Committing to Dual-Weapon Attack

A follow-up to my GURPS-Day post from yesterday.

One concept that came up after the comment threads was whether a DWA is really an All-Out Attack (Double) and should just be left that way.

I don’t think so; after all, the picture in that post is me training dual-weapon use, and getting in a strike with each hand and also parrying is explicitly what we do, and it can happen pretty fast. That’s one of the reasons to use such light, balanced weapons (could be sticks, too; often is with escrima, and I have to imagine it could be knives or even machetes for something a lot nastier than a bamboo shortsword).

Still, there might be some merit to simply treating attacking with both hands like that as a dedicated variant of Committed Attack.

Committed Attack (Multi-Limbed Attack)


This variation on Committed Attack (Martial Arts, p. 99-100) allows the fighter to strike once with every limb, either simultaneously or in sequence. This type of strike is taught in any style that teaches two-weapon fighting.

Make one attack per limb, unarmed, with a ready melee weapon, or a one-handed ranged weapon like a pistol. If you’ve got tons of arms, you can group them. A six-limbed creature could make three multi-limbed attacks with a bow or slingshot or rifle, each of which requires two hands.

Each attack is at -4; this is not per limb, but a general penalty per group of attacks. You may target any hit locations on one foe that you wish with each attack, so long as it is in reach.

It can and often is combined with Rapid Strike. Each subsequent group of attacks is at an additional -6 to hit. So launching four strikes with a pair of escrima sticks would be at -10 each.

Abilities like Weapon Master or Trained By a Master that halve Rapid Strike penalties do not halve the -4. If you were doing the same four strikes with WM or TBaM, they’d each be at -7.

This maneuver does not negate the effects of striking or defending with the off-hand; buy Off-Hand Weapon Training or Ambidexterity to mitigate.

Aiming Ranged Weapons: Pick one. The rest are un-aimed unless you have appropriate advantages like multi-targeting or whatever.

Option: If you want those first strikes to be more accurate, but they get worse the more you do, make them grouped: the first two are -4/-4, the second -10/-10, the third (!) -16/-16, or -4, -7, and -10 with the right advantage (WM or TBaM as appropriate).

Movement: Step.

Active Defense: The attacker is at -2 to all defenses, but may only make one-handed parries. If you are launching flurries of Multi-Limbed Attacks using Rapid Strike, each additional group imposes an extra -3 to Parry.

Example: You wish to strike a foe four times, twice with each of your limbs. You attack at -10 per strike, parry starting at -5, and block (unlikely to have a shield) and dodge at -2. If you have to parry twice before your next turn, that -4 per additional parry stacks, making your first parry -4 and the second -8.


Parting Shot


Not exactly where I started yesterday, but this one might mirror better my experience training with two weapons. You can hit very fast, and getting in four strikes in one second alternating is not beyond reason. A base Parry of -5 to do that doesn’t seem too far wrong, and eating a skill penalty of -10 on each attack meas that do to it you’ll likely have to throw telegraphic attacks, meaning you’re still doing it at -6 each, and they’re +2 to defend against (but hey, four attacks eats up your foe’s parries quickly as well).

It might wind up being a simpler option than the usual DWA box, too. It feels like a better trade-off of attack and defensive ability, and stacks and combines with Rapid Strike in a way that enables, rather than forbids, player actions.

4 thoughts on “Committing to Dual-Weapon Attack

    1. Thinking about this, I realized something – if DWA is a Committed Attack, then DWA isn't a great option for highly skilled two-weapon fighters. They're better off just using Rapid Strike and Attack, as it preserves their defenses to a much better degree. If you can already absorb that -6 (or -3) easily enough, you don't get enough value by trading up to CA (DWA) compared to just taking more attacks above and beyond the 2 you get from a basic Rapid Strike.

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