Combat is a major part of Dungeons & Dragons. It’s how the majority of most players get interested in the game, and it can also be a little confusing for players when they first start out.
Even with a solid Dungeon Master it’s always good to be a little prepared and know the basics of how combat works in 5e. We’re here to help walk you through it with our detailed DnD Weapons 5e Guide.
Melee Vs. Ranged
Melee weapons in 5e are weapons that can be used to attack characters within 5ft of the player character. These would be things like a club, sword, or spear.
Ranged weapons in 5e are used to target enemies at a distance. Ranged weapons have a maximum range that they’re effective at. Some examples would be bows and crossbows. Some melee weapons can also be ranged weapons. Knives and axes can be used in melee range as well as thrown at far away targets to do damage.
DnD 5e Weapon Proficiency
Before any character can use a particular weapon, they’ll need to be proficient with it. Proficiency refers to the character having the knowledge, experience, or training to use a weapon effectively.
Each class is granted a certain number of weapon proficiencies at character creation, and some classes grant bonus ones as they level up.
When a character is making an attack using a weapon they’re proficient in they also add their proficiency bonus to the roll. This makes it much easier for them to actually hit the target and do some damage.
If a character doesn’t have proficiency with a weapon they don’t get to add their proficiency bonus, but they can still add the appropriate ability score modifier.
The standard weapon proficiencies in 5e are simple, martial, and improvised. All weapons can fit into these categories. Simple weapons would be clubs, knives, or stone and sling. Martial Weapons on the other hand would be more professional. These would be swords, battle axes, or a halberd.
Some classes also classify their own category of weapons. Monks have a special category simply called Monk Weapons that they’re proficient in. These are a set of specially picked out weapons that can be used with the Monk class and their specific abilities.
If you’re familiar with any of the previous editions of DnD you may notice a lack of the Exotic Weapon Proficiency. DnD 5e does not have an Exotic Weapon Proficiency. It was removed to simplify the rules. Any homebrewed weapon can fit into either of the above categories at the discretion of the DM.
DnD 5e Weapon Properties
Some weapons in 5e have extra properties. These don’t necessarily make them special or magical, it just refers to different rules that apply when using the weapon.
An ammunition weapon means that you need ammo to use it. Bows, crossbows, slings, and even guns (if the DM allows them) are all ammo-based weapons and before using the weapon it must be loaded and the player must have ammunition.
Each attack uses up one arrow, bolt, rock, or bullet. At the end of combat, the player can search the battlefield to attempt to recover up to half the amount of ammunition used in a fight.
If things get a little hectic and you need to use the ranged weapon in a melee attack, then the weapon properties become an improvised weapon.
This can be mitigated if you have your character create their own weapon and create some kind of bayonet for your bow or gun.
Finesse Weapons 5e
Sometimes it’s not how hard you hit, but where you hit. Some weapons in DnD have special properties. One of those properties is Finesse.
What are Finesse Weapons in 5e?
A weapon with Finesse gives you a choice between Strength or Dexterity for the attack and damage roll. You must use the same modifier for both rolls.
Finesse weapons are great for thematic purposes and character flair and make characters high in DEX formidable adversaries. Finesse weapons in 5e do less base damage overall, but let characters be flexible with their weapon choices.
Some finesse weapons have additional special properties too.
Here’s a list of Finesse Weapons in 5e:
- Dagger – light, can be used in off-hand without penalty. Can be thrown.
- Dart – can be thrown.
- Scimitar – light, can be used in off-hand without penalty.
- Shortsword – light, can be used in off-hand without penalty.
- Whip – reach, can attack from an extra 5 feet out.
You can dual wield the 5e Finesse weapons Dagger, Scimitar, and Shortsword without the Dual-Wielder feat. Your Shadow Monk can carry around a bunch of daggers and darts to complement their martial arts skills.
