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Off Hand Attack 5E [Master The Art Of Dual Wielding In DnD]

Off Hand Attack 5e
  Written By: Ashish Arya
Updated On: 01/19/2024
Est. Reading: 6 minutes

In the world of tabletop gaming, off hand attack 5e has sparked considerable interest among both amateur and seasoned players.

Derived from the globally popular Dungeons & Dragons game, this technicality pertains to the intriguing mechanics of wielding two weapons simultaneously.

For many, grasping the nuances of this concept might seem daunting at first glance, but an in-depth understanding can greatly elevate your gaming experience.

Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition (popularly referred to as 5e) boasts a rich variety of rules and regulations that govern gameplay.

Among these, off-hand attack stands out due to its unique blend of strategic complexity and in-game flexibility.

Knowing its intricacies requires more than a fundamental understanding of the game.

This article seeks to decode off-hand attack 5e, guiding you through its ins and outs within the framework of D&D 5e combat mechanics.

What is off hand attack 5e?

In the game Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition, an off-hand attack is an additional action that a character can take during combat.

What is off hand attack 5e

This offensive move comes into play when a character wields a weapon in each hand.

The second weapon, held in the ‘off hand’, may be used to deliver another strike, thereby potentially increasing the damage inflicted during a character’s turn.

How Do Offhand Attacks Work in 5E?

An off-hand attack in D&D 5e isn’t just about swinging two swords in quick succession. It requires strategic thinking and awareness of gameplay mechanics. Here’s how it works:

How Do Offhand Attacks Work in 5E

Need light weapons in both hands

To make an off-hand attack, you will need to equip your character with two light weapons.

A ‘light’ weapon is typically small and easy to handle making them perfect for dual wielding. Swords, daggers, and handaxes are common types of light weapons used in the game.

Use bonus action for offhand attack

When you take the Attack action on your turn and attack with a light melee weapon that you’re holding in one hand.

You can then use a bonus action to attack with a different light melee weapon that you’re holding in your other hand. This provides an extra opportunity to inflict damage on opponents during combat.

No ability modifier damage bonus (unless negative)

One important consideration is that when you make an off-hand attack, you do not add your ability modifier to the damage of the secondary hit unless that modifier is negative.

While this can provide an additional chance to inflict damage on your opponent, it will not be as powerful as your main hands’ strike.

D&D 5e has straightforward rules for off-hand attacks but knowing how they work can give strategically-minded players an extra advantage during gameplay by offering additional combat options.

By paying attention to the type of weapons your character wields and the gaming rules associated with off-hand attacks, you can effectively incorporate this tactic into your gameplay strategy.

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Factors Influencing Offhand Strikes

While the idea of offhand attacks may seem straightforward, certain features and abilities within D&D 5e can influence how these attacks perform.

Factors Influencing Offhand Strikes

These additional elements serve to enhance the potential of your offhand strikes, providing an edge in combat situations.

Fighting Style: Two-Weapon Fighting

Certain character classes have an intriguing feature known as a Fighting Style.

This specifically refers to a set of combat techniques that a character is especially skilled in. When it comes to two-weapon fighting, this style can be quite beneficial for those who frequently use offhand strikes.

This fighting style is available to characters like College of Swords bards, fighters, and rangers. By adopting this style, you can remove the damage penalty on offhand attacks.

This means your second weapon packs as much punch as the one in your primary hand.

Even for classes that do not naturally access this feature, it can still be acquired through a feat called Fighting Initiate.

Though it requires the expenditure of resources and careful planning, securing this feat could meaningfully enhance your overall combat prowess.

Dual Wielder (Feat)

An essential factor affecting offhand strikes is the Dual Wielder feat. This particular rule allows characters to wield non-light weapons for two-weapon combat.

It widens the range of possible weapon options you can use in your non-dominant hand.

Further adding to its appeal, Dual Wielder offers a defensive benefit by granting a +1 bonus to Armor Class (AC). This slight boost makes you slightly more resistant against enemy attacks while armed with dual weapons.

