Yet Another Two Weapon Thread


Rules Questions

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'm not sure whether this should be filed under Rules Questions or somewhere else, but as it deals with game mechanics, this seemed like the right place to post it.

I missed the entire d20, D&D 3.0/3.5 feeding frenzy and only recently returned to gaming. My experience has been from when the original little books were published until TSR had their meltdown in the 90s, so if this question was covered in detail before, just point me to the explanation.

By nature, I like the rules in the games I play to make sense and have consistent logic. I was re-reading the core rules PFRPG book and started working up characters who used both two weapons and a weapon and a shield and ran into an issue that defied sense and consistency.

The example character is below with everything statted out, but the questions are:

1. Why is it that a character using a weapon and a shield to attack his target has better attack bonuses than a character who is using two weapons to do the same thing?

2. A short sword is 2 lbs, a heavy steel spiked shield is 20 lbs. From a purely mechanics perspective, why does the shield, 10 times the weight of the sword, incur no penalties whatsoever in the attack and defense, yet the short sword has a -2?

3. From a mechanics perspective, where is the benefit of using two swords (defenses not withstanding)? The sample character does the same amount of damage (heavy spiked shield and short sword)? The shield attacks with no penalties and the sword is again at -2 (either sword and shield or two swords)?

For discussion, the sample character only has stats above 10 to enable him to gain the feats needed. If this were a ranger, even the Dex stat could be 10.

TWO FISTED TOM CR 10
Male Human Fighter 11
TN Medium Humanoid (Human)
Init +4; Perception +0
--------------------
DEFENSE
--------------------
Use this AC for #1 and 2: AC 17, touch 13, flat-footed 14 (+4 shield, +3 Dex)
Use this AC for #3: AC 14, touch 13, flat-footed 10 (+1 2 weapon defense, +3 Dex)
hp 60 (11d10)
Fort +7, Ref +7, Will +3
--------------------
1. Short sword only, shield is used as protection
--------------------
Spd 20 ft.
Melee Shortsword +11/+6/+1 (1d6) (2 lbs)
--------------------
2. Short sword and heavy steel spiked shield
--------------------
Spd 20 ft.
Melee Spiked Shield, Heavy Steel +11/+6/+1 (1d6) (20 lbs) and
Shortsword +7/+2/-3 (1d6) (2 lbs)
--------------------
3. Two short swords
--------------------
Spd 20 ft.
Melee Shortsword +9/+4/-1 (1d6) (2 lbs) and
Shortsword +9/+4/-1 (1d6) (2 lbs)
--------------------
STATISTICS
--------------------
Str 10, Dex 19, Con 10, Int 11, Wis 10, Cha 10
Base Atk +11/+6/+1; CMB +11; CMD 25
Feats Critical Focus, Double Slice, Greater Shield Focus, Greater Two-weapon Fighting, Improved Shield Bash, Improved Two-weapon Fighting, Shield Focus, Shield Master, Shield Slam, Two-weapon Defense, Two-weapon Fighting, Two-weapon Rend
Skills Acrobatics +1, Climb -3, Escape Artist +1, Fly +1, Ride +1, Stealth +1, Swim -3
Languages Common
SQ Armor Training 3 (Ex), Bravery +3 (Ex)
Combat Gear Shortsword, Shortsword, Shield, Heavy Steel, Shield, Heavy Steel, Shield, Light Steel;
--------------------
SPECIAL ABILITIES
--------------------
Armor Training 3 (Ex) Worn armor -3 check penalty, +3 max DEX.
Bravery +3 (Ex) +3 Will save vs. Fear
Critical Focus +4 to confirm critical hits.
Improved Shield Bash You still get your shield bonus while using Shield Bash.
Shield Focus +1 Shield AC
Shield Master No off-hand penalties for shield bashes, add a shield's enhancement bonus to attack rolls.
Shield Slam Shield Bash is also a Bull Rush.
Two-weapon Defense +1 to AC while wielding 2 weapons. +2 when doing so defensively.
Two-weapon Rend You deal an additional 1d10+(STR*1.5) if you hit with both of your weapons.
Created With Hero Lab® - try it for free at http://www.wolflair.com!


You ask some very perceptive questions.

