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Two-Weapon Fighting 5e

Two-Weapon Fighting 5e

Just as there are all manners of combat styles in the real world, there are just as many in the fantasy realms of DnD. Fighting two-handed, wielding a weapon in each hand, is just one.

It lends itself to some memorable images, a fighter eschewing the protection of a shield to fight with a short sword in one hand, an axe in the other, carving his way through the enemy ranks.

Read our guide to Two-Weapon Fighting 5e.

What is Two-Weapon Fighting 5e (TWF)?

Fighting with two weapons at once is something that any character can do, though some are better at it than others as it lends itself naturally to those of the fighting classes. But, it can be learned by anyone to varying degrees of success. The Player’s Handbook explains how it works thus…

  • Taking the attack action whilst wielding a light weapon in each hand, you can make an additional attack with your offhand weapon as a bonus action.
  • Do not add the modifier you’re making the attack roll with to damage from the offhand weapon attack, only the designated primary weapon.
  • If your weapon has the properties of a missile weapon, you can throw it instead of making a melee attack.

Getting the Most Out of Two-Weapon Fighting

Whilst anyone can attempt TWF, some will find it more natural than others, but there are many choices that a character can make during their build, and as they rise in levels that will help develop such skills.

Two-Weapon Fighting 5e

This is a fighting style choice, one which will be selected by any character interested in mastering said skills. By opting for this fighting style, you can add your ability modifier to the damage of your offhand attack, not just your primary weapon, increasing your damage by up to +5!

It is a default ability for Rangers and Fighters, but anyone with martial weapons proficiency can access Fighting Initiate to the same effect.

Dual Wielder

Dual Wielder 5e is a feat that can be selected. It comes at a reasonably high cost but is often worth paying for as the benefits are impressive.

Firstly, it allows the character to draw two weapons at once, ignoring the object interaction rules that generally apply in such situations. The character also gets a +1 to their AC because they are more mobile, not weighed down with a shield, able to dodge and parry, and harder to hit.

The final bonus is that this feat means that you are no longer limited to light weapons, meaning that you can wield weapons with impressive damage capability.

Light Weapons

To actually use a weapon in Two-Weapon fighting, both weapons have to have the Light property. The Light property means that the weapon is lightweight enough to be effectively used as a primary or offhand weapon without any penalties. 

When thinking of Light weapons, things like daggers or shortswords typically come to mind. These both have the Light weapon property in 5e. 

A weapon like the Great Axe would not be eligible for Two-Weapon fighting since it has the opposite weapon property, Heavy. Weapons like the Great Axe require two hands and would never be used in Two-Weapon fighting. 

You may ask, “What about weapons like the Longsword with neither Light nor Heavy weapon properties?” Without a special ability like the Dual Wielder Feat, weapons without the Light weapon property cannot be used. 

Bonus Action

When using your off-hand attack remember that this takes up your bonus action. You cannot use more than 1 bonus action on a turn. On any given turn players only get 1 bonus action.

If you have multiple abilities that use up your bonus action you’ll have to pick which one you’re going to use. 


The damage roll on your off-hand attack does not get any modifiers. This rule represents the penalty for using two weapons instead of focusing on one hand. In previous editions, there was a lot more math and rules involved, but it boils down to the 2nd attack being weaker. 


  • Attack Roll 1 – All bonus modifiers
  • Damage Roll 1 – All bonus modifiers
  • Attack Roll 2 – All bonus modifiers
  • Damage Roll 2 – No bonus modifiers

In 5e it’s pretty simple. You still get all of your bonus modifiers to your attack rolls, but you do not get any bonus modifiers on the 2nd damage roll. 

Thrown Weapons

There are quite a few different weapons that have both the Light & Thrown weapon properties. 

Thrown weapons have different stats if you’re using them as a melee weapon or a thrown weapon. If they have both the Light & Thrown properties your first, offhand, or both attacks can be thrown (ranged) attacks. The second offhand attack still gets regular modifiers to the attack roll and no bonus modifiers to the damage roll. 