Finesse Weapons in 5e are lighter than normal weapons, which is good news for packrats. Finesse weapons are also great choices for dexterous spellcasters who want an extra attack option but don’t have high enough strength to make carrying around a sword worth it.
And if you narrate your finesse-filled attack just right, your DM might even reward you with an advantage roll!
Typically when attacking the Strength modifier is used to determine attack and damage. Finesse weapons give the player the option to choose either Strength or Dexterity modifiers when rolling for attack and damage. Whichever is chosen must be used for both attack and damage rolls.
This means exactly what it says. This weapon is heavy.
If a small creature attempts to use a heavy weapon, then it must roll with Disadvantage. You wouldn’t really expect a gnome to use an Orc-sized great sword, would you?
These are small lightweight weapons. They can be used in the character’s offhand while using two weapons to fight with. In previous editions, there were a lot of penalties associated with two-weapon fighting. These don’t really exist anymore. There is no penalty to fight with two weapons, but the second weapon must have the Light property.
This is a tricky one. The Player’s Handbook states:
“Because of the time required to load this weapon, you can fire only one piece of Ammunition from it when you use an Action, bonus Action, or Reaction to fire it, regardless of the number of attacks you can normally make.”
It makes sense at first, but the more you delve into it the vaguer it seems. I interpret it as 1 shot per Action, Bonus Action, or Reaction.
If a fighter gets multiple attacks per Action, they’d only be able to get off 1 shot on their Action using a Loading weapon, but using a non-Loading weapon like a sword they’d still get their multiple attacks.
If a character has haste cast on them, they’ll have 2 actions on their turn. They’ll then be able to fire twice with a Loading weapon because they’re using 2 actions to fire twice.
Simple Finesse Weapons
|Weapon||Melee or Ranged|
|Dagger (1d4 piercing)||Melee and Ranged|
|Dart (1d4 piercing)||Ranged|
Martial Finesse Weapons
|Weapon||Melee or ranged|
|Rapier (1d8 piercing)||Melee|
|Scimitar (1d6 slashing)||Melee|
|Shortsword (1d6 piercing)||Melee|
|Whip (1d4 slashing)||Melee|
If a weapon has the Range property attacks can be used as a ranged weapon. It typically gives two different ranges. The first is the normal range of the weapon and the second is the long range of the weapon.
Attacks continue as normal in the normal range, but attacks in the long-range category must be rolled with Disadvantage to the attack roll. Anything beyond the long range cannot be attempted and will automatically fail.
When determining melee range, Reach adds an extra 5ft. Weapons like a glaive, lance, or a pike are all Reach weapons.
A weapon with a Special weapon property typically has its own separate rules section to explain it and doesn’t fit within any of the other normal rules categories.
A weapon with the Thrown property can be used like a normal melee weapon, but can also be used for a Ranged attack. It will have a separate set of details for the melee and ranged properties. If using it as a ranged weapon you would use Strength or Dexterity-based on the weapon.
If you would normally use the Strength modifier when making a melee attack roll, you’d have to use the Strength modifier when using a ranged attack roll. If the player has the option of Strength or Ranged with a melee roll, the player can choose whichever one they wish to use.
The weapon is larger than normal and can only be wielded with 2 hands. The character should not be able to use it effectively or at all with one hand.
Versatile weapons can be used either one-handed or two-handed. The damage values for each style will be different and will have different stat details for each.
What’s the difference between a club and a sturdy piece of firewood? What about a mace and a bat with a nail driven through it? Quality of the weapon, but not much difference really. The Dungeon Master can assign damage values to an improvised weapon if it resembles a similar type of weapon and its quality.
A sturdy piece of firewood is going to injure you just as much as a club if you knock someone on the back of the head. A rotting piece of wood, probably won’t, though.
Any object that is used as a weapon that isn’t actually a weapon deals 1d4 damage whether it’s in melee or ranged. The effective range for an improvised weapon is 20ft and the long-range is 60 ft.
