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Dual swords are, I think we can agree, awesome. Because of the cool little thing that monoblades can be anything from a well-made katana to a roaring chain sword, I wanted to get one of each. However, my GM said that there wouldn't be a point, other than "it sounds cool", and I might as well just add fluff text for that. When I inquired further, he said that you could only attack with one at a time, so the second would be useless.

However, I'm pretty sure that because monoblades can be one-handed, you can attack with two at once. Is this correct? I've looked through the Systems chapter but I couldn't find anything relevant.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is thus just, "Are there rules for dual-wielding?" or do you have reason to believe there are special rules regarding the ability to dual wield monoblades and the mechanics thereof? \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    Mar 4, 2016 at 20:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ObliviousSage the former. I looked through Systems and couldn't find anything regarding either, which suggests to me that I missed something obvious. Should I edit the question to be more general? I'm used to being specific and letting general answers pop up. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nic
    Mar 4, 2016 at 20:19

2 Answers 2

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There are no dual-wielding a.k.a. two-weapon fighting rules in Stars Without Number. SWN is a fairly direct ancestor of Basic D&D, which predates two-weapon fighting in the evolution of D&D rules, so that's not surprising. Other retroclones and OSR games in the Basic D&D lineage tend to lack two-weapon fighting rules in general.

However, there's one BD&D-descended game that does contain TWF rules: Adventurer Conqueror King System (ACKS). In a blog post at Bernie the Flumph titled “Stars Without Number: House Rules”, he details three house rules his group has used successfully in a SWN campaign, which includes borrowing the ACKS dual-wielding rules:

  1. Dual wielding two melee weapons or two ranged weapons gives you a +1 to hit. Use the damage for your main weapon. (Also stolen from ACKS.)

I have played enough ACKS to generally endorse this rule's effectiveness and balance, and I know that SWN and ACKS are close enough rules- and balance-wise that it should be easily portable. And since someone has actually done it and had it work, you don't have to take my word for it!

This rule doesn't get you the fanciness of having two monoblades that are distinct in their effect in the same round, but at least you would get a +1 to hit and might be able to switch which one is the “main” weapon from round to round to capitalise on their different strengths. Talk to your GM about it anyway — the fact that the rule isn't spectacular in its effect might make it more attractive to your GM.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Oh, I see, so it's like the burst-fire capability of some weapons. Clever! Also, now I know the Google search term for dual-wielding. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$
    – Nic
    Mar 4, 2016 at 21:10
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As of the Revised Edition (also called 2E) there are official rules for dual-wielding aka two-weapon fighting.

Located on page 52 of Stars Without Number: Revised Edition, the rules are as follows:

  • The character must have at least level-1 in Shoot or Stab (whichever is needed by the weapons) to dual-wield said weapon types.
  • When dual-wielding a character has -1 to hit rolls.
  • Successful hits receive +2 to damage (not on Shock damage).
  • Unarmed combatants cannot dual-wield.
  • The character picks one of the two weapons each round to attack with, not both.

The author, Kevin Crawford (CardinalXimenes on reddit), has clarified the functioning of the rules further online, but also advocates that GMs should make their own decisions to suit their own games:

If all dual-wielding is is a damage bonus, then it's a lot simpler to just... make it a damage bonus, and not make somebody do the optimization math to figure out where the breakpoint is for their PC. — Question about Dual Wielding

No, you can't [...] have one weapon's benefits stack onto the other. When you dual wield, you pick one weapon to attack with, and any modifications to the attack apply to that weapon's attack alone. — A Few Questions About Two-Weapons Fighting/Dual Wielding

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