Two-weapon fighting - Help me make it better


Well, I wanted to bring up an idea for a house rule on two weapon fighting and at the implied suggestion of someone else and to avoid potentially hijacking the house rule thread or resurrecting an archived thread, I'm starting a new one.

Like many, I don't care for the two weapon fighting rules and the fact that you have to spend three or more feats in order to do it well enough to even bother. Alternatively, you can fight with a two-handed weapon which often yields greater damage results leaving TWF to Rogues (because of sneak attack potential) and Rangers (who can get it as part of their class abilities if they don't want to go the archery route). Anyone else is only going to do it for flavor and character concept.

I'd like to remove the immense penalty on TWF but also keep balance in check (for Rogues mostly). If the end result is that it is still a little less optimal than fighting two-handed or even a little more now, I personally don't care. I just want it much closer than it is now.

My initial idea would be to effectively give many classes the ability, option really, to choose to fight with two weapons as if they had all of the TWF feats but without having to spend their precious feats on them. The exception would be that precision damage, like sneak attack and maybe favored enemy, could only be achieved with a primary hand attack and not with the off-hand. The standard penalties would be as follows.

Table X–X: Two-Weapon Fighting Penalties
Prerequisites not met, normal penalties: -6 -10
Prerequisites not met, off-hand weapon is light: -4 -8
Prerequisites met, normal penalties: –4 –4
Prerequisites met, off-hand weapon is light: –2 –2

Proficient with all martial weapons
First attack: Dex 15
Second attack*: Dex 17
Third attack*: Dex 19

* You can not make a second or third off-hand attack without meeting the prerequisites

The following feats would be available to anyone who could take advantage of them.

Off-hand Precision: You are treated as being proficient in all martial weapons only for the sake of meeting the prerequisite to fight with two weapons. Also, you may make precision damage with your first off-hand attack if applicable.
Off-hand Precision, Improved: Gain precision damage with your second off-hand attack
Off-hand Precision, Greater: Gain precision damage with your third off-hand attack

This should put the Rogue in check and allow the Ranger to pick up the extra off-hand damage from favored enemy if he wanted to spend feats to get it (although it doesn't grant nearly as much but achieves the same end result). It also forces Bards, Wizards, Sorcerers and others to take a feat (or a level dip) if they want to fight with two weapons since they normally wouldn't have the combat expertise to do it at no cost and would basically have no reason to not fight with two weapons otherwise. I'm not exactly sure how this will function with the Monk's flurry of blows but they will at least need the first feat. I might have to just disallow the two to mix or force them to take a feat each time in order to get the extra attacks.

So is there anything that I'm overlooking that would break this? Are the two weapon defense feats too accessible now? Should the Ranger just get his Favored Enemy damage bonus on off-hand attacks for free as part of his class features?

Any thoughts, advice, ideas or improvements would be appreciated. Thanks!

A few observations;

Presumably, the second and third offhand attacks should have a further prerequisite of BAB +6 and BAB +11. That keeps it more in line with the way things are done normally, and keeps you from having a character with 1 mainhand and 3 offhand attacks at 1st level. (Even though the penalties make those quite unlikely to hit).

A player of mine's first response was that Vital Strike - which seems like it's practically made for TWFers - is precision damage, and thus requires just as many feats to be fully utilized. Whether that's a problem or not is up for debate. It's also technically bypassable by just specifically giving up your offhand attacks to make some deadly attacks with your main hand which just seems a little... Off.


Scratch that, my player just assumed that. Really shouldn't take his word for it. Plus apparently it's been changed in the final release so it's irrelevant.

I'll have to think about the monks and probably read how they wound up in the PFRPG final, too.

Yeah, I just kind of took it for granted that if you couldn't make a second attack that you couldn't make a second off-hand attack. All of the above basically boils down to if you have profiency with all martial weapons, you have the two-weapon fighting feats for free with the restriction of off-hand precision damage. You have to have the requisite DEX score to use it unless you have a class feature (Ranger, CA Samurai) which states that you don't.

For my campaign i'm actually thinking of going the way i've seen done with some of the 4th ed stuff on this one. IE you can dual wield, but get nothing special for it. Thus 2 rapiers = a 2d6 attack, normal attack bonus, and most likely would take a reduction to threat range in order that it does not over shadow the 2handed great sword. The end result? 2 weapon fighting would simply become an aspect of "flavor" but would not have a true mechanical / mathmatical value or effect. Precision damage such as sneak attack, power attack etc would be applied towards the primary weapon only. Enchants on two weapons would be calculated as if one big weapon had gotten all of those enchants for purposes of determining cost, relative power level, etc. Power attack would be calculated as if the attacker were using a single 2 handed weapon b/c the attacker still has both hands committed to attacking.

