This tiefling warlock at level 5 from WotC's site has a dagger attack I can't figure out:

Dagger. Melee Weapon Attack:
+6 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 20/60 ft., one target.
Hit: 1d4 + 2 piercing damage.

First, I can't figure out why the dagger does 1d4 + 2 piercing damage. Looking at page 149 of the Player's Handbook, the dagger only shows that it is 1d4 piercing, nothing more, so I really don't know where the +2 piercing damage comes from.

Second, nowhere in the weapon's listing says how to figure the attack bonus. Where in the Player's Handbook does that +5 to hit come from?

I've seen a question here which states that for ranged weapons attacks the attack bonus is calculated as Dexterity modifier + proficiency bonus, whereas melee attacks it is strength + proficiency bonus, but on the 5th-level Tiefling Warlock's sheet you can see his stats don't reflect that:

Str: 8 (-1)
Dex: 15 (+2)
Con: 14 (+2)
Int: 13 (+1)
Wis: 10 (0)
Cha: 18 (+4)

With those stats the melee attack bonus for a dagger should be −1 (Strength modifier) + 3 (proficiency bonus) = +2.

But it isn't — it is +6. Why?


3 Answers 3


Daggers are melee weapons that have the finesse property. The finesse property allows an attacker to use their dexterity modifier for their attack bonus and damage bonus, in place of the strength modifier.

In this case, the tiefling has a +3 proficiency bonus and a +2 dex modifier, so the attack bonus should be +5 with a finesse weapon, unless there is something missing from the sheet that explains the extra +1 to bring it to +6 such as the dagger being a magic weapon or something. That doesn't appear to be the case here because the equipment for the character is listed on the sheet but something is not adding up correctly, or else I'm missing something on the sheet completely.

As for the piercing damage question, piercing is the type of damage the dagger does. The table in the equipment chapter that details the weapons tells the reader what damage die a weapon uses and also the damage type for the weapon. A dagger does 1d4 damage, and the damage type is piercing. The damage bonus is calculated by adding the attack modifier (in this case dexterity because the weapon has the finesse property) plus any other modifiers to the damage (in this case, none), giving a total of 1d4 + 2.

I'm not certain why the sheet is showing the attack bonus as +6 to hit. All of these sheets seem to have an extra 1 that I can't figure out the source of. If someone finds it, please comment because it's really bothering me and I don't know if I'm just missing something plainly obvious.

I'm leaning towards the calculations on all of these sheets being wrong and chalking it up to an error on the first sheet not being checked and being carried over to every other sheet after. I can see no reason why the bonus is +1 higher than it should be, especially since the spell attack modifier is calculated correctly using the warlock's charisma bonus + proficiency modifier.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @likewise Just a reminder, comments aren't for asking questions. You'll have better luck with that question on a forum, as it sounds like a "read the book to me" question, not a clarification question about rules or mechanics. The rolls for attacks are outlined in the very first section describing how to play. They are also reiterated in the combat chapter. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 23, 2016 at 4:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ got it. Regarding the piercing damage I showed up to Chris Hayes on the Drow Rogue level 5 it is : 1d4 + 4 Piercing Damage but on the Tiefling level 5 it is : 1d4 + 2 Piercing Damage, not really sure what's going on here. \$\endgroup\$
    – likewyise
    Mar 23, 2016 at 4:59
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ I've read through the Warlock and Tiefling rules and cannot find anything that would be giving the extra +1. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 23, 2016 at 13:59
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Same here. I tweeted the question at Jeremy Crawford, hopefully he will help solving this mystery.. \$\endgroup\$
    – Yotus
    Mar 23, 2016 at 14:13
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ I looked through the rules, and I also downloaded the zip file with the Pregen characters listed in the question. The miscalculation goes all the way back to the lvl 1 teifling warlock who has dex 15(+2) and prof +2, yet the dagger is listed as attack +5. I think someone made a mistake and as indicated the error got carried up through the levels. Level 9 has dex +2 and prof +4 = to hit +7 \$\endgroup\$
    – Escoce
    Mar 23, 2016 at 14:25

The +6 is a mistake.

Jeremy Crawford, the rule expert at Wizards D&D on Twitter, finally answered my question:

@JeremyECrawford Can you explain the +5 attack bonus with the dagger for the pregen Tieffling Warlock lvl1 ? (+2 prof, +2 dex mod, +1?) #DnD

@TheRealYotus It should be +4. I've let the web guys know.

Note: I asked the question for a level 1 character, so there is indeed a +1 mistake that has been carried along past first level.


The correct numbers for that character should be:

+5 to hit, and weapon damage +2, based on Dex, for any ranged weapon, and any melee or thrown finesse weapon (from the PHB: dagger, dart, rapier, scimitar, shortsword, whip).

+2 to hit, and weapon damage -1, based on Str, for any other weapon.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Why the downvote? This is simple and direct and 100% correct RAW. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 2, 2018 at 16:28
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not the one who downvoted you, but your answer does not add a lot to the existing answers. Plus, you dug a 2 years old question while doing so. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 2, 2018 at 17:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ My purpose in writing this answer was not to add a lot, but rather to subtract a lot, and offer a simple and clear answer that did not require digging to get to the point. Is there any problem with adding new answers to older questions? I had no idea that was frowned upon. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 2, 2018 at 17:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Adding new questions is fine, as long as they add something new. The answer above (which quotes the designer saying it's a mistake) is currently better than yours, because it backs up the wrongness of the answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Erik
    Apr 3, 2018 at 8:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ That answer does that, but does not specifically say what the right answer IS. I thought it might add some clarity to state what the right answer is. But I guess trying to be a bit helpful is out of the question. Sorry. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 3, 2018 at 19:22

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