Two-weapon fighting is technically impossible


Skills, Feats, Equipment & Spells


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tl;dr- Depending on your definition of two-weapon fighting, it might not even be possible for Fighters and Rangers, but all it would take to fix is making Double Slice take a single action.

In 1e, any character with at least +6 BAB could fight with two weapons, depending on your definition. There was no rule against switching between weapons with each iterative attack. The special rule that distinguished two-weapon fighting was that if you wielded two weapons, you could get an additional attack above your iterative attacks, as long as you didn't mind a -6 penalty to your main-hand weapon and a -10 penalty to your off-hand weapon. The TWF feat, then, reduced the penalties to -4 each. Improved TWF required you to have a first iterative attack and gave you an iterative attack with your off-hand weapon. And Greater TWF required you to have a second iterative attack and gave you a second iterative attack with your off-hand weapon.

To me, this is what defines TWF. It's not just enough to be able to use two weapons. You have to get additional attacks with them.

As an intermediate step between 1e and 2e, there's the Unchained Action Economy. Like in 2e, you can take up to three attack actions in a turn, and each subsequent attack adds a cumulative -5 penalty. And just like with iterative attacks in normal 1e, you can switch between weapons with each attack. The TWF feat lets you attack with two weapons in the first attack action of your turn and only incur the multiple attack penalty once- albeit incurring a -4 penalty on both attacks. Then the Improved TWF feat lets you attack with two weapons on your second attack action of the turn, and the Greater TWF lets you attack with two weapons on your third attack action of the turn.

I would still call this TWF, because you can have more than the normal 3 actions in a turn.

Then we get to the 2e playtest. The Double Slice feat behaves similarly to the UAE TWF feat. It lets you attack with two weapons and only incur the multiple attack penalty once. And unlike the UAE TWF feat, it even lets you count it as a single attack for purposes of damage reduction.

Except there's a notable difference. Double Slice takes two actions. You still only get three attacks like anyone else, and all you get that's special is the ability to treat your first two attack actions as one for the multiple attack penalty. To me, at least, this is no longer TWF. I would consider Double Slice a melee version of Clustered Shots from 1e.

There is Two-Weapon Flurry, but it's not available until level 14 and, depending on how you interpret "or worse", only applies on your third attack and, ironically, only if you don't use Double Slice.

Everything is there for two-weapon fighting. They just need to change Double Slice to only take a single action.


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Why should the game conform to your definition of TWF? Why must TWF give you additional attacks? TWF is a concept that can be fulfilled many different ways. At its most general, it is having a mechanically meaningful reason and benefit to fight with two weapons.

In 1e you had no reason to switch weapons you were attacking with freely. It was actively a disadvantage. So, they starting adding additional attacks to bridge the gap and offset the too strong advantage of the extra attacks with penalties. I

n 2e we have weapon properties such as Agile which allow for advantages for fighting with two weapons innately. A swashbuckler type has a reason to fight Rapier/Shortsword now. If they want to do it even better, they can dip and pick up Double Slice. This means we have mechanical benefits to fighting with two weapons.

Two-weapon flurry. It is a Press requiring at least a -8 MAP, so it is only going to be used on a third action or a fourth if you are quick. It can be used with Double slice. Your first tow actions are Double Slice, that counts as two attacks for your MAP, if you have two agile weapons your MAP is -8, so with your third action you take a Two-weapon Flurry for two more attacks with -8, or at -10/-8 if you do not have an agile weapon in your main hand.

Double slice is pretty well balanced as written. Your suggestion to just make it take one action instead of two is quite imbalanced. It would need some kind of penalty to the attack, something like -4/-4 probably would work.


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Zman0 wrote:
In 2e we have weapon properties such as Agile which allow for advantages for fighting with two weapons innately. A swashbuckler type has a reason to fight Rapier/Shortsword now. If they want to do it even better, they can dip and pick up Double Slice. This means we have mechanical benefits to fighting with two weapons.

Not really. Agile is good in general, because it reduces multiple attack penalty. And it actually doesn't help with Double Slice at all, because Double Slice doesn't apply MAP until afterward.

Quote:
Double slice is pretty well balanced as written. Your suggestion to just make it take one action instead of two is quite imbalanced. It would need some kind of penalty to the attack, something like -4/-4 probably would work.

Not necessarily. I just checked, and the Monk's flurry of blows is exactly what I suggest for Double Slice, save for using unarmed strikes instead of multiple weapons. But on that note, flurry is a good example of what I mean. +0/+0/-5/-10 feels more special than +0/+0/-10 in a world where anyone can get 3 attacks in a turn.


