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D&D General Attacks With Two Weapons, Game Design, And the Evolution of D&D

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
One small intervention. The haste spell double the number of attacks you make on a particular round. It does not increase your attack rate. The fighter will not go from 3/2 to 3/1 . He will do 2 attacks one round, and the next he will do four. Which might look like 3/1 but it is not. The difference is a slim one, but it can mean a lot with certain magical items.

Well, I highly suggest reading the excerpt I just quoted from the DMG, and taking it up with Gygax. Here's the relevant portions for you with regard to TWF and haste:

When one or more creatures involved in combat are permitted to use their attack routines twice or more often during the round, then the following initiative determinants are employed. When the attack routine may be used twice, then allow the side with this advantage to attack FIRST and LAST with those members of its group who have this advantage. If it is possessed by both parties, the initiative roll determines which group strikes FIRST and THIRD, which group strikes SECOND and LAST. If one or both groups have members allowed only one attack routine, it will always fall in the middle of the other attacks, the order determined by dicing for initiative, when necessary. If one party has the ability to employ its attack routines thrice, then the other party dices for initiative to see if it, or the multi-routine group, strikes first in the mid-point of the round. Extrapolate for routines which occur four or more times in a round by following the method above. Note that a routine is the attack or attacks usual to the creature concerned, i.e. a weapon (or weapons) for a character, a claw/claw/bite routine for a bear (with incidental; damage assessed as it occurs - the hug, for exomple). A 12th level fighter is allowed attack routines twice in every odd numbered melee round, for example, and this moves up to three per round if a haste spell is cast upon the fighter. Damage from successful attacks is assessed when the "to hit" score is made and damage determined, the creature so taking damage having to survive it in order to follow its attack routine.
 

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Let's not forget TWF reaching its apex with 2e Combat and Tactics. A fighter (or other classes if you're using S&P) could spend their starting proficiency slots to gain Ambidexterity, Two-Weapon Fighting Style, and Weapon Specialization, which essentially gives them 5/2 attacks with +1/+2 bonuses (scaling to +3/+3 with Mastery at level 5) in addition to their Strength bonuses.

It was the weapon fighting style for pretty much every melee character in late 2e, and became so synonymous with munchkinism that both 3e and 5e hit the style so hard with the nerf bat it never truly recovered.
Heh, yeah, that book was to 2e what UA was to 1e. We just never even allowed it near our games. It was also a pretty late cycle supplement. Like by that point all we were doing was playing out the final ends of campaigns that mostly stretched back deep into the 1e days, so I don't even think I bought a copy (I don't have it on my shelf anyway). There were a few other supplements we viewed with a jaundiced eye as well, like the Complete Book of Elves IIRC, which was pretty OP too, not to mention all the other Player's Option books...

I think we can safely bin them all in the "Late 2e was pretty out of control" bin. This is an interesting bin to talk about in terms of its relation to the gestation of 3e though. Given that I'm pretty much ignorant on 3.0 though I wouldn't comment much on that in specifics...
 


It (1e) doesn't actually say or imply this anywhere, does it? In fact from what you say, there's no actual indication that TWF gives ANY extra attacks?

I always thought it gave +1 attack, but I'm not too surprised to hear it doesn't actually say that.
@Snarf Zagyg is 100% sure that double attacks is canonical. I OTOH always played as you suggest, that it was a straight single extra attack per round, and I insist this is not a 'backport' of the 2e rule, though it is literally impossible to prove that unequivocally at this point. I have some character sheets (a lot actually) but they are not really filled with rules references and such...

Suffice it to say that I agree that @Snarf Zagyg has a perfectly valid and probably most commonly used interpretation, and that Roger Moore may have agreed (I'm not sure that his article really resolves this, but I haven't read it in like 20 years). I think it would be worthless to debate it further, AD&D is a game with very murky rules, many of which have been interpreted in multiple ways over the years. Who is to say that one interpretation is 'right' or another one 'wrong'? Gary himself could at best tell us his intent, but he's not here, so...
 

This is an excellent dive into mechanics. I'm just going to add, in 5E action economy is king, but they still have issues with two-weapon fighting. I'm not going to go into it here as it's immaterial to this thread, and I couldn't say it any better than Brandes Stoddard anyway.
Every edition has had issues with TWF type styles. It is just difficult to handle. ANY time you add actions to a character it is likely to be a non-linear increase in their combat power.

