D&D General What is two weapon fighting good for?


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Olrox17

Hero

In case you missed it.
That was an extremely useful read, thank you. Based on the posts there, some of them coming from posters that seem to have fencing experience, I may pivot my HR from being defense/AoE based to being defense/feinting based.
 

Stormonu

Legend
Playing as a rogue in 5E and using 2 weapons I find that this style isn't so much about an increase in damage, but more consistently landing a blow (Advantage with perks). After all, rogue only gets to apply sneak attack 1x/round, so having that off-hand attack makes it more likely to land a SA blow (especially if you aren't using flanking rules).

I wouldn't mind seeing TWF allowing you to use the bonus action to make a single attack OR to allow you to use the Dodge action as a bonus action (where you're using the weapon defensively). If that's too powerful, maybe use the bonus action to give +2 AC (like an inferior shield) until the start of your next turn. Perhaps Two-Weapon Mastery would allow you to do both as a single bonus action.

(And why the hell do you need Dual Wielder to draw both weapons at once - that's something I did not know existed until I just looked the feat up and is absolutely stupid and punishing)
 

And why the hell do you need Dual Wielder to draw both weapons at once - that's something I did not existed until I just looked the feat up and is absolutely stupid and punishing
I think it costs you a bonus action to draw one weapon or to change out your weapons (ex. switching out a longbow for a melee weapon). Since feats are a form of special training, taking up Dual Wielder means that you practiced drawing out both weapons at the same time.

Mind you, this particular aspect of Dual-wielding depends on whether or not your DM is a stickler for rules.
 

Oofta

Legend
I think it costs you a bonus action to draw one weapon or to change out your weapons (ex. switching out a longbow for a melee weapon). Since feats are a form of special training, taking up Dual Wielder means that you practiced drawing out both weapons at the same time.

Mind you, this particular aspect of Dual-wielding depends on whether or not your DM is a stickler for rules.
You have one no-action object interaction which can include drawing a weapon. Drawing a second weapon becomes a full action unless you have the Thief subclass and Fast Hands in which case you get an Object Interaction as a bonus action. Of course there's no reason to do that because you can no longer attack anyway. Wait until the next round to draw that off-hand weapon.

A lot of DMs will ignore this because it's a silly rule. An archer can pull as many arrows as they have attacks in a round, but somehow pulling a dagger is impossible? :rolleyes:
 

MarkB

Legend
You have one no-action object interaction which can include drawing a weapon. Drawing a second weapon becomes a full action unless you have the Thief subclass and Fast Hands in which case you get an Object Interaction as a bonus action. Of course there's no reason to do that because you can no longer attack anyway. Wait until the next round to draw that off-hand weapon.

A lot of DMs will ignore this because it's a silly rule. An archer can pull as many arrows as they have attacks in a round, but somehow pulling a dagger is impossible? :rolleyes:
As I recall, this is something that's being worked on in the playtest rules, as is the requirement to use a bonus action to get your offhand attack, so we could see some improvements there.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Playing as a rogue in 5E and using 2 weapons I find that this style isn't so much about an increase in damage, but more consistently landing a blow (Advantage with perks). After all, rogue only gets to apply sneak attack 1x/round, so having that off-hand attack makes it more likely to land a SA blow (especially if you aren't using flanking rules).
My son plays a dual-wielding swashbuckler rogue in part for this reason. (The rest of the reason is that Assassin's Creed is cool.)
 

Olrox17

Hero
The tremendous synergy between TWF and sneak attack is well known and I don’t think anyone will ever dispute it.
I’m more doubtful about the usefulness of TWF for everybody else, especially past 5th level. It just doesn’t scale well with extra attacks, and it eating a bonus action every round becomes more cumbersome at higher levels.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
The tremendous synergy between TWF and sneak attack is well known and I don’t think anyone will ever dispute it.
I’m more doubtful about the usefulness of TWF for everybody else, especially past 5th level. It just doesn’t scale well with extra attacks, and it eating a bonus action every round becomes more cumbersome at higher levels.
Honestly, except for the folks who want to emulate their Diablo barbarians, that's probably OK, IMO.

I'm not sure every combat option has to make sense for every character, even martial characters.

Better archery rules would likely matter only to certain martial types, for instance, but that doesn't mean they aren't worthwhile.
 
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JAMUMU

actually dracula
I think context is important here, especially when we're dealing with the hyper-realism of D&D.

AS others have said, there were definitely historical styles that used a short and long weapon, though they weren't as popular as long weapon+shield. Scottish Highlanders fought with backsword and bashing shield, with a dirk held point-down in the shield hand just in case the opportunity for an off-hand stab came up. Not common on a glocal scale, but very effective.

