Improving the D&D 5e weapons list

This post is going to end up with new weapon lists, stats, prices and so on for 5e. But first I’ll talk through how I got to them.

To recap an older post, I reverse-engineered the principles by which 5e weapon stats are (mainly) assigned and checked the official weapon lists for logic and consistency. Having spotted a few quirks, I decided to:

  • Adjust the official hand axe in three directions
    • Hand axe, which is raised to martial proficiency group
    • Light axe, with damage reduced to d4
    • Axe, which loses the light property
  • Increase trident damage to d8/d10 to reflect its extra points and martial proficiency class
  • Reduce javelin range to I think 30/90
  • Give the lance the heavy and two-handed properties to justify its high damage and reflect its description, with the special rule that you can use it one-handed while mounted; rename it to heavy lance; create a non-heavy lance with damage reduced to d10
  • Increase pike reach to 15ft to better reflect the length of historical pikes, add disadvantage on attacks against adjacent targets (like the lance)
  • Adjust the official greatclub in two directions
    • Heavy club, with damage increased to d10 and the heavy property added to reflect the hefty listed weight
    • Two-handed club, with weight reduced to 6lbs
  • Interpolate non-heavy two-handed versions of martial great weapons (sword, axe, hammer) without the heavy property, d10 damage, weighing about 5lbs (note that these are sub-optimal compared to the lighter and versatile longsword and battleaxe, but they fill out the scheme and they may be useful for NPC flavour)
  • Adjust the official mace in two directions
    • Horseman’s mace, with weight reduced to 2-3lbs
    • Footman’s mace, with versatile (d8) property added
  • Adjust the official morning star in two directions
    • Horseman’s morning star, with weight reduced to 2-3lbs
    • Footman’s morning star, with versatile (d10) property added

That obviously leaves some details to add like price and some of the weights for those weapons.

More recently, I got into a social media discussion about spears in which I concluded there should be a long spear, intermediate between the versatile non-reach simple spear and the heavy pike (especially once I give that 15ft reach). The long spear should be martial, do d8 damage and have the two-handed and reach properties.

And I did some reading in a book on English martial arts which went into some detail on the quarterstaff, which led me to conclude that a bludgeoning equivalent to the above long spear would be a better D&D translation of the historical quarterstaff. The PHB listed weapon could be described as a short staff I guess.

And then my systematising brain with its love of grids kicked in, and I realised that there were a bunch more size variations that I could make stats for using the same principles.

So. I present a grid of melee weapons that I filled out by type and size. In the table, bold type indicates weapons described in the PHB (name changes are shown by strikethrough text).

Simple melee weapons
Damage typeLightBasicVersatileTwo-handedHeavy
 JavelinShort spear  
SlashingHand Light axeAxeLarge axeWoodcutter’s axeLumberjack axe
Light sickleSickle? Scythe?Heavy scythe?
BludgeoningClub Light cudgelCudgelClubGreat Two-handed clubHeavy club
  Quarter Short staff  
Light hammerHammerFootman’s hammerMaulHeavy maul
Light maceMaceFootman’s maceTwo-handed maceHeavy mace
Martial melee weapons
Damage typeLightBasicVersatileTwo-handedHeavy
Light tridentHand tridentTridentTwo-handed tridentLong trident
   Long spearPike Ranseur/ spetum?  
   LanceHeavy Lance
Light morning starMorning starFootman’s morning starTwo-handed morning starHeavy morning star
Light war pickWar pickFootman’s war pickTwo-handed war pickHeavy war pick
SlashingHand axeWar axeBattleaxeTwo-handed axeGreataxe
  Fauchard?Pole axe (Glaive/Halberd)
Light ScimitarScimitarLongswordTwo-handed swordGreatsword
BludgeoningLight war hammerWar hammerFootman’s War hammerTwo-handed war hammerMaul Great war hammer
   QuarterstaffHeavy quarterstaff
Light flailFlailFootman’s flailTwo-handed flailHeavy flail
Melee weapons grid by type and size/handiness

You may note that not every weapon type exists in all sizes, or not in the same part of the table. If you increase the size of a dagger it counts as a sword and is a martial weapon. If you shrink a javelin you get a dart (a ranged weapon) and spears bigger than a short spear are also martial weapons. A staff shorter than a short staff is a cudgel, and a longer staff is a martial weapon.  I don’t think the whip works well with size variations.

Once I started to put stats on these expanded weapon type-and-size permutations, I noticed that there were some weapon types that were very slight variations of each other. The hammer/maul and mace families among simple weapons turn out pretty much the same. So do the pick and morningstar in martial piercing weapons, and the war hammer and flail groups in martial bludgeoning weapons. In the end I decided to merge each of these pairs into single types for stat purposes, listing simple haft-head bludgeoning weapons as hammers, listing martial swung piercing weapons as warhammers, and listing martial heavy-headed bludgeoning weapons as maces. Where my equipment list now says ‘hammer’, you can if you wish describe and name it as a simple ball-headed mace, a club enhanced with blunt metal weights or studs, or an agricultural flail, and you can call big ones mauls. Where my equipment list now says ‘warhammer’ I envisage a beak-headed warhammer but you can if you wish have a war pick, spiked mace, spiked club, spiked flail or spiked ball-and-chain; the spiked mace or ball-and-chain could be called a morningstar. And where my equipment list now says ‘mace’ I envisage a flanged mace but you may if you wish have a martial hammer or other weapon with a heavy metal head, or a martial flail or ball-and-chain; again you could call big versions mauls.

