Weapon weights

Following up on a discussion in a different thread... many of the weapon weights listed in the equipment section are unrealistically high. (And a few are too low.) This has historically been the case; the older rules explained this as the weight value really being an "encumbrance" value, that also incorporated information about how unweildy the weapon was to carry. I think it would make a lot more sense to just have the weight be the weight, and not worry about the encumbrance idea.

Up front: this is not very important. It's not going to spoil anyone's game if the weapon weights are wrong. But for many people it is annoying, and it can break your suspension of disbelief to see things like weights that just don't make sense. It is also very easy to fix; I think we can ask for realistic weights without expecting that to detract from more important game development tasks.

If it helps, I did some "research," and put together a list of plausible values. A list of references is given afterwards. These values are taken from historical examples, modern reproductions, modern weapons, and general information sources. An expert on medieval weaponry might argue about many of my numbers, but I think he or she would first have to deal with the fact that many of these weapons aren't historically attested or well-defined. But I'm not really interested in historically accuracy, just plausibility.






































































































































































































































Cestus 0.5 lbs.
Club 2 lbs.
Light Crossbow4 lbs.
Dagger 1 lb.
Dart 0.5 lbs.
Greatclub 4 lbs.
Javelin 2 lbs.
Mace 3 lbs.
Quarterstaff 2 lbs.
Shortbow 1 lb.
Sling 0.5 lbs.
Spear 3 lbs.
Bastard sword 4 lbs.
Battleaxe 4 lbs.
Blowgun 1 lb.
Bolas 1 lb.
Crossbow, hand 3 lbs.
Crossbow, heavy 7 lbs.
Double axe 4 lbs.
Double sword 4 lbs.
Flail 3 lbs.
Glaive 6 lbs.
Greataxe 6 lbs.
Greatsword 6 lbs.
Halberd 6 lbs.
Handaxe 1 lb.
Katana 3 lbs.
Lance 7 lbs.
Light hammer 1 lb.
Long sword 3 lbs.
Longbow 2 lbs.
Maul 6 lbs.
Morningstar 3 lbs.
Net 5 lbs.
Pike 4 lbs.
Rapier 2 lbs.
Scimitar 2 lbs.
Short sword 2 lbs.
Spiked chain 5 lbs.
Spiked shield 10 lbs.
Trident 4 lbs.
Urgrosh 6 lbs.
War pick 4 lbs.
Warhammer3 lbs.
Whip 2 lbs.


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Show

Cestus:
Modern brass knuckles: 0.4 lbs
Medieval gauntlet: 0.5 lbs

Club:
Modern baseball bat: 2 lbs
Modern tactical baton: 3 lbs
Modern black jack: 0.6 lbs
A lot of variation here, but 2 lbs seems like a fair average.

Crossbow, light:
Modern: 3.8 lbs
Medieval:  4.4 lbs

Dagger:
General: 1 lb
Modern (medieval style): 1 lb

Dart:
Modern throwing knife: 0.5 lbs

Greatclub:
Unattested, but it should be heavier than a club or a quarterstaff.

Javelin:
Modern javelin: 1.3 lbs
Roman pilum: 4.4 to 11 lbs
I think the dnd javelin is more akin to the sport javelin than the pilum, which was a shorter ranged weapon.

Mace:
Medieval: 3-4 lbs
General: 1.7 to 3.4 lbs

Quarterstaff:
Oak weighs 45 lbs/cu. ft, so a 6 ft long x 1-1/8 in. diam shaft is 0.04 cu ft, thus 1.9 lbs.

Shortbow
Modern: 1.2 lbs
General: 2 lbs
Round down to 1 lb to distinguish from longbow

Sling:
Unattested, but probably less that 0.5 lbs

Spear:
Hoplite spear: 2-4 lbs
Modern boar spear: 4.3 lbs
Viking spearhead:  0.8  lbs (+ 2 lb for 6 ft shaft)

Bastard Sword:
Medieval: below 4.5 lbs
Modern: 2.7 lbs
General: 2.5 to 3.3 lbs
Should be between a long sword and a great sword

