08 December 2010

Two weapon fighting in Labyrinth Lord

I haven’t thoroughly read the Labyrinth Lord rules, but—to my knowledge—there is no provision for fighting with two weapons. And I’m perfectly fine with that.

Even so, there are some advantages to it without any mechanical considerations. e.g. Using a sword and a dagger means that you have a dagger ready to throw and a sword ready for melee at the same time. No time need be wasted sheathing or drawing either weapon. That, however, isn’t the reason many people fought with sword and dagger.

The Advanced Edition Companion gives the old AD&D rule. I’ve probably argued against two weapon fighting providing a second attack sufficiently. Suffice it to say, I think a second attack is generally not a good way to model anything in most D&D-derived combat systems.

I’m leaning towards this: Attacks are resolved as if the character were only wielding the primary weapon with an additional +1 “to hit”. The player may decide each round which weapon is considered the primary.

The nice thing about this is that it doesn’t discourage using more unusual combinations—e.g. two scimitars—but it doesn’t encourage them either. Most characters will probably stick to sword and dagger except for style or expediency reasons.

As others have said before me, this is also a nice foil to the -1 to AC granted by a shield.


Anonymous said...

That's basically what I do in my B/X game, too. I think it's simple and works well with the D&D combat round/attacks system. I'm not in favor of extra attacks either, and don't even see why that would be the case here, as wielding two weapons usually involves more of a defensive element instead, represented by the +1.

I figure the character is blocking with one weapon and allowing the other to find an opening more easily, though I model it further with a weapon mastery system I made up and allow for Fighters.

Still, I think much of D&D combat works best when it is based on description/interpretation of roll results in light of the situation, rather than modifiers to the rolls themselves.

Gratuitous Saxon Violence said...

I think a fair number of people let the character roll damage for each weapon and use the higher score.

Robert Fisher said...

I’ve been considering the roll both damage and take the highest option for a long time. (I think WSmith suggested it on DF c. 2004.)

With variable damage by weapon, though, it tends to encourage two long swords over other combinations. And I prefer having two long swords vs. long sword and dagger being equal.

(On a side note, another issue that sometimes comes up with two-weapon fighting is when you have a weapon proficiency or specialization/mastery system. That often tends to make matched weapon pairs a lot more attractive than using two different weapons. Which is something that doesn’t sit well with me. It’s easy enough to fix, though. Just treat a pair of weapons as a different weapon. i.e. Being proficient in long sword doesn’t make you proficient in long sword + long sword or long sword + dagger. Or you can require separate proficiencies for each hand. I just skip proficiency/mastery rules altogether.)

Matthew James Stanham said...

The only downside with not using the "extra attack" model is the sheer number of monsters that get an extra attack if they have "two claws" or some such combination. now, I am not saying that PCs and Monsters should follow the same rules, but there is something about the aesthetic that I have found troubling lately, and have been discussing over at Knights & Knaves in an AD&D context.

Robert Fisher said...

Yeah. I wouldn’t mind getting rid of the multiple attacks for monsters as well. It is mainly the scope of such a change that keeps me from it. Although I might come up with some guidelines to do it “on the fly” sometime. It just doesn’t have the (IMHO) negative effect on the game that I’ve seen “TWF = 2 attacks” have.

I have been thinking about how I’ll be applying this rule to some monsters with more than two arms rather than the standard multiple attacks thing.