It’s just a well-known fact that monsters don’t like silver. Silvered weapons have a coating of silver applied to their weapons. Monsters that are immune or resistant to non-magical weapons will still find themselves damaged by Silvered Weapons. It’s not just for werewolves anymore.
It costs 100gp for a single weapon or 10 pieces of ammunition to have a Silvered coating applied. This is the price for materials and the labor of a skilled craftsman to apply the coating.
Finesse Weapons 5e FAQ
What is considered a Finesse weapon 5e?
A finesse weapon is one of a group of weapons that, providing you have attained proficiency, allows you to use either your strength or dexterity score when determining if your attack hits and is used as a damage bonus—the vast majority of weapons that rely on either strength or dexterity as indicated.
Can you give a weapon Finesse 5e?
The straight answer is no! Finesse is an inherent property of a weapon; either it has this quality or doesn’t. It is not something that can be applied or added; it is a characteristic relating to how the weapon is used in combat.
How do you use Finesse weapons in 5e?
Finesse Weapons are used in the same way any other weapons are. But, when you determine the modifiers for the chance to hit and any bonus damage, you, the player, get to decide whether it is Dexterity or Strength, which is the factor.
This reflects the weapon’s versatility; sometimes, it is used gracefully (Dexterity) and sometimes aggressively (Strength). Your choice is down to your character’s statistics which in turn govern their attack style.
DnD Weapons 5e List
Here is a complete list of Weapons in 5e DnD:
The guide is broken down into
- Simple Weapons
- Simple Ranged Weapons
- Martial Melee Weapons
- Martial Ranged Weapons
The tables show the most common weapons used in 5e DnD, broken down by each element including Cost, the Damage that each weapon can do, the Weight, what Properties each weapon has, and its Weight.
Each weapon is broken down by Range, for example, a Melee weapon is used to attack a target at close range, i.e. less than 5ft. As the name suggests, Ranged Weapons are used for Targets further away or from a distance.
Simple Weapons 5e
A group of primary, hand-held close combat weapons. In game mechanics terms, the term simple weapon relates to a group of weapons with which a character can achieve proficiency.
In general terms, they are weapons of the sort used by non-adventurers and those just starting due to their simplicity. Many are evolved farm implements or standard tools, such as clubs, axes, staves and sickles.
|Simple Melee Weapons||Cost||Damage||Weight||Properties||Range|
|Club||1 sp||1d4 bludgeoning||2lb||Light||NA|
|Dagger||2 gp||1d4 piercing||1lb||Finesse, Light, Thrown||20/60|
|Greatclub||2 sp||1d8 bludgeoning||10lb||Two-handed||NA|
|Handaxe||5 gp||1d6 slashing||2lb||Light, Thrown||20/60|
|Javelin||5 sp||1d6 piercing||2lb||Thrown||30/120|
|Light Hammer||2 gp||1d4 bludgeoning||2lb||Light, Thrown||20/60|
|Mace||5 gp||1d6 bludgeoning||4lb||NA||NA|
|Quarterstaff||2 sp||1d6 bludgeoning||4lb||Versatile||NA|
|Sickle||1 gp||1d4 slashing||2lb||Light||NA|
|Spear||1 gp||1d6 piercing||3lb||Thrown||20/60|
Simple Ranged Weapons
|Simple Ranged Weapons||Cost||Damage||Weight||Properties||Range|
|Crossbow, Light||25 gp||1d8 piercing||5 lb||Ammunition, Loading, Two-handed||80/320|
|Dart||5 cp||1d4 piercing||1/4 lb||Finesse, Thrown||20/60|
|Shortbow||25 gp||1d6 piercing||2 lb||Ammunition, Two-handed||80/320|
|Sling||1 sp||1d4 bludgeoning||NA||Ammunition||30/120|
Martial Melee Weapons
Martial Weapons are those specifically designed and crafted for combat. They are a group of weapons that a character must obtain proficiency in before they can successfully use them.
