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I am a level 8 halfling wizard with Str 8 and Dex 18 (and no Weapon Finesse). I am planning to use my level 9 feat to get a martial weapon proficiency so that I can get into Abjurant Champion at level 11 when my BAB has hit +5. The question is, which martial weapon should I get proficiency for?

I'm not planning on building a gish, or trying to become good with a weapon. Weapons are strictly my fallback option for when I have no useful spells or it's not worth wasting a spell/any more spells on the encounter.

With that said, we have an Artificer in the party, so there's a strong chance of me getting a pimped out weapon that will allow me to at least slightly contribute even when I'm not casting spells.

So what weapon would be the best choice to get proficiency in? (all WOTC published 3.5e sourcebooks are allowed.)

I'm defining "best" here as the weapon that will allow me to do the highest amount of reliable damage without further investment of feats or class levels, unless there is a very strong argument for an alternative definition. For example, my current plan is a heavy crossbow, because it has the highest damage die of any ranged weapon that I know of. My assumption is that ranged is a better choice than melee for me because my attack bonus with a ranged weapon is 5 higher than with a melee weapon.

Note that if, for example, a longsword would be a better choice than a battleaxe solely because of a specific enchantment only available to longswords, I would consider the longsword "better" for the purposes of this question. I am happy to invest heavily in weapon enchantments, just not feats or class levels.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Obvious choice is slingshot with +1 racial bonus and enchanted stones. \$\endgroup\$ – pwned Feb 17 '15 at 10:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @pwned A slingshot isn't a martial weapon, so that's completely unhelpful :P \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Feb 17 '15 at 10:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ You are presumably already aware of this, but note for posterity's sake that heavy crossbows are Simple weapons, not Martial, and Wizards already have proficiency. \$\endgroup\$ – user17995 Feb 17 '15 at 16:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TuggyNE I...certainly should have been aware of that, but wasn't. Must've spaced out a bit. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Feb 17 '15 at 23:32
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First, ask your DM if you can qualify for abjurant champion with an exotic weapon; you don’t need proficiency in any martial weapons to take Exotic Weapon Proficiency, and there are some better options for exotic weapons.

If exotic weapons are not allowed: Longbow

There’s not a whole lot of point to getting any martial weapon; any situation where attacking with a weapon is a better option than spellcasting, the fight is either already won and you’re conserving resources, or else you would be better off getting out of there.

Therefore, you might as well take something you can trivially and safely plink at enemies with: the longbow is that. A crossbow of any stripe is awful without Rapid Reload, which you don’t want to spend a feat on. Either really wants Precise Shot, which is not an awful feat for a spellcaster, but still not really worth it. Particularly when it requires Point-blank Shot and you can just buy a rod of magical precision to cover your spells’ precision needs.

Attach a least crystal of return from Magic Item Compendium to it, because most of the time you’d probably rather have a wand or rod in hand; the few cases where you want it, you might as well be able to use it the turn you want it, and 300 gp is a paltry sum for Quick Draw.

If exotic weapons are allowed...

This gets more interesting. There are a number of exotic weapons with useful properties.

As general notes:

  • Good Exotic Weapons discussion

  • Haberdash the Masked – A build for a master of masks, which has an option, the gladiator mask, to gain proficiency with all weapons. Includes a thorough list of exotic weapons worth considering.

  • Dungeon Master’s Guide II has the Feycraft weapon template. For 1500 gp, a one-handed melee weapon can be made eligible for Weapon Finesse, or a light melee weapon can be made to use Dexterity even if you don’t actually have Weapon Finesse. Considering your stats, Feycraft should be applied to any melee weapon that qualifies.

    • While you’re at the fey smith’s, consider picking up a feycraft mithral chain shirt and stuffing it full of thistledown padding: abjurant champion will make a +4 AC, −0 ACF, 0% ASF armor kind of redundant, but you can throw armor properties on it, which is supremely useful, and furthermore you can be caught without your luminous armor or have it dispelled.
  • A least crystal of return is still a good idea. I seriously tend to put one of these on every weapon or weapon-like item I ever buy, because free actions are so very nice.

