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Both Two Weapon Fighting and Extra Attack give additional attacks in a turn, but in what order do those attacks take place? Is it up to the player, or must it be a specific order?

My initial assumption is that this would go: (action) attack - extra attack(s) - (bonus action) offhand attack. But since a bonus action can take place at any time on your turn, is the offhand attack allowed to happen before the attack action, as long as you do take the attack action that turn? Or could it happen in the middle of the attack, between your attack and extra attack?

This obviously doesn't normally matter, but when dealing with multiple enemies, movement, and different weapon enchantments, it could. And since that offhand attack doesn't get your ability modifier, that could also affect the order one may want to make the attacks.

For instance, your off-hand flame-tongue might easily take down the fire-weak enemy in front of you, while your primary hand weapon could be used to attack an enemy 15 feet away - but you need to take care of this enemy before moving to avoid the opportunity attack.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ While the associated questions are helpful, and while put together can be used to formulate an answer to this question, they do not by themselves do so. Rather than this question being marked simply as "duplicate" and making future users have to piece the answer together themselves, would it not be better for a complete answer to be allowed here? \$\endgroup\$ – zeel Jan 8 at 4:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ The gist of the answer, based on the references cited in the two linked answers, is that you are not supposed to be able to use the bonus action attack before or in the middle of the attack action. However, there is no rule limiting which weapon is in the "primary" hand, so which weapon is used first doesn't matter. However, the first two attacks are always with the same weapon (and add your ability bonus) while the third is always the other weapon and doesn't get the bonus. You can not choose to have the no-bonus attack before or between the others. Right-right-left, but not Right-left-right. \$\endgroup\$ – zeel Jan 8 at 4:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ And to answer the example, if the flame tongue is used first, it must also be used second, and will have the ability bonus for each, and the other weapon is will be used for the bonus action attack. You could not, however, attack one target with one regular weapon, then (bonus) offhand another target with the flame tongue, and then hit a third target with the regular weapon. \$\endgroup\$ – zeel Jan 8 at 4:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm reopening this so it can receive an individual complete answer fusing the knowledge necessary from other sources. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jan 8 at 12:20
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What do the rules actually say?

What we can see from looking at the rules is that there exists a section on "Moving Between Attack" which explicitly allows you to move between attacks of an action. There is no similar section allowing you to insert a bonus action between the attacks of an ation. Thus, you cannot use any bonus action in-between the attacks of the Attack action regardless of its trigger, even if it has no trigger whatsoever.

This, however, is a rather odd situation and is not something I have ever seen used at the tables I've been a part of, nor is it a ruling I would use at my own tables. Even Jeremy Crawford himself disagrees with this ruling here:

A bonus action that has no trigger—such as Cunning Action and the misty step spell—can take place whenever you want on your turn (PH, 189).

How I actually run my tables

I am all for giving my players more options; if they want to break up their Attack action with Two-Weapon Fighting or some other bonus action, I will always give them that option. This is simply because I don't find it particularly helpful to have some bonus actions able to be used mid-Extra-Attack and others could not be based on small differences in wording that the rules themselves don't even cover.

Otherwise, it depends on whether the trigger for Two-Weapon Fighting is the Attack action or an attack with a light melee weapon

The "Two-Weapon Fighting" section states:

When you take the Attack action and attack with a light melee weapon that you're holding in one hand, you can use a bonus action to attack with a different light melee weapon that you're holding in the other hand [...]


Jeremy Crawford has made the following unofficial ruling (a tweet):

Q. @JeremyECrawford When you take the Attack action, is the trigger for the two-weapon fighting bonus action attack the entire Attack action or a single attack within the attack action? Can that particular bonus action interrupt the Attack action?

A. Here's the trigger for the two-weapon-fighting bonus action: "When you take the Attack action and attack with a light melee weapon that you're holding in one hand …." (PH, p. 195).

Summary: the trigger is the attack that's part of the Attack action, not the entire action. [this summary is part of Crawford's tweet]

Thus, according to Crawford, the trigger for Two-Weapon Fighting is not actually taking the Attack action, but making an attack with a light melee weapon as part of the Attack action. This would mean that you can use the bonus action any time after your first attack of the Attack action.


I believe that Two-Weapon Fighting requires you to actually take the Attack action, and so we can compare this to the Shield Master feat discussed elsewhere:

  • If you take the Attack action on your turn, you can use a bonus action to try to shove a creature within 5 feet of you with your shield.

Lead Rules Designer Jeremy Crawford has made unofficial rulings (tweets) regarding the Shield Master feat but ultimately said this:

Clarification about bonus actions: if a feature says you can do X as a bonus action if you do Y, you must do Y before you can do X. For Shield Master, that means the bonus action must come after the Attack action. You decide when it happens afterward that turn.

He also further clarified this here:

No general rule allows you to insert a bonus action between attacks in a single action. You can interrupt a multiple-attack action with a bonus action/reaction only if the trigger of the bonus action/reaction is an attack, rather than the action.

However all of this was then even further clarified with this:

My tweet below was addressing bonus actions and reactions that have triggers. A bonus action that has no trigger—such as Cunning Action and the misty step spell—can take place whenever you want on your turn (PH, 189).

All of these things can be put together and show us that things that use your bonus action or reaction which first require you to "take the Attack action" cannot be done until the Attack action itself is fully resolved. This would mean that you can use the bonus action only after every attack of the Attack action.

Some important differences resulting from attack ordering

Depending on the order of your attacks and what weapon you use, a combatant will have different options. Let's assume the combatant has two weapons, one in each hand, and does not switch out or change weapons. An example:

If they were to use TWF after attacking with both weapons during the Attack action then they could use either weapon for TWF.
If they were to use TWF after the first attack of the Attack action then they would have to use the weapon they did not just use.