RazarTuk wrote:
Zman0 wrote:
In 2e we have weapon properties such as Agile which allow for advantages for fighting with two weapons innately. A swashbuckler type has a reason to fight Rapier/Shortsword now. If they want to do it even better, they can dip and pick up Double Slice. This means we have mechanical benefits to fighting with two weapons.

Not really. Agile is good in general, because it reduces multiple attack penalty. And it actually doesn't help with Double Slice at all, because Double Slice doesn't apply MAP until afterward.

Quote:
Double slice is pretty well balanced as written. Your suggestion to just make it take one action instead of two is quite imbalanced. It would need some kind of penalty to the attack, something like -4/-4 probably would work.
Not necessarily. I just checked, and the Monk's flurry of blows is exactly what I suggest for Double Slice, save for using unarmed strikes instead of multiple weapons. But on that note, flurry is a good example of what I mean. +0/+0/-5/-10 feels more special than +0/+0/-10 in a world where anyone can get 3 attacks in a turn.

Agile doesn't help with Double Slice? If the offhand attack isn't made with an agile weapon it suffers a -2 penalty. Agile weapons deal less damage than one handed non agile weapons. There is a distinct advantage for a character to say attack once with a Rapier, then twice with their agile shortsword.

Interesting on Flurry, I think it will need some errata clarification on MAP; we don't know if it counts as only one or two for the Multiple attack penalty. Flurry is also a very special kind of attack only usable with unarmed strikes, so d6 non lethal attacks. It is kind of a Monk signature ability and interferes with other Monk attacks from stances or Monk weapons. I wouldn't say flurry is a good example of what you want, its the only real example and it is a class locked iconic ability.

Its actually +0/-2/-10 or +0/+0/-8 depending if your offhand weapon is agile for Double Slice.


Flurry is 2 Strikes, with MAP fully applied. A monk normally uses an Agile unarmed Strike, so on a turn where he goes Flurry + Strike + Strike, the penalty will be 0/-4/-8/-8.


Pramxnim wrote:
Flurry is 2 Strikes, with MAP fully applied. A monk normally uses an Agile unarmed Strike, so on a turn where he goes Flurry + Strike + Strike, the penalty will be 0/-4/-8/-8.

That is how I read it, but feel it should specify that. Most other feats etc are pretty good about spelling it out.


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No dual wielding is the biggest dealbreaker in the game for me, currently.

Take a feat to be allowed to take less penalties on one attack is not good enough.

S+~@ty Forceful weapon quality with more than double the cost of the weapon is not good enough.

Hell, I'd be happy if dual wielding worked by way of you just counting iterative penalties for your weapons separately.

I think a somewhat reasonable system for it would be something like

When wielding two weapons, one in each hand, your Strike actions beyond the first gives you 2 attacks, one with each weapon, both suffer full iterative penalties. (so if you spend all three actions attacking you get one at -0, 2 at -5 and then 2 at -10, before agile)

And then dual wielding feats could help lessen the penalties and make those attacks worth something. As well as letting you do other useful things.

But those niche sanction-entry points to this playstyle which plays like s%!~ty flurry of blows just doesn't cut it.


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I do not know that "wielding two weapons is an efficient way to deal a lot of damage" is very important.

I would much prefer to be able to play a two weapon character who uses the extra weapon for defense (e.g. it is much easier to parry any line of attack when you have two swords). Let me play a feinting, parry then attack with the rear weapon on the pass step character, not a "swing your arms real fast" character.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
I would much prefer to be able to play a two weapon character who uses the extra weapon for defense (e.g. it is much easier to parry any line of attack when you have two swords).

In PF2 your sword would probably get dented every time you did this...


Matthew Downie wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
I would much prefer to be able to play a two weapon character who uses the extra weapon for defense (e.g. it is much easier to parry any line of attack when you have two swords).
In PF2 your sword would probably get dented every time you did this...

You can use an off hand weapon with the parry trait to achieve this. No dents included.

Throwing in a loss of extra attacks for two weapon fighting would cause some serious disruption to the maths of the game. Tracking a two weapon fighting penalty on top of MAP would over complicate what is currently a simple, elegant system.

The small damage dice weapons encouraged by two weapon fighting do seriously lag behind, especially once you have magic weapons granting multiple bonus dice, as has been discussed elsewhere. Something needs to be done to address the balance there but I'd rather see it as a general fix than a two weapon fighting specific fix.


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I love the way the TWF fighting system works now. There's more of a reason for TWF (lowered MAP on extra attacks) and basically everyone can do it, which is pretty cool considering the feat tax in the old edition was really either all or nothing. Also the traits for weapons make parrying viable with no feat or shield bashing viable with no feat. It's awesome. Also people who know how to fight with two weapons know that getting "extra" attacks isn't really the point of using to weapons. It's engaging or disrupting with one and then striking with the other to get the killing blow. I feel like these system (sort of) portrays that better the the last system.


