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Fighting styles

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Melee weapon damage is the main job of Fighters, Barbarians, Paladins, Rangers and Rogues. To a certain extent, we can also include certain Favored Soul, Cleric or Bard builds that have invested in meleeing. There are multiple different categories of fighting style in DDO:

Single weapon fighting[edit]

A fighting style characterized by fighting with a one-handed weapon and either nothing, an Orb, or a Rune Arm in your off hand.


  • Single Weapon Fighting: While Single-Weapon Fighting, you gain +10% Combat Style bonus to attack speed and +3 Combat Style bonus to Melee Power. Requires fighting with a single one-handed weapon, and wielding only an orb, runearm, or nothing in your offhand. Feat Requirement: 2 ranks of Balance.
  • Improved Single Weapon Fighting: Your Single-Weapon Fighting bonus is increased to a +20% Combat Style bonus to attack speed and the bonus to Melee Power is +6. You now apply 25% more of your appropriate ability score to your damage instead of just your ability score. Feat Requirement: 4 ranks of Balance, Base Attack Bonus +6
  • Greater Single Weapon Fighting: Your Single-Weapon Fighting bonus is increased to a +30% Combat Style bonus to attack speed and the bonus to Melee Power is +10. You now apply 50% more of your appropriate ability score to your damage. Feat Requirement: 7 ranks of Balance, Base Attack Bonus +11


Swashbuckling is a variant combat style similar to single weapon fighting supported by the Bard's Swashbuckler enhancement tree. Swashbuckling requires wielding a finesseable or thrown weapon in your main hand, wielding a Buckler or nothing in your off hand, and wearing Light Armor or no armor. Enhancements allow you also to wield orb or rune arm.

See also the list of Swashbuckler weapons with improved crit profile.

Tempest's second core ability makes Scimitar a light, finesseable weapon and allows you to swashbuckle with a scimitar. Your critical range or multiplier does not change. You do qualify for other effects that require swashbuckling. You don't benefit from Tempest's dex to hit (that requires TWF).

Inquisitive tier 4 ability Inquisition Style: Dashing Inquisition allows you to swashbuckle with Light Crossbow. Your critical range or multiplier does not change. You do qualify for other effects that require swashbuckling. You don't benefit from Swashbuckler's ability to damage (that requires Single Weapon Fighting).

Sword and Board[edit]

Sword and board is the name that is commonly used to refer to using a weapon and a shield during combat, as opposed to using a weapon that requires both hands to wield and use effectively. Although the expression uses the word sword, the weapon in question can be any one-handed weapon. Fighters, Barbarians, Bards, Paladins, Rangers and Clerics are proficient with shields. Among these class, only fighters are proficient with tower shields without requiring to expend a feat.

At low level, it can be useful to equip small or heavy shield to minimize the damage you take. Even characters that are not proficient, (such as rogues), should carry a shield should a situation arise that the character is required to turtle up. Monks should refrain from using shields as they lose their centered bonuses. Damage mitigation with a shield is achieved by increasing the armor class or damage reduction. A heavy shield can add +2 to +7 to the armor class. This may increase the armor class of a character to a meaningful point to cause some misses. When blocking with a shield, the character's blocking damage reduction is increased. This is especially useful when one is besieged by a host of monsters.

As you gain level, most characters gain more capacity to inflict damage and attain more feats, more spells, better weapons, etc. The healing ability of clerics and favored souls also increases, particularly when they gain access to the heal spell. These coupled with increasing monster to hit values will mean that maintaining armor class at a meaningful number becomes increasingly difficult. This usually happen around level 12 to 14, when you start running quests in the Ruins of Gianthold and in the Orchard of the Macabre. In these quests where your armor class is lower than the to hit value of the monster, using a shield is futile as your opponent can hit you on a natural 2. Your armor class becomes meaningless (a natural 1 being an automatic miss). This is why you see many high level melees walking around carrying two-handed weapons or with two weapons.

However, it would not be accurate to say that armor class is totally meaningless at high level, but it is a fact that it takes greater focus on it for it to be effective, or at least, effective enough to be worth the sacrifice you make. For this reason, the two most likely classes you see walking around with shields at higher levels are usually paladins and fighters. Fighters get Tower Shield Proficiency, enhancements like Fighter's Armor Mastery and Fighter's Tower Shield Mastery and, mostly, their amount of feats allow them to pick up Combat Expertise and Dodge easily. These fighters are also likely to pick up the Stalwart Defender prestige class to make full use of the shield based abilities. Paladins that are gear towards defense are likely to be a Defender of Siberys which grants a more powerful aura as well as well as a higher armor class when in stance.

Heavy Shields[edit]

Heavy shields are the basic shields, the most common used as most classes are proficient with them. A heavy shield adds +2 to the armor class of a character. Enhancements can further raise this bonus by +1 to +5 up to a total of +7 armor class. Because they are not proficient, rogues prefer to use to use mithral heavy shields to avoid suffering the Armor Check Penalty on their attack rolls.

Light Shields[edit]

Light shields are mostly used by bards, wizards and sorcerers who seek some Armor Class while not not suffering the Arcane Spell Failure are preferred as made of mithral as they have zero ASF when made of this material. They have lesser shield bonus than a heavy shield.