I'd note that 4e tried to handle it by having a default rule under which you just got a small damage bonus, and to even get that you had to take a feat (you could consider it equivalent to proficiency). You could get a defensive bonus that offset losing your shield for another feat. The 'small weapon restriction' was also there. Rangers got TWF as a built-in style and a power that let them explicitly multi-attack. This was supposed to just give them their striker 'hits hard' character, but players soon discovered they could optimize this whole thing because every other damage/attack amplifier was 2x better if it was coupled with a Twin Strike. Eventually they had to add restricted versions of this ability to other classes (they were at least restricted enough not to become THE optimum). Suffice it to say it was a design misstep in 4e. 5e's way of handling it seems to be reasonably good, my TWF Battlemaster is a lawnmower, but he's not really BETTER than other builds at all.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Heh, yeah, that book was to 2e what UA was to 1e. We just never even allowed it near our games. It was also a pretty late cycle supplement. Like by that point all we were doing was playing out the final ends of campaigns that mostly stretched back deep into the 1e days, so I don't even think I bought a copy (I don't have it on my shelf anyway). There were a few other supplements we viewed with a jaundiced eye as well, like the Complete Book of Elves IIRC, which was pretty OP too, not to mention all the other Player's Option books...

I think we can safely bin them all in the "Late 2e was pretty out of control" bin. This is an interesting bin to talk about in terms of its relation to the gestation of 3e though. Given that I'm pretty much ignorant on 3.0 though I wouldn't comment much on that in specifics...
Oh, I loved the PO books, don't get me wrong. Late 2e coincided with my college years, so I played in a ton of games using those rules. They were certainly power creep, but not game breaking power creep, unless you consider niche protection for certain classes necessary.
 

Snip
A 12th level fighter is allowed attack routines twice in every odd numbered melee round, for example, and this moves up to three per round if a haste spell is cast upon the fighter.
And yet, the haste spell is very clear, it doubles your number of attacks on any given round. It does not enhance your attack routine. Gary, in this, contradicts his own PHB.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
And yet, the haste spell is very clear, it doubles your number of attacks on any given round. It does not enhance your attack routine. Gary, in this, contradicts his own PHB.

PHB 74, Haste Spell:
"When this spell is cost, affected creatures function at double their normal movement and attack rates." (emphasis mine)

If you attack rate is 3/2, double it is 3/1 (twice 1.5 = 3). So ... it's the rule in the PHB and the DMG.

It's also repeated in the DMG twice w/r/t attack routines.

(Of course, if you are playing by the rules, constant use of haste will not be that likely, given that it ages you, and that aging is called out in both the PHB and the DMG ... not to mention the whole "It's a third level spell, and IMA CAST FIREBALLZ! EVERYTHING GO BOOM!")
 

PHB 74, Haste Spell:
"When this spell is cost, affected creatures function at double their normal movement and attack rates." (emphasis mine)

If you attack rate is 3/2, double it is 3/1 (twice 1.5 = 3). So ... it's the rule in the PHB and the DMG.

It's also repeated in the DMG twice w/r/t attack routines.

(Of course, if you are playing by the rules, constant use of haste will not be that likely, given that it ages you, and that aging is called out in both the PHB and the DMG ... not to mention the whole "It's a third level spell, and IMA CAST FIREBALLZ! EVERYTHING GO BOOM!")
Only elves were using haste on constant basis. But boy were they not hesitant to use it. A Grey elf could live for what? 2000 years. That is a lot of haste spells to use...
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Only elves were using haste on constant basis. But boy were they not hesitant to use it. A Grey elf could live for what? 2000 years. That is a lot of haste spells to use...

Then again, as we all know ... Elves are soulless automatons. So quite honestly, I have no problem seeing them all hasted to death in service of something useful, like getting me some fries.
 


S'mon

Legend
@Snarf Zagyg is 100% sure that double attacks is canonical. I OTOH always played as you suggest, that it was a straight single extra attack per round, and I insist this is not a 'backport' of the 2e rule, though it is literally impossible to prove that unequivocally at this point. I have some character sheets (a lot actually) but they are not really filled with rules references and such...

Suffice it to say that I agree that @Snarf Zagyg has a perfectly valid and probably most commonly used interpretation, and that Roger Moore may have agreed (I'm not sure that his article really resolves this, but I haven't read it in like 20 years). I think it would be worthless to debate it further, AD&D is a game with very murky rules, many of which have been interpreted in multiple ways over the years. Who is to say that one interpretation is 'right' or another one 'wrong'? Gary himself could at best tell us his intent, but he's not here, so...

It's always amazing the stuff Gygax thought 'goes without saying'! Compared to the lack of an official character generation method anywhere in AD&D (just some 'alternatives') :D the lack of any official definition of how many extra attacks, if any, you get from TWF seems quite a small lacuna. I know my groups assumed the DMG said +1 attack, from long before 2e came out (in fact we never really converted over, just used some 2e stuff in our 1e campaign), so Snarf is wrong to think this is a 'back-port', but yes there seems no way from the RAW to divine a single RAI. One possibility might be if any high level Fighter NPCs using TWF appeared in official adventures with attacks listed as eg "3/2+1"or "3" - I just had a look at the drow F7s in D3 and of course no indication either way. :/ The D3 default Drow stat block says "Attacks: 1 or 2" which makes clear that TWF gives at least 1 extra attack, but not whether it doubles extra attacks.

