Off-Hand Weapons Use
All characters are presumed to be better with one hand than the other—in real life, most people are right-handed, quite a few are left-handed, and only a very few are truly ambidextrous.
When a character is first created, the player should specify his handedness (right or left). If he does not specify one, the DM should assume the character is right-handed.
If a character, for whatever reason, fights with his off-hand instead of his good hand, he suffers a –2 penalty to attack rolls with all attacks. For example, should a character find himself with his right hand chained to a wall, and yet he needs to draw and throw a dagger and must use his off-hand, he’ll then suffer the –2 penalty to attack rolls.
If you wish a character to be ambidextrous, consult “Ambidexterity,” below.
If a player wants his character to be ambidextrous, as described above under “Off-Hand Weapons Use,” he must devote one weapon proficiency to Ambidexterity.
If he does so, he’ll be able to fight normally with both hands, and will be equally adept at non-combat tasks with both hands.
This doesn’t give him two attacks per round. It just means that if he loses the use of one hand, or drops the weapon in that hand, he’ll be equally adept with the other.
Warriors may purchase all four Style Specializations.
Only single-class Warriors can ever learn more than one Style Specialization.
Only Warriors, Rogues and Priests can buy Style Specializations.
Only Warriors and Rogues can buy the Two-Weapon Style Specialization.
Weapons such as Bastard Sword, Javelin, and Spear, which can be used one-handed or two-handed, with or without a shield, can have up to four different Style Specializations taken for them.
A character may begin play with only one Style Specialization. If he is a single-class Warrior, may learn others as he gains new Weapon Proficiencies through experience.
Single-Weapon style means that the character wields a one-handed weapon in one hand and nothing in the other.
The advantage of single-weapon style in the AD&D® game is that the character keeps a hand free for grappling, for switching weapons, for surprise maneuvers, for whatever comes along in the course of combat.
The main disadvantage to this style is that the character does not gain the benefit of a shield’s AC bonus.
If the character devotes a weapon proficiency to Style Specialization with Single-Weapon Style, he gets a +1 AC bonus when using any one-handed weapon (for which he has proficiency) in Single-Weapon Style. He doesn’t get the bonus if he carries a shield or weapon in his off-hand.
Additionally, he can devote an extra proficiency to Single-Weapon Style and have a total +2 AC when fighting in this style. That’s the limit, though: He cannot devote more than two proficiencies (for a total of +2 AC) with Single-Weapon Style.
Two-Hander Style involves carrying and wielding a weapon with both hands. Naturally, many weapons (including polearms, the great axe, the two-handed sword, and others) require two-handed technique. Other weapons (such as bastard sword, javelin, and spear) have it as a listed option. (Two-handed options for Harpoon, Javelin, Long Spear, Spear, and Trident are given in the Equipment section of this Complete Book of Fighters, I can supply this information, if needed.)
The main advantage of two-handed weapon technique is that it allows the character to wield large two-handed weapons which can do substantial amounts of damage.
It requires two disarm strikes during the same round to disarm a person using a two-handed weapon, or a one-handed weapon in two hands.
As with single-weapon use, two-handed weapon technique has the drawback that the user cannot wear or use a shield, or gain the shield’s AC bonus.
You can, by devoting a weapon proficiency to it, take a Style Specialization with Two-Hander Style.
Style Specialization with Two-Hander Style gives you a very specific benefit: When you’re using a weapon two-handed, that weapon’s Speed Factor is reduced by 3.
For example, a fighter with Two-Hander Style Specialization and wielding a Bastard Sword can wield his weapon faster in two-handed style than in one-handed style. Used in one hand, the Bastard Sword has a Speed Factor of 6. In two hands (normally), it has a Speed Factor of 8. But used in two hands by someone with Two-Hander Style Specialization, it has a Speed Factor of (8–3) 5.
This is because when a fighter wields such a weapon with both hands on the hilt, he has more leverage on the blade and can move it faster. That’s what Style Specialization in Two-Hander Style will do for the character: It teaches him how to use the weapon much faster and more aggressively than someone with less specialized training in the weapon.
