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D&D 1E AD&D two weapon fighting


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Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Take a dual weilding fighter with 2 attacks per rounds. Now dual weilding will bring him to four. But if you fighter is 5/2 it becomes with dual weilding 8 attacks one round, 10 the other round. With a 3/round, it becomes 12 attacks per rounds. Give that to a fighter with gauntlets of ogre power and +3 weapons.... you get a walking blender. For the sake of simplicity, let us assume short swords... 4pts average + 6 damage, +3 from the weapon and +3 from specialization we get 16 damage on average per attacks, or 192 damage per round. At this level of damage, some demon lords will not last three whole rounds against that fighter. All he needs is a potion of haste, which in 1ed isn't that hard to get...

I addressed that in the new post; this is the problem with "reading back" into the rule.

The rule made perfect sense in 1979 when it was published. It was only with UA (and Weapon Specialization) that it became a problem, and that's why it was changed in 2e, which officially adopted specialization.

Under the default assumptions in 1e, you didn't have specialization, you never had 5/2 or 3/1, and you didn't even get to 2/1 until you were past name level.
 

Take a dual weilding fighter with 2 attacks per rounds. Now dual weilding will bring him to four. But if you fighter is 5/2 it becomes with dual weilding 8 attacks one round, 10 the other round. With a 3/round, it becomes 12 attacks per rounds. Give that to a fighter with gauntlets of ogre power and +3 weapons.... you get a walking blender. For the sake of simplicity, let us assume short swords... 4pts average + 6 damage, +3 from the weapon and +3 from specialization we get 16 damage on average per attacks, or 192 damage per round. At this level of damage, some demon lords will not last three whole rounds against that fighter. All he needs is a potion of haste, which in 1ed isn't that hard to get...
I posted some thoughts on optimization and TWF in core 1e on the other thread. IMHO it was a pretty viable strategy. Not stupid overwhelming in potency, but a solid option, even though we did play with a "adds one attack per round" interpretation even back in 1e days (IMHO Zeb, needing a way to nerf TWF in 2e simply canonicalized that interpretation as the 2e official rule).

Depending on your race, exactly how many good ability scores you had, and the composition of the rest of your party, you might want to go with TWF and make DEX your highest stat. This becomes even more attractive if you were blessed with something like an 18 and a 16 or 17, so that STR could also contribute to both your attacks. DEX increases your AC, many saves, and your initiative, and also attack bonus with missile weapons. That AC bonus also applies to all attacks that you can see coming, not only ones from a certain angle or a limited number of them, so it is BETTER than a shield.

Admittedly, the secondary attack is at -1 with an 18 DEX and it is with a d6 weapon that does crappy damage to large creatures and has less magical options. If TWF was the only thing that DEX helped, it would be worthless, but it is part of the whole 'package', and since archers have less use for shields, the whole thing has multiple synergies. A TWF DEX build fighter with a longbow and 2 melee weapons is thus a rather good build. Toss on ELF and you instantly understand why elf fighter is so level-limited, you get an additional DEX bonus (potential 19 DEX!!!!) and a +1 with your 2 main weapons, plus lots of other useful goodies. Yeah, you will get borked at higher levels, OTOH you can MC magic-user and be a real bad-ass ALL THE TIME.

So, at the very least, an Elven Fighter/Magic-User DEX build with TWF is a great idea, though admittedly it is likely you will have to go with a mediocre INT, unless you rolled a god character.
 

I posted some thoughts on optimization and TWF in core 1e on the other thread. IMHO it was a pretty viable strategy. Not stupid overwhelming in potency, but a solid option, even though we did play with a "adds one attack per round" interpretation even back in 1e days (IMHO Zeb, needing a way to nerf TWF in 2e simply canonicalized that interpretation as the 2e official rule).