As for me, I have no good answers, but I have a sneaky suspicion. In 3.5, this was not the case. Not even close. If you wanted to be even remotely useful as a high-level fighter, you went with a 2H weapon. Period. You might go TWF, but you knew you were sacrificing mechanical benefit for the sake of a character concept. But at least it was reasonably playable.

But wpn+shield was worthless. Completely. At high levels, that shield might save you from an occasional attack, but that is all it did, and not very many of those. In return, your damage output dropped to something like half of what the other guys could do.

Then along came Pathfinder. In BETA, they included a bunch of new tricks for the shield, really powering it up. They also included some new tricks for the other stuff (some feats that were cut out of the core system, other feats that were toned down a bit). Every flavor of fighter was better off, but the shield user got the biggest ramp up.

In fact, it was so big, that they might have already been overshadowning the other styels, though the Beta was still new and most of us still had our old habits and we weren't all jumping on this fresh new bandwagon.

Players loved that the shield user was finally useful. They raved about it. Sometimes they ranted about it. And Paizo heard their adulation and saw that it was good.

But the other stuff, that was different. Some people felt it was unabalanced, others thought it was OK. Debates raged, and the 'unbalanced' group (no pun intended) got the upper hand. So some of this was removed/refactored to tone down the power.

It's like when the sergeant asks for volunteers and everyone steps backward but one guy. Shield fighters were that one guy, and everyone else got hauled back down in power.

And then, lo and behold, we now have the situation you pointed out.

To me, it's completely screwed up.

I truly don't mind that sword-n-board is finally a playable option. It should have been all along, but it wasn't. But I totally disagree that the way to make it playable was in terms of the damage. This style should not do as much damage as the others; that's just wrong. Worse, it does more, which is beyond wrong to the point of being nearly insane.

The correct way would have been to do the right thing, and make shields give better protection. Instead of higher-level feats to make them do more damage, or to eliminate penalties for using them as weapons, we should have feats to use them in better defensive ways, like to grant bonus to REF saves (hiding from the flames by ducking behind the shield) or to give some (or all) of their bonus to Touch attacks (again, hiding behind the big shield to keep that nasty spellcaster with his mean old Ray spell from hitting us), or give bonuses against ranged attacks (like shields were actually used for historically). Etc.

Instead, we got this vulgarity of a system where shield bashing is the ultimate damage output - to the point that some people are actually dual-wielding a pair of shields instead of taking a real weapon (hey, this way their fighter only needs to specialize in one weapon instead of two). The ultimate cheese-whiz to spread all over the ridiculous shield rules.

It's kinda sad.

/rant off

Side note: I like the Pathfinder system. I really do. I like almost every rule in the book. But this, this is like having the perfect panting, and someone came along and drew a mustache on one of the prominent figures. It sticks out like a sore thumb, and it's the first thing, and almost the only thing, I look at for houserules.


From the book:

"Shield Bash Attacks: You can bash an opponent with a
heavy shield, using it as an off-hand weapon. See “shield,
heavy” on Table 6–4 for the damage dealt by a shield bash.
Used this way, a heavy shield is a martial bludgeoning
weapon. For the purpose of penalties on attack rolls,
treat a heavy shield as a one-handed weapon. If you use
your shield as a weapon, you lose its AC bonus until your
next turn. An enhancement bonus on a shield does not
improve the effectiveness
of a shield bash made with it,
but the shield can be made into a magic weapon in its
own right."

Nowhere in the book does it let you use a shield as a main weapon, ONLY an off-hand weapon, and even then the heavy shield counts as a one-handed weapon, not a light weapon, so you get -6 to hit with the Shortsword and -10 with the shield, or -4 with both if you take Two-Weapon Fighting. Note that in this case, the Shortsword isn't doing you any good, and you might as well be using a Longsword instead.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
FrinkiacVII wrote:

From the book:

"Shield Bash Attacks: You can bash an opponent with a
heavy shield, using it as an off-hand weapon. See “shield,
heavy” on Table 6–4 for the damage dealt by a shield bash.
Used this way, a heavy shield is a martial bludgeoning
weapon. For the purpose of penalties on attack rolls,
treat a heavy shield as a one-handed weapon. If you use
your shield as a weapon, you lose its AC bonus until your
next turn. An enhancement bonus on a shield does not
improve the effectiveness
of a shield bash made with it,
but the shield can be made into a magic weapon in its
own right."

