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I’m not sure if two weapon fighting and duel wielding are the same thing.

I’m very new, like first game new. What I’m wondering is: if I have the Dual Wielding Feature, do I make two separate weapon attack rolls? Or do i make one attack roll with two instances of damage.

This came up because I attempted to like stab someone with both at once, and since my whole group is new we had no idea.

Thanks in advance!

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE, Jordan. Since we cover a lot of different games that have very similar things in them, we need you to specify which game and which edition of that game you are asking about. (Pathfinder? D&D 5e? GURPS?) Also, please take the tour and visit the help center to see how to get the best value from this Q&A site. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Sep 18 '18 at 19:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry! First time asking a question. It’s d&d 5e \$\endgroup\$ – user48580 Sep 19 '18 at 17:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ What do you mean by the "Dual Wielding Feature"? Is it Two-Weapon Fighting rule from PHB combat rules? Dual Wielder feat? A specific class feature (Ranger's Two-Weapon Fighting style, for instance)? The Extra Attack feature? \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Sep 19 '18 at 18:07
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Two-Weapon Fighting is two attacks, using an Action and a Bonus Action to perform

The section on Two-Weapon Fighting in the Player's Handbook describes how this works:

When you take the Attack action and attack with a light melee weapon that you're holding in one hand, you can use a bonus action to attack 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.

So in a normal combat round, your sequence of events is

  • With a Light melee weapon (Club, Dagger, Handaxe, Light Hammer, Scimitar, Shortsword, Sickle), you make an attack, using your Action.
    • This attack doesn't necessarily have to be a melee attack; like, for example, you're throwing your Dagger or Handaxe instead of melee attacking with them. The weapon itself is required to normally be a melee weapon though.
  • If you have the Extra Attack feature (given to Fighters, Paladins, Rangers, Barbarians, Monks, and some other subclasses of other classes), make however many additional attacks you are entitled to as part of that same action.
  • If you're also holding a Light melee weapon in your other hand, you make an additional attack, using your Bonus Action. This attack does not add your ability modifier to your damage rolls (but still adds it for its attack rolls)

The PHB doesn't emphasize the phrase "Bonus Action" in that description, when it probably should, to emphasize that it's a proper noun. A "Bonus Action" is not a second "Action", it is its own thing, that permits specific actions.

Dual Wielder is a Feat that removes the requirement for the weapon to be Light

The Dual Wielder feat is also found in the PHB (p. 165):

You master fighting with two weapons, gaining the following benefits:

  • You gain a +1 bonus to AC while you are wielding a separate melee weapon in each hand.
  • You can use two-weapon fighting even when the one-handed melee weapons you are wielding aren't light.
  • You can draw or stow two one-handed weapons when you would normally be able to draw or stow only one.

So in addition to the other benefits, the only change to your fighting style is that you could now two-weapon fight using Rapiers or Longswords or other non-two-handed melee weapons. Check the PHB for the full list of weapons to figure out which weapons are permitted using this feat.

The Two-Weapon Fighting Fighting Style is a Fighting Style that permits the Bonus Action Attack to benefit from your ability modifier to your damage rolls

Many martial classes are permitted to take the Two-Weapon Fighting Fighting Style as their choice of Fighting Style. The Bonus Action attack does not normally benefit from your ability modifier on damage rolls, but with this fighting style, it does.

The description appears like this for Fighters, and is not modified for other classes that use it:

When you engage in two-weapon fighting, you can add your ability modifier to the damage of the second attack.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "The PHB doesn't emphasize the phrase "Bonus Action" in that description, when it probably should, to emphasize that it's a proper noun." - The 5e rules never capitalize "action" or "bonus action". They have a special meaning in the game, but are not capitalized. (For that matter, neither are weapon names, or weapon properties other than at the start of a sentence/line, or class names in general.) \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Sep 20 '18 at 4:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, it seems like only fighters and rangers have access to the TWF fighting style. Paladins don't have access to it. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Sep 20 '18 at 4:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast these things should be capitalised (or bolded, or italicised or something) \$\endgroup\$ – András Jun 17 at 19:16
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Two weapon fighting and dual wielding are not the same thing in this edition.

The second attack is a bonus action, not another Attack action

It counts as two attacks in that you have to roll the d20 twice, but this is a case where a term from a previous D&D edition might trick you in this edition. Let's break this down into details.