Depending on your race, exactly how many good ability scores you had, and the composition of the rest of your party, you might want to go with TWF and make DEX your highest stat. This becomes even more attractive if you were blessed with something like an 18 and a 16 or 17, so that STR could also contribute to both your attacks. DEX increases your AC, many saves, and your initiative, and also attack bonus with missile weapons. That AC bonus also applies to all attacks that you can see coming, not only ones from a certain angle or a limited number of them, so it is BETTER than a shield.

Admittedly, the secondary attack is at -1 with an 18 DEX and it is with a d6 weapon that does crappy damage to large creatures and has less magical options. If TWF was the only thing that DEX helped, it would be worthless, but it is part of the whole 'package', and since archers have less use for shields, the whole thing has multiple synergies. A TWF DEX build fighter with a longbow and 2 melee weapons is thus a rather good build. Toss on ELF and you instantly understand why elf fighter is so level-limited, you get an additional DEX bonus (potential 19 DEX!!!!) and a +1 with your 2 main weapons, plus lots of other useful goodies. Yeah, you will get borked at higher levels, OTOH you can MC magic-user and be a real bad-ass ALL THE TIME.

So, at the very least, an Elven Fighter/Magic-User DEX build with TWF is a great idea, though admittedly it is likely you will have to go with a mediocre INT, unless you rolled a god character.
From what I read, I interpreted and implemented the rule exactly like you did. And came to the same character builds too.
 

Mannahnin

Adventurer
Take a dual weilding fighter with 2 attacks per rounds. Now dual weilding will bring him to four. But if you fighter is 5/2 it becomes with dual weilding 8 attacks one round, 10 the other round. With a 3/round, it becomes 12 attacks per rounds. Give that to a fighter with gauntlets of ogre power and +3 weapons.... you get a walking blender. For the sake of simplicity, let us assume short swords... 4pts average + 6 damage, +3 from the weapon and +3 from specialization we get 16 damage on average per attacks, or 192 damage per round. At this level of damage, some demon lords will not last three whole rounds against that fighter. All he needs is a potion of haste, which in 1ed isn't that hard to get...
Why are you assuming short swords? The only legal off-hand weapon options under the rules we're talking about are hand axe or dagger. It's only with optional rules like the Moore article (or Drow PCs if UA is allowed, once that comes out) that expand the options.

And yes, of course it's a ton of attacks. But those attacks are all with substantial to-hit penalties unless the character's Dexterity is quite high. Which it rarely would be in 1E, unless you're using some extraordinarily generous ability score generation system. As Snarf has pointed out, Strength is the higher-priority ability scores for a Fighter class in 1E by a mile, and TWF doesn't really let Dex outweigh its benefits, though it adds some more value to Dex.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I posted some thoughts on optimization and TWF in core 1e on the other thread. IMHO it was a pretty viable strategy. Not stupid overwhelming in potency, but a solid option, even though we did play with a "adds one attack per round" interpretation even back in 1e days (IMHO Zeb, needing a way to nerf TWF in 2e simply canonicalized that interpretation as the 2e official rule).

Depending on your race, exactly how many good ability scores you had, and the composition of the rest of your party, you might want to go with TWF and make DEX your highest stat. This becomes even more attractive if you were blessed with something like an 18 and a 16 or 17, so that STR could also contribute to both your attacks. DEX increases your AC, many saves, and your initiative, and also attack bonus with missile weapons. That AC bonus also applies to all attacks that you can see coming, not only ones from a certain angle or a limited number of them, so it is BETTER than a shield.

Admittedly, the secondary attack is at -1 with an 18 DEX and it is with a d6 weapon that does crappy damage to large creatures and has less magical options. If TWF was the only thing that DEX helped, it would be worthless, but it is part of the whole 'package', and since archers have less use for shields, the whole thing has multiple synergies. A TWF DEX build fighter with a longbow and 2 melee weapons is thus a rather good build. Toss on ELF and you instantly understand why elf fighter is so level-limited, you get an additional DEX bonus (potential 19 DEX!!!!) and a +1 with your 2 main weapons, plus lots of other useful goodies. Yeah, you will get borked at higher levels, OTOH you can MC magic-user and be a real bad-ass ALL THE TIME.

