One of my players wants to use a spiked guantlet with his offhand. He also wants to wield a hand crossbow in that hand. This seems silly to me, but I can't find anything in the rules saying he can't do it, and he thinks it's completely reasonable.

According to Martial Power 2, on page 6, your hand is still free even with a spiked gauntlet on it. This tells me you can hold a hand crossbow in that hand, but doesn't imply you can wield it. Compare to the rules for Light Shields (Heroes of the Fallen Lands, pg 325) which says that "you can use your shield to hold another item, to climb, and the like, but you can't make attacks with that hand or with anything in it". I assume this is because you're wielding the shield.

It seems like wielding the gauntlet would prevent wielding the hand crossbow. Maybe you could stop wielding the guantlet as a free action, without dropping it, and then start wielding the hand crossbow as a free action, shoot, and switch back to the gauntlet? But how can you properly attack with a guantlet with a crossbow in your hand? Kind of hard to punch with an open fist.

I considered telling him he could wield the hand crossbow with the gauntlet on, so he wouldn't have to drop the guantlet, but that he couldn't wield the guantlet unless his hand was empty. The sticking point here is that he wants to be wielding the gauntlet in order to satisfy Two-Weapon Defense, but doesn't want to have to put the hand crossbow away in order to do so.

Does anyone know of any relevant rules, or have any gameplay or real-world experience which would help me decide how to rule on this issue?


I don't know of anything in the rules that explicitly prevent this... However, the 'it just seems overly impractical' can be enough for you to overrule any rules (even if they existed).

A person could possibly wield a hand crossbow in a hand with a gauntlet (sounds suspiciously like a -X to attack rolls to me). Adding a lot of spikes to said gauntlet would certainly not make this any easier (even more -X to the attack rolls).

I would rule it impossible to use the gauntlet hand offensive while holding something. I can't see how you could remove the gauntlet as a free action (think about taking of a glove, now imagine a glove made of inflexible iron plates with sharp spikes on them). Let alone while (presumably) wielding a weapon with the other hand. But your comment indicated that he has no need for removing it, just stop wielding it for the sake of the rules.

I think it is reasonable to allow the player to drop the hand crossbow (maybe have it on a sling, so it doesn't necessarily drop to the ground) as a free action. But switching back takes more time if you ask me.

I forgot to mention: how does he think he will reload the hand crossbow? or does he only want to fire it once?
I mean yes, the hand crossbow can be wielded as a 1-handed weapon, but reloading it takes two hands. Either that, or some interesting role playing to solve the issue.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I didn't mean you would remove the gauntlet, just stop 'wielding' it for the purposes of the rules, i.e. Two-Weapon Defense wouldn't be active. A penalty to the attack while using both might make sense, that's a good idea. \$\endgroup\$ – DCShannon Aug 19 '14 at 21:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ How do you reconcile these appeals to impracticality with the fact the rules are generally fine with you wearing gauntlets of every other description on both hands (including heavy metal ones) and also holding a crossbow, and offer no comment on penalties for doing so? \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Aug 20 '14 at 10:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think I come from a different breed of players/dm. In AD&D 2nd.ed. The rules always pointed to the DM as the final authority. We never let go of this 'rule'. I could write a long answer on why we think this is a good idea (but this comment may not be the place). The short version is: when players start quoting the written rules as more authoritative than a dm, the overall game experience gets reduced to matching a bunch of numbers, instead of role playering. So, if I as a DM think that something is non-doable, I rule it as such, or give a penalty for the situation. Hope this helps. \$\endgroup\$ – Monika Aug 20 '14 at 10:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ I received a negative vote? why was that, my answer is not wrong is it? \$\endgroup\$ – Monika Aug 20 '14 at 10:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ Because I'm not sure diving into these concerns and introducing those mechanical penalties is an appropriate response in the context of D&D 4e. (Frankly as a DM I'd welcome relieving myself of the mental burden of having to work out modifiers, and go sure, whatever, and focus on the roleplaying.) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Aug 20 '14 at 10:39

Yes, 4e doesn't care about verisimilitude.

