I am a bit confused about the wording of the two weapon fighting feats

Two weapon fighting section in chapter 8

First, if your off-hand weapon is light, the penalties are reduced by 2 each

The Improved 2 weapon fighting feat entry

Benefit: In addition to the standard single extra attack you get with an off-hand weapon, you get a second attack with it, albeit at a –5 penalty

The Greater 2 weapon fighting entry

Benefit: You get a third attack with your off-hand weapon, albeit at a –10 penalty

Does using a light weapon decrease the penalties for these extra attacks?


2 Answers 2


Not the way you're thinking

The penalty reduction for using a light off-hand weapon is applied once, giving your primary attack modifiers with each weapon. For example, if you have the Two-Weapon Fighting feat and are using a one-handed weapon in each hand, both your primary weapon and off-hand weapon make attacks at -4 from your normal attack bonus with just a single weapon. If you have a light weapon in your off hand, the penalty to each attack is reduced to -2.

Improved Two-Weapon Fighting and Greater Two-Weapon Fighting give additional attacks with your off-hand weapon at -5 and -10 penalties respectively, which are relative to the attack modifiers you use with your first main hand and off hand attacks. So, for example, if you're wielding a light weapon in your off hand, your first attack with your off-hand weapon is at -2 from your normal attack bonus, while your second attack with that weapon is at -7. The penalty reduction is already applied once at the start, it doesn't get applied additional times for the iterative attacks.

The penalties on Improved and Greater Two-Weapon Fighting are meant to simulate the normal reduction of attack modifier you get with iterative attacks you receive from having a high Base Attack Bonus, hence why the prerequisites require a high enough BAB that you can make the same number of iterative attacks with your main hand.

  • \$\begingroup\$ ohhhhhh. Well, that helps a lot. I thought it was a flat for each. Thank you for that information \$\endgroup\$ Sep 23, 2015 at 20:07

No, it doesn’t. Note, however, that the penalties are different.

In Chapter 8, they are talking about penalties that are applied to every attack in the full-attack where you use the Two-Weapon Fighting combat option. If you have the Two-Weapon Fighting feat and are using a light weapon in the offhand, when you use the Two-Weapon Fighting combat option to get an extra attack with your light weapon, all attacks in that full-attack take a −2 penalty.

For instance, if you had BAB +5, no other bonuses to attack, the Two-Weapon Fighting feat, and you chose to use the Two-Weapon Fighting combat option with a light weapon in the offhand, you would make two attacks, the first an attack with the main hand weapon at +3, and then a second attack with the offhand weapon, also at +3.

The penalties described in the Improved and Greater Two-Weapon Fighting feats apply only to the new attack those feats grant.

So if when the above character got BAB +6/+1 and took Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, the −2 penalty from using Two-Weapon Fighting at all remains. The same main hand attack, at +4 now, and offhand attack, also at +4, remain. There is also an iterative attack from high BAB, at −1, and then Improved Two-Weapon Fighting effectively gives an “iterative” to the offhand attack, so you get another attack at −1. So in total, +4, +4, −1, −1.

At BAB +11/+6/+1, with Greater Two-Weapon Fighting, the same kind of thing happens: you take a −2 penalty across the board, and Improved and Greater Two-Weapon Fighting each give a bonus attack that mirrors the +6 and +1 iteratives, respectively, so you get two attacks at +9, two at +4, and two at −1.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I would greatly appreciate any illumination on the source of problems in this answer that merit a downvote; to the best of my knowledge, everything contained herein is accurate and addresses the question. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Sep 23, 2015 at 22:55

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