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I have made a PC (5e) Artificer's Armorer subclass from UA that has the Dual Wielder (DW) feat. What happens when the PC is in the guardian mode and equips a shield?

Two-Weapon Fighting:

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.

Dual Wielder Feat:

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

  1. Your gauntlets are weapons that due to the DW feat can be used for an off-hand bonus action attack. If you equip a shield, are you still qualified to perform this bonus action off-hand attack, as your offhand is both a weapon and a shield?

  2. You qualify for the +1AC, as you are wielding 2 separate weapons. Is the +1AC from the DW feat still applicable when you equip a shield?

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You cannot use Two-Weapon Fighting with Gauntlets

Two-Weapon Fighting states (emphasis mine):

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. [...]

The rules of fifth edition D&D default to natural language when a term is not precisely defined elsewhere in the rules. Thus the meaning of "hold" defaults to standard English. If somebody were wearing gloves or gauntlets and told me they were holding them, I would say that they were wrong. To showcase this the sentence "he is wearing gloves" gives a very different image than the sentence "he is holding gloves".


You do not gain the +1 bonus to AC

The Dual Wielder feat states (emphasis mine):

[...] You gain a +1 bonus to AC while you are wielding a separate melee weapon in each hand. [...]

Similarly I would not say that you are "wielding" gauntlets, instead, you are wearing them and using them to attack. However, I could see the argument made that you do wield gauntlets when wearing them (or using them to attack) but then you would be benefitting from one part of Dual Wielder (the +1 AC) and not another (the Two-Weapon Fighting) which is a bit of a disconnect for me and another reason I would say that worn gauntlets are not wielded.


Power Armor already has a lot going for it

Power Armor grants you an entire weapon (1d8 thunder damage is nothing to scoff at), it can be used as a spellcasting focus and it does not limit the use of your hands in any way whatsoever.

Compare this to the Claws of the Umber Hulk which grant you a 1d8 slashing damage weapon but also prevent you from manipulating objects and casting spells with somatic components, all while requiring attunement (granted, they also get you a 20 foot burrowing speed).

There is a sizeable difference in power between these two, not to mention all the other benefits of Power Armor from various infusions and its own inherent versatility. That doesn't necessarily mean Power Armor is too strong, but it's something to keep in mind when buffing the feature.


In the end, it's all playtest; feel free to try things out

Of course, all this is playtest material and so it isn't going to be as heavily edited, word-curated, or, well, playtested, as the official content. Feel free to try out various interpretations and ideas to determine how imbalancing (if at all) it would be to allow for various features to apply to Power Armor's gauntlets.

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In answer to the first question: You would still be qualified to perform the bonus action attack from two weapon fighting, however not with the gauntlet. A shield can qualify as an improvised melee weapon, normally an improvised melee weapon doesn't qualify for two weapon fighting because they are not light, however because you have the dual wielder feat, this requirement is waived. Keep in mind that because you are attacking with the shield instead of the gauntlet the damage type and die are determined by the improvised weapons rules on page 147 of the PHB, you are not proficient with the shield strike unless you have the tavern brawler feat or the weapon is ruled to be similar to a weapon you are proficient with, and disadvantage on attack rolls is not imposed by this attack. Additionally, keep in mind that you do not get to add your ability score modifier to the damage of attacks made as a bonus action with the two weapon fighting rules (unless you're a fighter who takes the appropriate fighting style).

In answer to your second question: Because we have decided that the shield counts as an improvised melee weapon, you would still qualify for the bonus to AC granted by two weapon fighting, particularly if you routinely attack people with the shield as an improvised weapon.

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