So much to blog and so little time...at least today. Had three or four things lined up for my day off, but then ended up running errands most of the day. Well, did some reading, too, but mostly of the political satire variety, and nothing to post on a RPG blog.
(well, I could, but I may very well offend some readers with my rather strong opinions...perhaps another time)
Anyway, I wanted to get SOMETHING down, as I think I've managed to get at least one post a day since starting this blog, and I don't want to blow my streak. So here's a little something-something:
Dual weapon fighting (i.e. fighting with a weapon in each hand) is a fairly common staple of fantasy literature and gaming. Honestly, I don't remember what first inspired me to love the whole "two-fisted" fighter thing...all I know is that my oldest and earliest AD&D character was never without a weapon in his off-hand.
Since I didn't read Lieber or Moorcock (Mouser and Moonglum respectively) until years later, I don't think there was a particular character of literature that got me into this. If I had to guess, I would imagine it came about from playing a bard character (no shield use, remember) coupled with reading the DMG (I was the main DM of my gaming group for years) and reading the rules on two weapon fighting. Like, "oh, you mean I CAN fight with two weapons? Well, I wasn't doing anything with my off-hand anyway."
Once I started doing it, several other players began sporting characters with two weapons (apparently, few people were into shields...I guess our Armor Classes were plenty tough). But definitely no one was in the campaign was as munchkiny as myself...no, I never owned Blackrazor, but at one point I was wielding a hammer of thunderbolts with a vorpal short sword in my off-hand. Though, this was many, many levels after I'd started with a long sword and maine gauche.
In the 2nd edition, my one character, "Ball Sack," only ever used a battle axe. I'm not sure his testosterone level would have allowed him to use a case of rapiers.
But he was just about the last character to NOT use two weapons. In DND3 I had a bard with two weapon fighting, a dwarven duelist (fighter/thief) that used a rapier and dagger, a wood elf (barbarian? ranger? one of the two) that used two hand axes, and a halfling knife-fighter that used...you guessed it...two knives (his name was "Sticker").
B/X never addresses two weapon fighting, of course, and when we were kids none of us ever considered two weapons an option (as I said, no role-models in this regard). BECMI does address it in the Thyatian gazeteer; basically it states anyone can use a weapon in his or her off-hand, but still only gets one attack per round unless allowed to make multiple attacks.
Honestly, I think that's pretty fair (admittedly I've come a fair ways from my munchkin days). As already explained elsewhere, the abstract nature of D&D combat means that a single attack roll determines whether or not a character does damage in a given round...whether slashing open an opponent's belly, bashing him with a shield, or kicking him in the groin. The initiative roll simply determines whose damage gets applied first...not necessarily who swings first. A guy with two swords, may be parrying and cutting with one (say, on a successful roll for 3 or 4 points of damage), or stabbing with both (say, on a successful roll for 8 points of damage).
However, it would be nice to model some sort of benefit for using two weapons...after all, you ARE giving up the use of a shield or more powerful two-handed weapon.
Previously, I posted my variable damage rules for B/X as dependent on class. To summarize, I suggested dividing melee weapons into Small, One-Handed, and Two-Handed categories with categories generally varying by one size of dice (so a cleric does D4/D6/D8, a fighter does D6/D8/D10, and a magic-user does D4/D4/D6). Here's how I would model two-weapon fighting in D&D.
1) To use two weapons effectively in combat, a character must have a minimum Dexterity of 13. A character may wield two weapons without the Dexterity but gains no special benefit for doing so (though the character has an extra weapon in case something happens to his primary one).
2) Unless a character has a Strength of 13 or better, he may only fight effectively with a Small weapon in his "off-hand." Strong characters may use One-Handed weapons in their off-hand.
3) On a successful attack roll, the player may roll damage dice for both weapons, and choose the best result of the two. For example, a fighter using a sword and dagger may roll a D8 and a D6 on a successful hit, and use the better of the two dice rolls for his damage.
4) If a character has a damage bonus from a high strength, the damage is added to whichever dice is chosen (i.e. it doesn't matter whether or not the character is using an off-hand weapon to inflict damage, the strength bonus in melee is due to the character's might allowing for better muscling/maneuvering in addition to a stronger blow).
All, right, now THAT'S out of the way, I can go to bed. Tomorrow, I'll try to post an adventure idea I had....