How do magic weapons affect attack and damage rolls for weapon or implement powers?

I've pored over the PHBs, the Rules Compendium, and similar questions at this site and other forums and I'm still confused about how magical weapons enhancements/properties interact with character powers and proficiency. Specifically, I've got two circumstances I need advice on.

First case: An invoker in my group has a +1 Staff of Earthen Might. Since her class is proficient with staffs, I know that any implement power she uses this with will apply the +1 to her attack and damage rolls with such powers. I get that.

Am I correct, though, that the +2 proficiency bonus for this staff (as well as the +1d6 critical damage) only applies when she smacks something with the staff as a basic melee attack (which she would qualify for because she is proficient with simple melee weapons)? I want to make sure that these other weapon stats apply to the weapon when used as a weapon only and not when it's used as an implement.

In addition, does anyone that is holding this weapon qualify for the property bonus (+2 to Athletics/Str ability checks when on earth or stone) and the daily action (slowing enemy on hit)? Or do they have to be proficient in staffs as an implement?

Second case: We recently got Aecris, the +1 magic longsword from H1 Keep on the Shadowfell. The fighter doesn't want it nor does our halfling barbarian (the fighter has built around bonuses from wielding greataxes and the barbarian is a whirling slayer and benefits from having an off-hand weapon).

However, we have an Eladrin psion in the group that was eyeing it because although she can't use it as an implement, she is proficient with longswords (due to her race, not her class), and it would boost her attack modifier for her basic melee attack. In this case, she would get the +3 attack bonus when she stabs with the sword, but she wouldn't get the +1 enhancement bonus to attack and damage rolls, correct? From what I gather, the enhancement bonus is wasted on her since as a psion she's only proficient in staffs and orbs - is that right? Would she qualify for the daily action of gaining a healing surge when dropping an undead enemy to 0 hp without proficiency?

If this is the case, what good is the +1 enhancement bonus on this weapon, then? 'Longswords' aren't listed as an implement proficiency for any class I'm familiar with.

Edited to summarize what I think my primary questions are:

• What are the requirements to benefit from a magical weapon's enhancement bonus (i.e. like a weapon that doesn't generally double as an implement, like a +1 magic sickle)?
• What are the requirements to have access to the same magical weapon's properties or powers, if any?
• If a character can benefit from a magical weapon's enhancement bonus, what power keyword(s) will this bonus be applied to - 'weapon' or 'implement'?

• Note that longswords are heavy blades, and are thus an implement for swordmages. I know an arcane character could pick up the ability to use them as implements using the Arcane Implement Proficiency feat. There's also a swordmage multiclass feat that gives heavy blade implement proficiency, but I don't recall if it's in general or only for arcane or swordmage powers. – Oblivious Sage Nov 15 '13 at 1:29
• Oh good to know, thanks. I didn't know that class even existed, as I only have some of the core books at my disposal. – MunchyWilly Nov 15 '13 at 6:20
• Hi, you will find interesting information here. – Kethryweryn Nov 15 '13 at 10:08
• Have y'all looked into a DDI subscription? It costs a few dollars a month, but it provides a character builder that does a lot of the math, and a lot of the figuring out of when and where big bonuses like enhancement and proficiency apply. I've found it to be quite worth the money and if you have limited source book access it provides access to all of the rules content for nearly all of the source books. – wax eagle Nov 15 '13 at 11:13

There are three issues here, I think: Keywords, the two different kinds of proficiency, and permission by omission.

But before I go into those, a word: As always there are explicit features/feats/enchantments which break the rules, and that's why we call D&D an "exception-based" system: it deals in rules which apply universally unless (until) exceptions are made, so there is no need to enumerate the possible exceptions. We simply assume the rule unless told otherwise in a particular instance.

Keywords

If a power has the weapon keyword, and only if the power has the weapon keyword, does a weapon enchantment (enhancement bonuses and other features) apply to that power. Ditto with the implement keyword and implement enchantments.

Proficiency and the Proficiency Bonus

"Proficiency" means that you've had training in the use of a weapon or implement, but mechanically it means totally different things whether you're talking about a weapon or an implement.

Weapon Proficiency and the Proficiency Bonus

Proficiency with a weapon means that you can add that weapon's "proficiency bonus" to attack rolls. Only weapons have proficiency bonuses, they only apply to powers with the weapon keyword, and they have nothing to do with whether enhancement bonuses can be applied (see below for that bit).

Implements, Enhancement Bonuses, and Permission by Omission

You need to be proficient with an implement in order to add its enhancement bonus to attacks and damage with implement powers. You do not need to be proficient with a weapon in order to add its enhancement bonus to attacks and damage with weapon powers, but you don't get its proficiency bonus to the attack roll. (In either case, you can only add the enhancement bonus of one item at a time to an attack unless you have a rules exception which says otherwise.)

I arrived at this conclusion because the magic implement rules say you need to be proficient for the enhancement bonus, but the magic weapon rules don't. Permission by omission is sloppy, but has solid precedent.

• Wonderfully clear and concise, thank you! And so an item that can double as a weapon and implement (like a magic staff) simply takes on properties of weapons or implements depending on how it's being used? – MunchyWilly Nov 18 '13 at 18:33
• @MunchyWilly Yes. Although staves are weird because as an implement they're one-handed and as a weapon they're two-handed, and that gets confusing. – BESW Nov 19 '13 at 0:39

Here are the two things to remember:

• An enhancement bonus is an enhancement bonus is an enhancement bonus.

• Proficiency only applies to weapon attacks.

So for your first example, the invoker would get her staff's enhancement bonus (even if it's an enchanted quarterstaff (with a weapon enchantment) rather than an implement enchantment on a staff). She only gets the +2 proficiency bonus if she is using a power with the keyword weapon (probably only her Melee Basic, but if she has another weapon power it would apply to this as well).

For your second example, you've got it right. The psion would need at least one feat (multiclass Swordmage) or several (multiclass to any arcane class + Arcane Implement Proficiency) to be able to use it as an implement.

Powers and properties are allowed to be used as long as the wielder is proficient.

Longswords fall into the military category of weapons. If your character is proficient with military weapons he is proficient with the longsword.

• I think part of my confusion is coming from what seems like a dual meaning of 'proficient' as it means something different when used with weapons as it does with implements. In this reply are you talking about weapon proficiency only (being able to get the melee attack bonus from a category of weapons)? – MunchyWilly Nov 15 '13 at 6:25
• And another question... I understand when implement enhancements apply, but I'm still unclear as to when enhancements on magic weapons apply. In order to get the +1 to damage and attack rolls with Aecris in my second example, what requirements would the character need to meet, and then what powers would it be applicable in - 'weapon' or 'implement' ones? Thanks again for your help. – MunchyWilly Nov 15 '13 at 6:28
• @MunchyWilly yes, there are two kinds of proficiency. Weapon proficiency and implement proficiency, they are quite different. Weapon proficiency allows you to get the proficiency bonus listed on the weapon (+2/+3), implement proficiency allows you to use the implement for implement powers at all (no proficiency bonus for implements). – wax eagle Nov 15 '13 at 11:07
• @MunchyWilly for your second example, there are two scenarios where it would apply. Powers that have the keyword weapon. In the case of a psion that would be only their melee basic attack (highly suboptimal as a psion is INT primary). The second would be for them to acquire implement proficiency in Heavy Blades. there are two ways to acheive this. Multiclass Swordmage and Multiclass wizard and take the Eladrin Sword Wizardry Feat. – wax eagle Nov 15 '13 at 11:11
• Eladrin Sword Wizardry only applies to wizard powers. – András Nov 15 '13 at 11:55

First case

An invoker in my group has a +1 Staff of Earthen Might. Since her class is proficient with staffs, I know that any implement power she uses this with will apply the +1 to her attack and damage rolls with such powers. I get that.

That is correct.

Am I correct, though, that the +2 proficiency bonus for this staff (as well as the +1d6 critical damage) only applies when she smacks something with the staff as a basic melee attack (which she would qualify for because she is proficient with simple melee weapons)?

You got the proficiency part right. The critical part, however, also applies on implement attacks.

p. 217 of the rules compendium

Extra Damage: Magic weapons and implements, as well as high crit weapons (page 269), can increase the damage dealth on a critical hit by contributing extra damage.

RC p.275 for weapons as implements

When an adventurer uses a magic version of the weapon as an implement, he or she can use the magic weapon’s enhancement bonus, critical hit effects, properties, and powers.

In addition, does anyone that is holding this weapon qualify for the property bonus (+2 to Athletics/Str ability checks when on earth or stone) and the daily action (slowing enemy on hit)? Or do they have to be proficient in staffs as an implement?

To be able to use the implements properties (even if used as a weapon), you have to be able to use the staff as an implement.

RC p.275

When an adventurer uses a magic version of the implement as a weapon, he or she can use the magic implement's enhancement bonus and critical hit effects. To use the implement's properties and powers, the adventurer must have proficiency with the implement.

RC p.274 specifics for staff

This implement also counts as a quaterstaff. Even a creature who doesn't have proficiency with the staff as an implement can use it as a weapon, but if the staff is magical, the creature cannot use its properties or powers, only its enhancement bonus and critical hit effect.

So only those proficient with the staff as implement will be able to use the property (+2 to Athletics/Str ability checks when on earth or stone) and the daily action (slowing enemy on hit).

Second Case

[...] her basic melee attack. In this case, she would get the +3 attack bonus when she stabs with the sword, but she wouldn't get the +1 enhancement bonus to attack and damage rolls, correct?

Not exactly. For her basic melee attacks, she would add the the proficiency to attack and the +1 enhancement bonus to attack and damage. She would not, however, receive any bonus on her powers that don't have the [weapon] keyword, neither proficiency nor enhancement.

Would she qualify for the daily action of gaining a healing surge when dropping an undead enemy to 0 hp without proficiency?

She's proficient with the longsword, but not as an implement. Since there are no keywords nor explicit description, the power seems to be usable with any kind of attack, and is not limited to [weapon] powers. She can use it after killing an ennemy with one of her non-weapon powers. Still, they should sell it and buy something else, this isn't an interesting weapon for the Psion.

If this is the case, what good is the +1 enhancement bonus on this weapon, then? 'Longswords' aren't listed as an implement proficiency for any class I'm familiar with.

You need implement proficiency with a weapon when you want to use it for an [implement] attack. For [weapon] attacks (including melee basic attack for instance), the enhancement bonus will work. The bonus is good for anyone using [weapon] attacks, but swordmage for instance can use heavy blades as implements aswell.

• Thanks. So let me see if I have this right: To benefit from an enhancement bonus on a magical weapon that's not an implement (such as a +1 frost sickle) you merely have to wield/use it in a power with the [weapon] keyword? And then the same for any associated power that comes along with the enchantment? – MunchyWilly Nov 17 '13 at 9:37
• That is correct. The only thing you don't get is the proficiency bonus of the weapon if you're not proficient with it. Only implements necessit beeing proficient with them to benefit from their effects. – Kethryweryn Nov 18 '13 at 9:45