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I've been studying up on disarm interactions, and how you might be able to pick up a weapon after you disarmed your enemy of it.

The issue I'm facing is: none of the threads I'm seeing mention anything about what it takes to interact with an object (in particular, pick it up and stash it in your inventory) when your hands are full.


That brings me to question 1:

If, I can supposedly just pick up the enemies weapon after I knock it out of his hands, does it take having a free hand?

If I knocked a weapon out of an enemy's hands while wielding a weapon and a shield, can I just pick his weapon up and stash it? Or would it pretty much require me dropping my weapon to pick his up (effectively making disarm pointless if I attempt it on my own if what I am holding is better than, or equal to, what he has)?


second question: It takes an action to don or doff a shield; can one don a shield from their back without using an item interaction to have it in hand? I'm wondering if I have a shield on my person, but not in hand, and disarmed an enemy, assuming it takes the use object interaction to pick up his weapon (and another to stow it). Then, on the following turn, can I stow the weapon I picked up with my object interaction action, and use my action to don a shield (without an object interaction to take my shield out)?

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    \$\begingroup\$ How, narratively, would you pick something up without a free hand (or similar appendage)? \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Feb 5 at 5:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast Good point! \$\endgroup\$ – Dezvul Feb 5 at 5:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, relevant meta: 1 post - 1 question , is it a rule or a guideline or what? \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Feb 5 at 5:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you referring to the optional Disarm rules in the DMG or the battlemaster's Disarm maneuver? Asking mostly to understand if you are using this mechanic for everyone or just asking about the battlemaster feature. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Feb 5 at 12:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ It was in reference to the optional disarm rules \$\endgroup\$ – Dezvul Feb 6 at 1:06
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Yes, you can pick up an item as a free action

The examples for free object interaction state:

Here are a few examples of the sorts of thing you can do in tandem with your movement and action:

...

  • pick up a dropped axe

As for the rest of your questions:

  • If, I can supposedly just pick up the enemies weapon after I knock it out of his hands, does it take having a free hand? Yes, you need a free hand to pick up an object

  • If I knocked a weapon out of an enemy's hands while wielding a weapon and a shield, can I just pick his weapon up and stash it? You cannot wield a weapon in a hand with a weapon or shield, but you can carry one. If you can describe it then your DM may allow it, eg; "I let go of my shield and let it hang from my arm, then reach down and grab the enemy's axe"

  • Or would it pretty much require me dropping my weapon to pick his up (effectively making disarm pointless if I attempt it on my own if what I am holding is better than, or equal to, what he has)? You could always drop yours in a safe place (behind you?) or better yet, just kick the enemy's weapon away.

  • Can you pick up an item sending it directly to inventory as one object interaction? or does it take a second item interaction to do so? Inventory doesn't exist. You can pick up an item for free, you can put an item in your backpack for free, but to do both on one turn you need to use an action.

  • It takes an action to don or doff a shield; can one don a shield from their back without using an item interaction to have it in hand? Retrieving something from your backpack or a pouch requires item interaction, so I would assume so would taking something off your back. Examples that are given as free interaction: "withdraw a potion from your backpack" "fish a few coins from your belt pouch"

  • I'm wondering if I have a shield on my person, but not in hand, and disarmed an enemy, assuming it takes the use object interaction to pick up his weapon (and another to stow it). Then, on the following turn, can I stow the weapon I picked up with my object interaction action, and use my action to don a shield (without an object interaction to take my shield out)? I doubt it, your DM may be more lenient. You could instead drop the weapon behind you, or instead of picking it up in the first place, just kick it away.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch In combat you have no facing mechanically, however it is unarguable that PCs do in fact face some direction. That direction is usually towards the enemy, therefore behind you means "on the side opposite the enemy". \$\endgroup\$ – gszavae Feb 6 at 0:36
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Depending on how realistic you wish to play, this background info may help:

From a martial (HEMA) perspective, disarms (unless slippery-fingers-accidental) usually involve you using your off-hand to grasp the weapon (typically grabbing the opponent's hilt). You can do this easily with a shield (or even buckler – a hand-held shield) in your hand, though it may reduce the effectiveness of the shield as defence. You would usually be left holding their weapon awkwardly (so you couldn't easily make an attack with it – I'd say it'd cost you an action to move it round to an effective grip).

I believe you couldn't easily stash someone else's weapon safely – swords and knives usually only fit in their own scabbards, and shoving a sharp weapon into your belt is likely to leave you belt-less. That said, you could probably drop a dagger into an accessible pouch.

However, you can easily deprive them of it by throwing it or dropping it and kicking it away. If they drop their weapon, you're much better off kicking it away or knocking it aside with your swordtip, than attempting to pick it up off the floor. Picking a weapon off the floor would (in reality) cost you an 'action' of time, and leave you very vulnerable whilst you did so – I'd say the opponent would get an opportunity attack, if they have another weapon to hand, as you're essentially disengaging from the fight to pick something up from the floor. Cool rolls across the floor grabbing a weapon as you go are choreography, not martial.

I've seen fighters disarm and kick a weapon away.

I've only ever seen someone successfully pick up a weapon off the floor when their opponent was either well out of range, or laughing so much about the disarm that they stopped paying attention to the fight. (And yes, that can be done deliberately... throw your sword at someone and whilst they're confused, stab them with your dagger can work... but only once).

Note that this applies specifically to bladed weapons on the floor. Things on the floor are much less accessible than things at or above waist level, as you have to stoop or crouch to reach them. Weapons are particularly hard to pick up, as you want to grasp them correctly (not by the sharp end!). Grabbing a weapon carelessly with an ungloved hand risks injury. Grabbing a weapon with a gloved hand is difficult – getting big gloves / gauntlets into hilts can be tricky depending on the weapon.

Picking up a pole weapon would be much easier, and I think I've seen it done during combat; with pole weapons you're also at a slightly longer range, and it's a little harder to make a sudden reaction than with say a rapier, so you're a little safer from an opportunity attack.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi Dan W and welcome to the RPGSE. Your answer is very detailed and shows you have a fair amount of experience with the matter in the real world. Unfortunately, this does not address the question being asked which is asking for how the game rules apply to the issue. \$\endgroup\$ – Rykara Jul 2 at 17:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi – I think groups vary a lot in how strictly they handle issues like free hands, so I felt this might be helpful to anyone who's got a player claiming "I could totally do X during a fight". But if you think it's better removed, let me know and I'll remove it, or feel free to delete. \$\endgroup\$ – Dan W Jul 2 at 17:42

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