If a fighter is wearing Spiked Gauntlets wielding a Ranseur, does he threaten both the 5' area around him with the piked gauntlets and the 10' with the Ranseur which would allow him to make an attack of opportunity with either weapon depending on the distance of his opponent?

  • \$\begingroup\$ A halberd's not typically a reach weapon. Also, I think much of this may be addressed in answers to this question and—even better—this question. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 6, 2018 at 17:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ You are right on the halberd, since this was campaign specific I changed it to ranseur for sake of the example validity. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 6, 2018 at 18:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just to be clear, is the question actually If a warrior's wearing spiked gauntlets, does he threaten the adjacent area even if he has something in his hands? If it is, that's a slightly different question than what's being asked here. (And there's no need to signal edits in the question; the site automatically tracks changes in questions and answers.) \$\endgroup\$ Oct 6, 2018 at 18:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Please don’t signal edits in your question; the question’s history is available for all to see if anyone wants to know what was edited in later. I removed those for you, and also changed “RANSEUR” to “Ranseur” to be consistent with “Spiked Gauntlets.” If you really want to all-caps the items, I guess you can do that, but it should be consistent—and I suggest you don’t, it’s harder to read and may be off-putting to some readers. Using bold might be better but I really don’t think either is necessary or helpful. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Oct 6, 2018 at 18:43

3 Answers 3


Letting go of your polearm and punching

This was my immediate assumption of how you imagined this going, and it might work but it’s on very thinnest of ice, officially.

First, you need to have an answer to a previous question: Can you take free actions during attacks of opportunity?

If you cannot, then you definitely cannot let go of the polearm to take an attack of opportunity: it’s a free action to let go of the polearm.

Even if you can, it’s unclear if the fact that you could let go of the polearm to hit someone with the spiked gauntlet means you threaten that space. One could easily say that, even though you could let go of it once you are provoked, before you are provoked you aren’t performing an action and therefore cannot let go of the polearm and therefore do not threaten anything.

You can also make a balance-based argument, saying that not threatening interior squares is an intentional drawback of reach weapons that should not be so easily thwarted. Spiked chains (which threaten near and far) are special for a reason. And there are concerns about other free actions you might take during an attack of opportunity and the problems those might cause.

Ultimately, getting free actions during attacks of opportunity is not explicitly spelled out in the rules, and requires fairly “optimistic” reading between the lines. It requires assuming an exception exists even though none is explicitly listed—somewhat dubious. And extending that to allowing you to threaten squares based on a free action you might take is possibly more dubious still. And the limitation on reach weapons not threatening near you is definitely real and intended.

But I still allow it. I think the “implicit” exception makes vastly more sense, and that harping on its absence is fairly pedantic. I think that the fact that a polearm and spiked gauntlet requires investing in two separate weapons still gives spiked chains a large advantage. And plenty of other options—armor spikes, unarmed strikes—don’t require letting go of anything and absolutely work. No free action during an attack of opportunity has ever been a problem for my games. Finally, frankly, I think attacks of opportunity are one of the only nice things that martial characters get, so I think it’s good to allow them to actually do so. So I acknowledge that you probably can’t, strictly speaking, but I think the game is better off if you can—and that there’s enough room there to allow it.

Punching while holding your polearm

This didn’t even occur to me as an option at first. I always assumed your hand had to be free in order to attack with a gauntlet, spiked gauntlet, or unarmed punch, but I cannot find that anywhere in the rules.

Certainly, from a narrative or simulationist standpoint, it’s not hard to imagine the maneuver, though some weapons would probably interfere (punching daggers spring to mind). But a polearm? Easy to imagine.

And from a gamist perspective, since non-punch unarmed strikes, or armor spikes, are also options, it doesn’t really add anything to allow punching, whether with a bare hand or a spiked gauntlet.

The only real argument against it that I can find is that unarmed strikes are specifically unarmed. Arguably, if you are armed with some weapon, you cannot use one. Except we know that isn’t true, since you can still kick. And spiked gauntlets aren’t unarmed anyway, despite the similarity (and unlike regular gauntlets, which reference unarmed strikes, spiked gauntlets are written as entirely separate).

So yeah, given the lack of a rule saying you can’t, and the lack of compelling narrative, simulationist, or gamist reasons to prevent you, it certainly seems to me like you could.


I would allow both letting go of the polearm to punch, and punching with the polearm in hand. I would allow both cases to happen without requiring extra investment or enforcing additional penalties. Either maneuver is equivalent to attacking with armor spikes or a (non-punch) unarmed strike anyway, so there is no particular reason why this approach should be worse, to my mind.

I might object to punching with certain weapons in hand. For instance, a punching dagger stabs someone when you punch them: it’s hard to imagine an effective way to punch someone without stabbing them while you have a punch dagger on hand. Maybe an overhand smash, hitting with the bottom of your fist while the blade sticks out to the side, but that might be awkward. “Might be awkward” sounds like a reasonable place to put in a small attack penalty; probably just −1 though, since you can see how it would be done and it doesn’t really take fantastic skills to make it happen.

