How does the Battle Master fighter's Sweeping Attack maneuver work with extra damage, both rolled and static?

The description of the Battle Master fighter's Sweeping Attack maneuver states (PHB, p. 74; emphasis mine):

Sweeping Attack. When you hit a creature with a melee weapon attack, you can expend one superiority die to attempt to damage another creature with the same attack. Choose another creature within 5 feet of the original target and within your reach. If the original attack roll would hit the second creature, it takes damage equal to the number you roll on your superiority die. The damage is of the same type dealt by the original attack.

The description is very specific with the damage the 2nd target receives; in particular, it leaves out any bonus to your damage from your ability modifier. That leads me to think all other bonuses are also ignored, but I just want to confirm.

Specifically, I'm wondering whether the Great Weapon Master feat's bonus damage applies. The second benefit of the Great Weapon Master feat says (PHB, p. 167):

  • Before you make a melee attack with a heavy weapon that you are proficient with, you can choose to take a -5 penalty to the attack roll. If the attack hits, you add +10 to the attack’s damage.

I've looked at some other questions regarding Sweeping Attack. It seems like the 2nd hit is not necessarily an attack, so if that's the case, then the wording in the feat "if the attack hits" could make it so the additional damage from Great Weapon Master does not apply to the 2nd target.

But what about enchanted weapons? Would a simple +1 weapon apply the +1 damage bonus to the 2nd target? How about something more complicated, such as the flame tongue?

The description of the flame tongue reads, in part (emphasis mine):

While the sword is ablaze, it deals an extra 2d6 fire damage to any target it hits.

Does the verbiage "any target it hits" imply or require an attack? Or does that bypass the attack rule?


2 Answers 2


Probably not.

Making "a hit" is not the same as dealing damage. A hit is specifically the result of making an attack roll.

Sweeping Attack doesn't make an attack against the second target; rather it says, "if the original attack roll would hit the second creature". It's just comparing your prior result and dealing some damage.

I would say Sweeping Attack doesn't trigger any of those secondary effects such as Flame Tongue's fire damage or Great Weapon Master. Some weapons have some rare but devastating secondary effects (usually based on rolling a 20), and you can trigger Sweeping Attack after you know what your die result was, so being able to include an extra target in the effect is probably not what's intended here. As an example of how crazy this could be, just imagine using this with a Vorpal sword -- you already know you rolled a 20, so at that point you can trigger Sweeping Attack to just automatically decapitate another enemy? I think not. (Similar if slightly less absurd issues are present with similar weapons, like the Sword of Life Stealing or Mace of Smiting.)

As to +1 weapons, I'm unsure. It says you get a bonus to "damage rolls made with this weapon", so it seems like it ought to apply, but I could see arguing that the weapon isn't really involved since you're rolling a superiority die for damage, not the weapon's damage dice.

But since it's not likely to cause a big balance issue, as a DM, I'd probably default to the benefit of the players in the absence of a clear answer. A couple extra damage on a sweeping attack won't break the system, so it's probably better to let the player have their fun and not get bent out of shape over the question.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ What about the specific wording in the first sentence of Sweeping Attack, "attempt to damage another creature with the same attack". That reads as if the 2nd target is struck with the same attack, therefore the same weapon. What's so confusing with this ability is that the damage seems to be disconnected from the weapon. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 29, 2021 at 0:06
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 I added some commentary. Honestly in most cases it probably just doesn't matter which ruling you make, but there are some weapons where extending "on a hit" to a second target is really, really abusive. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 29, 2021 at 1:24
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Dfvx990mq321pl I agree that it's confusing, but the fact that the damage is disconnected from the weapon is probably the right way to look at it. You aren't getting a second weapon hit out of it, you're just dealing this ambiguous "superiority dice" thing. I added some thoughts on why I would rule this certain ways. I hope it helps. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 29, 2021 at 1:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related, in the sense of distinguishing between damage to a secondary target and hitting a secondary target: Can a College of Swords bard use the Slashing Flourish option to apply a Smite spell to all creatures in range? \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented Jan 28 at 1:16

it takes damage equal to the number you roll on your superiority die

… is completely unambiguous. It takes that damage and no other.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Spell state their damage as well, and that damage can be modified by various features and items. Why can't this damage be similarly modified? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 22:26
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 i think that answers ia made under the assumption that, as darth pseudonym answer says, the second creature is not actually attacked/hit by the attack(speaking rule-english lowercase-a attack here). It is hit by the combat maneuvers effect. With this in mind, the answer is spot on. \$\endgroup\$
    – 3C273
    Commented Jul 29, 2021 at 1:24
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ @3C273 if that is the case, than this answer would be probably improved by stating that assumption (as that seems to be the real crux of the question). \$\endgroup\$
    – J.E
    Commented Jul 29, 2021 at 8:46

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .