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I'm new to D&D 5e and monster weapons and attacks are confusing. I want to clear this up before I allow this, because it could be a huge mistake.

If my PCs kill a monster and decide to take the monster's weapon, do they get everything that goes along with it from the monster action section? So as an example, I have just killed a Redcap and I take his sickle — does that mean I get the "wicked sickle" action which is a +6 to hit, reach 5ft for 2d4+6 slashing damage, or is it just a sickle?

Really it is the modifiers that worry me. Some of these weapons have some crazy to hit bonuses and I kinda need to know if that is okay to let them have that or not.

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That to hit bonus was not from the weapon

Monsters get their bonuses from their stats and features, not from their weapons. For the DM's convenience, these bonuses are incorporated in their stats block.

Let's take the Redcap attack for example:

Wicked Sickle. Melee weapon attack: +6 to hit, reach 5ft., one target. Hit: 9 (2d4 + 4) slashing damage.

The Wicked Sickle is not just a mere sickle - it is bigger and looks more like a weapon than an agricultural tool - but it doesn't give the +6 attack modifier.

The "+6 to hit" is from the Redcap's Strength modifier +4 and its proficiency +2. "2d4 + 4" damage is from 2d4 (the Wicked Sickle itself) and +4 (STR modifier).

If a PC wields the sickle, they doesn't get the proficiency bonus (the Wicked Sickle is neither Simple nor Martial weapon), and should add their own STR modifier instead of the Redcap's one.

Another example - a Bugbear's attack:

Morningstar. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft. , one target. Hit: 11 (2d8 + 2) piercing damage.

The Morningstar doesn't deal 2d8 + 2 damage. It deals 1d8 damage by itself, like a normal morningstar. The +2 is from the Bugbear's STR bonus, and x2 is from its Brute feature:

Brute. A melee weapon deals one extra die of its damage when the bugbear hits with it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @enkryptor okay so in my case since i am using a Flind in my campaign the "Flail of Madness", "Flail of Pain", and the "Flail of Paralysis" actions in the stat bar are Flind bound and not from the Flail itself even though in the monster description it says the Flind weilds a flail imbued with powerful magic by Yeenoghu himself? (Page 153 of Volvo's Guide to Monsters)I am sorry i guess this is the question i should have asked first please bare with me here i thougt it was all the same but i am making myself more confused. \$\endgroup\$ – William May 30 '17 at 8:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @William I advise you to update your Q with what you really need to ask \$\endgroup\$ – user27327 May 30 '17 at 12:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ @William the flind's Flail might deserve its own question. \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor May 30 '17 at 14:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @William I've read the Flind description from the Volo's guide. It has three dirrefent flail attacks, not three different flails. The flail itself deals 1d10 bludgeoning damage and gives no "to hit" bonus. The book says it is "imbued with magic". What does it mean, depends on your GMing style. I still suggest you to ask another question about it. \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor May 30 '17 at 18:46
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No, the players do not get the attack and to-hit bonuses

Yes, the players get the magic item effects (with permission)

Let us examine the Flind closely (Volo's, pg 153).

The Flind's statistics

Its Challenge Rating is 9. Additionally, its attributes are:

Str 20 (+5), Dex 10 (+0), Con 19 (+4), Int 11 (+0), Wis 13 (+1), Cha 12 (+1)

Due to being CR 9, it must also have a proficiency of +4. You can refer to the Monster Statistics by Challenge Rating table in DMG 274. Under the CR column, look for the "9" row. There is a "Prof. Bonus" column to its right which says "+4"

The rules for attack rolls

Flinds use melee weapons for their attacks. Now, any attack roll with a melee weapon which a creature is proficient with will typically be a 1d20 + Strength + proficiency bonus. Sometimes there are other modifiers, such as those provided by Bardic Inspiration, but let's set those aside for now. See the rules on this below:

Attack Rolls, PHB pg 192

[...] To make an attack roll, roll a d20 and add the appropriate modifiers. [...]

[...]

Modifiers to the Roll

When a character makes an attack roll, the two most common modifiers to the roll are an ability modifier and the character's proficiency bonus. [...]

Ability Modifier. The ability modifier used for a melee weapon attack is Strength, and the ability modifier used for a ranged weapon attack is Dexterity. Weapons that have the finesse or thrown property break this rule. [...]

Proficiency Bonus. You add your proficiency bonus to your attack roll when you attack using a weapon with which you have proficiency, as well as when you attack with a spell.

The derivation of the Flind's to-hit bonus

So now, we can get the to-hit bonus for a Flind. It should be:

$$\text{to-hit bonus} = 5 (\text{Strength mod}) + 4 (\text{proficiency mod}) = 9$$

What this means is, if you hand the weapon over to another creature with a different proficiency bonus and different Strength score, it will have a different modifier.