My ex was taught double-sabre in China by an elderly master. He saw her messing around with two weapons cos she loves anime, and called her over. She thought she'd get into trouble. But no, he revealed there were rare two-weapon forms, and he taught her a solo form, and double-sabre vs spear. At the end of the two-person form, the dual-wielder gets killed. Take that as you will.

Now, knife-fighters dual-wielding is a different story. Someone with a knife in each hand that's well-trained and experienced with dual-wielding is definitely dangerous. Double-damage dangerous? Well, with D&D's scientific 1d4 damage for a knife, I'd be inclined to allow double-damage.
 

Oofta

Legend
The tremendous synergy between TWF and sneak attack is well known and I don’t think anyone will ever dispute it.
I’m more doubtful about the usefulness of TWF for everybody else, especially past 5th level. It just doesn’t scale well with extra attacks, and it eating a bonus action every round becomes more cumbersome at higher levels.

Increasing your damage by 50% [edit]for levels 1-4, 33% levels 5-10[/edit] is useless? When most campaigns don't get above 10th level, I think people underestimate the off-hand attack for fighters.
 
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Stormonu

Legend
Increasing your damage by 50% is useless? When most campaigns don't get above 10th level, I think people underestimate the off-hand attack for fighters.
Unfortunately (as far as I can tell), you only ever get one additional attack with an off-hand weapon even if you're making 3 or 4 attacks through Extra Attack. So, possibly 50% extra at 1st-5th, 33% at 6th-10th, 25% at 11th-19th and 20% at 20th. Also, most abilities are keyed so you can only add extra damage on one attack a round, so you're usually only getting the weapon's base damage (not even ability mod, unless you have a feat - Dual Fighting). About the only exception I can think of is the paladin's smite and maybe battle maneuvers - but those have "charges" through which you'll basically burn through twice as fast.
 

Dual wielding. It’s not the greatest 5e combat style, but it clearly does have its niches, as is (rogues, for instance).

But everywhere I read that, historically, two weapon fighting wasn’t really useful. It generally wasn’t worth giving the defense of a shield (especially vs missiles) or the reach and anti-armor power of a two hander.
Even the few examples of duel wielding in fencing seem to relegate the off hand weapon to the role of a defensive implement, which is a far cry from the d&d incarnation of dual wielding, which is all about offense.

One of the only things that two weapon fighting seems to be historically good at (at least according to my limited research) is fending off multiple lightly armored opponents at once.
Because of that, I was considering to house rule TWF and make it all about attacking multiple opponent at once. It would become the AoE weapon style, so to speak.

What do you think? I’m specifically NOT making this a + thread, because I’m also interested in negative feedback about this.
Your research is technically correct but practically misleading. Historically melee weapons can be split into two types. Major nuisances and sidearms.

A major nuisance was normally a pointy thing on the end of a six foot or longer pole, but also covers a really large shield and zweihanders. And the point about major nuisances is twofold. Firstly that they were the best melee weapons and as such were everyone's choice for the battlefield, and secondly that if you weren't going into active trouble they were ... awkward. I mean do you want to try going about a normal day with a six foot long pole with a pointy bit on the end? You basically have to carry it around in one hand all day, and if you're e.g. going to have a pint you need to leave it in the corner of the room. These things (whether spears, halberds, bills, pikes, or other polearms) were battlefield weapons.

Meanwhile sidearms are designed so you can wear them and move around pretty freely with a bit of practice. Swords are the normal example here, worn at the waist or the hip - but belt knives also qualify, as do axes and maces and more. But the obvious thing about weapons that are short enough to wear is that they are short enough to be wielded in one hand in almost all cases. So the question is what you do with the second. You could keep it out of the way - or you could put something in it, whether a buckler, a dagger, an armoured gauntlet, a cloak, a second shortsword or whatever. All these give you extra options and are almost strictly superior to using just your main sidearm and having nothing in the other hand.

There's a reason soldiers carry rifles while people who just want to be ready to have a gun on hand without preparing for an actual warzone carry pistols despite rifles being better weapons in 99% of cases. And D&D doesn't make this distinction at all in its weapons table.
 

kigmatzomat

Adventurer
Attacking a single target is the most common scenario so removing it is far more of a penalty. In the action economy, an AC boost effectively gives you more actions before you fall down but they are at the end of the battle. An extra attack is more actions across the whole fight. Making those extra actions a low-occurence event devalues them.

In the grand context of a party, the "controller" caster is out to minimize enemy attacks (hold monster, entangle, Hypnotic pattern, banishment etc) or maximize ally attacks (invisibility/blindness, paralyzed, restrained, etc). The summoner adds more targets and bonus attacks and Ye Olde Evoker is reducing enemy attacks via the rapid depletion of hit points, often clearing out the weak foes.

