I joined a recent 3.5e game as a complete newbie to the game system and chose a halfling without realizing they receive a nerf to their damage for being a small creature. I was just curious if anything in the game exists, such as a feat or magic item, that lets you ignore the damage decrease? If not, no biggie, just wanted to know if it exists or not.

I'm currently lvl 2, halfling rogue. I currently have no access to magic items other than the luck of drops from our DM but it would be nice to have things in mind for the future.

My current party makeup is: Rogue, Cleric of Moradin, Cleric of Wee Jas, Wizard, Fighter, Ranger, Druid


As a Rogue... Embrace Being Sneaky and Sneak Attack as Much as Possible

Since you are a decent race for a rogue don't fret too much about using a smaller weapon. Your number one source of damage is going to be from your sneak attack, not necessarily what your weapon is going to be. If you can't hide in the shadows and move silently, always try to flank your targets, especially since you have companions that are also melee.

A Few Ways of Optimizing Sneak Attack with Feats

  • Deadly Precision: Reroll 1's on sneak attack dice (Expanded Psionics Handbook)
  • Flick of the Wrist: Target considered flat-footed once per encounter (Complete Warrior)
  • Telling Blow: When you score a critical hit you also deal sneak attack damage (Player's Handbook 2)

Great Class Feature to Consider

  • Penetrating Strike: A rogue can select it instead of trap sense at 3rd level. It allows him to deal half his normal sneak attack damage against creatures normally immune, but only when flanking. (Dungeonscape)

Miscellaneous Sneak Attack Boosters

  • Deadly Precision: +1d6 sneak attack weapon ability (Magic Item Compendium)
  • Rogue's Vest: +1d6 sneak attack (Magic Item Compendium)

In Order to Sneak Attack... be Sneaky

Concentrate on Hide and Move Silently. You already get a boost for being small. Do not neglect Tumble either. That will allow you to get in close without giving up an attack of opportunity.

Don't Forget You Have Use Magic Device as a Skill

Get a Wand or some Scrolls of Blink. When you get enough gold, buy a Ring of Blinking. Or you can get a Rogue Blade (Magic Item Compendium). Basically, it will allow you to sneak attack when nothing else will. If you are able to blink about the battlefield, melee IS going to be jealous of you. Also you can do amazing things as well with a Wand or Scrolls of Invisibility.

Read These Books!

These will increase your knowledge overall on some things you can do with your rogue.

  • Complete Scoundrel
  • Complete Adventurer
  • Magic Item Compendium
  • Player's Handbook 2

Being a Giant in the Playground

After you have had some time to get a little more experience playing, and had some time learning about your class/race with some of the material listed and available to you, it is worth searching some forums. Arguably the best "Handbook" on the web is from Giant in the Playground; The Rogue Handbook: A Fistful of d6. It will offer you a more in-depth, and step-by-step comprehensible approach to getting the most bang for your buck.

The Handbook is broken down as follows:

  1. Attributes and Races
  2. Class Features and Alternative Class Features
  3. Multiclassing and Prestige Classes
  4. Skills and Skill Tricks
  5. Feats and More Feats
  6. Maneuvers, Stances, and Spells
  7. Equipment and Magic Items
  8. Methods of Combat, Builds, and Links

Just know that many "handbooks" you may find on the web are for very experienced players and for very experienced dungeon masters that have those players. Until you have a little more play time under your belt, I would focus on a few books at a time, roleplaying, finding a niche, and having fun.

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Just ignore it. Seriously, it's not a problem. You're missing out on an average of 1 damage per attack, which is not all that much at very low levels, and entirely negligible at higher levels. Base weapon damage in its entirety does not stay important for very long. Meanwhile, your size also gives you a +1 to attack. +1 to attack is a lot more valuable than +1 to damage, so you're ahead at this point.

