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I have a player in my game that has chosen to wield a Greatsword, a 2-handed weapon. As a Fighter, this is within the rules. However, he has asked if he can wield it 1-handed by somehow giving it the Versatile property.

He's fine having to wield it two-handed if need be for now, but he's interested in knowing if he can wield it one-handed later. He doesn't want it for the Duelling or Dual Wielding feats — just "rule of cool" reasons.

RAW, is there any way this can be achieved? Either now, or through character advancement?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Related, maybe even a duplicate. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Oct 4 '16 at 2:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just so you know, a real great sword is 1-1.3m long and weighs 1.1-2kg with a balance point well in advance of the hilt. Basically, no matter how strong you are, if you hold it in one hand the point will be on the ground. But, if you're willing to believe in magic ... \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M Oct 4 '16 at 12:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ You make sure that the player won't "change his mind" about being only for rule of cool effects later, whatever ruling you do. \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Oct 4 '16 at 13:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Miniman I'd vote-close the other one as the dupe, since this one is of a higher quality (votes). \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Oct 4 '16 at 13:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @rpgstar a) The other question uses the Dual Wielder feat and therefore doesn't need the light property, and b) the versatile property allows a one-handed weapon to deal more damage when wielded two-handed. It's entirely irrelevant to wielding a two-handed weapon in one hand, which is the actual issue both of these questions care about. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Oct 15 '18 at 0:53
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RAW, no, a two-handed weapon can not be wielded one-handed

However, if he does not want Dueling or Dual Wielding benefits, and he is ok with keeping the other hand empty for "balancing", I see no problem allowing it.

At that point it has no influence on game mechanics, it is just aesthetics.

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Yes, as a improvised weapon.

You can technically wield anything as a weapon, as long as it could conceivably do damage. How it affects damage and accuracy depends on how you view the greatsword. According to the rules on page 147-148 of the Player's Handbook:

At the DM's option, a character proficient with a weapon can use a similar object as if it were that weapon and use his or her proficiency bonus.

An object that bears no resemblance to a weapon deals 1d4 damage (the DM assigns a damage type appropriate to the object). If a character uses a ranged weapon to make a melee attack, or throws a melee weapon that does not have the thrown property, it also deals ld4 damage. An improvised thrown weapon has a normal range of 20 feet and a long range of 60 feet.

As with most rulings, it's up to you to make the call as to whether a greatsword wielded in one hand is close enough to another weapon to be considered one. Personally, I would treat it as a mace. It's slightly better then a wooden chair in terms of damage, gives them no special weapon traits and allows them to use their proficiency bonus. That said, ruling it as a pure improvised weapon (1d4 damage, no proficiency bonus) also makes a lot of sense, since it's not made to be wielded like that.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Feb 19 at 22:46
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This isn't RAW, and I would discourage it.

A weapon with the Two-Handed property must be wielded with two hands to make an attack. A weapon with the Versatile property can be wielded in one or two hands with varying damage. It seems the designers intended these weapon properties to enhance game balance.

What your player is asking for is the benefits of a Two-Handed weapon (higher maximum damage and more consistent rolls due to the normalizing effect of the two dice) without the drawbacks of a Two-Handed weapon (occupying both hands at the same time), but the system already has Versatile weapons to fill that niche.

Although the player seems to be forfeiting the mechanical benefits and opting for flavor instead, and although I'm not suggesting the player will intentionally try to abuse this, I think it can lead to a slippery slope of unwanted interactions later on.

  • If the player eventually decides they would like to use a shield, you couldn't let them wield it in their empty hand without violating the Two-Handed property of the weapon, and that creates a weird dissonance between narrative and mechanics.

  • If the player wants to use an object on their turn in a fashion that requires an action, such as opening a heavy door or turning a crank, you may encounter issues with the action economy where the player can do more in a turn and be prepared for upcoming opportunity attacks than another player might.

