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Polearm Master 5e Feat

Polearm Master 5e Feat

The Polearm was a family of weapons that carved its way through history, from ancient Hoplites using them to hold back Persian cavalry to the Scottish army at Bannockburn, and from the English foot soldiers in the Wars of The Roses to the pike packs of the 17th century.

It is a type of weapon that often gets overlooked in DnD but with the Polearm Master feat to do it justice, it is getting the recognition it deserves.

Polearms are weapons such as glaives, halberds, quarterstaves, and spears not used as missile weapons. Pikes have in the past been considered “too unwieldy” to benefit from the full advantages of this feat, but that could be a judgment call for your Dungeon Master.

What is the Polearm Master Feat?

Choosing this feat means that you have studied and trained to such a level that you know how to get the most out of your weapon, especially in terms of damage to the opponent.

It is a must for anyone opting to be a front-line adventurer, the first to engage in hand-to-hand combat, the “tank” of a party, as the slang goes. Specifically, the Player’s Handbook says…

  • “When you take the Attack action and attack with only a glaive, halberd, quarterstaff, or spear, you can use a bonus action to make a melee attack with the opposite end of the weapon. This attack uses the same ability modifier as the primary attack. The weapon’s damage die for this attack is a d4, and it deals bludgeoning damage.
  • While you are wielding a glaive, halberd, pike, quarterstaff, or spear, other creatures provoke an opportunity attack from you when they enter the reach you have with that weapon.”

How Polearm Master Feat Works

It is best to think of a Polearm as a defensive or holding weapon. It comes into its own when you are rushed by an enemy rather than when charging into the fray. Swords and axes give a certain degree of mobility; a polearm was used in a braced position, often with one foot planted on the base of the haft for stability.

But the Polearm Master feat makes things a bit more fluid. Your braced position means you are quick to get an opportunity to attack as you see an opening in the enemy defenses. Also, you have become handy enough with the weapon to spin it around and get a second surprise attack with the non-business end. 

Poleaxes might not seem like an obvious choice for a weapon used in the confined spaces of a dungeon, but in the right hands, it becomes a brilliant defensive weapon.

Polearm Master Feat is Most Useful For

Any character who likes to be first to the action is going to benefit from this, either because they want to go in and deal damage or see themselves more as a “holding the line” sort of combatant, keeping the weapons, teeth, and talons of the opponents away from your more vulnerable members of the party.

Fighters, Paladins, and Barbarians are the obvious classes to utilize this feat, but Battle Smiths will also find that this suits their adventuring style.

Using Polearm Master Feat on Adventures

Polearm Master breathes new life into a section of weapons that often get overlooked. It is perfect for fighters who play aggressively and as the first line of defense.

So if you like the idea of your character being able to go charging into battle swinging a glaive around their heads, dealing damage to any foe foolish enough to come close, and also picture yourself standing alone, the haft of a Halberd jammed into the ground playing the part of the rearguard hero whilst your allies slip away, the Polearm Master feat is definitely for you.

D&D Player’s Handbook
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09/22/2023 01:30 pm GMT

Check out our full Feats 5e Guide.

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