View Full Version : Improving TWF

2007-11-22, 12:12 AM
I've seen some scattered posts that are concerned with fixing two-weapon fighting, but I've not really seen any threads that contain ways to improve this oft-maligned mechanic. (If there is one, kindly link me) I humbly ask the community to participate in this thread so that people who love TWF (such as myself) can enjoy this method of combat and not be seen as completely inferior to two-handed fighters. The objective of this thread is to put together the following:

1. Viable options for TWFers within the current ruleset. No houserules, but all official material is kosher. Basically what do we have that currently works? What feats actually help TWFers?
2. How would you fix this? Do you have any house rules that currently make TWF a viable combat option?

The Status Quo:
-TWF is supposed to gain damage from the extra attacks it gives.
-TWF receives big penalties that have to be negated with feats.
-Because of this, TWF is feat-intensive, which turns off people who are playing character classes that do not gain enough feats to make this a viable build.
-The style deals much less damage overall than a THF build because:
----The penalties make hitting difficult
----The weapons tend to be smaller, and as such have smaller damage dice.
----Bonus damage is limited to STR bonus x1 for the main hand, and only half that for the off hand.
-Weapon choices are usually light ones that benefit from weapon finesse.
----It is difficult to reliably get full attacks.
----Charging, which can possibly offset the -2 penalty, generally does not allow for a full attack.
-Although not as big an issue as damage, defense is also a problem. Many classes that have features that improve TWF also require light armor. A character using a greataxe or greatsword will have no problems wearing heavy armor. Two-Weapon Defense is really not as effective as it will only give a maximum of +2 to AC when fighting defensively.

1. The only viable fixes I know of include using the Tiger Claw discipline from the Tome of Battle and its related prestige class. The Time Stands Still (a ToB maneuver which allows for two consecutive full attacks) + Girallon Windmill Flesh Rip (ToB boost which gives massive amounts of rend damage based on the number of successful hits) is I think one of the most effective ways to raise TWF damage. It's not always reliable as it depends on having these two maneuvers available (and they're high-level maneuvers), and they also depend on actually hitting with the weapons--which are still weakened by what I had posted above.

2. As for house rule fixes, I don't know. Totally stumped on this one.

Kindly discuss.

2007-11-22, 12:17 AM
Mostly, you can find the solutions in the Home Brew Forums. I did a bunch of Feats in ages past, but I wasn't alone.

[Feat] Two Weapon Fighting (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=31337)
[Feat] Two Weapon Defence (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=31338)
[Feat] Two Weapon Mastery (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=44663)
[Feat] Even Handed (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?p=1793539)
[Feat] Mobile Two Weapon Fighting (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?p=1798151)

The problem is certainly a thorny one. I take a very different approach now...

Here's a couple of lengthy Threads on the subject:

Why Two Weapon Fighting sucks (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=31844)

Two Weapon Fighting (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=30734)

At the core of the problem is the 1:1 Attack Rate of Primary and Off Hand Attacks and the way Base Attack Bonuses generate extra Attacks. Those were somewhat fixed with Star Wars Saga, but Two Weapon Fighting looks a bit powerful under those rules.

2007-11-22, 12:23 AM
1. Most often, TWF builds will try to find a way to get Pounce (the most popular method since the release of Complete Champion, from what I've seen, has been a one-level dip in Lion Totem Barbarian), which allows for a full attack at the end of a charge. There are some low-level Tiger Claw maneuvers in the ToB that make TWFing somewhat more useful (Wolf Fang Strike comes to mind; it's a first-level maneuver which allows you to attack with both weapons as a standard action) as well.

2. One of the more popular house rules I've seen suggested is to fold the entire TWF tree (Two-Weapon Fighting, Improved TWF, Greater TWF) into a single feat, so that the character automatically gains an additional off-hand attack whenever his BAB becomes high enough to grant him iterative attacks. It would be interesting, perhaps, to see a homebrewed feat that gave (significant) AC bonuses for wielding two weapons but only attacking with one, with the idea that the off-hand weapon is used exclusively for blocking/parrying.

2007-11-22, 12:34 AM
I find that getting sneak attack or Skirmish damage can turn TWF to your advantage. If your already using ToB for some of the manouvers mentioned above, be sure to grab distracting ember. Swift action and your opponent is flanked for you.

I myself currently have a 1lvl swordsage/1lvl lion totem Barb/scout. Thanks to the Shadow blade feat, (wp finesse, but for damage.) The DM considers me to be the damage dealer of the party. Of course, I've no feats left. ( and sadly, I am a glass cannon. No idea on a fix for that.)

