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As suggested in the title, I ran into Gurt's Greataxe. I was looking up magic items in my free time since I was curious, and I thought why not search for magic items related to greataxes, since my character is a Half-Orc barbarian who is currently a barb-fighter 4-2. I accidentally ran into Gurt's Greataxe while searching, which is offered in the Storm King's Thunder campaign that I'm in with my group. For further information, Gurt's Greataxe gives:

+1 bonus to attack and damage rolls. It is sized for a giant, weighs 325 pounds, and deals 3d12 slashing damage on a hit, plus an extra 2d12 slashing damage if the target is human.

The axe sheds light as a torch when the temperature around it drops below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. The light can't be shut off in these conditions.

As an action, you can cast a version of the Heat Metal spell (save DC 13) that deals cold damage instead of fire damage. Once this power is used, it can't be used again until the next dawn.

Heavy. Small creatures have disadvantage on attack rolls with heavy weapons. A heavy weapon's size and bulk make it too large for a Small creature to use effectively.

Two-Handed. This weapon requires two hands to use. This property is relevant only when you attack with the weapon, not when you simply hold it.

Based off of this rather immense power that the axe has between the 3d12 slashing damage, the extra 2d12 if attacking a human, and the cold version of the Heat Metal spell, although subjective to the DM, what is a reasonable level range that this weapon could be offered in? Because with this weapon, I'd say there's a point where it would be rather overpowered if given too early, and I just needed some outside input on this thought.

If needed, I'm currently running a Totem Warrior Half-Orc Barbarian who's 6'10" and going on the bear path, meaning I can carry double capacity at level 6. Let's say I obtain a strength score of 22, what would the circumstances be then?

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    \$\begingroup\$ It is a bit confusing that you are talking about "offering" the item when you are a player and not the DM in this case. What is your actual problem? Do you want to ask your DM to make this weapon available to you in some way? \$\endgroup\$
    – Szega
    Feb 12, 2020 at 10:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ Related, on wielding oversized weapons: rpg.stackexchange.com/a/78148/48827 \$\endgroup\$
    – BBeast
    Feb 12, 2020 at 10:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Szega Oh, I mentioned the item is offered in the campaign, not necessarily me offering it. Whether or not my DM says it's available in some way, I'm wondering considering these circumstances as my barbarian, could there be a way that my guy, going along the bear path and being a half-orc (eventually with 22+ strength so there's no negative penalties wielding the weapon), could wield this weapon effectively? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 12, 2020 at 10:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ If that is the crux of the question, I recommend you change the title to reflect that. Also make some changes in the text to make the focus clear. \$\endgroup\$
    – Szega
    Feb 12, 2020 at 10:56

3 Answers 3

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Level 33 should be a good enough level.

Seriously though, you're talking about a weapon that weighs 325 pounds. That's heavier than Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson would be if he were wearing full plate armor. Unfortunately, this is a super cool weapon that was never meant for a PC to have.

One way you can tell that this axe isn't meant for PCs to have is that wielding it isn't just about having the strength to carry or lift it. No matter what level you are, you won't have the sheer size needed to use it. We can learn what that would be by taking a look at who it's meant for. Frost Giants have a strength of 23 and are size Huge creatures. But how big is that? Wikis are certainly not RAW, but they can often help to draw a more complete picture - especially in this case. The Forgotten Realms wiki says Frost Giants are over 20 feet tall and weigh almost a ton and a half...that's about the same weight as my car, a Kia Soul.

Another reason this weapon shouldn't get into the hands of a PC (ever) is how much damage it does. It does 5d12 damage against humans. That's more than twice the damage potential of the most powerful PC weapon in the game. By comparison, a Giant Slayer greataxe only does 1d12 (+2d6 vs Giants) ....and that one only weighs 7 pounds.

Ultimately, it's up to your DM. I suppose that if you had a lifetime supply of Potions of Giant Size you wouldn't have much of an issue using it!

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Hey, thanks for the response! If needed, I'm currently running a Totem Warrior Half-Orc Barbarian who's 6'10" and going on the bear path, meaning I can carry double capacity at level 6 barbarian. Let's say I obtain a strength score of 22 through some other means, what would the circumstances be then? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 12, 2020 at 10:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @RagingGoats You can physically carry it without being encumbered. That's not the same as being able to usefully fight with it. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 12, 2020 at 12:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @RagingGoats For comparison, the average medieval sword was between 2.5 lbs and 3.5 lbs with 15 lbs seeming to be the very upper end for swords meant for real battle. That can change with magically enhanced size or strength of course, but it gives a good reference point if you care about realism at all. See e.g. thearma.org/essays/weights.htm#.XkRLSmhKizU \$\endgroup\$ Feb 12, 2020 at 19:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ The Monster Manual actually has the sizes of Giants listed below their silhouette's and sets the Frost Giant at 21 feet. (Also by square-cube law, it ought to weigh a lot more than a ton and a half, but the weights for D&D creatures are often non-sensical) \$\endgroup\$
    – Erik
    Feb 13, 2020 at 14:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Erik Thanks for finding that! \$\endgroup\$
    – aaron9eee
    Feb 13, 2020 at 14:26
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Gurt's Greataxe is not intended as a reward

As such, the answer to the question's title is: Never.

Magic Items vs Magic Item Rewards

There are multiple magic items in SKT that are not meant as rewards for players. Rather, there are NPCs that use these items, and rather implement special stat blocks with the item's abilities as the character's actions, they list the magic items as separate from the NPCs.

Gurt's Greataxe is one example, as it belongs to an NPC that will likely see combat at some point (and so the DM needs the weapon stats), but that players are unlikely to ever obtain the weapon, unless the campaign goes seriously off the rails.

Therefore at no point should a player play this campaign and expect that this item will potentially become available to their character. Depending on table and DM it might, but for most games, it will not.

Question clarity

The question author clarified in the comments that they meant something different than in the question, but this site is meant to provide long term answers for people asking similar questions. I felt this question lacked a sufficiently clear answer, as written, and the existing top voted answer may confuse people who find it in the future.

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Level 1 is fine. Really.

Have a second look at the description:

...It is sized for a giant, weighs 325 pounds, ...

Emphasis mine

So my ruling as a DM would be that yes you can try to fight with it, but you'd be terribly disadvantaged. The weight of the weapon alone means that you'll be constantly encumbered unless your STR score is a 22+ (which is impossible without other items or spells or boons). Also the weapon would be comically oversized which would mean a permanent disadvantage in my book, at least.

If you are looking for rules references, check out the DMG on page 278, and have a look at the Enlarge/Reduce spell (PHB 237).

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    \$\begingroup\$ "Disadvantage" isn't good enough here, you can't even lift it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Erik
    Feb 12, 2020 at 10:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ Maybe you could provide the relevant portions of the rules references you're talking about to help back up you answer? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 12, 2020 at 10:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Erik actually you can by RAW even. Lifting is 30x your STR score (goes with Dragging and Pushing). So a STR of 11+ would suffice here... \$\endgroup\$
    – dot_Sp0T
    Feb 12, 2020 at 10:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PurpleMonkey I can quote the passages once I am home from work proper. If you or someone else could do it meanwhile i wouldn't mind either though. \$\endgroup\$
    – dot_Sp0T
    Feb 12, 2020 at 10:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ Stackexchange isn't a good place for sarcasm. Your overall answer is fine, but if you're wondering where the downvotes are coming from, it's the snark. \$\endgroup\$
    – RonLugge
    Feb 12, 2020 at 20:43

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