One-Handed Weapons Used Two-Handed
Some players don’t realize that many other one-handed weapons can also be used two-handed. Since these weapons don’t do any more damage two-handed, there usually isn’t much reason to use them this way; however, with Style Specialization in Two-Hander Style, now there’s a reason.
If you specialize in Two-Hander Style and then use a one-handed weapon in two hands, you also get a bonus of +1 to damage. Thus, if you take a Two-Hander Style Specialization, when using a long sword two-handed, you do 1d8+1 damage instead of the base 1d8 (or 1d12+1 vs. large targets, instead of the base 1d12).
The one-handed weapons which can be used two-handed in this fashion include: Battle axe, Club, Footman’s flail, Footman’s pick, Morning star, Long sword, Warhammer.
Weapon and Shield Style
This is the classic technique of using a one-handed weapon and carrying a shield on the other arm.
The principal advantage of Weapon and Shield Style is that you get the AC bonus of a shield; this is especially good when you can find a magical shield which confers a better AC bonus.
The disadvantage to Weapon and Shield Style is that the left arm (right arm, for left-handed characters) is dedicated to the shield and is not much use for anything else. If the character is disarmed, all he has to wield offensively is his shield, until he can get back to his weapon. If he is pinned in combat, he can’t use his shield hand for grappling.
If you devote a weapon proficiency slot to specialization in Weapon and Shield Style, you receive one extra attack per round . . . only when using a shield on the shield-hand, that is. You can use that extra attack only for the Shield-Punch and Parry maneuvers (see under “Melee Maneuvers,” below).
As with the normal “Attacking with Two Weapons” rules (see the Player’s Handbook, page 96), when striking with both hands in a single combat round, the character suffers a –2 to attack rolls with his weapon and a –4 to attack rolls with the Shield-Punch or Parry. (If you’re ambidextrous, as described above under “Off-Hand Weapons Use,” that’s a –2 with weapon and –2 with shield.) If you devote a second weapon proficiency slot to Weapon and Shield Style Specialization, that penalty drops to with the weapon and –2 with the shield. (If you’re ambidextrous, that penalty is 0 with weapon and 0 with shield.)
On any round when you perform two maneuvers, you do not get the AC bonus for the shield for the rest of the round. If you swing your sword and perform a Shield-Punch in the same round, you do not get your shield’s AC bonus if anyone attacks you later in the round.
With this popular style, the fighter has a weapon in each hand—usually a longer weapon in his good hand and a shorter one in his off-hand. Unless the character has Style Specialization in this style, the second (off-hand) weapon must be shorter than the primary weapon.
One great advantage to this style is that you always have another weapon in hand if you drop or lose one. A single Disarm maneuver cannot rid you of your weapons.
The principal disadvantage to this style, as with some other styles, is that you don’t gain the AC benefit of a shield.
Please read the “Attacking with Two Weapons” section from the Player’s Handbook, page 96, before continuing.
If you devote a weapon proficiency slot to style specialization with Two-Weapon Style, you get two important benefits.
First, your attack penalty drops; before, it was a –2 with your primary weapon and –4 with your secondary, but with Specialization in Two-Weapon Style it becomes 0 with your primary weapon and a –2 with your secondary weapon. (If you’re already ambidextrous, as per “Off-Hand Weapons Use,” above, that penalty is 0 with primary weapon and 0 with secondary weapon.)
Second, you’re allowed to use weapons of the same length in each hand, so you can, for example, wield two long swords.
When fighting with two-weapon technique, you can choose for both weapons to try the same maneuver (for example, two strikes, or two disarms), or can have each try a different maneuver (one strike and one parry, one pin and one strike). If the two maneuvers are to be different, each receives a –1 attack penalty.
Though rangers don’t suffer the off-hand penalties for two-weapons use, they do not get a bonus to attack rolls if they devote a weapon proficiency slot to Two-Weapon Style. They do get the other benefit, of being able to use weapons of equal length.