2 Weapon fighting

First let me start by saying hello.  I haven't posted here before and am fairly new to these forums, but I had a topic that I wanted to bring up.  Two weapon fighting. 

The way this action works is to take a penalty to the roll and gain an additional attack action to each attack.  While this seems to produce similar raw damage to the 2handed weapon wielder, it creates a situation in which it works unusually when combined with other effects.  For example, what do you do when you want to use 2 weapon fighting, while at the same time you use the whirlwind maneuver?  The answer is unclear, there are several possible answers. 

In addition to this, the rules lack elegance.  We are told that the combat round is about six seconds in which the attacks are an abstraction not a simulation.  To explain, even though I can stab a man 18 times in 6 seconds, I'm not making 18 attack rolls, I'm making one roll and flavor of how that attack roll succeeds or fails is up to me and the gm.  So why, when shields give a mere abstract penalty to attacks do 2 weapons necessitate to a bonus attack instead of just giving me an abstract bonus to hit?  2 Handed weapons give a bonus to damage, as one might expect (rightly or wrongly), which is also abstract (it just increases a die). 

The answer for me is that we should move to a more abstract model for 2 weapon fighting.  I propose giving a dual wielding character a flat bonus of 2 to hit, and bump shields up to a bonus 2 to armor class.  This allows for some interesting modulations,  through feats and maneuvers,  as well as allowing for different types of off hand weapons and shields being in play.  For example, you might only allow +1 to hit if the off hand weapon is not finesse or light.  Bucklers could give +1AC, while tower shields give +3.  Additionally, it would make sword and board, dual wielding, and 2 handed weapons have a more similar playing field for combat effectiveness and elegance of play.

Thoughts?
OK, say you're dual wielding Flametongue and Frostbrand. With your abstracted system, how do you know which one hit? That's just the first problem that comes to mind, but I think it makes the point of why abstraction doesn't always work.
well the second issue would be this:

Unarmed Strikes are listed under light weapons.  You can, therefore, use two weapon fighting with an unarmed monk.  That same monk in your system would gain only a benefit.

The TWF rules need to be clarrified, but I, personally, don't want them to be more abstract than necessary. 
OK, say you're dual wielding Flametongue and Frostbrand. With your abstracted system, how do you know which one hit? That's just the first problem that comes to mind, but I think it makes the point of why abstraction doesn't always work.



You just choose the weapon you're using as a primary tool, then give it a bonus.  Very simple. 

well the second issue would be this:

Unarmed Strikes are listed under light weapons.  You can, therefore, use two weapon fighting with an unarmed monk.  That same monk in your system would gain only a benefit.

The TWF rules need to be clarrified, but I, personally, don't want them to be more abstract than necessary. 



That is correct.  So an easier fix is giving the monk a power that lets him attack twice if that's really necessary to his balance.

As to not wanting them more abstract, that implies you either want them more realistic or more simulationist.  In that case, the current rules REALLY don't work.  The majority of the fighting done with 2 weapons (though it does matter what the weapons are) is done as feign and strike, or bind and strike.  Basically you use one to pull a defense out of it's proper place, creating an opening and striking with the other weapon.  OR you use the off hand weapon to parry and bind an attack and counter with the still free secondary weapon.  It is very rare, and usually very stupid to attack with both at the same time. 
Trying to make these more realistic factors into rules would be needlessly complex for a game as simple as DnD.  Hence my call for elegant abstraction.  But if you do want them more realistic, there are a whole lot of other rules that need to change with them.
I think its a good idea to give up the notion of extra attacks while twf. After all it worked for 4e. The actual math behind it would of course need to be tested... but hey thats what playtestins for!
OK, say you're dual wielding Flametongue and Frostbrand. With your abstracted system, how do you know which one hit? That's just the first problem that comes to mind, but I think it makes the point of why abstraction doesn't always work.



You just choose the weapon you're using as a primary tool, then give it a bonus.  Very simple. 