2007-11-22, 12:42 AM
Here's the conundrum. You want more attack rolls so you can add in sneak attack and favored enemy so that rangers and rogues, the classic TWFers, can reap synergistic benefits. But you don't want to roll attacks because that doesn't lead to actual damage, especially with iterative attacks, which miss a lot, and have to penetrate resistances all over again.

The idea I have been tossing around is that Two-Weapon Fighting gives you your off-hand attack, and the Improved/Greater versions double/triple your off-hand weapon damage, representing the entire round of stabbing and slicing with that dagger. A balance between extra attacks and respectable damage...or maybe not.

2007-11-22, 01:18 AM
Rolling the whole TWF line into one feat is good. I argue in favor of also throwing in Dual Strike and Two-Weapon Charge/Pounce (not sure what it's called). Basically, when the penalty to attack is factored in, An attack with a mainhand weapon and an attack with an offhand weapon combined are equal to a singe attack with a two-handed weapon. (Nominally inferior if the THW fighter takes weapon focus, which I used as a control against the fact that TWF still costs a feat.)

You may or may not want to accompany the above change with a houserule saying precision damage only applies to mainhand attacks. Arguments are usually either:
(a) precision damage used to make TWF good, now that TWF is good by itself, the synergy with precision damage is unbalancing.
(b) rogues, ninjas, and scouts, need the extra boost to their combat butt kicking anyways.

2007-11-22, 07:00 AM
Hmm, rolling the TWF chain into one feat does seem like a good idea. How would classes like Ranger be affected by that, though?

Azerian Kelimon
2007-11-22, 07:07 AM
Remember that, at the core, fightey nonToB builds are based on power attack for the most part. For this reason, I'm in favor of bringing back 3.0's PA mechanic, and change it so that 1 hander weps get 1.5:1 ratio from power attack. This would mean light weps add 1 to damage per BAB spent, 1 handers add 3 points per 2 BAB, and 2 handers add the usual 2 damage per BAB point. This makes TWF a bit more attractive, since it means a TWF'er can do more damage than a 2HF'er if he can manage to get enough AB.

2007-11-22, 07:41 AM
Actually there are ways to improve TWF without changing the rules. First of all, the multi headed template from savage species grants you superior two weapon fighting eliminating penalty to damage and attack rolls. Then you turn to a tigerclaw warblade with dancing mongoose boost or raging mongoose later to get 1 or 2 extra attacks with each weapon you carry. Also it doesn't say whether it stacks or not with haste so i assume it does.

Presto, no penalties to your attack rolls for TWF or MWF and 5 extra attacks on a full attack...combine that with feral(for pounce) or psionic lion's charge item for pouncing goodness...

RMS Oceanic
2007-11-22, 07:43 AM
Another possibility is Punishing Stance from Diamond Mind. -2 AC for +1d6 on each attack. Sounds like it goes nicely with TWF.

2007-11-22, 08:21 AM
Perhaps 4e will fix TWF. I'm not holding my breath.

What really kills TWF is the need to spend feats just to gain the ability to be not quite as good as a 2HF, who is also getting feats at the same time!

If I were starting from scratch, I'd not require feats to TWF. After all, (assuming you have the class proficiencies) you don't need a feat to use a weapon two-handed, or to use a shield. I'd probably even allow a TWFer to attack with both weapons in a standard action. It's always seemed odd to me that the moment a TWFer moves, their offhand just hangs there uselessly, good for nothing. You might need to readjust the TWF penalties to re-balance this.

The choice should just be a straight one between 2HF for better damage when you do hit, and TWF giving a lower chance of missing entirely - always nice at low levels when you're fighting kobolds that can be dropped with one hit... or even later on, against an enemy on its last legs that you really want to take out before it gets another chance to act.

As it is, though, TWF just gets the short end of the stick in every way, which is why only rogues with a bucket of sneak attack dice consider it.

2007-11-22, 08:38 AM
There's currently three classes which benefit to some degree from TWF:

Rangers: They can get the TWF line of feats for free, meaning they can concentrate on building up their Strength. This is still not so good for them because they can't use Power Attack as effectively as the Two Handed Weapon users (unless they're using oversized weapons), and if they have to move more than 5' in a round, they lose their extra attack(s).

Monks: TWF is good for Monks because it allows them to get up to 8 attacks per round. It's bad because they need high Dexterity to get the feats, which might distract them from building up their Strength, which they need to make the best use of TWF.

Rogues: Extra sneak attacks per round, need I say more? If you make TWF better, this could become a major problem.

You've already got a number of suggestions here which I think should solve the issue:

* Roll TWF, ITWF and GTWF into one Feat. You might want to include a Dex requirement as well as a BAB requirement for the extra attacks, but if so make it more reasonable (maybe Dex of 13, 15, 17 ?).

* When Power Attacking, make it so that losing 1 BAB adds 1 damage to both weapons, even if the second weapon is Light.

