One of my players brought this to my attention today and while it seems entirely legit, I wanted to present it to all of you.

Great Weapon Master has 2 bullet points, the most popular of which allows you to take a -5 penalty to attack with a Heavy weapon you are proficient in and deal an extra 10 damage if you hit. The very first bullet point is as follows

"...on your turn, when you score a critical hit with a melee weapon or reduce a creature to 0 hit points with one, you can make one melee weapon attack as a bonus action..."

Nowhere in this first bullet point does it mention the melee weapon must be 2 handed or Heavy; only that it be a Melee Weapon.

Enter Assassinate from the level 3 Assassin Rogue

"...in addition, any hit you score against a creature that is surprised is a critical hit..."

So the question is, if the groups Assassin effectively gets the drop on a group of enemies and surprises them, has a chance to act before them in the initiative while they are still surprised, and hits them with a 1 handed Melee Weapon attack; this allows the assassin to auto crit due to Assassinate. Would this then trigger the first bullet of Great Weapon Master, allowing the Assassin to make another melee weapon attack as a bonus action because he scored a critical hit; which would result in a second auto crit because the enemies are still surprised and still have not yet acted in the initiative because it is still the Rogue's turn?

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    \$\begingroup\$ If you are looking for other precedent, the crossbow master feat has items that don't need a crossbow \$\endgroup\$
    – Dale M
    Commented Oct 29, 2016 at 5:02

1 Answer 1


Yes, it would trigger the bonus action and it would be also a critical hit.

The feat Great Weapon Master calls for a critical hit, not a natural 20. This is important because Assassinate is not the only ability that modifies the critical range, e.g. Improved Critical from the Fighter also modifies the critical range. Also, this bonus attack would be a critical hit. It may seems OP but bear in mind that melee rogues usually wield two weapons for the benefit of Two-weapon fighting. Furthermore, since you only have one bonus action both features are incompatible.

Improved Critical: Your weapon attacks score a critical hit on a roll of 19 or 20.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Also worth mentioning that there's no weapon which can be used with Sneak Attack and Great Weapon Fighting, so this isn't great for Rogues anyway. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Commented Oct 29, 2016 at 2:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Miniman The first point of GWF doesn't require a Heavy weapon so one of the two attack could be used with Sneak Attack. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ian Miller
    Commented Oct 29, 2016 at 5:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @IanMiller Yep, that's the point of this question - but it doesn't change that GWF isn't a great feat for a Rogue. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Commented Oct 29, 2016 at 5:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think the overall point is taking this feat doesn't grant the Rogue anything it could not already do by dual wielding 2 light weapons utilizing two weapon fighting. Much better feats to take instead of this one \$\endgroup\$
    – Airatome
    Commented Oct 30, 2016 at 16:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think this is a good answer, but having the text for Improved Critical at the bottom doesn't really make a lot of sense since it isn't directly related to the question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eidolon108
    Commented Oct 31, 2016 at 10:53

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