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A while ago I put up a question for a balance pass on a homebrew fix for the Two-Weapon Fighting Style found here: Is this change to the Two-Weapon Fighting fighting style balanced?

A lot of people gave good advice and critiques by pointing out that my proposed solution had nothing/little to do with the problems I stated were the issues fueling the fix. So I changed my angle and took some time to really boil it down to what was needed and, hopefully, what would help.

To reiterate, the issues that I have with vanilla Two-Weapon Fighting are as follows:

  1. In order to have both weapons out at the start of any fight a player has to either always have one weapon drawn, take a feat, or use an action. This one is almost entirely flavor oriented, but it makes it feel very clunky.

  2. It is the most costly of the various methods of fighting to engage in (sword and board, great weapon, ranged, etc) since it requires a bonus action to get the extra attack (note this is not referring to the Extra Attack Feature). None of the other ways of fighting require this level of a player's combat resources to work and as the player gets more uses for their Bonus Action, it becomes costlier.

  3. It doesn't scale in any shape other than increasing your fighting stat or acquiring a second magical weapon. It doesn't benefit from Extra Attack features and so for most classes, it has diminishing benefits for an increasingly expensive cost.

All these issues work together to make the mechanic feel both underwhelming and underperforming. So I figured that the Two-Weapon Mechanic, its Fighting Style, and the Dual Wielder feat all had to be addressed simultaneously to work.

Taking all of this into consideration, do the above alterations to the mechanic, Fighting Style, and Feat address the raised issues in a way that retains the innate elegance the Vanilla versions have while also not being better than competing methods of fighting, such as great weapon or sword and board? Does it allow for multiple flavors of dual Wielders? Or is there any edge case that makes this go topsy-turvy in a bad way?

If you could show the math involved with answering any of these or leaving a link to a spot that does would be very appreciated. Thoughtful answers are welcome though!


Two-Weapon Fighting Mechanic: proposed alteration

When you take the Attack Action and you attack with a light melee weapon that you are holding in one hand (called your Main-hand), you can make an equal number of attacks with a different light melee weapon in our other hand(called your Off-hand). You don't add your ability modifier to the Off-hand damage unless it is negative.

If you do this, the damage die of both weapons is capped at 1d4 and you cannot disengage or hide this turn and stop disengaging or hiding if you already are.

If either weapon has the thrown property, you can instead throw the weapon, instead of making a melee attack with it.

Two-Weapon Fighting Style- proposed alteration

When Two-weapon Fighting you add half your ability modifier, rounded up, to both weapons instead of all of it to one. You can draw or stow an additional weapon, if it is one-handed.

Dual Wielder- proposed alteration

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. Both weapon's damage die is capped at 1d6 instead of 1d4.

  • Once per round, if you are wielding a light melee weapon in each hand, you can make an Opportunity Attack without using your Reaction. You may, at this time, make a second Opportunity Attack against the same target if you wish.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "It is the most costly of the various methods of fighting (sword and board, great weapon, ranged, etc) since it requires a bonus action to make the secondary attacks." - it is a bonus action attack, which none of the other methods can use. Are you confused between a bonus action attack (from wielding 2 weapons) vs 2 attacks per turn e.g. level 5 fighter? \$\endgroup\$ – Steve Sep 18 '19 at 23:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not confused so much as poor choice of wording on my part. The secondary attacks thing was referring to the attacks made with the second hand (or Off-hand as I put it). Meant to change it after getting the question up, but forgot to after I had posted. I'll put a clarifier in there. \$\endgroup\$ – Joe D. Sep 19 '19 at 0:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ OK, but I still don't understand the 'costly' part of the statement. You can use your BA to attack with your offhand weapon, regardless of how many attacks you have. So the cost is your BA used up in turn for another attack. \$\endgroup\$ – Steve Sep 19 '19 at 0:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ The first thing that came to my mind was... With this change a 20th lvl Fighter can make 16 attacks in one round using Action Surge. Add anything like Hunter's mark/Hex or any ability that adds damage to each weapon attack and your DPT goes to high heavens. \$\endgroup\$ – Manner Sep 19 '19 at 1:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ In general, I think you should only compare "bonus action options" available to other classes/builds/styles with the particular TWF and add accordingly, instead of changing the "action economy" of the system, because it becomes very hard to balance afterwards. \$\endgroup\$ – adonies Sep 19 '19 at 5:04
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This is a little too powerful when combined with per-hit riders, and the fighting style is weird in that it only adds anything when your ability modifier is odd.

