Normal Two-Weapon Fighting lets you use your bonus action when you've used your action to attack. It says:

You don't add your ability modifier to the damage of the bonus attack, unless that modifier is negative.

The new Tasha's Cauldron subclass Soulknife has a feature where you can create a blade of energy and attack with it, and that says:

After you attack with the blade, you can make a melee or ranged weapon attack with a second psychic blade as a bonus action on the same turn, provided your other hand is free to create it. The damage die of this bonus attack is 1d4, instead of 1d6.

It looks to me that, while this is similar to Two-Weapon Fighting, it is not that same, and the normal bonus to damage would apply. Am I right?


1 Answer 1


Not adding the modifier is a special feature of Two-Weapon Fighting.

The rules for damage say:

When attacking with a weapon, you add your ability modifier — the same modifier used for the attack roll — to the damage.

Notice there is no mention of this being an attack action or attack with a bonus action. This is the general rule for making an attack.

In contrast, Two-Weapon Fighting has a specific rule:

You don't add your ability modifier to the damage of the bonus attack, unless that modifier is negative.

This rule is specific to Two-Weapon Fighting - it creates an exception to the general rule for damage rolls.1

So you add your modifier to the damage of Soul knife’s bonus action attack since nothing in the ability contradicts the general rule of adding your ability modifier to the damage.

1 The game has a "specific beats general" rule in the introduction to the Player's Handbook which states: "That said, many racial traits, class features, spells, magic items, monster abilities, and other game elements break the general rules in some way, creating an exception to how the rest of the game works. Remember this: If a specific rule contradicts a general rule, the specific rule wins."

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I like this answer because it also highlights that the reason TWF doesn't get it is because specific overrides general. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jase
    Nov 23, 2020 at 14:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for confirming! \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Nov 23, 2020 at 15:25
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @mattdm Note that the same logic applies to other TWF-like sources of a secondary attack, such as the Polearm Master feat or the double-bladed scimitar in Eberron. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 23, 2020 at 16:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Nice answer. It might be worth pointing out why the specific rules of TWF don't apply to the Soulknife's second attack. Someone could easily assume they could: after all, it does specify that you must use your "other hand" to create a blade for the bonus-action attack. However, it definitely isn't TWF for two reasons: the Psychic Blades aren't light, and you aren't already holding both blades when you start the attack. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 2, 2021 at 16:55

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