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Do ogres and other Large creatures need to use weapons with the two-handed property with two hands?

As far as I can tell, the rule is for player characters, and as there is no playable race that is Large (that I'm aware of), the subject wasn't brought up, but this has been bothering me for a while. On a side note, if they do ignore the property, would a half-ogre have this same ability by this ruling?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Related Q&A on wielding a two-hand weapon in one hand and a shield in another \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Oct 26, 2017 at 14:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ I wish you would include a bit more on how this is bothering you: is it that you have an ogre that picked up a PC's greatsword and aren't sure how many hands it requires? Is it that you don't know whether an ogre's greatclub from its stat block requires one or two of the ogre's hands? I'm having trouble voting on answers because I don't really feel like I understand the question well enough to judge whether they're helpful. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Oct 26, 2017 at 14:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Am I correct that the Large creature in question is wielding a weapon that a Medium creature would have to wield two-handed, and the question is if the weapon is light enough for the Large creature to use one-handed? \$\endgroup\$
    – user39671
    Oct 27, 2017 at 0:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ yes., that's right. \$\endgroup\$
    – blade
    Oct 28, 2017 at 7:04

5 Answers 5

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RAW, No.

The specific rule for two-handed weapons can be found on page 147 of the PHB:

Two-Handed. This weapon requires two hands to use.

Nowhere does it have any additional rules for creature size.

Does Enlarged make a difference?

There may be some guidance in the Enlarge/Reduce Spell (PHB, 237) with my emphasis:

This growth increases its size by one category -- from Medium to Large, for example. If there isn't enough room for the target to double its size, the creature or object attains the maximum possible size in the space available.

Until the spell ends, the target also has advantage on Strength checks and Strength saving throws. The target's weapons also grow to match its new size. While these weapons are enlarged, the target's attacks with them deal 1d4 extra damage.

While it doesn't state that the now larger creature can hold a two-handed weapon in one hand, it does give extra damage for the extra large weapon. The text suggests that it is the extra size of the weapon that deals the additional 1d4, and not that it is an extra large creature wielding it.

The extra damage delivered by the larger creature is due to the larger weapon wielded by the larger creature - not just the larger creature.

What this means for you: Size Doesn't Matter

As always, a DM can rule how they'd like, but it is fairly clear that the two-handed property limitation is not based on creature size, but on weapon property requirements. What matters is having both a larger creature AND a larger weapon for there to be an increase in damage or abilities.

Why just one-handed?

Andras' answer on is there a way for a medium creature to wield a two-handed weapon in one hand brings up a very valid point. If you're only doing this for fluff reasons and not as a means to dual-wield or have a shield, then there really is very little harm in doing so.

However, if he does not want Duelling or Dual Wielding benefits, and he is ok with keeping the other hand empty for "balancing", I see no problem allowing it.

At that point it has no influence on game mechanics, it is just aesthetics.

For NPCs, it's all about the stat-block

If it doesn't state that they can do something that isn't normally allowed, then they probably can't. Larger weapons with larger and stronger creatures generally deal more damage then the PC equivalent of Medium creatures with their associated sized weapons - but unless it says they can do something that would be an exception to the rules, then they can't (like use smaller weapons from other creatures differently than what the weapon properties state).

Weapons and their sizes are associated with the same creature's size.There isn't a mixing and matching of weapon size and creature size to increase capability.

But...what if?

Let's say you allowed the large creature to use smaller creature's two-handed weapons in one hand. Just as a heavy weapon wielded by a Small creature is done at disadvantage because it wasn't made for that size, a similar rule may be used in this case. The smaller weapon isn't made for the larger hand, and disadvantage may be used here as a balance. For every plus, there is often a minus to balance - this would be a possible resolution to the allowance.

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    \$\begingroup\$ it's obviously about comparison, for an ogre, a greatsword would be a shortsword from its perspective. \$\endgroup\$
    – blade
    Oct 26, 2017 at 14:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @blade comparison really doesn't have anything to do with the ruleset, though. The weapon properties are the weapon properties. In comparison, would you rule that a dagger would be a versatile weapon for a small creature? These are possible house-rules, but it all depends on how you end up doing it and what the implications may be (like players using Enlarge and then picking up someone else's weapon) in order to benefit from the house rule. \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Oct 26, 2017 at 14:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ even rule-wise, this is possible. Storm Kings thunder states that giant sized items, unless stated otherwise, are eight times the weight, as well as twice the length and breadth. thus, a greatsword would seem to be simply a stiletto to a giant, as normal daggers weigh 8lbs to them but a greatsword only weighs 6 lbs but is a lot longer. \$\endgroup\$
    – blade
    Oct 26, 2017 at 14:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ and for the record, that was from a hill giant's perspective. with storm giants objects weigh twenty-seven times as much, so they wouldn't see a greatswordsword as even a dagger, more like a needle. \$\endgroup\$
    – blade
    Oct 26, 2017 at 14:51
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Although not spelled out it is perfectly logical to allow this