Spiked gauntlet

Simple one-handed melee weapon Cost: 5 gp Damage: 1d6 Proficient: +2 Range: - Weight: 1 lb.

These gauntlets are specially fitted with metal spikes. Unlike other weapons, the spiked gauntlet occupies your magic item hands slot while enchanted.

Properties: Off-Hand (An off-hand weapon is light enough that you can hold it and attack effectively with it while holding a weapon in your main hand. You can’t attack with both weapons in the same turn, unless you have a power that lets you do so, but you can attack with either weapon.).

Group: Unarmed (When you punch, kick, elbow, knee, or even head butt an opponent, you’re making an unarmed strike. A simple unarmed attack is treated as an improvised weapon. Creatures that have natural weapons such as claws or bite attacks are proficient with those natural weapons.) - Adventurer's Vault p. 9. Retrieved via Online Compendium

Because Spiked Gauntlet is an unarmred weapon type it functions like natural weapons (racial feature) and thus wearing spiked gauntlets in no way penalizes a player from using items in those same hands.

How it works

Just because the player is holding a crossbow handle in the hand doesn't mean he couldn't punch or backhand someone at the same time.

  1. Switch to holding the crossbow, vs. wiedling it, main hand (free action).

  2. Off-hand spiked gauntlet is used to make a melee attack (whatever the attack action is).

  3. Player returns to wielding the crossbow (free action).


From a balance perspective you should have no issues with this. A spiked gauntlet attack only gets a +2 proficiency bonus, its doubtful that a primarily ranged character has a high STR mod so to-hit and damage are low and the Spiked gauntlet only deals 1d6 damage. Its such a situational weapon for a ranged character to use that its highly unlikely that it will be a magic weapon.

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    \$\begingroup\$ note that the even the hand crossbow does require 2 hands to load, so that can be an issue (though it can be removed with a feat) \$\endgroup\$ – wax eagle Aug 20 '14 at 11:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ He's rarely, if ever, going to attack with the spiked gauntlet. It's mostly just so he's wielding a second melee weapon to get Two-Weapon Defense. He's going to attack with the rapier most of the time, he just has a ranged option on his off-hand. This looks like it is probably the correct RAW answer, but RAW is often stupid. \$\endgroup\$ – DCShannon Aug 20 '14 at 18:55

If I were DM-ing this, I'd allow it. Obviously the player can't attack with both the crossbow and the gauntlet in the same round, but just thinking about it logically (and in absence of any specific rule against it), it should be fine. You can, in fact, punch someone while holding something.

What I might be tempted to do is inflict damage on the crossbow on a successful hit. Or maybe just a fumble. Or maybe a fumble or a critical...something like that.

My philosophy (which I know not everyone holds) is that the DM should err on the side of allowing characters to do things. It adds to a character's personality or maybe quirkiness - which enhances the game. One has to be cautious that the thing the character is trying to do doesn't unbalance the game, but this doesn't seem terribly unbalancing - especially if you bracket it with some downside risk.

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The Hand-Crossbow is a 1-handed weapon that requires your off-hand to be free in order to reload. The Spiked fist requires the gauntleted hand to not be holding anything else in order to wield it as a weapon.

If your player is holding a Hand-crossbow in the same hand as the Spiked Fist, then he still requires an empty hand to reload and wouldn't be able to make Spiked fist attacks without passing the Crossbow to his other hand first. (which he can't do unless the other hand is empty or wielding a Light Shield)

Regardless, he wouldn't benefit from Two-Weapon Defense, since it requires a Melee weapon in each hand, and a hand holding/wielding a Hand-Crossbow is no longer wielding a Spiked fist.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not finding a rules cite for the hand having to be free to attack with the spiked gauntlet, could you point to where you're getting that? Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ – wax eagle Aug 20 '14 at 11:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ According to Martial Power 2, "Your hand is free if you wear a spiked Gauntlet, even if you used it to attack during your turn", which translates to "Frezak was talking out of a non-oratory hole again". \$\endgroup\$ – Frezak Aug 20 '14 at 12:00

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