...a braid blade gives free attacks (Dungeon vol. 120)

When you full-attack, and are wielding a braid blade, you get to make a free attack with it. This is a no-caveats, no-penalties, no-feats, stacks-with-everything extra attack à la haste or Rapid Shot. You’ll want something else for your other attacks, most likely; a quarterstaff or dagger is fine.

...a gnomish calculus lets you hurl alchemical weapons (Arms & Equipment Guide)

Also, it’s one of the most ridiculous (and ridiculously-cool) weapons ever printed, and has by far the best name of any weapon. The gnomish calculus allows you to hurl alchemical weapons like tanglefoot bags much farther than you otherwise could.

This is mostly pointless; alchemical weapons mostly stop being useful at like, level 3. But it’s still cool.

Gets massively better (but still mediocre) if your DM rules that, as ammunition for the calculus, your alchemical items get any weapon properties applied to the calculus. This is arguably RAW (the alchemical items are referred to as ammunition, and no exception to the usual rules for projectile weapons imparting their enhancements on their ammunition is made), but it’s an unusual enough situation that I would ask.

Finally, it’s described as a fancy sling. Gnomish or not, halflings are better with these than anyone else.

...a greatbow outdamages a longbow (Complete Warrior)

For the dead-simple upgrade to the martial suggestion.

...halfling skiprocks are allow you to attack twice as much (Races of the Wild)

If you hit someone with a skiprock, you get to make a free attack against anyone within 5 ft. of the first target at a −2 penalty. Requires tight enemy clustering, but can potentially double your number of attacks.

Plus, they count as ammunition, and therefore cost 1/50 to magically enhance compared to other weapons. So you can get dirt-cheap weapon properties, particularly stuff that don’t actually involve attacking like eager, warning, or defending. Honestly, you don’t need proficiency for this, but your DM might feel a little bit better about the cheesiness if you are proficient.

...harpoons let you apply some mundane battlefield control (Frostburn)

The guy you impale with this moves at half speed, and cannot run or charge. For a lot of enemies, that’s tantamount to saying they have no offense; you can do a lot worse with a weapon. They can remove it as a full-round action – but it deals its damage again, and they just wasted their turn. If an enemy actually does that, you should thank them for it.

Also conveniently a thrown weapon, which is takes advantage of your being a halfling.

...a long staff can make you impossible to flank (Complete Adventurer)

You have to use the Total Defense option, or take Combat Expertise, but still, you get the option of eliminating flanking. If you’re hurting, just need to survive a round, and have a pair of rogues on you, this is effectively a huge boost to AC plus totally wrecking their damage output. It’s niche as hell, but man is it awesome when it does work.

Then again, you should almost-definitely be getting heavy fortitude on that feycraft armor or on a mithral buckler sooner rather than later. (Soulfire from Book of Exalted Deeds is your other priority, if you were wondering; having a +1 soulfire feycraft mithral chain shirt and a +1 heavy fortitude mithral buckler is my usual goal for armor.)

...a rope dart (meteor hammer) has the best reach (Dragon vol. 319)

This thing is ridiculous: 15-ft. continuous reach, à la the whip, but none of that nonsense about not threatening or failing against armor. Two-handed, but it can be finessed by default; ask your DM if you can apply feycraft to it and if so, whether it works as it does on light weapons. RAW, neither is true.

There are actually two weapons presented in Dragon vol. 319: the rope dart, which is described in detail, and then the meteor hammer, which is exactly like a rope dart except that it deals bludgeoning damage. Proficiency in one counts for the other.

