Can a weapon's properties be modified in any way? For example, a Maul is "Heavy" and "Two-Handed". Are there any rules which govern the adding a property (Such as "Reach") or removing a property (like "Two-Handed"). Specifically regarding non-magic weapons off of the base weapon table.

I am asking as a DM who wants strictly RAW methods. The rules could either be in-universe weapon modification rules or DM guidelines for balancing or creating custom weapons.

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    The implication of this question, to me, is that the hypothetical question you're addressing is something like "If I give the Light property to a Longsword, does its damage automatically change to 1d6(1d8) in response? Are there rules that mechanically alter a weapon based on properties added or removed from it?". It might be good to make that point more explicit, so that your answer, pointing out there are no such rules, feels more direct and to the point. – Xirema Sep 14 at 21:22
up vote 13 down vote accepted

No, there exist no such rules

As written, the combinations of properties, cost, damage dice, weight and weapon category (Simple vs Martial) are all in fixed combination. Any modification to these would technically be a homebrew weapon and may not be balanced. No rules exist referring to changing a property in exchange for another nor in exchange for swapping damage dice.

There is one known way to ignore a weapon trait

And that is with the Crossbow Expert feat, which allows you to ignore the Loading quality of crossbows. This means you can reload a crossbow more than once per turn. Otherwise, there is no known way of ignoring or removing traits in published books so far.

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    Similarly, the Dual Wielder feat lets you "ignore" the Light property in a sense, for the purposes of Two-Weapon Fighting: "You can use two-weapon fighting even when the one-handed melee weapons you are wielding aren't light." – V2Blast Sep 14 at 22:21
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    @V2Blast That's a good point. While it doesn't explicitly say "ignore", it does bypass the only thing that makes the light feature relevant to any rule, which is two-weapon fighting. The way it's written, though, does leave room open for future content that utilizes the light trait. – Daniel Zastoupil Sep 14 at 22:43

Yes: your game, your rules, your weapons table

I’d like to provide a different take from the other answers, which I feel ignore a crucial rule of the game.

This is Dungeons & Dragons, which, as a TTRPG, puts the power of game content and rules squarely in the hands of the DM. The game is based on one core mechanic (quotes later when I have my books):

  1. The DM describes the situation
  2. The players describe their characters’ actions
  3. The DM decides the results.

Being essentially the introduction to the game, this mechanic should be at the heart of gameplay. It is precisely this mechanic that affords D&D (among others) the extensive creative freedom not found in books or even some video game RPGs. There is a human (you) running the game, not a computer.

All of this to say, it is perfectly within the rules to create your own weapons table with unique properties, modify the original, or anything else you see fit. But you might want to consider a few things:

  • Why? What purpose will this serve? How will it enhance my game or detract from it?
  • How? How can I do this in a reasonable way? How (and when) will I communicate this to the players?
  • What if...? ...it goes horribly wrong? How does the table handle it?

For example, with weapons, this is something that needs to be communicated concisely and up-front, since it affects most characters most of the game. I’m usually ok with reverting rules changes to the standard version when I screw up, but YMMV. And honestly, a single tweak here or there may not enhance the game much overall (but if it lets one player build their dream character, perhaps it’s worth it? Perhaps reskin something instead...).

You may also want to consider the balance of the game, something impossible to consider here without specifics, but note that balance is highly table dependent and can be tweaked to achieve certain effects (standard AngryGM language warnings apply).

Finally, I direct you to this AngryGM series on new armor tables as inspiration for your modified weapons. Part 1 Part 2

NB: there are no mechanics presented in the core rules foe this kind of tweaking. But there certainly is a rule that allows it (the table in the PHB is unchangeable, but what you use in your game is not “fixed”).

  • OP is asking for "strictly RAW methods." – guildsbounty Sep 15 at 20:53
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    Tell me what is not RAW about this? – D. Ben Knoble Sep 15 at 21:59
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    I would not consider "You can change anything you want, you're the DM" as a RAW answer, because while the ability to change things as the DM is a Rule that is Written...using that rule tends to take you out of RAW territory. Otherwise, everything is 'RAW' because 'You're the DM, you can do what you want' is a RAW rule. – guildsbounty Sep 15 at 22:29
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    Fair enough. I will let the answer stand anyway, since I disagree, but thanks for the feedback. I think I took the viewpoint that the rules as written permit and encourage this sort of creativity, even if it clashes with (what i view as) an example weapons table for a specific flavor and setting of a campaign. If your setting works differently, why, don’t use those “rules.” – D. Ben Knoble Sep 15 at 22:33

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