Except that those two weapons have different properties.  How do you decide which property takes effect?  Do you have to decide that before making the attack?
I think its a good idea to give up the notion of extra attacks while twf. After all it worked for 4e. The actual math behind it would of course need to be tested... but hey thats what playtestins for!



But I thought the Ranger and the Fighter in 4e had powers which let them make attacks with both weapons while dual-wielding.
I think its a good idea to give up the notion of extra attacks while twf. After all it worked for 4e. The actual math behind it would of course need to be tested... but hey thats what playtestins for!



But I thought the Ranger and the Fighter in 4e had powers which let them make attacks with both weapons while dual-wielding.

Twin Strike for the Ranger. I think it is generally considered the most DPR-contributing attack in 4e.
Sure, nothing stopping fighter/ranger martial manouvres to utilise twf for extra attacks. I was talking about the stuff anyone (including the str/dex 2 wizard) can do.
I generally favor the less abstract mechanics.
Sure, nothing stopping fighter/ranger martial manouvres to utilise twf for extra attacks. I was talking about the stuff anyone (including the str/dex 2 wizard) can do.


 You'd also need something for rogues, so that trope could be played, as well.  And make sure the monk can do it.  And, depending on how you look at barbarians, they might need it, too.

Not being able to dual wield with any character is one of the problems I had with 4e; the idea that only certain classes could do things which anyone could possibly do didn't fit my play-style.  I'm not saying that you shouldn't have to invest something to be able to do it effectively, ala the Two-Weapon Fighting feat from 3.5, but anyone should be able to try it.  That STR 2, DEX 2 wizard would be horrible at it, but if he wants to try...
OK, say you're dual wielding Flametongue and Frostbrand. With your abstracted system, how do you know which one hit? That's just the first problem that comes to mind, but I think it makes the point of why abstraction doesn't always work.



You just choose the weapon you're using as a primary tool, then give it a bonus.  Very simple. 



Except that those two weapons have different properties.  How do you decide which property takes effect?  Do you have to decide that before making the attack?



I am aware of that.  How you implement it is up to debate.  Realistically (if anything can be called realistic in DnD) a combatant takes any opening that s available, so it might be a random choice.  Since dnd  is kind of heroic, maybe the player chooses (or the attacker).  Or maybe you d say the higher level person decides. 

I would set it up that the attack choose his attack, and gets synergy or bonus from appropriate offhand weapon.

I generally favor the less abstract mechanics.



kk, that still means that the current rules don't do what you want.  Like I posted above, 2 weapons in real fighting almost never equals 2 attacks.  I can, if you like, go into a long explanation as to why that is, if you want, or you can go to a fencing/martial arts school and find out for yourself.  So the question is, if not this then what solution do you propose?

The way this action works is to take a penalty to the roll and gain an additional attack action to each attack.  While this seems to produce similar raw damage to the 2handed weapon wielder, it creates a situation in which it works unusually when combined with other effects.  For example, what do you do when you want to use 2 weapon fighting, while at the same time you use the whirlwind maneuver?  The answer is unclear, there are several possible answers. 



I can see their being several proposed answers to the above referenced scenario but I believe that if interpreted as simply as possible the following would be yielded...

Whirlwind Attack with Two-Weapon Fighting:
> Choose any number of targets within 5 feet of you to attack in melee.
> Spend one martial damage die per target.
> Make one attack roll with each weapon at a -2 penalty.
> Use the results against each of the targets
> Roll damage for each successfully hit target but use only the weapon damage for the offhand weapon.

Summing it up as one attack roll with a bonus disagrees with me. Let's look at a scenario... you said a +2 to the attack and normally it's a -2 to each attack. Ok, here come some arbitrary numbers...

