Wielding two weapons without "Two-Weapon Fighting" or "Dual Wielder"?

  • We have a Barbarian on our team that very much likes to switch up his weapons; he goes from a Dwarven Hammer, to a pair of Hand-Axes, to occasionally just going bare-fisted. No issues there, he's fairly adept with all 3.

    However, I have only just recently picked up on the way that he rolls his attacks for the two Hand-Axes: He rolls the first attack, adds his modifiers etc. Then he rolls the second attack, this time without modifiers, which is all well and good. But I'm not sure if this action uses his bonus action or not, or is considered a separate action (though, being a level 4 Barbarian, he only has one action per turn), or is merely part of the same action.

    If we have a look at the Two-Weapon Fighting feature from the Fighter's fighting styles:

    Two-Weapon Fighting
    When you engage in two-weapon fighting, you can add your ability modifier to the damage of the second attack. (PHB5e p.72)

    Similarly, the Dual Wielder feat also uses the Two-Weapon Fighting feat:

    Dual Wielder
    You master fighting with two weapons, gaining the following benefits:

    ...

    • You can use two-weapon fighting even when the one-handed melee weapons you are wielding aren’t light. (PHB5e p.164, emphasis mine)

    So; yes, this gives a bonus to the second weapon attack, but having asked a separate question to clarify which action this secondary weapon attack belongs to, it was determined that this uses your bonus action;

    [...] the second attack requires a bonus action

    So after that long winded explanation, here is the question: Without any additional feats, can you wield and use two weapons at once, and if so, how many actions does it require to make a full attack with both weapons in a turn?

  • You can wield & attack with two weapons without any special class feature or feat.

    Like most contests, however, some restrictions may apply. From the PHB, p195 (emphasis mine):

    Two-Weapon Fighting
    When you take the Attack action and attack with a light melee weapon that you're holding in one hand, you can use a bonus action to attack with a different light melee weapon that you're holding in the other hand. You don't add your ability modifier to the damage of the bonus attack, unless that modifier is negative.

    As long as both weapons are light weapons, you can attack with both at the cost of an action for the first attack, as normal, and then a bonus action for the second attack. The second attack does not receive your ability modifier as a bonus to damage the way attacks normally would.

    Fighters & some other classes have an option for their Fighting Style class feature which is also called, confusingly, Two-Weapon Fighting. This feature is not required to attack with two weapons as described above; the benefit it gives is to allow you to add your ability modifier to the second attack's damage.

    The Dual Wielder feat is likewise not required to attack with two weapons as described above; it instead provides 3 additional benefits when you choose to do so.

    Dual Wielder and the Two-Weapon Fighting style make you better at fighting with a weapon on each hand, but are not required to do so.

    *"which is also called, confusingly, Two-Weapon Fighting"*. This is exactly where I was coming from :)

    @Ben I've only played it a bit, but it seems like the designers did a decent job. The people who edited the books for ease of understanding, on the other hand, need to be beaten to death with pool noodles.

    I might be alone in this, but in my mind having the same name for both rules seems ok, since they do the same thing but once is the "basic" version and the other is the "class feature" version.

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Content dated before 6/26/2020 9:53 AM