Weapons

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It's time to get down to business.

If you just want to dive right in and start looking for a weapon, here's the pages with the detailed descriptions of all the goodies:

Weapon Basic Rules

Weapons are items which must be wielded in order to be used. This means that weapons must be equipped into the wielded slot, either the main hand, the off-hand, or both, depending on the weapon. A weapon or any other item that is in any form of storage upon the body of a character (in a sheathe, a pack, strapped to a forearm, balanced on one shoulder, concealed upon your person, etc) provides no benefit to the owner until it is drawn and wielded.

Only one item may be used in each hand's wielded slot. Given that weapons, shields, rods, staffs, wands, banners, musical instruments, potions, alchemical items, and implements all use the one (or both) of the wielded slots, choosing what item a character is wielding in their hands is an important call.

In many cases, it is possible for a character to have more than one item prepared for use in a wielded slot. One of the most common examples of this is a buckler shield, which is strapped to the arm, and the same hand can be holding a weapon or other item. However, even though two items are ready for use for that hand, only ONE of them may be wielded each round. If you have a buckler on your off-hand and are also using a dagger in that same hand, you can only gain the benefit from one of those items each round. If you use the dagger during the round, the AC bonus from the buckler (and any of its magic enchantments) are not applied to your character during that round. Similarly, if you want to retain the bonuses from the buckler, you may not use the dagger, nor gain any benefit from its magical enchantments or qualities.

Switching from one item to another in the same hand slot is a free action that can only be performed during your turn. Similarly, if you have a single item which uses two hands, you can release one hand from that item to do something else with that hand as a free action. Re-gripping a two-handed item is another free action that can only be performed during your turn. You can release your grip, use a different item, and re-grip, in the same round. Carrying a massive weapon on your shoulder means that weapon is not wielded, but is 'at-hand' and can be readied for use quickly. See the massive and handy weapon quality rules for details.

Drawing a weapon or any other item from storage upon a characters body requires either a move action, or it may be performed as part of a move action. Putting a weapon back into storage on a character's body is also a move action, or part of a move action. If a character takes a double move in a single round, they may switch weapons (or other hand-slot items) during each those two move actions. Running (taking the Run maneuver) does NOT allow this.

Dropping a held item into a square you occupy is a free action that can be performed at any time, including outside of your turn. You may drop an item and ready another with a free action and a move action (or as part of a move action) in the same round. If you move away from the square in which you dropped an item, you may wish to retrieve the dropped item from where you dropped it later.

If you are holding an item in a shield hand, you can transfer that item to your other hand (assuming it is not already holding something else) as a free action. You may also move something into your shield hand as a free action (assuming it is empty, save for the shield) rather than dropping it, if you are wearing a shield that allows the hand to be used (light shields and bucklers).


Example – Longsword
Character Level Base Weapon Damage
1 – 7 1d8
8 – 14 2d8
15 – 21 3d8
22 – 28 4d8
29+ 5d8

Base Weapon Damage

Beginning at 8th level, base weapon dice damage is doubled. This does not double STR, feat, precision or other modifiers to the base weapon damage, just the base damage of the weapon. This applies to melee, ranged, and thrown weapons alike. This does not apply to classes with fixed damage, such as the monk or brawler unarmed damage. For example, a longsword deals 2d8 base weapon damage after 8th level. This bonus increases to triple weapon dice damage at 15th level, quadruple at 22nd level and quintuple at 29th level and above.

These adjustments DO get factored into a weapon's critical hit damage. For example, an 1st level character wielding a longsword who critically hits (longswords deal double damage on a crit) would deal 2d8 + double their strength modifier. The same character at 8th level would deal 4d8 + double their strength modifier.

Weapon Proficiency

All weapons require proficiency to use properly in combat. Most character classes include a list of weapons or weapon classes (simple or martial; see below) with which the character is proficient (with the notable exception of the Brawler). Very few character classes begin with any exotic weapon proficiencies. Characters attempting to use a weapon with which they are not proficient suffer a -4 non-proficiency penalty to their attack rolls. The Simple Weapon Proficiency and Martial Weapons Proficiency feats are available to characters whose classes do not begin with them, if those characters wish to use those classes of weapons with proficiency. These feats grant proficiency in all simple weapons or martial weapons, respectively, so there is no need to choose which simple or martial weapon to which the feat applies.