So, at the very least, an Elven Fighter/Magic-User DEX build with TWF is a great idea, though admittedly it is likely you will have to go with a mediocre INT, unless you rolled a god character.

Yes, but no. Looking at the examples you use just doesn't make sense.

Take your killer elf fighter. Since he didn't max his strength, instead going for Dexterity, he is limited to 5th level. That means that your dual-wielder never even gets to have multiple attack routines.

And although his "to hit" won't be that bad, his lack of strength means very little damage. But wait- he's a fighter/MU! Again, we have a terrible Fighter (max 5) and a mediocre MU (max 9) since you made Dexterity your top stat. ;)

And all that so that you could ... get a secondary attack with a hand axe or dagger. It's just not the smart play. Most of these "builds" just don't make any sense in the context of pre-UA 1e, and only limited sense even after UA.

EDIT- the main point is that unlike more recent editions, COUGH 5e COUGH FINESSE, you couldn't get damage bonuses with Dex. Ever. If you wanted the massive to hit ... AND DAMAGE bonuses in AD&D, you needed strength. And because so many other classes were actually dex-dependent (Thief, Assassin, Monk, Illusionist) it was likely that high-dex characters were not fighter, or, at most, were MC fighters that would never get to the level that would let them have multiple attack routines.
 

Why are you assuming short swords? The only legal off-hand weapon options under the rules we're talking about are hand axe or dagger. It's only with optional rules like the Moore article (or Drow PCs if UA is allowed, once that comes out) that expand the options.

And yes, of course it's a ton of attacks. But those attacks are all with substantial to-hit penalties unless the character's Dexterity is quite high. Which it rarely would be in 1E, unless you're using some extraordinarily generous ability score generation system. As Snarf has pointed out, Strength is the higher-priority ability scores for a Fighter class in 1E by a mile, and TWF doesn't really let Dex outweigh its benefits, though it adds some more value to Dex.
These were added in the article that Snarf was refering to. Trying to get common ground. Two hand axes would do exactly the same.
 

Yes, but no. Looking at the examples you use just doesn't make sense.

Take your killer elf fighter. Since he didn't max his strength, instead going for Dexterity, he is limited to 5th level. That means that your dual-wielder never even gets to have multiple attack routines.

And although his "to hit" won't be that bad, his lack of strength means very little damage. But wait- he's a fighter/MU! Again, we have a terrible Fighter (max 5) and a mediocre MU (max 9) since you made Dexterity your top stat. ;)

And all that so that you could ... get a secondary attack with a hand axe or dagger. It's just not the smart play. Most of these "builds" just don't make any sense in the context of pre-UA 1e, and only limited sense even after UA.

EDIT- the main point is that unlike more recent editions, COUGH 5e COUGH FINESSE, you couldn't get damage bonuses with Dex. Ever. If you wanted the massive to hit ... AND DAMAGE bonuses in AD&D, you needed strength. And because so many other classes were actually dex-dependent (Thief, Assassin, Monk, Illusionist) it was likely that high-dex characters were not fighter, or, at most, were MC fighters that would never get to the level that would let them have multiple attack routines.
Use the gray elf. 18th level with a 19 intelligence. After that, it is only a matter of time to get to max strength with wishes. Thus raising it's max level as a fighter by a fair amount up to 9th? (I don't have my books and it shows...)

But usually, it would be the high level dual weilding fighter that would benefits the most.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Use the gray elf. 18th level with a 19 intelligence. After that, it is only a matter of time to get to max strength with wishes. Thus raising it's max level as a fighter by a fair amount up to 9th? (I don't have my books and it shows...)

But usually, it would be the high level dual weilding fighter that would benefits the most.

