So I'm still relatively a newbie when it comes to rulings on using weapons and such, but I was wondering is it feasible for a level 1 bard (human or half elf most likely) starting out to be able to wield a two-handed great sword?

That being said the idea is the bard will mostly be a healer of sort, but for role playing purposes it's that he's from a clan/family of swordsman and warriors so he aspires to be one and refuses to give up on wielding a mighty greatsword.

Are there any requirements etc?


Well technically you could wield anything as a weapon, you just wouldn't have much success with it (you do not add your proficiency bonus to attacks, which is a +2 at 1st level). To be competent with a weapon, you need proficiency with it. Bards do not get proficiency with two-handed swords, so you have two options:

  1. If the variant human is allowed by your GM, you can take the Weapon Master feat at 1st level, and choose greatsword as one of the four weapons you gain proficiency with.
  2. If you are willing to wait until 3rd level, you can pick the College of Valor and gain proficiency with all martial weapons (including the greatsword).
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah thank you very much especially for the quick reply, here's hoping though I guess I can wait till 3rd level worse case scenario. \$\endgroup\$ – Kris Gardner Apr 20 '17 at 16:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KrisGardner - You could make it something of a roleplaying opportunity. Have him start out with a greatsword that he's struggling to master. Proficiency bonuses don't matter that much for the first few levels. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Apr 20 '17 at 17:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KrisGardner Was Valor bard the direction you wanted to take your Bard? ALthough from your description, it would very much fit for the background, but maybe not for their future decisions. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Apr 20 '17 at 17:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ With a high enough base stat, could survive until level 3 with the -2 proficiency penalty. Or upgrade from you "kid greatsword" (2h wielded longsword) once you get the proficiency as has been suggested. I'm not sure if bards can be dex-based greatsword users or not, don't have my book on me atm. \$\endgroup\$ – General Anders Apr 21 '17 at 13:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ I really like the idea of struggling to master the weapon that has been handed down from his ancestors, only to achieve proficiency at 3rd level. \$\endgroup\$ – Aviose Apr 21 '17 at 17:57

As others have noted, taking the College of Valor as a 3rd level bard is an 0ption. Multiclassing is an option. The Weapons Master feat is an option. All of those are significant constraints or character development expenses to get one weapon proficiency. They each come with other benefits, of course, but they may not represent what you are trying to do with your character.

Another option would be to work with your gamemaster on a custom background. Your background generally gives you at least two skills and a feature; perhaps your gamemaster would let you substitute greatsword proficiency for one of those, based on your family history.


In 5e D&D, the Bard does not start with proficiency with Greatswords. However, if you choose the College of Valor archetype then you can get proficiency with Greatswords at level 3.

If you don't want to wait that long / go with different college, there are other options:

  • The easiest is to use the variant Human and choose the feat Weapon Master which allows you to gain proficiency with 4 weapons of your choice.
  • You can choose the Weapon Master feat instead of using a Ability Score Increase you'd get when leveling up.
  • Finally, you could also choose to multi-class into a different class which is granted proficiency in Greatswords.

NOTE: You are still able to use Greatswords even without being proficient (or any other weapon, for that matter). The only difference is that you won't be able to add your proficiency bonus to attack rolls when using that weapon.


As others have said, there are a few easy ways to do this:

  1. variant human - weapon master feat (1st level)

  2. valor bard archetype (3rd level)

  3. multiclass into barbarian, fighter, paladin, or ranger

  4. wield a longsword with 2 hands (1d10 damage), and re-flavor it as a slightly undersized greatsword. Maybe your character never completed their training (or is fairly small), and is using a slightly smaller greatsword because of that.

  5. Wield the greatsword. Anyone can pick up any weapon and use it. You just won't get to add your proficiency bonus (+2 at level 1) to attack rolls.

  • \$\begingroup\$ @PhilBoncer Yes, if he fixes that I can change my vote. But it nearly equals out with the 2-handed longsword idea. And although we're all trying not to 'read the book' for him, citations to the pages those things are on is always helpful (for all answers...not just this one.) \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Apr 20 '17 at 19:55

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