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5E How broken would it be to let people always spend a bonus action to make an off-hand attack, even if they didn't use an Attack action with a primary?

The genesis of this question is that I'm looking to come up with a few default bonus actions anyone can use.

Normally if you fight with a light melee weapon in your main hand and spend your action to Attack, you can then spend a bonus action to get one more attack with a different light off-hand weapon, though you don't get to add your ability modifier to the damage (unless it's negative).

A typical light weapon does d6 damage (average 3.5), while a typical non-light one-handed weapon does d8 damage (average 4.5).

So I suppose the game is saying that if you're willing to sacrifice 1 point of damage per attack with your primary weapon (d6 instead of d8), then getting one extra bonus action attack that probably 3 damage is also balanced. That's a net of 2 damage.

(I know there's all sorts of other reasons you want extra attacks, like if you want more chances to land sneak attack, or if you spend feats or have fighting styles to improve it. But for a normal adventurer, an off hand attack as a bonus action nets an average of 2 damage.)

Anyway, if Attack is an action, and casting a spell is an action, would it be balanced to let a wizard cast a spell, then make an attack with a dagger as a bonus action (doing an average of 2 damage)? Or what if a character Dashes as an action? Would a bonus action attack with a club be fair then?

Heck, since anyone could have a free hand and just punch (doing 1 damage), is there a reason there isn't just a default option like:

Light Attack
Spend a bonus action to make an attack. If the attack hits, instead of rolling for damage and adding bonuses from ability modifiers, you just deal 1 damage if you are unarmed or only have one weapon, perhaps by delivering a pommel strike or a tiny slice. However, if you make this bonus action attack with a weapon that you aren't using for other attacks this turn, it does 2 damage instead.
 

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Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I think it's not powerful enough for most PCs to matter but there will be a handful of cases where it could make a big difference. It's such a minimal amount of extra damage that especially after the lowest tiers it won't matter. But for those handful that can exploit it for various reasons it would be too good. In addition to the rogue, I could see a paladin using it to get an extra chance at a smite in for example.
 

Horwath

Hero
Overall TWF sucks,

but it is hard to make TWF not suck and not be overpowered.

but having bonus action always usable to attack with a light weapon or unarmed without ability bonus to damage seems balanced enough.
No matter if mainhand waepon is light or non-light.

Even giving someone with 2handed weapon or weapon&shield a Bonus action attack for unarmed attack that deals 1 damage wittout ability bonus.

Then you can beef up dual-wielder feat that gives Extra damage dice to off-hand attack if you have Extra attack feature. Half way between one attack and 2 attacks as Bonus action. I.E. off hand longsword attack would deal 2d8+mod damage. But this Extra 1d8 damage would only be if you take Attack action for your Action.

Tavern brawler can just be make normal unarmed attack(1d4+mod) as a Bonus action. using str or dex.
 

jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
Off the top of my head, the strongest way to take advantage of such a rule would be a rogue who attacks with the off hand first, and if that hits and does sneak attack damage he'll use his Action to Dodge.
Or Disengage and run away.

Monks could also use it for Flurry of Blows and get two attacks with the bonus action.
 




jgsugden

Legend
It won't break the game, but it likely will not improve it.

A goal of 5E was to avoid the trap of 3E where people had the mentality of "I am entitled to a regular action, a bonus action and a reaction and I need to figure out how to use them". It did not go far enough, and I'm pretty sure that if they could do it all again, there would be no bonus actions at all. The goal was to keep things simple and moving smoothly . If you don't care about that goal, then you likely would benefit from a system that goes much further in the opposite direction.

I find that if you're going to be interested in things like this, you may just be interested in going all the way and going to an action point system. There are two types - segmented and points per turn.

In a segmented system, everyone is going at the same time rather than taking turns of 6 seconds. Once you enter initiative, you start going through time in half second intervals. Every segment is 0.5 seconds. You accumulate movement points at different rates and will get to move every few segments based upon how quickly you gather these points. When you want to take an action, you check to see how many segments it takes and then declare it. You hope that it is still legal when you want to resolve it at the end of the segment count. It is a massive change from the core rules, but much better for people that want a realistic simulation scenario.

In a points per turn system, each player gets a number of action points they can use, and everything has an action point cost. Moving 5', drawing a weapon, talking, attacking, casting a spell …. you get to do whatever you want in the turn so long as you have enough action points to do it
 

Undrave

Hero
Right but it can also work for a monk or anybody else who uses a light weapon.

Do monster claws and bites count as light weapons?

Natural weapons are a stupidly murky bit of a ruling in D&D and I guess people would say "Ask your DM" because the game can't POSSIBLY make a clear rule about something as simple as natural weapons...
 

Mistwell

Legend
I think it would work fine. I think Mike Mearls originally intended it to work that way, but clunky things elsewhere got in the way.
 


Horwath

Hero
It won't break the game, but it likely will not improve it.

A goal of 5E was to avoid the trap of 3E where people had the mentality of "I am entitled to a regular action, a bonus action and a reaction and I need to figure out how to use them". It did not go far enough, and I'm pretty sure that if they could do it all again, there would be no bonus actions at all. The goal was to keep things simple and moving smoothly . If you don't care about that goal, then you likely would benefit from a system that goes much further in the opposite direction.

I find that if you're going to be interested in things like this, you may just be interested in going all the way and going to an action point system. There are two types - segmented and points per turn.

