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DMG 271 describes the disarm action and states that if the attack roll is successful, the defender "drops the item."

SRD 92 lists things you can do on your turn in tandem with your move and action. One of these options is "pick up a dropped axe," which I can infer means "pick up a dropped anything."

So by the rules as written, can you disarm someone as an action, and then just take the item at no additional cost? Is this really how stealing happens in combat? (I'd always kind of imagined that Sleight of Hand would be involved somehow)

(If it doesn't, what does?)

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    \$\begingroup\$ How would Sleight of Hand help you steal something the enemy is clutching (not to mention attempting to kill you with)? \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Mar 18 '16 at 1:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Possibly answered here though questions are different so not a dupe. \$\endgroup\$ – Purple Monkey Mar 18 '16 at 1:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Would Disarm + Tumble do the trick? \$\endgroup\$ – Robert Mar 18 '16 at 1:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ Historical note: In some earlier editions, if you disarmed someone while unarmed yourself, you could indeed start wielding their confiscated weapon against them. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Mar 18 '16 at 2:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GMJoe — youtu.be/I3WflOox0x4?t=135 :) \$\endgroup\$ – Quentin Mar 18 '16 at 8:34
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Yes.

Sleight of hand would only be relevant if you were trying to steal something without being noticed. In this case, the victim definitely knows that you've disarmed them, and presumably sees you pick it up. Attempting to steal a wielded weapon without being noticed, however, would require either a very, very good sleight of hand roll, or possibly a disarm check combined with a very good stealth check.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It's also worth noting the difference between disarm and steal. You can't generally steal an object someone is holding, that would be a disarm. On the reverse side, you can't disarm their belt pouch filled with gold, that would be stealing. \$\endgroup\$ – Ethan Mar 18 '16 at 12:35

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