I play a 10th level Paladin Goliath and I want to pick up a Bandit Chief and smash him into his cronies … repeatedly. What are the rules regarding this situation? Also, can I Divine Smite with said Bandit Chief?

Any other thoughts from experienced DMs about types of feats and proficiency that may be required would be appreciated.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Related, possible duplicate: Can you pick up and use an enemy as an improvised weapon? Also, your secondary question about using Divine Smite with an improvised weapon is entirely different from your main question, and should probably be edited out and asked separately. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Jan 25, 2020 at 22:28

1 Answer 1


You can use dead enemies as much as you want - they're one of the examples given in the description of improvised weapons.

An improvised weapon includes any object you can wield in one or two hands, such as broken glass, a table leg, a frying pan, a wagon wheel, or a dead goblin.

It sounds like you want to use living enemies, though. These almost certainly can't be used as improvised weapons - an improvised weapon has to be an object, and creatures and objects are consistently two different things throughout the rules. There's lots of examples of this, but for completeness I'll give one, which comes from the very start of the PHB:

Over the course of their adventures, the characters are confronted by a variety of creatures, objects, and situations that they must deal with in some way.

Ok, so the obvious option of just using an enemy as an improvised weapon is out. But you still want to hit one guy with another guy, right? Well, first, you're going to need to grapple them:

When you want to grab a creature or wrestle with it, you can use the Attack action to make a special melee attack, a grapple.

This lets you grab them, and even pick them up:

When you move, you can drag or carry the grappled creature with you, but your speed is halved, unless the creature is two or more sizes smaller than you.

Cool, so we've picked up an enemy in one hand. Unfortunately, this is where the rules run out on us - there's no more specific guidance for what you want to do. We can fall back on the general guidance, though:

When you describe an action not detailed elsewhere in the rules, the DM tells you whether that action is possible and what kind of roll you need to make, if any, to determine success ar failure.

At this point, it's entirely up to your DM. Tell them that you want to hit an enemy with the creature you've picked up, and let them work out how to model that in the system. They may make it an attack roll, they may make it an ability check. They almost certainly won't make it a saving throw. While I could talk about how I'd handle it, there's not really any point - it's entirely in the hands of your DM.

As for the Paladin's Divine Smite:

Starting at 2nd level, when you hit a creature with a melee weapon attack, you can expend one paladin spell slot to deal radiant damage to the target, in addition to the weapon's damage.

The only requirement for a Divine Smite is that you hit with a melee weapon attack. So if your DM decides that this is a melee weapon attack, you can use Divine Smite with it. If they decide anything else, you can't.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ worth thinking about mass-comparisons? my first thought on seeing the question was that the heaviest "heavy" weapon comes in at 12lb, and I'd use that as a touchstone for improvised weapons. (But then that line about the dead goblin came along....) \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Dec 28, 2015 at 14:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 In a game where a properly specced character can lift 1200 lb in one hand, I'm not going to worry about it. There's always room for another answer though :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Dec 29, 2015 at 2:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Just wondering: It says that you can attack with a weapon in your free hand if you're grappling, but does the hand holding a creature really count as free with a weapon? \$\endgroup\$
    – Teco
    Dec 29, 2015 at 5:00
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Teco The hand that is occupied when grappling is the hand used to grapple the creature. The rule caters to cases where you want to attack with a weapon, not the creature you actually grapple. In that case, I would assume you wouldn't need a free hand. Logically, why would you need a free hand when the hand you want to attack with is already holding what you want to use? \$\endgroup\$
    – Eric
    Dec 29, 2015 at 9:14
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Teco Wizards isn't releasing anything as thorough as the SRD was, but they have published a "basic" version of the rules that has most of the core rules in it, here: dnd.wizards.com/articles/features/basicrules \$\endgroup\$
    – DuckTapeAl
    Dec 29, 2015 at 11:56

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