Battle Axe:
General: Medieval axes ranged from 1 to 6 lbs
Reproduction: 4 lbs

Blowgun:
Modern: 1 lb

Bolas:
Pre-Columbian lead bolo weight: 0.4 lb (single weight): Archaeometry of Pre-Columbian Sites and Artifacts, David A. Scott, pg. 187

Crossbow, Hand:
Modern: 3.2 lbs

Crossbow, Heavy:
Modern: 7.7 lbs
General modern: 7-8 lbs
Medieval:  6.6 lbs

Double Axe:
Two hand axes (say 1.5 lbs each) plus a shaft (1 lb)

Double Sword:
Two short swords (say 1.5 lbs each) plus a shaft (1 lb)

Flail:
Reproduction: 3 lbs
Reproduction: 3 lbs

Glaive:
Medieval: 9 lbs
Reproduction head: 3 lb head + 2 lb shaft
Should probably match the halberd

Great Axe:
General: Medieval axes ranged 1 to 6 lbs
Reproduction: 5.4 lbs

Greatsword:
Medieval: 5.9 to 8.5 lbs
Modern: 6.9 lbs
General: 3.3 to 5.5 lbs
Probably shouldn't weight more than the greataxe

Halberd:
Medieval: 4.5 to 7.5 lbs
Medieval: about 5 lbs
General: 3.3 to 5.5 lbs
Should probably match the glaive

Hand Axe:
General: Medieval axes ranged 1 to 6 lbs
Modern: 1.3 lbs

Katana:
General: 3 lbs
Modern: 2.6 lbs

Lance:
Modern: 5-7 lbs
General: 6.6-8.8 lbs

Light Hammer:
Unattested, but take as parallel to hand axe

Long sword:
Medieval: 1.5 to 3.2 lbs
Medieval: 2.5 to 3.5 lbs
General: 2.4-3.3 lbs

Longbow:
Medieval:  1.6 lbs
General modern: 2 lbs
Use 2 lbs to distinguish from shortbow

Maul:
Unattested, but take as parallel to great axe

Morningstar:
Reproduction: 3 lbs
Comparable to mace

Net:
Unattested, but 1/4” hemp rope weighs 0.0165 lbs per foot. A 5 ft square net with 4 inch spacing requires 150 ft of rope, weighing 2.5 lbs. Roman gladiator nets were also weighted around the edges, so estimate 5 lbs.

Pike:
DnD pike seems shorter than a traditional pike (which was up to 25 ft). For a 10 ft weapon, use a 1 lb spear head on a 10 ft (3 lb) shaft.

Rapier:
Medieval: 2.4 to 3.6 lbs
General: 2.2 lbs
Should be lighter than a longsword

Scimitar:
General: 2.5 lbs
Reproduction: 1.8 lbs

Short sword:
Medieval arming sword: 2.4 lbs
Reproduction arming sword: 2.5 lbs
Cutlass: 2 – 2.7 lbs
Poignard: 1.3 lbs
Should be lighter than a long sword

Spiked Chain:
Not well attested. A modern 3/16” chain weighs about 0.4 lbs/foot and can support an 800 lb load (Amazon: Campbell 0140323 Chain). This seems like a reasonable base. An eight-foot chain would weigh 3.2 lbs. Two more pounds for spikes seems reasonable.

Spiked Shield:
Medieval shield/buckler: 4.6 to 12.3 lbs
Medieval shield: 11 to 15 lbs
Spiked shields are not well attested

Trident:
Reproduction: 2.7 lbs head + 2 lbs for 6 ft shaft
Reproduction: 3.8 lbs

Urgrosh:
Spear head (1 lb) plus average of a great axe and battle axe (5 lbs)

War Pick:
Reproduction: 6 lbs
Reproduction: 7 lbs
I think, however, that these are two handed weapons, so I scaled down the weight. There's really not much difference in shape between a pick and a war hammer

Warhammer:
General: 1.7 to 3.4 lbs
Reproduction: 2.3 lbs

Whip:
Bullwhip: 1.5 lbs
While I'm at it, I can't help posting a few thoughts about more substantive weapon issues. These are just my opinions, for what they are worth:

- The spiked shield is too strong; lots of people have pointed this out already. I think a spiked buckler giving +1 AC with 1d4 damage would be more reasonable. I'd lower the weight then.

