Fighting with a weapon in one hand and keeping your other hand free - reward?


Advice


It would seem to me that there's no reason to do this. Let me explain.

Fighting with a weapon in each hand, OR a weapon and shield, OR a 2-handed weapon all seem like better options, FROM a rules/benefit to character, point of view (more attacks, better AC, more damage etc).

However, I think it's a lot more likely that lots of characters/monsters etc would actually use a 1-handed weapon and keep their other hand free (for a variety of reasons).
However there seems to be no reward/benefit/advantage to going this.

Am I wrong?

I can see reasons for keeping a hand free BUT I can't see any benefit for a character to do this. Are there any, from a rules/benefit to character, point of view?

Liberty's Edge

There are several cases where it is the superior option, however they all involve class features. Magus can cast with their free hand, and so a single one-handed weapon is the superior option for them. Classes that use dexterity to damage - for example, a swashbuckler with Slashing Grace - normally require one hand free (with an exception for agile weapons and unchained rogues). There are several more examples like this. But if you are a fighter, there is almost no reason to keep one hand free rather than use a shield or two-hand a weapon.

Liberty's Edge

Swashbucklers are almost always better with, well, a buckler, actually. since that doesn't count as having a hand occupied.


Thanks for the responses.

Bearing in mind I've been out of the gaming scene for many years now:
I was thinking something along the lines of a old ability I remember, where if you fought with only a weapon in 1 hand you could get a +1 to AC, kinda as a reward for keeping the hand free.

I wouldn't want a player to have to spend a feat on it though . . .

I guess there's no practical, in-game reason to do it though.


Sounds like it could be worth a trait. If you use traits, they're supposed to be equivalent to about 1/2 a feat. Maybe add something else minor to make it worthwhile, like a +1 to initiative.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
KaiRayne wrote:

It would seem to me that there's no reason to do this.

Indeed, there is no reason to do this, nor was there typically any reason to do this in the real world. Almost all "real" sword fighters used a two-handed sword , an off-hand weapon or a shield, and we didn't see single-handed fighting become common until the age of guns, when sword fighting had been reduced to duelling and was mostly a game played for social points.

Sovereign Court

There's no default benefit for keeping a hand free. You're just not using all your "resources" - why should you be rewarded, compared to other people who do use all their resources?


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Bragging rights: "I can defeat them with one hand tied behind me back!"


Ascalaphus wrote:
There's no default benefit for keeping a hand free. You're just not using all your "resources" - why should you be rewarded, compared to other people who do use all their resources?

Well, my games tended to be heavy on the ROLE aspect of role-playing, as opposed to ROLL playing.

There are many practical reasons to start with a hand free - so you could hold a light source, so you could grab/pull something, help balance yourself, drive/pilot a vehicle/mount etc.

I get that my examples are probably not rules orientated, but still. If a player were willing to create such a character, I'd be strongly inclined to reward that player.

I also understand that your free hand could be put to better use from a rules orientated perspective.

I guess my point is that I think a lot of people would want to keep a hand free for practical reasons. And, because they're sacrificing something, they should get some sort of reward for their sacrifice.


KaiRayne wrote:


There are many practical reasons to start with a hand free - so you could hold a light source, so you could grab/pull something, help balance yourself, drive/pilot a vehicle/mount etc.

[...]

I guess my point is that I think a lot of people would want to keep a hand free for practical reasons. And, because they're sacrificing something, they should get some sort of reward for their sacrifice.

Well, there's your reward -- they can fight, hold a light, and chew gum at the same time. In practical terms, you are not as encumbered (so you can carry more equipment that isn't your heavy shield).


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Ascalaphus wrote:
There's no default benefit for keeping a hand free. You're just not using all your "resources" - why should you be rewarded, compared to other people who do use all their resources?

I don't really like thinking of it as resources. I think of it more as combat stances, like heavy-weapon vs. sword/board vs. singleton. Heavies are rewarded with higher damage, sword & board gets better defense, so being a singleton should have a benefit as well.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Neurophage wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:
There's no default benefit for keeping a hand free. You're just not using all your "resources" - why should you be rewarded, compared to other people who do use all their resources?
I don't really like thinking of it as resources. I think of it more as combat stances, like heavy-weapon vs. sword/board vs. singleton. Heavies are rewarded with higher damage, sword & board gets better defense, so being a singleton should have a benefit as well.

