View Full Version : An Improved Ambidexterity Feat

Riegan Swordwraith
12-23-2001, 04:09 PM
What do you see when you look at the Ambidexterity feat??Personally to me with the loss of skill when fighting with two weapons (-2 or higher penalty to each attack,depending on weapon and if you have the Two-Weapon Fighting Feat),and the fact that you only get half-your Str bonus with the off-hand weapon,means that you are someone who has trained to use both primary and secondary hand effectively,and there-fore not truly ambidextrous.What about those who have no off-hand??Those that can use either hand equally well??

It is for these people that I am creating this Feat.However,I have a problem.In order to insert this Feat,means it needs to be balanced.The benefit of the Feat is that you have NO penalties when fighting with two weapons,or double weapons for that matter.No minuses to hit,full Str bonus on the "off-hand" weapon,regardless of what sized weapon you use(two longswords,or hell for a really scary thought,two greatswords if a medium sized character with the Monkey-Grip Feat in Sword-n-Fist!!!!:))But what kind of prerequisites would it need to be balanced.I want to say you have to take it at first level to begin with.And I do not think it out of line to require a rather high Dex requirement,say a 16+.But what else??A high wisdom??I cannot limit it to Class or Race,as I see it hitting anyone,whether an elf Wizard,a dwarven rogue,or a human cleric.Maybe popping someone with who takes the feat with a +1 ECL(I really doubt that one)???

My heart isn't dead-set against changing it from a 1st lvl only feat,but I do feel that would add to the unbalancing effect.Any ideas or suggestions would be highly appreciated.:)

12-23-2001, 10:44 PM
Hmmm. I'm fairly convinced that what you're aiming for will unbalance things, even if it is expensive feat-wise. The balance between a greatsword (2d6 + 1.5 x str bonus damage, no attack penalty), longsword and shield (+2 AC, d8 + str bonus damage, no attack penalty unless shield is used to bash), and two weapon fighting (d8 + 1x str bonus, -2; d6 + 0.5x str bonus, -2) is a fine one. Consider that the greatsword style and the longsword and shield style require no expenditure of feats. But the average damage of (d8+d6+1.5x str bonus) is one point higher than the greatsword damage, if you hit with every attack. A third feat in the chain that would up the damage to (d8+d6+2x str bonus, no attack penalty) is a powerful boost for two-weapon style, and it is likely to make two-hander style (greatsword) and sword-and-board style much less useful without compensatory feats.

If I were to add another feat, to follow on the heels of Two Weapon Fighting and Ambidexterity, I would most likely add Twin Sword Style, allowing the use of a heavier weapon in the off-hand. Thus a warrior could fight with two longswords - a style I have personally observed in boffer larping. It's difficult, but cool. Twin Sword Style (or Long Blades, or whatever you wish to name it) has the numerical effect of granting a +1 average damage with the off-hand attack (the average of d6 being 3.5, and the average of d8 being 4.5). This is significant. However, the damage difference is the same as granting full normal strength bonus in the off-hand, unless your strength is above 15.

Ugh. Head hurts. Too much counting. I hope I didn't botch my mental math.


Riegan Swordwraith
12-23-2001, 11:09 PM
There already is a Feat that represents fighting with two long blades,Twin-Sword Style(FRCS),and Superior Two-Weapon Fighting,which can be found in Jade&Steel(an OA type book).Problem is with anything like what I want to do,you have to try and do it in such a way as to keep munchkins from ruining what you have created....

I guess the best prereq is DM approval!!:)

12-25-2001, 06:01 PM
Another alternative to power/rule mongers who always want PC with two weapons would be to enhance the rules for shields to encourage the use of them. Adjust the AC Bonuses as follows:
Bucklers -1
Small Shield -2
Medium Shield -3
Large/Body Shield -4

Another alternative is to tie the penalties to be based on the PC's level. That way they have to sufer the bonuses intially, but improve with practice. You aren't a weapons master at 1st level!