- The urgrosh is too strong compared to everything else, it should probably be 1d8/1d4

- The whip is too good an off-hand weapon now (since off-hand weapons don't get a stat mod anyway). Make it not light, but maybe it could be finesse?

- I think the dart should be replaced with the knife, a 1d3 light, finesse, thrown weapon. The dagger should then not be thowable.

- Cestus should be 1d3 light, finesse

- I think the bastard sword should be ditched, and make the longsword 1d8/1d10 versatile. Make the warhammer, battle axe and pick 1d8/1d10 versatile as well, but drop the rule that small characters can only use versatile weapons two handed.

- Drop the glaive, and let the halberd represent all the bladed polearms.
While I'm at it, I can't help posting a few thoughts about more substantive weapon issues. These are just my opinions, for what they are worth:

- The spiked shield is too strong; lots of people have pointed this out already. I think a spiked buckler giving +1 AC with 1d4 damage would be more reasonable. I'd lower the weight then.

- The urgrosh is too strong compared to everything else, it should probably be 1d8/1d4


Agreed

- The whip is too good an off-hand weapon now (since off-hand weapons don't get a stat mod anyway). Make it not light, but maybe it could be finesse?


It's a Martial Weapon (base 1d8) with Light & Finesse (minus 1 die type together) and Reach (minus 1 die type). Works fine for me.

- Cestus should be 1d3 light, finesse


I don't see why, but can't really object. The cestus has never been an interesting weapon to me.

- I think the bastard sword should be ditched, and make the longsword 1d8/1d10 versatile. Make the warhammer, battle axe and pick 1d8/1d10 versatile as well, but drop the rule that small characters can only use versatile weapons two handed.


I agree, but would still keep the rule about small characters. In earlier editions, small characters couldn't use these weapons except 2 handed, so I don't see why they should now. Basically it meant that you had 1 lower die type available to you. Since the standard 1 Handed Martial Weapon is 1d8 and 2 Handed Martial Weapon is 1d12, that would mean that small characters would have 1d6 and 1d10 respectively. I would just get rid of the Heavy rule and have small characters suffer Disadvantage for using 2 Handed Weapons unless they contain the Small property (so you can have some 2 Handed Weapons, like the Shortbow and Light Crossbow, useable by small characters).

- I think the dart should be replaced with the knife, a 1d3 light, finesse, thrown weapon. The dagger should then not be thowable.

- Drop the glaive, and let the halberd represent all the bladed polearms.


I would fold the dart into the dagger instead. They should simplify the weapons to include similar weapons that use the same mechanics (for example, the Saber and Cutlass are mechanically the same as the the Scimitar). That would allow numerous options for style without having to clutter up the list of weapons.
- The whip is too good an off-hand weapon now (since off-hand weapons don't get a stat mod anyway). Make it not light, but maybe it could be finesse?


It's a Martial Weapon (base 1d8) with Light & Finesse (minus 1 die type together) and Reach (minus 1 die type). Works fine for me.


It sounds like you are saying that the whip would be balanced if there was no rule denying your stat mod to damage with a whip. I'm not sure whether that would be balanced, I think that one-handed reach may be worth more than that. But I'm open to the idea. My main point is that the current rules seem to try to balance it by denying your stat mod to damage, but that this approach doesn't  work well with the current iteration of the TWF rules.

- I think the bastard sword should be ditched, and make the longsword 1d8/1d10 versatile. Make the warhammer, battle axe and pick 1d8/1d10 versatile as well, but drop the rule that small characters can only use versatile weapons two handed.


I agree, but would still keep the rule about small characters. In earlier editions, small characters couldn't use these weapons except 2 handed, so I don't see why they should now. Basically it meant that you had 1 lower die type available to you. Since the standard 1 Handed Martial Weapon is 1d8 and 2 Handed Martial Weapon is 1d12, that would mean that small characters would have 1d6 and 1d10 respectively. I would just get rid of the Heavy rule and have small characters suffer Disadvantage for using 2 Handed Weapons unless they contain the Small property (so you can have some 2 Handed Weapons, like the Shortbow and Light Crossbow, useable by small characters).