Anyone can heft a club at the oncoming enemy, but it takes more skill to wield a Great Axe, Trident, or Morning Star without taking your ally’s ear off in the process.
Whilst militia and small-town guards might only have Simple Weapons, any army or city watch worth their salt will be armed with martial weapons. And so should any effective party of adventurers.
These Weapons require more training to be the most effective, but their ability to quickly take down an opponent when in the right hands is quickly apparent.
|Martial Melee Weapons||Cost||Damage||Weight||Properties|
|Battleaxe||10 gp||1d8 slashing||4 lb||Versatile (1d10)|
|Flail||10 gp||1d8 bludgeoning||2 lb||NA|
|Glaive||20 gp||1d10 slashing||6 lb||Heavy, reach, two-handed|
|Greataxe||30 gp||1d12 slashing||7 lb||Heavy, Two-handed|
|Greatsword||50 gp||2d6 slashing||6 lb||Heavy, Two-handed|
|Halberd||20 gp||1d10 slashing||6 lb||Heavy, Reach, Two-handed|
|Lance||10 gp||1d12 piercing||6 lb||Reach, special|
|Longsword||15 gp||1d8 slashing||3 lb||Versatile (1d10)|
|Maul||10 gp||2d6 bludgeoning||10 lb||Heavy, Two-handed|
|Morningstar||15 gp||1d8 piercing||4 lb||NA|
|Pike||5 gp||1d10 piercing||18 lb||Heavy, reach, two-handed|
|Rapier||25 gp||1d8 piercing||2 lb||Finesse|
|Scimitar||25 gp||1d6 slashing||3 lb||Finesse, light|
|Shortsword||10 gp||1d6 piercing||2 lb||Finesse, light|
|Trident||5 gp||1d6 piercing||4 lb||Thrown, Versatile (1d8) – Range 20/60|
|Warpick||5 gp||1d8 piercing||2 lb||NA|
|Warhammer||15 gp||1d8 bludgeoning||2 lb||Versatile (1d10)|
|Whip||2 gp||1d4 slashing||3 lb||Finesse, Reach|
Martial Weapons 5e FAQ
What is considered a Martial weapon in 5e?
Whereas most people automatically use Simple Weapons with a decent level of proficiency, Martial Weapons are a group of weapons designed specifically for combat.
Simple weapons are often readily found in civilian life, staves, axes, etc. Martial Weapons are made by smiths specifically for battle and require the wielder to have mastered proficiency with this category.
This includes battleaxes, flails, glaives, great axes, greatswords, halberds, lances, longswords, mauls, morningstars, pikes, rapiers, scimitars, and shortswords.
What is the best Martial weapon in 5e?
That would depend on the class of character you are playing and the situation that you find yourself in.
Greatswords are great for delivering a lot of damage, longbows are a powerful and accurate ranged weapon, javelins can be used to get an extra attack in before closing for hand-to-hand combat, and rapiers allow characters to fight with dexterity rather than force.
They are all great choices, but it is all about what suits your style of play.
What is a Simple or Martial weapon in 5e?
Simple Weapons are ones that newbie adventurers, army recruits, and even villagers can wield with some effectiveness. Martial Weapons are those which require an amount of dedicated training to master correctly.
Martial Ranged Weapons
Although most people could use a Simple Ranged Weapon and have some success, Martial Ranged Weapons will be found being wielded by trained combatants.
This includes heavy crossbows, more powerful bows, and specialized missile weapons such as the blowgun or net.
|Martial Ranged Weapons||Cost||Damage||Weight||Properties||Range|
|Blowgun||10 gp||1 piercing||1 lb||Ammunition, loading||25/100|
|Crossbow, Hand||75 gp||1d6 piercing||3 lb||Ammunition, light, loading||30/120|
|Crossbow, Heavy||50 gp||1d10 piercing||18 lb||Ammunition, heavy, loading, two-handed||100/400|
|Longbow||50 gp||1d8 piercing||2 lb||Ammunition, heavy, two-handed||150/600|
|Net||1 gp||NA||3 lb||Special, thrown||5/15|
Ranged Weapons 5e FAQ
What counts as a Ranged weapon in 5e?
