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Best class for two-weapon fighting?

Discussion in 'Dungeons & Dragons + Other RPGs' started by Deviant, Jun 20, 2007.

  1. Deviant Gems: 1/31
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    Well, my first post, and it’s a big one. Sorry for the mass of text, this is just something where I wanted to show how I reached my conclusions so that any improvements/corrections could be made easier.

    Introduction (Thesis)
    I have recently become something of a fan of dual-wielding, and due to the 3.5 Edition rules, have re-considered whether or not the ranger really is the best dual-wielder: the fighter can deal damage on a greater scale than before, there are less feats required for effective two-weapon fighting, and the ranger has a d8 hit die instead of d10. So, I decided to examine in detail the pros and cons of each class when built for dual-wielding. I have considered the characters to both be lvl. 12, for two reasons: the ranger gets its last two-weapon fighting feat at lvl. 11, and the fighter gets Greater Weapon Specialization at lvl. 12.
    NOTE: To my dismay, I have had minimal experience with PnP campaigns, mostly with low level characters and exclusively with 3rd Edition rules. I have not played a CRPG or a PnP campaign using 3.5 rules, so please keep in mind that this is entirely theoretical. I am posting this for input and advice on the feasibility of these builds in reality.


    Characters
    These will be the presumed stat builds; for expediency, I used point-buy as per NWN, and distributed the 3 extra stat points from leveling already.

    Human Fighter lvl. 12
    STR 18 (+4)
    DEX 15 (+2)
    CON 17 (+3)
    WIS 10 (+0)
    INT 8 (-1)
    CHA 8 (-1)

    Human Ranger lvl. 12
    STR 14 (+2)
    DEX 18 (+4)
    CON 16 (+3)
    WIS 14 (+2)
    INT 8 (-1)
    CHA 8 (-1)


    Gear
    Obviously, weapons are important in two-weapon fighting. In order to maximize chances of hitting, I decided to give the ranger the same main hand weapon as offhand (i.e. any light, I usually choose short sword) to exploit Weapon Finesse’s benefits. The fighter, who will not be DEX dependent, will be using a bastard sword in main hand and a short sword in the offhand.
    Neither will be using shields, obviously, so there are two options of armour for the fighter: either medium armour, ideally a breastplate, or use full plate (which is marginally better). The ranger will stick with a chain shirt.


    Feats
    The primary advantage for the fighter, for this build, would be the feats available (The tiers of Weapon Focus/Specialization), as well as accelerated acquisition that allows the fighter to quickly level out with the combat efficiency of the ranger who does not have to spend feats on two-weapon fighting. NOTE: I have not listed the ranger’s abilities gained like Favoured Enemy or Animal Companion simply because they are non-applicable to the later portions of this post. At lvl. 12, the fighter has a total of Their feats would be as follows (in order of acquisition):

    Fighter
    Two-Weapon Fighting
    Exotic Weapon Proficiency: Bastard Sword
    Weapon Focus (Offhand)
    Weapon Focus (Main hand)
    Two-Weapon Defense
    Weapon Specialization (Main hand)
    Weapon Specialization (Offhand)
    Greater Weapon Focus (Offhand)
    Greater Weapon Focus (Main hand)
    Power Attack
    Greater Weapon Specialization (Main hand)
    Greater Weapon Specialization (Offhand)
    Cleave

    Ranger
    Track (AUTOMATIC)
    Weapon Finesse
    Weapon Focus
    Two-Weapon Fighting (AUTOMATIC)
    Two-Weapon Defense
    Endurance (AUTOMATIC)
    Power Attack
    Improved Two-Weapon Fighting (AUTOMATIC)
    Cleave
    Greater Two-Weapon Fighting (AUTOMATIC)
    Diehard (May be replaced with another feat if you like)

    Now that we have the stats, equipment, and feats, we can begin to look at the actual results.


    Maximum Hitpoints
    Fighter: 156
    Ranger: 132

    Thus the fighter has appx. 18% more hitpoints.


    AC
    Fighter: 18 (Penalty -4, reduced speed) or 19 (Penalty -6, reduced speed, run at triple speed)
    Ranger: 19 (Penalty -2)

    The ranger definitely edges out the fighter here.


    Saving Throws
    The ranger wins here, quite handily.

    Fighter
    Fort.: +11
    Ref.: +6
    Will: +4

    Ranger
    Fort.: +11
    Ref.: +12
    Will: +6

    Skills
    Fighter: 15 skill points total
    Ranger: 75 skill points total.