Assuming that the situation is that a Large creature is attempting to wield a two-handed weapon sized for a Medium creature then, although the rules may not explicitly say so, logic and verisimilitude demand that the answer is yes. They should absolutely treat the weapon as if it were lighter. Anything else is patently silly. The rules specifically state that Small creatures get disadvantage on weapons with the Heavy tag, and a Tiny creature may not be able to use weapons with the Heavy tag at all, so there is a precedent in the rules that size can matter, but in the end it leaves it partially up to the DM (in the case of Tiny Creatures).

I believe that when the rules defy logic it is probably an oversight and it is up to the DM to correct it in order to facilitate the verisimilitude of the game. If Small creatures have disadvantage with Heavy weapons, why not let a Large creature treat a Greatsword as if it were a Longsword? Two-Handed becomes Versatile, and Heavy is unimportant for a Large creature. Do you think that a Longsword would fit two large sized hands on the hilt? I think it probably wouldn't, so I would remove the Versatile tag from a Longsword wielded by a Large Creature too. Again, this is assuming that the Large creature is using weapons sized for Medium creatures.

Large monsters set a precedent of changing normal weapon rules in a similar way

If you look at some of the monster weapons in the MM for Large creatures you will find that they are oversized versions of weapons that are not found in the PC's weapon charts.

Let's take the Minotaur listed in the MM on page 223. This is a Large creature that is presented using a Greataxe that deals 2d12 damage! In the PHB, a Greataxe is shown as dealing only 1d12. Obviously the Minotaur's larger size allows it to wield larger weapons, so it is only logical to assume that a Large creature could treat any weapon sized for a Medium creature as if it were one step lighter than it actually is. This is not spelled out in the rules exactly, but it is perfectly reasonable to allow.

Precedent with Enlarge Spell

When a Medium creature is Enlarged as per the spell, the rules are clearly spelled out. The weapon grows with the character and the damage increases by +1d4, which effectively changes a one-handed longsword into a weapon that deals 1d8+1d4[2-12 damage], which is essentially the same as wielding a great sword in one hand that deals 1d12[1-12 damage] but slightly worse. With that established, there really is no reason not to let a Large creature wield a two-handed weapon sized for a Medium creature in only one hand... unless the weapon does not make sense to wield one-handed no matter your size, but if this question was about longbows instead of great swords I would be extremely surprised! :)

Your DM will be the final authority

All that being said, if you present this case to a DM that disagrees, the DM is right and you should move on. It is no use getting hung up on something like this and letting it ruin your fun. If you are already being allowed to play a Large character, then you need to realize that the DM will need to take extra care to keep power levels balanced, so if they say no, that may be the impetus behind it. Remember, for it to be acceptable, it also has to increase fun for everyone involved.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ So would you allow a player-character under the effects of enlarge to dual-wield greatswords? \$\endgroup\$
    – Marq
    Oct 27, 2017 at 8:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Marq That is a different question, since there are specific rules for how the Enlarge spell functions. In essence, if the subject of the spell was already capable of dual-wielding rapiers (which can be done with the appropriate feats), they would enlarge to deal 1d8+1d4, which is better than 1d12 anyway, so if they want to wield a Medium sized great sword in each hand while they are enlarged, it would actually be slightly worse. I would not allow them to wield a Large great sword in each hand, or a great sword that enlarged with them due to the spell. \$\endgroup\$
    – user39671
    Oct 28, 2017 at 0:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ As of the 2020 PHB errata, the PHB does now specify that the "heavy" property imposes disadvantage on Tiny creatures in addition to Small creatures. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Apr 7, 2020 at 15:54
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No, they can't

The two-handed feature is specific to the weapon. If the creature used a smaller creatures weapon, it would likely be treated as a hand axe or similar, at the DM's discretion (but likely would not maintain the same damage stats). The weapons stats are a representation of how it is wielded more so than inherent damage value (as represented by Versatile weapons)

As NautArch mentioned, the Enlarge/Reduce spell scales items to the new size and adds 1d4 damage to represent this for weapon attacks, additionally the following two examples should help.

The Duergar special ability Enlarge turns them into a Large creature, and items scale to their size. They now deal double damage dice for strength based weapon attacks (1d8+mod -> 2d8+mod). However the Player Character Duergar version follows the rules of the Enlarge/Reduce spell.

