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Removing the Bonus Action from Two-Weapon Fighting

Lord Twig

Adventurer
I have been thinking of doing this for a while and wanted to get some feedback on if it would break anything.

Essentially the rule would be this:

Two-Weapon Fighting

When you take the Attack action and attack with a light melee weapon that you’re holding in one hand, you can attack once with a different light melee weapon that you’re holding in the other hand. You don’t add your ability modifier to the damage of the bonus attack, unless that modifier is negative.

If either weapon has the thrown property, you can throw the weapon, instead of making a melee attack with it.

This would allow a second attack with the off-hand weapon if a Fighter used Action Surge, but I think that is a good thing. It wouldn't interfere with other bonus actions or spells like Hunter's Mark, but again, that would be working as intended.

The only real concern I have is a Monk using two shortswords and Martial Arts, but even then I might allow it. Or I can make an exception so that they don't stack.

So what do you all think? Good? Bad? Indifferent?
 
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AaronOfBarbaria

Adventurer
I think it is important to consider why you are making this change.

If you feel that fighting with two weapons isn't offensively powerful enough, despite the added versatility of being able to use two different weapons and make melee or ranged attacks in the same round, as well as getting two opportunities to hit and apply special effects like sneak attack, and getting two chances to score a critical hit - then this rule change might be suitable as it makes fighting with two weapons more powerful.

If you are thinking of a different reason for the change, then my thoughts depend upon that reason.
 


I would allow that as a perk of the two-weapon fighting style, but I wouldn't make it part of the basic rules for a simple reason: fighting with two weapons is hard. It should take some training to coordinate two weapons well. Making it cost a bonus action, and do less damage, is a reasonable way of modeling that.

Give a normal peasant two shortswords and you'll probably find that he's not feinting high with one while he attacks in the low line with the other--he's basically just holding one while he attacks with the other.
 

Lord Twig

Adventurer
I like the idea of adding it to the fighting style. I might do that instead of making it a general rule.

The problem I have with two-weapon fighting is that it is arbitrarily limited by other actions that also use a bonus action. If a Ranger takes two-weapon fighting he has to lose the bonus when he casts a bonus action spell. Meanwhile an archer Ranger (already considered more powerful) doesn't lose anything when they, for example, cast Hunter's Mark.

The same problem with the Fighter. A great weapon fighter can use his Second Wind and still fight at full capacity, but the two weapon Fighter loses half his damage. Likewise when a GW Fighter uses Action Surge he doubles his attacks, but the TW Fighter sill gets his off-hand attack only once.

For the Rogue, sure he has two chances to Sneak Attack, but he has that anyway. He can already move and get two attacks. This would just allow him to also Dash or Disengage or whatever as a bonus action and still get the extra attack.

And you do get an extra chance to crit with the off-hand weapon, but it only doubles the damage for the 1d6 that the weapon does (or 1d8 with the feat). A great sword that crits doubles the 2d6 that it does, so it balances out.

And it just gets worse as you increase your number of attacks. An 11th level GW Fighter will do 2d6+Str x3. An 11th level TW Fighter will do 1d6+Str x4. So say 6d6+15 vs. 4d6+20. That's... actually kinda balanced, with a slight lead to the GW Fighter. But again, the TW Fighter loses some damage when he uses a bonus action for anything else (like the aforementioned Second Wind) while the GW Fighter doesn't.

Oh also Action Surge. That makes it 12d6+30 vs. 7d6+35. Big difference there.
 
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Yup. Good analysis. That is indeed the single biggest problem with TWF by RAW: bonus action conflicts.

I'm 100% fine with the fact that a Rogue would get to Dash/Disengage/whatnot. Melee rogues need all the incentives they can get; and it also prevents Greenflame Blade from being the prohibitive favorite in melee compared to TWF. Removing the bonus action cost to TWF if they've paid for it by acquiring the fighting style mirrors the way Arcane Tricksters or multiclass Rogues can acquire Greenflame Blade for no extra bonus action cost. Seems fine to me.

At high levels, TWF fighters (under this variant) will be slightly better than GWM fighters against high-AC targets, and worse against low-AC targets. Against targets that are dangerous enough to grapple/prone first, they will be equally good since they'll both be fighting with one hand (the other maintains the grapple).
 

Two weapon fighter (dex) can switch to ranged weapon.
Great weapon usually can't. Should we start a thread to make use of str in ranged attack!
 


Dausuul

Legend
Minor quibble: Actions Surge does not take a bonus action. Its free.
But two-weapon fighting does take a bonus action. So if you Action Surge, you can attack twice with your main weapon but only once with the off-hand; unlike single-weapon fighters, you don't get two full sets of attacks out of it.
 