There is a lot of disagreement on this subject, whether halfling fighters ought to get 1d8 1H weapons. I could go either way on it myself.


They should simplify the weapons to include similar weapons that use the same mechanics (for example, the Saber and Cutlass are mechanically the same as the the Scimitar). That would allow numerous options for style without having to clutter up the list of weapons.


I agree, but it might also be neat to have option modules that breakout different varieties of weapons and introduce some more weapon qualities (speed, heavy crits, bonuses to special maneuvers, etc) to differentiate them.
double post

It sounds like you are saying that the whip would be balanced if there was no rule denying your stat mod to damage with a whip. I'm not sure whether that would be balanced, I think that one-handed reach may be worth more than that. But I'm open to the idea. My main point is that the current rules seem to try to balance it by denying your stat mod to damage, but that this approach doesn't  work well with the current iteration of the TWF rules.


Correct, the whip is a bad weapon as it is, unless you really think 1 Handed Reach is phenomenal. I don't, as if you use reach properly to avoid being attacked, then a shield doesn't really help you and unless you twin fight with whips, you don't really get a benefit out it. Don't forget that whip is not a true Finesse weapon, as it requires you to use Dex (not a huge deal, but notable).

They should simplify the weapons to include similar weapons that use the same mechanics (for example, the Saber and Cutlass are mechanically the same as the the Scimitar). That would allow numerous options for style without having to clutter up the list of weapons.

I agree, but it might also be neat to have option modules that breakout different varieties of weapons and introduce some more weapon qualities (speed, heavy crits, bonuses to special maneuvers, etc) to differentiate them.


I would be cool with that as a module, but you would then have to redo all the weapons anyway to fit the module. I'm just talking about the standard game. The 1E PHB had what I'm talking about, where the weapons of the same damage were all on the same line in the table. It saved a lot of space, but still allowed for a ton of weapons.
As much as I completely agree with rewieghing all the weapons and gear, it will mean substantive changes to Dual Wielding (which realistic or not, IS a Fantasy game trope), because Scimitars and Longswords are about the same weight class, and yet only Scimitars are called 'light'.

- I think the bastard sword should be ditched, and make the longsword 1d8/1d10 versatile. Make the warhammer, battle axe and pick 1d8/1d10 versatile as well, but drop the rule that small characters can only use versatile weapons two handed.



The 'Longsword' is actually the D&D equivelent of the knight's Arming Sword, a 3 foot (total length) weapon held in a single hand.  The 'Bastard Sword' is the game's version of the Long Sword, typically a 40 to 48" weapon, hand and half to two handed hilt.

I would rather rename them, but D&D and its traditions, you know.

- Drop the glaive, and let the halberd represent all the bladed polearms.



Totally agree with this.
As much as I completely agree with rewieghing all the weapons and gear, it will mean substantive changes to Dual Wielding (which realistic or not, IS a Fantasy game trope), because Scimitars and Longswords are about the same weight class, and yet only Scimitars are called 'light'.


Actually, the weights that I was seeing for scimitars tended to come in closer to 2 lbs. I gave a couple refs, here are some more:
wiki.answers.com/Q/Is_a_scimitar_a_heavy...
www.rsw.com.hk/tulwar.htm

If you want to call a long sword 3 lbs and a short sword 2 lbs, then you can make a pretty good case for classing the scimitar with the short sword.


The 'Longsword' is actually the D&D equivelent of the knight's Arming Sword, a 3 foot (total length) weapon held in a single hand.  The 'Bastard Sword' is the game's version of the Long Sword, typically a 40 to 48" weapon, hand and half to two handed hilt.


My thought was to have the dnd long sword "eat" the bastard sword, and be a hand-and-a-half weapon in better agreement with the historical nomenclature. Then the short sword could expand to encompass the arming sword. But it's not a big deal. The idea is mostly driven by the fact that the long sword and bastard sword are kind of redundant currently.



As much as I completely agree with rewieghing all the weapons and gear, it will mean substantive changes to Dual Wielding (which realistic or not, IS a Fantasy game trope), because Scimitars and Longswords are about the same weight class, and yet only Scimitars are called 'light'.