    Need I say more? The ranger has 400% more skill points.


    Fighting Capabilities
    The fighter massively surpasses the ranger here; no contest.

    Fighter
    DAMAGE
    Main hand: 1d10 +4 (STR) +2 (W. Spec.) +4 (G. W. Spec.)
    Offhand: 1d6 +2 (STR) +2 (W. Spec) +4 (G. W. Spec.)
    Thus:
    Main hand: 11 – 20
    Offhand: 5 – 11

    Pretty good. But the fighter has only 4 attacks per round, right?

    TO HIT
    +4 STR, +1 W. Focus, +2 G. W. Focus, -2 Dual-Wield penalties
    Thus:
    Main hand
    +17 / +12 / +7
    Offhand
    +17

    Thus, presuming all attacks hit, we can calculate the damage potential:
    [(11 x 3) + 5] to [(20 x 3) + 11] = 38 to 71 damage per round.

    Ranger
    DAMAGE
    Main hand: 1d6 +2 (STR)
    Offhand: 1d6 +1 (STR)
    Thus:
    Main hand: 3 – 8
    Offhand: 2 – 7

    Rather low damage. The ranger, however, has 6 attacks per round.

    TO HIT
    +4 DEX, +1 W. Focus, -2 Dual-Wield Penalties
    Thus:
    Main hand
    +15 / +10 / +5
    Offhand
    +15 / +10 / +5

    Thus, presuming all attacks hit, damage potential is as follows:
    [(3 x 3) + (2 x 3)] to [(8 x 3) + (7 x 3)] = 15 to 45 damage per round.

    Now, to calculate the average damage by considering the chances to hit. AC 20 will be used for the calculations.

    Fighter
    17 / 20 = 85%
    12 / 20 = 60%
    7 / 20 = 35%
    17 / 20 = 85%
    Average to hit: 66.25% chance to hit, therefore:
    Average damage range: (38 x 0.6625) to (71 x 0.6625) = appx. 25 to 47 damage per round.
    Average damage: 36

    Ranger
    15 / 20 = 75%
    10 / 20 = 50%
    5 / 20 = 25%
    15 / 20 = 75%
    10 / 20 = 50%
    5 / 20 = 25%
    Average to hit: 50% chance to hit, therefore:
    Average damage range: (15 x 0.5) to (45 x 0.5) = appx. 8 to 23 damage per round.
    Average damage: 16

    The fighter does appx. 125% more damage than the ranger, and has appx. 33% more chance to hit.


    Extras on the Ranger

    Spells
    At lvl. 12 and with WIS 14, the ranger has spell slots as follows:
    1: 2
    2: 2
    3: 1
    From my experience, first level spells are either ‘toolkit’ spells with a broad, but small usage, or are related to animals. Second level has some more animal-related spells, but has stat buffs as well as barkskin; thus very valuable. Third level is similar to first level in style, but the addition of Greater Magic Fang as well as curative magic (healing and poison/disease removal) is pretty useful.

    Animal Companion
    I haven’t actually had any experience with these, so there may be errors. I chose a wolf, keeping with the combat-related feats. Unfortunately, your effective druid level that affects the bonuses is half the actual level, so I’m not really sure how great the companion is even if you cast Greater Magic Fang on them. Alternatively, you could have a good mount.

    Wolf
    Max. HP: 66
    AC: 19
    BAB: +3
    Dmg.: 1d6 + 2; 3 – 8; 6 avg.
    Saving Throws
    Fort.: +5
    Ref.: +5
    Will: +1 (+5 total vs. enchantment)

    Feats
    First off, the ranger gets favoured enemy. Pretty damn good; unfortunately, it only applies to one creature type, so it isn’t always in effect. Also, even at level 12, when you’ve got your 3rd level of FE and thus +6 on damage, if everything you fought was a FE, the damage still wouldn’t come close to a fighter’s, nevermind you’re still at a comparative disadvantage in terms of chances to hit.
    The ranger also gets Endurance, which is pretty useful, and opens up the way for Diehard. Quite nice, and useful inside and outside of combat.
    Wild Empathy, Woodland Stride, Camouflage and Hide In Plain Sight are all useful, but not universally: generally speaking, they depend upon the terrain you’re in. Nonetheless, it makes you more versatile.
    Track and Swift Tracker are useful, but once again, not universally: it may not be needed in all situations, or may not be feasible due to too high of a DC. Still, they’re automatic feats, and once again, more versatility.


