# What properties make a magic weapon befit a Rogue more than a DEX-based Fighter?

We have an Assassination Rogue and a Dual-Wielding Champion Fighter in our party, and we often divide our items trying to maximize party damage output. One pattern that we have noticed is that any weapon that works for both characters is better suited for the Fighter. With his Extra Attack, the Fighter will always cause the weapon to do more damage than the Rogue (who has a single attack).

Currently, the Rogue has two +1 daggers, and the Fighter has a +1 shortsword and a regular shortsword. The Rogue was given both daggers just to ensure Sneak Attack could land as magical damage. They've not picked feats yet and will reach level 11 next week. Both have maxed out their Dexterity scores.

However, as more weapons are found now (Vorpal Swords, Sun blades, etc), it seems like the optimal strategy is to always give them to the Fighter first, and his 'leftovers' are then given to the Rogue. Since they will now both have 2 magical weapons, the Fighter is always the best choice, DPR-wise.

What kind of magical weapon (if any) is better suited for the Rogue rather than the Fighter?

• Are you tuned for mostly melee? And is the fighter? – NautArch Mar 19 at 16:23
• @NautArch So far, yeah, but I don't think the players would mind adopting different strategies if it lets them improve their DPR. In other words, feel free to consider ranged options – BlueMoon93 Mar 19 at 16:25
• I believe this is a "list question", since any number of items could be suitable, and as such the question is not suitable for this site. – PixelMaster Mar 19 at 16:45
• As mentioned, "are there any" runs the risk of becoming a list question (as linked by pixelmaster) and makes me worry this may get closed as off-topic. The answer by bluehairedmeerkat makes me wonder if editing the question to something like "what qualities make a magic weapon better for my rogue than for my fighter?" would (a) help you solve your problem and (b) generate high-quality analytical answers rather than just a list of suggestions. Which would end up getting closed off. – nitsua60 Mar 19 at 17:13
• @BlueMoon93 looks great to me--as long as you think this formulation will (also) help you with your problem! It's your game, after all =) – nitsua60 Mar 19 at 17:23

# Avoid Pure Damage

A magic weapon can do a lot of things other than buff your damage. A Weapon of Warning, for example, gives advantage on initiative rolls, and thus would be perfect for an assassin rogue. A Dagger of Blindsight (from Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage) would be equally appropriate, allowing an Assassin to skulk around even in magical darkness.

Fighters get Extra Attack, and so they can leverage extra damage well. You need to find a way to leverage what you have (benefitting from going first, benefitting from advantage, et cetera).

• I added another example weapon, one some people may not be familiar with. Feel free to rollback if you think it's overstepping. – T.J.L. Mar 19 at 17:57
• My rogue has a Dagger of Silencing, another one that would be great for an assassin trying to make quiet kills. – David K Mar 19 at 18:20
• @DavidK That seems to be for pathfinder. The question is asking about D&D 5e – Sdjz Mar 19 at 18:21
• @Sdjz Yes, I saw that. I don't have access to DnD Beyond, so I can't look it up, but I'm sure there's an analogous effect for 5e out there. I just wanted to share another relevant example that's more about a useful effect than the damage it does. – David K Mar 19 at 18:25
• @DavidK None that I'm aware of. 5E dramatically simplified the selection of magic items as compared to previous editions and their forks. – T.J.L. Mar 19 at 20:00

## A Weapon of Warning is a good fit for an Assassin Rogue.

A weapon of warning doesn't deal extra damage, but

While the weapon is on your person, you have advantage on initiative rolls. In addition, you and any of your companions within 30 ft of you can’t be surprised, except when incapacitated by something other than nonmagical sleep.

Advantage on initiative rolls is useful for an Assassin, since they get advantage on attack rolls against creatures that haven't taken a turn yet. And because the weapon doesn't have a damage bonus, the fighter won't get as much out of it.

# Give Attack Bonus to Rogue First and Damage Bonus to Fighter First (With Many Caveats)

As others have well explained a weapon that generates advantage should basically always go to the Rogue first, because it radically increases their chance at sneak attack. However you will likely encounter a pile of other magic weapons along the way so I will not focus on this.