Rameth wrote:
I love the way the TWF fighting system works now. There's more of a reason for TWF (lowered MAP on extra attacks) and basically everyone can do it, which is pretty cool considering the feat tax in the old edition was really either all or nothing.

But there aren't extra attacks. If I make a rogue who dual wields daggers, there is zero mechanical difference between that and only wielding one dagger. Saying you can Strike twice in a single action once per turn because of the second dagger makes it feel like that dagger is more than cosmetic.


Sure there are some combinations of feats, class and so on that do not automatically grant a bonus with two weapons. However anyone can use it without the need for feats. Using a non finesse weapon in the main hand is a possibility the other is to use 2 weapons that deal different kinds of damage to screen for resistances.

And then of course double slice, which I personally do not like on the ranger, Mark already said that the ranger might get his own feat there. But it is really strong. Having two daggers still allows you to throw one after you killed the opponent in range.

Doubling rings make it affordable with magic weapons. So I personally think it is fine.


Zman0 wrote:

Why should the game conform to your definition of TWF? Why must TWF give you additional attacks? TWF is a concept that can be fulfilled many different ways. At its most general, it is having a mechanically meaningful reason and benefit to fight with two weapons.

In 1e you had no reason to switch weapons you were attacking with freely. It was actively a disadvantage. So, they starting adding additional attacks to bridge the gap and offset the too strong advantage of the extra attacks with penalties. I

n 2e we have weapon properties such as Agile which allow for advantages for fighting with two weapons innately. A swashbuckler type has a reason to fight Rapier/Shortsword now. If they want to do it even better, they can dip and pick up Double Slice. This means we have mechanical benefits to fighting with two weapons.

Two-weapon flurry. It is a Press requiring at least a -8 MAP, so it is only going to be used on a third action or a fourth if you are quick. It can be used with Double slice. Your first tow actions are Double Slice, that counts as two attacks for your MAP, if you have two agile weapons your MAP is -8, so with your third action you take a Two-weapon Flurry for two more attacks with -8, or at -10/-8 if you do not have an agile weapon in your main hand.

Double slice is pretty well balanced as written. Your suggestion to just make it take one action instead of two is quite imbalanced. It would need some kind of penalty to the attack, something like -4/-4 probably would work.

Yes, but it's notably inferior to using a 2h weapon. The extra attack doesn't make up for the smaller damage die. TWF/free-hand fighting needs some love to really be useful. Press trait moves tend to be kind of meh.


DataLoreRPG wrote:

Double Slice is arguably broken as it grants much more damage, in my opinion, than combat grab style or power attack or ranged style feats. Two attacks at no MAP penalty is very very effective in play. It means more crits, more hits, etc.

You want to make it more broken? Lol.

Swinging a 2h weapon twice normally (especially if using furious focus) is better than double slice by a decent margin.


sherlock1701 wrote:
DataLoreRPG wrote:

Double Slice is arguably broken as it grants much more damage, in my opinion, than combat grab style or power attack or ranged style feats. Two attacks at no MAP penalty is very very effective in play. It means more crits, more hits, etc.

You want to make it more broken? Lol.

Swinging a 2h weapon twice normally (especially if using furious focus) is better than double slice by a decent margin.

Furious Focus is only usable on your second attacks. So FF doesn’t actually do anything until the third attack, and only if you missed on the second attack.

In your above list you said Oress moves are meh, and now you’re pointing to one as part of two-handed weapons being superior.


Historicaly, fighting with 2 weapons was very rare.

It is suboptional to sword&board or big 2hander with more reach and bigger impact.

It was practiced, but more as a dispay of skill and showing off.

It's real advantage is that you can both attack and defend with each waepon, but you don't get double speed of attacks.

IMHO, two-weapon fighting feat for me would be:

If you have 2 one handed melee weapons, you get +1 attack and +1 AC.

Also benefit is that off hand can be agile for less penalty on additional attacks and more damage with main hand with 1st attack.


Igor Horvat wrote:

Historicaly, fighting with 2 weapons was very rare.

It is suboptional to sword&board or big 2hander with more reach and bigger impact.

Two actual weapons, perhaps, but bashing people with your board was a major part of sword and board fighting. Perhaps a new fighter feat for that, even if there's still no mechanical difference between 1 and 2 daggers:

Shield Flurry (Open, [A])

If you are wielding a one-handed weapon in one hand and a shield in the other, you may take a Strike action with each of them, applying the multiple attack penalty as if you had already attacked once this turn. This counts as a single attack for the multiple attack penalty.