Improvised Weapons
Weapons are tools designed with the sole purpose of inflicting harm. They are not the same as improvised weapons, such as chairs, beer bottles or that giant stuffed moose head on the wall, which can be made to inflict harm but where such uses are only incidental to their intended purpose (and if you don't know the intended use of a wall-mounted moose head, I'm certainly not going to tell you). Improvised weapons impose a -4 non-proficiency penalty when used to inflict harm unless the wielder has a feat allowing them to use such everyday objects more efficiently for violence (e.g. Catch Off-Guard, Throw Anything). Note that this is the same non-proficiency penalty as using a weapon with which you aren't proficient, so you only suffer it once.
Simple Weapons
Simple weapons are weapons that have only a little sophistication in their design. This is not to imply that they are necessarily crude affairs of sticks and twine, or clumsily-hammered knife blanks which won't hold an edge. They are weapons, and their manufacture can be as simple as a well-balanced tree limb, or as complex as a crossbow. Simple weapons are distinguished by their ease of use. They nearly all follow the "hit the guy with that end" rule, and little other martial nuance is required to make them efficiently lethal.
Martial Weapons
Martial weapons tend to have more sophisticated design features, and nuanced use allowing a skilled wielder to apply leverage, or twist the weapon in unexpected ways. Their balance is carefully weighed and measured and their cutting blades and striking surfaces are precisely shaped and manufactured for high effectiveness. Using a martial weapon well requires some degree of skill and ability. Again, the quality of such weapons can range from a barely functional bone or bronze weapon to a bladesilver filigreed piece that princes and kings would covet for their beauty alone. The quality of these weapons is irrelevant to the skill required to use them. Only those who have dedicated a significant portion of their lives to martial practices can hope to use such weapons skillfully.
Exotic Weapons
Exotic weapons are the pinnacle of the weapon designer's art. By definition, they have unusual design characteristics, customized balance and secondary (and often hidden) striking or cutting surfaces. They require special skill to use -- skill that is not obvious even to extremely skilled users of weapons. This esoteric skill is codified by the requirement for the Exotic Weapon Proficiency feat to use any exotic weapon. A separate Exotic Weapon Proficiency feat is required for each exotic weapon the character wants to wield proficiently. Exotic weapons are so complex and require such dedication and study that few people ever master more than one.
Table: Weapon Damage by Weapon Size
Tiny Weapon Damage Small Weapon Damage Medium Weapon Damage Large Weapon Damage
1 1 1d2 1d3
1 1d2 1d3 1d4
1d2 1d3 1d4 1d6
1d3 1d4 1d6 1d10
1d4 1d6 1d8 2d6
1d6 1d8 1d10 2d8
1d8 1d10 1d12 3d6
1d4 1d6 2d4 3d4
1d8 1d10 2d6 3d6
1d10 2d6 2d8 3d8
2d6 2d8 2d10 4d8

Weapon Size

In nearly every case, the PC's will wield a weapon of the same size as their race. That is, halflings will wield small weapons, and half-orcs will wield medium weapons. Tiny weapons or Large weapons are rarely used for everyday adventuring because they are rare, unwieldy and expensive. However, cases will arise where a character chooses to wield an oversized weapon, or some circumstance causes a PC to need rules for wielding an undersized weapon.

If a creature is temporarily enlarged or shrunk via magic, the rules for handiness and size are ignored in place of the effects described in the spell. If the spell effect dictates that the weapon should deal damage based on its new size, and that new size is smaller than Tiny or larger than Large, the weapon instead deals no less than a sized-Tiny weapon, or no more than a sized-Large weapon.

If a creature intends to use a wrong-sized weapon on an everyday basis (including a permanent spell effect, such as enlarge person), that creature must calculate their to-hit rolls to include the penalties caused by size disparity and any handiness disparities. The effect of using a wrong-sized weapon is that the base damage of the weapon is changed to the chosen size category. Because base weapon damage is increased at levels 8, 15, 22 and 29, this change can have a significant impact on a character's damage output. Note however that a weapon's reach is not changed by using a larger or smaller sized version of it. That is, non-reach weapons remain non-reach weapons regardless of size, and reach weapons do not have their reach extended by being made larger.

Wielding a weapon one size smaller or larger than your race inflicts a -2 penalty to all attack rolls. This penalty stacks with any handiness penalties (see below), and occurs even if you adjust the handiness to properly compensate for the change in size. That is, if a halfling picks up a medium-sized longsword, he can wield it in two-hands, and treat it as a small-size two-handed sword. He takes no handiness penalty for doing this, but the sword is still a medium-sized sword, so he takes a -2 size penalty to his attacks. Weapons that are too small are just as difficult to use as ones that are too large.

No creature may ever wield a weapon more than one size category different than his own, meaning medium creatures may never use tiny or huge weapons, and small creatures may never use fine or large weapons. The exception to this rule is that some small races can take a racial trait granting them the ability to wield sized-Medium weapons without penalty. These characters are treated as sized-medium for all purposes when determining what weapons are available for them to use, and when calculating size and handiness penalties of improperly-sized weapons. This means such a character, despite being size-Small could theoretically wield a sized-Large weapon, taking the same penalties a sized-medium creature would take for doing so (-4).

Tiny weapons cost half the normal cost of weapons. Large weapons cost quadruple the normal cost of a weapon. The costs for dweomermetals are adjusted the same way, but the cost for enhancement bonuses and magic weapon properties are unaffected by the weapon's size.

Weapon Handiness

Handiness dictates how many hands a wielder needs to properly wield the weapon. While this is pretty obvious for weapons sized appropriately for the character, the rules can get hazy when over- or under-sized weapons are used. Generally speaking, larger weapons need twice as many hands to wield than normal, and smaller weapons need half as many hands (round up) to wield as normal. A handiness penalty of -2 is applied when wielding the weapon with the wrong number of hands.