With most magic weapons the basic principle should be that, when sneak attack is available, it is more important that one of the Rogue's two attacks hit than that one more of the Champion Fighter's hit, and statistically it is more difficult for the Rogue to land a hit since they have fewer attacks. A level 11 Rogue with sneak attack will do an average of 21 extra damage from landing a sneak attack but even dual wielding and using their bonus action they will only get 2 bites at that apple. This sneak attack damage, when available, is on average the bulk of the damage they will do (especially since the offhand attack doesn't get their dex bonus), and this generally applies even if their weapons gets a damage bonus. Often they will not even get the offhand attack because of the many things they can and often should do with their bonus action.

Meanwhile the fighter will statistically have more attacks hit in their turn. Thus bonus weapon damage matters far more to the fighter than the Rogue. Consider also that the champion has an expanded crit range so they will double the damage dice of the extra damage twice as often. Consider that they will use the offhand attack a bit more often since they have fewer bonus action options.

Another factor is that for the level 11 Fighter three attacks can be with one weapon, one with the other which makes one sword of damage awesomeness more valuable than two swords of half as much damage awesomeness.

But, using an example of fairly typical magic weapons, I would say that a straight +2 weapon should probably go to the Rogue first whereas a +1 with 1d6 damage bonus should probably go to the Fighter first. The first is more likely to hit, the second does 2.5 more damage on average then the first when it does.

In terms of the offhand weapon the answer is clearer: favor the Rogue with anything that ups attack if they frequently use their bonus action to attack and the Fighter if they don't. The difference in what damage the weapon will add to the single bonus action attack for one character versus the other is marginal compared to a high level sneak attack happening or not happening.

I'm afraid because of these numerous variables, and the variability of enemy AC, it is exceptionally complex to actually calculate the permutations for average damage even of example scenarios with example weapons, particularly if a dual wielding character does not have identical weapons in each hand. (I started to do it, and it quickly involved about a page of calculations for each scenario. For example, there are eight different results for how many combinations of hits or non-hits a level 11 fighter with two different weapons can do and for each one there are permutations of how many crits v. non-crits, and then they can also action surge!). So, realistically, you'll just have to get a feel for whether a particular weapon is frequently making the difference in a Rogue hitting with sneak attack or not hitting at all.

Moving beyond actually optimizing party damage output, consider finally that, since the Rogue is statistically less likely to hit at least once with any weapon, that player, without a weapon increasing attack, is substantially more likely to have a complete bummer turn where they just miss and do no damage at all, and that makes for less enjoyable gameplay for most people.

• Para. 2 is missing a right paren to close the parenthesis--I'm not sure where you'd intended it or I'd edit myself. – nitsua60 Mar 20 at 2:00
• "using an example of fairly typical magic weapons" -- can you add some math to that paragraph to justify your supposition? The effect on DPS should be a function of (AC-ATK) (ie, to hit target number). For the fighter, it is merely (chance to hit) * (damage per hit) * number of attacks + (chance to crit) * (extra damage per crit) * number of attacks. – Yakk Mar 20 at 14:58
• See ethercalc.org/7wxx4214x4yj -- We can compare what changing a +1 mainhand on the fighter does compared to the rogue. At an "old" accuracy of 50% the fighter DPR goes up to 17.85 from 14.825. The rogue DPR goes from 19.11 to 20.97. So +3 DPR on the fighter and +1.86 DPR on the rogue. – Yakk Mar 20 at 15:27
• @Yakk I didn't find that that sort of framework played well with the relationship between sneak attack damage and two weapon fighting (since it really only matters that one of the Rogue's attacks hit) and gave up there, but I may have given up too soon. I'll try and give it another shot. – Benjamin Olson Mar 20 at 15:27
• Aha, typo. Gap is smaller yet still remains. Actually gap is now teeny tiny (like a fraction of a single point of damage per round) -- at that point, who gets the +2 weapon first is a toss up. – Yakk Mar 20 at 15:33

# Any weapon that deals burst damage, improves initiative, or grants Advantage

A solid example is the Oathbow.

The Oathbow is a ranged magical weapon, and has this text:

When you make a ranged Attack roll with this weapon against your sworn enemy, you have advantage on the roll. In addition, your target gains no benefit from cover, other than total cover, and you suffer no disadvantage due to long range. If the Attack hits, your sworn enemy takes an extra 3d6 piercing damage.