Lord Twig

Adventurer
I also forgot to include Great Weapon Fighting advantage of re-rolling 1s and 2s. I already added the bonus stat damage from Two-Weapon Fighting style. So another boost for the greatsword fighter.

Two weapon fighter (dex) can switch to ranged weapon.
Great weapon usually can't. Should we start a thread to make use of str in ranged attack!

That's if they use Dex, which is valid. If they take the Dual Wielder feat they can use two longswords for a minor damage boost (d8s instead of d6s) and a +1 to AC.

Of course then the GW Fighter can take Great Weapon Master and occasionally get an extra attack with cleave and the option for -5 to hit/+10 to damage. And they can throw Javelins or whatever for a ranged attack with Str if they want.
 

Lord Twig

Adventurer
But two-weapon fighting does take a bonus action. So if you Action Surge, you can attack twice with your main weapon but only once with the off-hand; unlike single-weapon fighters, you don't get two full sets of attacks out of it.

Exactly, yes. So with the book rules whey you use Action Surge you can take an extra Attack Action and get all your attacks with your main weapon, but you don't get an extra bonus action, so you can't make a second attack with your off-hand weapon. With my proposed change, every time you take the attack action you get one attack with your off-hand weapon, so you would get a second attack with your off-hand weapon.

Note: This wouldn't help you if you had Haste cast on you, as it specifically says you can only make one attack if you use the Attack Action. So once again the Great Weapon Fighter has an advantage.
 

Corwin

First Post
Exactly, yes. So with the book rules whey you use Action Surge you can take an extra Attack Action and get all your attacks with your main weapon, but you don't get an extra bonus action, so you can't make a second attack with your off-hand weapon. With my proposed change, every time you take the attack action you get one attack with your off-hand weapon, so you would get a second attack with your off-hand weapon.
Ah, I see. Then I misunderstood where you were trying to go with that. Probably because, "the two weapon Fighter loses half his damage," isn't really true. Firstly because, from 5th level on, it's no longer "half". It's losing a sixth, an eighth, and eventually only a tenth, of his attacks on the round he Action Surges. Secondly, if the fighter has the Dual Wielder feat, he is actually out damaging the big weapon user in many cases (assuming he hits). Even at low level. Because he is multiplying his attribute bonus to damage. Doing 1d6+3 twice is more than 2d6+3. And it only goes up from there.
 

Ah, I see. Then I misunderstood where you were trying to go with that. Probably because, "the two weapon Fighter loses half his damage," isn't really true. Firstly because, from 5th level on, it's no longer "half". It's losing a sixth, an eighth, and eventually only a tenth, of his attacks on the round he Action Surges. Secondly, if the fighter has the Dual Wielder feat, he is actually out damaging the big weapon user in many cases (assuming he hits). Even at low level. Because he is multiplying his attribute bonus to damage. Doing 1d6+3 twice is more than 2d6+3. And it only goes up from there.

I think the intent is that at Fighter 11, you attack three times with your main weapon and once with your off-hand weapon, not three and three.

Forgive me if I misunderstood what you were saying by "it only goes up from there."
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Two-Weapon Fighting

When you take the Attack action and attack with a light melee weapon that you’re holding in one hand, you can attack once with a different light melee weapon that you’re holding in the other hand. You don’t add your ability modifier to the damage of the bonus attack, unless that modifier is negative.

If either weapon has the thrown property, you can throw the weapon, instead of making a melee attack with it.

Have you looked at the wording of ranger's Hordebreaker, to get a once per round free action extra attack?

How do you want this to work with Haste, which grants an extra Attack action that's limited to a single attack.

This frees up the bonus action economy. Big boon to rogues (for their features) and rangers (to switch hunter's mark), but even paladins could like it for ability to cast a Smite spell. Other classes like barbarian or fighter get a lot less use out of it. I know you mentioned that's intentional, but have you considered how uneven this change is across different classes. Did twf rangers with hunters mark need more of a boost from it then twf battlemaster fighters?

BTW, nothign seems to stop other bonus action attacks. Two leap out - the crit/drop-foe bonus attack from GWM (which doesn't require a heavy weapon like the -5/+10 part) and polearm mastery plus the dual wielder feat, since quarterstaff is a 1H weapon. They first is a feat and you're only using part, the second is two feats, so neither are likely. Does that matter?

(Taken to absurd levels, it allows the variant human nature cleric or druid who is dual-wielding shillelagh'd quarterstaffs at 4th level for three attacks based on wisdom - 2 from TWF with the dual wielding feat and one bonus action from polearm master. But that's such a corner case I'm only mentioned it because it's funny.)

As a side note, you mention archer rangers get to use their bonus action for hunter's mark - that's not true for hand crossbow archers. They are very like two-weapon fighters - spend a bonus action to get an extra attack, have a smaller base die for all your attacks. But they must spend a feat to do it, and if the TWF character spends a feat they get to increase damage die by selecting larger weapons and get a +1 to AC, so this is a big boost over them.
 

mellored

Explorer
Rather then remove the bonus action, i would make another TWF feat.