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Igor Horvat wrote:

Historicaly, fighting with 2 weapons was very rare.

I'm a HEMA and fencing guy, and while we shouldn't completely ignore history, we're not playing a game designed to simulate history or realism. Something about dragons, fireballs, surviving falls off buildings, not needing months to convalesce from a single wound only to die of sepsis, etc, etc. Pathfinder is a *terrible* engine for simulationist medieval and Renaissance combat gameplay and long may it remain so.


RazarTuk wrote:
Igor Horvat wrote:

Historicaly, fighting with 2 weapons was very rare.

It is suboptional to sword&board or big 2hander with more reach and bigger impact.

Two actual weapons, perhaps, but bashing people with your board was a major part of sword and board fighting. Perhaps a new fighter feat for that, even if there's still no mechanical difference between 1 and 2 daggers:

Shield Flurry (Open, [A])

If you are wielding a one-handed weapon in one hand and a shield in the other, you may take a Strike action with each of them, applying the multiple attack penalty as if you had already attacked once this turn. This counts as a single attack for the multiple attack penalty.

You could use double slice to attack with a weapon and shield bash, doesn't need a special feat of its own.


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Double Slice requires your off-hand weapon to exist in order to achieve the +5 benefit on attack rolls, it's only +3 if it's not an agile weapon in the off-hand.

We did the math on what this means, and despite my attempts at getting double slice to work on secondary attacks, most of the time it's always better to use it as your primary attack.

This issue you have here lies more in how Paizo is restructuring the action system from PFUnchained, which I was a big fan of. I used a modified version of it which I perfected after a couple years. In that system, TWF became roughly equal to Power Attack because they cost the same action to execute and resulted in similar damage output which was not possible in the standard action system. Along with the styles that existed for single handed weapons with a free off-hand/shield hand it created a string RPS effect on melee combat that went something like this:

  • Power Attack: tied to using a BFW for consistent high damage, but less crit chances. Traded accuracy for direct damage correlation.

  • TWF: tied to using light weapons for increased chances to land hits. Produced less damage per hit, but had dramatically increased chances to crit, less penalty overall by comparison to Power Attack, and amplified additional damage from feats/class features. Traded less accuracy for indirect damage correlation.

  • Sword+Board/ Dueling: all but required a one-handed weapon. Traded damage potential for significant increases to defense. Dueling builds were weak, only facilitated by a small number of classes but could reasonably compete for less substantial increases to defense and less substantial increases to damage, finding a middle ground between the other styles.

    All of these were balanced around the attack boni being the currency the player engaged in order to achieve success. The new paradigm of the +/-10 crit engine means there needed to be a new opportunity cost to reflect the player's choice of using a combat style intended to describe the weapon's particular style. This is why Power Attack costs two actions and denies secondary attacks. The mathematical execution of the styles in the new edition however leads to every melee style but the TWF analog to actually produce weaker characters than one's who simply choose not to use said feats.

    I don't mind the concept of action costs if done correctly, but they haven't been in PF2 and a combination of long mathematical analysis and play testing has proven this. They don;t seem to wanna budge on toggling the crit range on those attacks to balance them either, which is sad considering how integral it is to the game's math.

    I'll personally agree that changing the action costs to be something like a free action that allows a strike with the off-hand might be more interesting, but it would need serious consideration with respect to the other styles (may be necessary considering how weak they are).

    Not only do I think these options need to be revisited, but I'd prefer to see them tied to Weapon Traits and gated by a character's proficiency with the weapons instead of by feats that every character would otherwise be taxed in order to engage in the first place.

    e.g. If say you had Expert Proficiency with a weapon, and it was a big two-hander, then you'd have the option to Power Attack by taking the sluggish 1 condition to add a significant damage increase, trading crit ratio for guaranteed damage. Could be done by creating a new weapon trait like [powerful] or such, and each style could be indirectly created by attaching them to weapon size categories, and then the weapon group would determine crit effects making a robust system that doesn't cost the players anything and scales with their proficiency as they level up. This makes martial characters who have proficiency better with weapons than casters, and opens up their feats to take cool options that aren't there simply to fill out their required techniques to engage their chosen style forcing an identity on the character.


  • Zman0 wrote:
    Pramxnim wrote:
    Flurry is 2 Strikes, with MAP fully applied. A monk normally uses an Agile unarmed Strike, so on a turn where he goes Flurry + Strike + Strike, the penalty will be 0/-4/-8/-8.
    That is how I read it, but feel it should specify that. Most other feats etc are pretty good about spelling it out.

