A dwarf races into battle, her two battle axes gleaming in the light of the dragon’s fire. She strikes at the dragon’s scaly toes first with the axe in her right hand.
Shouting a war cry, the dwarf swings again, this time with her off-hand, and slices into the quick of the dragon’s toenail. The dragon lets out a horrendous screech.
“Enough,” the dragon shouts. “Let’s talk.”
With two-weapon fighting, players get a chance to roleplay the fiercest warriors in all of Golarion. Whether you’re a rogue with a dagger in his boot or a dwarf with a pair of worn battle axes, you know more is more when it comes to weaponry.
How Does Two-Weapon Fighting Work?
Any character can fight with two weapons in Pathfinder 2e. By using actions in combat, characters can make multiple attacks during their turn. These weapon strikes can be made with either hand. Two-weapon fighting allows players to take advantage of the benefits of both weapons.
What’s a Multiple Attack Penalty?
Attacking more than once in a round takes a lot of energy. You become less accurate with each attack. Characters can Strike as many times as they have actions to do so, but each attack after the first is penalized.
If a player attempts a second Strike during their turn, they take a -5 penalty on their attack roll. Additional attacks are made with a -10 penalty.
The first attack of your turn has no penalty, even if you are wielding two weapons. Certain weapons can reduce your multiple attack penalty. Weapons with the Agile trait reduce the penalty on your second, third, and subsequent attacks.
|Attack||Multiple Attack Penalty||Agile|
|Third or subsequent||-10||-8|
How to Calculate Two-Weapon Fighting Attacks
Attacking more than once on your turn will result in a penalty on your attack roll. To calculate the penalty, start with the weapon you’re using. For example, your rogue might be wielding a rapier in one hand and a dagger in the other. For each Strike made during your turn, choose which weapon you’re going to attack with.
The penalty varies depending on factors like the weapon you’re using and how many attacks you’ve already taken that round. Agile weapons decrease the value of this penalty.
Also, some characters can learn abilities that improve their two-weapon fighting skills.
The mechanics of two-weapon fighting benefit characters who use at least one agile weapon.
Imagine a rogue wielding both a rapier and a dagger. The rogue starts her turn beside a bandit. With her first action, she attacks the sword. This attack has no penalty.
With her second Strike, the rogue uses her dagger. This attack roll has a -4 penalty. With her third action, she attacks with the dagger again. Her third attack has a -8 penalty.
Is Two-Weapon Fighting Worth It?
Fighting with two weapons not only looks incredible, but it can help your character deliver more damage on the battlefield. Two-weapon fighting has excellent potential for those who love getting up close and personal. When rogues surround you in a dark alley, that extra dagger in your boot might come in handy.
Some abilities can reduce the value of the penalties that come from attacking more than once per turn. Several classes contain feats that greatly enhance a character’s two-weapon fighting skill.
Two-Weapon Example Encounter
The following scenario includes a hypothetical encounter between a level 1 fighter named Gurry and two hungry Kobold Warriors. Gurry uses the Exacting Strike feat to increase his accuracy in this scenario. Gurry begins his turn adjacent to both Kobolds.
STR: 16 (+3)
DEX: 14 (+2)
Feats: Exacting Strike**
Name: Kobold Warrior x2
** With Exacting Strike, fighters can make a focused attack that doesn’t count towards their multiple attack penalty.
|Weapon Style||Strike 1||Strike 2||Strike 3||Total Damage|
|Longsword and a Dagger||10||7||Miss||17|
We can see that Gurry dealt more damage to his Kobold opponents using two-weapon fighting. While using a longsword and a dagger, Gurry did slightly more damage than he did with a single weapon.
Using two shortswords allowed Gurry to make quick work of the Kobolds, defeating them both in a single turn.
The Best Weapons for Dual-Wielding
Agile: The multiple attack penalty you take with this weapon on the second attack of your turn is -4 instead of -5, and -8 instead of -10 on the third and subsequent attacks in the turn.
Source: Core Rulebook pg. 282
Agile weapons are typically lighter and easier to wield than other weapons. Making multiple attacks with agile weapons is an effective strategy, especially in the early game.
The list of agile weapons available in Pathfinder 2e includes daggers, shortswords, spiked gauntlets, hatchets, light hammers, and starknives. Players can find a complete list of weapons and their properties in the Core Rulebook, pg 280-282.
|Dagger||1dp piercing||Knife||Agile, finesse, thrown 10ft., versatile S|
|Shortsword||1dg piercing||Sword||Agile, finesse, versatile S|
|Hatchet||1d6 slashing||Axe||Agile, sweep, thrown 10ft.|
Best Pathfinder Classes for Two-Weapon Fighting
While any character can fight with two weapons, some classes are better suited for this combat style than others. Rangers and rogues, for instance, have access to feats that offer additional advantages to two-weapon combat.
Rangers are famous for their prowess with martial weapons. While many rangers rely on ranged weapons like a longbow or crossbow to deal damage, it isn’t always possible for them to avoid close-quarters combat.
In a situation where rangers need to draw their axe, they often draw two. Rangers train for countless hours, perfecting their combat techniques. Master hunters, rangers can use their Hunter’s Edge feature to unleash a deadly flurry of attacks. When attacking their Hunted Prey, rangers reduce the penalties that come from making multiple attacks.