Nowhere in the book does it let you use a shield as a main weapon, ONLY an off-hand weapon, and even then the heavy shield counts as a one-handed weapon, not a light weapon, so you get -6 to hit with the Shortsword and -10 with the shield, or -4 with both if you take Two-Weapon Fighting. Note that in this case, the Shortsword isn't doing you any good, and you might as well be using a Longsword instead.

If you look at the character I posted, it was 11th level and by that point had the Shield feats that completely absolved the character of any negative modifiers for the shield attack if the shield is used as a weapon.

I'm not a fan of "balance" solely for the sake of making things equal; that's not how life is, it's not how warfare is. Each of the historical weapons and armors on the lists evolved due to a defense or attack, not because the fighters of Lower Slobovia wanted to be in balance with their arch enemies in Upper Slobovia.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

DM_Blake,

I like the Pathfinder rules as well, and as you said, this is one of the things that really sticks out. I sat out the whole D20 D&D craze because to me, it wasn't D&D anymore as it was so radically changed from everything that came before.

Another rule I think is broken, and one I'm probably going to toss in the bin when I begin the campaign instead of the brief adventure I'm running, is the maximum Dex bonus for armor class. Looking at the guys from ARMA and other groups skilled in fighting in the armor of the bygone era, it doesn't make any sense other than to be an arbitrary and brute force use of the balance bat.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pawns, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
Kurt_the_Demon wrote:
2. A short sword is 2 lbs, a heavy steel spiked shield is 20 lbs. From a purely mechanics perspective, why does the shield, 10 times the weight of the sword, incur no penalties whatsoever in the attack and defense, yet the short sword has a -2?

As far as I know, weight never had anything to do with the penalty. You'll remember, in previous editions, you needed 2 feats for 2 weapon fighting. It's a skill thing, not a balance (as in equilibrium) and footwork thing.

Kurt_the_Demon wrote:
3. From a mechanics perspective, where is the benefit of using two swords (defenses not withstanding)? The sample character does the same amount of damage (heavy spiked shield and short sword)? The shield attacks with no penalties and the sword is again at -2 (either sword and shield or two swords)?

I'm not going to look at your math. If it's right, then it's right.. just like the math for 2-handed weapons shows it deal more damage then 2 weapon fighting.

It's a different fighting style. Simple as that. It has it's pros and cons. With the right combination of 3.x feats you can even gain a +4 bonus to your AC while two weapon fighting.

Regardless, if you don't like how it works, house rule it. If you can't house rule it, then don't take it. The way it works isn't going to change because min/maxing says it's not the best option. :P


My apologies. Since you listed the shield attack first in the "attacks" line, and since it was at a higher overall roll to hit, I assumed you were trying to use it as a main-hand weapon, which I once had a player try to do on me, so I was seeing what what I was looking for. My bad.

If you're looking for an answer to the greater question of "Why?", you're likely not going to get a satisfying one. Suffice it to say, anyone who spends all those feats specializing in shield bash attacks probably deserves something at higher levels as a light at the end of the tunnel. It's still not necessarily any better on the offense than just two-handing a greatsword, but it is about equal and you still get the defensive buffs from the shield. So maybe it's a better build overall, AT THAT LEVEL, but only when you get that last shield feat, which is a long time coming and a lot of other feats burned on requirements. I mean the requirement feats are good feats, but you're clearly concentrating on that one build, and some of the best rewards of that diligence don't pay off until you hit that high a level.

From a fluff/historical/"in character" standpoint, I don't think you're going to find any justification or answer. I would also point out that there is no great factual historical justification for much wider-ranging themes in the game like magic, monsters, etc either. From a game-mechanics standpoint, I think this is the payoff for the sword-n-board guy who decides to patiently bide his time and build for the long haul and as a DM myself, I don't disagree with it. In version 3.5 magic was king and virtually all martial classes quickly reached a point of diminishing returns. At least now some people are saying "wow, look at all the damage a non-spellcaster can do under the right circumstances..." which is healthy for the game, in my opinion. That said, I still think the two-weapon ranger should have better two-weapon fighting stats than the Rogue, which will pretty much never be the case as long as the Rogue can do Sneak Attack damage on every hit.

