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On p. 129 of the Core Rulebook, it's stated: "There are advantages and disadvantages to this style of fighting." However, unless I read between the lines, disadvantages are not easy to see.

Basically, there may be never a reason not use something in your off hand while fighting (unless you can't afford it or missing an arm). You can continue to fight as normal using your main weapon, but you get a free parry each round because of your off hand item!

I'm not specifically looking at encumberance as being the balancing rule. As a seasoned GM of WFRP 2e I've hypothesized a few disadvantages. These are not explicitly stated in the rules that I can find:

  1. Limits Attacks. In the example where the PC may have two pistols, only two attacks are possible. PCs with 3 Attacks would be limited to 2 Attacks (even with Swift Attack). This applies to two weapon fighting as well, if choosing to use the weapons as stated.
  2. The Free Parry is Penalized. As I read the rules, at -20% WS in an off-handed test. Where as entering the Parrying Stance would not be penalized, but also cost a half action AND prevent multiple attacks.
  3. All Out Attack with Two Weapon Fighting costs the free parry.

No question that room for abuse exists. Is there something in the rules I've missed or is it necessary to house rule the detail.

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2 Answers

I'm 'afraid' you're right about your assessment, and I don't know of any other rules either.

However, I'm not sure why you think two weapon fighting is unbalanced, as enemies and PCs use the same rules for it, afaik. They can also suffer the same setbacks, such as being practically unable to grab the rope swinging by when the ship they're fighting on takes a wild tumble etc. (Sure, such cases aren't really covered by the rules, but that shouldn't stop you from coming up with critical events and matching improvised situational modifiers and tests to enliven your battles.)

Using two weapons (which, let us keep in mind, also include shields in WFRP) is a bit more efficient than using one, just as using one is a bit more efficient than using none -- and imo that sounds reasonable in real life as well, especially when you view combat through the lens of heavy abstraction most rpg systems, WFRP2 definitely included, utilize. And it's an option anyone can take advantage of. Arm your NPCs appropriately. ;)

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The "unbalanced" notion really comes not from an "informed" position, as I noted and hypothesize my own answer, but from what some might perceive coming to the game as a player. I had to temper the expectations of a player using Two Weapon Fighting as it is not immediately observed to have disadvantages, despite the text stating so. :) –  javafueled Jul 2 '13 at 0:59
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Finding Balance in Two Weapon Fighting

@OpaCitiZen notes:

...as enemies and PCs use the same rules for [Two Weapon Fighting], AFAIK. [PCs and NPCs] can also suffer the same setbacks, such as being practically unable to grab the rope swinging by when the ship they're fighting on takes a wild tumble, etc. (Sure, such cases aren't really covered by the rules, but that shouldn't stop you from coming up with critical events and matching improvised situational modifiers and tests to enliven your battles.)

Additionally, the following observations from examples in the RAW can allow one to closely follow intent in the rules without seeming arbitrary:

  1. Limits Attacks. In the example where the PC may have two pistols, only two attacks are possible. PCs with 3 Attacks would be limited to 2 Attacks (even with Swift Attack). This applies to two weapon fighting as well, if choosing to use the weapons as stated. See the example of two pistol use.
  2. Penalize Free Parry. At -20% WS in an off-handed test. If the player/NPC declares a Parrying Stance do not penalize, but this disqualifies both Swift Attack or any Full action type, preventing multiple attacks.
  3. All Out Attack or Charge Attack costs the free parry.
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