Wielding two weapons without “Two-Weapon Fighting” or “Dual Wielder”?

We have a Barbarian on our team that very much likes to switch up his weapons; he goes from a Dwarven Hammer, to a pair of Hand-Axes, to occasionally just going bare-fisted. No issues there, he’s fairly adept with all 3.

However, I have only just recently picked up on the way that he rolls his attacks for the two Hand-Axes: He rolls the first attack, adds his modifiers etc. Then he rolls the second attack, this time without modifiers, which is all well and good. But I’m not sure if this action uses his bonus action or not, or is considered a separate action (though, being a level 4 Barbarian, he only has one action per turn), or is merely part of the same action.

If we have a look at the Two-Weapon Fighting feature from the Fighter’s fighting styles:

Two-Weapon Fighting
When you engage in two-weapon fighting, you can add your ability modifier to the damage of the second attack. (PHB5e p.72)

Similarly, the Dual Wielder feat also uses the Two-Weapon Fighting feat:

Dual Wielder
You master fighting with two weapons, gaining the following benefits:

  • You can use two-weapon fighting even when the one-handed melee weapons you are wielding aren’t light. (PHB5e p.164, emphasis mine)

So; yes, this gives a bonus to the second weapon attack, but having asked a separate question to clarify which action this secondary weapon attack belongs to, it was determined that this uses your bonus action;

[…] the second attack requires a bonus action

So after that long winded explanation, here is the question: Without any additional feats, can you wield and use two weapons at once, and if so, how many actions does it require to make a full attack with both weapons in a turn?

Does the second attack from the Dual Wielder feat require an additional action, or a bonus action, to carry out?

I am looking at taking the Dual Wielder feat (PHB, p. 165), but I am not entirely sure as to how it works specifically. It includes the following benefit, among others:

You can use two-weapon fighting even when the one-handed melee weapons you are wielding aren’t light.

Does this second weapon attack require an additional action, or a bonus action, to carry out?

How does the Dual Wielder feat interact with versatile weapons?

I have a level 4 Paladin with the Dual Wielder feat (PHB p. 165):

You master fighting with two weapons, gaining the following benefits:

  • You gain a +1 bonus to AC while you are wielding 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 weapons when you would normally be able to draw or stow only one.

He does not have the Two-Weapon Fighting fighting style. He is wielding a longsword in one hand and a handaxe in his other (a thrown weapon).

Can the paladin throw the handaxe, switch grips on the longsword to hold it two-handed, and then use his bonus action from Two-Weapon Fighting to swing the longsword as a two-handed weapon?

If yes, can he then end his turn by drawing another handaxe (2nd free object interaction for Dual Wielder, and assuming he has another axe to draw)?

Does the Dual Wielder feat require me to have the Two-Weapon Fighting fighting style as a prerequisite?

Say I choose the fighter class, and pick Two-Weapon Fighting as my fighting style; later in the game, I choose the Dual Wielder feat.

Does the Two-Weapon Fighting fighting style become obsolete, if Dual Wielder’s benefits are superior to the Two-Weapon Fighting fighting style?

And is the Two-Weapon Fighting fighting style a requirement for Dual Wielder?

Is this modified Dual Wielder feat balanced?


The Issue

So, it is well known that the Dual Wielder feat is bad. Even if you are building a Two-Weapon Fighting character, the feat is still worse than simply getting straight-forward ASI. Unlike Polearm Master which is a go-to for someone using a Polearm, or Crossbow Expert for someone using a Crossbow, or GWM/Sharpshooter as good increase in DPR against low-AC enemies, plus some nice utilities (extra attack with bonus action, or almost-infinite range), the Dual Wielder is the last thing you are getting as a Two-Weapon Fighter (although you are probably still getting it, at least).

Furthermore, the Dual Wielder feat as is, for me, is boring. If I am playing a dual wielder I probably want to be dealing lots of damage, not have a +1 AC. And finally, Dual Wielder pretty much assumes Two Weapon Fighting, which is known to be subpar as Extra Attacks get into the game, since the benefits of +1 attack get diminished when you are already able to make 3 attacks anyway.

To summarize, the issue I have is:

  • Two weapon fighting is already subpar.

  • The feat that should make this style more viable is near useless.

The Proposal

With that in mind, I decided to change the Dual Wielder feat for something more in line with the glass canon damage dealer I have in mind.

Dual Wielder

Prerequisite: Two-weapon fighting (Fighting Style)

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 take another Attack action with a different light melee weapon that you’re holding in the other hand. If you do so, Attack Rolls against you have advantage until your next turn.

So, the idea here is that now, if you have Extra Attack, your bonus action actually can use them.

Comparisons

As baselines, I have used the following Pure Fighter builds:

  • Greatsword, Great Weapon Fighting and +1 ASI.

  • Greatsword, Great Weapon Fighting and Great Weapon Master.

  • Two-weapon Fighting, +1 ASI.

After getting the feat, all levels are +ASI.

Obviously, at 4th level, TWF with +1 ASI is better (since you don’t get extra attacks yet), as well as the GS+GWM. At 5th level, it is still worse than GS + ASI for all ACs.