Scarab Sages

1.)

Mechanically speaking, here are the major differences you're looking at.

In order to be superior with the shield for twf, you must spend four additional feats that would otherwise be used elsewhere.

TWF with a weapon and a shield requires you to choose whether to provide damage special abilities or shield special abilities when enchanting your off-hand weapon. You effectively lose the pure damage increase in trade for better armor class.

Really, that's kind of what happens to those other feats, which could be spent to increase damage, flexibility, or both.

2.)

Because of a four feat investment, which is a pretty significant investment into anything. Think of it as advanced training on how to exploit a weapon style that most people will not be knowledgeable on how to handle properly. There are plenty of ways to rationalize and conceptualize it. But, from a game mechanics point of view, the shield user spent more 4 feats on the shield side just to achieve that level of mastery. And then an additional three feats for the twf chain. Note that the shield chain required more of an investment :p

3.)

TWF with two swords is mechanically better than twf with a sword and a shield because the dual sword-user has those four feats to further push the abilities of his weapons.

What you should do to compare isn't to build one character with those feats and compare the two styles, but to build one shield focused character and one sword focused character using the same point buy and then compare them.

You mentioned earlier that you're not a fan of balance for the purpose of making everything equal. But, unfortunately, that's how rules-based games work. If there is one particular style that continually under-performs, then people won't play it. Similarly, if one build continually out-performs, then people will tend to play that class.

In any game system, you find rules for balance. The way we generate our stats, instead of just picking the numbers we feel best represents the character, is a form of balancing. There's no particular reason to generate scores that way, except to keep players from creating a character that trivializes the challenges *and thus the excitement* of the game.

A level 11 human fighter has 6 feats from leveling, one from race, and 6 from fighter levels, for a total of 13 feats.

The sword twf spends three feats to get the twf chain.

The shield twf spends seven feats to get the twf and shield chain.

The shield fighter can spend his last four feats in weapon focus shield, weapon focus sword, weapon specialization shield weapon specialization sword.

The sword twf has 10 feats left. It costs him just two feats for weapon specialization and weapon focus. He has 8 more feats. He can pick up Greater weapon focus, double slice, two weapon rend, two weapon defense, power attack, combat reflexes, dodge, improved critical.

Or he can pick up the improved trip/sunder and so on. Or he can *with dm approval* pull feats out of splat books.

Seriously, the shield-based fighter has a lot less to flex his choices with. He'll be more specialized *which is fine* but that also makes him less flexible than the sword twf.

The sword twf can choose to deal more damage than the shield twf. Or he can choose to add a lot of variety to his feat options. He has choices that the shield twf just lacks.

Anyhow, if that doesn't work for you as a reason, then I'd just house rule out the feat that lets shield bashes ignore penalties to hit. :)

Happy gaming


Not to nitpick, but I do not believe that your example shield guy above get's anything out of the Two-Weapon Defense Feat, at least not while actually wielding a shield. For one thing, the feat says you get the bonus while wielding a double weapon or two single weapons. A shield can be used to make attacks but it's not really a weapon in that sense. Second, even if you get the DM to officially declare a spiked shield as a "weapon", I'm pretty sure the +1 shield bonus you get to AC doesn't stack with the bonus you get from having an actual shield. The rule is, bonuses with the same name don't stack with each other, except for dodge bonuses.

Even without that feat, you still had to use up like 3-4 Feats on shield-based fighting alone, and most of them just got rid of the drawbacks of two-weapon fighting with a shield. A guy who decided to just two-hand a pair of short swords could take a lot of other stuff instead. Actually, I just now notice that you didn't include a full list of feats for the non-shield-bashing guys in your comparison. Plus, the straight sword and board guy could afford to put more points into Strength instead of Dex, wield a longsword, etc. Plus, getting a mere 1d6 damage out of your melee attacks is pretty terrible at level 11. A guy with a great sword and a high Strength is going to actually get some damage across against anything with Damage Reduction, and don't forget that Strength increases your roll to hit as well. Fewer attacks, true, but each one with a great sword does 2d6 + [(1.5)x(strength modifier)] damage, and he get's that on the ONE attack he makes when he has to move in the same round.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
FrinkiacVII wrote:

Not to nitpick, but I do not believe that your example shield guy above get's anything out of the Two-Weapon Defense Feat, at least not while actually wielding a shield. For one thing, the feat says you get the bonus while wielding a double weapon or two single weapons. A shield can be used to make attacks but it's not really a weapon in that sense. Second, even if you get the DM to officially declare a spiked shield as a "weapon", I'm pretty sure the +1 shield bonus you get to AC doesn't stack with the bonus you get from having an actual shield. The rule is, bonuses with the same name don't stack with each other, except for dodge bonuses.

Even without that feat, you still had to use up like 3-4 Feats on shield-based fighting alone, and most of them just got rid of the drawbacks of two-weapon fighting with a shield. A guy who decided to just two-hand a pair of short swords could take a lot of other stuff instead. Actually, I just now notice that you didn't include a full list of feats for the non-shield-bashing guys in your comparison. Plus, the straight sword and board guy could afford to put more points into Strength instead of Dex, wield a longsword, etc. Plus, getting a mere 1d6 damage out of your melee attacks is pretty terrible at level 11. A guy with a great sword and a high Strength is going to actually get some damage across against anything with Damage Reduction, and don't forget that Strength increases your roll to hit as well. Fewer attacks, true, but each one with a great sword does 2d6 + [(1.5)x(strength modifier)] damage, and he get's that on the ONE attack he makes when he has to move in the same round.

The character was an example character to illustrate the feats and nothing more.

The short swords were used to illustrate something of comparable damage to a 20 pound spiked shield. And besides, there are a lot of canonical references of characters using short swords at high level, so that argument is fairly weak.

Again, this was an exercise to demonstrate how I think things are broken, from both a logic and mechanics perspective; I know that you can min/max your character and have much more, but that wasn't my intention.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Magicdealer wrote:

1.)

Mechanically speaking, here are the major differences you're looking at.

In order to be superior with the shield for twf, you must spend four additional feats that would otherwise be used elsewhere.

TWF with a weapon and a shield requires you to choose whether to provide damage special abilities or shield special abilities when enchanting your off-hand weapon. You effectively lose the pure damage increase in trade for better armor class.

Really, that's kind of what happens to those other feats, which could be spent to increase damage, flexibility, or both.

2.)

Because of a four feat investment, which is a pretty significant investment into anything. Think of it as advanced training on how to exploit a weapon style that most people will not be knowledgeable on how to handle properly. There are plenty of ways to rationalize and conceptualize it. But, from a game mechanics point of view, the shield user spent more 4 feats on the shield side just to achieve that level of mastery. And then an additional three feats for the twf chain. Note that the shield chain required more of an investment :p

Fine, give me a feat that duplicates Shield Mastery for TWF. There's no reasonable explanation for giving the shield fighter a feat that when used penalizes the character's primary weapon and leaves the shield attack unaffected and with better attack bonuses.

If there was a "Two Weapon Mastery" that required all the Two Weapon feats, I'd be all for it.

As it stands, however, there's no consistency.


Kurt_the_Demon wrote:
Magicdealer wrote:

1.)

Mechanically speaking, here are the major differences you're looking at.

In order to be superior with the shield for twf, you must spend four additional feats that would otherwise be used elsewhere.

TWF with a weapon and a shield requires you to choose whether to provide damage special abilities or shield special abilities when enchanting your off-hand weapon. You effectively lose the pure damage increase in trade for better armor class.

Really, that's kind of what happens to those other feats, which could be spent to increase damage, flexibility, or both.

2.)

Because of a four feat investment, which is a pretty significant investment into anything. Think of it as advanced training on how to exploit a weapon style that most people will not be knowledgeable on how to handle properly. There are plenty of ways to rationalize and conceptualize it. But, from a game mechanics point of view, the shield user spent more 4 feats on the shield side just to achieve that level of mastery. And then an additional three feats for the twf chain. Note that the shield chain required more of an investment :p

Fine, give me a feat that duplicates Shield Mastery for TWF. There's no reasonable explanation for giving the shield fighter a feat that when used penalizes the character's primary weapon and leaves the shield attack unaffected and with better attack bonuses.