The problems I've thought of so far with this are as follows:

1) what is the incentive from keeping folks from wielding two bastard swords vs. 2 daggers? Of if you allow the WORSE FEAT EVER: Monkey Grip, what is to stop them from Dual Wielding / TWF with two 2 handed Claymores??

2) power attack might have to be re-written to read its larger bonuses are restricted to a single 2 hander only, in order to balance with some of the existing 2 weapon feats out there like 2 weapon defense.

3) Any thoughts on shields? Would they also need to be revisited in order to maintain balance vs these other two fighting styles? Frankly 3.0 / 3.5 always did a poor job of balancing the benefits of a shield vs. other fighting styles.

I don't know yet but would LOVE to hear how others have simplified this mechanic so it is easier for both players and DM's to run. If there is a house rule some where on this, please drop me a link. If 4th ed did this effectively, I'll take a look further into that as well.

Thank you for any suggestions.


Some of my players are just plain suckers for rolling those extra dice even though it's a very bad investment of feats. There's no way that they'd let me simplify TWF to something that removed the extra dice rolls. They're also going to love me for removing the hefty feat tax on it too...unless we find a flaw in it somewhere. I wonder what TWF feats made it into PF final.

Well one simple way is give everybody the Vital Strike Feats for free once they qualify (BAB wise).

Vital Strike synergizes with 2WF, since you drop your lowest (least likely to hit) Iterative Attack(s), but 2WF gives TWICE the use from each Vital Strike dice (the -2 to hit meaning you'll miss more, so you won't double the VS damage ALL the time). Dropping attacks to use Vital Strike signifigantly impacts 1H/2Handers' chances to Crit, which 2WF clearly excels at.

Vital Strike on Standard Attacks is clearly about helping Standard Attacks "scale" with level, but as Spell Casters get this for FREE (since high level spells don't seem to take a Full Round Action - I will be happy to be surprised here), I don't see what's so bad about dropping the Feat Tax on melee-ists...

I imagine we're all quite curious about what TWF feats made it in the final, heh. As regards the BAB thing, I know it seems like a given (and should have mentioned that), but I have a compulsion to spell everything out in my house rules.

I also had a thought about monks - flurry of blows basically lets them TWF, right? (at least as far as we know from the preview). If you're gonna use the Final PFRPG rules on that, you might as well treat them like the ranger and let them do it regardless of DEX bonus. I still have a knee-jerk bad reaction to that, but it was the same with the monk preview itself, so eh.

And Lazlo, I'm not sure, but I don't think you have the way 4e did TWFing right. Anyone can wield a weapon in the offhand, but you require a power that let you make multiple attacks to benefit from two weapons. And that usually still required two separate attack rolls.

Your suggestion is basically combining two weapons into one, right? As you noted, that's going to come up with a whoooole lot of edge cases like dual wielding bastard swords and such. It seems like tweaking that would be a lot more trouble than its worth, and end up with the unsatisfying conclusion of TWFing being mechanically identical to two-handers. Granted, that seems to be your goal, so I suppose it's only unsatisfying to me.

I don't mind the mechanical complexity myself - I just want to make the power gap a little less disparate. The Final may go a ways towards that (particularly now that Overhand Chop is out), but my low-level TWF Fighter is feeling rather depressed that the Half-Orc Druid with a Falchion and 18 STR is outdoing him rather handily.


Missed Quandary's post while I was typing mine up. I was thinking about making the new VS part of the main rules myself and keeping the old Vital Strike - as I mentioned in my first post, it pretty much is love for TWFers.

I find that if the Greater Two-Weapon Fighting and Perfect Two-Weapon Fighting feats simply get rolled into Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, a lot of the suck immediately leaks out of the style. Combine that with sneak attack damage, and you're in great shape.

For Vital Strike, we played it that it applied independently to each weapon -- so that a guy with a longsword and a dagger would get only extra dagger damage by sacrificing one dagger attack, and would have to sacrifice a sword attack as well to get extra sword damage. However, the added damage was always +2d6 (+4d6 for Improved Vital Strike), regardless of weapon type.

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