After searching what defines many of the kinds of weapons in the PHB, I have found that the definition of pike and spear tends to be a placeholder for "pointed polearm" with their size being the only difference between the two. As defined, a pike would include all heavy pointed sticks unable to be thrown (such as halberds, glaives, etc) and spears would be any polearm that keeps the ability to be thrown (such as trident and arguably javelin).

That said, there are still many kinds of pikes and spears left unlisted in the PHB, leaving the definition, to me, as broad as saying "single-handed sword" or "two-handed sword."

What I would like to know from the community is if there are any specified differences, such as tip shape or size, that would single these out as "a pike" or "a spear"? Or is this liberty left specifically to the player's imagination?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Is the core of your question how to represent the ranseur in 5e's weapon system? If so, most of your question seems like filler. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 19, 2019 at 16:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because the question isn't about the 5e RPG, but actually about real-world definitions. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 19, 2019 at 17:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ The original question, at least in the title, was: "Understanding polearms: What is the difference between a pike, a ranseur, and a spear?", which I felt includes: "what is the difference between a pike and a spear" and is the question I tried to answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – user48255
    Mar 19, 2019 at 18:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm still a bit confused here. I thought you were asking if the Pike/Spear represented a specific polearm amongst the many. This seems to be meshing your questions together again. If you ultimately want to know what a ranseur is...ask that. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Mar 19, 2019 at 19:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's not a problem, but it still feels like you just want to know about the ranseur. If that is the ultimate question, then that's your question. Everything else is just noise. I'd be less concerned about realworld definitions as 5e isn't simulationist and more concerned about what problem you're trying to solve for yourself. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Mar 19, 2019 at 19:40

1 Answer 1


There are several differences between a Pike and a Spear in D&D 5e.

  1. A pike has the two-handed property, while a spear has the versatile property. This means that a spear can be wielded with one or two hands, while a pike must be wielded with 2 hands.
  2. A pike has the heavy property, which means that small characters like Halflings or Gnomes have disadvantage on attack rolls with the pike.
  3. A spear has the thrown property (20/60). This means that a spear can be thrown at a target up to 20 feet away, or 60 feet away with disadvantage. Attempting to throw a pike would treat the pike as an improvised weapon.
  4. A pike deals 1d10 piercing damage, while a spear deals 1d6 piercing damage if wielded with one hand, or 1d8 piercing damage if wielded with 2 hands.
  5. A pike has the reach property, which means that it can be used to make melee attacks against targets up to 10 feet away from the wielder. A spear can only make melee attacks against targets within 5 feet of the wielder.
  6. A pike is a martial weapon, while a spear is a simple weapon. This means that many more classes gain proficiency with the spear than the pike.

So what about the Ranseur?

A ranseur is not an official weapon in D&D 5e, as it is not listed in the weapons table in the Player's Handbook (as seen here). It would be up to the Dungeon Master to decide whether a ranseur would use a spear's statistics, a pike's, or if it warranted creating a new custom weapon with its own statistics. If I were the Dungeon Master, I would simply rule that the ranseur would use the same statistics as the spear.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I tried to clarify OP's question, but haven't yet gotten confirmation this was acceptable. It was a fairly material change and you may want to adjust your answer (although it still generally answers it.) \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Mar 19, 2019 at 18:11

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