Pathfinder - The Two-Weapon Warrior Fighter Handbook
Last Updated: October 15, 2018
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I will use the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks. Also note that many colored items are also links to the Paizo SRD.
- Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational.
- Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances
- Green: Good options.
- Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character.
Like any TWF build, the Two-Weapon Warrior depends on making multiple attacks with low individual damage. Compared to a TWF Rogue, the Two-Weapon Warrior has better AC and a higher attack bonus, but typically falls short in terms of damage. By making some clever choices, we can greatly close the damage gap between the TWF Rogue and the Two-Weapon Warrior.
The Fighter's high BAB grants the Two-Weapon Warrior the highest number of attacks possible, making it an obvious choice for critical hit builds. By combining Two-Weapon Fighting and critical hit optimization, we can count on frequent critical hits with sizable bonus damage.
Fighter Class Features
Hit Points: d10 hit points like nearly every other front-line class.
Base Attack Bonus: Full BAB.
Saves: Good fortitude saves, but many fighters have major problems with Reflex and Will saves. The Two-Weapon Warrior depends heavily on Dexterity, so your Reflex saves may match or exceed your Fortitude saves depending on your build.
Proficiencies: All armor and shields, include Tower shields, and martial weapons. The fighter has a huge variety of options, and with plenty of bonus feats they can supplement these options with exotic weapon proficiency.
Skills: Likely the worst skill list in the game, and Fighters often dump intelligence to 7. 2+ skill ranks is almost nothing, but many fighters still can't find a good way to use all of their skill ranks.
Bonus Feats: Bonus feats are why most people play a Fighter (or at least take a class dip). With a feat at level one and another at every even-numbered class level, the Fighter gets a total of 22 feats by level 20 (23 for humans), giving you a dizzying number of options. On top of this, the fighter gets a free retraining option every 4 levels which allows you to pick up feats with high prerequisites by trading in low-level feats which aren't paying off anymore. Do silly things like trade in Toughness for Improved Critical at level 8.
Bravery (Ex): Situational. This ability is replaced by almost every Fighter archetype.
Weapon Mastery (Ex): Absolutely fantastic. Making critical hits more reliable provides a massive boost to your damage, and you can retrain Critical Focus if you haven't taken any critical feats.
Two-Weapon Warrior Features
Defensive Flurry (Ex): It's a bit cruel that this isn't just a normal dodge bonus to AC when you full attack. Still, most attacks against you will be melee attacks, and you will (hopefully) be full attacking most of the time.
Twin Blades (Ex): Basically weapon training when you full attack. It's unfortunate that it doesn't apply to attacks of opportunity, charges, or Doublestrike, but it works when you need it most.
Doublestrike (Ex): This slightly alleviates your issue with movement, but still limits you to a single move. You don't get the attack and damage bonus from Twin Blades, so try to full attack as much as possible.
Improved Balance (Ex): If you're using a light weapon in your off hand, this is a +1 to your attacks. If you choose to use two one-handed weapons (excluding Sawtooth Sabres) this is a +2 to both of your attacks.
Equal Opportunity (Ex): You effectively get two attacks on an attack of opportunity, which is absolutely fantastic. This is also your only Defender ability, so be sure to capitalize on this as much as possible.
Perfect Balance (Ex): If you're using a light weapon in your off hand or using a double weapon, you no longer have two-weapon fighting penalties. If you're using a one-handed weapon in your off hand, you don't get anything new.
Deft Doublestrike (Ex): A free disarm, sunder, or trip attempt is nice, but you're probably not built for it. At this level, your chances of success with trip or disarm aren't great unless you're already built for it, and sunder isn't useful often enough to matter.
Deadly Defense (Ex): I hope you brought combat expertise. To capitalize on this, you may actually want to drop your AC, but dropping your AC may make you worse as a Defender. It's a weird trade-off, and it's difficult to introduce this late in the game because of its implications for your build and tactics.
- Gladiator: Only useful if you use the performance combat rules.
The high Dexterity requirements for Two-Weapon Fighting feats make the Two-Weapon Warrior somewhat MAD. You can get away with as little as 17 if you don't want Greater Two-Weapon Fighting, but more is better because you will want to use Weapon Finesse.
Str: Unless you want Power Attack (not recommended), you only need a bit of Strength for the easy damage. 14 is plenty.
Dex: Dexterity is everything for the Two-Weapon Warrior. AC, saves, and attacks on one ability.