If there was a "Two Weapon Mastery" that required all the Two Weapon feats, I'd be all for it.

As it stands, however, there's no consistency.

I also would be all for a Two Weapon Mastery Feat that eliminated the penalty for fighting with two weapons.

I would also like to see the Two Weapon Defense feat turned in to a line of feats as they were in 3.5

Sovereign Court

Kalyth wrote:

I also would be all for a Two Weapon Mastery Feat that eliminated the penalty for fighting with two weapons.

I would also like to see the Two Weapon Defense feat turned in to a line of feats as they were in 3.5

So, umm, what's stopping you. Rule 0!!!!! you want them in your game, put them in your game. The text for the 2 weapon defense feats are already there, no work needed. As for a 2 weapon master, just copy and paste shield master and tweak it.

Example Two Weapon Master:
Two Weapon Master (Combat)
Your mastery of the off-hand weapon allows you to fight with it without hindrance.

Prerequisites: Dex 21, Greater Two-Weapon Fighting, Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, Two-Weapon Fighting, base attack bonus +11.

Benefit: Your penalties on attack rolls for fighting with two weapons are reduced. You do not suffer any penalties on attack rolls made with a light off-hand weapon, while you are wielding another weapon.

Table:
Circumstances Primary Hand Off Hand
Normal penalties –6 –10
Off-hand weapon is light –4 –8
Two-Weapon Fighting feat –4 –4
Off-hand weapon is light and Two-Weapon Fighting feat –2 –2
Two-Weapon Master feat –2 –2
Off-hand weapon is light and Two-Weapon Master feat –0 –0

Scarab Sages

Meh, there's no explanation that you find reasonable. I already cited one that I found reasonable in my previous post.

After all, everyone expects a two weapon wielder to make multiple attacks with their offhand.

However, no one expects the sword and boarder to beat them down with the board. I think having a feat to represent this makes sense, and that it wouldn't exist for the short sword wielder. Since the surprise factor here is all about the shield being used in a very uncommon way, again I see no reason as to why the mainhand weapon wouldn't still enjoy the penalties. No one's surprised at what a longsword can do, after all.

But rule 0 means that you can tweak until everything works just how you like.

You can remove the one feat, or add a comparable feat for two weapon fighting.

You could even adjust the original feat to affect the shield and the sword both, or add in ANOTHER feat to remove the main hand penalties.

If you feel it's inconstant, and you do, then by all means wield the righteous hammer of dm awesomeness to make it fit :D

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Magicdealer wrote:

Meh, there's no explanation that you find reasonable. I already cited one that I found reasonable in my previous post.

After all, everyone expects a two weapon wielder to make multiple attacks with their offhand.

However, no one expects the sword and boarder to beat them down with the board. I think having a feat to represent this makes sense, and that it wouldn't exist for the short sword wielder. Since the surprise factor here is all about the shield being used in a very uncommon way, again I see no reason as to why the mainhand weapon wouldn't still enjoy the penalties. No one's surprised at what a longsword can do, after all.

But rule 0 means that you can tweak until everything works just how you like.

You can remove the one feat, or add a comparable feat for two weapon fighting.

You could even adjust the original feat to affect the shield and the sword both, or add in ANOTHER feat to remove the main hand penalties.

If you feel it's inconstant, and you do, then by all means wield the righteous hammer of dm awesomeness to make it fit :D

If it's an issue of surprise, then it should be modeled as a temporary bonus either to hit or a temporary penalty to the target's AC; not carved in stone that when you use two weapon fighting with a sword your off hand is worse than when you use two weapon fighting with a shield.

You're right about Rule 0 and that's probably the way I'm going to go.

As for what happened in 3.0/3.5, I sat out that edition because to me, it wasn't the game I'd played for more than 20 years. Yes, Pathfinder is built on those rules, but it isn't claiming to be something it isn't, at least in my mind, and perception does influence interest.


1. That depends on your definition of better attack bonus. Why is MH-4/OH+0 better than MH-2/OH-2? If you're willing to live with the MH-4/OH+0 attacks then why not take a medium weapon that does more damage and/or has a better crit rating? I wouldn't call that min/maxing, I'd call that playing a good fighter.