(I apologise for the thread derail, I had no idea this was a hotly contested topic! I guess I'm happy that 5e at least is clear on the issue!)
 
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Jack Daniel

Engines & Empires
My reading of the 1e DMG (sans 2e) was that TWF with dagger or hand axe gave +1 attack, but I'm not too surprised to learn it doesn't actually say how many extra attacks you get, if any. BTW in Classic by default the answer is 0, AIR says so in Dawn of the Emperors.

In the Masters Set (which does predate 2e) and the Rules Cyclopedia, attacking with a second weapon gives you one extra attack at −4 to hit (with no penalty to the primary attack) and, if weapon mastery is used, −1 level of weapon mastery on the secondary weapon. (And, yes, Dawn of Emperors did contradict this.)
 
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Rabulias

Adventurer
I played AD&D 1e with a couple of groups from 1982 to 1989, and we always treated a second weapon as granting a single additional attack. Very surprised that the rule is not really clearly expressed. We were usually very conservative about rule additions and power creep, so I guess we just assumed that was what the rule intended.
 

I dug out and reread the section in the AD&D 1E DMG.
Attacks With Two Weapons:

Characters normally using a single weapon may choose to use one in each hand (possibly discarding the option of using a shield). The second weapon must be either a dagger or hand axe. Employment of a second weapon is always at a penalty. The use of a second weapon causes the character to attack with his or her primary weapon at -2 and the secondary weapon at -4. If the user’s dexterity is below 6, the reaction/attacking Adjustment penalties shown in the PLAYERS HANDBOOK are added to EACH weapon attack. If the user’s dexterity is above 15, there is a downward adjustment in the weapon penalties as shown, although this never gives a positive (bonus) rating to such attacks, so that at 16 dexterity the secondary/primary penalty is -3/-1, at 17 -2/0, and at 18 -1/0.

The secondary weapon does not act as a shield or parrying device in any event.
What I immediately noticed is, it doesn't say anything about getting any extra attacks. It's only talking about having two weapons available to attack with -- if you had a frost brand and a flametongue, you could (using this rule) dual wield them and make any of your attacks with one or the other, and the penalties would apply as specified. I think my groups always played it with the expanded rules provided by Mr. Moore in Dragon magazine. Huh, we played it wrong for years...

Sorry for being late to the party, but my mind is blown.
 


Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
It's always amazing the stuff Gygax thought 'goes without saying'! Compared to the lack of an official character generation method anywhere in AD&D (just some 'alternatives') :D the lack of any official definition of how many extra attacks, if any, you get from TWF seems quite a small lacuna. I know my groups assumed the DMG said +1 attack, from long before 2e came out (in fact we never really converted over, just used some 2e stuff in our 1e campaign), so Snarf is wrong to think this is a 'back-port', but yes there seems no way from the RAW to divine a single RAI.

To be clear, I don't think anyone is being disingenuous, or lying, or even doing the typical internet, "If someone says something, Ima gonna be against it, 'cuz that's how it works ... no retreat, no surrender, no apologies!"

What I do think happens is, for a lot of people, there is a OD&D/1e/2e "Mandela effect," and that this is strongest with the late 1e/2e period. And it totally makes sense.

Think about it- the majority of people commenting about "AD&D" are doing so having never played 1e (just 2e) or having played just a little 1e before playing 2e - this makes sense just by looking at the grim math of an actuarial table. ;)

Even those olds of us who haven't died yet who started with OD&D and early 1e ... well, most of us here ... 1e ended in 1988. Arguably, the "classic" rules ended in 1985, when you have the UA split. Which means that people discussing 1e rules today are trying to remember what the rules were like, usually having not played it for more 30 years, and often having spent more time playing a very close variant (2e) and/or playing computer games based on 2e ... and that's before remembering that 1e had some famously opaque rules.

I tend to have less of that particular problem only because I never played 2e rules- so they stick out a little more to me; even so, my memory is such that I still have to go back and verify things against the text because sometimes my memory tells me I did things that just didn't happen. That's why I try to always source my points.

Our minds are funny like that.
 

S'mon

Legend
I tend to have less of that particular problem only because I never played 2e rules

AIR I bought the 2e MM & PHB, used the MM for the increased XPVs and the bigger dragons & giants. Used the 2e Bard class; I think I might have used 2e style d10s for initiative. Otherwise stayed with 1e AD&D, but did less and less gaming after leaving high school in 1991 until 3e came out in 2000. Most of the discussion of 2e feels pretty alien to me.

OTOH the man in the shop who sold me 1e AD&D also persuaded young S'mon that newly released Unearthed Arcana was an Important Core & Integral part of the game... so my default vision of AD&D is overpowered munchkin PCs - TWF high elf Cavaliers @Upper_Krust :D - cleaving through hundreds of foes even in my 'killer' campaign. The Fantasy Effin Vietnam Experience is pretty alien to me, too.
 

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