One of my player's is curious about how weapon finesse applies to his weasel familiar, which deals 1d3–4 plus attach melee damage. The decrease is due to the weasel having a strength ability score of 3.

The weasel also has the weapon finesse feat, which allows it to swap its strength modifier with its dexterity modifier for light weapons (including natural weapons). The weasel has a dexterity of 15, so attacking with dexterity rather than strength would result in a +1 rather than the -4.

Am I missing something, or is this correct? Or is it simply something left for the DM to decide?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you asking about whether Weapon Finesse changes the damage or whether it changes the to-hit? I'm trying to edit the question to have a more descriptive title, and I find that I can't actually tell what the question is asking, at least not well enough to give it a fitting title \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 18 '18 at 23:54

What you’re missing is the difference between attack rolls and damage rolls. When you use a melee weapon, you usually add your Strength bonus to both. With Weapon Finesse, however, you can use your Dexterity bonus instead of your Strength bonus for attack rolls made with light weapons (and certain other weapons).

So the weasel uses Dexterity for its attack roll; Weapon Finesse makes it (much) more accurate. But Weapon Finesse does nothing about the damage roll, so that still uses Strength, for −4, instead of Dexterity, for +1. Using Dexterity for damage is relatively rare in Pathfinder, which I find kind of annoying, personally—I allow the third-party Deadly Agility in my games to make it more accessible—but even with official products you can gain this benefit by being a 3rd-level unchained rogue thanks to the finesse training feature, or by using an agile weapon.


Weapon Finesse only applies to attack, not damage.

You can find it on a weasel's attack:

bite +4 (1d3–4 plus attach)

The +4 comes from Dexterity modifier (+2) and the size bonus (+2) of a Tiny creature. The damage is -4 from the Strength modifier.


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