It’s important to remember that relative game balance often makes this feat less optimal than Ability Score Increases (ASIs) when it comes purely down to damage output.

Keep in mind your overall character progression and campaign demands while deciding to go for Dual Wielder.

Best Classes for Offhand Attacks

Not all classes are created equal when it comes to offhand attacks. Some are simply better designed or more adapted to take full advantage of this melee gameplay aspect.

Best Classes for Offhand Attacks

To navigate these nuances, let’s explore six classes – Barbarian, Bard, Fighter, Paladin, Ranger, and Rogue – highlighting their unique strengths and weaknesses regarding offhand attacks.


As a class generally focused on raw physical power and survival, Barbarians can surprisingly make decent offhand attackers.

Their Rage ability amplifies all melee damage done, including with the offhand weapon.

Wielding two weapons expands the instances where they can apply abilities like Rage damage and Brutal Critical.

The caveat is that they lack access to the Two-Weapon Fighting Style that would allow them to add their ability modifier to the offhand attack’s damage.


Bards might seem far from your notion of typical dual-wielders; however, they are not to be underestimated.

Through magical enhancement or physical prowess brought about by specific Bardic colleges such as the College of Swords and College of Valor, they offer flexibility for performing meaningful offhand strikes.

The College of Swords in particular provides an extra layer of style by allowing you to use your weapon as an arcane focus.

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Perhaps unsurprisingly due to their name alone, Fighters present a splendid choice for effective offhand attacks thanks to their natural versatility in combat styles.

Notably helpful is their inherent access to the Two-Weapon Fighting style which lets them roll extra damage with their Ability Score Modifier on each successful off-hand hit.


Though Paladins aren’t known for dual-wielding as Fighters or Rangers might be, certain builds could make use of it.

Smite abilities can reasonably turn even an unsuccessful attack into a decisive blow because when using Divine Smite or improved versions thereof the strike doesn’t need to be made with the main weapon hand.


Perhaps one of the first classes to come to mind for dual-wielding, Rangers also possess a great aptitude for offhand strikes.

This can partly be attributed to their access to both the Dual Wielder feat and Two-Weapon Fighting style.

Such a combination enhances offensive capabilities and maximizes damage output during combat, making them formidable foes on any tabletop battlefield.


Rogues are another class where two-weapon fighting can excel due to their ability namely Sneak Attack.

This function allows for ample attack opportunities in each round and makes every hit count.

Given the right circumstances, an offhand strike from a Rogue may prove enough to turn the tide in favor of their party.

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FAQs About off hand attack 5e

What is an off-hand attack in D&D 5e?

An off-hand attack in D&D 5e refers to the attack made with your secondary hand when you’re dual-wielding. The rules for this are stipulated under Two-Weapon Fighting.

Can you add ability modifiers to damage for an offhand attack in 5e?

Normally, you are not entitled to add ability modifiers to an offhand attack’s damage. However, this changes if you have the Two-Weapon Fighting style.

Are there any class restrictions on who can use off-hand attacks?

Any class can wield a weapon in each hand and make an off-hand attack as a bonus action; however, some classes have specific abilities or styles that enhance this kind of combat.

Do you need specific feats or abilities for effective off-hand attacks?

While it’s possible to make an off-hand attack without specific feats or abilities, having the Dual Wielder feat or the Two-Weapon Fighting style can increase effectiveness and damage output.

Can a spellcasting class like Wizard exploit off hand attacks effectively?

It is less optimal due to their primary dependence on spells for offense and defense, but a Wizard could technically make an offhand attack if they are holding a light weapon in each hand. They would not, however, be able to cast spells requiring two free hands.


  • Ashish Arya

    I'm a tech enthusiast and lifelong gamer, hailing from the beautiful city of Chandigarh. My passions range from immersing myself in worlds like GTA V, COD, SIMS, Roblox and Minecraft to exploring the latest innovations in laptops and technology. Armed with a Bachelors Degree in Computer Application, I love sharing my insights through writing and engaging with fellow enthusiasts. Join me on my journey through the ever-evolving realms of gaming and tech!