What Exactly Does The Attack Bonus 5e On Weapons Apply To?
The Attack Bonus 5e you’re referring to, in the middle of the Starter Set Character Sheets, is added to attack rolls (only, never damage). It’s calculated using your Proficiency Bonus plus your relevant Ability Modifier (usually Strength for melee weapons and Dexterity for ranged).
The Damage is included in its entirety just to the right of the Attack Bonus 5e, in the same “Attacks and Spellcasting” box.
For example, the Human Fighter character comes with a greataxe, with an attack bonus of +5 (and so rolls 1d20+5 to hit) and damage of 1d12+3 (and so rolls exactly that for damage on a successful hit).
I assume that you’re talking about the +1 that you’re seeing on certain weapons in the starter set.
These are magic weapons. This +1 is indeed applied to the attack roll and the damage roll. A magic weapon may also have other properties (like the axe in Thundertree that has advantage against plants).
Unless, you’re referring to the +4/5/7 on the character sheets. This only applies to the attack roll. A weapon attack is represented with two different expressions. Here’s the Greatsword from the Ranged Fighter:
Greatsword +4 2d6+2 slashing
I’ll break that apart now.
The first entry is the weapon type. You can buy different weapons, this has two effects, if you’re proficient, your attack modifier only changes if it’s a finesse weapon and you decide to use Dex for the attack instead of Str. But your attack roll is your proficiency modifier (+2 at L1) plus your ability score (the ranged fighter’s starting Strenght is 14 so the modifier is +2).
The second entry is the attack bonus 5e, we just calculated that above. It’s determined by whether or not you are proficient (the fighter is proficient with all weapons, other classes less so, see the box with “proficiencies” listed for the weapons you can add this bonus to).
Then you add the appropriate ability modifier. Melee attacks use Strength by default, but finesse weapons can use Dex (not required). Ranged weapons use Dexterity by default, but thrown weapons can use Strength (not required).
Finally, you have the damage. This is the damage dice indicated by the weapon with the ability modifier you’re using for the attack added to it (so the Greatsword has 2d6 from the sword and +2 from your Strength modifier).
How to Calculate Attack Bonus 5E
At some point in your Dungeons & Dragons 5E career, you’re going to be asked to make an attack roll. Every single class has the potential to attack and deal damage. But, some types of attack are flat-out confusing. Let’s go over them all and learn how to calculate attack bonus 5E.
Your attack bonus 5e is not too difficult to calculate by default. It goes like this:
Attack Roll = Ability Modifier + Proficiency + Enchantment/Item Bonus + Class Features
Most of the time, you’ll only have to worry about Ability Modifiers and Proficiency.
Unlike older editions, 5e runs off the idea of “bounded accuracy.” There’s just not many ways to boost your attack bonuses compared to older editions. If you want to be more accurate, consider ways to gain advantage on your attack rolls instead. There are a ton of ways to do that, and the d20 you roll will almost always influence your attacks more than your modifier will.
How Can I Increase My Attack Bonus 5e?
What your attack roll hinges most on is that ability modifier. That’ll change based entirely on the weapon you’re using. In general, if your weapon is either strictly Ranged or has the Finesse quality, you’ll use Dexterity. Otherwise (melee or thrown weapons without the Finesse quality), you’ll use Strength. That means thrown weapons use Strength unless they are also Finesse.
Unlike older editions, spells now use their Casting Ability Score to calculate attack rolls. That means that a Wizard casting Firebolt adds their Intelligence modifier to their attack roll (back in the old days, it was Dexterity!).
Boosting your Ability Modifier is therefore one of the easiest ways to get your Attack Bonus 5e high. Make sure you find ability boosting items, gear, and Tomes to get it as high as possible!
Proficiency modifier increases just by leveling up, but be warned;
You only add your proficiency modifier if you’re proficient with the weapon used. A Wizard doesn’t get to add their Proficiency to Greatsword attacks unless they got proficient from feats or racial features.
Make sure you have proficiency, either from class or race, before using weapons, since proficiency is such a major boost to accuracy.
In almost all cases, you’ll find enchanted weapons scattered along your quest. These bonuses go from +1 to +3 and augment both your attack and damage rolls. If you have a weapon with a numerical bonus, that means you just add that to the attack roll.
Easy as pie! If you’re a spellcaster, there are a few magical items that boost your spell attack rolls – the Wand of the War Mage is the most popular, able to increase to +3, and attunable to all magic users. There are a few other magic items that are more useful, but more specific to classes that they can attune to.
What exactly does the attack bonus on weapons apply to in D&D 5E?
You get to add your proficiency bonus to your normal weapon attack bonus if you are proficient with that weapon.
