[RPG] Two-Weapon Fighting & Bonus Actions


During the latest gaming session our level 3 Rogue was Two-Weapon fighting with a Rapier in the main-hand and a scimitar in the off-hand. At the completion of our gaming session I contested the application of the Two-Weapon fighting rules as it seemed unbalanced.

Once I got home I reviewed the PHB and various RPGStack and Reddit but couldn't find a concrete answer.

My interpretation of the PHB Reference rules below is that although any class/character can technically wield a weapon in their off-hand, only those who have been granted a Bonus Action for which no explicit bonus action have been defined would be allowed to actually attack. So in the case of a Rogue the Bonus Actions granted under Cunning Action allow for specific actions (none of which are attack).

The alternate interpretation would be the rules under Two-Weapon Fighting, perhaps it should be written

you receive a bonus action to attack with a different light melee weapon that you’re holding in the other hand.

This would, in my opinion, explicitly grant the Bonus Action to any character/class who is Two-Weapon Fighting.

After thorough review does it boil down to application of the rules-as-written and determining a house-rule to apply in our campaign?


Page 189 of PHB : Bonus Actions

Various class features, spells, and other abilities let you take an additional action on your turn called a bonus action. The Cunning Action feature, for example, allows a rogue to take a bonus action.

You can take a bonus action only when a special ability, spell, or other feature of the game states that you can do something as a bonus
action. You otherwise don’t have a bonus action to take.

You can take only one bonus action on your turn, so you must choose which bonus action to use when you have more than one available. You choose when to take a bonus action during your turn, unless the bonus action’s timing is specified, and anything that deprives you of your ability to take actions also prevents you from taking a bonus action.

Page 96 of PHB

A Rogue receives cunning action at level 2, You can take a bonus action on each of your turns in combat.

This action can be used only to take the Dash, Disengage, or Hide action.

Page 195 of PHB

Two-Weapon Fighting (Combat Rules)

When you take the Attack action and attack with a light melee weapon that you’re holding in one hand, you can use a bonus action to attack with a different light melee weapon that you’re holding in the other hand. You don’t add your ability modifier to the damage of the bonus attack, unless that modifier is negative. If either weapon has the thrown property, you can throw the weapon, instead of making a melee attack with it.

Page 165 of PHB

Dual Wielder (Feat)

You master fighting with two weapons, gaining the following benefits:

  • You gain a +1 bonus to AC while you are wielding a separate melee weapon in each hand.
  • You can use two-weapon fighting even when the one-handed melee weapons you are wielding aren't light.
  • You can draw or stow two one-handed weapons when you would normally be able to draw or stow only one.

Best Answer

Anyone wielding two light weapons can attack with one weapon and use a bonus action to make an offhand attack.

The Rogue's having Cunning Action as an option does not prevent them from instead choosing other bonus actions. The restriction only applies to Cunning Action itself - if the Rogue chooses to use Cunning Action, only Dash, Disengage, and Hide can be used. Otherwise they may use any other Bonus Action which is available to them. This distinction is there because the Thief and Arcane Trickster archetypes later expand the options provided by Cunning Action.

The bottom line:

  1. The Rogue needs the Dual Wielder feat to use Two Weapon Fighting with a rapier, since the rapier is not a light weapon.
  2. The Rogue can use either Cunning Action, or an offhand attack, but not both.
  3. Having the Cunning Action class feature does not prevent the Rogue from choosing other bonus actions instead.