Actually, the weights that I was seeing for scimitars tended to come in closer to 2 lbs. I gave a couple refs, here are some more:
wiki.answers.com/Q/Is_a_scimitar_a_heavy...
www.rsw.com.hk/tulwar.htm

If you want to call a long sword 3 lbs and a short sword 2 lbs, then you can make a pretty good case for classing the scimitar with the short sword.


The 'Longsword' is actually the D&D equivelent of the knight's Arming Sword, a 3 foot (total length) weapon held in a single hand.  The 'Bastard Sword' is the game's version of the Long Sword, typically a 40 to 48" weapon, hand and half to two handed hilt.


My thought was to have the dnd long sword "eat" the bastard sword, and be a hand-and-a-half weapon in better agreement with the historical nomenclature. Then the short sword could expand to encompass the arming sword. But it's not a big deal. The idea is mostly driven by the fact that the long sword and bastard sword are kind of redundant currently.





The arming sword actually hovers between 2-3lbs, as does some scimitars.  So technically it's still a 'longsword' in weight class.  Again, this would change Dual Wielding all over again.

Thing is, the short sword in D&D is supposed to be any one handed thrusting blade between 18 to 24 inches (IF I'm remembering my 2e, which is the last time I remember they actually went into detail about weapon lengths), a longsword is a slashing and thrusting weapon between 25 to 36-39-ish, and the bastard sword was listed as a hand and a half, which typically runs between 40 inches to a full 48 and more for slashing and cutting.  The Greatsword leapt and skipped 4 to 5 feet, and went from 5 to 7 feet in length.

So three 'classes' of swords is still required, because of how they've set it up, mainly by dice.  Short blades 1d6, medium blades 1d8, long blades 1d10-ish.  This I have no issue with.  It's the weights that I do, mainly.

The arming sword actually hovers between 2-3lbs, as does some scimitars.  So technically it's still a 'longsword' in weight class.  Again, this would change Dual Wielding all over again.

Thing is, the short sword in D&D is supposed to be any one handed thrusting blade between 18 to 24 inches (IF I'm remembering my 2e, which is the last time I remember they actually went into detail about weapon lengths), a longsword is a slashing and thrusting weapon between 25 to 36-39-ish, and the bastard sword was listed as a hand and a half, which typically runs between 40 inches to a full 48 and more for slashing and cutting.  The Greatsword leapt and skipped 4 to 5 feet, and went from 5 to 7 feet in length.

So three 'classes' of swords is still required, because of how they've set it up, mainly by dice.  Short blades 1d6, medium blades 1d8, long blades 1d10-ish.  This I have no issue with.  It's the weights that I do, mainly.


Well, I don't know that we're bound to the 2e definitions. I think if they want to make short swords 18 to 32 inches, long swords 32 to 48 inches, and great swords 48 inches plus, they could.
Virtually ALL one-handed weapons weigh about 3 pounds. It is pointless to micro-distinguish them.

In game terms, the difference between a weapon that weighs 2 pounds and one that weighs 4 pounds, is meaningless.
The length of the sword blade is meaningful, insofar as it helps understand which reallife historical weapons correspond to which D&D weapon statistics.


Sword bladelength

Less than 1 foot: dagger, knife
1 to 2 feet: shortsword, seax, gladius, wakizashi
2 to 3 feet: “sword”, viking sword, knightly sword, spatha; also katana
3 to 4 feet: longsword (langschwert), greatsword (claymore), bastard sword (epée batarde); also rapier
More than 5 feet: two-handed, twohander (zweihänder, bihänder)
I agree you could make it algorithmic, like:

1 H weapon: 3 lbs
2 H weapon: 5 lbs
Light or Finesse (only apply once): -1 lb
Versatile: +1 lb
Heavy: +1 lb
Thrown: -1 lb
Double: -1 lb

Even if there's no game inpact to having a rapier lighter than a long sword, I think it is a useful cue to how you should think about the weapons.

I think they do need to include weapon weights in the table though. You could give people the algorithm for designing their own weapons. But you don't want to make them use the algorithm to figure out their rapier's weight.

I do hope they provide good descriptions of what they mean for each weapon, with things like blade length.
The length of the sword blade is meaningful, insofar as it helps understand which reallife historical weapons correspond to which D&D weapon statistics.


