon Fighting - Guide for Dungeons and Dragons 5e

Light hammer

Nearing the bottom of the list is the light hammer. Unfortunately, not being a finesse weapon and having a lower damage die (1D4), one wonders why you would even bother with this weapon. The handaxe does more damage (1D6) and has the same throwing properties.

The unique thing about the light hammer is that it is one of two weapons on this list that deals bludgeoning damage.

Sickle & Club

The sickle and club are lumped together because they are terrible. Being the lower end of damage (1D4) and having no properties, finesse or throwing, these should be the last weapons you ever choose to two-weapon fight with, or to fight with in general. Seriously, they’re dreadful.

Using your bonus action.

Something to remember about two-weapon fighting is you must use your bonus action to attack with your second weapon.

Bonus actions are important. A lot of classes rely on them. Barbarians need them to rage; a fighter needs them for action surge or second wind; spellcasters sometimes use them to cast spells; rogues need them for cunning action.

When building your two-weapon character, consider seriously what your character would be using their bonus action for, if not two-weapon fighting. Then decide if it is worth it or not.

Two-Weapon Fighting D&D 5E - How It Works. (3)

What is the best class for two-weapon fighting?

In no particular order, if I was building a two-weapon fighter, these are the best classes.

  • Fighter
  • Ranger
  • Barbarian
  • Rogue

Fighter

Whether you want to make a dexterity or strength-based two-weapon fighter, the fighter class is not a bad way to go.

Being able to choose two-weapon fighting as your fighting style at 1st level is a plus. You will immediately be able to do extra damage by adding your ability modifier to your second attack.

With the best armor proficiencies in our lineup, your strength-based fighter would have a higher armor class to make up for the lack of a shield.

You will also gain more feats over time, allowing you to improve your two-weapon fighting. Dual Wielding is a feat you definitely want to pick up. With an extra attack added on at level 5, you will be doing a decent amount of damage early on.

For your martial archetype, I would choose Battle Master. Having more attacks will allow you to use more Maneuvers.

Ranger

Rangers make a great dexterity-based two-weapon fighter, and I would stick with dexterity because of the lack of heavy armor proficiency. This way, both your armor class and your attack modifier go up with your ability score.

At second level, you can choose your fighting style. Choosing two-weapon fighting will allow you to add your strength or dexterity modifier to your second attack.

Most important for a two-weapon fighting Ranger is that they get spells, particularly Hunter’s Mark. After it is cast, it allows you to do an extra D6 die damage to any attack that hits, making your extra attacks from two-weapon fighting more effective.

A Ranger dual-wielding two shortswords would normally do 2D6 die damage if both attacks hit. If the Ranger cast Hunters Mark, then he would do 4D6 die damage if both attacks hit. Add extra attack at level 5, and you will be doing a lot more damage.

The only downside to Hunter’s Mark is that it requires a bonus action to cast. You will not be able to attack twice until your next turn after casting it. You can also use your bonus action to move Hunter’s Mark to a different enemy if you choose. The best thing to do would be to cast Hunter’s Mark on the toughest looking bad guy, then enjoy all the extra damage you would deal.

(Video) How Does Two-Weapon Fighting Work? | Um... Actually

For the Archetype, go with Hunter or Gloom Stalker. All the other archetypes require you to use your bonus action for other things, which will get in the way of your two-weapon fighting.

Barbarian

Barbarians are an unlikely two-weapon fighter for most people, but hear me out. The one thing Barbarians do is rage.

After you use your bonus action to Rage, you will be able to use your rage bonus to deal damage for every attack. With extra attack coming in at level 5, you will have plenty of opportunities to hit while raging.

For a strength-based two-weapon fighter, I would highly recommend the Dual Wielding feat. This way, you can wield larger weapons, such as battleaxes or longswords that deal more damage, 1D8 compared to 1D6.

One of the biggest drawbacks for a two-weapon fighting barbarian is they do not get the chance to take Fighting Style. Therefore, they will never get to add their ability modifier to their second attack.

