I am somewhat new to D&D 5e and had a question about attack bonuses of the pre-gen characters in the Starter Set. I was under the impression that attack bonus for a sword is strength bonus plus proficiency bonus (if the character is proficient with that weapon) and for something like a crossbow it would be dexterity bonus plus proficiency bonus.

What I am struggling with are the attack bonuses listed for the pre-gen characters. They don't seem to make sense all of the time.

For instance, the wizard has a +4 attack bonus for the shortsword even though their strength bonus is +0. Should it not be only +2 for proficiency (they are proficient in short sword)?

Or take one of the fighter's longbow bonus. They have +3 dexterity and +2 proficiency bonus, yet their attack bonus is listed as +7.

I feel like there is a simple explanation. What is it?


1 Answer 1


This is because certain weapons break these general rules. Also, class features which are not obvious without the construction rules.

The attack for melee weapons defaults to Strength. But if the weapon is a finesse weapon (like the wizard's short sword), the attacker may choose to use Dexterity instead. So the Wizard, who has a much higher Dex than Str, uses Dex for those attacks.

With ranged weapons there is a similar exception. If you use a Thrown weapon, you may choose to use Strength instead of Dexterity. Thus the melee Fighter's javelin attack uses Strength instead of Dex.

The last question is a bit different. The Ranged Fighter has a class feature that provides +2 to hit for ranged weapon attacks. So they get Dex + proficiency + 2 for +7 total

Hope this helps, and please feel free to ask about anything else you are stuck on! If you haven't already it might help you to read the full basic rules documents located on WOTC's website.


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