Why? Some choices are just worse.... There's a reason that the US Army doesn't issue bows and arrows or catapults.


I'm not sure what character concept that you're going for that couldn't be covered by the swashbuckler class anyway?
And as has been pointed out, the benefit of having a hand free is that you have a hand free. Maybe it could give a bonus to Acrobatics or something?


I think it was called a weapon style back in the day. Where styles included 2 weapon style, weapon and shield style, 2-Handed weapon style etc.

There was a 1 weapon style.

I think these days they'd be the equivalent of a feat.


It would allow you to use the one-handed weapon trick feat which is decent. I'd still use a buckler with it, though.

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

The reason to do it is the same as anything else... you want to use a feat, archetype, style, or other build which is based on that setup.

That is, it wouldn't make much sense to play an Aldori Swordlord and fight with two weapons. Ditto slashing/fencing grace, one-handed weapon tricks, et cetera.


CBDunkerson wrote:

The reason to do it is the same as anything else... you want to use a feat, archetype, style, or other build which is based on that setup.

That is, it wouldn't make much sense to play an Aldori Swordlord and fight with two weapons. Ditto slashing/fencing grace, one-handed weapon tricks, et cetera.

Hmmmmmm . . . Actually hadn't thought about it from that point of view.

I was coming at it from an angle of, a player has a character concept and that character fights with a 1-handed weapon and keeps his other hand free. The player asks me as the GM, "If I do this, will you give me some benefit/reward"?

As a GM, my answer would be "yes". And it'd be in the form of some feat/ability/feature. And it'd probably be something related to an AC bonus or reflex save bonus or initiative bonus.


I figured it out!

People have mentioned grabbing *something* with the free hand. This opens up the possibility of combat maneuvers! Stealing, Disarm and wield their weapon, grappling. The last is probably the best, because you have your one handed weapon right there, ready to use. I shall call it Grab and Stab!

As for a static benefit just for having one weapon, I would vote against it. Just wait for Duelist PrC levels.


CBDunkerson wrote:

The reason to do it is the same as anything else... you want to use a feat, archetype, style, or other build which is based on that setup.

That is, it wouldn't make much sense to play an Aldori Swordlord and fight with two weapons. Ditto slashing/fencing grace, one-handed weapon tricks, et cetera.

I think you have expressed it well. Character creation is, in some ways, the art of melding a character story with the mechanics of the game. Not every idea is possible. Not every idea is equal. Not every idea is well suited to the game.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

One-handed fighting style has a few benefits, even without proper classes (e.g. swashbuckler) or achetypes (e.g. free hand fighter):

* You can still use an one-handed weapon while grappled or grappling.
* You can combine its damage with unarmed tricks like Deflect Arrows, Scorpion Style and Hex Strike etc..
* Sometimes you want bludgeoning damage, for example against skeletons and black pudding, then you can switch to unarmed without unequipping and equipping. Later you will have to invest into your unarmed damage though, to make it still worthwhile.
* You can switch to two-handed at will - a two-handed weapon doesn't have the vice versa option.


I'd have to agree that the benefit of having a one-hander (or even a light weapon) and nothing else in the other would mean you're leaving options to grapple, or hold other things in that hand. It's hard to think of a good benefit to assign, anyway. Giving +1 AC means bucklers are completely worthless (and light shields only have their bash going for them), and if it adds to offense it has to compete with just two-handing your weapon normally.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

There are definitely practical real-world reasons to fight in a style that uses a one-handed sword and doesn't really engage the other hand much; you can carry a parrying blade or a shield in the other hand, but they don't necessarily do a lot depending on how focused you are on maintaining a side-on fencing stance and defending with your main weapon. Plenty of people lived and died using "free-hand" styles, though often it was in situations like fighting on ships where having a free hand was a really good idea.

The old KOTOR Star Wars game had "Duelist" feats that improved attack and AC when using a free-hand style, and they could do something like that easily enough in Pathfinder. As it is, Pathfinder just has some class features and feats that usually still assume you're fighting in a front-on sword-and-shield stance.


You could take the first twf feat, and a combat maneuver chain requiring only one open hand and can be used in place of an attack during an attack routine.

Your build would be based around the attack routine "stab->throw dirt in eyes->stab-->stab".