Let's let...
target AC = 14
primary weapon = Long Sword
offhand weapon = Short Sword
Attackers STR Mod = 2
Attackers DEX Mod = 3
Attack Bonus = 1

Then with 2WF 2 Attacks...
13 = hit with Primary
12 = hit with Offhand
So you have an 40% chance of hitting with 1st and 45% chance of hitting with 2nd giving you an overall probability of missing at 33% by my math.

With a 2WF 1 Attack approach...
9 = hit with Primary or 8 = hit with Offhand
So you'd have a 40% chance of  missing with one weapon and a 35% chance of missing if you attack with the Offhand weapon.

So you would need a bonus of 3 or 4 to the one attack to give you the same probability to hit in the scenario descriped above to equal your chance to hit with 2 attacks at a -2 penalty on each attack. However, the damage would be the same as attacking with one weapon... I don't know.

Let's look at a different AC but same everything else... let's let AC = ... 18?
Then... we've got a 52.5% chance of missing with the 2 attack method and a 60% chance of missing with the 1 attack method at a +2 bonus to hit given by the offhand weapon.

Both ways have their merits... I like the -2 base penalty to each attack for two-weapon fighting but that's my humble opinion.
I'm not sure if nobody's mentioned it, if I haven't seen it mentioned here, or if I just got something wrong, but doesn't two weapon fighting allow you the benefit of attacking more than one target as part of the same action?

Yes, a monk can dual wield fists and use two-weapon fighting, as opposed to flurry of blows.
Normal attack: single attack, [W]+mod, all martial damage dice spent on single hit
Flurry attack: 2/3 attacks, (2/3)*([W]+mod) damage, 1/2 martial damage dice spent for extra attacks, the rest applied to any hit
TWF attack: 2 attacks at -2, 2[W]+mod damage, all martial damage dice spent on specific hit
So in general, the hit rate and ability mod and other bonuses to damage from flurry (and the fact you can up it to 3 attacks) will be better than the extra martial damage dice not spent on flurrying.

With whirlwind and other special attacks, I don't think there need to be special considerations for two-weapon fighting. In terms of the rules, there's no doubt. Two-weapon fighting allows you to use an action to make an attack with each of two weapons. Special attacks usually allow you to use an action to make the special attack. In terms of game mechanics, these can't be used together. In terms of flavour, there's no need to give each special attack a separate form for two-weapon fighting. Both weapons can be incorporated into the special attack, but the technique used achieves the results of the special attack rather than the extra damage from normal, generic two weapon fighting.

Please take a look at Avern - a Somewhat Airborne Race! Possibly my favourite thread of all time!

Having read the thousands of debates on this subject Ive come to the conclusion: Until we can agree on what the benefit and negatives of twf should be, we cant agree on its implementation.

The benefits ive come across people thinking twf should give:


  • more damage than a single 1handed weapon

  • equal damage or more than 2handed weapon

  • better accuracy for riders (such as MDD)

  • ability to attack more enemies

  • no paying for the above (in feats or negative)


The negatives ive seen:


  • reduced accuracy (but no more than to reach status quo with the extra attacks statistical benefit)

  • actual reduced accuracy (where its an overall penalty to hit)

  • less damage overall than a 2handed weapon (current if you dont allow MDD on offhand)

  • limited access to weapons (the current light limitation)


We cant of course have all of these at once, so which ones do we want?
That's a very good point. So, what benefits and negatives should TWF have? If it were up to me, It'd have the following:

Benefits

  • Increased chance to hit with at least one attack

  • Ability to attack multiple targets


Negatives

  • Less Damage on average (Typically hitting with one of two attacks)

  • Decreased chance to hit with both attacks


And I do like the idea of Specific Feats/Maneuvers/Class Features which give improvements or negate penalties for TWF.

I'm probably biased towards the v3.5 system... But that's the one I would personally model it after. 

Having read the thousands of debates on this subject Ive come to the conclusion: Until we can agree on what the benefit and negatives of twf should be, we cant agree on its implementation.

