Here's the logic: You have a level 4 Fighter who has Tavern Brawler and Dual wielder. He is using the shield as an (improvised) melee weapon and his empty main hand as the other. That logic leads me to believe this could work per the Dual Wielder feat (PHB page 165):

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

Now, Tavern Brawler implies the unarmed strike is a melee weapon. If that's not the case, you could grab a "stick" to count as a weapon.

My question is, can I get the +1 AC from Dual Wielder in this situation?



Tavern Brawler's relevant ability is:

You are proficient with improvised weapons and unarmed strikes.

The rules for improvised weapons in the PHB say two things:

  • Some non-weapon objects can just be treated as weapons if they are mostly similar to weapons.
  • Other objects just do 1d4 damage.

That interacts with the proficiency rules. If an object is essentially just a club (table leg, wooden branch, torch), spear (pitchfork), greatclub (log, broken stalagmite), or whatever, then a character proficient in simple melee weapons is proficient in using such weapon-like objects as weapons.

Objects that "bear no resemblance to a weapon" (PHB, p. 148) aren't treated as weapons and as such characters can't be proficient with them. A table leg is close enough to a club for club proficiency to transfer; a candelabra or a serving platter or a horse's saddle ... not so much.

(As a side note, many tools that a character may be proficient with may also be treated as weapons in the above sense, but unless the character is proficient with their use as weapons, they can't use their proficiency bonus when attacking with them).

Tavern Brawler's effect is to give proficiency with anything being used as a weapon, even if it's not remotely weapon-like. That's not the same as being able to treat it like a weapon!

Dual wielder grants +1 AC if the character is wielding separate weapons in each hand. Proficiency isn't a factor. We can test various cases for Tavern Brawlers getting this bonus:

  • No weapon in either hand. No Bonus. Unarmed strikes are not weapons.
  • Club-like improvised weapon in both hands. +1 AC Bonus. This is the same as if the character had a "real" club in either hand.
  • Unbalanced non-weapon object in one or both hands. No Bonus. They aren't weapons.
  • Shield on one arm, club-like object in the other hand. No Bonus. A shield doesn't "bear any resemblance" to a weapon.

In fact, Tavern Brawler doesn't do anything that would change whether the Dual Wielder bonus applies. It doesn't say that you can treat non-weapon objects as if they were weapons; it just lets you use your proficiency bonus with them.

As far as attacking with shields goes, it's worth noting that the Shield Master feat doesn't give any enhanced ability to do damage with a shield, just to shove and block with it.



And for two reasons:

  1. An unarmed strike is explicitly not a weapon (melee or otherwise) - the errata makes this clear.

    Instead of using a weapon to make a melee weapon attack, you can use an unarmed strike

  2. An shield is an improvised weapon, not a melee weapon. Using an object to make a melee attack does not turn it into a melee (or ranged) weapon - it turns it into an improvised weapon. An improvised weapon that is sufficiently weapon-like to be treated as a weapon would be a melee (or ranged) weapon, like the table leg being sufficiently similar to a club. A shield is not like any weapon.

    An improvised weapon includes any object you can wield in one or two hands

  • \$\begingroup\$ I see your point with unarmed strike. But a shield is an "improvised weapon". Tavern Brawler allows you to use item that are similar to real weapons and do the same damage. Sometimes characters don’t have their weapons and have to attack with whatever is close at hand. An improvised weapon includes any object you can wield in one or two hands, such as broken glass, a table leg, a frying pan, a wagon wheel, or a dead goblin. (PHB pg.147) In many cases, an improvised weapon is similar to an actual weapon and can be treated as such. For example, a table leg is akin to a club. (PHB pg.147) \$\endgroup\$ – Charlie M Feb 17 '17 at 1:46
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, it is an "improvised weapon" - it is not a "melee weapon". A bow is a "ranged weapon" using it as an "improvised weapon" to hit someone in melee does not make it a "melee weapon" either. These are specific terms of art used in D&D 5e. \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M Feb 17 '17 at 1:56


See the excellent answers listed here.

Homebrew, Yes

I would allow it as a DM. You paid 2 feats to be mostly mediocre.


You have two different things in your hand. One of them is quite good at defending, neither is really good at at attacking.
Correspondingly, both do 1d4 damage, one adds +2 to your AC, the other +1.


At max you can do 1d4 + 3 + 1d8 + 3 = 13 damage (shield + Longsword), and next level your damage increases to 20.5.
Your AC is 10 + 2 + 4 + 2 + 1 = 19 (Dex + Scale + Shield + Dual Wielder).

A Great Weapon Fighter would do 7 + 4 = 11 damage, 21 with Great Weapon Master, 22 and 42 on next level, respectively.
His AC is 17 in Chain Mail + Defense fighting style.

A Duelist Fighter does 1d8 + 2 + 4 = 10.5 damage (Longsword + Dueling), 21 on L5. He also mostly has advantage because of Shield Master.
His AC is 1 lower than yours, 18.

Level 4 is the first level you can pull this off, and the last level wheree you at least seem to be stronger than the other options. From level 5 you are behind on damage, and only slightly ahead on AC.
Very far from overpowered, so I would let you do this.


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