For this reason, I would suggest multiclassing into a Ranger for two levels. Then, you can take two-weapon fighting for your fighting style and gain spells, particularly Hunters Mark, which will add even more damage to your attacks after being cast. By your third round of combat in battle, you’d be doing damage from two attacks, with each getting modifier damage, plus your rage damage, plus Hunters Mark damage.

For your Primal Path, I would recommend Path of the Zealot. This will allow you to do extra damage 1D6 + half your barbarian level with your first hit with the Divine Fury feature. Since you’re two-weapon fighting, you have more of a chance to deal this damage.

Rogue

Two-weapon fighting is a good option for rogues as well. Rogues typically have high dexterity, so finesse weapons make perfect sense.

A rogue’s whole purpose in combat is to land their sneak attack. Two-weapon fighting gives them more chances to do so. Think about it; if a rogue worked hard to sneak up on someone or get into flanking and then missed their one attack, it would be devastating for them.

Two-weapon fighting helps lessen this problem. So you’ve missed with your first attack. Oh well, use your bonus action, and you have another chance to hit. This is everything for a rogue.

Keep in mind that rogues do not gain a fighting style or Extra Attack. For those reasons, two-weapon fighting is a good option for them.

My favorite archetype for a two-weapon fighting rogue is the Assassin, primarily for their assassination ability. If you attack somebody before they go in the combat order and hit, it is an automatic critical hit. Adding more attacks can be very deadly.

If you want to have a lot of fun, multiclass into a fighter and use action surge as well. Your DM will hate you.

Two-Weapon Fighting D&D 5E - How It Works. (4)

Best Feats

A quick note before we get into the feats. I strongly recommend maxing out whichever ability score you are using for your two-weapon fighter (strength or dexterity) before taking any feats.

However, if you were playing a variant human, I would recommend taking Dual Wielder for your first level feat.

Dual wielder

Dual wielder is the most obvious choice for anyone building a two-weapon fighter.

What does the book say?

(Video) Fighting Style #6: Two-Weapon Fighting (DnD 5E)

Page 165, Players Handbook

Dual Wielder

YouMasterFightingwith twoWeapons, gaining the following benefits:

  • You gain a +1 bonus to AC while you are wielding a separate melee weapon in each hand.
  • You can useTwo-Weapon Fightingeven when the one-handedMelee Weaponsyou are wielding aren’t light.
  • You can draw or stow two one-handedWeaponswhen you would normally be able to draw or stow only one.

The +1 to AC makes up a little for the lack of Shields. Not having to use light weapons also will allow you to up your die damage with bigger weapons, such as longswords, battleaxes, or rapiers.

Though I don’t know many DM’s, who are sticklers for drawing or stowing weapons, it is still good to have if it ever comes up.

Magic Initiate

Only consider this feat if you are a barbarian, fighter, or rogue. Magic initiate will allow you to take a first-level spell. You should take Hex.

This will allow you to add more damage, 1D6 per attack, just like Hunters Mark does for the Ranger.

What does the book say?

Page 168 Players Handbook

Magic Initiate

Choose a class: bard,Cleric, druid,Sorcerer,Warlock, orWizard. You learn twoCantripsof your choice from that class’s spell list.

In addition, choose one 1st-level spell from that same list. Using this feat, you can cast the spell once at its lowest level, and you must finish aLong Restbefore you can cast it again.

YourSpellcasting Abilityfor theseSpellsdepends on the class you chose:Charismafor bard,Sorcerer, or warlock;WisdomforClericor druid; orIntelligenceforWizard.

Mobile

Mobile is not necessary, but it can definitely help with your two-weapon fighter.

What does the book say?

Page 168 Players Handbook

Mobile

You are exceptionally speedy and agile. You gain the following benefits:

(Video) Our Homebrew Fixes For Two Weapon Fighting In Dungeons and Dragons 5e

  • Your speed increases by 10 feet.
  • When you use theDashaction,Difficult Terraindoesn’t cost you extraMovementon that turn.
  • When you make a meleeAttackagainst a creature, you don’t provokeOpportunity Attacksfrom that creature for the rest of the turn, whether you hit or not.

