I'm currently making a Level 4 character for a new campaign we'll be entering.
I've decided on a variant human dex based fighter.
- Fighting style: duelist
- Level 1 feat: defensive duelist
- Level 4 feat: crossbow expert
Now, with these points in mind, and from my understanding of the rules, it should be possible to do the following:
- Have the crossbow loaded and ready to be drawn and fired if needed.
- Whilst wielding only a rapier, still benefit from the +2 damage (duelist)
- If my rapier is already drawn at the start of my turn, draw and fire the hand crossbow as a bonus action
- If both are already drawn at the start of my turn, fire the hand crossbow as a bonus action, stow it and make a melee attack with the rapier whilst still benefiting from the +2 damage (duelist) since, when I make that attack, I will be wielding only the rapier
- I believe that in any case, I would still receive the +AC reaction from wielding the rapier (defensive duelist), whether or not I am holding the crossbow, since it's only stated that one must be wielding a finesse weapon
Where it gets a little unclear is how loading works.
Crossbow expert states that one ignores the "loading" property of crossbows, but I can't really square this in my head as a visualisation.
One still does need to load a crossbow with both hands, even if we're ignoring the "loading" mechanic. Could this just be flavoured as sheathing the rapier, loading the crossbow and drawing the rapier without using the "free draw/stow" portion of an action? Is ignoring the "loading" portion simply there to enable multiple shots per turn, but still requires a free hand?
At 5th level (extra attack), I assume this would also mean I could, alternatively, do any of the following, all on the same turn:
- Fire three crossbow bolts (one as a bonus action)
- Fire two crossbow bolts (one as a bonus action) and make a melee attack with my rapier (in any given order)
- Make two melee attacks with my rapier and fire one crossbow bolt as a bonus action (in any given order)
The RAW is pretty clear that all of these are possible. But it just gets a little bit funky when it comes to how that would actually LOOK, and how loading would take place (not "loading" as defined in the game, since that's out of the equation due to Crossbow Expert, but loading as in plain English) and having to be specific about when to draw/stow or drop/pick up a given weapon to retain bonuses without it just looking ridiculously goofy. Like it would make more sense in this context; with the selected feats and fighting styles, and given that a hand crossbow would logically be very light and unlikely to actually interfere with the wielding of a one-handed finesse weapon like a rapier; that I should still be able to benefit from the +2 to damage (duelist) whilst still holding a recently discharged crossbow. That way we could avoid the awkward, unwieldy game mechanics around having to be super anal about putting away or dropping the crossbow and picking it back up in between attacks etc.
Basically, I'm just trying to find a way that this all makes aesthetic sense without turning my turns into a bore-fest of technicalities (for me, the DM and the other players) in order to obey the RAW on how this should all play out.