...or a whip-dagger (Arms & Equipment Guide, Dragon vol. 353, Dungeon vol. 134)

If you don’t get to apply feycraft to the meteor hammer, you can ask after the whip-dagger instead: same reach, one-handed-but-finesseable weapon instead. No threatening with that one, but at least you can attack armored foes with it.

...or kusari-gama (Dungeon Master’s Guide)

If that doesn’t fly, the kusari-gama from the Dungeon Master’s Guide is a sure thing: it’s a light weapon that is otherwise a lower-damage spiked chain (in complete defiance of reality, I should add). Less reach on it, though.

...a razor net annoys enemies (Dragon Compendium)

This is basically a net that deals 1d6 damage, cuz why not. Nets can pretty much shut someone down; that’s highly useful.

Feel free to grab the regular net if Dragon Compendium isn’t available; the 1d6 damage is minuscule anyway.

Actually, consider grabbing (razor) nets even if you don’t take proficiency in them. They’re a touch attack anyway; even at −4 you can reliably hit that on some enemies. Plus, thrown weapon, so you’re already starting at +1.

...a Xen’drik boomerang qualifies for Boomerang Daze (Races of Eberron)

I know, it’s another feat. It’s also absolutely ridiculous. You get to push a hard Fortitude save versus daze on every single attack. This is so good that it will be better than casting a spell fairly often. Nothing else on this list is even close to claiming that. Daze is a status condition that very-nearly-no-one is immune to. Favor of the martyr is a 4th-level paladin spell that provides immunity to daze for 1 round/level – and it is just about the only thing that does that, so shenanigans to get it onto non-paladin spell lists are common. Anyone who hasn’t engaged in shenanigans (and isn’t a high-level paladin) is otherwise vulnerable to this.

If you want double-down on this, and spend another feat, Boomerang Ricochet can allow you to daze two people per attack.

Also, it’s thrown, so your halfling bonus applies.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you have a page ref for the Whip Dagger? Finding a 3.5 mention of it is sort of my holy grail. \$\endgroup\$ – Scrollreader Feb 20 '15 at 21:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Scrollreader Huh, looks like my claim of Drow of the Underdark is incorrect; Dungeon vol. 134 pg. 50 and Dragon vol. 353 pg. 28 are the page listings. Dragon vol. 353 has the actual stat block; it is exactly what you’d expect of a 3.5 update to the Arms & Equipment Guide version. Dungeon vol. 134 has the stats, but written out in text instead of the table for some reason. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Feb 20 '15 at 21:36
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I'm presenting a couple of overlooked alternatives to KRyan's excellent answer just in case you need more things from which to choose. None of these weapons meets the criterion for good (i.e. none of them are particularly high-damage weapons), but each has some decent arguments in its favor.

Martial Weapons

The number of martial weapons worth a feat is really small (approaching zero), but here are three more options.

  • The armor spikes/spiked armor (PH 116, 121, 123, 124) (50 gp; 10 lbs.) can take advantage of the Weapon Finesse-like ability granted by the template feycraft (DMG2 275) (1,500 gp; −10% lbs.). A creature wielding feycraft armor spikes/spiked armor designed for a Small creature deals with the weapon 1d2 point of damage. But there's some value in having what most DM's consider A) an always-ready weapon that B) doesn't require hands to employ.

    The enormous weight of armor spikes/spiked armor1 means purchasing the armor special ability fearsome (Drow of the Underdark 97) (5,000 gp; 0 lbs.) is a thing because, in addition to other effects, the armor then "functions as if it had armor spikes." Thus the combination of the armor special ability fearsome and +1 caster armor (Dragon #358 39-40) (400 gp; 0 lbs.) gnome twist cloth (Races of Stone 158, 159) (1,300 gp; 2.5 lbs. when designed for a Small creature) makes for what's likely the most lightweight and silly combination of armor and weapon money can buy. Managing a light load of but 19.5 lbs. can be a challenge.