The benefits ive come across people thinking twf should give:


  • more damage than a single 1handed weapon

  • equal damage or more than 2handed weapon

  • better accuracy for riders (such as MDD)

  • ability to attack more enemies

  • no paying for the above (in feats or negative)


The negatives ive seen:


  • reduced accuracy (but no more than to reach status quo with the extra attacks statistical benefit)

  • actual reduced accuracy (where its an overall penalty to hit)

  • less damage overall than a 2handed weapon (current if you dont allow MDD on offhand)

  • limited access to weapons (the current light limitation)


We cant of course have all of these at once, so which ones do we want?



A fine point, we all have different ideas on what dual wielding is or isn't. 

Why do we make the choices we do?
In some cases, it's simply gaming the system, ie 2 attacks is more damage more potential for abuse.  Players who want to win at all costs want this choice.
In other cases, we want dual wielding to stay the way it has always been because that's the way it has always been, because we dislike change.  Players who are traditionalists want this choice.
In still other cases, we want dual wielding to change, because it is overly complex as is, or overly powerful.  Players who are concerned over rules balance want this choice.
In my particular case, dual wielding needs to change because it breaks verisimilitude, ie it doesn't work in the rules like the activity actually works in real life.  As a long time fencer and martial artist, as well as historian of fighting systems, the current dnd rules for dual wielding not only fail to work the way that two weapon fighting system intent, but also fail to match the style of the rest of the game rules.  Players who want accuracy, will want this choice.
Of course, there are a lot of different flavours of two weapon fighting, too. Some might see it as a flurry of attacks, or just more strong hits, in which case you'd expect the attacks to do more damage, but work less well on skilled or armoured targets. From another view, the weapons are used to lure and distract, opening defenses of such opponents and increasing the chances of landing a normal (or weaker) strike.

I think one of the issues at the moment is that there aren't that many riders that can be used with two weapon fighting, so we don't have a good sense of what might be gained.

In the system as it is, the primary (only?) rider concerning us is Martial Damage Dice (which may or may not be allowed to apply to the offhand). Due to the general level of attack bonuses and opponent AC in this packet, if MDD is allowed offhand then the average damage rises significantly in nearly all cases, so two-weapon fighting is preferable over both 1H and 2H fighting. Even if fighting 1H with a shield, it would usually be better to also attack with the shield. If it's not allowed, then the average damage is significantly lower, so the choice isn't currently meaningful, and will generally simply up-or-downgrade your performance.

Please take a look at Avern - a Somewhat Airborne Race! Possibly my favourite thread of all time!

The simplest inherent benefit of two weapon fighting is that each turn you can choose which weapon to attack with.  If the weapons have different properties this is already a tactical benefit without getting an extra attack.  

Throw in one feat that gives you +1 aim while holding two weapons you are proficient with, and another that gives you +1 AC, and you have a pretty good framework right there.

As soon as you add attacks you open the whole rules can of worms that you guys have pointed out.  

I guess I'm chiming in on the side of abstraction, because so far the complications of granting extra attacks haven't been worth it.  I think this is inherent to the game mechanics because whenever you get a bonus from a magic weapon, feat, spell or situation it is applied to each individual attack.  Since one attack per turn is the basic unit these bonuses are all designed around, granting characters an extra attack for simply equiping themselves different than another character makes them "breakable" / potentially overpowered.  They are multiplying each bonus by two.  These other bonuses are all over the rules in different places, so attaching a 2-weapon clause to every single one is too cumbersome and makes 2-weapon fighting too important to the overall rules.

I think this issue illustrates why abstraction is better in this area in general.  Give players at high levels powerful options sure, of course.  But don't give some players powerful options that let them roll 8 attacks for five minutes while everybody else waits and gets bored.  This is in addition to the balance problem.  

For this reason I like increasing higher level characters number of "weapon dice" to represent multiple attacks.  One attack roll, but more damage which is flavor-flexible as either one might blow or several strikes.  This flexibility is a great thing for a role-playing game!
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