Or an alchemical item you use in the off hand, like a tangle foot bag. You probably provoke but it gives you a cool way to mess up someone's day besides sticking them with the sword again and the right Alchemical items on a build that resists attack of opportunities well might make this fun and worth while.


KaiRayne wrote:
CBDunkerson wrote:

The reason to do it is the same as anything else... you want to use a feat, archetype, style, or other build which is based on that setup.

That is, it wouldn't make much sense to play an Aldori Swordlord and fight with two weapons. Ditto slashing/fencing grace, one-handed weapon tricks, et cetera.

Hmmmmmm . . . Actually hadn't thought about it from that point of view.

I was coming at it from an angle of, a player has a character concept and that character fights with a 1-handed weapon and keeps his other hand free. The player asks me as the GM, "If I do this, will you give me some benefit/reward"?

As a GM, my answer would be "yes". And it'd be in the form of some feat/ability/feature. And it'd probably be something related to an AC bonus or reflex save bonus or initiative bonus.

Initiative bonus/ac bonus is pretty much exatly what the many aldori swordlord feats/archetypes/prestige classes offer


KaiRayne wrote:
CBDunkerson wrote:

The reason to do it is the same as anything else... you want to use a feat, archetype, style, or other build which is based on that setup.

That is, it wouldn't make much sense to play an Aldori Swordlord and fight with two weapons. Ditto slashing/fencing grace, one-handed weapon tricks, et cetera.

Hmmmmmm . . . Actually hadn't thought about it from that point of view.

I was coming at it from an angle of, a player has a character concept and that character fights with a 1-handed weapon and keeps his other hand free. The player asks me as the GM, "If I do this, will you give me some benefit/reward"?

As a GM, my answer would be "yes". And it'd be in the form of some feat/ability/feature. And it'd probably be something related to an AC bonus or reflex save bonus or initiative bonus.

Initiative bonus/ac bonus is pretty much exactly what the many aldori swordlord feats/archetypes/prestige classes offer


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'd like to see a feat that represented a free hand style being used for stronger attacks by momentum and balance. Something like:

Graceful Power
Prerequisites: 13STR, Power Attack, Furious Focus
While attacking with only a one-handed weapon wielded in one hand you may increase the bonus from Power Attack as if you were wielding that weapon in two hands, and you may apply Furious Focus to all attack rolls that aren't part of a full attack action. This feat does not work when attacking with more than one weapon, and it does not work when using any kind of shield, including a buckler.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

There is a 3rd party feat called Improved Off-Hand Tactics that gives you options for having one hand free.

Shadow Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

While it isn't "Using a one-handed weapon with one hand", some fighting caster classes - the Paladin, Magus, Warpriest, Bard & Inquisitor can use a one-handed weapon with two hands, and not having to worry about a free hand for spellcasting.

Also, not what the original poster intended, but someone with a one-handed firearm and Rapid Reload would probably want a hand free (albeit with a buckler) to make for more rapid reloading.


Given that this was my first post and I've been out of gaming for many years now, thanks for all the replies/responses.

I'm going to make a similar thread asap about fighters giving up armour proficiency "slots", and look forward to the responses.


The Shifty Mongoose wrote:

While it isn't "Using a one-handed weapon with one hand", some fighting caster classes - the Paladin, Magus, Warpriest, Bard & Inquisitor can use a one-handed weapon with two hands, and not having to worry about a free hand for spellcasting.

Also, not what the original poster intended, but someone with a one-handed firearm and Rapid Reload would probably want a hand free (albeit with a buckler) to make for more rapid reloading.

It's ... actually something any class can do. Going from a one- to a two-hand grasp on a weapon's a free action, and can be done more than once a round as long as you're not being a jerk about it. Even if your half-orc wizard is swinging around a greataxe, she can take a hand off, chuck a fireball, then put her hand back on for more two-handed axe goodness. And conversely her friend the dwarven cleric can toss a spell, then resume a two-handed grip on a warhammer.


BadBird wrote:

The old KOTOR Star Wars game had "Duelist" feats that improved attack and AC when using a free-hand style, and they could do something like that easily enough in Pathfinder. As it is, Pathfinder just has some class features and feats that usually still assume you're fighting in a front-on sword-and-shield stance.

Not saying it couldn't be an option, but those KOTOR feats had nothing to do with keeping a free hand, they gave a + 1 to attack and AC per rank for wielding a single weapon, and if you watch the combat animations, they always kept both hands on their weapon.