Mobile will allow you to get to your enemies quicker so you can ultimately deal more damage.

It is particularly good for a rogue who will not be able to use their cunning action when two-weapon fighting.

Lucky

Lucky is one of those feats that anybody could take, and it would be useful. However, the opportunity to reroll missed attacks would be great for your two-weapon fighter.

What does the book say?

Page 167 Players Handbook

Lucky

You have inexplicable luck that seems to kick in at just the right moment.

You have 3 luck points. Whenever you make anAttackroll, an ability check, or a saving throw, you can spend one luck point to roll an additional d20. You can choose to spend one of your luck points after you roll the die, but before the outcome is determined. You choose which of the d20s is used for the att⁠ack roll, ability check, or saving throw.

You can also spend one luck point when anAttackroll is made against you. Roll a d20, and then choose whether the atta⁠ck uses the attacker’s roll or yours.

If more than one creature spends a luck point toInfluencethe outcome of a roll, the points cancel each other out; no additional dice are rolled.

You regain your expended luck points when you finish aLong Rest.

Two-Weapon Fighting D&D 5E - How It Works. (5)

FAQ’s About Two-Weapon Fighting

What is two-weapon fighting 5e?

In D&D 5E, if you are wielding light weapons in both hands, two-weapon fighting allows you to make two attacks in one turn. The first attack will use your attack action, and the second is dealt with your bonus action.

Can a fighter dual wield Longswords?

If you want to dual wield longswords, or any non-light one handed weapon, you must take the Dual Wielder feat.

Can anyone use two weapon fighting?

Yes, if both weapons are light and you use your attack action, you can make a second attack with your bonus action no matter what your class.

Is two weapon fighting good in D&D?

Yes, two-weapon fighting is good in 5E. Is it the most optimal amount of damage you will do per round? No, but I would not base your decision on that.

For me, in role-playing games, characterization is what’s most important. If you want your character to be a dual wielder because you like it, it helps with your character’s story, or for any other reason, it is worth it.

There is no right or wrong, there is only your imagination.

(Video) Dungeons & Dragons 5e Mechanics Tutorial, "Two Weapon Fighting"

FAQs

How does 2 weapons fight 5e work? ›

Dual Wielding in D&D 5E is also called Two-Weapon Fighting. It involves holding a weapon in each hand and being able to swing with both of them on your turn. Unlike many combat options anyone can do it, but there are some limitations that make it more effective in some cases than others.

Is two weapon fighting viable 5e? ›

Absolutely everybody can use two weapon fighting in 5e! There's no class or proficiency limitations, just grab two swords and start stabbing. The limitation is on the weapons themselves. Two weapon fighting requires that both the weapons are “light melee” weapons, such as shortswords or daggers.

How do I fix 2 weapon fighting in 5e? ›

Every time you make an Attack action, you can make additional attack with a weapon in a second hand. You use all modifiers as usuall. If you havent used that feature, you can make one melee attack with a bonus action. So, this is simple, one additional attack every time you used Attack action.

What are the rules for dual wielding 5e? ›

Attacking with two weapons (dual wielding weapons in each hand) comes with requirements. You must use the Attack action followed by a bonus action to attack with the weapon you didn't attack with before. You require two weapons with the 'light' property (meaning lightweight) to engage in two-weapon fighting.

What are the rules for 2 weapon fighting? ›

Two-Weapon Fighting

When you take the Attack action and attack with a light melee weapon that you're holding in one hand, you can use a bonus action to attack with a different light melee weapon that you're holding in the other hand.

How effective is dual wielding? ›

In terms of firearms, especially handguns, dual wielding is generally denounced by firearm enthusiasts due to its impracticality. Though using two handguns at the same time confers an advantage by allowing more ready ammunition, it is rarely done due to other aspects of weapons handling.

Is dueling better than two weapon fighting? ›

Go with the Two-Weapon Fighting style instead. Dueling only gives you a +2 to your damage roll, Two-Weapon Fighting can give you up to +5. The main benefit of Dueling is being able to use a shield or focus.

Videos

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