Additionally, regarding the Rogue's Sneak Attack feature:

Once per turn, you can deal an extra 1d6 damage to one creature you hit with an attack if you have advantage on the attack roll. The attack must use a finesse or ranged weapon.

Lastly, consider this from the Assassin Rogue Subclass:

You have advantage on attacks rolls against any creature that hasn't taken a turn in the combat yet. In addition, any hit you score against a creature that is surprised is a critical hit.

As a Rogue, you can gain your Sneak Attack damage bonus on any attack that has Advantage without having an ally adjacent to your target. Add that with the added range and guaranteed advantage of the Oathbow, as well as the fact that the Assassin features allow you to critically hit more often while applying the bonus damage of the Oathbow, and you have a highly effective weapon for any Assassin Rogue.

• Big problem: the Oathbow is a longbow and rogues are not proficient with longbows. – Ruse Mar 19 at 17:19
• @Ruse Unless the rogue is an Elf. – KorvinStarmast Mar 19 at 17:21
• @Ruse There are quite a few ways of getting around this, including things like Bracers of Archery, training to gain the proficiency (PHB p.187), a single level into another class, by gaining a feat, or a simple request with a casting of Wish. – Daniel Zastoupil Mar 19 at 17:38
• -1, because an Oathbow is still better for the Fighter who can potentially make multiple attacks, each dealing an additional 3d6 damage. – T.J.L. Mar 19 at 17:54
• @T.J.L.I feel like assassin rogue subclass + loss of two weapons from fighter make this a better rogue option as it puts emphasis on existing rogue features (Advantage for sneak attack, extra D6's) and applies sneak attack at a much longer range. – IT Alex Mar 19 at 19:43

Weapons that boost accuracy are better in the Rogue's hands.

Weapons that boost damage are better in the Fighter's main hand.

Weapons that boost each equally are a wash; there is a difference, but it is a matter of fractions of damage per round.

So a +2 dagger would be better to give to the Rogue, and would boost the Rogue's DPS. A Flametongue sword would be better in the Fighter's hands.

When the Fighter gains their 3rd attack the effects are larger, and "+2 vanilla" ends up better on the Fighter by a full point of damage per round.

Other than extreme cases, like Flametongue, the difference is small enough that making decisions based on this is questionable.

You can play with this spreadsheet: https://ethercalc.org/7wxx4214x4yj to see how the variables change. Put the "before" on top, and the "after" on the bottom, and you'll get a change in DPR depending on AC-Prof-Dex bonus at the lower right of the spreadsheet.

Beyond that, initiative bonuses belongs to the Rogue, as does anything that grants advantage.

Anything that deals damage on a per-hit basis is best in the hands of a Fighter.

Anything that grants accuracy, or an equal amount of accuracy and damage, is a wash.

A good example of an item that would improve the rogue but do little for the Fighter would be a +2 dagger. It has the same damage-per-hit as a +1 short sword, but a bit more accuracy.

Here is the raw spreadsheet data, in case the above link fails, without formulas, for upgrading from a +1 short sword to a +2 at level 7:

    Swings: 2       1
Plus    OnHit   Plus                            Plus    OnHit   Plus                        BS Dice:    4
1   0   1                           1   0   1
AC-DEX-PROF FighterDPMH Figheter MHit%  Figher DPOH Fighter OHit%   Fighter+Crit    Fighter MDPA    Fighter ODPA    Fighter DPR Rogue Crit% RogueMDPH   Rogue+Crit  RogueODPH   Rogue MHit% Rogue BaseMDPA  Rogue OHit% Rogue BaseODPA  Rogue BS    Rogue BS Crit%  Rogue BS    Rogue BS +Crit  Rogue BS DPR    Rogue DPR
2   9.5 0.95    9.5 0.95    3.5 9.375   9.375   28.125  0.05    8.5 3.5 4.5 0.95    8.25    0.95    4.449999999999999   0.9975  0.052500000000000005    14  14  14.7    27.4        0.7250000000000014
3   9.5 0.95    9.5 0.95    3.5 9.375   9.375   28.125  0.05    8.5 3.5 4.5 0.95    8.25    0.95    4.449999999999999   0.9975  0.052500000000000005    14  14  14.7    27.4        0.7250000000000014
4   9.5 0.9 9.5 0.9 3.5 8.9 8.9 26.700000000000003  0.05    8.5 3.5 4.5 0.9 7.825   0.9 4.225   0.99    0.055   14  14  14.629999999999999  26.68       0.020000000000003126
5   9.5 0.8500000000000001  9.5 0.8500000000000001  3.5 8.425   8.425   25.275000000000002  0.05    8.5 3.5 4.5 0.8500000000000001  7.4 0.8500000000000001  4   0.9775  0.057499999999999996    14  14  14.49   25.89       -0.6149999999999984
6   9.5 0.8 9.5 0.8 3.5 7.95    7.95    23.85   0.05    8.5 3.5 4.5 0.8 6.9750000000000005  0.8 3.775   0.96    0.06    14  14  14.28   25.03       -1.1799999999999997
7   9.5 0.75    9.5 0.75    3.5 7.475   7.475   22.424999999999997  0.05    8.5 3.5 4.5 0.75    6.55    0.75    3.55    0.9375  0.0625  14  14  14  24.1        -1.6750000000000043
8   9.5 0.7000000000000001  9.5 0.7000000000000001  3.5 7   7   21  0.05    8.5 3.5 4.5 0.7000000000000001  6.125   0.7000000000000001  3.325   0.91    0.065   14  14  13.65   23.1        -2.1000000000000014
9   9.5 0.65    9.5 0.65    3.5 6.5249999999999995  6.5249999999999995  19.575  0.05    8.5 3.5 4.5 0.65    5.7 0.65    3.1 0.8775  0.0675  14  14  13.23   22.03       -2.455000000000002
10  9.5 0.6000000000000001  9.5 0.6000000000000001  3.5 6.050000000000001   6.050000000000001   18.150000000000002  0.05    8.5 3.5 4.5 0.6000000000000001  5.275   0.6000000000000001  2.875   0.8400000000000001  0.07    14  14  12.740000000000002  20.89       -2.7399999999999984
11  9.5 0.55    9.5 0.55    3.5 5.575   5.575   16.725  0.05    8.5 3.5 4.5 0.55    4.8500000000000005  0.55    2.65    0.7975000000000001  0.07250000000000001 14  14  12.180000000000001  19.68       -2.9549999999999983
12  9.5 0.5 9.5 0.5 3.5 5.1 5.1 15.299999999999999  0.05    8.5 3.5 4.5 0.5 4.425   0.5 2.425   0.75    0.07500000000000001 14  14  11.55   18.4        -3.0999999999999996
13  9.5 0.45    9.5 0.45    3.5 4.625   4.625   13.875  0.05    8.5 3.5 4.5 0.45    4   0.45    2.1999999999999997  0.6975  0.07750000000000001 14  14  10.850000000000001  17.05       -3.1750000000000007
14  9.5 0.4 9.5 0.4 3.5 4.15    4.15    12.450000000000001  0.05    8.5 3.5 4.5 0.4 3.575   0.4 1.975   0.64    0.08    14  14  10.080000000000002  15.630000000000003      -3.1800000000000015
15  9.5 0.35000000000000003 9.5 0.35000000000000003 3.5 3.6750000000000003  3.6750000000000003  11.025  0.05    8.5 3.5 4.5 0.35000000000000003 3.15    0.35000000000000003 1.7500000000000002  0.5775  0.08249999999999999 14  14  9.24    14.14       -3.115
16  9.5 0.30000000000000004 9.5 0.30000000000000004 3.5 3.2000000000000006  3.2000000000000006  9.600000000000001   0.05    8.5 3.5 4.5 0.30000000000000004 2.725   0.30000000000000004 1.5250000000000001  0.51    0.08499999999999999 14  14  8.33    12.58       -2.9799999999999986
17  9.5 0.25    9.5 0.25    3.5 2.725   2.725   8.175   0.05    8.5 3.5 4.5 0.25    2.3 0.25    1.3 0.4375  0.08750000000000001 14  14  7.35    10.95       -2.7749999999999986
18  9.5 0.2 9.5 0.2 3.5 2.25    2.25    6.75    0.05    8.5 3.5 4.5 0.2 1.8750000000000002  0.2 1.075   0.36000000000000004 0.09000000000000001 14  14  6.300000000000001   9.25        -2.5
19  9.5 0.15000000000000002 9.5 0.15000000000000002 3.5 1.7750000000000004  1.7750000000000004  5.325000000000001   0.05    8.5 3.5 4.5 0.15000000000000002 1.4500000000000002  0.15000000000000002 0.8500000000000001  0.2775  0.0925  14  14  5.18    7.48        -2.1549999999999994
20  9.5 0.1 9.5 0.1 3.5 1.3 1.3 3.9000000000000004  0.05    8.5 3.5 4.5 0.1 1.0250000000000001  0.1 0.625   0.19    0.095   14  14  3.99    5.640000000000001       -1.7400000000000002
21  9.5 0.05    9.5 0.05    3.5 0.65    0.65    1.9500000000000002  0.05    8.5 3.5 4.5 0.05    0.6000000000000001  0.05    0.4 0.0975  0.0975  14  14  2.73    3.73        -1.7799999999999998

