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With the new Elemental Evil Player's Companion released awhile ago, Goliaths were added to 5e. I'm unfamiliar with 3.5 and previous editions, but I know that they were included and wielding large weapons was a thing you could potentially do.

Goliaths in 5e have the same trait as in 3.5e, it seems:

Powerful Build. You count as one size larger when determining your carrying capacity and the weight you can push, drag, or lift.

So, does this mean a Goliath can wield large-sized weapons?

The pushing/dragging/lifting capacity for a strong Goliath (say 16 Str) would be nearly 1000 lbs (16 * 60) and the carrying capacity half of that. A heavy weapon weighs between 10-20 lbs, but this IS significant weight to be throwing around in battle, but I am unsure of the weight of a large weapon.

My DM and I are unsure of the mechanics if a Goliath could. We talked about doing an extra die roll for damage, which is extremely strong, or treating the Goliath as if he were under the Enlarged Creature spell, which gives a +4 to damage, which seems more balanced in our opinions.

Are there rules for wielding large weapons in 5e? Can a Goliath wield large weapons out of the box with no feats?

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No, there are no weapon size rules in 5e beyond Heavy weapons being off limits to size Small races.

There is no feature like that in the Elemental Evil Players Companion entry for the Goliath race. Powerful Build only applies to carrying capacity and the weight limits for moving things around (push, drag, or lift).

There are no rules for weapon size in general in 5e, thus there are no size large/size giant weapon rules with wielding penalties and damage bonuses as in previous editions. PCs wield weapons appropriate for their size with no restrictions except Small creatures being unable to wield heavy weapons.

Size

Characters of most races are Medium, a size category including creatures that are roughly 4 to 8 feet tall. Members of a few races are Small (between 2 and 4 feet tall), which means that certain rules of the game affect them differently. The most important of these rules is that Small characters have trouble wielding heavy weapons, as explained in chapter 6. - (PHB p. 17)

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. - (PHB p. 147)

Goliaths already have some fairly strong racial features and do not need a permanent racial damage buff.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ So you're saying that a damage buff for large weapons would be unbalanced? I can see that \$\endgroup\$ Mar 30, 2015 at 15:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TomSterkenburg I'd suggest modelling it on the stone's endurance power and swapping that to damage dealing vs. reduction. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 30, 2015 at 16:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd update the answer here to state that there actually are rules for larger-than-normal weapons in the monster creation rules in the DMG. Though I'd still say that the general answer is "no" because that rule doesn't mention wielding larger weapons. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 30, 2015 at 19:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Polisurgist Those are for monsters only though, and this is inherently a PC rules question. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 30, 2015 at 19:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ Correction of false statement. There ARE rules for oversized weapons on page 278 of the DMG. I agree that a Medium size creature can't wield them, Carrying is for push, drag and lift, not wield. \$\endgroup\$
    – Grond
    Mar 20 at 6:42
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Yes, there are rules for oversized weapons. Maybe your character can wield it, but he cannot wield it like he would be able to wield a normal sized weapon

The 5th edition DMG does have rules for oversized weapons. They can be found on page 278. The important bits are that you double the damage dice for large, triple for huge, and quadruple for gargantuan creatures, and you get disadvantage if the weapon is for a size larger than your own, and the DM can rule that you cannot use a weapon meant for creatures two sizes larger than you.

However, these rules are specifically for determining damage when creating new monsters, so allowing the use of these rules is completely up to your DM. Personally, I would allow you to use these rules if you can get a weapon commisioned, with the price being either doubled, tripled, or quadrupled depending on the size of the weapon you want, with the crafting time being adjusted accordingly. However, again, this is up to the DM if he wants to allow this or not.

Now, you also asked whether the Goliath can wield them out of the box without feats. You can, but so can anyone else (except for small creatures), and you get disadvantage on attack rolls with it. The "powerful build" feature does not allow you to circumvent this rule. No feat currently exist to allow you to do this either. This means that, using only official sources, you cannot wield an oversized weapon without getting disadvantage on your attack rolls. You may be able to get your DM to allow you to do it anyhow, but this is likely to unbalance the game significantly.

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There is no rule for oversized weapons.

The Dungeon Master’s Guide has some discussion of oversized weapons on page 278, however, this section is not a rule for players to use. Rather, this section that refers to oversized weapons is part of the instructions for creating a custom monster:

Creating a Monster


The Monster Manual contains hundreds of ready-to-play monsters, but it doesn’t include every monster that you can imagine. Part of the D&D experience is the simple joy of creating new monsters and customizing existing ones, if for no other reason than to surprise and delight your players with something they’ve never faced before.

[...]

Creating a Monster Stat Block (Steps 11-15)


Step 11. Damage

A monster’s damage output—the amount of damage it deals every round—has a direct bearing on its challenge rating, and vice versa. You can determine a monster’s damage output in one of two ways.

[...]

Base the Damage on the Weapon. Alternatively, you can use a die expression to represent the damage that a monster deals with each of its attacks based on whatever weapon it is using.

