Single Weapon Fighting Style?

Does the "Fighting Style (Single Weapon)" bonus of +1 to attack throws apply to any melee attacks with a single weapon?

Specifically, can a PC armed with a spear benefit from this proficiency when wielding a spear one-handed? What about two-handed? What about one-handed with a shield?

Or does it only apply if he's fighting one-handed (with the other hand free)?

I'm very confident it only applies when holding a single melee weapon with no shield in the off-hand.

None of the Fighting Style proficiencies are meant to stack with each other.

In the case of something like a spear or sword, a character could have more than one and switch between bonuses as he or she alters her current style - two-handing the spear or readying a shield.

Koewn is correct!

That seems like a bit of a strange interpretation, given the example: “If a character armed with a spear and a shield has both the pole weapon and weapon and shield fighting style proficiencies, he must choose between +1 initiative and +1 to AC, but not both.” So it’s not that the trigger conditions for the fighting styles are necessarily exclusive, just an ambiguity about what is meant by “single weapon”.

I think I’m going to continue to interpret “single weapon” as “one-handed weapon” in my games; I’m 80% confident we’ve never had a character fighting with a melee weapon in one hand and nothing in the other hand (even if that off-hand weapon is just a torch being used offensively). If I leave it as “one-handed weapon, possibly with shield”, that means my party’s sword-and-board guys suddenly have a second potential fighting style to choose from in any given round, which creates room for interesting tradeoffs (although given their demonstrated degree of risk aversion, I don’t think +1 to hit is going to have any chance against +1 to AC in practice; we’ve only ever had one fightery-type use a two-handed weapon for any real length of time, and he was a Thrassian in plate so his AC was deemed acceptable without shield+fighting style shield).

[quote="jedavis"] That seems like a bit of a strange interpretation, given the example: "If a character armed with a spear and a shield has both the pole weapon and weapon and shield fighting style proficiencies, he must choose between +1 initiative and +1 to AC, but not both." [/quote]

I can totally see that. Oddly enough, on further review the character I was thinking of was actually a spear+shield user with FS:Single Weapon and FS:Weapon+Shield, specifically chosen to switch between the two.

So I contradicted my own past self.

Either which way, it breaks nothing to do either interpretation - one has spent a valuable proficiency slot on Yet Another Combat Bonus, which in the grand scheme of what's available to take, one may as well be lenient and open in judging what can be done. (an extra henchman via Leadership, for example, is many multiples of times more effective)


But *which* Koewn? Koewn at 05:07 or 19:25?

I'm personally inclined to grant the Single Weapon proficiency as a "one-handed" bonus (allowing the PC to still gain a shield bonus if he's fighting spear & shield), but not when fighting two-handed.

Curiously, even in a three-man party none of my players are running at their henchmen cap! Something about “too many shares, not enough good henchmen close to our level.” I definitely agree, though, that stacking up multiple combat-bonus profs is probably overkill, especially when you have to choose between then in any given round. Our “canonical cookiecutter melee fighter” is usually FS:Shield at 1st, Alertness at 3rd, and then starts diverging, with general opinion leaning strongly towards Command at 6th (though we’ve also seen Combat Reflexes, Skirmishing, Divine Health/Blessing/Lay on Hands on paladin-types, and most recently Engineering as a class prof at 6th for the party’s vaultguard, which left me scratching my head).

If Fighting Style (Single Weapon) works with whatever in the other hand, what is the purpose of Fighting Style (Two Weapons)?

Everything that follows is my opinion, IANAA:
It looks like the default way to fight, available to every class, is with a single weapon and nothing in the other hand. This maps to the single weapon proficiency.

Other ways to fight are “bought” with fighting value during class creation. The other ways are two weapons, weapon and shield, two-handed. These map to the matching proficiency.

Since pole weapon is not a way to fight, but still has a proficiency, an example is needed to prohibit pole weapon style proficiency from stacking with other.

From a min-max perspective, single weapon style proficiency is a waste - you are always better off taking one of the more advanced styles. (Unless one of your arms is useless.)

the block for 2h seems off to me. I think it's worth noting that dedicated two handed weapons are d10, which is an even higher damage than the d8 of holding a 1-handed weapon in two hands.

In this situation, the decision is between +1 to hit with 1d8 damage, or +0 to hit with 1d10+1 damage.

Well, single-weapon fighting style proficiency was intended for characters who fight with a single weapon, without a shield or second weapon. 

Specifically, it arose in play because characters who cast spells require a free hand. As a result, many combat casters (such as elven spellblades) took to carrying a sword, with the other hand free for casting.

In campaigns where the requirement of a free hand for spellcasting is not enforced, then the proficiency diminishes in usefulness.

I had not contemplated the alternative interpretations presented here, although I quite like them and would encourage their use. 

In a Renaissance campaign, I could imagine it being useful for characters who are rapier fencers and so on. In that case I might change the proficiency to provide a +1 AC bonus (representing the narrow profile) or +1 initiative bonus (representing a lunge)... 




Ah, the casting-hand thing makes sense! I’d still expect a spellsword, cleric, and bladedancer to just use a one-handed weapon held in both hands and switch to one-handed wield only on rounds in which they’re casting, but it would matter regularly for nightblade and some of the Player’s Companion caster classes who can’t two-hand wield.

(Or as Weron pointed out, if you’re short an arm. We had a craftpriest lose both hands in one round to a failed save against Dismember that put him below 0; guess he shouldn’t’ve been casting after that)

All of the dedicated two-handed weapons (greataxe, morningstar, polearm, zweihander, and lance) also impose a -1 penalty to initiative.

oooooh, I always forget about that rule.

Right, which I think is why my later interpretation is "more correct". I don't think Single Weapon Fighting precludes holding a torch or something, but I think it may preclude having a shield that is actively providing you AC.

Let me set up a table and we'll correct it as consensus on RAW is reached. This comes up enough.

updated for jedavis's initiative mention

Fighting Style You Get Additional With
FS Proficiency
Total Bonuses
Single Weapon - +1 to hit +1 to hit
Single Weapon, Two Hands damage die increase +1 to hit +1 to hit, damage
die increase
Two Weapons +1 to hit +1 to hit +2 to hit
Two Handed Weapon -1 to Initative +1 to damage +1 to damage,
-1 initiative
Pole Arm -1 to initative +1 to initiative +0 to initative
Weapon and Shield +1 AC +1 AC +2 AC

Table assumes no bonuses from magic.


In my head, fighting with a single weapon wielded two-handed uses the two-handed way of fighting and thus the two handed fighting style proficiency bonus of +1 damage.

I think I love the idea of Fighting Style: Single Weapon providing a +1 to either Attack Throw, AC, or Initiative, chosen before initiative is rolled each round, with the caveat that the other hand must remain free.  That makes the singleton fighter incredibly versatile, at the cost of the greater bonuses afforded by specialization.

I do too! Righteous.