Also in the official module Forge of Fury (new 5e version in the Tales from the Yawning Portal) There is an Ogre that uses a Battle Axe instead of a greatclub, and it follows the same rules as an Enlarged Duergar (double damage dice)

Unless it specifically says otherwise, I would say you treat a two-handed weapon as relative to the size of the creature wielding it. You may need to modify this weapon if A PC loots it before it can be used.

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RAW – Absolutely, Large creatures (and Large characters) can wield such weapons with one hand.

The more important questions are

i) whether they will have disadvantage,

ii) whether characters/creatures are proficient with wielding such weapons in one hand, and

iii) what the damage dice will be.

And the answer to those questions are:

i) No, they will not have disadvantage

ii) at the GM’s option, unless proficient with improvised weapons,

iii) d4 or double the dice, depending on ii) above


With Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything introducing the Rune Knight fighter sub-class and it’s 3rd level giant might feature, this question takes on greater significance, as now it applies to a fighter subclass on a daily basis (not just the occasional potion or spell), in addition to Large creatures such as ogres and half-ogres.


Using medium sized two-handed heavy weapons with one Large hand

The rules on improvised weapons provide the basis for this answer. In particular, these rules state that:

Often, an Improvised Weapon is similar to an actual weapon and can be treated as such. For example, a table leg is akin to a club. At the GM’s option, a character proficient with a weapon can use a similar object as if it were that weapon and use his or her Proficiency Bonus. (Weapons, PHB, pg 147)

Consider a maul (Heavy, Two-handed), and something nearly identical in terms of shape and damage type - a warhammer.

Both are basically hammers, dealing bludgeoning damage. They both have long handles, providing plenty of room for grip, regardless of whether it is with two puny paws or one massive fist.

The “medium” (sized for Medium creatures) maul weighs ten pounds, as per the table or martial weapons found on page 149 in the PHB. Presumably a “large” (sized for Large creatures) warhammer weighs eight times as much as a two pound medium Warhammer (weight per the above mentioned martial weapons table), or sixteen pounds in total. The eight times increase is based on extrapolating the guidance in the Enlarge/Reduce spell which – quite logically - indicates that (emphasis mine): "You cause a creature or an object you can see within range to grow larger or smaller” and further that when an object is enlarged that “The target’s size doubles in all dimensions, and its weight is multiplied by eight. This growth increases its size by one category – from Medium to Large, for example”.

If a Large creature can wield a sixteen pound “large” warhammer in one paw, it can certainly wield a ten pound “medium” maul in one paw. Same with greatclub and club (exact same ratios of ten pounds to two pounds when looking at the martial weapons table in the PHB), and even more so when looking at greataxe/battleaxe (seven pounds to four pounds) or greatsword/longsword (seven pounds to three pounds), or halberd-glaive/spear (six pounds to three pounds) as the math skews even easier for Large creatures when using such weapons.* The only uncertainty being whether the pommel of a “medium” sized greatsword is sufficient for a Large creature’s single hand. Note that the issue is not that the weapon is too large or heavy, rather that part of the weapon is too small. In any event, if a greatsword’s pommel is too small to be one-handed by a Large creature, it is certainly too small to be two-handed by a Large creature.

*A pike/spear (eighteen pounds to three pounds) would be slightly more difficult compared to a maul/warhammer, but it would still be easier to one hand the eighteen pound “medium” pike than the twenty-four pound (three pounds for a medium spear multiplied by eight) large spear.

Mechanically, the rules clearly allow for such weapons to be wielded as improvised weapons, and given that the ("medium"/heavy/two-handed) improvised weapons are lighter than the ("large"/one-handed/versatile) weapons that Large characters (and Large creatures) are proficient in, a GM would be hard pressed to argue that the improvised weapons can’t be wielded one-handed by a Large character or a Large creature (other than the possibility of a greatsword pommel being too small to grasp by a Large hand, but in that case the Large creature wouldn’t be able to wield it at all).

Conclusion to the original question: RAW - Absolutely, creatures and characters that are larger than Medium can use “medium” two-handed weapons with one hand.

As a side note, the Monster Manual on page 238 indicates half-ogres are size Large, just as it shows ogres (on page 237) as size Large, so all of this applies equally to both of them.


Disadvantage?

Disadvantage with weapons arises from using a weapon that is too large for the character size – small creatures using Heavy medium sized weapons, as per the section on Weapons in the PHB as well as the guidance for monster creation found on page 278 of the DMG. However in this case, it is the opposite: the (medium sized, Heavy, two handed) weapons are slightly lighter than (large sized, one handed/versatile) weapons that characters (and presumably creatures) are proficient in, the weapons are actually sized for a creature smaller than them, not larger. Furthermore, there is no mention of disadvantage in the rules of improvised weapons.

