You know what’s cool?
No doubt your favourite professional full-time know it alls have told you that dual wielding is unrealistic and bad and sucks and deprives you of a shield, but my counterpoint is shut up nerd. And when I’m thinking about extremely cool things where the realism doesn’t matter, I think about Dungeons & Dragons: 4th Edition–
Which is the best edition.
Here then are five different ways you can wield it both ways:
This is the turn-your-chair-around-and-fingerguns style of dual wielding. It’s classic, it’s obvious, and it’s great. Right out of the box, Rangers are made to wield two weapons, with one of the best at-will powers in the game, so good that it’s probably one of the most desirable powers to steal from any other class that can steal it, and it can be made better with a host of options like Heavy Blade Opportunity. Everything cool you can do with a weapon, a Ranger can do, twice.
The Ranger is so good at dual wielding it barely merits mention that they don’t just have to dual wield melee weapons. They can wield ranged weapons and twin strike – so grab a bow and keep it on hand because hey, maybe you want it. Know what else can do that job? returning throwing weapons. Because throwing axes with each hand is also very cool.
The rogue does not, by default, have a build that gives you a good setup for your classic two-knives stabby stabby kind of play. But that’s okay, because you don’t have to dual wield the way that everyone else dual wields. You’re discovering yourself and deciding what it is you want those dual wielding options to be. If you’re a rogue, you get to mix things up even more.
See, the rogue gets a couple of powers which are ranged. They get a couple of powers that are melee only. And they get some powers that are either. The rogue can, if they want, be a daring swashbuckler type, running around with a light blade in one hand, and a crossbow in the other.
See, you might be more about maximising your opportunities from as many angles as possible. You won’t make two attacks a round, but you will be making life harder for more people with high damage punishment for them giving you the opportunity.
To replace the Ranger, first you must start with the Ranger.
The Scout is a variant Ranger from Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdom, one of the 4e Essentials books. It was a wild departure from the way the Ranger works at base, with almost all your at-will powers replaced by a set of stances that each modify what happens when you hit someone with a basic attack, and a ‘bonus damage’ encounter power called Power Strike.
I personally don’t think the Scout is a better class than the Ranger, but it’s certainly got some mustard in its particular sandwich. The biggest virtue I can see in the Scout is, well, the biggest virtue is it gets to pick its utility powers from the Ranger, and the Ranger’s utility list slaps. That aside, though, the reason you might want to go Scout instead of Ranger because it relies on basic attacks to trigger other effects, and that means if you have a character in the group who grants bonus basic attacks, suddenly the Scout’s incredibly bursty basic attacks represent really big chunks of damage in a way that the Ranger’s aren’t.
The Scout is a fancier version of the Ranger, but it’s also simplified. If you look at the Ranger and go ‘oh my head I want to lay on the floor and dream of boys and girls instead,’ consider the Scout.
Bonus, Scout is a cute name.
The poor Barbarian lives in a weird space. For some players, it was always obviously going to be the big tough dump truck character who could take hits all day, and that made them a defender. For others, Barbarians hit things very hard and ignored the ways they got hurt, until the fight was over and they fell over, and that was Striker territory. As the tail end of 4th Edition was the ‘sure, why not’ period of game design, that meant that in crept a bunch of powers that let the Barbarian attack with a weapon in each hand.
The virtues of this are the same as they are for any given melee damage dealer; any effect you have that triggers ‘on a hit’ gets multiplied, you amplify enemy vulnerabilities, you can spread damage around for multi-target situations and of course, you look sick as hell with a pair of giant axes or stabby claws. Win slash win, right?
What’s more, Barbarians are basically borderline Rangers in terms of ‘well duh, it works.’ You don’t need to do complicated build structures to make the class work. Nobody is going to be mad at you or surprised by you if your character’s build results in you faceplanting. People don’t turn to Barbarians for strategic brilliance.
But don’t think you have to be wielding something that stabs or slashes or pokes to dual wield. No no, if you want to hold a wand in each hand and go pew pew pew with them, you have that option. Of course, any given arcane spellcaster who uses implements can do it through the feat Dual Implement Spellcaster, and if you aren’t an arcane spellcaster you can become one with a multiclass feat if you want badly enough.
My advice though is to go with the Warlock, because for a start, Warlocks are cool, and second the Warlock has a lot of wands that give you a passive effect that relates to your Warlock’s Curse. This addresses one of the problems with dual wielding – the cost – because you don’t need a high level version of something you’re keeping for a passive effect, and you can get some really cool, neat effects on it. It sort of creates this feeling of you going a bit build-a-bear on your curse, and your character walks around with the magical equivalent of dual wielding pistols.
Now the most greivous excess of these combos have been curtailed. It used to be back in the day, there were some combinations of implements that when wielded at the same time could do some unbound loops. For example, one combo I never saw in action relied on a wand that meant when you placed your Warlock Curse, you dealt 1 damage to the subject. Another wand meant when your subject of your Warlock curse died, it immediately could jump to a nearby enemy. Wielding these two wands at once meant you could at the start of the fight, curse a single minion and immediately arc that damage around the entire battlefield like an extremely energetic pinball combo, and kill every single minion, which could provide other benefits (though not that much). The real issue is that a Warlock being able to use a minor action to clear out all the chaff of a combat scenario makes those same chaff kind of useless.
There you go! Some options for you to look at next time you think: hey, I really want to play a character who dual wields. And what’s more in this selection there isn’t any heavy armour wearer, so you have to dodge-roll or die.