Dungeons & Dragons: Explanation of all weapon properties


All Dungeons & Dragons the player knows the basics of attacking with a weapon: roll a d20 to hit the enemy, and if successful, roll again for damage. However, with all of the swords, bows, clubs, axes, daggers, and other types of weapons available in this classic TTRPG, everyone is bound to have their own set of quirks.

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Every weapon in D&D has a set of properties, unique attributes that specify how it is exercised. These serve to keep combat interesting and help differentiate between weapon types; after all, attacking with a stick is quite different from attacking with a rapier. Here’s what each property means and how it affects the use of a weapon.

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Ammunition



foreigner

This property mainly applies to ranged weapons. Bows need arrows, crossbows need bolts, and slingshots need bullets – without ammo these guns are useless. Thus, players using these weapons will need to keep track of the amount and type of ammunition they use in combat.

Different campaigns may vary in how strictly they follow this rule: some casual campaigns simplify the process to avoid overcomplicating the game for newbies, while others may stick to it strictly. Additionally, dozens of ammo types exist for every weapon type, from icy arrows to explosive slingshot bullets. A DM can allow a player to have a finite amount of magical resources and allow them to default to old bolts or arrows once their supply is depleted.

Weapons with this property

  • Simple
    • light crossbow
    • Short bow
    • Sling
  • Martial
    • Mailify
    • hand crossbow
    • Heavy crossbow
    • Bow

Delicacy



Dungeons & Dragons Fighter

Weapons with this property can be used using either strength or dexterity – it’s up to the player to decide. The option to use Dex makes it a great option for thieves or other characters whose Dex is way above their strength.

Note that the players must use the same stat for their attack rolls and damage rolls; that is, a character cannot use Strength as a modifier on the first roll, then Dex when determining damage. They can, however, change stats between each separate attack attempt.

Weapons with this property

  • Simple
  • Martial
    • Rapier
    • Scimitar
    • Short sword
    • Whip

Heavy



A barbarian warrior

These large, bulky weapons are difficult for smaller beings to use. Any small or tiny creature will have disadvantage on any attacks it makes with this weapon.. For gnomes and halflings, it is best to stay away from the weapons listed below.

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Interestingly, this weapon property does not apply to simple weapons. This is likely due to the fact that simple weapons are easy to use without training, while the sheer volume and firepower of heavy weapons would require martial weapons expertise.

Weapons with this property

  • Martial
    • Heavy crossbow
    • Sword
    • Big ax
    • Swordfish
    • Halberd
    • Manhandle
    • Pike

Light



Dungeons and Dragons Drow Rogue using stealth

Even with the two-weapon combat feat, dual wielding can be tricky in D&D. Just like in real life, the characters in the game are either right-handed or left-handed, with their non-dominant hand being classified as their casual. Any attack made with this hand will result in penalties – and when using two weapons at once, even main hand attacks are more difficult. The aforementioned exploit decreases these penalties, but does not remove them completely.

Small arms alleviate this burden. Small and easy to handle, Small arms further reduce the penalties for double handling. Those who prefer to charge into the two-fisted battle may prefer the weapons from the list below.

Weapons with this property

  • Simple
    • club
    • Dagger
    • Chopped
    • Light hammer
    • Sickle
  • Martial

Loading



Dungeons and Dragons Ranger

While not all ammunition guns have the loader property, all loader guns are also ammunition guns. In D&D in combat, some weapons take a long time to reload and cannot fire quickly. So when you use the items below, a character can only fire his weapon once per action, bonus action or reaction.

This applies despite any feats or class characteristics that might otherwise allow a character to attack more than once. For example, a fighter who can usually attack twice per action can still only shoot once with his hand crossbow because he didn’t have time to reload. They can, however, perform their second attack with a different weapon.

Weapons with this property

  • Simple
  • Martial
    • Mailify
    • hand crossbow
    • Heavy crossbow

Vary



gnome

There is a limit to the range of ranged and thrown weapons, and this property tells players how far they can aim effectively. In the stats block of a ranged or thrown weapon, players will see two numbers in parentheses. The former indicates the weapon’s normal range, while the latter indicates its long range (both measured in feet). Any attack beyond the normal range will have a disadvantage, and it is impossible to make an attack beyond the long range.

Each weapon that can perform a ranged attack has this property and the specific numbers differ depending on the weapon type. For example, a light crossbow has a range indicated by (80, 320). This means that when attacking an enemy over 80 feet away, the player will be at a disadvantage. If an enemy is more than 100 yards away, the player cannot attack with this weapon.

To reach



Dungeon-and-dragon-fighter-with-glowing-spear-in-haunted-forest

When attacking with these weapons, a character has a 5 additional feet added to their typical reach. This allows the player to perform a melee attack against an enemy farther away and also increases the range of attacks of opportunity.

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As with the Heavy property, weapons with Reach are exclusively martial weapons, possibly because they are bigger and a bit heavier.

Weapons with this property

  • Martial
    • Sword
    • Halberd
    • Spear
    • Pike
    • Whip

Thrown



Dungeons & Dragons Thief

While melee weapons are generally intended for close and personal combat, some can be effective at range as well, depending on the character’s throwing arm. If a melee weapon has the Throw property, a character can use it to do a ranged attack strike a character from a distance.

As with ranged weapons, each weapon with the Throw property has a predetermined range in which it is effective. Also, keep in mind that once launched, the player cannot use this weapon again until they collect it.

Weapons with this property

  • Simple
    • Dagger
    • Chopped
    • Javelin
    • Light hammer
    • Spear
    • Stinger
  • Martial
    • Trident
    • Report

with two hands



Dungeons and Dragons Priest's Work

If it was not obvious from the title, this property indicates that a weapon will be always require two hands to operate. Thus, a character cannot wield one of the weapons on this list, nor protect himself with a shield and use a two-handed weapon at the same time. They also cannot attack with these weapons if they are unable to use one hand for some reason.

As players can notice, there is a lot of overlap between the weapons with the two-handed and heavy properties, given that it takes two hands to balance the size and weight of a heavy weapon.

Weapons with this property

  • Simple
    • Big club
    • light crossbow
    • Short bow
  • Martial
    • Sword
    • Big ax
    • Swordfish
    • Halberd
    • Manhandle
    • Pike
    • Heavy crossbow
    • Bow

Versatile



Barbarian Dungeons and Dragons Welding an Ax in the Snowy Mountains

Players can choose to wield one or two handed multipurpose weapons. Choosing the two-handed approach usually results in a harder blow; however, the one-handed use option allows players to use two weapons, use a shield, or attack with their multipurpose weapon even when one hand is immobilized (e.g., tied or injured).

Weapons with this property

  • Simple
    • Staff
  • Martial
    • Battle Axe
    • Long sword
    • Trident
    • War hammer

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