In D&D, how do you find attack bonus for weapons?

Okay, clearly not a 100 score answer -- I don't own the books (certainly wouldn't have them with me at work even if I did). Is it a clear no-no, then, to provide an answer to a question from a new user without the level of rules-lawyer precision required for some subject matter? Or should I simply avoid answering any D&D 5e question if I can't give page and paragraph and paste in quotes?


In general, your attack bonus will be any applicable proficiency bonus based on the type of weapon, plus the appropriate attribute bonus (commonly ST for melee weapons and DX for ranged weapons, though this may be changed for certain special cases).

If you have a Feat that provides a bonus (say, the Rogue's "backstab" or whatever they'll calling it now) that would then be added when circumstances permit.

So, if you were attacking with a mace, you'd get +2 for proficiency (both Fighter and Cleric have proficiency that would cover this weapon); if your ST is 17, that would give another +3, and if you had some (perhaps clerical?) Feat that gives a bonus when using a bludgeoning weapon, you'd then add that.

I might also point out that, contrary to comments on the original answer, the information about proficiency is, at most, incomplete, not incorrect (3rd level fighter and cleric, the classes in the original version of the question, do get a +2 proficiency).

  • \$\begingroup\$ I might note that most of the answers to the linked duplicate question rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/72910/… are also pretty brief (there's a brand new one that's super detailed, but till now a basic description of the formula served in that case), so what was the specific differentiating issue here? \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 17:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ So, all of this boils down to "don't answer 5e questions unless you've been playing it longer than it's been out and have a photographic memory." Sometimes the best answer for a new player is one from a "not quite as new" player. Clearly that's never, ever the case on SE -- at least this SE (others not so much). \$\endgroup\$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 18:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh, and you won't see much "wrong version" answers from me, I've never played 2nd, 3rd, 3.5, or 4th. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 18:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ZeissIkon I think those comments were meant to be placed under my answer. But the amount of years you've been playing the game has very little to do with how good a rules answer can be. What it actually boils down to is: make an answer that is clear, factually correct, focused, and well-supported and it likely won't get downvotes. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 18:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose I was pointing at all the answers, hence commenting here. But given the limitations I have when I can actually answer (work network blocks all gaming sites -- SE gets by, probably, because they haven't noticed there are gaming stacks), it does boil down to "don't answer 5e questions." FWIW, I didn't really see that question as a "rules question" -- or at least as one so general it didn't really require that level of detail. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 18:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ZeissIkon We aren't saying you can't answer 5e questions in any way. For one thing there are plenty of questions that involves issues that don't require rules citations (like social problems where we would have you cite previous experience for example) where being away from books should not hinder you. What we are saying is that if you don't do the things that make for good answers around here, you might want to expect to receive downvotes. How you handle that information and roll that into your future answering is up to you entirely. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 18:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ You didn't need the books. A lot of questions like this one can be answered using the Basic Rules. Of interest, I didn't do anything with your answer, but offered a link to basic rules to the querent due to what looked to me like a lack of basic research. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 22:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ Your Basic Rules link is blocked on my work network, just like anything else identified as a gaming, shopping, or social site, or even an email server other than my employer's. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented May 1, 2019 at 11:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ZeissIkon Aha, sorry, ours doesn't. Sorry to hear that. :( \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 1, 2019 at 14:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ That you’re at work and don’t have a photographic memory shouldn’t and won’t give your answers a vote score bonus. Score depends only on what’s written. If being at work means writing worse content, expect a lower score, perhaps negative. It’s unfortunate that conditions prevent writing accurate answers, but that’s not a problem the site can or should compensate for. Figuring out how and whether to write an answer that will be well-received is up to the writer. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 1, 2019 at 23:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ZeissIkon when writing answers at work I use my phone if the answer requires an exact citation. That or I mark the question, write up a draft answer and then post it once I can gather the citations necessary. With time you will learn that some rules can be found elsewhere on rpg.se via search and you can get well supported answers without the books. Blatantly wrong answers or assumptions about the rules will always be downvoted. Getting terminology right is a good start and not something that takes a long time to learn. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin Mod
    Commented May 2, 2019 at 6:40

4 Answers 4


It was unclear and mostly wrong and showed a lack of expertise

Note that all of this, more or less, was brought up as suggestions for improvement in the comments under your answer (by multiple people including myself). In general, if you are wondering why you are getting downvoted and there are comments pointing out flaws in your answer, they are often related and addressing them is generally to your benefit.