The other creature does not inherit the to-hit bonus of the weapon because it does not have the same statistics as the Flind.

If a PC who is proficient with flails picks up the flail from the dead body of a Flind, and say they were level 4 with Str 18, then their to-hit bonus will be +6. This is because:

$$\text{to-hit bonus} = 4 (\text{Strength mod}) + 2 (\text{proficiency mod}) = 6$$

And still, if another monster, such as a Girallon (Volo's, pg 152) were to suddenly pick up the flail, it would have only a +4 to-hit bonus. Why? Because it is not proficient with the flail. It would not add its proficiency bonus, just its Strength modifier.

What about the magic effects?

Flinds can do three types of attack with the same flail. These are the Flail of Madness attack, Flail of Pain attack, and Flail of Paralysis attack. If the PCs actually pick this up, will they be able to replicate these abilities?

When you look at the image of the Flind, you will see they use magical flails.

Flind

Notice that there are two skull-stars attached to the handle by shadow, not by strings. This may indicate that the flail itself is special, and not something you will find from the PHB.

As support, you will see that the description of the Flind actually confirms this:

Flind, Volo's pg 153

A flind is an exceptionally strong and vicious gnoll that commands and directs the war band it is a part of. It wields a flail imbued with powerful magic by Yeenoghu himself. (emphasis mine)

What I imagine is that each star corresponds to a type of attack, and there are three stars, not two. Since this is clearly a magical flail, perhaps the stars materialize at the will of its user. Perhaps I'm imagining something off-base, but whatever the case, the Flind in Volo's pg 153 is clearly using a magical flail.

So what happens when your PCs loot the flail off the Flind?

If they make an attack with the flail and they are proficient in it, their attack rolls will be:

$$\text{1d20} + \text{Strength mod} + \text{proficiency bonus}$$

And their damage roll will be:

$$\text{1d10} + \text{Strength mod}$$

The damage dice is from the damage dice you see in the Flind's stat block. But there are some additional effects as a result of using that particular flail, assuming you allow them to use these effects.

  • Flail of Madness: 1d10 + Str mod bludgeoning damage, and the target must make a DC 16 Wisdom saving throw

  • Flail of Pain: 1d10 + Str mod bludgeoning damage, plus 4d10 psychic damage

  • Flail of Paralysis: 1d10 + Str mod bludgeoning damage, and the target must succeed on a DC 16 Constitution saving throw

As the DM, you can just say the flails don't work in the hands of a non-Flind or non-Gnoll. This solves your issue of passing on power to the players unintentionally. But if they were actually able to use the flails, they would be able to do the above.


For additional light reading, you may refer to The Angry GM's Monster Building articles: 101, 201, 202, and supplement. They are entertaining reads which will dissect monster building in at least 20,000 words (warning: he might curse by saying f$&% instead of actually swearing).

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is a great answer, but it would probably have been better if the OP had actually mad a new question instead \$\endgroup\$ – Cristol.GdM May 30 '17 at 15:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ In the case of the Flind and its weapon, I would probably say that the flail doesn't have those attacks once it leaves the Flind's possession because it is highly doubtful that a PC would have the favor of Yeenoghu so readily. \$\endgroup\$ – Aviose May 30 '17 at 18:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ "skull-stars attached to the handle by shadow, not by strings" - Looks like some sort of cord to me - you can see where it's wrapped around the skulls, and a knot underneath. The stuff drifting up looks different, and seems to be smoke from the hot coals in the skulls' eye-sockets. \$\endgroup\$ – Adeptus May 31 '17 at 1:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Cristol.GdM I am addressing the querent's real point of confusion as stated here: I am sorry i guess this is the question i should have asked first please bare with me here i thougt it was all the same but i am making myself more confused. \$\endgroup\$ – user27327 May 31 '17 at 1:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ Oh I know, and it's a great answer to that hidden question. It's just unfortunate that it will stay hidden like this \$\endgroup\$ – Cristol.GdM May 31 '17 at 5:31
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No, you do not acquire a monster's attacks by simply picking up their weapon. A sickle picked up in this way would act like any other sickle purchased at a weapons shop.

That said, it's totally valid to use the enemy's weapons to, say, change your damage type from bludgeoning to slashing mid battle. Or just upgrade your shortsword for a longsword.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ For the record, i think the redcap's sickle is bigger the normal ones. \$\endgroup\$ – blade May 30 '17 at 7:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ The redcap's sickle seems to have about the same stats as a Scythe, and I would likely treat it as such. \$\endgroup\$ – Aviose May 30 '17 at 18:09

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