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Sickles are d4 weapons without the finesse property. Why would a ranger want to use a +1 sickle (that requires attunement) in melee instead of a shortsword?

Note: Jack pointed out in a comment that the moon sickle has other properties. However, I'm asking this question about the effectiveness of the sickle for a Dex-based character compared to other Dex-based weapon options, not the other effects of the moon sickle.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jack The moon sickle is a specific magic item from Tasha's; dndbeyond.com/magic-items/2405401-moon-sickle \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Mar 20 at 20:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I realize that. User_23415 specified that any extra properties are unimportant, which addressed the issue I was raising. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Mar 20 at 20:52

2 Answers 2

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When monsters are resistant or immune to non-magical weapons

Let's look at the raw damage expectation of a non-magical finesse melee weapon, for example a rapier. Assuming your Ranger is using the standard array or point by, depending on how you allocate ability score increases from race you can expect them to have a +2 or +3 bonus to Dex initially. We’ll use +3, as the standard hit rate that averages about 65% against typical AC assumes that, too. That means your expected damage with crits is

Rapier: 1d8 + 3 (Dex) x 65% + 1d8 x 5% = 5.1 piercing

Short Sword: 1d6 + 3 (Dex) x 65% + 1d6 x 5% = 4.4 piercing

Now let's compare this with a +1 Sickle, as you state you want to ignore its other benefits. The sickle has no finesse. We‘ll assume you did not use Strength as your dump stat, so you have a +1 bonus (although it could also be +0 or even -1, because if you plan on fighting with Dexterity, Strength is mostly good to carry stuff, and for the odd Athletics check, some of which you instead can use Acrobatics on). This will give you

Sickle +1: 1d4 + 1 (Str) + 1 (magic) x 60% (+1 magic, -2 lower ability bonus) + 1d4 x 5% = 2.285 slashing

From a normal damage perspective, it is not worth it. Even the short sword is better. However, if you fight a foe that has resistance to nonmagical weapons, it can be, because the non-magical damage gets halved, and the rapier will now deal 2.55, the short sword 2.2, so the short sword deals less than the sickle, at least unless you also find a magical short sword. (It's not better than the rapier, however).

As there are many monsters from demons and greater undead, this is a situation that is likely to come up.

There are also lycanthropes that are entirely immune to damage from non-magical weapons that are not silvered. This is also better than the rapier (although a silvered weapon should be financially feasible relatively early on).

So if your DM gave you a moon sickle, keep it ready for such opponents.

If you want just the flavor, it might make sense to discuss reskinning short swords as "War Sickles" or something with the DM. There is no functional advantage then, but you can look badass without having to suck at damage.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What about the attunement slot? If you've got a free attunement slot, sure, but those are in normally short supply. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Mar 21 at 12:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jack Yes, that will be a real, hefty cost later on. As I understood the Q, they are not interested in any other properties but damage. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 21 at 12:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, makes sense, thanks. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Mar 21 at 12:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would add that if you cast a lot of healing during combat it might be worth it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tiger Guy
    Mar 21 at 14:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TigerGuy Thanks, fixed. The OP is only interested in the damage dealt, no other properties. Essentially they ask how a plain +1 sickle compares, not a moon sickle \$\endgroup\$ Mar 21 at 14:10
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Because you look like a total bad-ass

Why would you want to use this

short sword

when you can have this?

Sickle

All you need is one more, and you can do this

Lobo

This just looks lame if you do it with short swords; with sickles, it's cool.

Of course, if all you want is efficiency, you have my pity.

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