Doing a Guts (from Berserk) build with DM permission for one of our players (who got their cleric executed for smarting off to a Mage guild). Thematically, want this character's combat functionality to work.

A blacksmith will be custom building this oversized great sword, and the fighter will be taking monkey grip and using gauntlets of ogre power. Will this blade, likely 8 feet long, be considered a reach (10 ft instead of 5 ft) weapon? Personally I don't see why not, but 3.5e has some loopy rules.

Like, in my head, if the 6'+ muscle guy with a 3'+ arm span swings an 8' blade, he's got an 11'+ radius, and that in consideration, even if the blade were 7' or so, he'd still have a 10' radius. If he merely leaned forward on a knee in his five foot square, he should threaten another 1-2' or so without actually taking any steps and the blade could be 5'6' not counting handle and he'd still be clearing a 10' zone. So it seems to me, that a "twice as big" great sword, which is normally like a 42-50" claymore or flamberge type, would easily be in the 7-8'+ steel range.

This weapon may not technically have the "reach" function as the default, but, being twice as long, and easily reaching 10', does it classify as a reach weapon in the hands of a medium sized creature?

I saw some text that said no if the creature cannot normally wield it, but in this case, we are assuming that Monkey Grip is bypassing that, so that this particular character, CAN, in fact, wield it somewhat like an Ogre, which also has a reach of 10'.

Or is there some weird rule im missing somewhere, that no matter how easily a character wields a weapon of any length, they can, if medium, NEVER reach 10'?

Additional Notes: The Great Sword does not have reach to begin with. The rules explicitly defined to preventing increasing Reach of weapons are only written to address weapons that already have reach.

What the compendium says:

For example, the rules don’t come out and say that a Medium creature threatens all squares within 10 feet while wielding a reach weapon and wearing spiked gauntlets. However, it’s appropriate to assume the creature does just that.

Opponents within 5 feet are considered adjacent to you. Some weapons and creatures have longer reach.

Most creatures of Medium or smaller size have a reach of only 5 feet. This means that they can make melee attacks only against creatures up to 5 feet (1 square) away. However, Small and Medium creatures wielding reach weapons might threaten more squares than a typical creature.

A creature making a melee attack with a natural weapon is considered armed and doesn’t provoke attacks of opportunity. Likewise, it threatens any space it can reach.

A reach weapon is a melee weapon that allows its wielder to strike at targets that aren’t adjacent. Most reach weapons double the wielder’s natural reach, allowing the wielder to attack at that reach but not within its normal reach.

Some of you may be confused by this:

No additional reach is granted by a reach weapon that is too big.

Correct. So let's begin analysis:

Q:is a Greatsword a Reach weapon?

A: No. A Great Sword is Not a Reach weapon.

Next Question. Are there any melee weapons that are reach weapons?

A: Yes. Long Spear, Ranseur, Glaive, Lance, etc.

So the next question is, Can we apply the rule against increasing reach of "reach weapons" to "not reach weapons". No. We can't. The Boolean logic of if and only if fails.

if and only if a great sword is a reach weapon, does the reach increase fail.


The next question is "Can a NO-Reach Weapon gain the reach feature if transformed?"

And that is why we are here. I think it can, but if there is a rule as written stating explicitly that weapons without any reach can never have reach, then that's how it is.

  • \$\begingroup\$ here's an image from the anime that illustrates the size nicely. i.imgur.com/kusmZMB.jpg \$\endgroup\$
    – Tristian
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 10:31
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ You might also be interested in this question. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 11:09

1 Answer 1


The Rules Compendium says, "No additional reach is granted by a reach weapon that is too big" (151). Thus even if a Medium creature that possesses the feat Monkey Grip (Weapons of Legacy 29) wields a longspear designed for a Large creature, that Medium creature doesn't see its reach extended beyond 10 ft. By the same token, an inappropriately big weapon that typically offers no reach does not offer its normal-size wielder reach with that weapon by virtue of the weapon's increased size.

I understand your frustration and disbelief, but a greatsword—no matter if the greatsword is designed to be wielded by a Medium, Large, or even Colossal creature—just doesn't extend a creature's natural reach according to the rules. You're not missing any rules; there just aren't any rules that make this happen.

While Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 is nominally a system that tries to simulate the real world, it's also a system that fakes its way through a lot of stuff, and sometimes ends up not making sense if looked at through one's real-world filter, like a creature armed with a greatsword threatening the same number of squares as the same creature would with a dagger. There are systems that have this degree of granularity—GURPS is pretty good at this, for instance, and I'm certain others systems get even nuttier-and-boltier—, but Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 doesn't.

Instead of trying to make the greatsword do something it can't, this DM suggests that a PC that wants a weapon with reach employ an actual weapon with reach like the greatcleaver (Dragon #352 43) (40 gp; 15 lbs.), an exotic slashing weapon with which a Medium creature deals 2d8 points of damage and that possesses a critical of ×3.

An aside: fundamentals of exception-based design

One of the game's basic premises is that rules are made then they are broken by exceptions. For example, the typical creature can't see in darkness, yet creatures that possesses darkvision can see—at least, in monochrome—a specific distance through nonmagical darkness. This makes it so when a new creature is published that can't somehow see through darkness, the designers don't have to restate This creature can't see in darkness.

Similarly, a greatsword lacks the notation reach. There's no rule that says after a certain point a greatsword—or any other weapon, for that matter—is big enough, a greatsword gains reach. Hence a Medium creature's greatsword doesn't have reach, a Large ogre magi's greatsword doesn't extend teh creature's reach further, nor does a Huge storm giant's greatsword extend its reach even further.

The game needn't—nor is it obligated to—negate the idea that a big, honkin' greatsword gains reach: simply put, no rules ever give reach to weapon lacking reach because the weapon's designed for a bigger-than-Medium creature. So a greatsword designed for a creature bigger than Medium doesn't grant its wielder reach because a greatsword never had reach in the first place.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 19:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Transition from paragraphs 5 to 6 is confusing. 5 supports that the great-sword in question can have reach; the DM just needs to call it an exception, just like dark-vision. What follows then ignores the previous concept of "This is the rule... unless there's an exception" and states that the sword does not grant reach, likening it to the normal-site creature. A normal great-sword is like the normal-site creature, but the sword in question is like the dark-vision creature; by your own statement your logic suggests the sword should have reach and does not merely from a rules/mechanics gap. Yes? \$\endgroup\$
    – Aaron
    Commented Aug 31, 2017 at 15:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Aaron No matter how big a weapon gets, no rule says that a big weapon that didn't have reach before gains it. By the same token, no matter how long a creature has lived in darkness, no rule says that because a creature without darkvision has lived in darkness X amount of time, it gains darkvision. Does that make sense? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 31, 2017 at 15:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes it does. My point was that your 5th paragraph was all about "...but there are exceptions." Granted, your example was an exception specified by the rules themselves, but I still feel your paragraph about exceptions supports the view that the circumstance grants reach. Also, the rules do specifically state that the DM needs to fix it when the rules don't work. I would suggest perhaps that is the key that allows even rules-lawyers to say that a gargantuan longsword provides reach. Even actual lawyers in courts need to do this: sometimes the letter of the law is irrelevant and the judge agrees \$\endgroup\$
    – Aaron
    Commented Aug 31, 2017 at 16:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Essentially, I'm saying that in D&D the rules which allow you to bend (read: fix, in this case) the rules are themselves rules too. So I wouldn't call "The gargantuan longsword has reach" a house rule at all. I would say that it stems directly from the rules themselves where they suggest the DM needs to be an extension of the rules. \$\endgroup\$
    – Aaron
    Commented Aug 31, 2017 at 16:30

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