  • The light spiked shield/shield spikes (PH 116, 121, 123, 125) (10 gp; 5 lbs.) can be given the template feycraft (DMG2 275) (1,500 gp; −10% lbs.), and in that case a creature wielding feycraft light spiked shield/shield spikes designed for a Small creature deals with the weapon 1 point of damage, the minimum amount of damage a weapon can deal before a weapon deals no damage (DMG 28), which is hilarious. The combination of a mithral light steel shield (1,009 gp; 3 lbs.) with feycraft shield spikes (1,510 gp; maybe 4.5 lbs.) creates a defensive weapon with a weight perhaps sufficient to keep even the Str 8 halfling at only a light load.

    The only reason to pick this over the armor spikes/spiked armor is if there's something you want to do with a shield that you can't with armor.

  • In a vacuum, the short sword (PH 116, 121) (PH 116, 121) has but one reason to recommend it: the knee blade (Complete Scoundrel 109, 110) (20 gp; 2 lbs.) because one treats "a knee blade as a short sword," making its weight when designed for a Small creature 1 lb., but having the advantage of 2 available all the time, one for each knee. See, while "[a]ctivating a hidden blade is a move action" (CS 109), there's no penalties to having both already activated. These, too, can benefit from Weapon Finesse-like ability conferred by the template feycraft.

    If a serious need for kneeing arises, use the 2nd-level Sor/Wiz spell heroics [trans] (SpC 113) to gain the feat Two-weapon Fighting (PH 102). For more fun, get gloves of the balanced hand (MIC 105) (8,000 gp; 0 lbs.).

    On the surface, this is the least advantageous of the 3 choices as the creature is already proficient with the same book's boot blade ("Treat... as a dagger") and sleeve blade (also "Treat... as a dagger"), so having the 2 extra knee blades that deal 1 more point of damage isn't worth the feat. In play, however, there's another reason to take this instead of the others: enemies carry short swords. The short sword is a definite thing; it's a common weapon, and magic short swords—unlike magic armor spikes or magic shield spikes—might even be found designed for a Small creature if the campaign's enemies include any of the hundred or so creatures that are Small and dexterous. Find the leader of the halfling thieves' guild and take his magic short sword. You probably won't keep it, but it could be awesome.

Exotic Weapons (Although Not Technically Allowed)

The abjurant champion's requirements specify proficiency with a martial weapon. If the DM allows an exotic weapon proficiency to meet the abjurant champion's requirements, in addition to KRyan's answer's exotic weapons, the following two weapons deserve mentioning.

But, first, I must challenge slightly the question's frame: although neither weapon appears in a Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 text, neither weapon was updated for Dungeons and Dragons 3.5, making each weapon technically legal in a Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 campaign yet subject to updating by the DM to bring it in line with the current rules.

Given their absurd natures, the DM will probably just laugh when you show them him and say these weapons disappeared in the transition, and he's well within his rights to do so.

  • The crescent knife (Dragon #275 43, 44) (20 gp; 1 lb.) doesn't appear in any source except the article "The Right Tool for the Job" by Andy Collins. It's a light melee weapon (a Tiny weapon in the Dungeons and Dragons, Third Edition terms for which it was written) that deals 1d3 points of slashing damage and ×2 damage on a critical hit. Hiding behind these unexceptional statistics is a description that's 190-proof insanity:

    This weapon, which resembles a cresent-shaped blade affixed to a crossbar handle, allows its wielder to make two simultaneous attack rolls (using the same modifier) each time he attacks with it. Each attack is resolved separately. (44)

    Weirdly, there's errata for the crescent knife, but it's not what you might expect:

    The crescent blade should have an additional phrase added to the last sentence, making it read as so: "Each attack is resolved separately, but only half the applicible Strength bonus to damage is applied to any hit." (Dragon #277 120)

    (As no other weapon in the article uses similar mechanics or has a similar name, one assumes the editor meant crescent knife not crescent blade. Ask the DM.)

