It turns out, quite unfortunately, that it’s generally a bad thing to give bonus actions to amateur level characters. So how do we maintain the coolness in the ideas behind the Martial Artist and Dual Wielder perks, without breaking the game?
Maybe I can talk some ideas out of my head: the Martial Artist perk is a way for a PC to say, “yes, I have skill points in Fight (Unarmed), but I really kick butt when I have no weapons.” Or, “my body is, itself, a weapon.” This points at the (old) Weapon Focus perk for unarmed attacks (which start at d4 damage). But let’s avoid redundancy here. Perhaps it’s better to say “my body counters weapons.” Then, martial artists can gain a parry bonus for
not having a shield…which doesn’t work because we don’t want perks to grant skill points (that’s what skill points are for). But if my plan to rework Weapon Focus succeeds, and the perk loses its stackability, then Martial Artist would be a great option for a character who could only bump up his natural protection level once with Armor Training and once with Specialize. Hmmm…
We can’t reward Dual Wielders with additional parry points, either…but not for the perk. If a shield can award parry points, being a material object, why can’t a weapon do the same thing? Obviously, it’s better to have a second weapon in hand for blocking than to block a weapon with just your hand, right? Also, the perk isn’t granting a skill bonus, so much as allowing a character to adopt a different type of shield (which already grants a skill bonus). The inherent benefit for dual wielding, then, is that you can choose, on a per-action basis, which weapon you want to use. The secondary benefit is that like a shield, you can use that weapon somewhat to avoid damage. So, when wielding a second weapon, you gain a +1 parry bonus when using it to defend against attacks?