Conclusion to the question of disadvantage: RAW – No, there is no disadvantage to a Large character (or creature) one-handing (medium sized, Heavy) two-handed weapons as improvised weapons.


Proficiency?

If a character is proficient with improvised weapons, such as by way of the Tavern Brawler feat, then the proficiency bonus would be applied to attack rolls.

Alternatively, at the GM’s option they can rule that the (“medium”, Heavy, two-handed) improvised weapon is similar to the (“large”, one-handed or versatile) weapon, and if the character (or creature) has proficiency with the “large” weapon, at the GM’s option they can rule that the character (or creature) is proficient with the improvised weapon (the “medium”, Heavy, two-handed weapon) as well, and the proficiency bonus would be applied to attack rolls.

Absent those two conditions, the characters (or creatures) would not be able to apply their proficiency bonus to the attack rolls.

Conclusion to the question of proficiency: RAW – at the GM’s option, unless proficient with improvised weapons.


Damage dice?

If the GM has ruled that the weapons are not similar (see proficiency above), then the damage dice would only be 1d4 as for all improvised weapons. Using the (medium) ten pound maul/(large) sixteen pound warhammer as an example, the GM could decide that the nearly 40% weight loss means that the improvised weapon (the “medium” maul) is not a similar weapon to the weapon (the “large” warhammer). Sorry, it’s just too light, and that’s the damage improvised weapons are assigned in the Combat section of the PHB.

Alternatively, the GM could look to the rules on monster creation found in the DMG which state the following:

Big monsters typically wield oversized weapons that deal extra dice of damage on a hit. Double the weapon dice if the creature is Large, triple the weapon dice if it’s Huge, and quadruple the weapon dice if it’s Gargantuan. (DMG pg 278)

In this case the standard 1d4 improvised weapon damage dice would be doubled to 2d4 to reflect that the improvised weapon is twice the size, eight times the weight, and is being wielded by a Large character (or creature) compared to other improvised weapons wielded by Medium size characters. I mean, this improvised weapon is eight times heavier than that improvised weapon, and being used by someone (something) about twice the size and eight times the weight, it’s gonna hurt more.

Finally, if the GM has ruled that the improvised weapon (the “medium” Heavy, two-handed weapon) is similar to the weapon (the “large” one-handed/versatile weapon), then the GM could use those same rules on monster creation, and double the damage dice of a medium sized one-handed/versatile weapon. In the case of a “medium” maul being treated as a “large” warhammer, when wielded one-handed by a Large character (or creature) the damage would be twice the “medium” warhammer, or 2d8. Same for greatsword (1d8 longsword doubled) and greataxe (1d8 battleax doubled). 2d6 for glaive/halberd/pike (1d6 spear doubled). 2d4 for greatclub (1d4 club doubled).

Conclusion to the question of damage dice: RAW – 1d4, 2d4, or 2dX (where X is the damage dice of the similar one-handed/versatile weapon – warhammer d8/longsword d8/battleaxe d8/spear d6/club d4).


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  • \$\begingroup\$ Emphasis on the improvised weapon part \$\endgroup\$
    – Tessa
    Jul 4 at 9:32
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In my opinion, "yes."

Let's just look at it logically. Let's say you have a medium human character with a regular sword. Can a halfling wield it one handed? Not likely. Their hands would be so small comparatively that it would strain the wrists. They would have to use it as a two-handed weapon. Now, reverse the concept. If a halfling carries a dagger, which is as big as a sword to them, then a regular human would see that dagger as a very light weapon. Consequently, a regular human sword would be a dagger to a large creature, and a two-handed weapon would be a one-handed weapon to the larger creature. The damage would stay the same because the weapon is the same, but the bonuses from strength, size, etc. would increase the damage because of how it is wielded.

So, can a large creature wield a two-handed weapon with one hand? Of course! It only makes sense.
Do they cause more damage with it? Only as much as the Base Attack Bonus and Strength Modifier add to the damage. The weapon damage stays the same.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The argument you make is internally coherent, but you don't really justify the argument actually being applied here. You extrapolate for large creatures based on medium or small creatures, but that's just why the question was asked in the first place. You do not explain why that extrapolation works or should be used at the table. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 5, 2021 at 19:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. The question asks about the D&D 5e rules, which aren't necessarily dependent on what might be "realistic". If you're proposing a house-rule that doesn't match the official rules, you should support your recommendation with experience: Have you used this house rule in your own games, or seen it used? How has it worked out (e.g. did it cause any problems)? \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Oct 5, 2021 at 22:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also... "Base Attack Bonus" isn't even a thing in D&D 5e, so I'm not sure this answer is even based on D&D 5e. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Oct 5, 2021 at 22:28

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