BEOWULF designer diary – Two-Weapon Fighting?!

Work in progress on a two-weapon fighting Hero

Hello, Jacob back to talk about BEOWULF: Age of Heroes today with a discussion about “dual-wielding” (two-weapon fighting) and the design process.

Now Jon is well known for HATING dual wielding. (editor: it is true, I hate dual wielding and I cannot lie) So it was a bit shocking when he raised it as something worth including. After I collected myself off the floor, I took a careful look at things. One of our goals with BEOWULF (and all the work we do) is to make sure things fit within the milieu of the poem. Not every feature of 5e fits BEOWULF. Lots do, some need some tweaking, some need some rescaling, some just don’t belong at all. But we also want to be as inclusive as possible. If you want to take one of our adventures and run a group of four dragonborn sorcerers against our mystery and our Monster then we want you to have fun. So that means that we often consider aspects of 5e that aren’t exclusively prohibited to be ‘out there’ for use, even if we don’t ever make use of them in our pre-generated characters or examples.

And that’s where dual wielding had been living. We hadn’t specifically forbidden it, but we hadn’t encouraged it. We also like to think that, by careful curation of the weapons and armour lists, that we can represent that dual wielding was a dangerously aggressive technique not well-suited to the time period. After all, when I think of practical two-weapon fighting, it’s in the context of rapier and dagger or katana and wakizashi, neither of which fits into BEOWULF.

But Jon’s point was that there was something to that ‘northern courage’ that Tolkien was so enamoured of in the source materials that fit with doing something so bold and reckless. At the same time, we’re also tweaking the equipment lists to make sure that we represent the poem and the setting properly. Helmets and shields are important in the literature of the day, and relatively little attention is given to the other armour. So we’re resolved to make them important. We’ve now given additional properties to shields and helmets, such that a shield can provide up to a +3 for armour class and a helmet up to a +2. That means a Hero can jump up from beside the fire in only their weaponshirt and don a helm and shield and have an AC equal to 16 plus their Dexterity modifier.

It also means that choosing to give up that shield in order to wield a second weapon is even more of a trade-off. After all, you could be giving up 3 points of Armour Class (plus all the neat interactions with other weapons and feats that shields in BEOWULF provide)! For the base version of two-weapon fighting, giving up that shield can really hurt. But what about our bold and reckless Hero?

Feats to the rescue! We already had a couple of feats provided that allowed a Hero to do a bit of Barbarian-like berserking and that seemed a perfect place to add in dangerous and deadly two-weapon fighting. So you can wield any weapon in either hand, as long as it’s not heavy or two-handed. And you get advantage on your attack rolls but attackers had advantage on attack rolls against you. So now you can go berserk with two bearded axes or two swords or a fransiska and a long-seax or other exciting combinations. You’ll do lots of damage, but you’ll be in lots of danger at the same time.

I hope you enjoyed that deep dive into some of the mechanical considerations behind BEOWULF: Age of Heroes. We’re working steadily away on it, and will have more news in the coming months. Stay safe and enjoy all the adventures that gaming can bring you!

The Hermit’s Sanctuary, the introductory adventure to BEOWULF is available FREE here.

And BEOWULF: Age of Heroes is coming to Kickstarter soon!

Check out some fine BEOWULF accessories at our store now. We’ll be talking more about those, and those to come, later in the week!


This week we’re going to be talking more BEOWULF! We’ve got a designer diary by Jacob, some chat about maps and minis (which are entirely optional, by the way!) from Jon, and we’ll be taking a look at some of the cool things we’re making, and have made for BEOWULF: Age of Heroes, including miniatures!

Currently, the studio is crammed full of the giant poster maps that come with The Hermit’s Sanctuary, the free scenario for BEOWULF, available now:

And hey, check out this awesome twitter thread about The Hermit’s Sanctuary:

Miniatures from Footsore Miniatures, Gripping Beast, Perry Miniatures, Knucklebones Miniatures, with rocks from Warhead Studios. The dice are from Triple Ace Games (their very tasty Viking Dice).

You can grab a BEOWULF dice tray from our web shop right now.

The Hermit’s Sanctuary Poem

Beowulf, is of course, a poem. And it wouldn’t be right to publish an adventure without a poem of its own! We were delighted to be able to work with Dave Oliver of Rattlebox Theatre, who performs all kinds of amazing puppetry and spoken word performances.

Here’s the poem that Dave composed for The Hermit’s Sanctuary. There will be more poems to be found in the core setting book of BEOWULF: Age of Heroes from Dave and others.