Again, 1e rules (pre-UA). The elf doesn't make it to 18th level. Ever. 11th level cap. Even if they raise their natural strength to 18 with wishes (can't be magic items like gauntlets), they have a 7th level cap of fighter.

Now, let's say that you use the optional and OP rules in UA. First, wash out your eyes with bleach- you'll thank me later. Second, pick up all the pages from floor where they fall because the UA binding was the worst ever; seriously, why not just sell it as loose-leaf?

Still with me? :)

Your 19 intelligence MU Gray Elf was capped at level 12. 14 if single-classed. But then you can't be a fighter. Raising you strength to 18 gives you a 6 cap in fighter under UA- you'd need to get to at lest 18/75 or higher to get to even level 7.

The long and the short of it is that, pre-UA, TWF wasn't really an advantage. There were a few edge cases, and higher-level fighters (human) could certainly benefit. It was only with the advent of (optional) specialization in UA that certain synergies began to form.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Now, let's say that you use the optional and OP rules in UA. First, wash out your eyes with bleach- you'll thank me later. Second, pick up all the pages from floor where they fall because the UA binding was the worst ever; seriously, why not just sell it as loose-leaf?

Still with me? :)

Your 19 intelligence MU Gray Elf was capped at level 12. 14 if single-classed. But then you can't be a fighter. Raising you strength to 18 gives you a 6 cap in fighter under UA- you'd need to get to at lest 18/75 or higher to get to even level 7.
For general edification of the thread, here are the relevant sub-racial level limits for elves in UA.

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From what I read, I interpreted and implemented the rule exactly like you did. And came to the same character builds too.
I think @Snarf Zagyg interpretation of DMG P63 does put extra weight on the interpretation that a fighter's 'attacks per round' is really 'attack routines per round'. While, unfortunately, 'attack routine' isn't very precisely defined, it still makes the '2 attacks per routine' interpretation of TWF more consistent. Frankly I don't remember that we paid a lot of attention to much of that gobbledy goosh. Frankly most of it is beyond difficult to interpret or apply, and all I can remember us ever doing is simply playing that the side with the initiative did all its stuff, and then the other side did all its stuff. I think we just basically added spell segments to initiative to decide if your spell went off before the other guy hit you, comparing to the other side's initiative roll. This was much simpler and more playable, and all the weirdness with tied initiatives and speed factors and all that BS seemed silly. I mean it wasn't at all realistic to start with, and didn't seem to add anything to the game.

This was one my greatest disappointments in 2e was that it really didn't improve the situation. You could create a MUCH MUCH simpler combat system that was still just as fun and worked just as well as the junk they gave us in AD&D, but yet the opportunity was left on the table. 2e's version is different, but equally incoherent.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I think @Snarf Zagyg interpretation of DMG P63 does put extra weight on the interpretation that a fighter's 'attacks per round' is really 'attack routines per round'. While, unfortunately, 'attack routine' isn't very precisely defined, it still makes the '2 attacks per routine' interpretation of TWF more consistent. Frankly I don't remember that we paid a lot of attention to much of that gobbledy goosh. Frankly most of it is beyond difficult to interpret or apply, and all I can remember us ever doing is simply playing that the side with the initiative did all its stuff, and then the other side did all its stuff. I think we just basically added spell segments to initiative to decide if your spell went off before the other guy hit you, comparing to the other side's initiative roll. This was much simpler and more playable, and all the weirdness with tied initiatives and speed factors and all that BS seemed silly. I mean it wasn't at all realistic to start with, and didn't seem to add anything to the game.

This was one my greatest disappointments in 2e was that it really didn't improve the situation. You could create a MUCH MUCH simpler combat system that was still just as fun and worked just as well as the junk they gave us in AD&D, but yet the opportunity was left on the table. 2e's version is different, but equally incoherent.

There is a document I saw a while ago (I think the abbreviation is ADDICT?) that has all the 1e combat rules and a sample combat.

