Dual-Weapon Attack and Rapid Strike

I’ll just start by assuming the conclusion: Dual-Weapon Attack should die.


I’m not saying it doesn’t serve a purpose, but I think Dual-Weapon Attack should be relegated to a special case of Rapid Strike, rather than a separate thing.

What you say?


Let’s look at DWA vs Rapid Strike, and see what gives.

First something I’d really forgotten, which assaults my initial premise right away: DWA is an optional rule to begin with, found tucked into a box on p. B417. Except for one obscure edge case involving throwing lots of shuriken at someone, you may not Rapid Strike on the same maneuver in which you DWA.

But again, what does DWA do?

  • It allows two attacks with a single Attack maneuver instead of an All-Out Attack (Double). This allows the attacker to retain defenses, a big deal.
  • It requires the use of both hands, using two different weapons or fists.
  • Each attack is at a base -4 to hit, but your off-hand penalties (if you have them) stack, making the usual attack -4 in the primary hand, and -8 in the off hand! 
  • DWA can explicitly be used with unarmed or armed melee weapons . . . or with a pistol.
  • You can buy it up as a technique to the point that your -4 is at no penalty. You need ambidexterity or off-hand weapon training to deal with the other -4.
  • The foe defends at -1 if both attacks are at one target.
  • You may attack more than one target, but for melee attacks they must be adjacent.
  • Weapon Master or Trained by a Master don’t halve penalties for this attack.

So for 10 points or less (5 for the technique, 5 more for Ambidexterity or OHWT, though Ambidexterity has been fiddled with for point cost) you can offset 100% of that -4/-8 penalty. Including shooting at two targets with two pistols, apparently.

What about Rapid Strike?

Found on p. 370, the Rapid Strike is rather simpler.

  • It’s an attack option, so can be added to any style of maneuver.
  • The off-hand weapon penalty presumably still applies if you use that second weapon, but you don’t have to; you may strike with one ready weapon twice, presuming it remains ready after a strike.
  • Allows two attacks, each at -6 (and presumably off-hand Rapid Strikes are at -10)
  • There is a Ranged Rapid Strike option in Tactical Shooting, which restricts targets to be within 30 degrees of each other; melee attacks suffer no such restriction.
  • There are no restrictions on weapon type for Rapid Strike
  • There are no penalties for the foe to defend against these attacks
  • Weapon Master and Trained by a Master halve the Rapid Strike penalty to -3.
Why Eliminate DWA?



Basically, other than one special case involving fist loads of thrown weapons held in two hands, having only one mechanical pathway to achieving more than one attack per Attack Maneuver is probably better. It allows all of the rules to refer to one place, and eliminates cases where the temptation is to use both (which is disallowed).

That being said, what it means is that Rapid Strike will collect cruft. The “I attack the same target with two attacks simultaneously” move is both legit and realistic, commonly trained. That means that collections of modifiers will be required, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Rapid Strike is already effectively a Technique (the penalties can even be bought off in the case of Combinations), and treated some of the other options either as modifiers and/or excerpts from the Technique Design System.

Redefine, not Eliminate

One might just look at DWA and say “what’s different?”

  • You get +2 to hit relative to Rapid Strike when all is said and done
  • Must use both hands, unarmed or with a one-handed weapon in each hand
  • The foe takes -1 to defend – that’s all defenses!
  • If attacking two foes, they must be adjacent.
  • You must use two different hands or weapons.

Which of these is worth anything in TDS? The -1 to all defenses is worth -4 (-2 for the first defense, -1 each for the other two). Must use two different weapons feels like it’s worth +1, and attacking two foes to be adjacent feels like limited target selection for another +1. Also, the -1 to defenses only applies vs attacking one target, not two; let’s arbitrarily break the TDS and say that reduces the value of the defense penalty by half to -2. Not getting the weapon master bonus seems like either a great benefit to get it, or a significant drawback if you don’t. 

Let’s table that; 

That leaves us even-up.

Can we Unify?

Form Blazing Rules!



Maybe: I think I see a way.

  • Each extra attack: -6
  • Forgo Weapon Master halving of multiple attack penalties: +2
  • Defense penalty: -1 to defend, but only if you attack twice on one target: -2
  • Must Attack adjacent targets if attacking two different targets: +1
  • Must use two different hands or weapons: +1

The condition on Weapon Master is problematic, and I’m going to have to invoke Rule Zero to prevent abuse. Here’s why:

Rapid Strike is just an extra attack at -6. Easy enough.