Rangers can also use feats to increase their two-weapon fighting skills. At Level 1, rangers can learn Twin Takedown. With this feat, your ranger can make two attacks against their Hunted Prey using a single action!
Rangers must be wielding two weapons to perform a Twin Takedown. Multiple attack penalties still apply to these attacks, but the ranger’s Flurry ability significantly reduces these penalties.
Players can read more about using flurry and other ranger class features in the Core Rulebook, pg 167-177.
Agile and opportunistic rogues are known for taking chances. Masters of precision attacks, rogues can use agile or finesse weapons to quickly destroy opponents with deadly Sneak Attacks. By wielding a rapier in one hand and a dagger in the other, rogues can take advantage of the traits of both weapons.
As a rogue, you’re likely to run into trouble. Whether working for a wealthy client or pickpocketing tourists, rogues have a knack for finding danger. Scoundrels to the core, rogues rely on their quick wits, silver tongues, and flourishing daggers to avoid capture or defeat.
Starting at Level 1, rogues can improve their two-weapon fighting skills by taking the Twin Feint feat. To use Twin Feint, a rogue must be wielding two weapons. Available to all rogue rackets, Twin Feat takes two actions but allows you to make a series of dazzling attacks that destabilize opponents.
The rogue can penetrate the enemy’s defenses by attacking from different angles. With Twin Feint, your rogue’s second attack will catch the enemy flat-footed, giving them a chance to use their Sneak Attack ability to deal extra precision damage.
No one in Golarion has greater mastery over weaponry than the fighter. With their advanced combat techniques training in advanced weapons, fighters are the perfect choice for players looking to make a character that focuses on two-weapon fighting.
When it comes to weapon choices, fighters have plenty of options. For those wielding two weapons, the combinations are endless. Unlike most characters, fighters are free to experiment with a wide range of weaponry.
At level 1, fighters can take the Double Slice feat to improve their two-weapon fighting technique. A fighter can use two actions to make two attacks at a single target with Double Slice. Both attacks are made at the fighter’s current multiple attack penalty as long as the second attack is made with an agile weapon.
At higher levels, fighters have the opportunity to take their two-weapon fighting skills even further. By taking Twin Parry at level 4, fighters can use two weapons to parry attacks.
After using Twin Parry, fighters gain a +1 circumstance bonus to their AC, or a +2 bonus if at least one of their weapons has the parry trait, until the start of their next turn.
And at level 12, fighters can take Two-Weapon Flurry to unleash two Strikes with a single action. While it might take some time to reach level 12, you’ll find the feats that become available make it well worth the effort, especially for fighters who specialize in two-weapon fighting.
Action Economy for Dual-Wielders
Characters who use two weapons will need to think twice about spending their actions each round. Dual-wielding PCs can get the most out of their weapons by carefully strategizing their attacks.
It’s usually best to use at least one agile weapon if you plan on playing a dual-wielder. Your first attack should be made using your strongest weapon. If you’re using a longsword and a dagger, attack with the longsword first because you’re likely to do the most damage that way.
Because agile weapons reduce multiple attack penalties, it’s best to use these weapons on your second or third strike. Most of the feats and abilities available that enhance two-weapon fighting require characters to focus both attacks on a single target.
Because of this, characters using two weapons to fight are especially useful on formidable enemies and bosses.
Remember that drawing a weapon requires you to use the Interact action. If you’re using two weapons, it will take two Interact actions to ready yourself for combat. Rangers and Rogues can use the Quick Draw feat to draw a weapon and Strike with it using a single action.
Can Anyone Fight with Two Weapons?
Pathfinder 2e does not restrict who can use two-weapon fighting. This means that any character can fight with any two weapons as long as he or she is proficient with them. Doing so may or may not be beneficial depending on your character’s class, what weapons you choose to fight with, and when you decide to attack with those weapons.
As a rule, only characters that specialize in melee combat will want to use two weapons. Most characters are better off sticking with a single sword, bow, or mace. Leave it to the pros to show off their ambidextrous abilities.
Can You Shove With Two Weapons?
Normally, characters can only Shove a creature if they have a free hand available. This makes it difficult to shove if you’re using two weapons. But using a weapon with the Shove trait will solve this problem.
Weapons with the Shove trait will allow you to shove a creature even if you don’t have a free hand. For instance, players wielding a mace can still attempt a Shove action even if they have a dagger in their other hand.
Shoving doesn’t come without its drawbacks, however. Critically failing to shove can cause you to lose your balance and fall prone. According to the Core Rulebook, characters can drop their weapon in the case of a critical failure to avoid falling prone.
Getting An Extra Attack with Haste
While fighting with two weapons doesn’t necessarily give you extra attacks, that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. If you happen to be friends with a wizard, you might be able to gain more attacks through the power of magic!
One way to gain an action is to have someone cast haste on you. Available to 5th level wizards and sorcerers, haste is a third-level spell that gives a character the quickened condition. The extra action granted by haste can be used for Strike or Stride actions.
It Takes Two
One sword isn’t always enough in Golarion. Having an extra blade at your side一or, a dagger in your boot一can make a world of difference. Fighters, rogues, and rangers are especially suited to the two-weapon fighting style.
If you’ve always wanted to play a superior swashbuckler capable of bashing baddies with a blade in each hand, now’s your chance. In Pathfinder, you can be almost anything you’d like, including the best swordsman Golarian has ever seen.