    Conclusion
    As far as I can tell, the fighter far outstrips the ranger in two-weapon combat. In a tabletop campaign, though, the ranger would have greater versatility due to spells, automatic feats, and other abilities: however, it seems that the usefulness of these is either somewhat mediocre or limited to certain situations. There are a good handful of excellent abilities the ranger has though. Secondly, the ranger has far more skills: this amplifies the versatility manifold. I cannot rightly speak on this as I have had extremely limited experience with PnP campaigns, but I believe that with a well-built party where the characters complement each other, the ranger’s extra abilities would be somewhat superfluous, and worth losing for the far superior combat capabilities of the fighter.

    Thus, in summary, my conclusion is that the fighter is far superior in combat, but the ranger has better versatility. Unfortunately, I cannot determine if the ranger’s versatility is worth the diminished combat effectiveness provided the character is in a well-rounded party.

    Any advice or commentary is greatly appreciated.

    [ June 21, 2007, 00:03: Message edited by: Deviant ]
     
  2. kuemper Gems: 31/31
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    Looks fine to me. Just a question and some advice.

    Why Exotic Weapon Prof.? It seems a waste of a feat. You'd be better off using a couple martial weapons and taking Greater Cleave as a feat after Power Attack and Cleave or Quick Draw instead.

    A lvl 12 fighter gets 3 attacks, even with 2 Weapon Fighting. All that does is negate the penalties for wielding 2 weapons by 2, so if you have 2 Weapon Fighting and offhand weapon is light: -2/-2 to attack. Ex: first hit (main) +17, second hit (offhand) +12, third hit (main) +7. You can pick which attack you are using with the offhand though.

    This is just what I remember from my PnP experiences.
     
  3. Deviant Gems: 1/31
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    About the number of attacks; from reading the manual, it says: 'If you wield a second weapon in your offhand, you get one extra attack per round with that weapon'. So I think it'd be 3 attacks with the main hand, and then the one extra attack with the offhand. I know Two-Weap. Fighting just reduces penalties; it's the advanced tiers of that feat that give extra attacks.

    Original reason for the Exotic Prof. was to use a bastard sword for highest possible damage: like I said, I haven't been able to play PnP so I'm not sure if the extra damage is worthwhile compared to Greater Cleave or Quickdraw (Both were very tempting). But given that there's only a loss of 2 avg. dmg. by using a longsword instead of a bastard sword, that does look like it's a bit of a wasted feat. Thanks for pointing that out.
     
  4. martaug Gems: 23/31
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    on the fighter, drop 2 weapon defense & exotic weapon prof. instead take improved 2 weapon fighting &greater 2 weapon fighting.

    you now get 3 attacks primary hand & 3 attacks offhand
    both sets at +12/+7/+2
     
  5. Gnarfflinger

    Gnarfflinger Wiseguy in Training

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    Now to throw a whench into the calculations, Try a Rogue for this.

    I think that NWN uses a 30 point buy.

    I reccommend:

    S 10
    D 19 (3 points from level)
    C 14
    I 16
    W 10
    C 8

    That gives a maximum of 96 HP, much less than Fighter or Ranger.

    Feats:

    Two Weapon fighting (1)
    Acrobatic (Human Bonus feat)
    Quick Draw (3)
    Weapon Focus (6)
    Improved 2 weapon (9)
    Expert Tactician (Sword and Fist, 12th level)

    The real reason why I suggest Rogues is the Sneak attack. When the opponent is caught off guard or flanked, every attack gets extra 6d6 of damage!

    So basically, that's 4 normal attacks then an extra partial action, where you get a last attack at full base attack bonus...

    So with all 5 attacks, that's an extra 30d6 damage!

    I've also experimented with fighter and rogue combinations (the Gestalt character in Unearthed Arcana). At 12th level you'd be 10 in each class, for 6 extra feats and 5d6 on each attack (when the opponent is vulnerable to sneak attack). You'd have d10 hit dice, Fort and Ref as good saves, and 8 (9 for humans) plus intelligence modifier skill points per level.
     
  6. Deviant Gems: 1/31
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    Holy kerrap. The sneak attack would be crazy, the class combo as a whole would be feasible. I'll look at that in detail sometime (i.e. once I'm finished examinations) and maybe post the results after I've tweaked things around. I was thinking about ending up with Fighter 12/Bard 1/Dragon Disciple 7 (Or 10, with epic levels) for the post-lvl. 12 aspect of the character, but I'll look at things involving rogue levels.