DWA is an extra attack (-6), doesn’t get penalties halved for WM (up to +4), is -1 to defend if you attack the same target, but no help if you don’t (down to -6), the conditional on adjacent targets and two different hands both apply. so final is -4, just like DWA is now. 

OK, so why not do a rapid strike, but forgo WM halving of penalties . . . especially if you don’t have WM, as most characters don’t? So an unconditional New Rapid Strike is -4 per attack, without all those pesky conditions. And since I don’t have WM, I won’t miss it. If I ever pick it up, each extra attack is -3 instead of -4. 

Unless, of course, that +2 only applies once. So if you do two attacks, it’s -4, but three attacks is -10, four is -16 without WM, but -3, -6, and -9 with it. 

That might not be so bad. If you go that way, maybe you don’t have to invoke Rule Zero, and say that only GM-created and/or GM-approved combinations are OK, to prevent the “disadvantage that’s not a disadvantage is worth no points” equivalent.

I’m also really tempted to give an additional penalty for changing hit locations: something like -2 for purposefully targeting two locations on the same target, and something like -6 per 60 degrees if you’re attacking with the same weapon twice. Now, though, you’re getting to a place where there are enough options to more than overload GMs and players.

Parting Shot

Taejoon Lee: These foes are not adjacent

This started as just an exercise to try and unify DWA and Rapid Strike with the purpose of eliminating special case rules by ditching the highly specialized Rapid Strike. It’s possible, but painful, to do it. The choices allow you to create things like a split kick, where you can attack any two targets in your front hexes (they don’t have to be adjacent), forgo WM halving of penalties, with two different feet, for Skill-3 (toss in the jump and you fall if you fail the attack for Skill-2 if you like). 

I’m not entirely sold on my idea; it’s possible to break this out, but I’m sure there are plenty of edge cases missed if you do. 

13 thoughts on “Dual-Weapon Attack and Rapid Strike

  1. I'd probably do something like: 'Rapid Strike with Multiple Weapons: you gain +2 per weapon used (which may not exceed the number of attacks made'. Since extra arms are 10 points each, granting a +2 to rapid strike per extra arm seems fair. DWA then becomes rapid strike with extra weapons for -4, which seems fair given the requirements of being ambidextrous and using one-handed weapons. The synergy with WM then becomes very strong, since you still halve the -6, but on the other hand you can no longer buy the DWA technique.

    1. I never really got why DWA required targets to be adjacent anyway. Same with not benefiting from TbaM/WM.

      I do like the -1 defend but maybe it is unnecessary considering you are using up one of your target's defences with the first attack anyway. Also you could Faint/Beat with the first attack… Not that that gives DWA an advantage over vanilla RS…hum maybe just throw the -1 defense in with the 'Rapid Strike with Multiple Weapons' rule. I don't think that would really make DWA super overpowered or anything…

  2. That's a way to go, it doesn't incorporate all the special cases involved in DWA (adjacency, defense penalty), but that might not be a bad thing.

    The other way to look at this, from the G+ comment feed, is to say DWA is a Committed Attack (Determined) with Rapid Strike, which has defensive penalties to the user (for those who feel like this sort of thing is for sport/dojo applications) and winds up in the same -4 place.

    Lots of ways to skin the cat. Poor kitty.

  3. Even simpler, and something my players and I fiddled with for a while:

    Rapid Strike is -6, -3 for Weapon Master or Trained By A Master. If you use two weapons against the same target instead of one weapon twice, the target gets a -1 to defend. An opponent with a two-handed weapon can used Dual Weapon Defense to parry both at the same time, however.

    If you really want, you can make a cinematic Technique to train up to -3 in Rapid Strike for a single extra strike, subject to the usual costs, and allow styles that realistically train DWA with limitation to spend a perk to get access to that technique with the same limitations they have on DWA.

    It worked fine, and I'm actually using the base rule at the top in my DF game. You won't notice because no player and few monsters use DWA.

  4. Oh yeah, and as one of the TDS writers, I'd say "Must hit the same target twice to inflict a defense penalty" isn't half cost on the technique. It's just another limitation, like possibly falling down or other restrictions. +1, not half cost. Half cost is extremely breakable.

    1. The long and short of it was I couldn't make the costing work out (-6 for one, -4 for the other) that well, but expecting them to work out by TDS was a long shot anyway.

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