The much bigger concern than the halfling's size penalties is his penalty to strength. If you're playing something that cares about weapon damage, you care a lot more about strength, since that's effectively a -1 to both attack and damage. As for ignoring that, if you have a high Dex, weapon finesse will let you ignore the attack penalty, but you're probably better off skipping it and investing in a higher strength instead of a higher dexterity, and simply finding one more point of attack somewhere else to make up for it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Rogues don't rely on brute force to deal damage, they rely on Sneak Attack and precision hits with Dual wielding. They're better off having absurd dexterity to avoid hits, make reflex saves, and land blows than strength, which does little else but increase damage. \$\endgroup\$ – Sandwich Oct 11 '14 at 4:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Sandwich Depends if they can spare the feat, what armor proficiencies they have from any multiclassing (armor doesn't interfere with any of a rogue's combat options), and a lot of other things. Either way, whether Finesse or strength, the Small aspect of the character still isn't a net loss, which was my central point. \$\endgroup\$ – Matthew Najmon Oct 11 '14 at 4:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ Medium or heavier Armor interferes with a rogues ability to use Evasion. \$\endgroup\$ – Sandwich Oct 11 '14 at 4:58

While I agree completely with Ruut's frame challenge, I will answer your actual question: there is a way to increase your halfling's size from small to medium, thereby ignoring the damage decrease from being small.

Enlarge Person

Relevant excerpts:

This spell causes instant growth of a humanoid creature, doubling its height and multiplying its weight by 8. This increase changes the creature’s size category to the next larger one. The target gains a +2 size bonus to Strength, a -2 size penalty to Dexterity (to a minimum of 1), and a -1 penalty on attack rolls and AC due to its increased size.

All equipment worn or carried by a creature is similarly enlarged by the spell. Melee and projectile weapons affected by this spell deal more damage. Other magical properties are not affected by this spell. Any enlarged item that leaves an enlarged creature’s possession (including a projectile or thrown weapon) instantly returns to its normal size. This means that thrown weapons deal their normal damage, and projectiles deal damage based on the size of the weapon that fired them. Magical properties of enlarged items are not increased by this spell.

Enlarge person can be made permanent with a permanency spell.

With this being a 1st-level Wizard spell, your Wizard party member can easily learn it for very little cost and cast it on you as needed until it can be made permanent. However, I would honestly suggest not making it permanent. Increasing your size category in this manner has its drawbacks (such as the penalties to Dexterity, AC, and attack rolls). You're better off using this situationally as needed. More than likely, you will also find that increasing your size category simply isn't very advantageous for a Rogue.

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Technically you don't take a damage nerf for being small yourself - being small means you normally use small weapons, and the weapons have a damage nerf due to their size. A medium longsword will do 1d8 damage regardless of whether the wielder is a human, a halfling or an ogre - all you need to do is work out how you're going to use it.

There are explicit rules for wielding inappropriately sized weapons:

A creature can't make optimum use of a weapon that isn't properly sized for it. A cumulative -2 penalty applies on attack rolls for each size category of difference between the size of its intended wielder and the size of its actual wielder.


The measure of how much effort it takes to use a weapon (whether the weapon is designated as a light, one-handed, or two-handed weapon for a particular wielder) is altered by one step for each size category of difference between the wielder's size and the size of the creature for which the weapon was designed.

So, without any special feats or magic, you can wield a medium longsword as a two-handed weapon, a medium shortsword as a one-handed weapon, or something similar, and get the same damage as a medium character would get from using that weapon (but with a -2 penalty to attack rolls). Unfortunately, between the attack penalty and the increased effort designation, this is generally a bad idea. Before taking the -2 to attack rolls into account, the medium shortsword is essentially a small longsword and the medium longsword is worse than a small greatsword - add in the attack penalty, and they're completely outclassed. (It is worth bearing in mind, though, since you can't always choose exactly the weapon you want. You might find a really awesome magic dagger somewhere, or steal a medium shortsword from the guards who confiscated all your on-size weaponry...)

You can use certain feats and magic to improve this situation further.

Obviously, anything which increases your size will allow you to use weapons of your new size with no penalty (and at least some such effects will also automatically increase the size of any weapons you possess at the time). Dyndrilliac's example of Enlarge Person is an excellent early-access option for this, and things like Alter Self and Polymorph can also change your size category (among other things).

Complete Warrior has the Monkey Grip and Wield Oversized Weapon feats, which allow you to get around the 'oversized weapons take more effort to use' rule and use a medium weapon while still being small, and the Magic Item Compendium has the Strongarm Bracers which do the same thing.

I'd strongly echo Ruut's advice not to worry about it ... but if you want a workaround, those are the options I know of.

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