    To Martaug,getting Imp. 2-Weap. Fighting and G. 2-Weap. Fighting would be nice, but isn't possible: they require 17 and 19 DEX respectively. No point in going that high with the build.
     
  7. Fabius Maximus Gems: 19/31
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    For a real comparision, the stats should be the same with both characters. You gave the Fighter lower Dex and then state that he has a lower AC.
     
  8. LKD Gems: 31/31
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    would it be bad taste to bring up a prestige class? The Tempest rocks for this sort of thing.

    Also, when it comes to feats, there are two (from PHB2, Complete Adventurer or Complete warrior, my memory is weak) that would help immensely -- the first is Wield Oversized Offhand Weapon (or something close to that, anyhow) that lets you wield a one-handed weapon in your off hand, and Monkey Grip, which lets you wield a weapon one size category bigger than usual in your main hand (though not your off-hand.) Couple these and you increase your damage potential significantly.
     
  9. Deviant Gems: 1/31
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    Same stats for both characters wouldn't be much of a comparison at all. They have different needs for different capabilities. I gave the fighter the least DEX needed because that class would be using STR for all rolls; the ranger needs higher DEX for weapon finesse, and because it can only wear light armour.

    The oversized weapon feats sound interesting, I've been too dead broke to afford any sourcebooks outside of the core rulebooks so I really don't know what's all available. I'll try and hunt down info on the feats, figure out if they're a worthwhile tradeoff (Would probably sacrifice Two-Weap. Def. to take them; the Exotic Prof. would also be null so there's no problem there). I'm primarily concerned about penalties to attack bonuses: Monkey Grip I have heard of, and I think it gives -2 penalty. Dunno though; I'll look into it.
     
  10. LKD Gems: 31/31
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    For a fighter with Weapon focus and Greater weapon focus, that offsets the -2 penalty for the Monkey grip feat. The increased damage is TOTALLY worth it. Also, I'd argue that the ranger doesn't need that high a Dex because he gets his two weapon fighting feats regardless of his dex, so he could boost his Strength (and therefore his damage.)
     
  11. Deviant Gems: 1/31
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    I went with a DEX-focused ranger because the dual-wielding feats are lost as soon as you wear anything greater than light armour: I figured picking up Weap. Finesse and focusing on DEX would be the best way to compensate for that. Definitely could swap STR and DEX at the loss of two AC, but it would also free up a feat (For the sake of compensation, I guess even Toughness could be taken so that despite the lower AC the ranger could deal with taking damage). Still, though, the extra damage received there wouldn't really help the ranger that much in the long run; thus I reasoned attack roll and AC bonuses might be better (since the ranger already has low HP and limited sources of armour). Could probably change the focus the STR over DEX though.
     
  12. Drew

    Drew Arrogant, contemptible, and obnoxious Adored Veteran

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    Scout 3/Ranger 3/Dervish 10/Ranger 4

    Take the swift hunter and improved skirmish feats. You will now be able to move and full attack in the same round during your dervish dance, which will also grant you the ability to apply 5d6 points of precision damage on every attack.....every round. Thanks to swift hunter, your Ranger and Scout levels will stack for the purpose of skirmish damage and favored enemies. On top of that, you are able to apply the precision damage to your favored enemies as well.....even if they are immune to critical hits.

    The dervish dance also grants an untyped bonus to hit and damage (+5 at level 10) and allows you to treat the scimitar as a finessable weapon. IIRC, the class also gives you spring attack and cleave, even though you are unlikely to meet the pre-reqs for them.
     
  13. Gnarfflinger

    Gnarfflinger Wiseguy in Training

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    Is that the Scout from Mercinaries (AEG) or from some other book. And also, is Dervish from Masters of the Wild or another source?

    Relevent questions with the OGL...
     
  14. Faragon Gems: 25/31
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    Scout is from Complete Adventurer and Dervish from Complete Warrior (iirc)

    They're 3.5 books.
     
  15. Gnarfflinger

    Gnarfflinger Wiseguy in Training

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    Okay. I haven't had access to any of those books, and am saving my money until I get a chance to get a regular gaming group together...
     
  16. chevalier

    chevalier Knight of Everfull Chalice ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    Looks like you've adopted the scientific method supported with calculations, so you undoubtedly know more than I do about the specifics at this point. However, the simple choice for me would be either the 3.5 ranger with the appropriate style, or a fighter for the multitude of feats to spare. Note, however, that the fighter needs the stat points in DEX to meet the minimal requirements, whereas the ranger can save them. Not like you don't need DEX with the ranger, anyway, since the styles are restricted to light armour.

