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So, under the Fighter's fighting styles, Dueling says

"When you are wielding a melee weapon in one hand and no other weapons, you gain a +2 bonus to damage rolls with that weapon."

I was wondering if that fighter could wield Alchemist's Fire in their offhand and still gain the benefits of Dueling for their main weapon- although AF does damage, it is classified under "Adventuring Gear". It says that when you make the attack, you treat it as an improvised weapon-

"Make a ranged attack against a creature or object, treating the alchemist's fire as an improvised weapon."

Would it always count as an improvised weapon, or just for the duration of the attack?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a really interesting query, but you've got a few separate questions in here that should be separated into their own. Which are you looking for, and if it's all, it may be better to do them separately. I'm reading the following: Can a Duelist fighter wield Alchemist's fire in their offhand? Does wielding the alchemist fire count for Dueling? Do wands/magic items count as weapons for Dueling? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Sep 21 '17 at 18:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ Okay, I've gone in and clarified the question- I hope that settles things. What I'm looking for is basically "Can a Duelist Fighter use Alchemist's Fire in their offhand while still gaining the Duelist benefit for their main weapon." \$\endgroup\$ – zanman60 Sep 21 '17 at 18:09
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Yes

You gain the benefit of the Dueling Fighting Style with your weapon when you hold an improvised weapon in your other hand.

Improvised Weapons

[...] An improvised weapon includes any object you can wield in one or two hands, such as broken glass, a table leg, a frying pan, a wagon wheel, or a dead goblin. [...]

System Reference Document 5.1, page 65

Any object that is not a weapon could be an improvised weapon, including a shield, a spell component pouch, or a flask of alchemist's fire.

You can wield a shield or hold a spell component pouch and benefit from the Dueling Fighting Style, so the logic should follow for a flask of alchemist's fire.

Dueling

When you are wielding a melee weapon in one hand and no other weapons, you gain a +2 bonus to damage rolls with that weapon.

System Reference Document 5.1, page 24

While you can use the alchemist's fire as an improvised weapon, you could use anything as an improvised weapon; that doesn't make it a weapon.

If the Dueling Fighting Style required your other hand to be empty, it would say so.

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NO

As you stated in Dueling (PHB, 72)

When you are wielding a melee weapon in one hand and no other weapons

And that Alchemist's Fire is listed under Adventuring Gear (PHB, 150), but it is clearly intended to be an improvised weapon, per the book as well (PHB, 150-151)

...treating the alchemist's fire as an improvised weapon

And Improvised Weapons are under the Weapons list from PHB, 147.

An improvised weapon includes any object you can wield in one or two hands, such as broken glass, a table leg, a frying pan, a wagon wheel, or a dead goblin.

Other items under Adventuring Gear are things like ammunition and I think it's clear that for those and for Alchemist Fire, Acid, etc. that they are improvised weapons when being used. Which is now why I will discuss the difference between holding an object in your hand and wielding an improvised weapon in your hand.

The difference is that the alchemical fire is basically a grenade. It's an object until activated (thrown) but the intent is that it's a weapon.

Holding vs Wielding

Holding

If you're just holding with no intent to use, the RAW would likely point to allowing the Dueling style as you aren't planning on using what you're holding as a weapon.

Wielding

However, if you intend to use the object in your hand as a weapon, then you would no longer be Dueling.

Discussion

While a DM could allow this based on the looseness of the rules, they are ignoring the spirit of the Dueling Fighting Style: which is that you are wielding a one-handed weapon and nothing else. If your offhand is holding something that you intend to use as a weapon, then you are no longer Dueling.

In addition, there isn't a RAW way to get an offhand attack unless they use an Action Surge which limits how often this could be done or the instances in which it may be a concern. It still is the equivalent of having another weapon 'ready' if something were to happen to the primary weapon.

You can try and do a Deception check against your DM to convince them that the item you're holding isn't intended to be an improvised weapon, but that DC may be pretty high.

That being said, as long as you don't do both on your turn then I don't think it affects overall balance much. You're only removing the free action(?) to pull the flask out before throwing it. Not a huge deal, just seems more "duelist" to not do it. Unless it's one of those grenade duels.

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If we try to interpret Rules-as-Written here, we need a solid definition of when an improvised weapon is a weapon.

There are two possibilities for this:

  1. An improvised weapon is a weapon for the entire turn if you attack with it.

  2. An improvised weapon is a weapon only during the attack using it.

Note that it always being a weapon is not on this list - we know that isn't true since Dueling works while wielding a shield (and a shield can be used as an improvised weapon, so if it were always considered a weapon Dueling would not apply)

Clearly though, #2 leads to some sticky situations - it'd be objectively better to wield a dagger-like object than to wield a dagger (proficiency notwithstanding).

Thus, we should consider as #1 - and you cannot gain the benefits of Dueling if you choose to attack with anything other than your Dueling weapon.


Personally I would go even farther and say that a weapon shouldn't be considered a weapon unless you attack with it during a turn - why should holding a shield you're not using to attack be any different than holding a dagger you're not using to attack?
But that's not RAW or RAI.

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    \$\begingroup\$ an improvised weapon is not a weapon. using the rules you can make one attack dealing 1d4 damage with them. but they do not become weapons, not for one instant. \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Sep 21 '17 at 20:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mindwin, would you allow a lvl5 Fighter to attack with a longsword (held in one hand) and with a tree branch (held in the other hand) and gain the benefits of Dueling on one or both of those attacks? \$\endgroup\$ – Speedkat Sep 21 '17 at 20:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ none of the above. I never mentioned dueling. Just that an improvised weapon is never a weapon, not for one instant. \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Sep 21 '17 at 20:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Mindwin "improvised weapon" has the word "weapon" right in it. You can even have improvised thrown weapons (hucking a rock) and improvised melee weapons (swinging with a rock). Improvised weapons that resemble non-improvised weapons are even treated as the non-improvised weapon they resemble (chair leg->club, for example). Insisting that they aren't weapons...? \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Sep 21 '17 at 20:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BenBarden Fool's gold also has the word "gold" in it. \$\endgroup\$ – Doval Sep 21 '17 at 22:03

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