Tower Shields[edit]

Tower shields grant 2 more armor class than heavy shields, however, they also reduce their wielder's attack rolls by 2 because of their size. They are almost only used by fighters as they are the only class that is proficient with them since creation, all other classes have to get Tower Shield Proficiency to be able to wield them without the huge penalty to attack rolls! Their mithral form is much more popular as it allow higher maximum dexterity bonus to AC.

Two-handed fighting[edit]

Two-handed fighting is, simply put, using a two-handed weapon. While wielding a two-handed weapon, your ability modifier to damage rolls is multiplied by 1.5. So, the higher your ability is, the more you will benefit from this fighting style. This is true whether you run a Strength based Barbarian or a Dexterity based Acrobat Rogue. However, as with every melee fighting style, Strength provides the largest damage bonuses.

While fighting with a two-handed weapon, you get glancing blows (which are additional numbers dealt to other opponents around you). The damage and frequency of glancing blows is increased by these feats:

The drawback you have from selecting Two-Handed Fighting is the loss of the shield slot, and thus, lower armor class vs a sword and board character. In addition, due to attacking with a single weapon, it means there is a reduction of the number of weapon attacks and effects, i.e. a two weapon fighter will often do more single target damage and will process more single target on-hit, on-crit, and on-vorpal effects.

Two Weapon Fighting[edit]

Two Weapon Fighting Style is employed when a character wields a weapon in each hand. TWF-style is primarily used by players seeking the highest possible, sustainable, single target damage in the game.

Effects of using the Two Weapon Fighting Style[edit]

When untrained (no feats), you suffer a -6 penalty on attack rolls on your primary hand and -10 on your off-hand. Taking the Two Weapon Fighting feat reduces those penalties to -4 for each hand. Finally, if the weapon in your off-hand is a light weapon, the penalty is also reduced by 2. Taking the Oversized Two Weapon Fighting feat allows a character to use a regular weapon in the off-hand without incurring additional penalties.

In addition TWF-style's offhand attack normally receives only 1/2 the characters ability bonus to damage and do not benefit from Double Strike bonuses unless the bonus explicitly says so. Also some special attacks, including almost all "cleave" type attacks, do not process an off-hand attack when Two Weapon Fighting. See alsoAttacks that hit with two weapons.

On the plus side, most effects that process on-hit, on-critical, or on-vorpal work normally with off hand attacks. So a high level user of the TWF-style is especially adept at causing on attack-type effects to process with much greater regularity.

When using the Two Weapon Fighting Style a character has a base chance of 20% to make an off-hand weapon attack with each main hand attack. The chance to make an offhand strike is increased by the following weapon style feats and enhancements. Note that while all of the following bonuses add to each other, values in excess of 100% do nothing.

Build Advice[edit]


Strength offers the highest bonuses to hit, to damage, and to str-based or anyattribute-based tactical DC driven attacks at end-game. TWF-style characters that seek the highest possible melee damage will usually focus on Strength. However taking all of the Two Weapon Fighting Style feats requires a base 17 Dexterity (before bonuses from equipment and enhancements) unless you are playing a Ranger which receives those feats for free without prerequisite. As a result TWF-style based characters focusing on strength tend to be either Rangers, multi-classed characters with 11 or more Ranger levels, or character builds that have Attribute Bonus Tomes and/or 36pts to start with.


Not all TWF-style characters are ideally suited to use Strength as a primary ability and fortunately there are many ways to use other abilities for to hit and damage. In particular TWF-style Monks, Rangers, and Rogues rely on their Dexterity score for defenses and can also choose effects from their Enhancement trees to use Dexterity instead of Strength as their to hit and damage modifier. This allows them to consolidate points into fewer abilities to become an overall sturdier and more useful character without requiring past-lives or tomes.

Rogues using the Assassin enhancement tree may receive Dex to hit and damage when using Daggers and Kukris, as well as Dexterity to damage if the character has the Weapon Finesse feat and is wielding weapons that receive Dex to hit.

Rangers using the Tempest enhancement tree may receive Dex to hit and damage when using the TWF-style to wield light weapons. Tempests may also acquire the ability to wield scimitars as light weapons allowing them to be used with Dex to hit and damage.

Rangers using the Deep Woods Stalker enhancement tree may choose the Improved Finesse enhancement which grants Dexterity to damage to any weapon (except crossbows) that can use Dexterity to hit. For example, if the character has the Weapon Finesse feat and is wielding a finessable weapon such as a rapier, this enhancement will allow dexterity to damage with rapier.

Monks using the Ninja Spy enhancement tree may receive Dex to hit and damage with any weapons while centered.

Other Ability-based[edit]

As with Strength based characters, these characters require the minimum 17 Dexterity to use Greater Two Weapon Fighting. As a result they tend to be used by veteran players on characters with dex tomes and past lives to allow 36 pt builds.

Some Rogue Assassin TWF-style characters prefer to use the Harper enhancement tree for Intelligence to hit and damage. This makes it easier to achieve very high scores in Search, Disarm Traps, and Assassinate DCs while still allowing for excellent Evasion ability through the Insightful Reflexes feat. In addition with Int as a primary ability, Know the Angles will provide the highest bonuses to damage and tactical DCs including Assassinate.

Shintao Monks seeking high crowd control DCs may opt to invest in the Falconry enhancement tree for Wisdom-based to hit, damage, and superior bonuses to tactical DCs.

See also[edit]

Attacks that hit with two weapons