11
\$\begingroup\$

What rules apply to the order in which individual attacks are taken during a full attack action in D&D 3.0, 3.5, and Pathfinder?

I am specifically interested in RAW requirements on the order in which your iterative attacks and off-hand attacks must be parsed. Information on any common additional attacks (such as from cleave or haste) would also be appropriate.

For example consider these three sources of attacks in 3.5 (per d20srd.com):

Base Attack Bonus

A second attack is gained when a base attack bonus reaches +6, a third with a base attack bonus of +11 or higher, and a fourth with a base attack bonus of +16 or higher.

Two–Weapon Fighting

If you wield a second weapon in your off hand, you can get one extra attack per round with that weapon.

Improved Two–Weapon Fighting

If you wield a second weapon in your off hand, you can get one extra attack per round with that weapon.

Haste

When making a full attack action, a hasted creature may make one extra attack with any weapon he is holding.

So for 3.5, consider a character with two daggers, a BAB of 6, that feat, and under the effects of haste: they have five attacks from three "sources" (BAB, TWF, haste). In what order may the player take those attacks? Are they free to select any order, or strictly high to low total attack bonus (if so, how are ties resolved?), or BAB in order (same question on ties), or resolve each attack "source" in order but order the sources as desired, or some other thing?

Then, how does this change between D&D 3.0, D&D 3.5, and Pathfinder?

\$\endgroup\$
11
\$\begingroup\$

All 3 games mandate making attacks from highest base attack bonus to lowest

Player's Handbook (2000) for Dungeons and Dragons, Third Edition on Full Attack says

If you get multiple attacks based on your base attack bonus, you must make the attacks in order from highest bonus to lowest. If you are using two weapons, you can strike with either weapon first. If you are using a double weapon, you can strike with either part of the weapon first. (124)

The Player's Handbook (2012) for Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 on Full Attack says

If you get multiple attacks because your base attack bonus is high enough, you must make your attacks the attacks in order from highest bonus to lowest. If you are using two weapons, you can strike with either weapon first. If you are using a double weapon, you can strike with either part of the weapon first. (143)

In the 4th printing of the Pathfinder Role-playing Game Core Rule Book (2010) the latter is repeated verbatim on Full Attack (187).

Thus, without further guidance, it seems reasonable that the player picks the order of his character's attacks if two or more attacks are tied for the same base attack bonus (such as when wielding two weapons). The player, however, can't pick the attacks that are made at less than the base attack bonus (e.g. the additional attack at +1 from a base attack bonus of +6) until after attacks have been made at the full base attack bonus.

The example D&D 3.5 character with a base attack bonus of +6, the feats Two-weapon Fighting and Improved Two-weapon Fighting, and affected by the spell haste taking the full attack action makes 1 attack with his primary weapon at his full base attack bonus, 1 attack with his off-hand weapon at his full base attack bonus, and 1 attack with either weapon at his full base attack bonus, and the character could make those attacks in any order. He then makes 1 attack with his primary weapon at his base attack bonus −5 and 1 attack with his off-hand weapon at his base attack bonus −5, and could make those attacks in any order.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you have a reference for the first offhand attack coming before the second iterative attack? I had always understood that differently, and asked this when I couldn't find a reference either way. \$\endgroup\$ – fectin Dec 22 '15 at 14:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @fectin It's not so much evidence as lack of evidence. Since the first off-hand attack is made at the creature's full base attack bonus, that first off-hand attack must (according to the sources above) be made before any attacks at a lower base attack bonus. (And I totally agree that the RAW is a bookkeeping headache. Tables I've played at have never enforced this rule, instead allowing all attacks from one weapon then all attacks from another weapon because it's just way easier.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Dec 22 '15 at 14:09
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I don't read the sources above in the same way. They each refer only to iterative attacks (i.e. attacks from having a high BAB). I agree that those must be strictly in order, and I would read the offhand attacks as having a strict order as well, but don't see anything on whether those sets are sequential of interleaved. (I originally thought it was mandatory sequential, but on further consideration, I'm pretty sure that interpretation originally came from the Warlord CCG, which is... not exactly RAW.) \$\endgroup\$ – fectin Dec 22 '15 at 14:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @fectin The sources above do mention fighting with two weapons, even saying a combatant can strike with the second weapon first. I guess by a really strict reading a creature could make its attack with its primary weapon at its full base attack bonus, its off-hand attacks at its full base attack bonus and then from the feats Two-weapon Fighting and Improved Two-weapon Fighting (not based on BAB), and then the attack with either weapon from the haste spell and then any lower BAB attacks with the primary weapon. Is that what you're after? That said, what are you trying to do? :-) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Dec 22 '15 at 16:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm trying only to understand this bit of rules minutia. No practical application. \$\endgroup\$ – fectin Dec 22 '15 at 17:59

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.