Two-Weapon Fighting (Fighting style, Ranger/Fighter, class feature)
When you engage in two-weapon fighting, you can add your ability modifier to the damage of the second attack. (Basic Rules p. 25)

This fighting style is an improvement on two weapon fighting for any class of PC(Chapter 9, Combat).

When you take the Attack action and attack with a light melee weapon that you’re holding in one hand, you can use a bonus action to attack 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. (Basic Rules, p. 74)

Dual Wielder is a feat, and has a special meaning.

Dual Wielder (PHB)

You master fighting with two weapons, gaining the following benefits:

  1. You gain a +1 bonus to AC while you are wielding a separate melee weapon in each hand.
  2. You can use two-weapon fighting even when the one handed melee weapons you are wielding aren’t light.
  3. You can draw or stow two one-handed weapons when you would normally be able to draw or stow only one.

Note that if you aren't a Fighter or a Ranger, you could take the Dual Wielder feat and use two weapon fighting with two warhammers (which are not light weapons). Your second Warhammer would not get the ability-score-based damage bonus (+Strength mod). The Fighter or Ranger class feature allows the PC to add the damage bonus from the chosen ability score to that bonus action attack.

Now let's complicate this by having multiple attacks at fifth level

Let's say you are a fifth level Ranger with the dual wielder feat. Fifth level Rangers get a second attack (as do 5th level Fighters, Paladins, Barbarians, and Monks)

You are using two long swords. (Two weapon fighting (Ch-9) + dual wielder feat allows you to do this with non-light weapons). You have two attacks, and you have the bonus attack from using two weapons: three total chances to hit.

  • Case 1: If you have the two weapon fighting style as well, all three attacks (if they hit) accrue the Strength based damage bonus.

  • Case 2: If you do not have the two weapon fighting style, two of your attacks (if they hit) get the +Str mod damage bonus, but the bonus action attack will not.

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    \$\begingroup\$ And I'll note that in their infinite wisdom the authors put the one that everyone can do after both the one that only certain classes can do and the one that requires feat-taking to do. "Proudly obfuscating our product since 1974!" \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Sep 19 '18 at 22:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 That's part of their charm, yes? \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Sep 19 '18 at 22:09
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Dual-wielding requires the use of your bonus action after expending your Attack action

In 5th edition, the attack with the second weapon uses your bonus action and is considered a separate bonus attack. Note that this is a bonus action, and not a full attack action - so you only get to roll the attack dice once even if you have Extra attacks from certain class features (Like Fighter, Barbarian, or Paladin).

You are NOT taking a 2nd "action". You are using a "bonus action" to make an attack roll after making a "Attack" action. In 5th edition, you need to be very careful about what is a move, action, bonus action or reaction. Because many of these things create exclusive triggers for your class and feat abilities.

In 5th edition, dual wielding is a strong choice for character that receive very few or no "Extra Attack" options through their class features, such as rogues. It becomes a weaker option after mid level for fighter-grade classes, as they have other ways of expending their bonus action to receive an extra attack.

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To answer the specific scenario: there are no rules for attacking one target with both weapons at once. As others have said, if you are wielding two weapons and attack with both, you are using two-weapon fighting and so make one attack as an action, then a second attack as a bonus action. Without the dual wielder feat, both weapons must be light; and without the two-weapon fighting fighting style, you do not add your ability bonus to the damage for the second attack.

According to the rules as written, the bonus action attack happens after the first one, which means describing them as simultaneous would cause a problem if there are any effects which trigger on the next attack made by you, or the next attack made on your target, since those might interrupt the second attack.

If your DM is amenable to house rules, one I would suggest would be to allow a matched pair of weapons to collectively have the versatile property - if you attack simultaneously with both weapons, make one attack as an action and increase the damage die one size (so if you have two handaxes, which normally do 1d6 damage, increase the damage to 1d8, and include your ability modifier as normal). You would not be able to make a second bonus action attack on that turn. Note that this gives more versatility than the official rules provide, as they force you to choose between a versatile weapon which does more damage two-handed, or two light weapons which allow for two-weapon fighting, but given you only get one attack roll instead of two, and light weapons have generally low damage anyway (or you’ve spent a feat to use bigger ones) I don’t think it’s overpowered.

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