Generally, a melee weapon is one that is hand-held and used to attack anything within 5 feet of you. Anything that can attack from a further distance that is thrown or used to shoot a missile is classified as a ranged weapon.
How do Ranged attacks work in 5e?
A Ranged attack is when you use a weapon such as a bow or Crossbow to shoot a projectile at a target. It also includes hurling a hand axe or dagger.
Creatures might also have ranged attacks if they can shoot spines at you or are in the habit of spitting acid. Many spells, such as Lightning Bolt or Magic Missile, are also regarded as ranged attacks.
What is the best Ranged weapon in 5e?
Again, it all comes down to preference, style of attack, and class prohibitions. But the longbow is an excellent all-around weapon, powerful, quick to load, and not overly complex.
The hand crossbow is fast and not subject to the regular crossbow loading time, and Hand Axes and daggers are easy to use and can be utilized as melee and ranged weapons as required.
Projectile weapons all use ammunition. Bows require arrows, crossbows need bolts, and slings use stones. When using such a weapon, a character draws ammunition as a free action, whilst crossbows and slings require an action for reloading.
Ammunition that hits its target is destroyed or rendered useless; it either breaks on impact or can’t be removed from the target without damage.
Regular ammunition that misses its mark has a 50% chance of being destroyed or lost. Sling stones shatter when they hit the far wall; arrows get embedded deeply into a wall, or crossbow bolts go skittering off into the gloom, never to be seen again.
|Arrows (20)||1 gp||1 lb|
|Blowgun Needles (50)||1 gp||1 lb|
|Crossbow Bolts (20)||1 gp||1.5 lb|
|Sling Bullets (20)||4 gp||1.5 lb|
Best DnD Weapons 5e
If the standard sword is a tool for the combatant to get the task of combat done, the Rapier is the artist’s pen for the pugilist. It does the same damage as the longsword but weighs the same as a shortsword, thus lightening the load.
It is categorized as a finesse weapon, meaning you need proficiency in that weapon type to use it effectively. But when you have mastered it, you can choose either Strength or Dexterity as the modifier for your attack and damage rolls.
The Rapier is the weapon of choice for the more agile and artistic fighter, such as the Swashbuckler, who sees combat as an art in its own right, a dexterous and deadly dance, rather than just a prop with which they can hack their way through enemy lines.
The Quarterstaff may be one of the simplest weapons available, the choice of foresters and farmers, but in the right hands, it can be a devastating weapon indeed.
It is classed as a Versatile Weapon, meaning it can be wielded either one or two-handed. If you opt to use it with both hands, its damage roll rises to 1d8.
Even when used in one hand, it deals more damage than the average light hammer or club and weighs much less than many weapons with a similar damage roll.
It is a superb option for those looking for a great Bludgeoning weapon. For that reason, it is favored by Monks, Rangers, and Wizards, who will also use it as a channel for magical energies.
In the real world, throughout the medieval period of European history, the longbow was one of the most feared battlefield weapons. The same is true in the fantasy realms, as reflected in their properties and potency.
The weapon’s range is how far you can send an arrow at normal and long distances. Long-range shots are made at Disadvantage, and no shot can exceed the stated long range.
Like all bows, it fires arrows, one at a time. Drawing an arrow is considered part of the attack (unlike crossbows, where it takes additional time to load), but you will need one hand free and the arrow within easy reach.
As stated above, arrows that miss their target can be gathered up with 50% success, so always stop a search the area before moving on.
GameCows Tip: One word of warning. The longbow is a big weapon and must be wielded with two hands. It is also categorized as a Heavy weapon, so creatures and characters rated tiny will use one with Disadvantage. If you are rolling up a halfling Ranger, there are better choices than the class’s traditional weapon.
