When making a Full attack, do I have to use the same weapon for each attack, or may I use any weapon I currently wield?

Example: I typically use a longsword and a handaxe. If I hit a target with both in the same round, I get a free trip attempt against them. I have enough BaB for three attacks, plus one extra off-hand attack from the Two-Weapon-Fighting feat.

Can I, as a full round action, full BaB attack with my sword, off hand attack with the axe (TWF), next BaB attack with my sword, then last BaB attack with my axe, to get the feat's benefit twice?

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site! Take the tour. This is a really good question. You might also be interested in this question. It might be a good idea to designate the targets of these attacks and whether or not the attacks were successful—as written, answers may feel the need to address the possibility of tripping an already prone foe. (And it's okay if the question mentions the feat High Sword Low Axe specifically—specific questions are better than general ones.) Thank you for participating and have fun. \$\endgroup\$ May 12, 2017 at 2:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ Please limit your question to one game system. \$\endgroup\$
    – nvoigt
    May 12, 2017 at 11:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Umbranus I assumed it was the feat High Sword Low Axe (Complete Warrior 113), the benefit of which is If you hit the same creature with both your sword and your axe in the same round, you may make a free trip attempt against that foe. (If you succeed, you may immediately use your Improved Trip feat to gain an additional attack against your foe.) However, the game's vast, and there could be others. (I only knew that one 'cause an NPC I just made happened to have the feat.) \$\endgroup\$ May 12, 2017 at 12:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ How is this too broad? D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder have the same rules for this, and we have many, many questions about 3.5 and Pathfinder in cases where they don’t. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    May 12, 2017 at 12:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nvoigt Like I said, the rules being the same is not a requirement here; we have many questions tagged in both systems about things that are actually different, and good answers cover both systems and how they differ. This is not a problem; it produces a lot of very good answers, in fact. And “my GM mixes and matches systems as he sees fit” is a really common way to play these systems and an important thing for this site to be able to handle. Answers here have to maybe address two systems here; that is not too much to ask of answerers. The existing answer does it well. Feature, not a bug. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    May 12, 2017 at 13:46

1 Answer 1


Pathfinder: You can swap between weapons during a full-attack

You can make a full-attack and use any weapons available to your character for each of your attacks. This has a lenghty FAQ item explaining what is possible during a full-attack and it's worth reading for full understanding of the rules for fighting with two-weapons.

Multiple Weapons, Extra Attacks, and Two-Weapon Fighting: If I have extra attacks from a high BAB, can I make attacks with different weapons and not incur a two-weapon fighting penalty?

Yes. Basically, you only incur TWF penalties if you are trying to get an extra attack per round.

Let's assume you're a 6th-level fighter (BAB +6/+1) holding a longsword in one hand and a light mace in the other. Your possible full attack combinations without using two-weapon fighting are:

(A) longsword at +6, longsword +1

(B) mace +6, mace +1

(C) longsword +6, mace +1

(D) mace +6, longsword +1

All of these combinations result in you making exactly two attacks, one at +6 and one at +1. You're not getting any extra attacks, therefore you're not using the two-weapon fighting rule, and therefore you're not taking any two-weapon fighting penalties.

This has been answered on this FAQ item about monks aswell.

But to put it simply, you only take two-weapon fighting penalties if you want to make extra attacks using the weapon of your off-hand.

This is only an invalid option if you are using both hands to wield a two-handed weapon and wish to use a weapon on your off-hand, like a spiked gauntlet or claw attack, as explained on this FAQ item.

D&D 3.5: You also can swap between weapons

This ruling seems to be exactly the same for d&d 3.5, because the rule for full attacks does not limit your character to a single weapon, and says you can use whichever want first when you make a full attack:

If you get multiple attacks because your base attack bonus is high enough, 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.

However, your free off-hand attack must be from your off-hand weapon, since that is the condition given by the two-weapon fighting rules.

Ignore the Rules of the Game articles (3.5)

The Rules of the Game (from Skip Willams, one of the authors from the players handbook) had a series of three articles that discussed in detail how attacks, full attacks and two-weapon fighting works. Looking for clarification, i naturally stumbled upon them and have to mention on this answer, as they were written by official sources.

Being relative to this answer, i have to quote the first article on that series that says:

When fighting with two weapons, you gain one extra attack with your off-hand weapon when you use the full attack action. If you have a high base attack bonus, you gain iterative attacks only with your primary weapon.

His example on on the second article, about how main-hand weapon and off-hand weapon works, go even futher, and explain that off-hand penalties occur even when not using the full-attack action, as seen here:

If, after you made two-weapon attacks with your sword and torch, a foe later provokes an attack of opportunity from you that same round, you can strike that foe with your longsword with no two-weapon penalty at all. (You also can use just the torch, also with no two-weapon penalty, though you still take the -4 penalty for an off-hand attack; you also still take the -4 penalty for an improvised weapon for a total penalty of -8.)

You might be reading this and thinking wait, none of the rules says anything like that.

Yes, exactly, they don't.

These articles have been labeled as bad sources for rules by the community, as they were full of contradictions compared to the published books.

  • \$\begingroup\$ My GM uses material from both games. Do the full attack rules differ betwen the two? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ninjafish
    May 12, 2017 at 12:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ There is no faq or errata explaining, but the rules written are the same. I will explain on the answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    May 12, 2017 at 12:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowKras The rules are the same, and the FAQ item here accurately describes those rules. 3.5 had a Rules of the Game article, IIRC, that also accurately describes the rules, if you want a 3.5-specific counterpart to the PF FAQ here. It still would be good to go back to the actual rules, though, though in this case it requires a bit of “the rules don’t say you can’t [attack with a different weapon, and they do say you can just attack]” so the FAQ/RotG entries are useful. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    May 12, 2017 at 12:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, I don’t believe that the answer you link to intends to claim that you cannot use different weapons without using two-weapon fighting, though I agree it’s ambiguous. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    May 12, 2017 at 12:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan on a second reading, i also agree that it doesn't exact say what i thought it said at first, so i removed the link. \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    May 12, 2017 at 12:25

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