    They clarified this in one of the streams. The language "both strikes use your current MAP" is missing, ergo, MAP adds up as normal. 0/-4/-8/-8.

    sherlock1701 wrote:
    Yes, but it's notably inferior to using a 2h weapon. The extra attack doesn't make up for the smaller damage die. TWF/free-hand fighting needs some love to really be useful. Press trait moves tend to be kind of meh.

    Give me a minute while I run the numbers...

    +1 weapons, +4 Strength, +12 to hit

    VS 23 AC

    • Rapier/Light Pick: 12.95 (spread 11.2)
    • Longsword/Hatchet: 14.3 (spread 11.3)
    • Rapier/Rapier: 12.45 (spread 11.2)
    • Longsword/Longsword: 14.0 (spread 12.1)
    • Greatsword (2 swings): 15.3 (spread 15.3)
    • Greatpick (2 swings): 14.65 (spread 15.8)

    VS 20 AC

    • Rapier/Light Pick: 20.15 (spread 14.5)
    • Longsword/Hatchet: 20.8 (spread 13.0)
    • Rapier/Rapier: 17.7 (spread 12.4)
    • Longsword/Longsword: 19.6 (spread 13.1)
    • Greatsword (2 swings): 22.5 (spread 17.1)
    • Greatpick (2 swings): 22.1 (spread 18.4)

    VS 17 AC

    • Rapier/Light Pick: 29.3 (spread 16.4)
    • Longsword/Hatchet: 28.6 (spread 13.6)
    • Rapier/Rapier: 26.25 (spread 14.7)
    • Longsword/Longsword: 28.0 (spread 14.6)
    • Greatsword (2 swings): 30.6 (spread 17.6)
    • Greatpick (2 swings): 30.875 (spread 19.8)

    You can double-check my calculations:
    Use T-Roll and plug in this code. The last line controls what weapons are used and what MAP there is (if any).


    I'm assuming those numbers are double slice vs 2 swings of a 2 hander. Also worth noting in those number examples, the larger weapon is more impactful in situations where a character only has 1 action with which to make an attack.


    Ranishe wrote:
    I'm assuming those numbers are double slice vs 2 swings of a 2 hander. Also worth noting in those number examples, the larger weapon is more impactful in situations where a character only has 1 action with which to make an attack.

    Correct. Double Slice for all entries except the last two, marked "(2 swings)"

    And yes, if you can make only one attack, a 2-handed weapon will absolutely out-perform.

    My last edit got lost, but it was just a summary:

    Looks like about 1.5 damage per round difference across the board. Rapier and Pick do better against lower AC targets (and worse against higher AC ones) due to the Deadly and Fatal properties, making them competitive against non-boss encounters.


    Well you could take the realistic approach to two weapon fighting. Each attack is made with a penalty to attack rolls, damage is divided in half, and the damage is not combined for purposes of bypassing damage reduction, but hey you only spend one action on it. The way fiction presents two weapon fighting is all fantasy, it's a super impractical way to fight with exception (weapon and shield, and sword and parrying dagger).

    Honestly, the way double slice as presented it's very useful. Two actions to make two attacks with -2 (or no penalty if your off hand has agile) which if both hit you get to combine the total damage in order to by-pass damage reduction, and the attack shares all properties of both weapons for purposes of weakness and resistance. With weapon and light shield (or even a heavy shield if you don't mind the -2) you can spend your turn using double slice and raise shield.


    Grave Knight wrote:
    Honestly, the way double slice as presented it's very useful. Two actions to make two attacks with -2 (or no penalty if your off hand has agile) which if both hit you get to combine the total damage in order to by-pass damage reduction, and the attack shares all properties of both weapons for purposes of weakness and resistance. With weapon and light shield (or even a heavy shield if you don't mind the -2) you can spend your turn using double slice and raise shield.

    If you're double-slicing you almost always want an agile weapon in your off-hand, even against high AC targets:

    AC23:
    Longsword/Hatchet: 14.3 (spread 11.3)
    Longsword/Longsword: 14.0 (spread 12.1)

    AC17:
    Longsword/Hatchet: 28.6 (spread 13.6)
    Longsword/Longsword: 28.0 (spread 14.6)

    The 10% accuracy drop just isn't worth it for a d8 instead of a d6.

    Oh, and if the thing you're fighting has even 2 points of DR (against your damage type), the Double Slice comes out ahead, as the difference is a mere 1.5 damage: the greatsword will take 4 damage off (two attacks, 2 DR) while the doubleslice will only loose 2 damage (as its combined).

    Of course if the thing has a weakness then yeah, Double Slice gets worse.

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