I specifically left my comment, waited a bit to see if you had fixed it, and then downvoted it. My reasons are elaborated below.

It wasn't clear

You talk about a lot of stuff in your answer, a small part of which was correct but all of which was not clear. The context of this question was a new user who clearly has no idea how to play the game so extra clarity is necessary for a great answer. You don't define or reference any of your terms or tell OP how to find or use them (eg proficiency bonus, attack bonus (which isn't an actual term in 5e)).

You also didn't explain how +2 proficiency bonus was gotten to our how that works. This might have helped because the +2 is not correct at all for the level character OP was asking about. You answer also implied to a new eye that it was perhaps static, which is incorrect.

Not defining or explaining the terms makes it more confusing than helpful and this was one of the reasons I downvoted.

Some of it was unnecessary info (if not straight out wrong)

If you have a Feat that provides a bonus (say, the Rogue's "backstab" or whatever they'll calling it now)

There's no such feat in 5e this also displays a distinct lack of expertise. If you don't know "whatever they are calling it these days" perhaps you should leave it out of your answer? Or wait to find the correct name before answering. You may also be confusing the term "feat" with "class feature", two things which are very different and which should not be confused.

Assuming you were actually talking about Sneak Attack, that information does not affect attack rolls at all and was thus completely irrelevant to the question.

if you had some (perhaps clerical?) Feat that gives a bonus when using a bludgeoning weapon

Again, no such feat exists. Not even a clerical class feature actually (though there are a smattering of class features which do something similar, none that I know of do anything with bludgeoning damage).

Displaying wrong and/or incomplete information displays a lack of expertise and thus confidence in your answer and can be a reason to find it less useful (and thus downvote). Especially when you are dealing with new users.

You have to Back it Up

We have an extensive post on what is required for answers as far as evidence goes here. I won't be reiterating what is there (feel free to peruse it at your leisure and ask if there is any specific part of it you find confusing), but I will pull out a couple points relevant to you.

All answers must be backed up. This benefits OP because it shows them that your information is correct and where they can find that information to verify (as well as any additional context and definition those citations might add to your answer). And this benefits you too. If you had backed up your answer and cited things you might have realized that the feats you were talking about don't exist and that your proficiency bonus was wrong for example. It happens to me all the time and luckily most of those errors are filtered out by me consulting the text before posting.

We all make mistakes (and improve our answers to address them)

Every one of us had made mistakes, small or large, in our answers and gotten down voted for it. But votes aren't permanent. Look in your comments for things to improve upon and edit your answer to fix the errors and correct the inclarities. Often, a change sufficient to correct a downvoter's issue will cause them to come back and change their vote or just for more upvotes to come your way.

A good answer

A good answer is one that is clear, factually correct, focused, and well-supported. Answers like that tend to get upvotes, while answers that are unclear, factually incorrect, unfocused, and unsupported tend to get downvotes.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ One nitpick: you say OP talks "about a lot of stuff in your answer, most of which was correct...." To my eyes they talk about three things--STR/DEX, proficiency bonus, and a possible feat--and two of them they get wrong. (Proficiency for L6 is +3, not +2, and there are no such feats--nor, given BA are there likely to be--in 5e.) \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    Commented May 1, 2019 at 20:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 good point. I think I was trying to start more on the positive side there and I probably overshot the reality of the situation especially when you point out the prof was also wrong. I've adjusted my wording accordingly. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 1, 2019 at 21:27

On the downvotes, this answer (sorry to put it this way) displays a lack of expertise in a few places:

  • The proficiency bonus for the character posed (6th-level) would be +3, not +2.