It’s……. Um. Something.
 

From what I read, I interpreted and implemented the rule exactly like you did. And came to the same character builds too.
Why are you assuming short swords? The only legal off-hand weapon options under the rules we're talking about are hand axe or dagger. It's only with optional rules like the Moore article (or Drow PCs if UA is allowed, once that comes out) that expand the options.

And yes, of course it's a ton of attacks. But those attacks are all with substantial to-hit penalties unless the character's Dexterity is quite high. Which it rarely would be in 1E, unless you're using some extraordinarily generous ability score generation system. As Snarf has pointed out, Strength is the higher-priority ability scores for a Fighter class in 1E by a mile, and TWF doesn't really let Dex outweigh its benefits, though it adds some more value to Dex.
I don't agree with that last part. DEX adds to AC, saves, initiative, and attack bonus with missiles. It is an awesome stat. STR is situationally better for fighters. Ideally you'd want a good STR AND a good DEX, though it is surely true that you probably won't get both often. Still, with a high dex your main attack has no penalty at all (16+) and at 18 your off-hand attack is only at -1. A d6 hand axe attack does 3.5 extra damage per hit, while an 18/50 STR is worth an extra 3 damage. Kind of a wash in many situations. Basically, if you already have the DEX, it is a pretty good option. Elves really shine here...
 

I think @Snarf Zagyg interpretation of DMG P63 does put extra weight on the interpretation that a fighter's 'attacks per round' is really 'attack routines per round'. While, unfortunately, 'attack routine' isn't very precisely defined, it still makes the '2 attacks per routine' interpretation of TWF more consistent. Frankly I don't remember that we paid a lot of attention to much of that gobbledy goosh. Frankly most of it is beyond difficult to interpret or apply, and all I can remember us ever doing is simply playing that the side with the initiative did all its stuff, and then the other side did all its stuff. I think we just basically added spell segments to initiative to decide if your spell went off before the other guy hit you, comparing to the other side's initiative roll. This was much simpler and more playable, and all the weirdness with tied initiatives and speed factors and all that BS seemed silly. I mean it wasn't at all realistic to start with, and didn't seem to add anything to the game.

This was one my greatest disappointments in 2e was that it really didn't improve the situation. You could create a MUCH MUCH simpler combat system that was still just as fun and worked just as well as the junk they gave us in AD&D, but yet the opportunity was left on the table. 2e's version is different, but equally incoherent.
Good lord, were you playing at one of my tables??? We did exactly that. We were 15 DMs in my area and that was our consensus. Like problems, like solutions it would seem...
 

Yes, but no. Looking at the examples you use just doesn't make sense.

Take your killer elf fighter. Since he didn't max his strength, instead going for Dexterity, he is limited to 5th level. That means that your dual-wielder never even gets to have multiple attack routines.

And although his "to hit" won't be that bad, his lack of strength means very little damage. But wait- he's a fighter/MU! Again, we have a terrible Fighter (max 5) and a mediocre MU (max 9) since you made Dexterity your top stat. ;)

And all that so that you could ... get a secondary attack with a hand axe or dagger. It's just not the smart play. Most of these "builds" just don't make any sense in the context of pre-UA 1e, and only limited sense even after UA.

EDIT- the main point is that unlike more recent editions, COUGH 5e COUGH FINESSE, you couldn't get damage bonuses with Dex. Ever. If you wanted the massive to hit ... AND DAMAGE bonuses in AD&D, you needed strength. And because so many other classes were actually dex-dependent (Thief, Assassin, Monk, Illusionist) it was likely that high-dex characters were not fighter, or, at most, were MC fighters that would never get to the level that would let them have multiple attack routines.
We already discussed that we were not really thinking about what happens at high level (you hardly ever get there). Anyway, in your interpretation of TWF it becomes a LOT better at level 7!

