In my current campaign the rogue has decided to take Two Weapon Fighting and Improved Two Weapon Fighting. What should the attack modifiers be during a full attack?

His current attack with one rapier is at a +13/+9. With TWF (which gives a -2 to hit) his main hand attack is +11/+7.

What are the attack bonuses when attacking with his off hand though? +11/+7? Or is it +8 (-5 for first off-hand attack) / +3 (-10 second off-hand attack)?

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I think his attack with the first rapier is probably +13/+8. The iterative attack should always be 5 lower than the one before it. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 2, 2012 at 8:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ Which will give a bonus of +9/+9/+4/+4 \$\endgroup\$
    – Rob
    Aug 2, 2012 at 10:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ What about "persuading" him to use a more realistic dagger? You could achieve it by having him find a dagger which boosts his AC (and, maybe additionally, a bonus to his parry skill). I think it is not even against the rules for a weapon to have a "magical" AC bonus. Daggers were oft used together with rapiers, but not how D&D presents it. Not for giving an additional attack per round, but for defense, to deflect the thrusts of the opponent: youtube.com/watch?v=DNtvIzXd2fs#t=3m If you give him a usable dagger, he might choose that instead of the ridiculous two rapiers. \$\endgroup\$
    – vsz
    Aug 5, 2012 at 10:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @vsz, thanks for the suggestion. I tried this but he is deciding to keep the two rapiers and take the penalty. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 8, 2012 at 6:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DanialWayne: a strange decision. I would prefer a +2 to hit (from the no penalty) and an AC bonus of 1 or 2, instead of an average +1 to damage due to 1d6 versus 1d4. But ultimately, his decision if he wants to have a less effective character which looks "more cool". \$\endgroup\$
    – vsz
    Aug 8, 2012 at 6:14

3 Answers 3


Two weapon penalties are mitigated by use of the two weapon fighting feat and if the weapon is light.

Rapiers are not light weapons, however you can use your dexterity for the attack modifier instead of strength if you have the weapon finesse feat, even though the weapon isn't light.

Two weapon fighting gives you one extra attack per round with your secondary weapon, modified from the primary attack bonus.

Circumstances              Primary Hand    Off Hand
Normal penalties                –6             –10
Off-hand weapon is light        –4             –8
Two-Weapon Fighting feat        –4             –4
Off-hand weapon is light
 *and* Two-Weapon Fighting feat –2             –2

Improved Two Weapon fighting adds a second attack for their offhand weapon at -5, again modified by their primary attack bonus (and any other TWC modifiers)

So; running through the numbers;

The characters base attack is +13/+9.
The two weapon fighting feat gives a penalty to the primary attack of -4. Main attack is now +9/+5.
Two weapon fighting extra attack is at +9 as per main attack (ie the same -4 modifier), this gives +9/+9/+5.
Improved two weapon fighting adds an additional (Second) attack for the secondary weapon (currently at +9) at -5, (ie in addition to existing -4 penalty for the second weapon)

So this makes +9/+9/+5/+4 (Or +9/+9/+4/+4 if their attack mod is actually +13/+8)

With a light offhand weapon these modifiers would be:

+11/+11/+7/+6 (Or +11/+11/+6/+6 if their attack mod is actually +13/+8)

Quite the chainsaw.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Rapiers aren't light weapons, so I think the attack penalty is going to be -4 for each hand. Also you missed a bit on your math there. The main hand attack will be at +9 (was +13, then a -4 for the unlight TWF). The primary attack with the offhand will be at +9 (same as the main hand). Then both your main hand and your off hand get an additional attack (main hand just because, off hand because of Improved TWF). Since iterative attacks are at -5, that leaves us with: +9/+9/+4/+4 Remember that as a standard action, you only get one of those; to use all of them uses your standard and your move. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 2, 2012 at 8:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Dohhh, I shall correct this. Other system clogging my brain. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rob
    Aug 2, 2012 at 8:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's also worth noting that as a rogue, he might want to consider a shortsword for an off-hand weapon. Unlike the rapier, the shortsword is a light weapon, so the TWF penalty would go to -2 for each hand. That'd get you an attack line of: +11/+11/+6/+6 He'd crit less often, but remember that unlike weapon damage, sneak attack damage isn't multiplied on a critical hit, so he won't be missing out on that much. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 2, 2012 at 8:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ You still have to buy the Weapon Finesse feat to use your Dex mod to attack with a Rapier in 3.5. It's not free (unless that's a house rule). It's just an option even though it's not a light weapon. From the SRD: Weapon Finesse [General] Prerequisite: Base attack bonus +1. Benefit: With a light weapon, rapier, whip, or spiked chain made for a creature of your size category, you may use your Dexterity modifier instead of your Strength modifier on attack rolls. If you carry a shield, its armor check penalty applies to your attack rolls. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 2, 2012 at 8:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Indeedy; yes, I really need some sugar to wake me up. Cheers. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rob
    Aug 2, 2012 at 8:49

Firstly "+13/+9" must be an error. If your attack bonus is +13, your second attack would be +8 (iterative attacks are made at -5, not -4).

With two rapiers, Two-Weapon Fighting and Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, you take a -4/-4 penalty since a rapier isn't a light weapon. You attack at +9/+4 on-hand and +9/+4 off-hand. A more detailed breakdown of these numbers:

  • Assuming +13 is your total attack bonus (e.g. +9 BAB, +3 Dex, +1 masterwork rapier), a full attack with only one weapon is +13/+8: one attack, then a second iterative attack at a -5 penalty.
  • When fighting with a weapon in each hand, you can make one attack with the off-hand weapon. With the Two-Weapon Fighting feat, that off-hand attack is made at the same bonus as the primary on-hand attack - the -5 iterative attack penalty doesn't apply to the off-hand attack. However, there's a separate penalty to all attacks when fighting with two weapons: -4 to both on- and off-hand attacks, or only -2 if the off-hand weapon is light. Since the rapier isn't light, with the TWF feat you fight at +9/+4 on-hand and +9 off-hand.
  • The Improved Two-Weapon Fighting feat allows a second off-hand attack at a -5 penalty. Your full attack then would be +9/+4 on-hand and +9/+4 off-hand.

The feat Oversize Two-Weapon Fighting (Complete Adventurer p111) lets you treat the rapier in your off-hand as a light weapon, reducing the penalties to -2/-2. This would let you attack at +11/+6 on-hand and +11/+6 off-hand. You need at least Str 13 to qualify for the feat.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Over a year later but thanks for the input. I will keep Oversize Two-Weapon Fighting in mind for the future! \$\endgroup\$ Oct 4, 2013 at 18:12

Wouldn't the base attack be +13/+8/+3?

So a full attack with the two rapiers:

(First Primary =13-4)(First Secondary =13-4) (Second Primary =8-4)(Second Secondary =8-4-5) (Third Primary =3-4) (No Third Secondary Granted)


With a light off-hand weapon:

(First Primary =13-2)(First Secondary =13-2) (Second Primary =8-2)(Second Secondary =8-2-5) (Third Primary =3-2) (No Third Secondary Granted)


  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Hi, welcome to Stack Exchange. Actually, the second off-hand attack should be +4 (13-4-5). Improved TWF grants a second attack at -5 the same way normal fighting grants a second iterative attack at -5. Also, it's possible that the rogue doesn't have his third attack yet if +13 is his full attack bonus and not his base attack alone. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 4, 2013 at 5:19

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