5e Dual Wielding Guide

5e Dual Wielding Guide

When battling against the monsters in DnD, you often find yourself in a situation where you are surrounded by hoards of enemies on all sides. While you have the strength and courage needed to battle it out, you only have one weapon. Having one weapon when facing two or maybe three opponents is okay. However, using one weapon to take on a whole wave of enemies pretty much guarantees your death. 

But what if you had an ability that allowed you to wield two weapons at the same time when in combat? Yes, every DnD character has the ability to fight using two weapons. The key benefit of dual-wielding 5e is that you get to impart double the damage as compared to single-handed weapons. There are simple rules to be followed and eligibility criteria to be fulfilled if you’re looking to obtain the two-weapon fighting feat. 

In this article, we will walk you through everything you need to go through and the rules you need to adhere to in order to obtain the two-weapon fighting feat.

How Does Dual Wielding Work In DnD 5e?

For those still confused with the term, Dual wielding is nothing but fighting with two weapons. Dual-wielding is pretty simple to use in DnD. There are just a few straightforward dnd 5e dual wielding rules to take into consideration.

  • Taking the Attack action when having a light weapon in either hand, you can make an additional weapon with your offhand weapon using a bonus action. To know more about the same, check the weapons table in the Playerbook’s Handbook. 
  • Ensure that you DON’T add a modifier you are using the attack roll with. This way, you can impart maximum damage from the offhand weapon. For example, when you’re at level 1 with 3 strength, you can perform two attack actions with a pair of short swords. While doing so, you impart 1d6+3 damage using your main-hand and 1d6 damage using your offhand weapon.
  • If either of your two weapons has a throw property, you can simply throw the weapon instead of making a melee attack.

In simple words, any can character can obtain the two-weapon fighting feat as both the weapons have a light property. Everytime you make an Attack action, you get to perform another attempt using the offhand weapon. Also, you can add an attack modifier to the first attempt but CANNOT add the damage modifier to the second attempt. 

Classes And Weapons Eligible For DnD 5e Dual Wielding

As we mentioned earlier, any character in the game can obtain the two-weapon fighting feat by using two weapons of light property. Having a light property weapon in both hands is perhaps the biggest drawback since light weapons do less damage as compared to the rest. However, you get an added attack with the offhand weapon which gives you a good chance to impart double damage on your opponent.

To make it easier for you to choose from, we have compiled a list of all the weapons eligible for DnD 5e Dual Wielding. 

WeaponWeapon TypeDamage DieAdditional Properties
Short SwordLight1d6 Finesse
ScimitarLight 1d6Finesse
HandaxeLight1d6Thrown Range (20/60)
DaggerLight1d4Finesse, Throw Range (20/60)
Light HammerLight1d4Throw Range (20/60)

Can You Dual Wield Without Two-Weapon Fighting?

Yes, it is possible to dual wield without two-weapon fighting. However, there are a few things to keep in mind here. Most of the classes have a feature called Fighting Style. One of the options under this Fighting Style is Two-Weapon Fighting. However, this feature is slightly different from the general rule in DnD 5e. 

The Fighting Style lets you add a damage modifier to your off-hand weapon which further buffs up your dual-wielding character. To sum it up, you can dual wield without two-weapon fighting. All you need to do is keep the rule in mind and you’re all set. 

How Does An Extra Attack Affect Dual-Wielding?

The majority of us think that using weapons only slows us down and doesn’t do the amount of damage expected. However, dual-wielding in DnD 5e grants you an extra attack using your off-hand weapon. But this extra attack doesn’t do much. With the two-weapon fighting feat, you get to take an additional attack swing using your 2nd weapon which consumes your BONUS ACTION. Whereas an Extra Attack means you get to attack twice when taking the Attack action. However, what you fail to realise is that despite an extra attack, you get only ONE bonus action per turn. 

In simple words, upon taking the Attack action, you get to attack twice because of the Extra attack. Once you have attacked twice, you get to use the Bonus Action that will attack with your off-hand weapon. If you are still confused, here is a non-complex breakdown of events

  • You take an Attack Action during your attack
  • You get the first hit in
  • With the extra attack, you attack once more
  • Post resolving the damage, you declare that you’ll be taking the BONUS ACTION using your off-hand weapon

Note that you only get ONE BONUS ACTION PER TURN. You always use your bonus action to attack using your off-hand weapon. This means that the extra attack does NOT grant you an additional BONUS ACTION during that turn. 

Dual Wielder Feat

5e Dual Wielding

If you are already confused reading so far, then things are about to take a turn for the worse as this is where things get even more complicated as we now introduce to you the Dual Wielder.