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There are a few things to lay the groundwork for here.

  • There is no "handedness" in 5e. You have hands and weapons you're holding.
    • One can make an attack with any of the weapons being held in permitted weapon-holding appendages.
  • If a character has the Extra Attack class feature, they may choose different weapons for different individual attacks
  • Two Weapon Fighting grants a bonus action attack (without ability bonus) option, if you take the Attack Action.
    • This bonus action attack must use a different weapon than (at least one of) the Attack Action attacks.
  • Two Weapon Fighting requires two light weapons, unless you have the Dual Wielder feat.

I'm not going to put this one in the list, because there's some disagreement between RAW, designer intent, and accepted community practice:
You can use the bonus action in-between the attacks added to the Attack Action through Extra Attack.


Assuming your weapons qualify for any Two Weapon Fighting rules, the following options are valid:

  • Attack Action and all attacks (with the same weapon), followed by the Bonus Action attack with a different weapon.
  • Attack Action and all attacks (with a combination of weapons), followed by the Bonus Action attack with one of those, or a different weapon.
  • Attack Action (at least 1 attack), followed by the Bonus Action attack (with a different weapon), followed by any remaining attacks granted to you by Extra Attack (with any valid weapon).

You may not use your Bonus Action attack first, not even if you promise to use the Attack Action later.

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Short Answer

You can attack with either weapon in whatever order you please, so long as you do in fact use them both at least once. The final attack is always* the bonus action attack, and for those without the right fighting style, this means you do not add your ability bonus (unless it's negative) to the final attack. You can not* choose to take this reduced damage for one of the earlier attacks.

Explanation

The explanation is actually more complicated than the original question implies, and the interaction of rules is somewhat surprising.

Firstly, we have to abandon the notion of "primary hand" and "offhand" - 5e doesn't make any distinction between the two, character creation doesn't involve picking if you are right or left handed, and none of the rules mention any such distinction. Therefore neither weapon you hold is "primary" and neither one is secondary.

With that in mind, we must also acknowledge that the extra attack feature doesn't require you to use any particular weapon, or even the same weapon, for each attack. This means that when using your extra attack, you could attack with either or both weapons in any order or combination you like.

So now the Two-Weapon Fighting rules (PHB 195):

When you take the Attack action and attack with a light melee weapon that you’re holding in one hand, you can use a bonus action to attack with a different light melee weapon that you’re holding in the other hand. You don’t add your ability modifier to the damage of the bonus attack, unless that modifier is negative.

Extra attack is part of the attack action. So long as one of the attacks you made was with a light melee weapon held in one hand, you can use a bonus action to attack with a light melee weapon in the other hand. Note that that isn't "offhand" just a different hand.

If you use the same weapon for all attacks and extra attacks, you must use the other weapon for the bonus action attack. However if you used both, you could bonus action attack with either.

Finally, when does the bonus action take place? The general rule is that a bonus action can take place at any time on your turn, but the more specific rule is that a bonus action with a particular trigger or prerequisite must take place after the trigger. Since the trigger for the two-weapon fighting bonus action attack is "When you take the Attack action..." it would not be valid to take the bonus action until the "Attack action" is completed. This also stands to reason, as some effect outside the player's control could prevent them from satisfying the condition of two-weapon fighting after they used the bonus action if this were permitted.

Therefore you can not use this bonus action before the attack action, or in the middle* of the attack action (unlike, for example, movement that can take place between attack and extra attack).

*There is, however, some debate as to whether or not the Bonus Action attack could take place between your attack and extra attack, as the trigger is more complex than just "attack action," and could be interpreted as being more specific. You definitely can not use this Bonus Action before the attack action, but you may be permitted to take it in the middle of the attack action. See the other answers for more detail on this interpretation.

So as far as order of weapon use, you can choose the order. As far as the order of which attack doesn't get the ability bonus - it's always the Bonus Action Attack, which can not be first, can definitely be last, and might be permissible in the middle.

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You have

  • One action.
  • One bonus action.

You can take those in any order you chose.

Some actions allow you to make multiple attacks.

That means you can go:

  • Off hand attack.
  • Multi attack.

Or:

  • Multi attack.
  • Off hand attack.

However, I do not believe you have to do the multi-attack. An extra weapon just allows you to expend a bonus action to attack with it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think "offhand attack, then multi attack" is valid. The rules state "When you take the Attack action and attack with a light melee weapon that you're holding in one hand, you can use a bonus action to attack with a different light melee weapon that you're holding in the other hand." - so until you take your Attack action you cannot make a bonus attack with the offhand weapon. \$\endgroup\$ – pllpnakjlx Jan 7 at 7:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ -1; what @jgn said, plus "Extra Attack" and "Multiattack" are very much not the same thing. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Jan 7 at 21:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ I mean, I was incorrect that an offhand attack just gives you a flat out gives you a single attack you can use a bonus action to attack with it(which I still think jumping trough a hoop to do that is overly complicated but whatever) but I've never claimed multiattack is the same thing as extra attacks? \$\endgroup\$ – user59614 Jan 8 at 6:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @user59614: I think TJL's comment is about your inaccurate use of "Multi attack"/"multi-attack" to mean "your additional attack from the Extra Attack feature". \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jan 8 at 20:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @user59614 The question is about "Extra Attack", you talk about "Multiattack". They are not the same thing - one is a PC ability, the other is an NPC ability. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Feb 7 at 18:08

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