A far flung isle

Mist mantled, Rune deep.

Surrounded by the whales way

A speck of footfall- firmly set

Upon a blue bright shield

A stone boss boldly sits

Battle-battered by billow maidens

Ancient bearer of grave and grove.

Home of bristle backed boar

Racked by wild winds keening.

Gulls wheeling screech, its scops;

Baleful beaked eagles unlock their wordhoard.

Bitter brine- not balming beer

Is lapped by that wyrd- wrought isle!

Once a holy held place

A blessing not bane to honest kin.

In hearth of deep dwelled slaughter,

Its leavings glut the grey cloaked wolf

Gorges the black ravens bent beak

Feast giver for Woden’s greedy birds.

Moon bleached, snow skinned

Shield breaker, blood drinker

A pale scabbard for a sword host

Of battle- bold warriors!

Hardened hearth-troop wreak their craft

Battle lights sing but do not sever

Blood embers swing –harmless their hewing

No war sweat stricken from war needles striking.

Forge fired, handiwork of smiths

Have no power present there.

Wyrd unravelled, blades bite dulled

Fates weave woe in warp and weft. 

About The Hermit’s Sanctuary

The Hermit’s Sanctuary is a free, full-length, introductory adventure for the forthcoming BEOWULF: AGE OF HEROES for 5e!

Designed for one player and one GM, BEOWULF provides unique rules and support for single-player games in the Age of Heroes. Take to the Whale Road as a monster-slaying hero! Voyage to the island of the hermit, and investigate the cause of its woes!

Complete with pre-generated characters, maps, printable accessories, and more, The Hermit’s Sanctuary is entirely free.

Download the adventure for free at DrivethruRPG.

Hermit’s Sanctuary now on Tabletop Simulator!

Thanks to our friend Bill, you can now play The Hermit’s Sanctuary using Tabletop Simulator! Which is rather handy if you’re stuck indoors!

Download the free scenario:

And here’s what you need for Tabletop Simulator:

Tabletop Simulator itself is here:
Content is still being added, and it’s playable now.

Of course, the scenario works fine without Tabletop Simulator too!

The Hermit’s Sanctuary for BEOWULF 5e: out now!

We’re delighted to bring you The Hermit’s Sanctuary
a FREE, full-length, introductory adventure for the forthcoming BEOWULF: AGE OF HEROES for 5e!

Designed for one player and one GM, BEOWULF provides unique rules and support for single player games. Take to the Whale Road as a monster-slaying hero! Voyage to the island of the hermit, and investigate the cause of its woes!

Lavishly illustrated in full colour, The Hermit’s Sanctuary includes:

  • a complete, 52-page adventure for one GM and one Player
  • optional poster-sized PDF battle maps for all locations
  • optional VTT-friendly battle maps for Virtual Tabletops
  • 4 pre-generated characters
  • printable accessories: inspiration tokens and inspiration pool
  • blank character sheet
  • rules reminder sheet
  • handy adventure flowcharts


One of the oldest recorded stories in Western Europe, the poem Beowulf is an epic tale of hero against monster. And then the monster’s mother. And then a dragon.

BEOWULF is a setting and rules set for 5th Edition, designed for duet play – one GM and one player. Set in the world of Anglo-Saxon myth, no deep knowledge of history is required – the themes are eternal and instantly recognisable, adventures occur in the story-world of the Saxons, and we’ve done all the historical reading for you!

BEOWULF presents a host of new and specially adapted rules to create epic and thematic adventures for your lone hero and his or her companions. 

BEOWULF features a unique new set of subclasses: The Hero, with subclasses for each ability score. It has BEOWULF specific backgrounds, and unique rules for sea voyages, inspiration, alignment, followers, a new condition and more!

Explore mythic, migration-era Europe and beyond, solve mysteries, and do battle with dreadful monsters.

With writing and rules design from hand-picked 5e and folklore geniuses, and with art from Jon Hodgson and friends, BEOWULF will be a thing of epic wonder. It will arrive on Kickstarter soon!

The Hermit’s Sanctuary!

We’re making preparations to deliver you the free introductory adventure to BEOWULF! Layout is almost complete!

The Hermit’s Sanctuary is a full-length, free adventure for BEOWULF, showcasing its unique new 5e rules for play with one player and one GM in the world of dark age myth and adventure!
Full of encounters, characters, maps, and locations, it’s an exciting introduction to the monster-slaying Age of Heroes!

Don’t forget to sign up to our newsletter to get the link to download first!