An exception exists in that you can wield an appropriately-sized one-handed weapon with two hands in order to increase your STR mod damage from 1x to 1.5x. Doing so does not cause a handiness penalty.

Light Weapons
Light weapons can be picked up with one hand and manipulated easily with the muscles of the fingers, They can be twitched around with fine motor control, flipped in the fingers with ease, etc.
  • Undersized Light Weapons: Must be wielded in one hand, and only inflict a size penalty. Weapon Finesse may still be used, and the weapon is still treated as a light weapon.
  • Oversized Light Weapons: When wielded in one hand, they inflict a handiness and size penalty. When wielded in two hands, they inflict only a size penalty. An oversized light weapon is treated as a 1-handed weapon (i.e. not light), and Weapon Finesse may no longer be used with the weapon.
One-Handed Weapons
One handed weapons can be picked up with one hand and manipulated easily with the muscles of the wrist, forearm, arm, and shoulder. They must be locked firmly in the grip of the whole hand and can be manipulated with ease using the powerful muscles of the arms and shoulders.
  • Undersized One-Handed Weapons: Must be wielded in one hand, and only inflict a size penalty. If the weapon has the Finesse quality, it may still be applied.
  • Oversized One-Handed Weapons: When wielded in one hand, inflicts a handiness and size penalty. When wielded in two hands, they inflict only a size penalty. An oversized one-handed weapon is treated as a two-handed weapon, even when wielded in 1 hand.
Two-Handed Weapons
Two handed weapons can be carried with one hand but must be gripped powerfully in both hands during combat. They require the coordinated strength of both arms, both shoulders, and the full torso to be manipulated properly in a fight.
  • Undersized Two-Handed Weapons: May be wielded in one hand, causing only a size penalty. An undersized two-handed weapon is treated as a one-handed weapon.
  • Oversized Two-Handed Weapons: Must be wielded in two hands, and still inflict a handiness and size penalty. An oversized two-handed weapon gains the Massive quality.

Using Incorrectly-Sized Weapons

The table below describes how the size and handiness penalties apply to each possible permutation of wielding under- or over-sized weapons. Note that this table only addresses using weapons in your primary hand or both hands. Details about wielding weapons in your off-hand are described under the Two-Weapon Fighting feat.

Table - Relative Weapon Sizes
Relative Weapon Size Hands Used Handiness Penalty Size Penalty Total Penalty STR Mod to Damage
Very Small Weapons (Size -2)
wielding any weapon 2 sizes (or more) smaller than you 1 not possible not possible not possible not possible
wielding any weapon 2 sizes (or more) smaller than you 2 not possible not possible not possible not possible
Smaller Weapons (Size -1)
wielding a light weapon 1 size smaller than you 1 0 -2 -2 1x
wielding a light weapon 1 size smaller than you 2 not possible not possible not possible not possible
wielding a 1-hand weapon 1 size smaller than you 1 0 -2 -2 1x
wielding a 1-hand weapon 1 size smaller than you 2 not possible not possible not possible not possible
wielding a 2-hand weapon 1 size smaller than you 1 0 -2 -2 1x
wielding a 2-hand weapon 1 size smaller than you 2 -2 -2 -4 1.5x
Appropriate Sized Weapons (Equal Size)
wielding a light weapon your size 1 0 0 0 1x
wielding a light weapon your size 2 0 0 0 1x
wielding a 1-hand weapon your size 1 0 0 0 1x
wielding a 1-hand weapon your size 2 0 0 0 1.5x
wielding a 2-hand weapon your size 1 not possible not possible not possible not possible
wielding a 2-hand weapon your size 2 0 0 0 1.5x
Larger Weapons (Size +1)
wielding a light weapon 1 size larger than you 1 -2 -2 -4 1x
wielding a light weapon 1 size larger than you 2 0 -2 -2 1x
wielding a 1-hand weapon 1 size larger than you 1 -2 -2 -4 1x
wielding a 1-hand weapon 1 size larger than you 2 0 -2 -2 1.5x
wielding a 2-hand weapon 1 size larger than you 1 not possible not possible not possible not possible
wielding a 2-hand weapon 1 size larger than you 2 -2 -2 -4 1.5x
Very Large Weapons (Size +2)
wielding any weapon 2 sizes larger (or more) than you 1 not possible not possible not possible not possible
wielding any weapon 2 sizes larger (or more) than you 2 not possible not possible not possible not possible

Weapon Qualities

Many weapons have one or more non-magical weapon qualities which grant specific bonuses or penalties for using that weapon. For example, a heavy pick has the sunder weapon quality which represents the pick's ability to deal greater damage to unattended objects than most other weapons.

Mundane weapon qualities are completely unrelated to a weapon's magical weapon properties, if any, and do not affect the cost of magically enchanting the weapon.

Magic Weapons

Rules for the creation, cost and effects of magic weapons can be found on the following pages: