The title is a bit ambiguous. This needs a short story.

Many years ago I was playing in a game as an Elven Rogue. I had lot's of throwing daggers, and regular daggers. At some point were were up against a large group of Goblins. It was decided that I should (with the assistance of my party) strap all my daggers to my body like a sort of porcupine. Then the Wizard was to cast invisibility on me, and I was to charge at the Goblins. Since I was invisible, the theory went, this would count as a sneak attack for every blade that struck a goblin - dealing massive damage.

Now, I am aware that a lot of that story is problematic, but my question is specifically about the daggers.

So I want to know how that should have been handled. Since there are no rules I can find about weapons that are not wielded but are still used. So, Would multiple daggers, strapped to a character blades-out, count as multiple attacks?

But more generally - What should happen in this situation? (According to the rules)

Note: This happened years ago. I have learned much since then, but I always wonder about this. Personally I would probably allow this simply because it is awesome, but I want to know what the rules say about it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hilarity. Hilarity and mayhem. That's what should happen. \$\endgroup\$ – Ilmari Karonen May 26 '14 at 17:26

Treat all of the daggers, together, as one suit of improvised Spiked Armor

The rules for improvised weapons are as follows:

Sometimes objects not crafted to be weapons nonetheless see use in combat. Because such objects are not designed for this use, any creature that uses one in combat is considered to be nonproficient with it and takes a −4 penalty on attack rolls made with that object. To determine the size category and appropriate damage for an improvised weapon, compare its relative size and damage potential to the weapon list to find a reasonable match. An improvised weapon scores a threat on a natural roll of 20 and deals double damage on a critical hit. An improvised thrown weapon has a range increment of 10 feet.

This get-up is comparable to a really bad suit of spiked armor. Since it’s the most reasonable match, it is what you should use. I’d actually say it’s probably a Large, or even Huge, set of armor spikes: after all, armor spikes are typically really small. This ups the damage, but tanks the attack roll, which seems right: armor spikes are typically very small because it’d be unbelievably awkward to try to stick someone with a three-inch long spike coming out of your side (not to mention really awkward to just move around).

So I’d say it deals 2d6 damage (for all the daggers together), has a critical threat range of 20 and critical multiplier of ×2, and unless the character has special class features that say otherwise, you take a −4 nonproficiency penalty and a −4 penalty for a wildly inappropriately-sized weapon to attack rolls made with it. Good luck with those attacks at −8.

That is, if it’s allowed at all. Daggers, generally speaking, are wielded in the hand; by the rules, you cannot attack with any weapon you aren’t wielding, and for daggers, that means hands. Daggers strapped to you are not being wielded and therefore cannot be used for attacks. Plus attacks at −4, −6, or −8 are really bad ideas; giving it that kind of penalty is close to a passive-aggressive way of saying no. I’d sooner just say no, and then offer the above description as the best a player’s going to get if they insist on it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Okay, that answers my question, but if we are already at this junction - would that still be a sneak attack against the goblins I strike with the improvised spiked dagger suit? Just curious. \$\endgroup\$ – Inbar Rose May 26 '14 at 13:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @InbarRose There is nothing that bars an improvised weapon from triggering Sneak Attack, but the whole suit would be considered one weapon and therefore you wouldn’t get any extra attacks. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan May 26 '14 at 13:29

Regarding the issue of whether such an attack could trigger sneak-attack damage, I would have to say no. Here's what the SRD has to say about sneak attacks, emphases mine:

The rogue must be able to see the target well enough to pick out a vital spot and must be able to reach such a spot. A rogue cannot sneak attack while striking a creature with concealment or striking the limbs of a creature whose vitals are beyond reach.

A sneak attack isn't just a function of the target being surprised an unable to defend properly (because if so, it should be triggered by any attacker), but a skill, possessed by rogues, to find vulnerable spots and launch precision strikes at them, a skill that requires surprise, or another combat advantage, to fully utilize. I think this rules out indiscriminate slashing as triggering a sneak attack.

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    \$\begingroup\$ If a rogue knows how to use spiked armor, they know how to pick out a vital spot with it. The nonproficiency penalty already covers the fact that the rogue is unused to this particular form of weapon, but the rogue still knows what he’s trying to do. Both spiked armor and Sneak Attack were printed in the very same book; if a restriction preventing spiked armor were intended, I’d expect them to have mentioned it. Furthermore, attempting to be too picky about the quoted and emphasized line is terrible for the game, and shafts rogues who really don’t need any more things working against em. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan May 26 '14 at 13:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think the external motive "terrible for the game" is relevant for a RAW question. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 26 '14 at 14:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie It’s not, no, but that was only one out of three statements that I made, specifically the last one. Also, while such a motive could not justify an answer to a RAW question, it would be appropriate, I think, to answer a RAW-question with “RAW says this, [citation]. But I really think it’s better to do that, because [reasons].” \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan May 26 '14 at 16:33

What should happen in this situation?

What should happen RAW is that you get as many attacks as you wield daggers - that is, 1 attack if you wield 1 dagger in 1 hand or 2 attacks if you wield a dagger in each hand and full-attack. The rest don't count, since they're not being wielded in your hands.

I'd probably let it count for Spiked Armor though.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You definitely cannot wield daggers strapped to your body; daggers require a hand. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan May 26 '14 at 13:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan: I'd sort of assume that was the point of the answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Ilmari Karonen May 26 '14 at 17:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @IlmariKaronen Oh hey, look at that – totally misread it. My bad. medivh, if you edit your answer I’ll be happy to switch my downvote to an upvote; sorry about that. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan May 26 '14 at 17:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ I just edited it to make the point a little clearer. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener May 31 '14 at 5:06

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