There are other opportunities for renaming or re-skinning weapons in the lists. In-world, many of the size descriptors could be dropped – a large axe or a woodcutter’s axe would probably still just be called an axe, and clubs of all sizes might be called simply clubs. Smaller versions might alternatively be called truncheons, billets, billy clubs or any of a number of words from around the world. A shortsword could be called a gladius, a scimitar could be called a tulwar or sabre (and a messer or falchion would be equivalent in game terms as a slashing weapon of similar size). A greataxe could be called a bardiche. Pole arm terminology is complex and varied, and heavy cutting pole arms could be called halberds or glaives as in the PHB, bills, partisans, voulges, lochaber axes, or various combination forms such as glaive-guisarmes, as well as pole axes. Non-heavy cutting pole arms might also be called glaives or partisans as well as fauchards. Long spears could be called ranseurs, spetums or partisans. A two-handed trident or long trident could be called a ranseur, spetum, or (with potentially only two prongs) military fork, glaive-fork or fauchard-fork,. Other pole arms doing piercing damage would include the Lucerne hammer or bec de corbin (long warhammers – use heavy trident stats). With some reading you can find many more equivalent weapons and weapon names from around the world.

I realised I had a gap for simple swung piercing weapons and added a utility pick family. I generally want weapon-like tools to be usable as simple weapons without all reducing to improvised weapon stats – so a short-handled hedging bill or a meat cleaver could be a hatchet, for example. I did decide for realism to limit the damage of scythes and not to offer a versatile sickle though – you could choose differently if you want fully viable weapon choices with the fantasy flavour of ‘harvester’ or ‘reaper’.

I have filled in a lot of two-handed non-heavy versions of weapons to complete the grid. I should note that, with the stats I have given them, most of these are unlikely to be popular with PCs, because they do no more damage than the equivalent versatile weapon used two-handed, while being heavier, more expensive and not offering the option of one-handed use. The ones that may win player selection are the quarterstaff, lance and long spear, which have the reach property without the heavy property and so may be chosen for Small characters who want reach weapons. GMs may wish to give the non-reach two-handed weapons to NPCs for descriptive flavour.

Realistically, the basic versions of weapons should be fairly popular, being lighter and cheaper than versatile weapons, with the same one-handed damage. PCs may gravitate to the versatile size for non-finesse weapons, but ordinary NPCs should often have basic weapons. Here I present expanded weapons tables with stats, prices and weights, arranged by type and size rather than alphabetically.

Simple melee weapons, all damage types

Dagger1gp1d4 piercing1 lbFinesse, light, thrown (20/60)
Simple spears
Javelin5sp1d6 piercing2 lbThrown (30/90)
Short spear1gp1d6 piercing3 lbThrown (20/60), versatile (1d8)
Utility axes
Hatchet1gp1d4 slashing2 lbLight
Axe15sp1d6 slashing3 lb
Large axe2gp1d6 slashing4 lbVersatile (1d8)
Woodcutter’s axe3gp1d8 slashing5 lbTwo-handed
Lumberjack’s axe5gp1d10 slashing7 lbHeavy, two-handed
Reaping tools
Light sickle15sp1d4 slashing2 lbLight
Sickle2gp1d6 slashing3 lb
Scythe5gp1d6 slashing5 lbTwo-handed
Heavy scythe7gp1d8 slashing7 lbHeavy, two-handed
Clubs, cudgels and other sturdy wooden bludgeons
Light cudgel5cp1d4 bludgeoning2 lbLight
Cudgel1sp1d6 bludgeoning3 lb
Club15cp1d6 bludgeoning4 lbVersatile (1d8)
Two-handed club2sp1d8 bludgeoning6 lbTwo-handed
Heavy club3sp1d10 bludgeoning8 lbHeavy, two-handed
Simple staff
Staff2sp1d6 bludgeoning4 lbVersatile (1d8)
Utility hammers, simple maces, agricultural flails, studded or weighted clubs, etc.
Light hammer1gp1d4 bludgeoning2 lbLight, thrown (20/60)
Hammer15sp1d6 bludgeoning3 lb
Footman’s hammer2gp1d6 bludgeoning4 lbVersatile (1d8)
Maul3gp1d8 bludgeoning6 lbTwo-handed
Heavy maul5gp1d10 bludgeoning8 lbHeavy, two-handed
Utility picks
Light pick1gp1d4 piercing2 lbLight
Hand pick15sp1d6 piercing3 lb
Pick2gp1d6 piercing4 lbVersatile (1d8)
Two-handed pick3gp1d8 piercing6 lbTwo-handed
Heavy pick5gp1d10 piercing8 lbHeavy, two-handed
Simple melee weapon stats

Note additional stat changes compared to PHB equivalents: reduced dagger price from 2gp to 1gp, reduced light cudgel (PHB club) price from 1sp to 5cp, reduced light hammer price from 2gp to 1gp, reduced hammer (PHB mace) price from 5gp to 15sp.

