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During a discussion at GiTP it appeared to me that there is a gap in the weapons table for spears: there is no martial spear, one handed/versatile, but there is a pike, which is both heavy and two handed.

I am working on a high quality spear used by Heavy Infantry with a bit of extra reach, that isn't a pike. My proposed Martial Spear is only usable by characters with a proficiency in martial weapons. Why? Weight and balance point requires training.

Martial Weapon
Spear, Military
Cost 6 GP
Damage: 1d6, 1d8(versatile).
Properties: versatile, reach {and maybe Thrown; (10/30)}

What was not clear to me is if having the reach property replace the thrown property is the right balance point. The local Spear for Chult (yklwa, in the Tomb of annihilation published adventure) is 1d8 1-handed, and has the thrown propety; but it has a shorter thrown range than the spear from the weapons table.

If I add the thrown property to this, with the shortened range, will that unbalance this?

Why I am doing this: since the polearm master feat has been errata'd (finally) to include spears as well as quarterstaffs, this spear has the potential to restore the heavily armored shield/spearman as a solid choice for the Fighter class.

I also have a variation on the Veteran NPC called Hoplyte that I am trying to firm up; this spear is part of that kit.

Question: Does this weapon remain within the general balance parameters of D&D weapons in terms of features if I keep the thrown property, or, should reach replace thrown to keep it within the balance/design scheme?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Maybe I am confused by this question or the need. If the basic structure of either a short/long spear different enough from this Martial Spear to require additional training? A lot of Pikes actually have additional uses, as in many have axe-heads or cross fittings to grant utility and certainly not suitable for throwing. Many of the Greek spears were simply longer to do damage earlier against the next shield wall. So I guess is such a weapon "needed"? \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Oct 30 '19 at 14:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ I guess more simply what makes this weapon different enough to warrant additional training? \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Oct 30 '19 at 14:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Slagmoth For the reach property, and to get the most out of pole arm mastery. Also, to be l ike the CHultan spear somewhat. It's heavier and longer than the usual generic spear, and has a different/difficult balanace point. Unlike Tunnels and Trolls, D&D 5e does not have ability score minimums for certain weapons ...*While you are wielding a glaive, halberd, pike, quarterstaff or spear, other creatures provoke an opportunity attack from you when they enter your reach* \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 30 '19 at 14:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your question is really hard to understand. It seems like you are asking multiple questions and your end question doesn't match the title question at all. \$\endgroup\$ – Eternallord66 Oct 30 '19 at 14:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ In the ToA in says the Yklwa (pg. 32) is a simple melee weapon. You state that it is a Martial weapon. \$\endgroup\$ – Eternallord66 Oct 30 '19 at 14:46
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In order to be balanced with the other weapons, a Homebrew should fit into the patterns that the rest do. So, let's look at the patterns.

This spear is to the pike as the battleaxe is to the greataxe, in that both lose the heavy property and gain versatile. The versatile damage of the battleaxe is 1 step down from the greataxe (1d12 -> 1d10) and its one-handed damage is 2 steps down from the greataxe (1d12 -> 1d8). Your proposed spear has the exact same progression (1d10 -> 1d8 -> 1d6). From this, we can conclude that this new spear is balanced without the thrown property.

We can also say that the new spear is to the battleaxe as the pike is to the greataxe. We see that adding reach drops the damage die by one step, and this new spear is one step down from the battleaxe, and thus is balanced.

Now, if we look at the proposed thrown property, we see that it adds very little to the equation. As the normal thrown range is the same as the reach range, there are very few situations in which a character would want to throw it without disadvantage, in which case, it's not much better than throwing anything as an improvised weapon. Therefore, I think giving it the thrown property is superfluous if anything, and hardly unbalancing. If you think it's thematic, great, if not, just leave it off.

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    \$\begingroup\$ In fact, for a 15-20 foot range the spear is 1d6 disadvantage and an improvised weapon is 1d4 no disadvantage. So unless the enemy is 25-30 feet away and you really want to try to deal 1d6 with disadvantage, it's better to improvise \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Oct 30 '19 at 16:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 That's an interesting quirk in the rules, I suppose. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 30 '19 at 16:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ Improvised weapons typically don't get your proficiency modifier, so which is better depends on a bunch of factors. Either way, using a good ranged weapon is significantly better than this spear thrown, which is my point. \$\endgroup\$ – Derek Stucki Oct 30 '19 at 16:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah right, I did forget about proficiency bonus which outweighs disadvantage quite often, my mistake on that \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Oct 30 '19 at 17:14
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Real world example:

The weapon you propose is basically the Dory. The Dory was used by the Greek Hoplites in battle. It was a long spear (reach) and was aerodynamic enough to be thrown. It weighed between 2-4 lbs. Light enough to be used with a shield and be a one-handed weapon. The Dory had a butt spike or cap that allowed for better balance.

Game stats:

This weapon makes sense as a Martial Weapon in that it has comparable capabilities with Martial weapons damage and properties.

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My opinion: For DnD, I think it's balanced. 1d6 for 1 hand and 1d8 for 2 handed is fair for DnD. If you think it's a heavier 8 ft spear, I would make it 2 handed only.

A spear can have reach and be thrown, especially if it's a martial spear.

Just a Thought: There's techniques to throw swords too in real life.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Not one that you can throw... Pike and a Spear looks similar but quite different. You can't effectively throw a pike. You can however effectively throw a infantry spear (8ft 1.5 - 2in diameter for the shaft) a short distance.The pike in 5e is also "heavy". This spear of yours doesn't need to be classified as heavy. \$\endgroup\$ – drunkenvash Oct 30 '19 at 15:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ OK, I see your point. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 30 '19 at 15:25

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