Multi-Weapon Fighting (5e Variant Rule)
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I can attack with two 3lb. scimitars or 2lb. short swords. Neither of those were historically paired frequently.
I cannot attack with two 2lb. rapiers. Rapiers have been known to be paired with a variety of equal or smaller blades! There's even an old school of fencing dedicated to it!
My herculean character cannot swing two battleaxes, even though I'm modelling him off a character in my favorite book.
- People who want to play a character based on fiction, but the rules prevent them from using their intended gear.
- People who want some historical accuracy.
- People who want to relate weapon weight to the "light" and "heavy" tags a little better.
- People who are using homebrew equipment and want more flexibility in their armaments.
Reason and Scope
In the core rules, attacking with a light weapon grants you a bonus attack, lacking ability modifiers, with another light weapon you are using. They get away with it because there are no four-armed races, or two-handed light weapons in the core rules. This rule creates a number of conditions which effectively add or remove the light tag from certain weapons, so that being able to attack with multiple equipped weapons in a single round is based on something more than the arbitrary placement of a rules tag in the item's description. Instead, a character's ability to control weapons should be based on their natural attributes and experience/training.
- You may use any weapon as normal rules would indicate.
- You may equip any number of one-handed weapons as you like, up to a limit based on the number of hands you have.
- A weapon which weighs less than your STR bonus in pounds is considered to be a light weapon for you.
- A weapon with the light tag in its description counts as a light weapon regardless of your STR bonus.
- If you have proficiency with a weapon, it counts as a light weapon, provided it is not heavy.
- You can continue to gain bonus attacks for as many light weapons you have equipped.
- If you have a strength modifier of 0 or less, light weapons lose their light tag, and (non-light) weapons lacking the heavy tag gain the heavy tag.
- A weapon does not need to be melee to be used in multi-weapon fighting. Thus, light ranged weapons, if you have enough hands to use more than one, are acceptable. (You still need a free hand to reload them, and reloading a ranged weapon still consumes an object interaction.)
- Example: A character has +1 STR and equips a dagger and a rapier. He may attack with the dagger and gain a bonus attack, but because the rapier does not meet any conditions to be a valid light weapon for him, he cannot use that bonus attack.
- Example: If he had +4 STR and equipped two battle axes, they count as light weapons for him, allowing him to attack with one, and then attack with the other as a bonus attack.
- Example: If he had only +3 STR, he could still equip them and attack with the battle axes, but only with one at a time, as they would no longer count as light weapons for him.
- Example: If you have four hands and four daggers, you get three bonus attacks.
- Example: If you have four hands, +3 STR, and two long swords, you could attack two-handed with one, and then get a bonus attack for the other, which can also use a two-handed attack.
- Example: A halfling can normally swing a long sword just as well as anyone else, but if his STR modifier is 0 or less, he now has disadvantage on the attack, because the long sword now counts as a heavy weapon.
- Example: That same halfling could normally dual-wield short swords, but with a modifier of 0 or less, he no longer gets the bonus attack, as the weapon loses its "light" tag in his hands.
- Example: A dwarf rogue equips two hand crossbows and uses them both to fire upon an attacker in a single round.
The obvious impact is that very strong characters, such as in the battle axes example, can do terrifying things matching what we see them doing in many fantasy novels and movies, while weaker characters still have the "light" tag as a sort of dual-wielding freebie ticket, allowing them some of their signature styles. In other words, it more closely resembles what you'd expect in medieval fantasy fiction. It can, however, be a little broken if a player makes decisions revolving purely around damage output. Use if your player group is responsible, but avoid it if you have a table full of min-maxing munchkin twinks.