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  • A Guide to Two Weapon Fighting in DND

    May 05, 2024 6 min read

    Author: Chris Katrev

    In D&D 5th edition, dual-wielding, also known as two-weapon fighting, enables your character to wield two weapons simultaneously—one in each hand. Additionally, the Dual Wielder feat enhances both offensive and defensive capabilities during two-weapon combat. Delve into this guide for a detailed exploration of dual-wielding mechanics in Dungeons & Dragons, covering its functionality and the suitability for your character.

    What is Two Weapon Fighting?

    Dual wielding in combat allows players to wield two weapons simultaneously, with one in each hand. While dual-wielding, your character can use their action to attack with the weapon in their main hand and a bonus action to attack with the weapon in their off-hand. However, this style of fighting is restricted to weapons classified as "light." It's important to note that in D&D 5th edition, this practice is officially termed "Two-weapon fighting." One notable drawback of dual wielding is that during the bonus action attack with the off-hand weapon, the character cannot add their ability modifier to the total damage. Ability modifiers are values derived from character's ability scores, typically added to attack rolls to enhance damage. Off-hand attacks solely rely on the damage rolled on the dice.

    In D&D 5th edition, any character can engage in two-weapon fighting, as per the rules. There are no class limitations regarding dual wielding. As long as your character wields light one-handed melee weapons in each hand, they adhere to the guidelines of two-weapon fighting outlined in the Player’s Handbook, thus qualifying as dual-wielding combatants.

    One-handed weapons suitable for dual wielding include longswords, rapiers, battleaxes, maces, flails, morningstars, war picks, and warhammers. Light weapons applicable for dual wielding comprise daggers, scimitars, shortswords, clubs, handaxes, light hammers, and sickles. It's essential to note that heavy, two-handed weapons such as greatswords, greataxes, glaives, mauls, or halberds cannot be used for dual wielding. Additionally, dual wielding is exclusive to melee weapons and does not extend to ranged weapons like hand crossbows.


    How to Improve Two Weapon Fighting

    Ability Scores

    The most straightforward method to enhance your character's dual-wielding prowess is by improving their ability scores. If your character leans on strength for brute force, focus on enhancing their Strength score. Alternatively, if they wield finesse weapons with precision and agility, prioritize boosting their Dexterity score. There are three ways to elevate your character's ability scores:

    Level Up: Periodically, as your character advances in levels, they gain the opportunity to enhance their ability scores permanently. Seize these moments to allocate a permanent bonus to your character's Strength or Dexterity.

    Take a Feat: Selecting certain feats can provide bonuses to your character's stats.

    Find Magic Items: While adventuring in D&D 5th edition, keep an eye out for magical items designed to enhance your characters' stats. For instance, the Ioun Stone of Agility provides a +2 Dexterity bonus, while a Belt of Giant Strength can elevate your character’s Strength score beyond 20.

    Fighting Style


    Fighters, rangers and sword bards can adopt the "Two-Weapon Fighting" Fighting Style, refining their dual-wielding skills. With this style, your character can incorporate their ability modifier into the total damage from their off-hand weapon attacks, a feature not typically available in dual-wielding.


    Fighters can select a Fighting Style at level 1, while rangers gain this option at level 2. Bards who select the College of Swords can choose it at level 3. If your character is a fighter or ranger and you want them to excel in dual wielding, choosing the Two-Weapon Fighting style is beneficial. It ensures that offhand attacks have the same power and damage output as main hand attacks.


    Dual Wielder Feat


    This feat is available to any class in D&D 5th edition. The character gains a +1 bonus to their armor class while wielding a separate melee weapon in each hand. They can use two-weapon fighting even if the melee weapons in their hands aren’t considered light. They can draw or stow two one-handed melee weapons when they’d usually only be able to draw or stow a single weapon. However, this feat does not allow the character to add their ability modifier to their offhand attack damage; they would still need the Two-Weapon Fighting style for that.


    Best Weapons for Two Weapon Fighting

    Each weapon is associated with specific damage dice determining the attack's damage. Longswords and rapiers, dealing 1d8 damage each, emerge as optimal choices due to their maximum damage potential with one-handed weapons.

    Longswords suit characters emphasizing Strength, where the ability score empowers their weapon attacks. On the other hand, rapiers complement characters with a Dexterity-based build, leveraging their Dexterity ability score for weapon attacks.

    It's essential to note that longswords and rapiers are not light, meaning they cannot be equipped in the character's off-hand unless they possess the Dual Wielder feat.

    Best Classes for Two Weapon Fighting

    Certain classes excel in dual wielding due to their unique abilities and combat styles. Here are some of the best ones:


    Dual wielding offers Rogues a backup plan, granting them a second chance to land a successful attack if the first one misses. After a hit, they can opt to forgo the second attack and use their bonus action for Hiding or Disengaging. This makes dual wielding, along with the Dual Wielder feat, a reliable safety measure for rogues. Additionally, since rogues lack proficiency with shields, the Dual Wielder feat serves as a valuable means to enhance their armor class.


    For dual wielding rangers considering the Dual Wielder feat, it's essential to pair it with the Two-Weapon Fighting style. This combination enhances their effectiveness on the battlefield significantly. With the Fighting Style and the feat in tow, dual-wielding rangers can excel in combat. However, it's worth noting that rangers have access to spells like Hunter’s Mark, which require bonus actions to cast. As a result, the utility of the Dual Wielder feat may vary depending on the situation in combat.


    For a fighter specializing in dual wielding, the Dual Wielder feat offers significant benefits. However, it's essential to consider optimization goals, as other builds, such as two-handed weapon builds, may outperform dual wielding in certain contexts.

    Despite this, for Dexterity-based fighters, the Dual Wielder feat can be particularly advantageous. Since feats like Great Weapon Master and Sentinel are less suited for them, the Dual Wielder feat provides valuable options for enhancing combat capabilities.



    Barbarians, known for their primal strength and resilience, can benefit significantly from the Dual Wielder feat if they opt for dual wielding instead of using a two-handed weapon. While raging, their off-hand attacks also gain the damage bonus provided by the Rage feature, increasing their overall damage output. Additionally, since Barbarians typically eschew heavy armor, the additional +1 to armor class granted by the Dual Wielder feat can bolster their defenses on the battlefield.




    While the Dual Wielder feat may not be ideal for most bards, particularly those who rely heavily on spellcasting, it can be viable for combat-oriented subclasses like College of Swords or Valor. These subclasses gain the Extra Attack feature, allowing them to make three attacks per turn when combined with offhand attacks from dual wielding. However, bards prioritize spellcasting and have numerous spells requiring bonus actions to cast, along with features like Bardic Inspiration, which also uses a bonus action. Therefore, before selecting the Dual Wielder feat for your bard character, consider your focus on dual wielding versus spellcasting and class features.



    Paladins benefit from the Dual Wielder feat, particularly when aiming to maximize damage output. With the Extra Attack feature gained at level 5, dual wielding combined with the feat enables them to make three attacks per turn, amplifying their potential damage.

    This combination becomes especially potent when paired with the Divine Smite feature, as each successful attack offers another opportunity to unleash additional damage through Divine Smite.

    The End

    In conclusion, mastering the art of two-weapon fighting in Dungeons & Dragons opens a world of strategic possibilities for players across various classes. Whether unleashing a flurry of strikes as a nimble rogue or bolstering their martial prowess as a seasoned fighter, adventurers armed with dual weapons find themselves well-equipped to face the challenges that lie ahead in their epic quests.