As far as providing a benefit, there are already a number of benefits provided either by classes, feats, or magic items. Additionally, as others have mentioned, having a free hand gives you all of the benefits that having a free hand entails:

-Holding something such as a torch in your offhand
-Being able to use combat maneuvers that might not be possible with both hands occupied
--having a hand free to cast
--being able to open doors (seriously, try this holding a sword and a shield)
--Other uses for a free hand I haven't thought to mention, I'm sure there are a few


Avadriel wrote:
-Holding something such as a torch in your offhand

Using a free-hand style prevents this. For instance, slashing/fencing grace says "You do not gain this benefit <snip> any time another hand is otherwise occupied".

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
graystone wrote:
Avadriel wrote:
-Holding something such as a torch in your offhand
Using a free-hand style prevents this. For instance, slashing/fencing grace says "You do not gain this benefit <snip> any time another hand is otherwise occupied".

Yes... but you can always drop the torch if/when you get into combat. Easier than dropping the torch and drawing another weapon.


CBDunkerson wrote:
Easier than dropping the torch and drawing another weapon.

Is it?

"Dropping an item in your space or into an adjacent square is a free action."

"If you have a base attack bonus of +1 or higher, you can ready or drop a shield as a free action combined with a regular move."

"If you have a base attack bonus of +1 or higher, you may draw a weapon as a free action combined with a regular move."

Also: Miner's Lantern: "A miner's lantern comes with straps for attachment to a helmet or other piece of sturdy headgear". 15 gp and you don't have to drop anything... SO free hand fighting can save you a whole 15 gp? That's a really game breaking amount...

So I'm NOT seeing "Holding something such as a torch in your offhand" as an actual benefit for free hand fighting past 1st level.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Well if your games are more roleplaying then the players don't need a benefit for "one handed/one weapon" style.

I have noticed that having a free hand is perfect for pulling things out of bags though, throwing those tangle foot bags/alchemical fires (or drinking potions) without dropping your weapon or using more than one turn is useful.


Arcaian wrote:
Classes that use dexterity to damage - for example, a swashbuckler with Slashing Grace - normally require one hand free (with an exception for agile weapons and unchained rogues).

Actually, it isn't the dexterity damage that is the reward for going one handed. Quite the reverse. Slashing grace started off as a feat just to give swashbucklers some flavor so they could use one handed slashing weapons (ie- longsword). So they could errol flynn it.

But people complained about how that was useless, so they gave in and allowed dex to damage. But the feat was always meant for swashbucklers, so they put restrictions so it would mainly just work with the swashbuckler style of 1 weapon 1 handed. It was originally a nothing feat for a single class, and they didn't want it to burst out to everything else. That is why the one handed restrictions are there.

So lets get to the heart of this- Precise strike is a class feature that primarily serves to make up for the difference between 1 handing and 2 handing. While it might eventually scale a bit higher at later levels, it is mostly playing catch up for a lot of your career. It serves to make a 1 handed weapon onpar with the 2 handed attacks of a full BAB character with decent decent strength. This also includes the difference between 2 handed power attack and 1 handed power attack/piranha strike (although many of the theorycrafters around here may call putting an attack reducer/damamge booster on swashbucklers a blasphemy).

So yeah... swash buckler does a lot in order to salvage some subpar fighting styles. 1 weapon/1handed. Non TWF sword and board (with a buckler, but still valid for such a build). Throwing builds.

Anyway, back on topic for suggested classes- how about an aether kineticist? They can use their kinetic blade with a weapon in hand. That could end up being cool. Might take a few levels for you to do an non 'full attack' attack without hurting yourself though.


CBDunkerson wrote:
graystone wrote:
Avadriel wrote:
-Holding something such as a torch in your offhand
Using a free-hand style prevents this. For instance, slashing/fencing grace says "You do not gain this benefit <snip> any time another hand is otherwise occupied".
Yes... but you can always drop the torch if/when you get into combat. Easier than dropping the torch and drawing another weapon.

I can see this for the TWF crowd, but x-and-board users can go with shield sconces (or non-heavy shields), while zweihanders can einhand their weapon while walking around, and drop the torch to go back to zwei when the fight starts.