  • If the player eventually wants to subclass into Eldritch Knight or otherwise cast spells, you may run into problems with somatic components. (This is debatable, depending on how you rule on somatic components when using two-handed weapons: more on that here.)

  • Suppose that the fighter loses an arm in the future during heroic combat while fighting with a Two-Handed sword wielded in the other arm. You would need to decide why the player can no longer benefit from the Two-Handed weapon property or else why they can bypass the restrictions of the Two-Handed weapon property when nobody else can.

  • If any other player wants to use "rule of cool" to wield a weapon with the Two-Handed property in one hand, it wouldn't be fair to deny them, so any of the above concerns could apply to multiple players.

  • If you establish the precedent that weapon properties and other game rules can be ignored for flavor as long as the results are mechanically identical, you run the risk of confusing and alienating other players and muddying the rules of the game.

Given the slippery slope problems, I don't see a good reason to support "rule of cool" in this instance. It is simpler to say "no, pick a different weapon" or "no, that character concept isn't viable" than to create the exception for them.

An alternative roleplaying suggestion.

However, I do have a suggestion for how to steer the player to an idea that may satisfy their character concept while offering better roleplaying opportunities and a better mechanical balance.

I think it is problematic for an able person to try to use a weapon designed to be wielded with two hands with only one hand. I think this would indicate that the Fighter has not trained well on their way to their class features, and I don't think it is realistic for a trained Fighter to intentionally fight as if they do not know how to use their weapon correctly or as if they are physically impaired. They would be utilizing a weapon in an unwieldy and awkward fashion for which it was not intended. Even historical real-world one-handed fighting styles with two-handed swords have been notably niche and controversial.

I would suggest instead that the player consider the character concept not of an able person making a choice to use a weapon in an awkward fashion but rather of a person with only one arm who has overcome significant challenges to become a skilled fighter despite the impediment. I would not scoff at allowing such a character to use a Two-Handed weapon with all of its mechanical benefits, since the player would be voluntarily opting into other mechanical setbacks to offset it, including the inability to also wield a shield or use somatic spell components effectively.

I do not foresee the player's existing character concept being a significant roleplaying hook because it doesn't truly impose any narrative challenges, but my alternative or a similar option establishes what I believe to be a much more compelling character background and offers more interesting roleplaying options.

My idea is only one possibility. In general, my suggestion is to work with the character to take the core of their idea (a unique fighting style) and flesh it out (a unique fighting style because of fill in the blank) into a form that can create roleplaying opportunities (a unique fighting style because of fill in the blank which challenges the character in some significant and recurring fashion). Challenging weaknesses tend to get more interest at the table than stylistic quirks.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You can cast just fine while holding a 2handed weapon in one hand. One more reason not to use 2 weapons, you can't cast with those. \$\endgroup\$ – András Feb 20 at 12:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's arguable because it goes into action economy (how many times in a turn you can grip and release your sword and still benefit from it for opportunity attacks off turn, which is often debated). I will revise to point that out, though, once I have time. \$\endgroup\$ – Bloodcinder Feb 20 at 13:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Let me know if my edit resolved your concern. Also, I didn't agree anymore with a lot of my old answer, so I removed a bunch of stuff and made it sound less pompous. Please advise if it's an improvement. Thanks. \$\endgroup\$ – Bloodcinder Feb 20 at 13:49
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If the player is just doing it for "rule of cool" reasons then there is no reason not to (depending on the GM). He could wield the Greatsword one handed but use the mechanics of a long sword. That would give reasonable game play and the player can have his cool guy moments while thinking that he is using a Greatsword.

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Miniman's answer about a similar question inspired me to look for a magical solution to this, so I did some digging, and found this:

Potion of Growth

When you drink this potion, you gain the "enlarge" effect of the enlarge/reduce spell for 1d4 hours.

p. 187 Dungeon Master's Guide - Treasure

Enlarge

The target’s size doubles in all dimensions, and its weight is multiplied by eight. This growth increases its size by one category — from Medium to Large, for example.