Sword bladelength

Less than 1 foot: dagger, knife 1d4
1 to 2 feet: shortsword, seax, gladius, wakizashi 1d6
2 to 3 feet: “sword”, viking sword, knightly sword, spatha; also katana 1d8
3 to 4 feet: longsword (langschwert), greatsword (claymore), bastard sword (epée batarde) 1d10
More than 5 feet: two-handed, twohander (zweihänder, bihänder) 1d12



I could live with this.  Although I hate the Rapier, and I would put it under the Short Sword category, because of it's lack of mass and damage potential.

I'll add the comparitive dice for the fun of it in Bold.
Problem with that is there's no really good way to handle the bastard sword group. It's too good to just let anyone wield one handed. Traditionally you charge a feat to do it, but then it's a super boring feat and probably a bit of a tax, since upping your weapon die is quite powerful.
Problem with that is there's no really good way to handle the bastard sword group. It's too good to just let anyone wield one handed. Traditionally you charge a feat to do it, but then it's a super boring feat and probably a bit of a tax, since upping your weapon die is quite powerful.


Actually, if you want to use it in one hand, you drop the damage to 1d8.  If you're using it in two, it's 1d10.  Not really seeing the issue.
The 1d8/1d10 versatile rule just means that it is essentially the same as a longsword. First, there's no reason to use a long sword, since the bastard sword gives you the same thing plus an extra option. And second, that extra option will hardly ever be used, since most characters that fight with a 1H weapon have either a shield or another weapon in their off hand.

It does have some impact on small characters, but if that's all you care about, you could just make the bastard sword a non-heavy 2H weapon.
Well, historically, once the 'long sword' (the D&D Bastard Sword) came into play, the Arming sword was less used as a result.

Again, given that this is an accepted fantasy trope...  Not seeing the issue.
I agree you could make it algorithmic, like:

1 H weapon: 3 lbs
2 H weapon: 5 lbs
Light or Finesse (only apply once): -1 lb
Versatile: +1 lb
Heavy: +1 lb
Thrown: -1 lb
Double: -1 lb

Even if there's no game inpact to having a rapier lighter than a long sword, I think it is a useful cue to how you should think about the weapons.

I think they do need to include weapon weights in the table though. You could give people the algorithm for designing their own weapons. But you don't want to make them use the algorithm to figure out their rapier's weight.

I do hope they provide good descriptions of what they mean for each weapon, with things like blade length.



I like that. Too much precision is unnecessary and I think a good abstraction like this one is all we need. Imho, more focus should be given into the whole encumbrance/weight/carrying capacity in the game (for those who want to use it) and this rationalisation would clearly be a good step forward.

Btw I have a question, why does double weapon weight less? Sorry I'm somewhat of a newbie in weaponry.

Btw I have a question, why does double weapon weight less? Sorry I'm somewhat of a newbie in weaponry.


Well, except for the quarter staff, double weapons are made up anyway. But in general, they act like two light weapons attached together, which would be 4 lbs. That doesn't work as well for the quarterstaff, though, which is the only real one.

- Drop the glaive, and let the halberd represent all the bladed polearms.



Totally agree with this.




What about my Bec de Corbin, Lucern Hammer, and Fauchard Fork?!
A module with lots of pole arms would be fun. In the mean time, it would be super easy to houserule a different damage type.

Or, you could even get rid of halberd and just say
Polearm     10 gp    1d10 (varies)    6 lbs     Reach, heavy

And then have a note saying there are different varieties of polearm available that do bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage. Pick one when you acquire the weapon.
Looks like some of the problems have been worked out in the latest patch Bastard sword has been ditched and the halberd has a special difference from the glaive now. Some of the weights are still a bit high but a bunch have been lowered.
Well, if "weight" doesn't mean "weight", then they should call it what it is, such as "encumberance score".  I guess that explains the whonky armor "weights" too. 

"Feats" has a similar problem, since a "feat" is an action, and the "feats" as written are actually clusters of special abilities.  They should call those "specialties" or something.  A feat is no longer a feat.

Fix the words, fix the issue.
I'm content with most of the weights now. Many are a bit higher than I'd suggest, but nothing seems totally unreasonable.

But then... plate armor?
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