How Does Dual Wielding Work in DnD 5e?


Dual Wielding, or as it is properly called in DnD 5e Two-Weapon fighting is quite a peculiar fighting style. I’d even argue that it’s on the same level of strangeness as multiclassing.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with taking either/or. The reason for this is because it is very situational. And not only recommended for more experienced players who know how to build a character properly.

Just as multiclassing strips you from those last few levels in your original class if you opt to multiclass. Dual Wielding strips you of your bonus action that you could have used for something much more useful.

But, let’s not ramble on, and get on with it.

What is Dual Wielding in DnD 5e?

Dual Wielding or Two-Weapon fighting is explained as such in the Player’s Handbook on page 195.

“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 are holding in the other hand. You don’t add your ability modifiers to the damage of the bonus attack, unless the modifier is negative.
If either weapon has the throw property, you can throw the weapon, instead of making a melee attack with it.”

And now to elaborate on what was said.

The mechanic of dual-wielding works as follows. You have the option of taking another weapon in your off-hand, and when you make an attack with your main hand; you can follow up that attack with the weapon in the off-hand.

Of course, as this is a bonus attack, you do not get to add on any ability modifiers on that attack – unless it’s a negative modifier that is affecting you as a whole.

The only weapons that you can dual-wield are the weapons that are considered “light.” You can also use heavy weapons but you’ll need the Dual-Wielder feat for that. We’ll get to that part later.

The weapons which are considered “light” are: Clubs, Daggers, Handaxes, Light Hammers, Sickles, Schimitars, Shortswords, and Hand-Crossbows.
Certain DMs allow Finesse weapons to be dual-wielded as well but that depends on the DM.

Now let’s talk about the importance of the Dual-Wielder feat.

The Dual-Wielder Feat

The aforementioned Player’s Handbook describes this feat as such.

“You master fighting with two weapons, gaining the following benefits.”

  • You gain a +1 bonus to AC while you are weilding a separate melee weapon in each hand.
  • You can use two-weapon fighting even when the one handed melee weapons you are wielding aren’t light.
  • You can draw or stow two one-handed when you would normaly be able to draw or stow only one.

That basically explains it, but let’s further elaborate.

As you probably already know. Most weapons types you can use without their corresponding feat – the feat only makes them worthwhile to use.

Sure you can dual-wield without the Dual-Wielder feat, but if you seriously plan to play a character who dual-wields throughout the whole campaign then why shouldn’t you be picking the feat up?

On top of giving you that nice + 1 bonus to AC which helps out, you get the main handicap removed. You can now wield heavy weapons as well, which can either be very powerful – or very silly. Just check that the heavy weapon in question isn’t a two-handed weapon, those are the only heavy weapons you can’t dual-wield.

And the final part, well that’s just more for roleplay in my opinion. Few DMs will make you roleplay actually drawing and stowing your weapons in each encounter.

Finishing Comments on Dual-Wielding

That basically covers how dual-wielding works. Although there are a few more things worthy to be mentioned about it.

As I mentioned in the introduction, it’s questionable how useful it will be to you, just like multiclassing. If you know what you are doing then it will end up fine, if not; it will most likely end in disaster.

Put plainly, certain classes can utilize dual-wielding much better than others. The Rogue for example is the class that will most commonly utilize this. And another is the Paladin surprisingly, this is because Divine Strike can be applied to both of the attacks, not just your main-hand weapon.
And as a wise man once said: “It’s hammer time.”

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