In my last session with the game I'm running, one of my players wanted to grab an anchor that was nearby as a weapon. I know that I should treat it as a improvised weapon but since it's an anchor I was wondering what damage die should I use for it and since it is a big weapon, if I should impose disadvantage on all attack roll on it or not.

  • 2
    How big an anchor are we talking? – Erik May 8 at 19:15
  • 2
    A anchor big enough for a galley or sailing ship. – Perrin Tealeaf May 8 at 19:19
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    Wouldn't an anchor for a ship that big weigh more than the player and their character combined? – Oblivious Sage May 8 at 19:27
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    Kinda what I was thinking but he's a Goliath that weighs 356lbs. – Perrin Tealeaf May 8 at 19:29
  • Historical galleys often had many anchors (e.g. a 20-meter small Byzantine ship with 11 anchors) which could be of various sized and weights - examples of trireme anchors I notice on a quick look vary from 50 pounds to 250 pounds each. That ranges from an extremely clumsy and slow thing that 356lb Goliath might be able to hit a barely-moving foe with, to something he'd have to drop on an unmoving foe. (Of course, if players care about such things, they might also choose a more realism-oriented RPG than D&D...) – Dronz May 8 at 23:34
up vote 15 down vote accepted

Change the description of a normal attack

The improvised weapon rules can slow the game and are often less effective than a PC's normal attack, which can discourage players from trying cool things. If a player wants to damage opponents in a novel way, it's easiest to mechanically conduct it as the PC's normal attack, but describe it as desired.

Story time: my half-orc barbarian player wanted to clobber the Big-Bad, using a nearby minion as a club (as you do), so I said "Sure. You normally have two attacks, so we'll assign one to each". He hit with both and we described the glorious carnage exactly as he specified. Of course: if he had only one attack, we would've still described it mostly the same (but only one opponent would've had their HP reduced).

Using this method, players really don't even need DM permission to describe their attacks in a cool way, since they are just following the normal rules. Plus, if the DM likes it: she is free to give Advantage or award Inspiration.

  • The truly cool thing about this is now the anchor is free of preconceived game mechanics. If the DM really likes the idea she can grant better dice to the weapon knowing full well that it means the weapon will likely become a new favorite so long as she rules that it holds up (anchors are designed to hold ships not bash trolls). This kind of thinking is what makes the game fun. – candied_orange May 9 at 1:38

that totally depend on the anchor. I have seen small weight-anchors for dhingis that are basically a stick with a lead bulb on one end, an eye (for the rope) on the other end - this is more or less a heavy mace. Other anchors were of the two or three-pronged kind, and even without a chain attached, these handle about as well as any unbalanced klunky 5-50kg (yup, not for the faint at STR) steel contraption. They are all hard corners and edges, though, so if you manage to hit someone with it, it will do damage.

I'd raise the possibility of a fumble, and let it deal damage like a same-size mace while encumbering the wielder.

  • Only 50kg? I’ve seen anchors that weigh 18 tons. – Dale M May 9 at 0:11
  • ;-) but have you hefted them, pondering their use as a club? There might be hefty encumbrance with one of those... – bukwyrm May 9 at 5:11
  • There are creatures in DND who could – Dale M May 9 at 6:01
  • "A gargantuan squid hits you with an 18ton anchor. Roll for ... A new character." – bukwyrm May 9 at 14:51

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