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Back again with some more refinements on my thoughts in altering Two-Weapon Fighting based on the input I got from folks answering these posts:

Is this change to the Two-Weapon Fighting fighting style balanced?

Two-Weapon Fighting Mechanic Balance.

As can be seen, I've a desire to make Two-Weapon Fighting be an equal with Sword+Board and Great Weapon in terms of damage (between them) and having it's own niche (reliable damage and crowd control) without making it too complicated or strong. As it stands in vanilla, it fails to keep up with the other styles on both fronts

For ease of reference, I'll briefly reiterate and expand on a few of the problems that I have with the TWF style so you all don't have to swap between tabs as much:

  1. It starts too strong from levels 1-4 then falls off level 5+ due to abnormally low scaling.

  2. It's disproportionately expensive in the action economy in comparison to it's competition.

  3. What it does is imitated by two separate feats, Great Weapon Master (albeit conditionally) and Polearm Master, but even better and with a base style that grows well.

  4. It disencourages traditional TWF styles of using a bigger and then smaller weapon, leading to silly weapon loadouts (other than lances, I love that look).

To address these issues, I've put together the following alterations to the TWF mechanic. Please don't include the fighting style or feat since I'll be posting revisions of those later if this one works out.

The questions I hope to have answered here are:

  1. Does the mechanic I've presented address the issues I have listed?

  2. Is it intuitive, easy, and fast to both understand and play with?

  3. Is it balanced in comparison to Sword and Board and Great Weapon?

  4. Are there any weird interactions caused from these changes?


Mechanic:

When you take the Attack Action and you only attack with a light melee weapon that you are holding in one hand, you can make an equal number of attacks with a different light melee weapon in your other hand. When you do this, halve damage modifiers for all attacks and the second weapon's weapon damage die is a d4.

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

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  • \$\begingroup\$ So a high level fighter would be making 8 attacks? The first 4 from the action would be normal attack bonus, the second 4 would be half the attack bonus, and only use d4+mod damage? And this would only cost a single action? I assume attack bonus rounds down by default? \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Jan 2 at 21:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ I assume that, when determining how many attacks you make with the other hand, you look only at attacks actually made using a light weapon? In other words you cannot do the following: Take the Attack action, attack once with a light weapon; drop the weapon; draw a 1d8 one-handed weapon; attack with it three times; attack with the weapon in your other hand four times? Also, when you say to "halve damage modifiers" does this include things like hex, divine smite, a +3 magic weapon, and other ways of applying extra damage? You may also want to change the word "both" to "all" \$\endgroup\$ Jan 2 at 21:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri The intent behind this is that when you engage in this mechanic the damage modifiers added (which include ability scores, spells like Hunter's Mark, and class abilities) are halved for all attacks made with a light weapon. In exchange, you can essentially double your attack count. If it isn't clear all the attacks made have to be using a light melee weapon to benefit from, could you point out the problem area? \$\endgroup\$
    – Joe D.
    Jan 3 at 5:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 That is correct, you only get the extra attacks if you don't switch to a non-light melee weapon. If making it so the extra attacks equals the number of attacks you made with a light weapon, then that could be interesting but not what I have up there (as far as I know). And the "halve damage modifiers" part does include Hex, Smite, and the +3 magic weapon sword stuff. However, it's suppose to leave the weapon's damage alone, so those damage buff types would be the same as now. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joe D.
    Jan 3 at 5:39
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While the damage is similar on a very basic level there are some problematic points.

Very basically the damage output is similar.

You're spot-on here. The weapon damage is similar for one pair of dual wielding attacks to a single attack with a two-handed weapon.

Comparing a Greatsword to two Shortswords the damage is similar. With a +5 modifier we get 2d6+5 or 12 for the Greatsword and 1d6 + 1d4 + 4 or 10 for the two swords. Notice that you will make more crits with the two swords than with the one without increasing the damage output, since the Greatsword has better damage dice than the s6/d4 combination. However you decrease the standard deviation on the damage with favors the players. Note: With an even modifier the difference is only 1 rather than two.

Halving the modifiers is suspect

Adding half modifiers makes it more complicated to determine the damage. This can be fixed by noting on the character sheet the damages, like we do, e.g. for Jack of all trades. More problematically, you're at a disadvantage with certain modifiers. Normally, having odd ability scores is bad. Now it still is, but having an odd modifier also is. This means that the only score where you "lose nothing" is 18 (+4). Loss here means opportunity cost from ASIs (which is normal) and loss from rounding down - which is added and which is especially unfortunate if you have a 20. While you get a plus one on attack rolls with 20 compared to 18, your damage is the same.

What is the light restriction for?

I'm really wondering why you need the restriction to light weapons. Allowing d8 weapons would increase the damage by 1. This would mean that you are really even with the Greatsword when using at least one d8 weapon (and you have an even damage modifier). Also, this seems to help your 4th declared aim of enabling the use of a bigger and a smaller weapon.

There are interactions with on-hit and on-crit effects

While many on-hit effects only work once per turn or require resources (ki points, spell slots, a bonus action...) there are others that do not. Two examples are Hunter's Mark and bestow curse which deal extra damage on each attack no questions asked. There are other similar features which I will not list now. You have a similar effect with extra crit dice, which profit from the increased number of crits.

These features (which there are more of) scale directly with the number of attacks so they might be overpowered with the high number of attacks your design generates. Imagine you have three attacks per action and have bestowed a curse on an opponent to deal extra damage[1]:

  • With a two-handed weapon you get 3d8 extra damage.

  • With normal dual-wielsing you get 4d8 extra damage.

  • With your design you get 6d8 extra damage.

In conclusion, any per-attack feature without a cost or a once-per-turn restriction scales drastically with your design.

Many attacks take long to resolve

Resolving many attacks is time-consuming (Thanks to Ryan C. Thompson for pointing this out). Even if the overall combat time is not increased, the players not dual-wielding need to wait longer for their turns because which can feel bad potentially.


[1] You cannot do this as a normal fighter but you can do it if you multiclass and there are probably similar features which you can get more easily.

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    \$\begingroup\$ On hit effects is a big deal; magic initiate gives hex, which can give you 8d6 additional damage (every round), then you action surge! This doubles the effectiveness of those kind of spells, so optional rules like multiclassing and feats might be a bigger deal than in the vanilla case. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Jan 2 at 23:17

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