Con: Like any melee character, hit points are crucial for the Two-Weapon Warrior.
Int: The Fighter skill list is garbage. Dump to 7.
Wis: Only useful for Will saves, but certainly don't dump it.
Cha: Dump to 7.
|25 Point Buy||20 Point Buy||15 Point Buy||Elite Array|
Dexterity bonuses are critical, but beyond that other bonuses can offer interesting options beyond the core of your build. Medium size is nice because you can permanently reduce yourself to Small size for another free +2 to Dexterity, but small size won't ruin you.
Dwarf: The Dwarf makes a great Defender, but its lack of Dexterity doesn't offer anything useful to the Two-Weapon Warrior.
Elf: Beyond the bonus to Dexterity, the Elf offers nothing useful to the Two-Weapon Warrior.
Gnome: Small, no bonus to Dexterity, and none of the Gnome's racial abilities add anything useful for the Two-Weapon Warrior.
Half-Elf: The default Half-Elf's racial bonuses are mostly useless to the Two-Weapon Warrior, but the Half-Elf has a lot of great options for alternate racial abilities, and the flexible ability bonus is always nice. Trade in Adaptability for Ancestral Arms to get proficiency with the Falcata or Sawtooth Sabre if you plan to use them.
Half-Orc: Darkvision and a flexible ability bonus are always nice. The Half-Orc gets proficiency with the Orc Double Axe, which can be a nice option, and the Half-Orc has a lot of great options for alternate racial abilities.
Halfling: Small size gives a welcome bonus to both attacks and AC, and the Dexterity bonus is excellent. The Halfling's alternate racial abilities are nice, especially Fleet-Footed.
Human: Two-Weapon Fighting is a feat-heavy build, and one extra feat gets out build up an running one level sooner.
- Climb (Str): Too situational.
- Handle Animal (Cha): Only useful for mounted builds, and other classes (like the Cavalier or Paladin) do mounter combat much better.
- Intimidate (Cha): The fighter's only social skill, and some builds can work Intimidate into combat.
- Knowledge (dungeoneering) (Int): One of the best Knowledge skills. Unfortunately the Fighter's poor Intelligence will hurt your bonus.
- Knowledge (engineering) (Int): Too situational.
- Ride (Dex): Only useful for mounted builds, and other classes (like the Cavalier or Paladin) do mounter combat much better.
- Survival (Wis): Situational.
- Swim (Str): Too situational.
- Blind Fight: Misses chances are a huge pain, and taking Blind Fight can give you a major advantage while under effects like Fog Cloud or Darkness.
- Combat Reflexes: The Two-Weapon Warrior has enough Dexterity for Combat Reflexes to pay off, but because individual attacks are weak, the Two-Weapon Warrior's attacks of opportunity aren't a great deterrant.
Critical Focus: The +4 bonus will make your critical
hits much more reliable, especially with your iterative attacks.
- Bleeding Critical: Bleed effects are mediocre, but it's still 2d6 extra damage.
- Blinding Critical: Permanently blinding the target can hugely inhibit their ability to kill you, and could significantly drop their AC.
- Critical Mastery: You absolutely need this if you want to use critical feats.
- Deafening Critical: Only affects spellcasters, and even then only sometimes.
- Sickening Critical: Sickened is a decent status condition, especially if you have a spellcaster in the party, but it's not going to help you a whole lot. It's available very early, which makes it a great choice to retrain at level 12 or 16.
- Staggering Critical: Staggering an enemy is great if they depend on full attacking.
- Stunning: Rob your enemy of an entire turn, force them to drop their weapons, and their AC drops considerably.
Tiring Critical: Fatigued is pointless.
- Exhausting Critical: Exhausted is only marginally better than Fatigued.
- Hammer the Gap: The biggest advantage of Two-Weapon Fighting is getting a lot of attacks. This adds a scaling on-hit damage bonus that will grow in effectiveness as you get more attacks. Wait until you have at least Improved Two-Weapon Fighting so that the bonus is worthwile.
- Power Attack: Two-Weapon Fighting already imposes penalties to your attacks, so it is often difficult to justify Power Attack.
- Quick Draw: Drawing both of your weapons quickly can be a problem.
Two-Weapon Fighting: The most important feat to
the Two-Weapon Warrior.
- Double Slice: Literally never.
Improved Two-Weapon Fighting: More attacks
means more damage.
