In front of you is the way out of the cell. Things quickly got out of hand. Two failed checks for stealth and a bad check for disguise made things hard.
Who would have thought that the underground cult castle would be so full? Your group has been running for three minutes, and you’re just about to reach your goal: to escape.
Wait! There will be a big problem. The outside doors shut when the alarm was set. The rogue takes a minute to figure out how to open the lock.
The bard and the wizard are fighting each other and the few enemies in the room. You have to keep the enemies from getting into the hall. With his trusty halberd, it’s easy for a fight master.
You stand your ground just under the door frame and point with your knife toward the narrow hallway where the group of cultists is coming from.
About thirty brown capes are trying to get through a falling filter like a swarm of cockroaches.
They have no chance at all. One by one, they got stuck because they couldn’t get through your fighters’ attacks, moves, and responses.
As you meet up with the rest of your group outside the building, you leave a dozen dead bodies at the door.
Welcome to the Halberd 5e “Twin Pole-Arms” Guide:
- Masters of the Battlefield
- Breaking Down the Rules
- Who Can Wield Such Weapons
- Classes and Subclasses
- Inspiration for Halberds and Glaives
- History and Mythology
- Fantasy and the World of DND
Masters of the Battlefield
When you start with the spear, which is the most reliable tool in history, you get something amazing.
It is easy to make and use, and it can kill almost any enemy in almost any situation. It is also simple enough that you can add things to it without much trouble.
Because of these things, the spear was one of the first weapons that almost every prehistoric tribe made.
What do all of these things have to do with the halberd and the glaive?
Well, they are both more powerful spears. By making the shaft longer and the top more useful, these weapons became popular in the late Middle Ages and still are today.
We’ll talk more about how the two weapons are alike, but the big difference is where the weapons end. The glaive has a single-edged blade and sometimes a spike on the back end.
The halberd, on the other hand, has an ax head on the front, a hook on the back that is turned toward the user, and a long spike at the end.
Breaking Down the Rules
The DND 5e weapons table is on page 149 of the Player’s Handbook. We can see that the Glaive and the Halberd have the same stats, price, and weight.
Because of this, I’ll mostly call them Halberds, but keep in mind that the two names are the same in terms of how they work.
Both weapons are Heavy, Reach, and Two-handed Martial Melee Weapons that do 1d10 cutting damage. Each pole-arm is worth 20 gold pieces and weighs 6 pounds.
It’s important to note that pikes have the same stats except for the type of damage they do.
Keeping these things in mind, every build and rule we’ll talk about for these two weapons also applies to the Pike, with the exception of some feats and the resistances or defenses of certain monsters.
Before we go on, let’s take a look at what the guns can do on their own:
- Weapons for fighting: These weapons are not meant to be used by just anyone. They are good for people who have been trained. Because it’s harder to learn with these weapons, they are meant to be stronger than the Simple ones.
- By default, this is set to 5 feet, which is the character’s diameter. At first look, it’s clear, but it’s important to keep in mind that the weapon is a melee weapon when we talk about its range. Even if you hit from more than 5 feet away, the attack still counts as a melee attack for other rules.
- 1d10 damage: This is one of the most dangerous dice for guns in the game. The average damage would be 5.5, and the maximum damage, including the STR bonus, would be 10. The Greataxe, Greatsword, Lance, and Maul are the only physical weapons that can do more damage than them.
- Price and weight: They cost 20 GP, which is in the middle of the price range for guns. Funny, because the halberd was actually very expensive to make because it was so hard to make.
Also, they only weigh six pounds, which is very light for how big they are. This doesn’t have many practical effects unless your table uses the encumbrance rules.
- Heavy: This is one of those times when the game’s rules try to make it more realistic. Using a glaive wouldn’t make a small race too strong, but it is strange to see a gnome using a tool that is three times bigger than them.
- The big halfling warrior could pick up an elephant, but he couldn’t use halberds. I’d say that if you have a good reason, you can break these rules. If you don’t, you could end up with a magical halberd that is so light that even a tiny pixie could use it well.
- Two-handed: This is another problem with how the game is made. Using both hands to hold a weapon is realistic and gives a sense of power balance. For these tools to be real, they need to be used with both hands.
- No person could use two halberds at once. To keep things fair, a character can’t cast spells or use off-hand strikes if they have to use both hands on a weapon.
- Reach: This is the part of these guns that really changes the game. It might seem like a small thing, but it’s not. Even though it only has an extra five feet of range, the fact that it is still a melee weapon makes a lot of interesting rules exchanges happen.
