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In D&D 5e, there are several advantages to wielding a Heavy Two-Handed weapon in combat. However, historically, all six of the ones in the Weapons table were quite inconveniently long. You typically carried them leaning against your shoulder rather than at your waist, which would be problematic in low-ceilinged or otherwise cramped locations. (Local tavern, anyone? "Pardon me. 'Scuse me. Pardon me. Sorry.")

Beyond "the DM has discretion," is there any specific official guidance for applying these real-world limitations to D&D, either inside or outside of combat? Or for ignoring them altogether?

For the three weapons that have Reach (glaive, halberd, and pike), I could imagine any additional inconvenience being a reasonable tradeoff for keeping your enemies 5 more feet away from you, but the other three (battleaxe, greatsword, and maul) get no such benefit.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This question, as written, seems primarily opinion-based. How you want to think of the greatsword is entirely up to you. I assume you're already aware of the rules, and are looking to start a discussion on the topic; you might be better off asking this on a forum instead. Or am I misunderstanding what you're asking? \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jun 7 '20 at 7:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is the question looking for a justification for not having to ready a big weapon before it's used? Are you looking to illustrate a D&D character and wondering how she carries her greatsword when at rest? Or are you just trying to imagine the fiction? No matter what, though, it's possible (no guarantees!) that there's a valid question related to your interest like Do the rules describe how a warrior travels with a weapon that's historically too big or too unwieldy to sheathe? or something. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jun 7 '20 at 8:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ Heavily related, if not a duplicate: Can a weapon be “unsheathable”? \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jun 10 '20 at 0:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ Do PCs have a volumetric carry capacity limit? Related in that it discusses gear having volume, not just mass, but distinct that it asks for overall total capacity while this question is concerned only with individual long objects. \$\endgroup\$ – Stop Being Evil Jun 10 '20 at 1:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ Question has been reworded to avoid soliciting opinion rather than fact. \$\endgroup\$ – gto Jun 10 '20 at 2:53
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The closest you're going to get to RAW addressing the unwieldiness of said weapons is the heavy property itself, which specifies that the weapon is simply too unwieldy for a Small or smaller character to wield at all.

D&D 5E otherwise ignores the issue and leaves it up to the DM.

If you're still looking for official guidance, earlier editions had a bit more, but not much:

  • 2E used a rolled-up carpet of flying as an example of an item being unwieldy in ways not otherwise reflected in its weight and properties. However, it only gave a vague suggestion of increasing its effective weight, but not by how much, and largely left the consequence up to the DM.
  • 3E specified that reach weapons could not be used against adjacent foes (unless otherwise specified like the spiked chain), and that even if you hit an adjacent foe due to trying to hit someone behind them and hitting the cover instead, you deal no damage due to hitting with the haft.

D&D 5E does not natively adopt these rules, whether due to simplification or balance concerns.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It seems to me that a DM might also creatively rule that an oversize weapon subjects the wielder to the rules dealing with squeezing into a small space. Strictly speaking, the rule has no bearing with regard to weapon size but rule zero permits the DM to break the rules in service of fun and story. I could easily see this arising if a character had, say, a stupidly large zanbato \$\endgroup\$ – Rykara Jun 10 '20 at 21:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rykara I thought so too, but the question already acknowledges DM fiat and asks for official guidance. \$\endgroup\$ – Stop Being Evil Jun 10 '20 at 21:43
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In DnD you make the choices on story. The stats are there to make the play balanced but you can describe what happens as you like as long as all in your group agree its fair.

If you want to have further description I believe back scabbards with a slit on the top were possible to draw from or large weapons like lances or halberds are just carried over the shoulder (not easiest for strolling around town).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The question has been edited substantially to change what it's asking; you may want to edit your answer accordingly once the question is reopened. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jun 10 '20 at 3:15

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