The normal attack bonus is based on what weapon you’re using; melee or ranged. Melee weapons use the strength modifier and ranged weapons use the dexterity modifier. There are few weapons where you can choose which ability to use, but generally, that’s how it works.
For example, let’s say you’re a level 1 fighter with a Strength score of 16 (+3 modifier) and a dexterity of 12 (+1 modifier). Fighters are proficient will all simple and martial weapons and at level 1 your proficiency bonus is +2.
If you’re attacking with a melee weapon, like a flail or longsword, you would add your strength modifier (+3) and your proficiency bonus (+2) to your attack roll.
If you were attacking with a ranged weapon, like a longbow, you would add your dex modifier (+1) and your proficiency bonus (+2) to that attack roll.
Again, that’s generally how it works. There are of course exceptions and those exceptions are usually based on the type of weapon you’re using.
An attack bonus makes it easier to hit the enemy.
+2 longsword with no other notation about the magical weapon means it has +2 added to the die roll and any other bonuses or penalties to the attempt to strike the opponent.
The +2 longsword would also get +2 to the damage roll.
It is possible for the DM to let you find a weapon that has +2/+0 and that would be +2 to hit +0 damage (no damage bonus, but it will hit more often than a non-magical weapon)
We make such items in order to adjust the game balance. +2 to hit is approximately a 10% more chance of hitting.
What are the best feats for a fighter in D&D 5E?
For most Fighters, I would recommend the following feats:
Great Weapon Master. If you’re looking to dish out serious damage with a two-handed weapon, Great Weapon Master is one of your best options. Any time you gain an accuracy buff, whether it be through Battlemaster’s Precision Attack, Bardic Inspiration, getting advantage on a prone enemy, or from your kind DM giving you a +2 Greatsword, Great Weapon Master essentially turns every accuracy buff you get into a massive damage buff.
Polearm Master compliments Great Weapon Master, but is also a great feat on its own. The reaction attack when enemies enter your reach and the bonus action attack on each of your turns increases your damage output greatly.
Heavy Armor Master is an easily overlook feat. It’s best taken ASAP to get the maximum benefit out of it. It pretty much makes you a godlike tank from levels 1–4 and free HP every level after that.
Crossbow Expert is a potent feat because it effectively turns any hand crossbow you come across into a fully automatic pistol. Okay, not literally, but you can ignore the loading property and you get a free bonus action attack. And you don’t suffer disadvantage from attacking in close quarters. That’s hella good.
Sharpshooter is the most powerful martial feat in the game. It’s a Great Weapon Master but for ranged weapon attacks, but it also lets you ignore cover and the penalty for attacking at a long-range. The best part is that it synergizes MASSIVELY with the Archery fighting style, letting you deal greatsword-level damage from over 100 feet away, all while being more accurate than the greatsword-wielding fighter.
Honorable mentions include:
Shield Master lets you shove as a bonus action while using your shield. This is very good if you have, say, a rogue in the party who fights in melee.
Elven Accuracy synergizes with Sharpshooter. Combine that with the Samurai subclass and you become an insane long-distance archer.
Sentinel is great on Cavaliers and any other fighter who plays tank and needs to ensure that enemies can’t get away from them.
Magic Initiate gives some good spell options, the most interesting of which is the druid spell options. Shillelagh lets you use a quarterstaff and Wisdom, making you an entirely Wisdom based fighter, and Magic Stone gives you a considerable ranged option that scales with Wisdom as well.
Medium Armor Master is a good option after you’ve maxed out your DEX on a light armor user and want a small AC bump.
Tough is a good feat during the late game when you just need that HP buffer.
War Caster is a great feat for Eldritch Knights specifically, since it lets them use spells on their opportunity attack.
There may have been some other feats I’ve missed, but these are the best feats for the fighter class.
Finally, there are class features. There aren’t many class characteristics that improve your attack rolls, but they are there. Lots of features add dice to attack rolls. Bardic Inspiration is one of the most popular and powerful ways to get a bonus to attack rolls.
The Battlemaster can add dice of similar size to his own rolls, and the Wild Magic Wizard can do similar things to Bardic Inspiration… but with small dice. He also does Orientation, a spell on some lists.
The archery fighting style adds a flat +2 to the attack rolls of a warrior or ranger with a ranged weapon. The War Cleric and the Oath of Devotion can use their Channel Divinity to gain massive bonuses on attack rolls for a short period of time.
Then there are the “enchant my weapon” effects. Some classes can use an ability to enchant their weapon, giving it a magical bonus to attacks. These do not stack with normal enchantments. The monk Kensei and the cleric of the forge have access to this without using magic.
Paladins can use a level 3 spell, Elemental Weapon, to do so. Wizards have access to Magic Weapon, which surprisingly gives a weapon a magic bonus.