However, I have not been able to find anything specific about Large Creatures wielding Heavy weapons. The only (RAW) rules I have found on the topic is about small creatures wielding them.

I have found homebrewed variant rules on the topic:

Large Player Characters

Two-handed melee weapons can be wielded in one hand if it is not also Oversized.

Not RAW at all, but might be worthwhile to consider.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Have you tested this homebrew rule at your table? If so please tell us how they worked out. If not, I would consider removing it since "here's a random homebrew idea - test it and see if it works" is not considered good form for answers. Experts are supposed to provide knon good solutions to a problem. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Feb 19 at 17:27
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How about a new magic item, the Talisman of Weapon Balance?

It's a rod about six inches long and an inch in diameter, with a sphere of frosted glass mounted on one end of it. If you hold this talisman in one hand while holding a two-handed weapon in the other, the talisman takes on half of the weight, allowing you to wield it with only one hand actually touching the weapon.

While you're using it in this manner, your hand is fully occupied by the talisman and can't be used for anything else, and the weapon is still treated as being wielded two-handed for all mechanical effects.

(In other words: for mechanical purposes, it's as though you're still wielding it two-handed, but for roleplaying purposes and the rule of cool, you're technically holding it in one hand.)

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    \$\begingroup\$ Homebrew solutions aren't really a good way to answer an SE question. Most questions could theoretcially be answered by inventing a homebrew item, power, or effect to allow it. SE is focused on concrete answers that can have a well-supported solution. \$\endgroup\$ – user47897 Feb 19 at 20:23
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It's honestly at the DM's discretion, since my group has a rule saying we can if we have a strength higher than a certain amount, the number varying based on race. I had brought this up to begin with since I wanted to play the role of an Abyss Watcher, dual-wielding a greatsword and dagger like the warriors of the Undead Legion. But, being a human variant, I can't do this until I have a strength of 20, and I'm currently at 15.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. How has this house-rule worked in your experience? House rules aren't necessarily very useful answers to rules questions unless you can back them up by citing evidence or experience. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast May 27 at 5:47
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Attacking

As a medium creature, no. A greatsword is a long, heavy, unbalanced piece of metal. It needs two hands. The game already has long, not-quite-so-heavy, unbalanced pieces of metal that can be used in one hand - they are called longswords. :-)

However, as a large creature, the answer may be yes. If the character can get enlarged, through spell or potion or something else, then they can use that greatsword one-handed, as long as the sword wasn't also enlarged.

There is no rules support for this, but it seems reasonable that if a 5 foot tall human needs two hands to use a 6lb greatsword then a 12ft tall giant could use the same weapon in one hand.

The enlarge/reduce spell keeps it simple - adds 1d4 damage when enlarged and subtracts 1d4 damage when reduced (so your enlarged greatsword does 2d6+1d4+STR).

The target's weapons also grow to match its new size. While these weapons are enlarged, the target's attacks with them deal 1d4 extra damage.

Holding

A medium creature can, however, hold a heavy weapon in one hand without attacking. It's only when you start swinging with intent that you need the strength and leverage of two hands.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Do you have a citation for large creatures being able to use a greatsword one-handed? \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Oct 4 '16 at 3:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @miniman, no citation, just thinking that enlarged weapons do more damage (as per enlarge/reduce spell), so a normal-sized weapon would do its normal damage, but act like a weapon one-size smaller. \$\endgroup\$ – Greenstone Walker Oct 4 '16 at 4:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ I remember reading something along the lines of this - a large creature can wield a large weapon as if it were versatile... I can't remember exactly where I read it however (DMG? PHB?) \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Oct 4 '16 at 4:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ben well, no. A longsword is a longsword and it deals 1d8 damage, 2d8 when enlarged. But a greatsword already deals 2d6 damage which is equal to an enlarged shortsword. \$\endgroup\$ – daze413 Oct 4 '16 at 5:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @rpgstar the 1d4 comes from the spell. \$\endgroup\$ – Greenstone Walker Feb 20 at 11:28

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