But punching with a polearm, or punching with a polearm in the other hand, doesn’t really seem awkward at all. Those I would just let happen.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I was actually tending on the same side as you are.. you need spiked armor or needed a free hand to attack with a gauntlet. so i was either about to say no or to implies that since you cannot maneuver as well with the gauntlet with an empty hand than holding unto something that a -4 to hit penalty would apply if the hand is not empty when you strike with the gauntlet. What do you think ? \$\endgroup\$ Oct 6, 2018 at 19:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KilrathiSly No, if you don’t like it, just deny it. An attack penalty (particularly one so large!) is just banning it while pretending you aren’t, and runs the risk of a player falling into the trap of thinking it’s worthwhile (when it is absolutely not). I don’t think a random attack penalty is appropriate at all. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Oct 6, 2018 at 19:09

Can a Spiked Gauntlet worn by a polearm-wielding Fighter allow him to do attacks of opportunity with it?

At least one designer assumes, YES

According to the Rules Compendium, pp 5

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.

However, that's from the introduction, under Rules Basics->Adjudication, under a discussion on how

No set of rules can cover every possible circumstance

And it's qualified as an assumption that's obvious to the designer and author but clearly not to everyone or this question would not have been asked.

Without any other rules source, I would suggest, It's up to your DM

Let us assume polarm means 2-handed weapon with reach. There are other polearms but they aren't germane.

There are no explicit rules allowing or denying this.

However, if you read the requirement from threatening,

You threaten all squares into which you can make a melee attack

And apply it to the weapon your wielding because

If you’re unarmed, you don’t normally threaten

And extrapolate that threatening is intrinsically tied to the weapon your wielding, then you have to first ask your DM, can I wield more than one weapon with the same hand (or appendage)?

While a spiked gauntlet is a manufactured weapon, and it is implied it can be worn while weilding another (manufactured) weapon, whether or not that means "wielded" as in able to make a melee attack is unclear.

I'm going to suggest No for a few reasons.

While not explicitly stated anywhere, the concept of limiting a hand or appendage to wielding one weapon is littered throughout two-weapon fighting, natural weapons and the equipment entries.

The rules for natural weapons and two-weapon fighting only ever mention wielding one as your primary and one as your off hand or either a manufactured weapon or a natural weapon with a given appendage, but not both. Specifically, the full attack entries for monsters never list the same appendage using more than one weapon (natural or manufactured). Marilith, for example.

This question is about Attacks of Opportunity, not two-weapon fighting or natural weapons, but if you could wield more than one weapon with an appendage, it would show up in those entries.

This concept also follows from this small tidbit from Armor Spikes;

You can’t also make an attack with armor spikes if you have already made an attack with another off-hand weapon

Given that, if your DM decides you cannot wield two weapons at the same time, you have to choose either to threaten adjacent (wielding spiked gauntlets while holding a polearm) or with reach (wearing spiked gauntlets while wielding a polearm). You also cannot switch at the time your enemy provoked because the conditions that trigger the enemy to provoke depend on which weapon is being wielded. For example, if you were wielding the pole-arm, opponents 10' away but not adjacent would provoke, and vice versa. It would be akin to allowing someone to threaten with a sheathed weapon because they have quickdraw. It doesn't matter whether or not you can take free actions because it would be out of order. (You have to be threatening an opponent in order for that opponent to provoke).

I don't think it matters much one way or the other how your DM rules, unless you are building a Combat Reflexes based Attack of Opportunity build.

Related, Can I full-attack with a Two-Handed Weapon and then attack with a Spiked Gauntlet off-hand?

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    \$\begingroup\$ RE: "Since you cannot make an attack into an adjacent square with your spiked gauntlets without first letting go of your pole-arm…" I think the asker would like direct evidence of this statement. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 8, 2018 at 1:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ I was imagining more Wolverine, claws out, armed with a pike. (KRyan's answer in its Punching while holding a polearm section goes into more detail.) \$\endgroup\$ Oct 8, 2018 at 1:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ Natural weapons use completely separate rules, so that doesn’t really tell anything. Besides, no one was suggesting using both polearm and punching in one full attack—the discussion was about attacks of opportunity as an either-or thing. And stat blocks don’t show attacks of opportunity anyway. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Oct 8, 2018 at 2:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Wyrmwood. Can you point where in the rule it is written that in order to use a spiked gauntlet, you need a free hand ? I have looked everywhere and cannot find any RAW rules stating this. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 10, 2018 at 4:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Um. That Rules Compendium quotation (page number?) may not answer the question exactly, but it certainly speaks to design intent. Why isn't that emphasized with a headline to go with it? \$\endgroup\$ Oct 22, 2018 at 23:19

I wouldn't allow it.

My logic would be: You're either wielding a two-handed reach weapon, and thus threaten your reach, or you're holding your two-handed reach weapon and are wielding a spiked gauntlet. You have to pick which of the two it is, you can't just claim to benefit from both.

  • \$\begingroup\$ What about armor spikes? What about unarmed strikes made by kicking? There are already plenty of ways to accomplish wielding a two-handed reach weapon and a no-handed non-reach weapon. Why not allow (spiked) gauntlets, too? \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Oct 22, 2018 at 23:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Are there? The only place I've seen an example of a two-handed weapon used in 2 weapon fighting is in the 3.5 faq (two-handed sword and armor spikes), but that generally isn't viewed as a valid rules source. I agree there's nothing specifically preventing it, but there's just no examples of it either. \$\endgroup\$
    – Wyrmwood
    Oct 23, 2018 at 23:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ A monk using reach weapon threatens both 10' and 5' away because his unarmed attacks are considered 'armed' and it benefits from a similar advantage as a fighter with spiked armor or gauntlet. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 28, 2018 at 21:06

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