Swings: 2       1
Plus    OnHit   Plus                            Plus    OnHit   Plus                        BS Dice:    4
2   0   1                           2   0   1
AC-DEX-PROF FighterDPMH Figheter MHit%  Figher DPOH Fighter OHit%   Fighter+Crit    Fighter MDPA    Fighter ODPA    Fighter DPR Rogue Crit% RogueMDPH   Rogue+Crit  RogueODPH   Rogue MHit% Rogue BaseMDPA  Rogue OHit% Rogue BaseODPA  Rogue BS    Rogue BS Crit%  Rogue BS    Rogue BS +Crit  Rogue BS DPR    Rogue DPR       Delta Fighter   Delta Rogue Delta Delta
2   10.5    0.95    9.5 0.95    3.5 10.325  9.375   30.025  0.05    10.5    3.5 4.5 0.95    10.15   0.95    4.449999999999999   0.9975  0.052500000000000005    14  14  14.7    29.299999999999997      1.8999999999999986  1.8999999999999986  0
3   10.5    0.95    9.5 0.95    3.5 10.325  9.375   30.025  0.05    10.5    3.5 4.5 0.95    10.15   0.95    4.449999999999999   0.9975  0.052500000000000005    14  14  14.7    29.299999999999997      1.8999999999999986  1.8999999999999986  0
4   10.5    0.95    9.5 0.9 3.5 10.325  8.9 29.549999999999997  0.05    10.5    3.5 4.5 0.95    10.15   0.9 4.225   0.995   0.052500000000000005    14  14  14.665  29.04       2.8499999999999943  2.3599999999999994  0.4899999999999949
5   10.5    0.9 9.5 0.8500000000000001  3.5 9.8 8.425   28.025000000000002  0.05    10.5    3.5 4.5 0.9 9.625000000000002   0.8500000000000001  4   0.985   0.055   14  14  14.559999999999999  28.185000000000002      2.75    2.2950000000000017  0.4549999999999983
6   10.5    0.8500000000000001  9.5 0.8 3.5 9.275   7.95    26.5    0.05    10.5    3.5 4.5 0.8500000000000001  9.100000000000001   0.8 3.775   0.97    0.057499999999999996    14  14  14.385  27.26       2.6499999999999986  2.2300000000000004  0.41999999999999815
7   10.5    0.8 9.5 0.75    3.5 8.75    7.475   24.975  0.05    10.5    3.5 4.5 0.8 8.575000000000001   0.75    3.55    0.95    0.06    14  14  14.139999999999999  26.265      2.5500000000000043  2.164999999999999   0.3850000000000051
8   10.5    0.75    9.5 0.7000000000000001  3.5 8.225   7   23.45   0.05    10.5    3.5 4.5 0.75    8.05    0.7000000000000001  3.325   0.925   0.0625  14  14  13.825000000000001  25.200000000000003      2.4499999999999993  2.1000000000000014  0.34999999999999787
9   10.5    0.7000000000000001  9.5 0.65    3.5 7.7 6.5249999999999995  21.925  0.05    10.5    3.5 4.5 0.7000000000000001  7.525   0.65    3.1 0.895   0.065   14  14  13.440000000000001  24.065      2.3500000000000014  2.035   0.3150000000000013
10  10.5    0.65    9.5 0.6000000000000001  3.5 7.175   6.050000000000001   20.4    0.05    10.5    3.5 4.5 0.65    7   0.6000000000000001  2.875   0.8600000000000001  0.0675  14  14  12.985000000000001  22.86       2.2499999999999964  1.9699999999999989  0.2799999999999976
11  10.5    0.6000000000000001  9.5 0.55    3.5 6.65    5.575   18.875  0.05    10.5    3.5 4.5 0.6000000000000001  6.4750000000000005  0.55    2.65    0.8200000000000001  0.07    14  14  12.46   21.585      2.1499999999999986  1.9050000000000011  0.24499999999999744