2-handed weapons have GWM and polearm master (uses bonus action)
bows have sharpshooter and crossbow expertise (uses bonus action)

Ambidexterious
*+1 Strength or Dexterity
*When you hit with a weapon by rolling 5 or more than the opponents AC, and are holding a different one in your other hand, you can add the off-hands weapon damage to your damage roll. For instance, if you rolled a total of 22 against an AC of 16, while wielding a short sword in your othe hand, you would do an extra 1d6 damage.
 

ad_hoc

Hero
The problem is that the Rogue no longer has a meaningful choice. They should always use two-weapon fighting.

If you want to improve it I would just allow all characters to add their ability bonus to every attack. I don't like how fiddly that rule is anyway.

Then change the Fighting Style to allow for non-light weapons and dump the feat which is just a tax anyway.
 

Fralex

Explorer
But two-weapon fighting does take a bonus action. So if you Action Surge, you can attack twice with your main weapon but only once with the off-hand; unlike single-weapon fighters, you don't get two full sets of attacks out of it.
Sorry, I'm confused here. If you're a level 5 single-weapon fighter, you get two attacks regularly and four attacks with Action Surge. If you're a two-weapon fighter, at level 5 you get three attacks regularly and five attacks with AS. The way I see it, both fighters are Action Surging to make two full attacks, with the two-weapon fighter having the ability to add one extra attack on the end of one of them.
So if the single-weapon fighter does, say, 1d10+4 damage with each attack, and the two-weapon fighter does 1d6+4 damage but attacks thrice instead of twice, you get:

1 weapon: ~19 damage, ~38 damage in an AS
2 weapons: ~22.5 damage, ~37.5 damage in an AS

And then at level 11 it becomes:
1 weapon: ~28.5 damage, ~57 damage in an AS
2 weapons: ~30 damage, ~52.5 damage in an AS

These numbers seem close enough that I wouldn't notice any minor differences in-game. Actually, considering AS is limited, doesn't the TWF come out slightly ahead? EDIT: maybe not if we assume the SWF has a fighting style to benefit them similar to the Two-Weapon Fighting one. Still, it doesn't look like much of a difference.
 
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Xeviat

Community Supporter
Supporter
To throw in another voice, here's my alternative two weapon fighting rules:

Base is the same. Bonus action requirement remains.

Two Weapon Fighting style is changed to allow you to use two weapon fighting with one handed weapons. Still no ability modifier to damage. You gain extra attacks equal to your extra attack number when you use your bonus action to two-weapon fight. The fighter gains an extra bonus action when they action surge.

This makes it so the two weapon fighting style grants +2 damage per round per attack, just like duelist. Rogues two weapon fight with little weapons, fighters and rogues with big weapons. The fighter's TWFing damage progresses smoothly. By not adding ability modifier still, it's easier to balance.

I haven't redone the Dual Weapon Master feat yet.

I was wanting to have attack penalties on TWFing again, instead of removing the damage modifier, but I was voted down in my group.


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Xeviat

Community Supporter
Supporter
These numbers seem close enough that I wouldn't notice any minor differences in-game. Actually, considering AS is limited, doesn't the TWF come out slightly ahead? EDIT: maybe not if we assume the SWF has a fighting style to benefit them similar to the Two-Weapon Fighting one. Still, it doesn't look like much of a difference.

You're comparing a fighter with TWFing Style to a fighter without an offensive style. Test it against a 2d6*+4 attack, or a 1d8+6 attack with +2 to AC.


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As a side note, you mention archer rangers get to use their bonus action for hunter's mark - that's not true for hand crossbow archers. They are very like two-weapon fighters - spend a bonus action to get an extra attack, have a smaller base die for all your attacks. But they must spend a feat to do it, and if the TWF character spends a feat they get to increase damage die by selecting larger weapons and get a +1 to AC, so this is a big boost over them.

Generally speaking, melee needs all the help it can get in 5E to stay relevant. A hand crossbow ranger can conjure up a horde of meat shields with Conjure Animal and plink away in complete safety (can even order the animals to Dodge if you want to eke out their HP). A melee ranger can't do that--he has to get up in the enemy's face. Ditto for tossing a Spike Growth right on top of an enemy and forcing him to take 8d4 damage and spend 40' of movement (because difficult terrain) to get out of the AoE.

Doing slightly less damage should be the price of archery's increased tactical versatility, so IMO it's not a problem if the hand crossbow ranger has a slightly harder time shifting his Hunter's Mark than the TWF ranger does. Ranged combat shouldn't dominate utterly​.
 

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