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I know that when using two weapons to attack, a PC takes a negative to the attack on the primary and off hand weapon.

Let us imagine that a PC is holding a mace in one hand (his primary hand) and a dagger in his other hand (off hand).

My question is: If he is attacking with only the off-hand weapon does he only apply 1/2 his STR bonus? Or does he treat the attack as being from his "primary" hand?

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Always as primary. Despite the fact that you are wielding another off-hand weapon, you are treated as one-handed, shield-less combat, as long as you declare it.

The loss in attack bonus is not given because of your 'bad' arm, but rather because you are constantly focusing both weapons, both arms, and the motion is very harder. This is why your readings of enemies are slower, and so you miss more. You are also more worried about disarming and etc etc.

Just remember to state beforehand in your turn that your next attack will be considered a one handed attack. If you do so, understand that until your next turn you are one handed. This also means you lose any other bonus inherited by dual wielding skills, such AC or reflex from some feats.


Also: As long as all your off hands match weigh limitations, any hand can become your primary. Easy with dagger/dagger because your offhand is always a light weapon. Since a mace is not a light weapon, it MUST be your primary weapon whenever dual wielding, unless you have proper feats to wield non-light weapons in your offhand without huge penalties.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Technically, you can wield a non-light weapon in the offhand without any particular feats—you just take crippling penalties when doing so. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Nov 6 '17 at 19:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yep, that is very much correct. But very crippling and unconfortable, in the sense that your character know he should not be doing that. :) \$\endgroup\$ – Elindor Nov 6 '17 at 19:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm struggling with that last 'graph. Is that intended to be a discussion about weapon weight in, like, actual lbs.? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Nov 6 '17 at 20:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not exactly. A light weapon is a weapon type. It is distinct from other weapons in which it can be used in offhands without greater hindering, as @KRyan stated, and can also be used during a grapple maneuver or used with weapon finesse feat. Player handbook lists which weapons are light, but here is a list i found for you. dandwiki.com/wiki/SRD:Light_Weapon Also, unnarmed attacks are considered a Light Weapon if you have Improved Unarmed Strike. (Otherwise, it is not considered a weapon at all and cannot get those bonuses) \$\endgroup\$ – Elindor Nov 6 '17 at 20:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Elindor Thank you, but my concern is Also: As long as all your off hands match weigh limitations, any hand can become your primary. Easy with dagger/dagger because your offhand is always a light weapon. (Emphasis mine.) The phrase (and maybe concept!) match weigh limitations is new to me. (Also, a light mace is a light weapon; it's the heavy mace that's a 1-handed weapon.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Nov 6 '17 at 20:59
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The very concept of “offhand” does not exist in any way, shape, or form outside of a full-attack in which the two-weapon fighting combat option is exercised. When you choose to use the two-weapon fighting combat option, you designate one hand as main (and all others as offhand), take the appropriate penalties, and gain an extra attack at your highest attack bonus.

As soon as that full-attack is over, you no longer have anything known as “offhand” at all. That term is not defined outside of that full-attack. That certainly does not include any time you are attacking with any weapon singly.

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    \$\begingroup\$ A lot of people get confused about this because 3e had handedness rules (which were eliminated when one took the Ambidexterity feat). WotC rightly recognized it as a pointless feat tax and eliminated it in 3.5. \$\endgroup\$ – SPavel Nov 6 '17 at 21:24
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If he is attacking with only the off-hand weapon does he only apply 1/2 his STR bonus?

No, there is no off-hand in this case.

Or does he treat the attack as being from his "primary" hand?

Not quite. There is no "Primary" hand either. The attack would not suffer any penalties from two-weapon fighting. If you treated it as "primary" it would still suffer two-weapon fighting penalties.

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