    Remember that you need 17 and 19 DEX for further dual-wielding feats. The 15 is only for the first additional attack. The following ones cost more feats and require more DEX.
     
  17. Drew

    Drew Arrogant, contemptible, and obnoxious Adored Veteran

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    @Chev: Frankly, if you aren't going with a dex build, the TWF path is pretty much a waste. A Fighter/Barb/Ranger/Etc/Dervish would waste a dual wielding fighter or ranger before they even knew what hit them because he gets a +5 bonus to hit and damage which stacks with any bonuses gained from strength or specialization.....and he can move and full attack in the same round. Your fighter or ranger build gets one (maybe 2 if he picks the right feats) attack in the first round while the dervish gets a full attack. A dervish also out-damages a fighter build since, at most, the fighter is tacking +2 to hit and +4 to damage onto his attacks from greater weapon specialization (meaning he burned 4 feats already). The dervish, on the other hand, gets +5 to both (and didn't have to spend any feats to pull it off). If he was a fighter before taking the PrC, he can also take specialization and improved weapon focus, meaning that he's getting +7 to hit and damage, albeit at the cost of 3 feats. If you are going for a fighter/PrC type build, it can work, but I wouldn't go beyond specialization with a dervish.
     
  18. LKD Gems: 31/31
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    Drew, the two weapon fighting build is pretty tough to do well without high dex, but it could be done with Monkey Grip, Oversized Two weapon fighting and some of the other low level two weapon fighting feats (two weapon defense, two weapon rend, two weapon pounce). If you coupled that with greater Specialization and Focus, not to mention Improved Critical, Power Critical, Melee Weapon Supremecy and such, you could have a respectable character. The way I see it, a fighter could have a Large bastard sword in his main hand, a regular sized one in his off hand, and be dealing out criticals and otherwise doing all sorts of tricks even if his DEX is only at 15.
     
  19. Drew

    Drew Arrogant, contemptible, and obnoxious Adored Veteran

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    @LKD: A fighter with a build like that will still have his ass handed to him by a dervish. Also, monkey grip and oversized TWF are both piss poor feats. You get an exceedingly minimal bonus to damage (from monkey grip) at the cost of 2 to hit.....on top of the -4 you are already taking for fighting with 2 large weapons.....so you are already making all of your attacks at -6. If you must use oversized two weapon fighting, power attack -2 will actually add more to your average damage than monkey grip will....and when you really need the extra points to hit, you have the option of not power attacking. Seriously, you are much better off using a light weapon in your off hand and spending the 3 feats you just wasted on the Bastard Sword, monkey grip, and oversized TWF on something like discern weakness (so you can ignore the first 5 points of your enemy's damage reduction) or dodge, mobility, and elusive target so you can stop that hulking charger from one shotting you with a -15 power attack, and trip people (with no risk of being tripped, yourself) who try to hit you with attacks of opportunity when you leave their threatened square.
     
  20. The Shaman Gems: 28/31
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    TWF can be okay, but monkey grip... meh. A large greatsword does, on average, 2 points of damage more, and you get -2 to attack. Power attack would give you 4 consistent points of damage for that -2, and you can turn it off or modify it as you see fit. Except for the epic feat that requires it, MG is poor.

    The fighter, if he intends to dual-wield, should try to dual-wield the same weapon or get into the tempest PrC (CWarrior), which would basically make it the same. For all reasons aside from the sheer number of feats (note, he would get say 6 or so less, but some class features that compensate for that) and Weapon Supremacy, a TWF fighter can be better suited to take the Dervish and Tempest PrCs to the fullest.

    The main problem with TWF is that it requires additional stats and its damage output is more dependent on issues such as damage or elemental resistance. DR 10/- or /silver, or any DR bypassed by a property you do not have, hits two-handed weapons less than two weapons. It is good to address such issues, say by using weapons with the metalline enhancement or with additional damage (corrosive burst is a good choice imo - acid resistance is relatively rare, unlike fire and cold) if you would use two weapons for your characters.

    My solution to the dervish problem is a bit simpler: ready an action for a trip attack (high str and improved trip help a lot) when he comes near. It's still not easy with that dodge ac bonus of his, but a lvl 20 character at least has a decent chance. Get a sweeping weapon (MoFaerun, iirc) for another +4 to the check.I'm not saying Dervish isn't a very good PrC, but it can be countered.

    [ July 26, 2007, 09:22: Message edited by: The Shaman ]
     
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