Martial melee weapons, piercing

NameBase priceDamageWeightProperties
Stabbing swords
Shortsword10gp1d6 piercing2 lbFinesse, light
Rapier25gp1d8 piercing2 lbFinesse
Light trident6gp1d6 piercing2 lbLight, thrown (20/60)
Hand trident8gp1d8 piercing3 lbThrown (20/60)
Trident10gp1d8 piercing4 lbThrown (20/60), versatile (1d10)
Two-handed trident15gp1d10 piercing5 lbTwo-handed
Long trident20gp1d10 piercing7 lbHeavy, reach, two-handed
Martial spears
Long spear3gp1d8 piercing5 lbReach, two-handed
Heavy spear7gp1d12 piercing8 lbHeavy, reach, two-handed
Pike10gp1d10 piercing10 lbHeavy, reach 15ft, two-handed, special
Cavalry spears
Lance8gp1d10 piercing5 lbReach, two-handed, special
Heavy lance10gp1d12 piercing8 lbHeavy, reach, two-handed, special
Warhammers, war picks, morningstars, spiked clubs/maces/flails/ball-and-chains
Light warhammer6gp1d6 piercing2 lbLight, thrown (20/60)
Warhammer8gp1d8 piercing3 lb
Footman’s warhammer10gp1d8 piercing4 lbVersatile (1d10)
Two-handed warhammer12gp1d10 piercing5 lbTwo-handed
Heavy warhammer15gp1d12 piercing7 lbHeavy, two-handed
Martial melee weapons, piercing


Lance, heavy lance: Usable one-handed when mounted. Disadvantage on attacks against a target within 5ft.

Pike: Reach 15ft. Disadvantage on attacks against a target within 5ft.

Note multiple PHB equivalents: warhammer at 8gp and 3 lb replaces PHB morningstar at 15gp and 4 lb as well as PHB war pick at 5gp and 2 lb

Note additional stat changes compared to PHB equivalents: reduced pike weight from 18 lb to 10 lb (see Wikipedia article, note that with a 15ft reach this is not one of the longest pikes in history) but increased cost from 5gp to 10gp because of quality of wood needed, increased trident price from 5gp to 10gp because of improved damage (already noted) and craft work involved in making multiple points

Martial melee weapons, slashing and bludgeoning

Martial axes
Light axe5gp1d6 slashing2 lbLight, thrown (20/60)
Hand axe7gp1d8 slashing3 lb
Battleaxe10gp1d8 slashing4 lbVersatile (1d10)
Two-handed axe15gp1d10 slashing5 lbTwo-handed
Greataxe20gp1d12 slashing7 lbHeavy, two-handed
Slashing polearms
Fauchard15gp1d8 slashing5 lbReach, two-handed
Halberd20gp1d10 slashing7 lbHeavy, reach, two-handed
Slashing swords
Light scimitar10gp1d6 slashing2 lbFinesse, light
Scimitar12gp1d8 slashing3 lb
Longsword15gp1d8 slashing3 lbVersatile (1d10)
Two-handed sword20gp1d10 slashing4 lbTwo-handed
Greatsword30gp2d6 slashing6 lbHeavy, two-handed
Whip2gp1d4 slashing3 lbFinesse, reach
Martial staves
Quarterstaff3sp1d8 bludgeoning5 lbReach, two-handed
Heavy staff2gp1d10 bludgeoning7 lbHeavy, reach, two-handed
Martial maces/hammers/flails
Light mace6gp1d6 bludgeoning2 lbLight, thrown (20/60)
Horseman’s mace8gp1d8 bludgeoning3 lb
Footman’s mace10gp1d8 bludgeoning4 lbVersatile (1d10)
Two-handed mace12gp1d10 bludgeoning6 lbTwo-handed
Heavy mace15gp2d6 bludgeoning8 lbHeavy, two-handed
Martial melee weapons, slashing and bludgeoning

Additional changes compared to PHB equivalents: reduced greataxe price from 30gp to 20gp, reduced greatsword price from 50gp to 30gp, increased halberd (pole axe, glaive) weight from 6 lb to 7 lb, reduced horseman’s mace (PHB flail) price from 10gp to 8gp but increased weight from 2 lb to 3 lb, reduced footman’s mace (PHB warhammer) price from 15gp to 10gp but increased weight from 2 lb to 4 lb, increased heavy mace (PHB maul) price from 10gp to 15gp but reduced weight from 10 lb to 8 lb, reduced light scimitar (PHB scimitar) price from 25gp to 10gp and weight from 3 lb to 2 lb

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