Yet another problem you face when fighting with two weapons (especially greatswords!) is exhaustion. Develop a series of penalties that occur when combat is drawn out. A shield is weighty, but its a lot easier to weild than a sword!

Riegan Swordwraith
12-26-2001, 04:57 AM
Good point about the shields....A body shield already provides cover bonuses against attackers in certain threatened squares.But maybe make a Feat that improves the protection a shield provides.

I have thought of making the base attack penalties a -6/-6,instead of the -6/-10.That would just cut out the "off-hand" penalty.You would still have to buy Two-Weapon fighting and use a light weapon in the "off-hand" to get the penalties lower.This is a balance of the weapons issue.You look at ALL the two-weapon styles they almost exclusively use a long blade and a short blade.The Superior Two-Weapon Style cuts the penalty for using two long blades.

The two great-swords was a thought that occured to me.I hope noone ever tries that.If it was me,and I saw some joker come at me with two Greatswords,I'm the hell out of dodge thank you very much!!!!:)But as to the point of fighting a long battle,I just make the players make Con checks at some point,I'm thinking # rounds=Con,DC=10+#rds over base Con.EXAMPLE a warrior with 15 Con fights for 20 consecutive rds,Con check =15(10+(20-15))Maybe it needs to be tweaked a bit,but I think it would work.

Lord Eldred
01-01-2002, 08:00 PM
I would make it so that you had to take it at first level and expend more than one feat on it to get it. And if they want to have it they have to have greater than 16 dexterity and role for a percent chance to get something like 10% since there are not that many ambidexterous people out there! Place a large number of restriction so that the person who takes it really wants it despite the costs.

01-01-2002, 11:56 PM
The problem with placing to many restrictions or charging to many feats, etc. is those legitimate ambidexterous people suffer from high costs.

I don't claim to be fully ambidexterous, but I prefer two weapons to a sword and sheild. Though I use my off hand to parry more than attack...

Riegan Swordwraith
01-02-2002, 04:33 AM
I am a proud Claymore swinger meself.......If I have to use something else it being a targe and broadsword......:)

02-28-2002, 02:00 AM
As Shieldhaven points out, there is actually a careful balance in place in the D&D system to allow different weapon fighting styles their place - what you are aiming at, intentionally or not, would break the system, and make two-weapon fighting numerically superior to the other styles of fighting. It was in previous editions, and thus, it got balanced in 3e to provide a cost proportionate to the potential benefit. I don't really see a great need to add much further to the three feats presented in the PHB - if you wish to add more, at least do it in the form of separate feats, so that the feat cost becomes truly excessive - and even this would not stop the style from being the best, thus leading to a probable preference for this style from most people who want to be the best possible fighter - min-maxing would favor this style over others.

Further, the ability to acquire this feat at first level would also be quite unbalancing - only two possible player character concepts would be able to acquire it, and they would likely outshine their counterparts by far; being the best fighter-type wouldn't be a matter of style anymore, it would be a matter of taking the proper three feats.

You can easily defend the system as is if you take into consideration how the human body works and how you apply your weight and strength when you swing a weapon. It is simply impossible to simultaneously swing two weapons and achieve the same optimum impact on both swings as with a single swing with one weapon - no matter how dextrous you are, it is still a matter of physics.

Finally, a feat or other player character ability should NEVER be random - it is fine that only a small percentage of the population qualifies for a given feat; by selecting that feat, the player is essentially choosing that his character is in that percentage.

Lord Eldred
03-01-2002, 01:53 AM
I guess logic needs to take a back seat to balance here. A person is born ambidextrous but in D & D you can gain this feat when you are 25? I think if this feat is going to be taken it should be taken at 1st level and if you don't take it you can never get it. As far as improved ambidexterity, I would have to agree if the player could have this at first level it would probably send the game out of whack a little.

While I agree with the arguments that you just couldn't get the same optimal impact, I do think that if you have equal dexterity with both hands that your to hit should not suffer. Maybe your damage bonuses get lost but your to hit should not.

Why not have all feats be random?

