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Dungeons & Dragons: Weapon Types Explained

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  • Simple Weapons
  • Martial Weapons
  • Ammunition
  • Finesse
  • Heavy
  • Light
  • Loading
  • Range
  • Reach
  • Thrown
  • Two-Handed
  • Versatile

When playing a martial class in Dungeons & Dragons, characters who rely on traditional weapon-based combat rather than magic, a player's choice of equipment significantly influences their character in combat. Even in the earliest stages of a campaign, players are able to select gear for their characters, having a wide variety of options to choose from when it comes to their starting weaponry.

As different types of weapons offer different utility, pros, and cons, it's important that players choose weapons that will help support their playstyle. When viewing weapon types, these can have various attributes that influence how they're used and the types of characters that may excel with them. So today, we're going to delve into everything you need to know about the various types of weaponry in D&D.

Simple Weapons

Simple Weapons are among the most straightforward and basic weapons found within Dungeons & Dragons. They are also the most widely accessible options around. Regardless of a character's class, even the likes of spellcasters such as Wizards and Sorcerers are capable of wielding simples weapons such as Daggers and Quarterstaves. This widespread accessibility comes at a cost, however, with Simple Weapons not being able to match the potency of other gear available.

The following armament is classified as Simple Weapons:

  • Club
  • Dagger
  • Greatclub
  • Hand Axe
  • Javelin
  • Light Hammer
  • Mace
  • Quarterstace
  • Sickle
  • Spear
  • Light Crossbow
  • Dart
  • Shortbow
  • Sling

Martial Weapons

Martial Weapons are what most players tend to envision when discussing weaponry in D&D. These are the weapons that require martial prowess and training to wield properly.

Including various types of swords, ranged weaponry, and heavy-hitting gear like Greataxes and Mauls, Martial Weapons tend to deal more damage than Simple Weapons, also often having useful traits that can assist their wielder in combat.

Martial Weapons are most commonly found in the possession of characters of Martial Classes such as Barbarians, Fighters, Paladins, Rangers, Rogues, as well as some Clerics and Bards.

The following weapons are classified as Martial Weapons:

  • Battleaxe
  • Flail
  • Glaive
  • Greataxe
  • Greatsword
  • Halberd
  • Lance
  • Longsword
  • Maul
  • Morningstar
  • Pike
  • Rapier
  • Scimitar
  • Shortsword
  • Trident
  • War Pick
  • Warhammer
  • Whip
  • Blowgun
  • Hand Crossbow
  • Heavy Crossbow
  • Longbow
  • Net

Ammunition

Any type of ranged weapon that isn't a throwing weapon has the Ammunition property. This means that in order to fire that weapon, a character must have sufficient ammunition in their inventory. For example, bows require arrows to fire as crossbows require bolts. Luckily for those looking to wield ranged weaponry, Ammunition is quite affordable in Dungeons & Dragons and won't require a significant investment of gold.

The following weapons require ammunition to be used:

  • Light Crossbow
  • Shortbow
  • Sling
  • Blowgun
  • Hand Crossbow
  • Heavy Crossbow
  • Longbow

Finesse

The Finesse weapon property is often incredibly sought after by characters of the Ranger and Rogue classes as well as some Fighters. This is because while many weapons utilize a character's Strength score when calculating attack and damage rolls, a Finesse weapon allows that character to substitute their Strength with their Dexterity. This means that in the hands of a character with pitiful strength and impressive dexterity, a character can still deal sizable melee damage as long as their weapon has the Finesse property.

The following armament has the Finesse property:

  • Dagger
  • Dart
  • Rapier
  • Scimitar
  • Shortsword
  • Whip

Heavy

Some of the largest and most cumbersome weapons available within Dungeons & Dragons are stated to have the Heavy property. Somewhat of a drawback, if a small-sized creature makes an attack with a Heavy weapon, they do so with a disadvantage. While this limited the types of characters that can effectively wield such a weapon, this drawback is usually offset by superior damage output of improved range through the Reach property (more on this one below).

The following weapons have the Heavy property:

  • Glaive
  • Greataxe
  • Greatsword
  • Halberd
  • Maul
  • Pike
  • Heavy Crossbow
  • Longbow

Light

Weapons with the Light property are notably lightweight and easy to wield with a single hand. While many gears without this property can be held in one hand, Light weapons are known for their ability to be used for dual-wielding, as the property is required to make the most out of the Two-Weapon Fighting style.

The following weaponry has the Light property:

  • Club
  • Dagger
  • Handaxe
  • Light Hammer
  • Sickle
  • Light Crossbow
  • Scimitar
  • Shortsword
  • Hand Crossbow

Loading

Found as a property within some types of ranged weaponry, the Loading weapons require the armament at hand to be loaded with somewhat cumbersome ammunition before being fired. Due to this trait, such a weapon can only be fired once per action, bonus action, or reaction regardless of how many attacks the attacking creature has access to.

The following weapons have the Loading property:

  • Light Crossbow
  • Blowgun
  • Hand Crossbow
  • Heavy Crossbow

Range

Any and all weapons that can be fired or thrown have the Range property, denoting how far such a weapon can reach when used to attack a foe.

All ranged weapons have two noted ranges. For example, a Longbow is listed to have both a range of 150 feet and 600 feet of range. The lesser of these ranges are the weapon's default range, while the larger one requires an attack made in such a manner to be made at disadvantage due to the increased distance.

The following armament has the Ranged property:

  • Dagger
  • Handaxe
  • Javelin
  • Light Hammer
  • Spear
  • Light Crossbow
  • Dart
  • Shortbow
  • Sling
  • Trident
  • Blowgun
  • Hand Crossbow
  • Heavy Crossbow
  • Longbow
  • Net

Reach

The Reach property can be found on many of the largest and longest weapons available in D&D, such as polearms, providing the weapon's wielder with additional flexibility when attacking. While a character's melee attacks normally have a range of five feet, a weapon with this trait increases its range by five additional feet, allowing a character to more reliably access targets on their turn.

The following weapons have the Reach property:

  • Glaive
  • Halberd
  • Lance
  • Pike
  • Whip

Thrown

As the name would imply, weapons with the Thrown property provide the flexibility of allowing the weapon at hand to be used either as a melee weapon or as a ranged weapon. While most ranged weapons such as bows utilize a character's Dexterity, a Thrown weapon allows a character to use whatever ability score modifier they'd use with that weapon, as if they were making a melee attack.

The following weaponry has the Thrown property:

  • Dagger
  • Handaxe
  • Javelin
  • Light Hammer
  • Spear
  • Dart
  • Trident
  • Net

Two-Handed

A straightforward weapon property, Two-Handed weapons require the use of both of a character's hands in order for the weapon to be properly used. This not only prevents a character wielding such a weapon from dual-wielding, but it also prevents them from benefiting from the use of a shield. While the added AC of a shield can be quite helpful, luckily, many Two-Handed weapons provided an alternative benefit such as improved damage output or an increased melee attack range.

The following weapons have the Two-Handed property:

  • Greatclub
  • Light Crossbow
  • Shortbow
  • Glaive
  • Greataxe
  • Greatsword
  • Halberd
  • Maul
  • Pike
  • Heavy Crossbow
  • Longbow

Versatile

Weapons with the Versatile property offer a character distinct flexibility. This is because while a Versatile weapon can be effectively used with a single hand, a character can also opt to wield that weapon with two hands. By choosing to use each of a character's hands to wield a Versatile weapon, that character is often rewarded with increased damage dice.

The following gear has the Versatile property:

  • Quarterstaff
  • Spear
  • Battleaxe
  • Longsword
  • Trident
  • Warhammer

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