According to Page 72 of the Player’s Handbook, here are the benefits of using the Dual Wielder

  • You gain a +1 AC bonus when wielding a separate melee weapon in either hand
  • You can use two-weapon fighting even when one of the two weapons in use isn’t light. 
  • You can draw or stow two one-handed weapons when you would normally be able to draw or stow only one.”

Now, let’s break it down to make it easier to understand. According to the Player’s Handbook, you add a bonus to your Armor Class (AC) with the dual wielder as long as you’re using two weapons. This gives you extra protection in case you have a heavier weapon in either hand. With the dual wielder, you DON’T HAVE the restrictions of using only light weapons. However, note that the weapons you are using are one-handed or have a VERSATILE PROPERTY. This includes weapons such as the axe, longsword, spear, and so on. 

In addition, the dual wielder allows you to draw/stow weapons simultaneously instead of just one. According to the rules, you get only Free Action per turn 

The Good and The Bad About Dual Wielding

If you go by the online reviews, you’ll realise that 5e dual wielding has a terrible online rep. However, it does have a few pros up its arsenal that can come in handy during combat. For example, dual-wielding grants you an additional attack until level 5. This means that you get a total of three attacks per turn until your character reaches level 5. Upon reaching level 11, the amount of attacks per turn increases to 4 and 5 upon reaching level 20.

However, two-gun fighting ultimately goes down on the list as you cross the level 10 barrier. Upon reaching level 20, the majority of the users tend to make more use of Great Weapon Fighting as it mathematically becomes a better option by about 10 damage per round. Although dual-wielding is sub-optimal, always remember to play the character that you want to. 

Do NOT let anyone bully into not playing the dual wielder just because they didn’t like it. One of the important things to understand is that dual-wielding uses your bonus action. This gives you a chance to think about what your bonus action will be and use it accordingly to inflict maximum damage. 

Is Dual Wielding Worth In 5e?

This is one of those trick questions we all hate. Using akimbo (dual-wielding) weapons grants you with additional firepower but rids you of accuracy and strength. Even though it may appear to be suboptimal, it doesn’t mean that it’s bad. But with 5e dual wielding, the mechanics aren’t in your favour. For one, dual-wielding costs you your bonus action when using the second weapon.  This only limits your character’s economy.

So, if you are looking to obtain the two-weapon fighting feat, we strongly advise AGAINST using Clerics or Druids since these classes come with spells as their bonus action. These spells are a much better option than using 5e dual wielding. In simple words, when playing 5e, any spellcaster such as wizard and sorcerer iis suboptimal to dual wielding. 

On the contrary, the Paladin, Barbarian, and Rogue are all excellent choices when using dual wielding. Each of them has a few options in their arsenal which allows you to take all the bonus action swings as you can. Secondly, rolling an off-hand hit using any of the above-mentioned classes is likely to result in a CRITICAL HIT. This comes in handy if you’re looking to improve that damage output. 

In terms of levels, you get up to 3 attacks per turn up to level 5. The number increases to 4 when you reach level 11 and 5 when you breach the 20 level mark. However, at level 20, you might want to rethink using two-weapon fighting and switching over to great weapon fighting. 

Who Should and Shouldn’t Use TWF?

This is a question that has got the D&D fanbase divided over the years. TWF is a great choice for those playing as a Paladin, Barbarian, and Rogue. These classes have relatively few actions to use as their bonus action. However, there is a big chance that your bonus action will result in a critical hit. So, TWF should be your definite choice if you are planning to play in either of the above-mentioned classes. Although the mechanics may slightly be against you, dual-wielding certainly adds more flavour to your character. 

Anyone in the game can use the two fighting feat in 5e. There are no class proficiency limitations whatsoever. Just grab a one-handed light weapon and take a stab at it. This restriction is lifted if you are using the dual wielder. However, if you are playing with spellcaster classes such as the Cleric or Druid, you shouldn’t be using TWF. This is because these classes have a ton of classes for their bonus.

These spells certainly inflict more damage as compared to the damage inflicted by the off-hand weapon. So, unless you are sure that you’re getting value on a single hit or a bonus on each hit, you should definitely go for TWF. On the other hand, if you’re content with the hit points on every single hit and the bonus, then you should stick to Great Weapons Fighting. 

The Bottom Line

Dungeons and Dragons are already fun enough with plenty of quests and adventures for players to choose from within the game. But you can double the adventure by getting to use two different weapons at the same time. Dual-Wielding has been an age-old and highly honoured tradition with the game. With just a few rules to consider, you can easily obtain the two-weapon fighting feat in DnD.

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