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I play in a short D&D 5e campaign, with many undead type monsters, like skeletons and the like. My character has a Longsword, which deals slashing damage.

Now I would like if it would be possible to take my sword in the "Mordhau Grip" (basically grabbing the sword on the blade and using it to strike with the grip and shaft), to deal bludgeoning damage, because of the weakness from skeletons to bludgeoning damage.

Would this be possible, and would I get the same damage and/or debuffs or the like on my attack?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Your character will cut their hands on the sharp blade. \$\endgroup\$ – Snorka Nov 12 '19 at 16:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @snorka he’s describing something you would do with a real longsword. If you have information suggesting that D&D longswords are constructed differently than real ones, that should go in an answer. \$\endgroup\$ – fectin Jan 1 at 13:22
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RAW, no, but a DM might allow it

Rules as Written, the longsword does slashing damage, and there are no rules that suggest otherwise (i.e. no weapon property that allows a different damage type), so it cannot deal bludgeoning damage.

However, if it seems reasonable to your DM, they might allow it. If I were your DM, I might allow it if your character had already seen other party members dealing bludgeoning damage and generally doing better for it, then roleplaying a brief scene where your character's like "Hmm, I can smash bones easier than I can cut them, maybe I should try holding my sword like this?", but ultimately whether this is allowed depends on each individual DM (some may allow it without any roleplay to justify it in-game, some may disallow it regardless because that's not RAW).

That said, if I were to allow it (and therefore if other DMs were to allow it, they may well rule the same), I would do as Erik's answer suggests; since, although one can use a sword in this way, it is not designed to be used in this way, so it should use the improvised weapon rules, which means it would do 1d4 bludgeoning damage instead of 1d8 slashing damage.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Nov 12 '19 at 14:22
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You can use the rules for Improvised Weapons

Sometimes characters don't have their weapons and have to attack with whatever is at hand. An improvised weapon includes any object you can wield in one or two hands, such as broken glass, a table leg, a frying pan, a wagon wheel, or a dead goblin.

Often, an improvised weapon is similar to an actual weapon and can be treated as such. For example, a table leg is akin to a club. At the DM's option, a character proficient with a weapon can use a similar object as if it were that weapon and use his or her proficiency bonus.

An object that bears no resemblance to a weapon deals 1d4 damage (the DM assigns a damage type appropriate to the object). If a character uses a ranged weapon to make a melee attack, or throws a melee weapon that does not have the thrown property, it also deals 1d4 damage. An improvised thrown weapon has a normal range of 20 feet and a long range of 60 feet.

Specifically, a sword held by the end of the blade might (at the DM's discretion) resemble something like a club or a hammer, and use the stats for it (including dealing Bludgeoning damage).

Worst case, you'd have to use it as an actual improvised weapon, which will still deal 1d4 bludgeoning damage, which might still end up being more effective than using the normal damage die due to doubling the damage rolled (and your modifier!) to a vulnerable target. You will lose proficiency to hit, but if you hit, it'll be worth it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ My Dm is pretty Roleplay heavy, hence I think NathanS answer fits better, I thank you nontheless! This clarifies the possiblieties in dnd 5e a little bit more for me. \$\endgroup\$ – generic_user Nov 11 '19 at 13:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ I submitted an edit to change "backwards" to "upside down" to better describe the grip in question, but it's possible you meant something else. \$\endgroup\$ – Captain Man Nov 11 '19 at 22:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ "or a dead goblin" \$\endgroup\$ – Massimo Nov 12 '19 at 21:14
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The weapon properties: Ammunition section specifically says that using ammunition (or a loaded sling) as a melee weapon makes it count as an improvised weapon. That's probably the right way to handle it any time you're using a weapon in a way that was not intended (or at least not the primary intended way). That should apply to throwing a sword, using a mordhau grip or pommel strike, or striking with the back of your blade (if you're using a singled-edged weapon, of course).

Normally, the only reason for this kind of thing would be to either deal a specific type of damage or alter the range of a weapon. In this particular situation, I'd probably say a sword wielded in this way counts as a mace.

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I'd treat using a longsword in the mordhau grip as attack with a two-handed improvised weapon (1d6, per 5e playtest rules) with which the wielder is proficient (assuming, of course, they're otherwise proficient with longwords). If the particular longsword had a flanged or otherwise weaponized pommel, I'd treat it as a greatclub (1d8).

(Potentially) Fun House Rule

A big part of the design behind 5e is encourage players and DMs to feel free to attempt actions that aren't covered in the RAW; so, here's how I'd resolve the historical mordhau maneuver in combat.

  • The mordhau maneuver replaces one of the attacker's longsword attacks.
  • The attacker makes an attack roll at disadvantage.
  • On a hit the target takes damage (from an improvised weapon as detailed above) and must make a death save (DC 10 Con) or be stunned until the end of its next turn.
  • At the end of each of its turns, the target can make another death save to end the stunned condition.

Edits: Corrected spelling of mordhau, removed reference to RAW as d6 for 2-handed improv. weapons was only in the D&D Next playtest and cut before final release, cleaned up mordhau maneuver house rule.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Why would you rule that this improvised strike has a stun effect, when not even genuine bludgeoning weapons allow that? Also, I don't think creatures immune to critical hits exist in D&D 5e. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Dec 31 '19 at 8:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site! While two-handed improvised weapons being 1d6 rather than 1d4 like normal improvised weapons makes basic sense as a ruling (since using a versatile weapon two-handed increases the die size by one), I think having it in a sentence beginning with "Going by RAW" is misleading. By RAW improvised weapons are either 1d4 or follow the properties of an existing weapon. There is no default 1d6 two-handed option to my knowledge. Treating it as a greatclub, of course, would be a RAW solution. \$\endgroup\$ – Benjamin Olson Dec 31 '19 at 8:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Dec 31 '19 at 21:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Erik: I think one of the only creatures "immune" to crits by default is the Lord of Blades from Eberron: Rising from the Last War, due to its adamantine plating. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Dec 31 '19 at 21:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BenjaminOlson: Oh, my bad. Looks like they took that out before release; I thought the following rule from the playtest still applied: "An object that bears no resemblance to an actual weapon deals 1d4 damage, or 1d6 if it is wielded with two hands." \$\endgroup\$ – ElvisREX Jan 3 at 11:58

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