Developing to Spec: Part 16a — More Two-Weapon Fighting

This is the first section of Part Sixteen of a series of articles looking at creating a set of Starfinder feats under specific constraints.  You can read along as we convert every feat in the PF core rulebook to Starfinder (and  share my thoughts on that process, as a developer and writer)— or you can just look at the finished feats (as they are written, and I have time over the holidays to update the list) here.

We ran into Greater Two-Weapon Fighting last week, which meant we also need to tackle its prerequisites of Two-Weapon Fighting and Improved Two-Weapon Fighting. We got the first one of those in place, and now we need to build off of it… and that leads to a discussion about specialization.

It’s obvious that the more character choices a player puts into one thing, the better the player wants their character to be at that one thing. It’s equally obvious that the more a character focuses on being good at one thing, the less benefit they’ll have to everything else. Therefore, the less effective they will be when their specialization doesn’t apply to a given situation or is at a severe penalty. What’s less obvious is why allowing someone to make this tradeoff endlessly is a problem.

For example, in Starfinder Weapon Focus gives you +1 to attacks with one class of weapons (+2 if your attack bonus is far enough behind). Imagine if you could gain another +1 by taking two more feats, and another by taking three feats, and so on. That would mean if you invested 10 feats into one class of weapons, you’d be at +4 to attack rolls. That’s a HUGE investment, so that has to be balanced, right?

But actually, that cause TWO imbalances. If you are in an encounter where that class of weapon is a fair or better choice, you’ll perform much better than the encounter is designed to account for, and you’ll be much more effective than other characters (often reducing their fun, and yours too if nothing is a challenge for you). But when you can’t use your specialized tactics, you are going to perform worse than the encounter is designed for, which is less fun for you (and for everyone else, if they have trouble taking up your slack). Instead of being more fun for being super-good at one thing, you risk being so specialized you create problems in any encounter.

Now there’s a big difference between investing 10 feats in something and investing three, so our Two-Weapon Fighting feat chain may well be fine. But anytime we’re giving options to focus lots of resources into specialization, it’s important to make sure you aren’t encouraging that kind of double-imbalance. It’s one reason we’re avoiding doing anything that increases a character’s max bonuses and instead trying to give new options. Increased flexibility is less likely to lead to the double-imbalance issue (though as with any design concept, there are exceptions to look out for, like spell choice for spellcasters).

So, that in mind, what can we do that makes sense with a character using two weapons without breaking the game’s math? We could keep the track we created for Two-Weappon Fighting and give greater and greater reroll options for damage. But while increasing average damage isn’t the same as increasing total bonus to damage (which affects minimum and average and max), it does still boost a character’s total damage-per-round. If possible, we need to find new options.

You can maximize the benefit of fighting with two or more weapons.
Prerequisites: Dexterity 19+, Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, Two-Weapon Fighting, base attack bonus +9.
Benefit: When you are wielding two or more weapons, and you use one to take an attack of opportunity (AoO), before the beginning of your next turn you can use the other weapon to make an attack of opportunity if a different AoO against a different target presents itself and the second weapon could be used to make the AoO if you had a reaction left to do so. This second AoO does not take an action.

You gain additional benefits from fighting with two or more weapons.
Prerequisites: Dexterity 17+, Two-Weapon Fighting, base attack bonus +6.
Benefit: When you are wielding two or more weapons, and you attack a target that could be attacked with either of them, you may choose to attack the target with two of the weapons (expending charges or ammunition normally) as part of the same attack. If the two weapons are different, select one weapon as your primary, and the other as your secondary.

If your primary weapon’s attack is successful you do damage wit that weapons. However, if the secondary weapon has the aurora, block, breach, bright, deconstruct, deflect, disarm, drain charge, entangle, extinguish, feint, first arc, grapple, harrying, ignite, injection, lockdown, penetrating, sunder, or trip weapon special property, you may treat the attack as having that property.

If the two weapons are identical, you instead ignore any additional bonus to AC the target gains from aligning a shield it is wielding.

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About Owen K.C. Stephens

Owen K.C. Stephens Owen Kirker Clifford Stephens is a full-time ttRPG Writer, designer, developer, publisher, and consultant. He's the publisher for Rogue Genius Games, and has served as the Starfinder Design Lead for Paizo Publishing, the Freeport and Pathfinder RPG developer for Green Ronin, a developer for Rite Publishing, and the Editor-in-Chief for Evil Genius Games. Owen has written game material for numerous other companies, including Wizards of the Coast, Kobold Press, White Wolf, Steve Jackson Games and Upper Deck. He also consults, freelances, and in the off season, sleeps. He has a Pateon which supports his online work. You can find it at

Posted on December 17, 2019, in Game Design, Starfinder Development and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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