Proficiency increases by level, as the first comment points you toward.

  • It posits the existence of a feat that adds to attack bonus, when no such one exists.

Experienced 5e players have likely noticed that straight bonuses to attacks are exceedingly rare. (Archery fighting style, bless, magical +X weapons/wands, and an ioun stone of mastery, off the top of my head.) Contrapositively, the mention of a possible feat to increase one's attack bonus immediately stands out as not coming from 5e expertise.

In short, the downvotes could reasonably come from providing more misinformation to the OP than correct (the STR/DEX bit).

I'm not sure about the delete-vote; nothing immediately jumps out to me as delete-worthy, personally.


I will detail my reason for downvoting. I cannot speak for anyone else, and downvotes do not and should not require an explanation (although explanations on how to improve a post are always helpful, and I make an effort to explain my downvotes).

Feats vs class features

You appear to be conflating the term "feat" and the term "class feature", which can already be confusing to new players. There are no official "feats" that are class-specific, so you probably mean "feature" when you refer to "Backstab" or "something clerical"


Backstab itself is not the name of any rogue class feature. The feature I believe you are referring to is Sneak Attack, which says:

Beginning at 1st level, you know how to strike subtly and exploit a foe's distraction. Once per turn, you can deal an extra 1d6 damage to one creature you hit with an attack if you have advantage on the attack roll. The attack must use a finesse or a ranged weapon.

Using the wrong term further adds to the confusion that we try to avoid imposing on new players in answers. Furthermore, Sneak Attack doesn't affect attack rolls in any way making it not connected to the question at all.

Proficiency Bonuses

You state that you add 2 for proficiency, but this is not always the case. The Character Advancement table shows how proficiency bonus scales as you level.


Lastly, while it is not required, a good answer should be supported by textual evidence or experience (depending on the question). Since you don't have the books, this evidence could come from the Basic Rules, which are a free document accessible on the Wizards of the Coast website.


My downvote is a combination of concern regarding confusing a potentially new player with inaccurate terminology and confusing wording, as well as the lack of quotes or page references for the game rules you cite.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ " downvotes do not and should not require an explanation." While I generally agree, and often don't offer any explanation when I downvote, I might also point out that it's difficult for a user to improve their answers without a clue or two. As Dr. Evel puts it, "throw me a bone, here!" And thanks for the bone. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 18:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ZeissIkon Which is why I upvoted your question here in meta. I think it was a good idea to cone here with your confusion. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 18:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DavidCoffron I think it's noteworthy to elaborate that, while downvotes should not require an explanation, it is always useful to provide one. This goes even more so if the reasons are not obvious to the author of the question or answer. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 10, 2019 at 20:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PixelMaster I agree. I'll make a note \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 10, 2019 at 20:31

I'll own the delete vote

I voted to delete because of the misinformation in the post. I felt that because OP seemed like a new player, the answer that currently included misleading information was potentially not just not helping, but doing harm.

My concern was that by having it, OP may have utilized the incorrect factual information to their detriment and I felt it was better to remove the answer rather than have it up and mislead OP.

I also want to state that when ZeissIkon requested to be told the reasons for the downvotes in their comments, I answered in comments as well - and those reasons are what have been listed here by others.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This, to me, is the interesting part of this meta. Others have given a reason for downvotes, but my impression is that "This answer is wrong" isn't generally cause for deletion: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/264293/… \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 3, 2019 at 17:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SirTechSpec Yeah. Normally I don't vote to delete just 'wrong' answers. But given that the question was closed as a dupe (preventing new answers) and that this was a new player getting incorrect information who had responded with a "thanks", I felt it was the right thing to do in order fix any potential damage done. It still takes 3 votes to delete, and it can always be undeleted by others. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented May 3, 2019 at 17:36

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