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A bastard sword made for a Medium character requires two hands to use as a martial weapon without the exotic weapon proficiency feat to use it, but with the proper feat, a Medium character can wield it as a one handed weapon.

The rules on PHB p. 113 state that a 1H weapon made for a Medium-sized character is a Small object and a 2H weapon made for a Medium character is a Medium object.

Because the bastard sword, depending on having the feat or not, is a 2H weapon or a 1H weapon... Is the Medium-size category bastard sword a Small-sized object or a Medium-sized object?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ THese are great answers team.. THank you for spending so much time on answering me. I think in the end, it is really not clear and as ICanChan explains, it can go both ways. I think as long as it is always the same rule for one specific campaign and applies to all equially I think both ways (1H or 2H) is ok to play. THanks guys \$\endgroup\$ – KilrathiSly Dec 1 '18 at 17:51
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This DM would feel comfortable ruling that a bastard sword (Player's Handbook 117, 121) (35 gp; 6 lbs.) designed for a Medium creature is a Small object as it's listed on Table 7–5: Weapons (116–17) as a one-handed weapon, this despite its description saying, "A character can use a bastard sword two-handed as a martial weapon" (121).

However, the Dragon #316 Wizards Workshop column "Sage Advice: Equipment and Combat Official Answers" (100–4) includes the following exchange:

Question

Exactly when is a weapon light, one-handed, and two-handed?…

Answer

The bastard sword, lance, and dwarven waraxe are all two-handed weapons that can be used in one hand under the correct circumstances (the bastard sword and dwarven waraxe are shown on Table 7–5 as one-handed exotic weapons, but they’re really two-handed weapons). Treat all three of these weapons as two-handed weapons when determining who can use them and how. For example, a Small character cannot use a lance or bastard sword made for a Medium creature, even when mounted (in the case of a lance) or when the Small character has the Exotic Weapon Proficiency (bastard sword) feat. (102, 104)

(Emphasis and excerpting mine.) Thus the Sage would have the bastard sword be a two-handed weapon, and that makes a bastard sword designed for a Medium creature a Medium object. However, this kind of secret rule makes this reader sad. (Also see this question.)

In other words, a DM can fairly rule either way or, if the DM only needed the bastard sword's size to, for example, determine its hit points, split the difference to 7 hp—between the 5 hp of the longsword and the 10 hp of the greatsword, rounded down, as per Table 8–8: Common Armor, Weapon, and Shield Hardness and Hit Points (PH 158).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @Wyrmwood I've cleaned up the comments, since they're not the place to debate anything (including policy or mod actions). As Hey I Can Chan suggests, meta might be more productive. You last comment didn't make any sense to me in context, but meta gives much more room to describe a position or issue than comments do and it may be easier to have your point understood there. (Do not respond here. Thank you.) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Nov 30 '18 at 20:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ So RAW rule don't bring much clarity into this...it could be either way... lol \$\endgroup\$ – KilrathiSly Dec 1 '18 at 17:52
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As I Can Chan referenced, the entry for bastard sword states that it can be used as a two-handed martial weapon.
As we can see in the glossary of the PHB p.311

one-handed weapon: A weapon designed for use in one hand, such as a longsword, often either along with a shield or a light weapon in the other hand. A one-handed weapon is considered to be an object one size category smaller than its designated wielder (for example, a Medium longsword is a Small object)

a weapon designed for use in one hand...as are all the one-handed exotic weapons (such as the bastard sword that can also be used two-handed), is small. This also support the rule at p.113 of the PHB saying:

Weapon Size: Every weapon has a size category, such as Small, Medium, or Large. This designation indicates the size of the creature for which the weapon was designed. A Small greatsword is a greatsword designed for a Small creature, such as a halfling.

Which, when we combine both rules, summarizes that a weapon is designed for a specific character size for its designed use, such as a medium bastard sword being designed for a medium character to use in one-hand.

We have to remember that exotic weapons is a weapon category as much as simple and martial and weapons in this category require a racial weapon proficiency or the exotic weapon proficiency feat. The bastard sword, and for example, the dwarven waraxe, have exceptions written in their description allowing these to be used as two-handed martial weapons though they are designed as one-handed exotic weapons.

As in any game, the DM has the final say on it but I would recommend that these kind of rulings be established before the campaign or character creation process as to ensure players can build their characters with proper expectations.