03-01-2002, 02:50 AM
I guess logic needs to take a back seat to balance here.

No. A person can train himself to be ambidextrous, or as good as, but it requires effort, just as most people have the capability or potential to train themselves to do almost anything humanly possible.

Further, in the game, the game should take precedence. I find that some people argue in favor of breaking the game because of "logic" or "realism" or whatnot. Now. If you accept the game rules as the framework through which we view the fantasy rules, you accept a lot of conventions. If you change one thing because of "logic" or "realism," are you then willing to go through similar changes throughout the system for the same cause? For instance, some might hold it as logical that armor shouldn't make you harder to hit - quite the contrary. However, it should absorb a fair deal of the damage you suffer. It might be "realistic" to let characters exercise to increase their strength scores.

It can also easily be argued with physics here - no matter how dextrous you are, you still can't get 100% control of the momentum of the weapons in question, and thus will always suffer an attack penalty, relative to just wielding a single weapon.

Why not have all feats be random?

Well, by that logic, the entire character creation process should look like this:

Race: Roll 1d8
1-2: Human
3: Dwarf
4: Elf
5: Gnome
6: Half-elf
7: Halfling
8: Half-orc

Class: Roll 1d20
1: Barbarian
2: Bard
3-4: Cleric
5: Druid
6-9: Fighter
10: Monk
11: Paladin
12: Ranger
13-15: Rogue
16: Sorcerer
17-18: Wizard
19: Roll for a level in an NPC class
1: Adept
2: Aristocrat
3-4: Commoner
5: Expert
6: Warrior
20: Roll twice, use apprentice level rules.

And then it gets a bit more complicated with rolling for your random skills by class, but the feat list should be a pretty big one, in a single table. Perhaps use percentile dice for that.

I don't really think that is fair, though - the player should have full control over what his character has and does not have, within a set of parameters so that no one gets to start with a "better" character than anyone else - which is what balance is for - fairness inside the party, between different players and their varying character concepts. Players should always get to dream up the characters they want, then stat those out. It would take a lot of the fun out for many players, I imagine, if they were forced to play characters they didn't want - don't you agree? You could say that it might be a good role-playing experience, that they'd grow and mature as players - but you are still taking away their freedom, forcing them to do something they don't want to, and ultimately probably making the game less fun for everyone involved.

The game is simply more rewarding for each individual when they get to play what they want - again, within given parameters. I.e. "I want to play a barbarian" is fine - "I want to play the most powerful barbarian in the world" is more troublesome. "I want to play a barbarian who is good with axes" is fine - "I want to play a barbarian who wields the best magical axe in the world" is troublesome. There is a difference between characterization choices and power levels - when that difference is gone, it is evidence of a "broken," or unbalanced system. A system that assumes unbalances, like 2e sometimes did, uses a dice roll mechanic to "prevent" people from picking the best options, rather than working to make every option equal.

Eric McLuen
03-01-2002, 06:34 PM
Perhaps have a weapon focus type feat specifically designed for two weapon combat? Fighting with two weapons should be separated from normal combat as it is completely different. Special parrying rules would also have to be adopted.

Regarding the actual physics of it, I would have to agree that the damage should suffer with two weapons rather than the ability to hit. The advantage of two weapons is the ability to hit more often. The dis ad is that your range of motion is limited and therefor you can't pack as much of a punch. Armor limitations should be a must.

One of my issues is with the single weapons that allow multiple attacks (I don't have my book so work with me on the names). There is the double sword and some axe variants in the book come to mind or a kwan do for example. True, there are two ways to attack with the weapon but I don't think that should result in the ability to attack twice. You get the ability to essentially attack twice. For example, why not allow a character to kick or punch the same time he swings his sword? Or use a spear as a piercing as well as blunt weapon like a staff? These multiple attack abilities should be taken into account as a single attack & roll since a 'to hit' and 'damage' roll doesn't mean a single hit but a series. Naturally a person wielding a weapon would be using it to its full potential. The only distinction I can see is specifying using a piercing or blunt attack with a spear.