Good tactics means the non-casters don't have to fight while double-teamed as often and when they do it is on purpose to get Opportunity Attacks or flanking.

if it helps you mentally, TWF does help a skilled fighter land more attacks on a single foe IRL as the opponent now has two weapons to defend against, increasing the odds of the TWFer landing a successful attack with either weapon.
 

Olrox17

Hero
Increasing your damage by 50% is useless? When most campaigns don't get above 10th level, I think people underestimate the off-hand attack for fighters.
Ok, let's ignore everything that happens above 10th level, for the reason you cited.

A 5th TWF level fighter (standard array) will have 16-17 STR or DEX, TWF fighting style and the dual wield feat. This fighter, using its attack and bonus actions, will make 3 attacks, with +6 to hit, each of them doing 1d8+3 damage. Against an average of AC 13, that's a DPR of 16,875.

Let's make a 5th polearm master level fighter (standard array). It will have 16-17 STR, defense fighting style (mostly chosen for ease of comparison) and the polearm master feat. This fighter, using its attack and bonus actions, will make 3 attacks, with +6 to hit, two of them doing 1d10+3 damage, one doing 1d4+3. Against an average of AC 13, that's a DPR of 16,875, the exact same of the TWF. They also have the same AC (dual wield vs defense style). The Polearm Master, however:
  • has reach
  • can make opportunity attacks when enemies enter its reach
  • has a slightly more damaging opportunity attack, in general
  • its action surge attack action does more damage
  • if both characters find a single powerful magic weapon, the polearm master will benefit more from it

I'd argue the polearm master is ahead of the TW fighter, and would get more ahead if higher levels see play.

Let's try with an hypothetic greatsword user. It has have 18-19 STR (it picked ability score increase at 4th) and defense fighting style (again for ease of comparison). This fighter, using its attack action, will make 2 attacks, with +7 to hit, each doing 2d6+4 damage. Against an average of AC 13, that's a DPR of 17,6 slightly more than the TW fighter. They also have the same AC.
This Greatsword fighter, however:
  • doesn't have to waste its bonus action every round. It can freely second wind without losing damage, for example
  • has a substantially more damaging opportunity attack
  • its action surge attack action does considerably more damage
  • if both characters find a single powerful magic weapon, the greatsword user will benefit more from it

Only thing the TW fighter has over this greatsword fighter is, I believe, less wasted damage on overkills. I'd still pick this over the TW fighter everyday tbh (and so have all my players for almost 10 years of campaigns - rogue excluded ofc).


If I'm building the TW fighter wrong, please tell me, but what I'm seeing is it falling off as early as 5th level.
 

Two Weapon Fighting is basically competitive (a) from levels 1-4 or (b) when you have damage procs like Sneak Attack or Hunter's Mark that trigger on a hit. It just doesn't scale with the second attack, and there are a lot of fighter subclasses that shouldn't be using it anyway because they have other uses for their bonus actions (Rune Knight I'm looking at you in particular).

And this is without getting into optimisation - either spear, shield, duelist fighting style, and PAM or Great Weapon Master with an accuracy buff (GWM on its own is fine; it's when you have easy access to Advantage or something like a Battlemaster's Precise attack that it breaks).
 


Olrox17

Hero
Here's the new iteration of my TWF house rule. All critiques and opinions are welcome!
First, a change to the Fighting Style itself:

Two-Weapon Fighting
When you engage in two-weapon fighting, you can add your ability modifier to the damage of the second attack. Also, Whenever you are wielding a melee weapon in one hand and a different melee weapon in the other hand, you gain a +1 bonus to AC.

And now for the TWF rule proper:

Two-Weapon Fighting
When you take the Attack action and miss an attack with a light melee weapon that you’re holding in one hand, you can immediately make a second attack against the same target 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 this attack, unless that modifier is negative.
If you have the Extra Attack feature, any further attacks you make as part of the Attack action also gain this benefit.
If either weapon has the thrown property, you can throw the weapon, instead of making a melee attack with it.

The idea/intent here is:
  • with this version of the fighting style, you get a defensive bonus for fighting with two weapons. The bonus isn't as good as a shield, unless you also invest into the Dual Wielder feat, but it should be nice to have
  • you can no longer stab your opponent with both your weapons at once, but if your main weapon misses, you get a second chance with your off-hand. This should play nice with rogues and their sneak-attacking needs
  • this should scale well with Extra Attack, potentially turning TWF into an high-accuracy style. You don't do as much damage as with a two hander, and you don't have the AC of shield+defense style, but you have some defense and are very likely to actually land hits
  • also, no bonus actions required anymore. Should be nice for rogues, but also other classes I bet
 
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