Light Weapons & Damage

Since anybody can use two-weapon fighting it may seem odd that not everybody uses it and there are plenty of reasons for it. That doesn’t mean that two-weapon fighting is a bad strategy, it just means that there are plenty of other options. 

Two-weapon fighting allows for extra hits with the potential for more damage. The drawback to this is that Light weapons have a tendency to hit lighter. Standard weapons and heavy weapons overall have higher value damage dice. 

It evens out in the end but depending upon your character’s abilities, one big hit can potentially deal more damage than 2-3 smaller ones and vice versa. 

What Weapons Should I Use for Two-Weapon Fighting?

According to the standard weapons chart found in the Player’s Handbook the weapons you can use for Two-Weapon fighting are:

  • Clubs
  • Daggers
  • Handaxes
  • Light Hammers
  • Sickles
  • Scimitars & Shortswords


Clubs are probably some of the worst weapons in the game and unless you’re making a fashion statement, dual-wielding clubs is pretty pointless. Their damage is weak and they don’t have any of the fun weapon properties that make Two-Weapon fighting worthwhile. 


Daggers are some of the best weapons to pick for Two-Weapon fighting from a versatility standpoint. They have Finesse, Thrown, and the Light property. 

This makes them incredibly versatile in a fight when you can stab a fellow and throw a dagger at another one in the same turn. Their damage is limited though, so unless you start enchanting your daggers, you’ll quickly be outclassed when it comes to DPS (damage per second). 


Handaxes are pretty much in the same category as Daggers. They deal more damage but lose the Finesse weapon trait. They’re decent, and if the Dexterity bonus from Finesse doesn’t work for your character, you can ignore Daggers and use Handaxes. 

Light Hammers

The Light Hammer is just as useless as the Club, but now you can throw it. Daggers and Handaxes outclass it in every category. 


The Sickle is a terrible weapon choice. It has low damage, can’t be thrown, and has no Finesse bonus. I honestly have no idea why you would use it other than aesthetics. 

Scimitars & Shortswords

This is what you were all waiting for. A dual-wielding swordsman spinning amongst their enemies in a whirlwind of blades… it’s a pretty common image and the one most of us go to when we think of Two-Weapon fighting. 

Scimitars and Shortswords are basically identical in DnD 5e terms. The only differences are the damage type and cost. 

  • Scimitars deal Slashing damage and cost 25 gold. 
  • Shortswords deal Piercing damage and cost 10 gold. 

That’s basically it (other than aesthetics) so you can choose whichever one looks cooler to you, or pick up one of each. 

They both deal 1d6 damage which is at the higher end of the Light weapons and both have the Finesse property. If you’re going to be using Two-Weapon fighting, these are going to be your best bet. 

The only exception is if you want the option to use a thrown weapon, in which case you would use Daggers or Handaxes.  

Dual Wielder Feat Weapons

If you’ve picked up the Dual Wielder Feat (you should) then any weapon you can wield 1-handed can now be dual-wielded. It ignores the Light requirements and you can mix and match to your heart’s content. 

You could make a Bard that wields 2 Warhammers and uses their enemies as drums. 

You can use the classic Gladiator combo of Trident & Net. 

You could even make a character wearing an Energy Dome Hat with a whip in both hands. They would, of course, have to be named Devo.

The Pros and Cons of Two-Weapon Fighting

The obvious benefit of TWF is the damage you can dish out. If one weapon is good, two have got to be better. Right?

It not only means that you get to attack at least twice in turn but is also helpful if you are utilizing an ability, such as Sneak, which requires you to hit your target to be successful. Twice the attack, twice the chance of success.

It is also a great way of ramping up other combat abilities, such as the additional damage that comes with Rage or the effects of a Divine Smite. TWF is also beneficial for breaking the concentration of enemy spell casters.

Again, twice the attack means twice the amount of saving throw successes needed to stay focused on the spell at hand. It is hard to maintain your full attention on conjuring a Lightning Bolt when some pesky Ranger is whacking you with a shortsword and dagger!