* Precision damage only applies to the main weapon.

Also, Two Weapon Defence should be changed so that it provides a +1 shield bonus to AC for every 3 points of BAB the character has (minimum +1). Two Weapon Pounce should be in Core, and shouldn't even require a Feat if the character has both TWF and some Feat which replaces the Dodge/Mobility/Spring Attack line (which I think should be rolled into one Feat, which scales with BAB).

For that matter, all Feats should scale with character level or BAB, but that's an issue for another thread.

Tequila Sunrise
2007-11-22, 01:00 PM
1. Viable options for TWFers within the current ruleset. No houserules, but all official material is kosher. Basically what do we have that currently works? What feats actually help TWFers?
My gripe with TWF by RAW is that to be consistently effective you have to be a rogue. But I'm not a rogue person, I'm more of a warrior person, which leaves me out in the cold. There are a couple prestige classes that make TWF warrior-type characters better (though not what they should be), but I hate the idea that a character needs to take a special class just to be decent at a common and popular archetypal fighting style.

2. How would you fix this? Do you have any house rules that currently make TWF a viable combat option?
This alternative TWF mechanics are from my own website--they are meant to be used interchangably with standard TWF mechanics:

When wielding a double weapon or two weapons (not including natural weapons or unarmed strikes), certain types of damage may only be applied to a single weapon you wield at one time. This includes any damage type which adds damage dice to an attack's base damage.

When wielding a double weapon or two weapons (not including natural weapons or unarmed strikes), your two-weapon fighting penalties are all reduced by 2.

When wielding a double weapon or two weapons (not including natural weapons or unarmed strikes), you apply your full Strength bonus to damage dealt with off-hand attacks.

When wielding a double weapon or two weapons (not including natural weapons or unarmed strikes), you apply the standard benefit of Power Attack to light weapons.

I also filled out the TWF feat chain, including Superior TWF and 3 more TWD. (Why those weren't included in core is beyond imagination) I actually don't like the idea of rolling the TWF feats into one, because the style is supposed to be hard to learn.

2007-11-22, 01:26 PM
Hmm, it seems one of the main gripes is the need for high dex for the feat and the desire for a likewise high str for damage. Now I understand I was brief before, but allow me to reintroduce my fix for that.

Shadow Blade.

It is a feat, that requires one shadow hand strike from ToB. It adds your Dex damage to all your attack with weapon finessable weapons. Takes a feat and one level dip into swordsage, or it takes three feats. I'd suggest the dip.

Anyways, there you have it, no need for str.

There rest of the problems are still problems of course, but we do what we can, because we must. Power attack is the one fix I'd prefer added, if you were going to be choosey.

2007-11-23, 05:28 AM
Another possibility is Punishing Stance from Diamond Mind. -2 AC for +1d6 on each attack. Sounds like it goes nicely with TWF.

I love that stance. It's from Iron Heart, though.

Anyway, I'll try to recap everything:
Existing feats and features that TWF can benefit from:
-Sneak Attack. Some Tome of Battle maneuvers like Distracting Ember can allow for instant flanking.
-Pounce from Lion Totem Barbarian or Wildrunner (Complete Champion and Races of the Wild, respectively)
-Various Tiger Claw maneuvers (Tome of Battle)
-Punishing Stance (Iron Heart discipline, Tome of Battle)
-Shadow Blade (Feat, Tome of Battle)
-Dual Strike (Complete Adventurer)
-Rangers get TWF for free and can build without problems.
-Monks can get 8 attacks per round using Monk Weapons and Flurry.

Possible Fixes:
-Many people suggest rolling TWF feat chain into one, making Power Attack give a bonus damage at a 1:1 ratio, and having Precision damage only work on the main hand to avoid cheese.
-Matthew's fixes (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=3555102&postcount=2) (These look good overall, I might consider these in my campaign)
-Clementx suggests having Improved TWF and Greater TWF multiply off-hand damage instead of giving extra attacks, but only with a full round action. (Not sure about this one)
-Trouvere suggests not requiring feats at all. (I don't know, I'd still think there should be a representation of special training)
-greenknight suggests scaling bonuses for Two-Weapon Defense based on BAB. (I think this is a great idea)
-TequilaSunrise's fixes (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=3556713&postcount=13)

2007-11-23, 08:20 AM
Those were somewhat fixed with Star Wars Saga, but Two Weapon Fighting looks a bit powerful under those rules.

Nah, two-weapon fighting is weak in Star Wars Saga edition as well. Not so bad with ranged weapons but Saga characters are so mobile since Charge is a standard action and Withdraw being a move action that full attacks are really hard to pull off. Full round actions also gets rid of your swift action which can really hurt you.