[...]

Big monsters typically wield oversized weapons that deal extra dice of damage on a hit. Double the weapon dice if the creature is Large, triple the weapon dice if it’s Huge, and quadruple the weapon dice if it’s Gargantuan. For example, a Huge giant wielding an appropriately sized greataxe deals 3d12 slashing damage (plus its Strength bonus), instead of the normal 1d12.

Again, this is not rules text. These are instructions for creating your own stat blocks, and gives some insight into how the authors typically selected damage dice when designing monsters. But this is not a rule to be invoked at the table, and the authors didn't even follow it all of the time when designing monster stat blocks. For example, the fiend Baphomet, size Huge, carries a glaive named Heartcleaver:

Baphomet wields a great glaive called Heartcleaver.

Heartcleaver's attack is described:

Heartcleaver. Melee Weapon Attack: +17 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit: 21 (2d10 + 10) force damage.

Since Baphomet is a Huge monster, we would typically expect the weapon attacks to deal 3dX, but Baphomet's do not. So this bit about oversized weapons is not a rule. It's a design principle that was usually followed, but not always.

We can further motivate this ruling by observing that I as a player should be able to figure out what my racial traits do without having to read a section about creating custom monsters from the Dungeon Master's Guide that was written for the DM’s eyes only. The Goliath race is printed in several sources besides the DMG, sources which do not contain the material about homebrewing monsters from the DMG. *We should be able to figure out what our race does even if all we have is the PHB and the source it’s published in, without having access to homebrew guidance in the DMG.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt An artifact of self-plagiarism. Corrected. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 20 at 17:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ I suspected. Your contributions on questions of oversized weapons have been...huge. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Mar 20 at 17:45
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Use the Enlarge/Reduce spell as reference

The level 2 transmutation spell Enlarge/Reduce (PHB 237) can enlarge the target and everything it is carrying to large proportions. That makes it's attacks with large weapons deal an extra 1d4 damage.

Moreover this is a good rule of thumb if characters loot larger weapons from enemies and attempt to use them (with disadvantage if it's bigger than them at the time).

Also the spell states that magically enlarged creatures are eight times heavier. Don't forget to dramatically increase the weight of weapons which are already large.

Using this spell as a reference point makes it clear that large weapons are not meant to be handled at low levels in 5e, considering the only way to use them effectively is to use enlarge or potion of growth (DMG 187) which increase the size of the carried weapons anyway.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The Enlage spell is very much nerfed versus the rules for large, huge, and gargantuan weapons given in the DMG, which add dice to the weapon for each size increase. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tiger Guy
    Mar 1, 2020 at 6:57
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Oversized weapons rules are page 278 or DMG, so they do exist.

A medium person can't wield them, regardless of strength carrying capacity (which are push, drag, deadlift, not wield).

Classic example in our world is the Thomas Inch Dumbbell, which over a 100 years for someone to lift and hold on to, but even then they couldn't hold it for long and certainly couldn't change their stance without dropping it.

It proves WIELDING is impossible for oversized weapons. You don't have the arm length/size to hold the haft or balance the length of the shaft of a large maul or large greataxe. You don't have the mass to be the fulcrum of wielding a large greatsword.

I resolve this poor game design, or poor writing ability, of the WotC staff by making this simple House Rule. The two Giant subclasses gain the exotic Oversized Weapon Proficiency at 3rd level when they gain all the sudden Giant-like Knowledge, like suddenly knowing the Giant language above their normal limit of languages. For non-Giant subclasses, we allow taking the Weapon Master or Fighting Initiate feat to gain the Exotic Weapon Proficiency of Oversized weapons, if they plan of being enlarged a lot through spell or potion.

Finally, if a PC took an Enlarge potion for example, they could still use their Martial Weapon Proficiency to wield their greatsword in 1 hand and a shield in the other, as that would be within their current ability to do so.

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I had similar questions and found this answer. A Goliath is still a medium sized creature, albeit the largest end of that scale, that has features of a large creature. It makes sense to then treat them wielding large weapons in the following way:

"The spell enlarge does not make your weapon do an extra complete die of damage it just adds 1d4 to your damage. So an ogre using a longsword does 2d8 base damage, a human enlarged to ogre size with a longsword does 1d8+1d4."

Also small creatures are at a disadvantage when using weapons considered "heavy", so it makes sense that a Goliath would be at a disadvantage when using weapons considered "light".

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you add any citation to this that makes it not just sound like a random internet opinion? \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Feb 28, 2016 at 15:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site @StormKerr--it's worth taking the tour and reading lost of the existing Q&A to get a sense for what makes a good answer around here. To expound a little on mxy's comment above, is the above a houserule you've used (or seen used) in actual play? How did it work, and how did it come about? If this is just an idea you came up with, it's worth taking a look at this meta question and its answers to see a little more of the reasoning behind why we do and expect what we do. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Jan 2, 2017 at 0:41

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