After running a few combat encounters with my PCs, I've noticed that they appear to be missing their attacks more than I've expected. I was wondering if there are ways for them to increase the attack bonuses with their weapons in order to hit more often. As a DM, what should I do or instruct them to do?

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    \$\begingroup\$ The answer to a straight "how do I get +x to hit" is simple, but to actually address the underlying issue, I think we need a few more details: what were they fighting? What level are your PCs? How often do you expect them to hit? \$\endgroup\$ – Icyfire Dec 20 '17 at 17:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is also heavily be impacted by what they are fighting. A Knight is a lot harder to hit (AC 18) than a Grell (AC 12) despite being both CR 3 opponents. This is all part of the AC/HP/Atk/Dmg balance that determines a creature's CR. Some creatures are intentionally very hard to hit...but may have fewer hit points or not do as much damage in exchange \$\endgroup\$ – guildsbounty Dec 20 '17 at 17:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ In wonder how you feel about this post becoming the canonical "what are all the ways to get an attack bonus" Q&A that it looks like it's quickly becoming. If you're not a fan of that you should edit this question to make clearer your situation. In fact, (and maybe I'm being a little trigger-happy, feel free voters to overrule me) I'm going to go ahead and put the question on hold until we've heard your response to either Icyfire or me. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Dec 20 '17 at 18:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ How do you calculate attacks? It is quite easy to hit in DnD5, if you see otherwise, you might be calculating something wrong \$\endgroup\$ – András Dec 20 '17 at 20:57

There are several ways. Below is a (currently) non-exhaustive list. For your information, fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons is based on the principle of bounded accuracy, which means that the designers purposefully made flat bonuses rarer than in previous editions. That being said, on to the list :

  • Achieving certain character levels (the proficiency bonus at level 1 is +2, but becomes +3 at level 5, +4 at level 9, +5 at level 13, and +6 at level 17. For example, a Rogue 2 / Fighter 4 [character level 6] would have a proficiency bonus of +3)

  • Ability Score Improvement towards the ability used to attack (Each +2 put on an ability score increases the attack bonus by 1, for a maximum score of 20, giving +5. The first ASI is available at class level 4)

  • The Bard's Bardic Inspiration (add a d6 to an attack roll. Later becomes a bigger die)

  • The Cleric's Bless [level 1 spell] (add a d4 to an attack roll)

  • [From Xanathar's Guide to Everything] The Forge Cleric's Blessing of the Forge feature (make a non-magical weapon magical to give it a +1 to attack rolls)

  • The Paladin's Elemental Weapon [level 3 spell] (make a non-magical weapon magical to give it a +1 to attack rolls. If the spell is cast with a higher level slot, the bonus increases, for a maximum of +3)

  • Gained magical weapons (grant a fixed attack roll bonus when used to attack. The maximum is +3)

  • [From Xanathar's Guide to Everything] The Kensei monk's Sharpen the Blade feature at level 11 (spend up to 3 ki points to give that much of an attack roll bonus to a weapon that doesn't already have a magical weapon attack bonus)

  • Gained magical ability-boosting items (increase an ability score which, incidentally, increases its bonus if said ability is used to attack. Example : Belt of Giant Strength increases Strength score)

  • The Battle Master Fighter's Precision maneuver at level 3 (add a d8 to an attack roll. Later becomes a bigger die. Can also be obtained via the Martial Adept feat for a d6 attack roll bonus)

  • The Archery fighting style (add +2 to ranged weapon attack rolls. Available to Fighters and Rangers)

  • The War Cleric's Divine Strike Channel Divinity at level 2 (add +10 to an attack roll. Can be given to another player's attack roll at level 6. Also available to an Oath of Conquest Paladin [Xanathar's Guide to Everything] at level 3)

  • The Oath of Devotion Paladin's Sacred Weapon Channel Divinity at level 3 (add Charisma bonus on top of the regular ability bonus for an attack roll)

  • The Wild Magic Sorcerer's Bend Luck feature at level 6 (add a d4 to an attack roll)

So, for example, a level 1 character (proficiency bonus of +2) usually has at least a 16 (+3) in the ability he uses to attack. That's already a +5 to hit. If a friendly Bard gives the character a Bardic Inspiration, that's another +1d6 for a single attack. If a friendly Cleric uses Bless on the character, that's yet another +1d4 for all attacks for up to 1 minute. If the character attacks with a ranged weapon while having the Archery Fighting style, that's yet another +2.

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    \$\begingroup\$ If you find other ways, please comment them here, and I'll add them in the list. \$\endgroup\$ – Gael L Dec 20 '17 at 18:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ The Improved Pact Weapon Invocation from XGtE will turn a pact weapon with no bonus to hit into a +1 magical weapon. Also, although you hardly needed to mention it, the spell Magic Weapon isn't mentioned in this list! \$\endgroup\$ – Gandalfmeansme Jan 25 '19 at 18:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ One more thing to add (thought it will rarely come up): a 20th level Ranger can add their wisdom modifier to an attack roll once per turn, if they are attacking one of their "favored enemies." \$\endgroup\$ – Gandalfmeansme Jan 25 '19 at 19:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hexblade’s curse albeit not often is a good way as well. \$\endgroup\$ – BloodySprinkles Apr 6 '19 at 2:20

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