In a segmented system, everyone is going at the same time rather than taking turns of 6 seconds. Once you enter initiative, you start going through time in half second intervals. Every segment is 0.5 seconds. You accumulate movement points at different rates and will get to move every few segments based upon how quickly you gather these points. When you want to take an action, you check to see how many segments it takes and then declare it. You hope that it is still legal when you want to resolve it at the end of the segment count. It is a massive change from the core rules, but much better for people that want a realistic simulation scenario.

In a points per turn system, each player gets a number of action points they can use, and everything has an action point cost. Moving 5', drawing a weapon, talking, attacking, casting a spell …. you get to do whatever you want in the turn so long as you have enough action points to do it
I would like to see 6 action points per turn. for 6 seconds of round duration.

Normal attack could be 2 AP, twf action could be 3AP
using -5/+10 feats for 1 attack; 3 AP
2nd attack in round 4AP(2AP with Extra attack feature)
movement 2AP, rogues with cunning action 1AP(once per round only)
standing up, mounting, dismounting, drawing/stowing weapon/shield; 1AP
movement without AoO(disengage) 4AP, rogues with cunning action 3AP
movement with stealth(Hide) 4AP, rogues with cunning action 3AP
 



dave2008

Legend
I would like to see 6 action points per turn. for 6 seconds of round duration.

Normal attack could be 2 AP, twf action could be 3AP
using -5/+10 feats for 1 attack; 3 AP
2nd attack in round 4AP(2AP with Extra attack feature)
movement 2AP, rogues with cunning action 1AP(once per round only)
standing up, mounting, dismounting, drawing/stowing weapon/shield; 1AP
movement without AoO(disengage) 4AP, rogues with cunning action 3AP
movement with stealth(Hide) 4AP, rogues with cunning action 3AP
I've advocated for a 6 action system since PF2 came out with their 3 action system. It seems so obvious to me, but it doesn't get a lot of traction when I post about it. I have some different costs, but one vital thing I included which you didn't is reactions. I include them in the "action points" So if you use all of your points on your turn, no reactions for you.
 

Horwath

Hero
I've advocated for a 6 action system since PF2 came out with their 3 action system. It seems so obvious to me, but it doesn't get a lot of traction when I post about it. I have some different costs, but one vital thing I included which you didn't is reactions. I include them in the "action points" So if you use all of your points on your turn, no reactions for you.
yes, reactions, or extra reaction can be added by spending AP, 1on1 basis,
maybe by default, maybe with a feat or a fighting style. maybe limit them to extra 1 or 2 reactions only.

also Haste spell can be more granular with this system:
I.E: haste 3rd level spell, 1 extra AP. 6th level 2 extra AP. 9th level 3 extra AP.

Elves are really fast, so they could add 1 AP for one round once per short rest or similar racials.

Bonus action spells could be 1 or 2 AP, while standard spells could be 3 AP, and some really powerful can be 5 or 6 AP. Or even more, so it requires at least 2 rounds of casting them.

metamagic feats could be:
Rapid spell: cast a spell with 1 AP less than normal,
Quickened spell: cast a spell with 2 AP less than normal,
Silent spell: cast spell without V components by adding 1 AP to casting,
Still spell: cast spell without S components by adding 1 AP to casting,
Empower spell: deal +50% damage or healing with spells by adding 3 AP to casting
 

dave2008

Legend
Bonus action spells could be 1 or 2 AP, while standard spells could be 3 AP, and some really powerful can be 5 or 6 AP. Or even more, so it requires at least 2 rounds of casting them.

metamagic feats could be:
Rapid spell: cast a spell with 1 AP less than normal,
Quickened spell: cast a spell with 2 AP less than normal,
Silent spell: cast spell without V components by adding 1 AP to casting,
Still spell: cast spell without S components by adding 1 AP to casting,
Empower spell: deal +50% damage or healing with spells by adding 3 AP to casting
IIRC, the PF2 system is one action per component. I was planning on using 1+ 1/ spell level for the action cost. However, that doesn't work well with bonus and reaction based spells.

Regardless, this concept provides a lot more flexibility and is easier to understand if a little more complex. I think the action economy is one area where D&D doesn't really have sacred cows and could be modified quite a bit
 

Horwath

Hero
IIRC, the PF2 system is one action per component. I was planning on using 1+ 1/ spell level for the action cost. However, that doesn't work well with bonus and reaction based spells.

Regardless, this concept provides a lot more flexibility and is easier to understand if a little more complex. I think the action economy is one area where D&D doesn't really have sacred cows and could be modified quite a bit
it could work well with "bonus action" spells.

If you have 6 AP,
and fireball is 3 AP, move is 2 AP and some bonus action spell is 1 AP, you can still cast both spells and move,
ofc you could cap at 2 spells per turn limit, no matter how cheap they are in AP cost.
 

dave2008

Legend
it could work well with "bonus action" spells.

If you have 6 AP,
and fireball is 3 AP, move is 2 AP and some bonus action spell is 1 AP, you can still cast both spells and move,
ofc you could cap at 2 spells per turn limit, no matter how cheap they are in AP cost.
I wasn't clear: The idea that spell cost a number of actions equal to: 1 + spell level doesn't work for bonus action and reaction spells. If counterspell costs 4 actions it is a bit useless. I can say bonus action and reaction spells cost 1 action and it works, but I was looking for a universal mechanic, and my first idea is not it. I may just have to accept that bonus actions and reactions are different for spells.

PS I would reduce speed by half or so and make it 1 AP. So standard speed is 15 and 1 AP.
 

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