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The Rune Knight fighter subclass from Tasha's Cauldron of Everything (p. 44) has the Rune Carver class feature, which allows them to inscribe runes on objects. However, it states (emphasis mine):

[...] To be eligible, an object must be a weapon, a suit of armor, or a shield. [...]

The rules for improvised weapons state:

In many cases, 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. [...]

Can a Rune Knight treat an improvised weapon as a weapon and thereby inscribe a rune onto it?

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No, improvised weapons are different from actual weapons

An improvised weapon is any object you could reasonably hit someone with, such as a candelabra, a crystal ball, or the leg of a table. If we look at the full quote you are referring to (emphasis mine):

In many cases, 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.

This implies that the table leg is still an improvised weapon, but you can use your proficiency bonus with it if you are proficient with clubs. It does not mean that the improvised weapon is now a ‘normal’ weapon.

What this means is that, because a table leg is not a weapon, but rather an improvised weapon, the rune knight can not inscribe runes on it.

Whilst rules designer Jeremy Crawford's tweets are no longer considered official rulings, his tweet from September 2016 about Eldritch Knights and improvised weapons provides some support to this idea:

Weapon Bond works with a bona fide weapon ("Behold, my sword!"), not an improvised weapon ("Look, a stool!")

Whilst not perfect, as it doesn’t use an example that could possibly be a weapon, it does give some insight into what the designers might have intended - that being features that require weapons to work need actual “bona fide” weapons, not improvised weapons.


Also, some colloquial support: the Tavern Brawler feat (PHB, p. 170) grants you proficiency with improvised weapons. If the improvised table leg became an actual weapon, rather than being an improvised weapon, you could not apply your proficiency with improvised weapons to it as it’s “too weapon-like”.

This makes very little sense: you can apply your proficiency bonus to a stool, but as soon as you break a leg off that stool, you can’t anymore because now it’s too much like a club?

What makes more sense is if the broken chair leg remains an improvised weapon but, because it's similar enough to a club, you can apply your proficiency bonus with clubs if you don’t have proficiency with improvised weapons.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ So, does this mean that if I can come up with an object that is like a maul, but is not a maul, I can use it as an improvised weapon to deal 2d6, and still have it trigger the bonus action grapple of Tavern Brawler? That doesn't sound right. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 16 at 1:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ This answer is so confusing to me. The quote you reference does say "In many cases, an improvised weapon is similar to an actual weapon and can be treated as such." - it DOES NOT say that this is limited to proficiency bonuses. In fact we have plenty of questions on the site with consensus which goes against this assertion. You go on to talk about JC making an analogous ruling - a prime RAI finding, kudos! Then talk about Tavern Brawler, again with the focus on proficiency bonus. I am not sure the proficiency bonus logic makes sense, I think that your RAI argument is better. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 16 at 4:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ You might consider mentioning this tweet from Jeremy Crawford. While not an official ruling, it provides insight into the author’s intent. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 19 at 19:22
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Improvised weapons are weapons

Plain English is the maxim of 5e. Improvised weapons have weapons in the name. A critical hit is, by definition, a hit. The same is true of improvised weapons - it says they're weapons, so they are.

Furthermore, the rules for improvised weapons are found in the weapons section of the rules. Compare this to unarmed strikes which are not weapons, and so are listed in the combat section of the rules.

So yes, you can inscribe the rune on weapons, be that melee weapons, ranged weapons, magic weapon, martial weapon, simple weapon, silvered weapon, heavy weapon, thrown weapon, two-handed weapon, ammunition weapon, a ranged-magic-heavy-ammunition-two-handed-martial weapon, or an improvised weapon.

You cannot inscribe your fists, because although they are used to make melee weapon attacks, they are not, as mentioned above, weapons.

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