Daggers are cheap, ubiquitous, and about as big as the average kitchen knife. This might not sound like much of a weapon, but they are a vital starting weapon, and every character should consider carrying one as, at least, a secondary weapon.
Rogues like them for those infamous sneak attacks, and they are a favorite of Sorcerers who like to enchant them.
Daggers are cheap and not much bigger than the average kitchen knife. This might not sound great, but they can be a vital starting weapon. Rogues may favor daggers for a quick sneak attack, and Sorcerers have been known to keep them around for more enchanted purposes.
So a dagger might not be the mightiest of weapons, but it is light, slight, and flexible.
As a Finesse Weapon, Dexterity or Strength can be chosen when applying attack and damage modifiers. Being light, it is easy to handle perfectly as a dual-wielded weapon and easy to conceal when you wish to appear unarmed.
You can even throw it at an enemy if you need to slow them down whilst you beat a hasty retreat.
If you are looking for a ranged weapon that is more technologically advanced than the longbow, then the Crossbow is the way to go. The Light Crossbow is a perfect compromise choice, halfway between the less powerful hand crossbow and the more unwieldy, not to mention expensive, Heavy Crossbow.
One minor drawback is the issue of loading times. Regular bows are loaded and fired all as one smooth action. On the other hand, a crossbow takes extra time to load, which means you only have time to fire one per melee round, irrespective of the number of attacks you are usually entitled to.
Also, ensure that when you pull the trigger, you refer to this as having “loosed” the bolt. The term “fire” only came in with muskets, so using it in this context will only infuriate the history buffs. And you know what they can be like!
There are plenty of lightweight weapons and nimble options for the fighter looking for more deft and dexterous attack styles, but if you are a Paladin or Barbarian who wants to smash through the enemy ranks quickly and brutally as possible, only the Greatsword will do.
It is a Heavy, 2-handed weapon (so too large for small and tiny characters and creatures to handle), but with 2d6 of slashing damage being delivered, it is a potent weapon indeed.
Like the longbow, it has a higher cost implication but is a powerful piece of kit when in the hands of severe and front-line melee combatants. No “tank” should leave home without one.
This might look like a short spear, but the javelin is of a design that makes it less useful for use in close combat and much better suited to being hurled at the enemy as you run into combat, giving you time to draw a new weapon before you close in for the, hopefully, kill.
The javelin is the same price and delivers the same amount of damage as the Quarterstaff, making it a perfect newbie weapon. The only downside is that you’ll have to wander over to your skewered foe to get the javelin back – which probably won’t go down too well if they’re still alive.
An interesting footnote is to mention the pilum or javelin that the Roman infantry used. Often the Roman soldiers would throw two javelins whilst they closed in on their enemy.
Generally, they either hit the target or empaled the shield. If the latter, they would try to step on the trailing javelin to pull the opponent’s shield down and leave them exposed whilst they stabbed at them with their short sword.
The Scimitar is a type of long sword with a curved blade. In the real world, these were popular with cavalry and mounted tribal warriors, especially in ancient Asia and the Middle East. The weapon made it easy to slash enemies while riding a horse. But that isn’t to say it isn’t equally effective for foot soldiers.
As with all Finesse Weapons, you can choose Strength or Dexterity as the modifier used to determine additional attack and damage bonuses. And if you like the idea of swinging this exotic and evocative weapon about, then hunt down a rare Double-Bladed Scimitar.
A blade on both sides of the weapon. A lot more expensive but twice the slice and twice the fun.
Before starting GameCows with his wife Kendra, he used to teach English Language Arts in the US. He combined his love of gaming with education to create fun game-based learning lessons until he eventually decided to run GameCows with Kendra full-time. He’s known for pouring over rulebooks in his spare time, being the rule master during game night, and as the perma DM in his DnD group. Bryan loves board games, writing, traveling, and above all his wife and partner in crime, Kendra.