Sidebar: Two Weapon Fighting Feats

A while back, a friend of mine and I got into a debate about whether or not a fighter wielding two weapons deals equal damage to a fighter wielding a two-handed weapon. My argument was that since a fighter with two weapons deals half damage on the second attack, it’s equivalent to dealing time-and-a-half Strength damage like a fighter wielding a two handed weapon. I also argued that because you get multiple attacks, the chance of hitting each round is higher for a fighter wielding two weapons. As a result, if a fighter with two weapons takes Weapon Finesse, even though he might deal less damage per attack, he actually winds up dealing about equal damage over time because he hits more often.

His argument was that because a fighter wielding two weapons has to sacrifice Strength in order to boost his Dexterity, even though he gets more attacks, the sacrifice to damage is so great that he actually does less damage over time. Also, because a fighter wielding two weapons can only make an attack with his second weapon as part of a full round action, the fighter wielding a two-handed weapon will always deal more damage because he can deal time-and-a-half damage every time he makes an attack.

To settle this argument, my friend made a spreadsheet that allowed us to calculate how much damage a fighter wielding two weapons deals compared to a fighter wielding a two-handed weapon. He even designed it so that you could add different feats to the two characters like Power Attack, and Improved Two Weapon Fighting. Ultimately, we concluded that while a fighter wielding two weapons is about equal to a fighter wielding a two-handed weapon at lower levels, as the two progress in levels, the fighter wielding two weapons is quickly outpaced by the fighter wielding a two-handed weapon. This is largely because the fighter wielding two weapons needs to have an equally high Strength and Dexterity, while the fighter wielding a two-handed weapon only needs to bump up Strength.

Because of this we decided to create some house rules to make Two Weapon Fighting more balanced. To do this, we knew we needed to take into account a few factors.

  1. A fighter wielding two weapons needs to be able to make an attack with his second weapon each time he makes an attack. Otherwise, he quickly loses any advantage he might enjoy for fighting with two weapons.
  2. Because a fighter wielding two weapons sacrifices Strength in order to boost his Dexterity, any house rules we create need to improve his ability to deal damage.
  3. Because a change like this can greatly benefit characters who rely on precision based damage (like sneak attack), any changes made to the current rules need to take precision based damage into account.
  4. Because any change to the two weapon fighting rules might drastically alter the way other feats, class skills, and abilities work (Example: Multiattack, the ranger’s bonus feats, and Two Weapon Rend), any house rules we create should attempt to have as minimal an impact as possible on the game.

The rules presented in the Two Weapon Fighting Feats post are the result of that conversation.

So far, we’ve only used these rules in an epic level game. While it made the ranger about equally effective to the other characters in the party, we have yet to test it out at lower levels, or on other classes. I’m pretty sure these rules will work at lower levels, but I would very much like to see someone test these rules out and let me know what you think.

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