12  10.5    0.55    9.5 0.5 3.5 6.125   5.1 17.35   0.05    10.5    3.5 4.5 0.55    5.95    0.5 2.425   0.775   0.07250000000000001 14  14  11.865  20.240000000000002      2.0500000000000025  1.8400000000000034  0.20999999999999908
13  10.5    0.5 9.5 0.45    3.5 5.6 4.625   15.825  0.05    10.5    3.5 4.5 0.5 5.425   0.45    2.1999999999999997  0.725   0.07500000000000001 14  14  11.200000000000001  18.825000000000003      1.9499999999999993  1.7750000000000021  0.17499999999999716
14  10.5    0.45    9.5 0.4 3.5 5.075   4.15    14.3    0.05    10.5    3.5 4.5 0.45    4.9 0.4 1.975   0.67    0.07750000000000001 14  14  10.465000000000002  17.340000000000003      1.8499999999999996  1.7100000000000009  0.1399999999999988
15  10.5    0.4 9.5 0.35000000000000003 3.5 4.55    3.6750000000000003  12.775  0.05    10.5    3.5 4.5 0.4 4.375   0.35000000000000003 1.7500000000000002  0.6100000000000001  0.08    14  14  9.66    15.785      1.75    1.6449999999999996  0.10500000000000043
16  10.5    0.35000000000000003 9.5 0.30000000000000004 3.5 4.025   3.2000000000000006  11.250000000000002  0.05    10.5    3.5 4.5 0.35000000000000003 3.85    0.30000000000000004 1.5250000000000001  0.545   0.08249999999999999 14  14  8.785   14.16       1.6500000000000004  1.58    0.07000000000000028
17  10.5    0.30000000000000004 9.5 0.25    3.5 3.5000000000000004  2.725   9.725000000000001   0.05    10.5    3.5 4.5 0.30000000000000004 3.325   0.25    1.3 0.47500000000000003 0.08499999999999999 14  14  7.84    12.465      1.5500000000000007  1.5150000000000006  0.03500000000000014
18  10.5    0.25    9.5 0.2 3.5 2.975   2.25    8.2 0.05    10.5    3.5 4.5 0.25    2.8 0.2 1.075   0.4 0.08750000000000001 14  14  6.825000000000001   10.700000000000001      1.4499999999999993  1.450000000000001   -1.7763568394002505e-15
19  10.5    0.2 9.5 0.15000000000000002 3.5 2.45    1.7750000000000004  6.675000000000001   0.05    10.5    3.5 4.5 0.2 2.275   0.15000000000000002 0.8500000000000001  0.32000000000000006 0.09000000000000001 14  14  5.74    8.865       1.3499999999999996  1.3849999999999998  -0.03500000000000014
20  10.5    0.15000000000000002 9.5 0.1 3.5 1.9250000000000003  1.3 5.15    0.05    10.5    3.5 4.5 0.15000000000000002 1.7500000000000002  0.1 0.625   0.23500000000000004 0.0925  14  14  4.585000000000001   6.960000000000001       1.25    1.3200000000000003  -0.07000000000000028
21  10.5    0.1 9.5 0.05    3.5 1.4000000000000001  0.65    3.45    0.05    10.5    3.5 4.5 0.1 1.225   0.05    0.4 0.14500000000000002 0.095   14  14  3.3600000000000003  4.985       1.5 1.2550000000000003  0.24499999999999966

• Cool. Heads up that the more familiar 5e term is "attack" rather than "accuracy". The latter term would probably be more intuitive, but that's not what WotC gave us. – Benjamin Olson Mar 20 at 19:48