And a desperate TWF fighter could just try to pull some story about lighting a club or mace on fire.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the image of a one-handed fencer more from the days where it was uncool to carry a greatweapon or a shield? Seriously, you don't want all the other nobles to laugh at you when you show up in court with 1.75m of murdersteel while dainty minirapiers are the fashion ...


Swords throughout history were generally made to be exactly as heavy as needed, and no more - the heavier your sword was, the slower it was. The image of the one-handed fencer is from a time when people weren't dueling in armor, so all it took to cripple or kill an opponent was a decent stab. Bucklers and parrying daggers gradually disappeared as fencing evolved into forms where trying to involve your off-hand wasn't really productive - trying to bring your other hand into a fight just opened you up to easier attack.


BadBird wrote:
Swords throughout history were generally made to be exactly as heavy as needed, and no more - the heavier your sword was, the slower it was. The image of the one-handed fencer is from a time when people weren't dueling in armor, so all it took to cripple or kill an opponent was a decent stab. Bucklers and parrying daggers gradually disappeared as fencing evolved into forms where trying to involve your off-hand wasn't really productive - trying to bring your other hand into a fight just opened you up to easier attack.

Weight doesn't really determine things like that too much. Balance is the more immediate concern with your examples.

Many rapiers (well, the ones meant for battle- lets not talk about the fashion accessory versions of later versions) actually had the same weight as similar swords... it just stretched the blade so it is longer (cause stabbing at range) and made the balance focus on precise control rather than heavy slashing.

The tip focused balance of slashing weapons of course had its own advantage- it could knock many kinds of swords around with ease. There is a reason why parrying DAGGERS only became an option after the thrust centered blades became popular.

Anyway, weight is more of an immediate concern since you have to carry the darn thing. On the field, that could exhaust a soldier before they even got to the fight, and in civilian life a heavy weapon is a hassle. Really, it could be called one of the largest flaws of spears and polearms- despite the advantages they bring, they were also relatively heavy. Particularly if you compare them to...lets say a short sword.


lemeres wrote:
Anyway, weight is more of an immediate concern since you have to carry the darn thing. On the field, that could exhaust a soldier before they even got to the fight, and in civilian life a heavy weapon is a hassle. Really, it could be called one of the largest flaws of spears and polearms- despite the advantages they bring, they were also relatively heavy. Particularly if you compare them to...lets say a short sword.

The shrinking enchant solves this problem nicely and at only +1000gp it's super affordable.


graystone wrote:
lemeres wrote:
Anyway, weight is more of an immediate concern since you have to carry the darn thing. On the field, that could exhaust a soldier before they even got to the fight, and in civilian life a heavy weapon is a hassle. Really, it could be called one of the largest flaws of spears and polearms- despite the advantages they bring, they were also relatively heavy. Particularly if you compare them to...lets say a short sword.
The shrinking enchant solves this problem nicely and at only +1000gp it's super affordable.

Well, depends. For adventurers? Sure.

Most people get 1 sp per day if they are rather good. So I assume that is the price for a nice house. So probably not worth it just to make your spear easier to carry.

But I may be bringing too much reality into a system with a somewhat broken economy system. This part of the discussion might be blurring the lines between real facts and what is applicable to game to a certain degree.


If you are going for a disarm build, you can grab the opponents weapon after you disarm it.


lemeres: Oh, most certainly I'm talking about rich people including adventurers. However, in the game the players only really interact with other rich people [at least as far as fighting goes]. A peasant's issues with traveling while carrying a longspear are quite different from those of a person that can fit a 10' tall statue into their pocket because of a magic handkerchief. ;)


lemeres wrote:
Weight doesn't really determine things like that too much. Balance is the more immediate concern with your examples.

Yeah, read 'heavy' as referencing handling along with actual weight.

It's just a common misconception that the lighter swords that evolved from medieval patterns are dainty and effete little jokes. It's part of a broad pattern where weapons and fighting styles that developed out of quite literally life-and-death matters - studied by generations of people with a direct experience of combat - are discounted as silly or stupid by modern people who have this ridiculous conceit that they know better.

With lighter swords its probably partly due to cultural representation, and partly due to a sort of 'deadliest warrior' syndrome where a big clumsy cleaver is the better weapon because "wow, look how he totally hacked up that defenseless mannequin!" looks more impressive than "boring, he just poked it twice (...and ruptured the throat and a lung)".

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / Advice / Fighting with a weapon in one hand and keeping your other hand free - reward? All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.