------------- Adding in response to wyrmwood as I cannot add this in comments---

The answer I gave is considering the Rules as Written. As all weapons have an entry in the Table 7.5 and all weapons have a description and there is no other place to look for a clear assignation of the "effort" it takes to use a weapon than the table itself, it should be used as the basis for it. Of course if there was an errata about this, it would take precedence but I haven't found any that states to change all exotic weapons one-handed similar to the bastard sword to set them as two-handed weapons. Again, as we can see, the following supports the idea of using the table entry, it states that the weapon is designated to be used with such effort for a creature of its size (Weapon Size, p.113)

The measure of how much effort it takes to use a weapon (whether the weapon is designated as a light, one-handed, or two handed weapon for a particular wielder) is altered by one step for each size category of difference between the wielder’s size and the size of the creature for which the weapon was designed.

Being designated as a one handed exotic weapon just means it requires a feat to use properly, like all other exotic weapons but is still one handed.

Now about the feats that change the weapon size, feats do not change the designated weapon size and I totally agree. An Exotic weapon requires the Exotic weapon proficiency feat to use and a Martial weapon requires the Martial weapon proficiency feat just as well so it is as hard to use a two handed sword for a wizard as it is to use a bastard sword in one or two hands.

You can of course determine that this is a medium sized object as the rule states that a one handed weapon is generally one size smaller than the wielder which means it is opened for exceptions but it will still be a one handed weapon. Also, the fact that the bastard sword description states (PHB. p.121)

Sword, Bastard: bastard swords are also known as hand-and-a-half swords. A bastard sword is too large to use in one hand without special training; thus, it is an exotic weapon. A character CAN use a bastard sword two-handed as a martial weapon. [bold and capital letters added by me for clarity]

means it is an option otherwise they could have written something like "The bastard sword is a two-handed martial weapon that can be used in one hand with proper training as an exotic weapon."
I think what is important here is, if you determine that a bastard sword is a medium object, then you can use this as any object size related rule (AC of worn or carried object for instance when attacking object) but it is still a one handed weapon. A weapon is an object but an object is not a weapon and the rule also say that it is the designated effort that determines the object size with a predetermined rule that applies "generally": two-handed weapons are same size as wielder, one-handed weapons are one size smaller than wielder and light weapons are two size smaller than wielder.

Changing the designated "effort" it takes to use a weapon, no matter the feat you put as required, have an impact in many combat options as these often refers to the weapon size and it's designated effort (light, one handed or two handed) such as Sunder. So you have to be careful in how you change the written rules but you are the master after all and if you decide to change the rules slightly, just make sure it is clear before starting your campaign to be fair with the players.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ As ICanChan states, RAW rule don't bring a definitive answer to this. Both, you and wyrmwood are right in your interpretations depending on the point of view taken to read the words in the rules AND how much importance you put into the Weapon tables. THank you for your long, but descriptive explanation \$\endgroup\$ – KilrathiSly Dec 1 '18 at 17:54
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There is no entry for the bastard sword under martial weapons as a two-handed weapon, but there should be. The exotic weapons entry lists it as one handed.

A bastard sword is too large to use in one hand without special training; thus, it is an exotic weapon. A character can use a bastard sword two-handed as a martial weapon.

From both the weapon description and feat description, we can see the exotic proficiency doesn't change the size of the weapon; it represents training.

You understand how to use that type of exotic weapon in combat.

Since the feat doesn't actually change the weapon size, rather represents training for the wielder, it's always a medium object.

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A medium bastard sword is a small object

Bastard Sword is listed as an Exotic one-handed weapon. One handed weapons are size category minus one. Therefore, a medium bastard sword is a small object.

Looking to the description (emphasis mine).

Sword, Bastard: A bastard sword is too large to use in one hand without special training; thus, it is an exotic weapon. A character can use a bastard sword two-handed as a martial weapon.

We see that this exotic one-handed weapon can be used AS a two handed martial weapon, but that does not make it a two handed martial weapon.


Some other points (of varying usefulness)

  • A bastard sword weighs the same as a longsword, which is a small object (provided both are sized for use by a medium character).
  • A Medium character with bastard sword exotic weapon proficiency can wield a large bastard sword two handed. This would not be possible if the base object were two handed without other feats, such as Monkey Grip.
  • The sword used Conan the Barbarian is widely regarded as a Bastard Sword and is less than half his size of Medium, making the sword size Small.
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