    Yes, it does what you think it does, and it's madness. It's totally legit if theorycrafting, if the DM's a goldfish, if you're dating the DM, or if the campaign's designed to accommodate the weapon's existence, but, otherwise, nobody should use this weapon lest the DM use it better.

  • The fukimi-bari (Arms and Equipment Guide 7) (1 gp; 1/10 lb.) is a Tiny ranged weapon with a 5 ft. range increment that deals 1 point of piercing damage and ×2 damage on a critical hit. Ranged weapons lost their Dungeons and Dragons, Third Edition size categories in Dungeons and Dragons 3.5, so ask the DM how he wants to update this weapon to make it compatible. These waste-of-space statistics conceal this description:

    These slim, almost needle-like metal darts are concealed in the mouth, then spit at the target. Their effective range is extremely short, and they deal little damage, but they are highly useful when taking an opponent by surprise. You can fire up to three fukimi-bari per attack (all at the same target).

    Do not apply your Strength modifier to damage with fukimi-bari. They are too small to carry the extra force that a strong character usually imparts to a thrown weapon. The cost and weight are for a single fukimi-bari.

    Emphasis mine. Alone, that's pretty sweet, although the rogue reads this and is made even more sad after reading the Rules Compendium on precision damage ("A form of attack that enables an attacker to make multiple attacks during an action other than a full-round action... allows precision damage to be applied only to the first attack in the group" (42)), but a long-standing debate rages over whether a ranged weapon or ammunition can possess the weapon special ability spell storing (DMG 225) (+1 bonus; 0 lbs.) (and, to a far lesser degree, the weapon special ability power storing (XPH 166) (+1 bonus; 0 lbs.)). (Read more in these threads from 2002, 2006, 2008, 2012, and also 2012). If the DM allows +1 spell storing fukimi-bari (8,301 gp each; 1/10 lb. each) then taking an attack action to spit three of them—be the target an enemy who'll suffer from the stored spells' status effects or an ally (y'know, like yourself) who'll benefit from the stored spells' buffs—is ridiculous, made all the more ridiculous by the fact that, apparently, a mouthful of needles doesn't impair speaking and that, apparently, there's no limit as to how many the user can have in his mouth at once.2

    Because the fukimi-bari use rules similar to the Dungeons and Dragons, Third Edition shuriken, expect the DM to update the fukimi-bari to function like Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 shuriken instead, yet if the DM says anything printed is acceptable, the fukimi-bari is a pretty outrageous anything. (So you know, I don't ban a lot of stuff, but I ban the crescent knife, the fukimi-bari, and spell storing ammunition.)

Don't forget: Trick out that weapon!

Until now, that crossbow's been your best friend, but perhaps you've finally picked up a weapon with heft and teeth. Do something with it.

  • Have the weapon made of a special material, like adamantine (DMG 283) (3,000 gp; 0 lbs.) to tunnel slowly through walls or thinaun (Complete Warrior 136-7) (10,000 gp or 15,000 gp; 0 lbs.) to trap a soul or Gehennan morghuth-iron (AE 14) (4,000 gp; 0 lbs.) to have foes make Fortitude saving throws against poison on every successful hit.

  • The weapon gets a wand chamber (Dungeonscape 30, 34) (100 gp; 0 lbs.), which, "[w]hen a wand is loaded in the chamber, it is considered ready and can be activated without having to drop the weapon or shield." Dungeonscape's hilt hollow and oil chamber are also valuable but pale in comparison to the wand chamber. Ask the DM if knee blades, sleeve blades, elbow blades, and boot blades can have (and, obviously, benefit from) wand chambers. Expect No and Snoopy dance if Yes.

    When you can, fill wand chambers with 1-shot wands using the 6th-level Sor/Wiz spell The Hamagess' staffsprout [trans] (Mintiper's Chapbook Web column "Part 10: Chronicler's Compendium").


