(Sorry about the title)
This talent is still in development. I’m reasonably happy with the Basic, Expert, and Heroic tiers, Legendary looks okay now, but Master could use a bit of awesome and Champion doesn’t have anything yet.
You are trained to fight well with a melee weapon in each hand.
|Master||Improved Extra Attacks|
|Legendary||Web of Steel, Swift Extra Attack|
When fighting with a melee weapon in each hand, you may choose one weapon to use defensively. You gain a shield bonus and any other benefits available from that weapon.
Once per round when fighting with a melee weapon in each hand, as a single action you may make an attack with each weapon at full attack bonus.
When fighting with a melee weapon in each hand, if you successfully hit a single target with both weapons in a single action, you may viciously rend the target. Damage for both weapons is doubled.
Improved Extra Attacks
Twice per round when fighting with a melee weapon in each hand, as single actions you may make an attack with each weapon at full attack bonus.
Web of Steel
When fighting with a melee weapon in each hand, you may spend from your Dexterity pool (4/1 per round) to activate a blade barrier doing 20d6 damage, as the spell. Activating and maintaining this effect requires an action each round. Unlike the spell the web of steel is limited to twice your reach but may be moved or reoriented as a standard action (part of movement, sweeping the area between the original position and the new position — all creatures in the area of effect may make a Reflex save for half damage). The web of steel also provides cover (+4 AC, +2 bonus to Reflex saves) against attacks made through it.
Swift Extra Attack
Once per round when fighting with a weapon in each hand, as a swift action you may make an attack with each weapon at full attack bonus.
Off hand defense sounds nearly useless in isolation, and at basic it is in isolation. If I spend a talent I can use a weapon as a shield? Why bother when I could just have used a shield.
Similarly at expert, how often will two weapons do enough more damage than one two-handed weapon to be worth the talent? So I get a presumably small shield bonus and do a bit less damage on a full attack? This is worth an expert talent?
I’d combine the basic and expert talents into the basic talent. A bit of defense combined with a bit of offense strikes me as a reasonable minimum for training with two weapons. I’d probably add a rule that only the primary weapon can do precision damage (aka sneak attack if you have it), otherwise you’re in serious danger of a “must have” synergy. Then I’d move rend down to expert.
I don’t think Off-Hand Defense is entirely a “why bother” ability: it does let you switch between weapon+shield and weapon+weapon instantly. Normally that would take you a round (move action to ready/drop a shield, another move action to unsheathe your second weapon). Kjdavies doesn’t mention above what it takes to switch between the two modes of twoweaponing but I will assume from context it’s a swift or free action.
Not everybody wants to lug around a greatsword. But there are gamist advantages to using two short swords as well (specific examples chosen because 2d6=2×1d6). They’re cheaper, lighter, and you get two chances for a critical hit. If you need a free hand you can sheathe/drop one and still be able to stab things. Depending on the intent of Extra Attack you might be able to divide up your attacks between different targets as well.
I spent some time thinking about this since I read it last night, and I’m okay with Basic the way it is. Basic isn’t supposed to be very exciting, but being able to use other stuff as a shield, instead of a shield, can actually be pretty useful.
For one thing, almost everyone carries a knife, even if they have a better weapon. You can’t count on having a shield, especially in places you aren’t supposed to go to battle (downtown, say, or a fancy dinner). This is very much an urban or society sort of fighting style, so this fits. Also, you gain the other benefits of both weapons — something I haven’t touched much on, but for example someone offhanding a swordbreaker (or jitte, or some weapon made for offhand use) can see some more significant benefits.
At Expert you gain an additional attack, at full attack bonus. You may or may not have as big a maximum damage as a two-hander, but you will stand a better chance of doing *some* damage, at least (two rolls have to fail instead of one) and can probably do about as much. Overall this seems better to me than just picking up a big sword and getting the single attack.
Now, if greatsword specialization allows two attacks per action at Expert there might be a problem. However, that being the case I don’t think there will be a flurry option (or whatever) for greatswords at Expert.
On the other hand, if precision damage applies to all attacks, that could solve the relative damage problem. Yes, sneak attackers may want TWF for the increased output, but this fits the tropes and may be encouraged.
If anything, I’d want to beef Heroic up a bit more (or make the tier more defensive, or at least grant a primarily defensive benefit). I like combat talents to have a mix of offensive and defensive benefits, unless they are clearly one or the other (such as Shield Proficiency).
Rogues in 3E already can do sneak attack damage with every attack, and they do not pwn the game. It is a feature, not a bug, of that synergy.