2. The shield may be heavier but it is fixed to your entire arm not swinging around in your hand. It's easier to bump into someone than it is to hit them with something you swing. Try holding a shield by the strap and swinging it at someone.

3. Damage output. The sample character does, a good fighter would not (see item 1). You just asked question 1 again.

If you're stuck on using a short sword (or other light weapon) for concept reasons, then you need to live with the penalties that incurs. Heck, I played a two-bladed sword wielding gnome fighter in one AP just for the craziness of it. IMO, your sample character is NOT a good representation of what someone playing a shield based fighter would do (at least I know it's not what I would do).

Anyway, that's all just my opinion so you may feel free to pick it apart.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Simon Legrande wrote:

1. That depends on your definition of better attack bonus. Why is MH-4/OH+0 better than MH-2/OH-2? If you're willing to live with the MH-4/OH+0 attacks then why not take a medium weapon that does more damage and/or has a better crit rating? I wouldn't call that min/maxing, I'd call that playing a good fighter.

2. The shield may be heavier but it is fixed to your entire arm not swinging around in your hand. It's easier to bump into someone than it is to hit them with something you swing. Try holding a shield by the strap and swinging it at someone.

3. Damage output. The sample character does, a good fighter would not (see item 1). You just asked question 1 again.

If you're stuck on using a short sword (or other light weapon) for concept reasons, then you need to live with the penalties that incurs. Heck, I played a two-bladed sword wielding gnome fighter in one AP just for the craziness of it. IMO, your sample character is NOT a good representation of what someone playing a shield based fighter would do (at least I know it's not what I would do).

Anyway, that's all just my opinion so you may feel free to pick it apart.

I'm not going to pick it apart other than to say the character as presented was created for one reason; to illustrate the issue. It was the easiest way I had of showing with one character both sides of the coin. The weapons chosen (short sword and heavy spiked shield) were chosen because they do the same damage.

Regarding attacking with a shield, you have much less reach, it's much heavier, much bulkier, and you have even less ability to maneuver it to attack with than you do a 2 pound sword.

The bottom line for me is that the shield feats create a situation where there are no penalties for the shield and yet there are penalties for the sword and that there's no way (in the rules as published) for a sword (Or other melee weapon) to have parity in in attack bonuses.

Sovereign Court

Kurt_the_Demon wrote:
The bottom line for me is that the shield feats create a situation where there are no penalties for the shield and yet there are penalties for the sword and that there's no way (in the rules as published) for a sword (Or other melee weapon) to have parity in in attack bonuses.

Please forgive me if this sounds confrontational, I honestly don't mean it to be. However, I'm a bit confused by the goal of this thread. No one has disagreed with you that there are different feat options for sword and shield then there are for two weapon fighting. Several people have offered solutions in the form house rules that balance the two builds. Are you trying to point out the issue so future action (say in the 2011/2012 melee combat splat book)? I can only presume that you don't expect developers to drastically rewrite text in a year-old book.

So, I don't quite know what you are trying to accomplish. Is this thread about raising visibility to the disparity, about complaining about the disparity, or about verification of your findings?


Kurt_the_Demon wrote:


I'm not going to pick it apart other than to say the character as presented was created for one reason; to illustrate the issue. It was the easiest way I had of showing with one character both sides of the coin. The weapons chosen (short sword and heavy spiked shield) were chosen because they do the same damage.

Regarding attacking with a shield, you have much less reach, it's much heavier, much bulkier, and you have even less ability to maneuver it to attack with than you do a 2 pound sword.

I understand your character was made to show the difference between equal damage weapons. My point was that if you're taking the penalty for not having a light OH weapon then why limit yourself to a light MH weapon. If you're willing to take the penalty, get a better weapon for your MH.

Regarding your second point, attacking with a shield basically means crashing into someone shield first. You aren't waving the shield around trying to hit someone, that's what you do with the sword. With the shield attack you are attacking with your whole body, it's not hard to bump into someone.

From a game mechanics point of view, the fact that you're choosing (at best) a 1d6 x2 medium weapon for your off-hand balances the fact that there's no penalty to hit with it. Again, that's my opinion on it.

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