Advantage for Duel Wielding Ranged Weapons

Currently, there is no mechanical advantage to not using a shield with a close-ranged, short-ranged, or non-physical attack, making the use of a shield strictly better. I would propose the following changes to make all options more balanced:

  1. When you are not holding a shield or non-weapon, you get advantage 1 on all attacks (works for ranged and non-physical now).

  2. Extraordinary focuses (orbs, wands, runes, holy symbols, etc.) are a new type of weapon with an “Non-Physical” range (also added to unarmed strikes) (allowing you to use them in accordance with Rule 1).

  3. Close, Short, and Non-Physical attacks now have disadvantage 2 in melee range, while Medium, Long, and Extremely Long have disadvantage 3 (going up from disadvantage 1 to all ranged weapon attacks to rebalance after Rule 1).

Any advise on more appropriate balancing with a reason why would be appreciated as I plan to GM with these rules sometime early next year. Some disclaimers:

  1. I have not had the chance to play the game yet, but have experience in trpgs and creating rules. It is because I’ve never had a chance to play that I am seeking community input.

  2. I don’t care if people think the rules as is are fine and the difference is negligable: in the givin situation, the use of a shield is strictly better and I see that as a problem to fix. I personally feel a tinge of regret every time I play a character build if there is a strictly better option. If you don’t care, then don’t feel obliged to comment.

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It’s interesting how you mention shields being strictly better, because the change you suggest removes one of the key reasons why you could choose to use melee weapons instead of ranged weapons or Extraordinary attributes. The advantage given to using melee weapons in both hands is there to offset the increased number of targets for ranged attacks and the increased versatility of Extraordinary attributes. Spreading it to all of those options gives you much less reason to use melee to begin with.

You’ve clearly recognised that this is a potential issue, but you’re relying on increasing the punishment mechanics to offset it which is not a good way to design a mechanic; it feels bad when it happens to you rather then feeling good when you cause it to happen. In this case, there is also a significant problem when Evasive Footwork comes into play; this investment of 2 feat points is now causing a much larger penalty to be ignored (because you can simply step back to ignore the disadvantage), and with no corresponding bonus for not doing that it becomes a major source of imbalance.

If you want a reason to not wield a shield in your offhand when using a ranged attack, the simplest solution is to add disadvantage to ranged attacks when you do. It’s far more reasonable to add a small penalty to one uncommon situation than rebalance everything else. It even makes some narrative sense: you almost never see people doing that in real life, either modern or historical, because it’s hard to aim a weapon accurately when you have something heavy on one of your arms. It’s also nearly impossible to aim two ranged weapons at once, which is a secondary reason why dual-wielding ranged weapons gives no advantage.


Thank you for the input! You are right that making the shield give disadvantage for ranged weapon attacks and non-physical attacks would be a lot easier and works just as well.


That’s a pretty elegant solution for this scenario. Sorry to necro with my two cents.

If you find that your players wondering about what can be done dual wielding ranged weapons, just think of just how far apart two targets can be when you spread your arms. Narratively, you can have a lot of fun with two ranged weapons. Probably the perpetual dual wielder will spring for multi-attack specialist and pull off some action movie maneuvers.

You could put a narrative cap on how far one arm can twist and wrist can fwip in six seconds. Perhaps present it as “If only your pistol could get to your other hand in time”, allowing other extraordinary means to pull off this stunt, of course.

Mechanically, the multi-target rules handle this well imo. They don’t put a baseline cap on heroes playing twister with themselves, leaving it open for GMs and players to decide the reality in their game’s setting and narrative. I think I’d give circumstantial disadvantage when players need some world class agility not to get tangled in themselves.