At 6th level, it starts getting interesting as we get +ASI in our primary attribute and that is used in each of our attacks. However, GS + GWM still outdamages this feat for low ACS (AC <= 13), GS + ASI outdamages for high ACs (AC >= 19), and the feat is the best option for mid-range ACs (13 <= AC <= 19). Note that this still comes at the cost of being vulnerable to enemy attacks with advantage. An example figure for better visualization.

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At 8th level, we get a +5 modifier in our main attribute and the feat starts to shine. It can only be outdamaged by GS + GWM for low ACs (<= 11), and shines for anything higher than that.

As we get higher proficiency bonuses and GWM starts to hit more often at higher ACs, GWM comes back against enemies up to 14 AC, however, the new feat still shines against high ACs – which are arguably more common at higher levels.

Trade-offs and concerns

So, basically, the feat gives a good damage potential (from my point-of-view), at the cost of being vulnerable. My concerns are:

  • I can see this being quite overpowered for a Fighter 17/Barbarian 2, exploiting the Rage Damage for +2*8 extra damage and Reckless Attack basically giving advantage with no cost, as the enemies are already getting advantage in their attacks anyway. One way to solve this is simply not allowing both features to be used.

  • I am not sure how this will impact Rangers with Hunter’s Mark. Rangers are quite bad in 5e in my opinion, but this could be a game changer for them. Would they get too strong?

  • Is simply giving advantage to attacks made from enemies enough to compensate for the considerable damage potential?

  • On the other hand, is this as good as it seems? Are my baselines good baselines, or am I using subpar damage dealers anyway and outdamaging them is no big deal?

Additionally, there are a few trade-offs that are not obvious on how to evaluate and depend on the campaign:

  • Getting one magic weapon is easier than getting two magic weapons.

  • Forcing 8 Concentration saving throws is better than forcing 4 concentration saving throws.

  • Having your bonus action for something else is better than not having your bonus action for something else (although it’s hard for me to figure out what would be better than using it to considerably increase your damage).

So, for example, if we take into account a +3 Magic Weapon at 20th level, the GS + GWM build outdamages the new feat up to 20 AC, and loses by less than 10% above that, without costing the bonus action and without costing advantage for the enemies.

So, for now, I think this is decently balanced, but am I missing something? This is a very simple change and I would assume someone has already tried it out, if this is the case, I would love to get an answer from actually testing it.

In the case it is overpowered, is there some way to balance it through making it "cost" more, but maintaining the idea of attacking twice the number of usual attacks?

If it is underpowered… Well, then dual wielding seems to have no hope other than for flavor haha.

How do I achieve Two-Weapon Fighting and Dual Wielder?

I’m quite new to D&D and as we finished our first adventure with preset characters we want to play the next one with personal characters. We would start with lvl 1 in the new adventure.I want it to be a Dragonborn Renegade with two weapons. Im not quite sure if its should be a Barbarian or a Fighter.In my imagination this fits best with holding two weapons at the same time. And because I love longswords I would like him to have two at the same time. So i want him to have Two Weapon Fighter and Dual Wielder, but in the Character-Builder of DND-Beyond I don’t find an opportunity to combine the two skills.

And the final question: how would that work in a fight? so how does the rolling work for that if its possible to combine those 2.

Do magic staves require the wielder to have their spells on his/her list in order to cast them?

All of the magic staves in the 5E DMG simply state that the wielder can use an action and expend 1 or more of its charges to cast one of the spells from it. Literally none of them require the spell to be on the caster’s spell list.

But a few of the magic staves from the Lost Mines of Phandelver–the Staff of Defense and the Spider Staff–specifically say “if the spell is on your class’s spell list”…is this a typo? A new addition to the rules on magic staves? Or just something specific to these particular staves (for some unknown reason)?

How many attacks exactly do I get combining Dual Wielder feat with Two-Weapon Fighting style?

It says at Two-Weapon Fighting attack option (PHB, 165):

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’re holding in the other hand.

And then there is Dual Wielder feat at PHB:

You can draw or stow two one-handed weapons when you would normally be able to draw or stow only one.

It somehow gave me an impression that I now may be able to do two attack in one action, and then the next two as the bonus action? Since it says that my weapon productivity literary doubles? Or else what use can be made out of this addition to feature?

I did as well choose a Two-Weapon fighting style as a Fighter class option, and at that point I am interested only in whether any of these provide me with right to stab people four times per turn or not.

How many attacks exactly do I get combining Dual Wielder feat with Two-Weapon Fighting style?

How would I design a magic item which allows the wielder to use the cantrip message?

I’m playing as a currently 4th level wizard with the cantrip “message”. In pretty much any situation where any of the other party members go ahead alone, to scout or the like, or in situations where being quiet is necessary, I always tell the DM that I’m pinging the other party members with message once each minute to check in on them. While I’m certain this is allowed RAW, it feels a little bit cheesy, and I’d like to craft a magic item which allows the other party members to cast message by themselves during our next downtime.

How would you go about designing this, using the rules from Xanathar’s and the DMG, and whatever other homebrew rules you like? What rarity would it be? How much would it cost to craft? Ideally it would not require attunement, and would not be very limited in uses. Seeing as this just replicates an ability I already have, I don’t imagine the DM would take much issue with it, as long as the costs are reasonable.