Let's assess mathematically:

Level 1
OTWF - 2d6+6 (13) / 15 with feat
NTWF - 2d4+4 (9) / 11 with feat

Level 5
OTWF - 3d6+12 (22.5) / 25.5 with feat
NTWF - 4d4+8 (18) / 22 with feat

Level 11
OTWF - 4d6+20 (34) / 38 with feat
NTWF - 6d4+18 (33) / 39 with feat

Level 20
OTWF - 5d6+25 (42.5) / 47.5 with feat
NTWF - 8d4+24 (44) / 52 with feat

Your proposal goes from ~20% weaker to ~10% stronger over a character's life, and doesn't need to sacrifice a bonus action each turn. Having three additional hits over old two-weapon fighting makes Hex, Hunter's Mark, and Enlarge extremely valuable - probably mandatory for any build that attempts some amount of optimization - and also means that a player who acquires two weapons with per-hit riders (Flameblades, for example) will have a very large (~28 DPR) advantage over the other fighting styles.

With those caveats aside, this clearly accomplishes what you claim you want - which is good, because you designed it to those specifications and did not make egregious mistakes.


That said, I've always believed that homebrew should strive to change as few mechanics as possible - it makes it easier to maintain game balance and reduces the complexity considerably. And I think there's a way to do just that (and to reframe some of your problems) to solve your major concerns.

  1. In order to have both weapons out at the start of any fight a player has to either always have one weapon drawn, take a feat, or use an action. This one is almost entirely flavor oriented, but it makes it feel very clunky.

Consider that for sword & board, a player must either always have the shield pre-equipped or use an action. They don't even get the pleasure of a feat solving the issue for them.
I don't think this is a problem that needs to be solved - Adventurers who are vaguely prepared for danger would have one weapon out anyway.

  1. It is the most costly of the various methods of fighting to engage in (sword and board, great weapon, ranged, etc) since it requires a bonus action to get the extra attack (note this is not referring to the Extra Attack Feature). None of the other ways of fighting require this level of a player's combat resources to work and as the player gets more uses for their Bonus Action, it becomes costlier.

This is the big one. A very valid complaint, especially when the other fighting styles can additionally approximate two-weapon fighting on their own using a bonus action, with the extra attack provided by critting with Great Weapon Master or with Polearm Master.

  1. It doesn't scale in any shape other than increasing your fighting stat or acquiring a second magical weapon. It doesn't benefit from Extra Attack features and so for most classes, it has diminishing benefits for an increasingly expensive cost.

But... does it need to?
Great weapon fighting scales with extra attack, where rerolling 1's and 2's is worth at best +1.33 to +5.33 damage from 1 to 4 attacks.
Dueling scales with extra attack, granting +2 to +8 damage from 1 to 4 attacks.
Vanilla two weapon fighting only scales with ability modifier, granting +8.5 damage at a +5 mod.
Notice that two weapon fighting already has the highest overall damage boost.


With those points in mind, and trying to make the minimum amount of changes, what happens if we simply don't require the bonus action for two-weapon fighting?
That is, it's identical to current two-weapon fighting (a single additional attack with a weapon held in a second hand), but does not consume the bonus action.

If your intent is to keep the power level approximately the same, there's no better way to do that than by simply not changing the mechanics of it and only changing the action cost.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ First off, thank you for this answer, it's well thought out and I appreciate that you took the time to both math it out and address each of the concerns I brought up. \$\endgroup\$ – Joe D. Sep 19 '19 at 17:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Second off, yeah, the damage riders (especially the number of them that exist) definitely break the flow of balance I was trying to maintain here pretty heavily. Am definitely gonna think more about how to keep those (spells and scroll effects) under control elegantly while avoiding clunky patches. One thing to keep in mind though about having access to multiple damage riding weapons is that (I believe) all but the +1/+2/+3 ones require attunement which stops a player being able to use more than 1 of the more powerful defensive or utility items (since most of these require attunement as well). \$\endgroup\$ – Joe D. Sep 19 '19 at 17:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ The point you bring up with great weapon fighting, are you referring to the change in average damage that the Fighting Style causes or some other source? Would appreciate a bit more clarity on where you are getting the numbers for great weapon and two-weapon fighting and whether you are referring to vanilla or the alteration. \$\endgroup\$ – Joe D. Sep 19 '19 at 18:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JoeD. I've clarified that the damage comparison at the bottom is showing the damage added by choosing the fighting style. One other concern about the damage riders issue is that it would be incentivizing multiple magic weapons to be funneled to a single player - which might make that player feel more special at the expense of others. \$\endgroup\$ – Speedkat Sep 19 '19 at 18:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Appreciated :). I don't think the funneling behaviour is an issue that is too big since another player is just as effective at getting the damage increase as a dual-wielder holding both. Unless there are too many magic weapons being passed around, I think they'd get spread among the party more or less evenly. Also, I do think that TWF needed a bump in growth potential. With the way it currently is, a TWF'er at lv 1 can all but be at their peak for their speciality. At that ain't a pleasant feeling for an investment. \$\endgroup\$ – Joe D. Sep 20 '19 at 5:04

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