2-Handed Weapon vs. 2-Handed Wield

The plain-speech nature of some of the character rules can be confusing.

For instance, some classes say that they can use 2-handed weapons, while other say that they can use a weapon in two hands, and others don’t say either, or say the opposite, which means that they cannot do… something, but it’s not clear what.

Can dwarves not use 2-handed weapons (while still being able to use a weapon in two hands)? Is that how that’s intended?

My thief can use a sword 1 handed (1d6), but can he use it with two hands (1d8)?


This is a point of repeated confusion for us as well. The way we’ve been playing it is that two-handed ability means “can use a one-handed weapon in both hands for d8 damage”, but if you have a two-handed / d10 weapon on your class list and don’t have two-handed fighting ability, you can still use the d10 weapon. No idea if this is how it’s supposed to be done, though.

Technically, Dwarven Vaultguards cannot use a greataxe (human-sized two-handed weapon)…

…but Dwarven Craftpriests can (explicitly stated in their class description).

Thieves are not trained in wielding a weapon in two hands, so I don’t think they can get the bonus damage.

Since it’s related to the topic, anyone see a problem with replacing the hit bonus for using 2 weapons with the house rule that you roll damage for both weapons and keep the higher result?

Running numbers, it doesn’t look like this is very unbalanced. Wielding a medium weapon in each hand and taking the higher damage bonus actually gives an average damage of 4.47, which is close to the +1 damage you would get from a two-handed fighting style. (Remember that dual-wielding a medium weapon only does 1d6: p. 104.)

That said, it doesn’t really reflect how a second weapon is really used in a fight. Having a second weapon doesn’t turn you into a cuisinart of damage-dealing, even though that’s how it is usually treated in games. What the second weapon gives you is more possible angles of attack, and it lets you use one weapon to feint, knock aside an opponent’s guard, or otherwise control their weapon—things that are well represented by a bonus to hit. (I was actually pretty geeked to see an RPG handle this correctly!)

(As an aside, shields should be counted as medium-sized weapons for purposes of dual wielding. A combatant armed with a shield would then be able to switch between using it offensively for the +1 to hit or defensively for the +1 AC.)

Seeing as the max damage doesn’t increase I was visualising it as the opportunity to make the hit count due to those factors rather than a cuisinart of damage dealing death. Using a longsword 2 handed is probably a fraction of a dice more damage dealing. It does however add some variety and gives Brian a chance to mitigate all those damn ones he rolls.

I was very glad to see that using 2 weapons didn’t add an extra attack however. My initial impression of the combat system as a whole is more favourable than BECMI or AD&D. Nice to see spears get some deserved love(although I might save the double damage on a charge thing to mounted).

The rules distinguish between "what you're trained to fight with" and "how you're trained to fight with it". 

What Weapons You Fight With (Weapon Training)

What you're trained to fight with are specific weapons or weapon groups. For example, "any missile weapons and any one-handed melee weapons" (thief) or "daggers, swords, spears, and polearms" (bladedancer). 

For these purposes, a weapon's "handedness" is defined by the minimum number of hands required to use it. A shortsword and sword are therefore both one-handed weapons. A two-handed sword is a two-handed weapon. All two-handed weapons are noted as such in parantheses in the Weapons and Equipment table of the rules. 

How You Fight With Your Weapons (Fighting Style)

The rules restrict access to three important fighting styles: Weapon and Shield; Weapon With Two Hands; Weapon in Each Hand.  Essentially, it's a question of what you do with your off-hand. Do you wield a shield? Do you wield a second weapon? Or do you add it to the grip on your main weapon for added strength?

Some weapons are incompatible with particular styles. 

- Tiny melee weapons (daggers) and small melee weapons (hand axes, short swords) cannot be used in "Weapon With Two Hands" style. 

- Large melee weapons (e.g. polearms, two-handed swords) cannot be used in "Weapon and Shield" and "Weapon in Each Hand" style.

- Medium melee weapons (e.g. sword, battle axe, mace, flail, spear) can be used in any fighting style

The Interplay of Weapon and Fighting Style

The ability to use a particular weapon does not convey the ability to fight in a particular style. For example, if you can use a battle axe, but can't fight in "weapon with two hands" style, then you cannot wield a battle axe with two hands. 

The *inability* to use a particular weapon does not remove the ability to fightin a particular style. For example, consider the case of an explorer, who can fight with a weapon in two hands, but cannot use Two-Handed Weapons. What this means is that an explorer can wield a spear with two hands, or a battle axe with two hands, but cannot wield a two-handed sword or polearm.

Rules As Intended

In re-reading the core rulebook, I note a few areas where the rules-as-written diverged from the rules-as-intended (or at least I am not as explicit about an implicit intent). Specifically:

1. Thieves are allowed to fight with two hands on a weapon. (If you build a thief using custom class rules, you'll note that the thief does not make any fighting style trade-off, so he's eligible for two fighting styles.)

2. Dwarven Vaultguards are permitted to fight with dwarf-sized two-handed weapons such as dwarven great axes and morning stars. These would be weapons with a shorter haft but retaining a heavy striking head requiring two hands to use. The clumsy language "human sized two-handed weapons" was very awkward. The intent is to restrict dwarves from using ill-sized weapons, not to reduce their striking power per se. No Dwarven class is permitted to fight with human-sized two-handed weapons.