- Greater Two-Weapon Fighting: More attacks, more damage. However, you may have a lot of trouble hitting at -10, so this isn't essential.
Weapon Finesse: Crucial.
- Slashing Grace: Doesn't work with Two-Weapon Fighting.
Weapon Focus: A +1 to hit is always nice, and
helps make up the two-weapon fighting penalties.
- Greater Weapon Focus: Another +1 to hit.
Penetrating Strike: DR is always annoying,
and with no magical options it can be hard for the Fighter to overcome
many types of DR. DR is especially troublesome for TWF builds because
it applies more times.
- Greater Penetrating Strike: Ignore even more DR. By this level, DR 10/* is very common.
Weapon Specialization: +2 damage is great
for TWF builds which rely on large numbers of relatively weak attacks.
- Greater Weapon Specialization: Another +2, but faces the same issues as Weapon Specialization.
- Double Weapons: Generally sub-par, especially because you eventually get Equal Opportunity, which removes the need to use double weapons to make two-handed opportunity attacks.
- Falcata: 19-20/x3 critical hits is arguably the best critical stats in the game. With Improved Critical you threaten on 20% of attacks, and the triple damage is fantastic. The only downside is that Falcata are exotic, but the Fighter has plenty of feats to throw around, and since they don't work with Weapon Finesse you need both Strength and Dexterity to make them work. Personally I don't think the extra ability scores required to make them viable are worth the effort, but if you can handle being that MAD they may be worth it.
- Katana: Basically a katana with a bigger damage die. not worth a feat.
- Kukri: Like a small scimitar, the Kukri is has 18-20 crits, but doesn't impose the attack penalty for using two medium-sized weapons. Improved balance diminishes the appeal of light qweapons considerably, but if you don't want to spend a feat on exotic weapon proficiency kukri is the way to go.
- Rapier: If you plan to use two one-handed weapons, the Rapier is your best bet. Of course, the extra damage compared to kukris is pitiful, so Kukri is really your best bet.
- Scimitar: Similar to Falcata, but you don't need to spend a feat for proficiency, and the investment in two abilities doesn't pay off as well because the weapon isn't as good.
- Spiked Shields: Shield Mastery makes dual-wielding shields a fun option, and using shields trades an emphasis on critical hits for an emphasis on AC. If you want to dual-wield shields, you may also consider the the Shielded Fighter archetype or a Ranger or Slayer with the Two-Weapon Fighting combat style.
- Sawtooth Saber: Not worth a feat.
- Wakizashi: Basically a kukri with a bigger damage die. not worth a feat.
Armor is presented in the order in which you should acquire it, rather than alphabetical order.
- Studded Leather: Expect to start with high Dexterity, making Studded Leather your go-to option. Unfortunately your AC will only 18 at level 1 (19 if you're small), but with decent Constitution you should be able to take a few hits.
- Leather: If you stumble on a suit of enhanced leather armor, feel free to upgrade. Otherwise, don't spend money on it. Maximum Dexterity Bonus only matters when calculating AC, so switching from studded leather to leather won't be an improvement.
- Mithral Shirt: Mithral Shirt will be your best bet for AC until your Dexterity bonus hits +10, which will be extremely high level.
- Mithral Breastplate: If you go for a build with some Strength, your Dexterity will probably be low enough that you can get away with Mithral Breastplate.
- Haramaki: Strictly better than padded armor. With no maximum dexterity bonus, you can afford to make your Dexterity absurdly high without restriction, and can still keep enhancing your armor. You won't want to upgrade until your dex onus hits +10.
- Bloodletting Kukri (6,308 gp): Kukris are a great choice for the Two-Weapon Warrior. Pick up Improved Critical and you can reliably score critical hits to trigger the bleed damage and generate temporary hit points.
- Celestial Armor (22,400 gp): Unless you have heavy armor proficiency and a Dexterity modifier of at most +5, Celestial Armor is the best armor in the game if all you need from your armor is AC. For more, check out my Practical Guide to Celestial Armor.
Multiclassing and Prestige Classes
The Two-Weapon Warrior gets everything that it needs, and the high level abilities are very good. Multiclassing isn't recommended.
- Swashbuckler: Swashbuckler Finesse is considerably better than Weapon Finesse, and a level will save you a feat, but it also delays your Fighter abilities. Unless you're planning to use weird weapons like Heavy Picks, you'll probably do better to just stick to Fighter. Slashing Grace is a tempting option, but it only works while you have an empty hand.