  1. The spiked armor is on Table 7–6: Armor and Shields (PH 123) but in the category Extras therefore perhaps not getting the weight halved by the chart Armor for Unusual Creatures (PH 123). The armor spikes on Table 7–5: Weapons (PH 116) list weight as special therefore perhaps not getting the weight halved when sized for a Small creature (PH 114). Similarly, the shield spikes/spiked shield. Ask the DM.
  2. Also, apparently, there's no limit on a fukimi-bari's size. Although one probably couldn't spit them at anyone, a mouthful of Colossal fukimi-bari (probably each 16 gp; probably each 1.2 lbs.) is funny.
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Given the stated criteria, the best option is the trident. You need a martial weapon (eliminate all exotics); you need to wield one-handed for somatic casting (eliminate all 2-handed); you are unwilling to invest further feats (making Finessable weapons less attractive); you prioritize hit point damage. For a small size character, that leaves a very small number of 1d6 damage weapons. Of these, the one that stands out is the trident, because only it potentially leverages the halfling racial bonus for thrown weapons (not a huge deal, since you will need it more as a mêlée than a thrown ranged weapon, but still an edge). Also, it has the (minor) virtue of being a defensive set-against-charge weapon. Since you will presumably be using spells at range unless in danger of mêlée attack, that's actually relevant.

It may seem odd that I am favoring the trident over the longbow, given the latter's great range and ammunition use. My reasoning is this: given your build, you are going to be using spells, not arrows, when the enemy is not within move-range. Most of the time that you will actually need a weapon is during mêlée, and you will want an alternative that does not provoke an AoO at those times, using Arcane Boost to make yourself more effective. It is true that you will not get the benefit of your high Dex or even your thrown weapon advantage, but you will need that mêlée option more than an inferior redundant additional ranged attack option that suffers the same primary disadvantage of your superior spellcasting ability.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Two-handed weapons work just fine with somatic casting; you can let go of it with one hand, cast, and grab it again, since letting go and grasping again are Free Actions. Feycraft allows you to get Dex-to-attack without taking Weapon Finesse, so your statement about those is also inaccurate. Finally, your assumptions about when a wizard wants a weapon seem misplaced; a wizard in melee usually wants to get out of melee, not ineptly swing a weak weapon he’s really poor at using, as you suggest. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Feb 18 '15 at 1:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ You have a point; at the level he's already at he can afford a feycrafted weapon, which would switch my answer to throwing ax. With respect to 2-handed weapons and somatic casting, what is your authority? I've heard that argument before but I don't know what support there is for removing/returning hand to cast being a free action. As for using a weapon in melee, that's up to the player's choices and tactics. While the more pure the wizard, the more pure his desire to get out of melee, there are times when that simply won't be an option and that weapon will be preferable to taking AoOs. \$\endgroup\$ – Epiphanis Feb 18 '15 at 3:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Letting go with both hands (read: dropping) is a Free Action, so that one is explicit. Pulling a weapon out of a sheathe is a less-than-move action (assuming BAB +1) or itself free (if a least crystal of return is used, as recommended). Clearly just grabbing an already-out item with another hand is much easier than that, hence free (and with least crystal of return or Quick Draw, there’s almost no argument to the contrary). Finally, the FAQ (limited in use as that is) suggests exactly this argumentation (minus the bit about Quick Draw), which is the closest we have to official word. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Feb 18 '15 at 3:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ And no, using a melee weapon with mostly-poor BAB and a -1 Strength penalty will never be the correct, wise, or desirable choice, because you’re going to simply fail to accomplish anything because you aren’t going to hit. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Feb 18 '15 at 3:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ Dropping requires letting go with two hands. You are going to claim that letting go with one hand takes more time/effort than letting go with two hands? If that’s your argument, I have nothing more to say; you are correct that RAW leaves the action required to let a two-handed weapon go with one hand undefined, and it is therefore up to the DM. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Feb 18 '15 at 4:43

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