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Is it possible to wield a two handed weapon in one hand? If so, what penalties apply? If not, are there circumstances or abilities that would make it possible?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

It is not generally possible

Absent any special feat, class ability, or what have you, it is not generally possible to wield a two-handed weapon in one hand. You can carry one with a single hand, but not fight with it.

Larger creatures can weild smaller creatures’ two-handed weapons in one hand

You can wield the two-handed weapon of a creature one size category smaller than yourself at a −2 penalty. That means you, if we assume you are a Medium creature, could wield a Small two-handed weapon one-handed at a −2 penalty. On average, you generally see a ~1 damage increase for a two-handed weapon over a one-handed weapon, which is not worth a −2 penalty.

Unfortunately, most feats aimed at allowing you to use inappropriately sized weapons without penalty focus on wielding larger weapons. I cannot find any in Pathfinder that work. In 3.5, there were the “web enhancement” kobolds, but as far as I know the Slight Build feature, unique to those kobolds, was literally the only thing that could accomplish it.

Wielding weapons with both hands is typically a good thing

Really must be mentioned: because of the 1½ Str to damage, wielding weapons with both hands is simply better than wielding it in one hand, typically even accounting for the loss of shield or a second weapon.

There may be reasons other than damage that you’re interested in this, but I wanted to point it out.

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Indeed, the player in question wants to gain the magical benefits of the particular 2h weapon, but not have to sacrifice his magical shield. –  Eric B Jun 7 '13 at 3:34
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@EricB I'd turn it into a little side-quest to get the sword modified so that it can be used that way. Or the shield, for that matter. The animated property is still a thing in Pathfinder, right? –  KRyan Jun 7 '13 at 4:24
    
The damage increase might not be worth the penalty but sometimes wielding two usually-two-handed weapons is nice. Double wielding small spiked chains anyone? –  Zachiel Dec 31 '14 at 8:49
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@Zachiel I'm pretty sure an inappropriately undersized weapon A) were it before is no longer a reach weapon and B) can't be used with the feat Weapon Finesse. I mean, there might still be benefits, but they are few. –  Hey I Can Chan Dec 31 '14 at 14:28
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@Zachiel Yeah, a Small spiked chain is a reach weapon for a Small creature, but I'm not sure that makes a Small spiked chain a reach weapon for a Medium character. Yeah, I know that's weird. Also, I don't know why B either except that Weapon Finesse mandates you use a weapon "made for a creature of your size." –  Hey I Can Chan Dec 31 '14 at 18:23

Add on to KRyan's wonderful answer.

The only class that can wield 2 handed weapons in 1 hand is the Titan Mauler (Barbarian archetype)

Jotungrip (Ex)

At 2nd level, a titan mauler may choose to wield a two-handed melee weapon in one hand with a –2 penalty on attack rolls while doing so. The weapon must be appropriately sized for her, and it is treated as one-handed when determining the effect of Power Attack, Strength bonus to damage, and the like.

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+1 for being an accurate statement and a previously-unmentioned option, but good god is it a terrible option. Please, no one ever do this. –  KRyan Dec 31 '14 at 14:33

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