And yes, it isn't so likely to get to be a level 7 elf fighter with DEX at 18, though we cannot totally rule it out. Still, there are other ways to get to higher levels, wish for instance. Not easy, but well-trodden nonetheless. And again, in terms of damage bonuses, I can still get STR items, the ONLY KIND that exist in 1e! (2e as well IIRC). And 1 attack at +3 damage or 1 extra attack at 3.5 damage, there's very little choose between them, damage wise.

So, yes, such builds can make sense. Mostly the whole TWF thing isn't the main deal though, it is just a bit that makes up some for tanking STR, not the point of the build. The point is to be an awesome archer, and to get initiative, AC, and save bonuses. PLUS, having a speedy 2nd weapon means you can gank enemy spell casters on the fly. Very handy. None of this depends on being an Elf, it just explains why elves were level capped so low by default.
 

These were added in the article that Snarf was refering to. Trying to get common ground. Two hand axes would do exactly the same.
Yeah, the best RAW option is a hand axe and a bastard sword, though dagger in off-hand does have the attraction of a very fast speed factor if you are using that and want to be able to quickly pig-stick an enemy caster before he gets his spell off.
 

Yeah, the best RAW option is a hand axe and a bastard sword, though dagger in off-hand does have the attraction of a very fast speed factor if you are using that and want to be able to quickly pig-stick an enemy caster before he gets his spell off.
But dual hand axes of throwing would give an excellent solution of melee and thrown weapon at the same time. Dual daggers would do the same. The goal in dual weilding is to kill the caster before he can cast anything at all. Gauntlets of ogres' strength or even a strength spell can raise the damage by quite a margin.
 

There is a document I saw a while ago (I think the abbreviation is ADDICT?) that has all the 1e combat rules and a sample combat.

It’s……. Um. Something.
Yeah, I have a slide deck somewhere with flow diagrams which actually describes the ENTIRETY of 1e encounter rules. It is like 8 slides long and each slide has 6 or 8 boxes. It is mind-bogglingly complicated, and they listed something like 30 rules they basically had to invent/rule on just to get something that works at all.

As I said in another post, we really didn't, and I doubt anyone sane ever did, actually try to internalize and utilize all of those rules in a consistent fashion. MAYBE we acknowledged them as 'technically being rules', like we might look at them and selectively use some of them in various corner cases, but the ACTUAL functional rule of play in AD&D (either edition) was you rolled initiative and the winning side did all its stuff, then the losing side, assuming they still existed, did all its stuff. We did add the winning initiative to how many segments your spell took to cast and if that exceeded the bad guys initiative roll, then their attacks might interrupt your spell (assuming they survived to make those attacks, and hit you). Enemy spells would likewise add segments to initiative check.
That is not quite the official way, but it was the simple practical way that made sense and worked. Likewise we ignored most of what the DMG says about positioning and such in combat and just relied on our Chessex battle mat. Half the rules seemed written as if you would do that ANYWAY, so it sort of 'just worked'. IME this is approximately how about 90% of all groups played AD&D, though we were happy sometimes to just informally dice out fights without even bothering with the full rules or minis, etc. Especially in later years when we were playing on our kitchen tables and couldn't just leave it all for the next night, lol.
 

But dual hand axes of throwing would give an excellent solution of melee and thrown weapon at the same time. Dual daggers would do the same. The goal in dual weilding is to kill the caster before he can cast anything at all. Gauntlets of ogres' strength or even a strength spell can raise the damage by quite a margin.
Sure, and most of my characters would carry 2-3 daggers, why not? They weigh very little, and you can always toss them and buy new ones if the load factor becomes a problem.
 

David Howery

Adventurer
(Finally, the whole "you only get one additional attack" is something that I only heard of years later- while I am sure there will be people that say they have always played that way, as there always are,
yep, one of those here. I'm not sure just how our DMs came up with it, but they all went with 'one extra attack only'. Of course, it was something that didn't come up a lot as not that many PCs had such high Dex that they could make use of it...
 

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