No Shields

But there is always a downside. The most obvious one is losing the +2 AC bonus that comes from carrying a shield. Also, because many characters will be limited to using only light weapons when using this fighting style, it means that the average damage of each weapon is significantly less than if you had just one nastier one.

There are also certain feat combos that don’t work with TWF. Because of the restriction that you are required to use light weapons, feats such as Great Weapon Master and Polearm Master don’t stack with it.

Who Should Choose Two-Weapon Fighting?

Some characters, especially the party tanks, might already have abilities that deliver more damage with one weapon than the TWF does with two.

So it is really a matter of personal preference as to the style of combat you wish to adopt. Such a style favors characters with high Dexterity scores as they will often already be using lighter, finesse weapons.

Rogues may wish to choose this style to double their chances of a Sneak attack, and the Swashbuckler subclass should always go for this. Fighters, especially the less cautious types, should take this to make them very competitive, especially when delivering damage.

Even Paladins should consider this. It might not fit with their traditional image, but it does double their ability to deliver things like Divine Smite and Divine Favour. Barbarians can combine this style with Rage and get the damage bonus on every successful hit.

Two-Weapon Fighting in Adventures

DnD allows you to live in a world of great deeds and legendary events, and there is nothing more memorable than the sight of an adventurer wielding a weapon in each hand as a wave of foes surges forward. It’s a neat development style, but one that comes with specific issues.

Essentially, you are swapping potential damage dealing for your own protection. This means that it is best used in situations where you can get in fast, mess your enemies up, and get out again before too many blows head your way.

It is a skill for the less cautious Fighter and, ironically, the sneaking Rouge pouncing out of the shadows to strike multiple times before disappearing again. Choose this style if you want to be in the thick of combat but make sure that you don’t stay in-range of enemy attacks longer than you have to. There is a reason why people opt to carry shields.

Two-Weapon Fighting FAQs

What is two-weapon fighting 5e?

Two-Weapon fighting in DnD 5e is when a character uses a weapon in both hands to attack. This is also known as dual-wielding weapons. When using two weapons with the Light property players make a primary attack with one weapon and a second attack with their off-hand weapon. 

Unlike other editions of DnD 5e does not add negative modifiers to the attack roll. Players however receive no bonuses to their damage roll if they hit. When using two weapons in 5e any relevant modifiers to hit (attack rolls) are the same, but the second attack gets no bonus modifiers on the damage rolls. 

There are abilities and feats like Two-Weapon Fighting that allow players to add their bonus modifiers to the damage roll.

Is two-weapon fighting viable in 5e?

Yes, two-weapon fighting can be used by any character and any class. There are no restrictions on who can use two weapon fighting and the only real limitation is on what weapons can be used. In order to use a weapon in either hand in the two-weapon fighting style, the weapons must have the Light property. You would not be able to fight with two longswords because they do not have the Light property. 

Can you attack with 2 weapons DnD 5e?

Yes if you have a weapon with the Light property in either hand you can use a bonus action to attack with both weapons. The second weapon does not receive any bonuses to damage rolls if the second attack succeeds. In addition, the second attack can also be a ranged attack as long as it has the Light property. 

Can you two weapon fight with fists?

The rules as they are written (RAW) specifically state that a weapon with the Light property is in the off-hand. This means that a fist attack or unarmed strike does not work with two-weapon fighting.

Can Anyone Use Two-Weapon Fighting in D&D 5e?

Any character can use Two-Weapon fighting in DnD 5e. The only requirement is that both weapons they are using have the Light weapon trait. 

Is Two-Weapon Fighting Worth It in 5e?

Two-Weapon fighting increases the odds that at least one of your hits will land. This is good for abilities that require you to hit your target. This may not have better damage output than a single weapon specialization but combined with other spells, abilities, and poisons it can drastically increase your damage output. 

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09/22/2023 01:30 pm GMT
Two-Weapon Fighting 5e DnD