- The main reason why reach is useful is because many creatures can only hit in close range. Five feet melee strikes. This is awesome when you think about how most people can only move 30 feet.
- You can attack a monster within reach, move 30 feet away without making it attack you, and then wait. The enemy advances, but they have to use their action to dash. This gives you an extra turn against these kinds of enemies.
Who Can Wield Such Weapons
As I already said, Martial Weapons need a lot of training before they can be used. Not every character is good at them, which means they don’t add their skill modifier to attacks or other actions that require you to be good at a weapon.
Also, you can get proficient with some races, like Hobgoblins, or you can use the skill Swap Table from Tasha’s to switch your skill in a weapon. With the Fighting Initiate or Weapon Master skill, anyone can become proficient in a weapon at level 4.
Even though any character of middle size could use halberds well if they picked up a feat at the fourth level, not every character is right for the way these weapons are used.
Barbarians are much more likely to be halberdiers than sorcerers. A High-Elf has less to offer the build than a Human does. What I’m about to tell you are not the only Races and Classes you can use for a Halberdier, but they are the best in terms of how they work.
One disclaimer: I’ll use the rules from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything for changing stat boosts and the variations in the Monsters of the Multiverse book.
So, almost every middle race is useful, but some are stronger than others.
Variant Human / Custom Lineage
Almost every character can use an extra skill at the first level.
This is possibly why Variant Human was the most popular race until Custom Lineage turned the table.
Because of what they can do, they are both great races. You’ll see why in a bit.
When you think of someone who uses a pole arm, you probably think of a front-line fighter who can make a lot of hits and stand up to pressure from the enemy.
Critics and darkvision have become better for half-orcs. If you are also a Zealot or a Totem of the Bear Barbarian, you can’t die because of Relentless Endurance.
Orcs are the same, but they don’t have the best reviewers.
The strength bonus (if available) and stone endurance of these giant humanoids make them great with these weapons, just like Half-orcs. When you think about them, they also look scary.
Unlike Owlin and Aaracokra, Aasimar can fly even when wearing heavy armor, which is great for Strength-based builds like halberds.
I love the idea of a flying knight with a glaive throwing down smites like an angry angel. This flight is only short, but they are doing some things to make up for it.
If a 10-foot reach is impressive, Bugbears make it even more so by adding another 5 feet. This is great if you think your chance strikes now affect everything within 15 feet of you.
On top of that, you do more damage to enemies when they are shocked, which can make a big difference, especially when you are just starting out.
Rabbits with poles for arms? They don’t seem to go well together until you remember that Harengon’s ability, “Rabbit Hop,” doesn’t make chance strikes happen.
If the enemy gets close to you, you can run away quickly and hit them from a safe distance. The bonus to initiative rolls is also great for front-line fighters because it lets them get to the right place to help their allies faster.
These animal-like people have more hit points, which makes them stronger in battle. Plus, they get skills that work well with a halberd.
The Beasthide and the Swiftstride are both great choices that will help you last longer in fight or do more things.
These lion-like creatures from Theros are great for anyone who fights in close. They start with a movement of 35 feet, which is great for pole-arms.
But they get better when you think about their Daunting Roar ability. With it, they can make a creature 10 feet away afraid of them and ready to fight if they try to run away.
Classes and Subclasses
There are a lot of subclasses in the game, and each one has a lot to give. So, I’ll talk about the five most powerful classes and the best subclasses for each.
All types of attackers, except for Arcane Archers, are great with halberds. Fighters are just made to use big tools to do a lot of damage.
The extra hits and ASI (Abilities Score Improvement) or feats, Action Surges, Fighting Style, etc. You have a full package of solid front-line attackers and fighters who can be beat down.
I think the best Halberdier in the game is the Echo Knight. They can move around the area in many different ways that are very good.
They have a second body that can take advantage of the halberds’ longer reach and small teleportations that let them get in the right place to make better spins.
One thing to keep in mind is that the Echo’s attack of chance doesn’t get the extra reach and feats that halberds get unless the DM lets it.
The big, strong guy in the group would make a great pole-master.
The barbarians have extra and risky attacks, and all of them, including the bonus action attack of the Pole-arm master, are made with advantage.
Also, they get more movement, health, resistance, better reviewers, and most of all, RAGE!
In general, the most powerful is the Totem Barbarian. Just the bear totem at level 3 makes your warrior resistant to all kinds of damage, making him or her almost immortal.
Aside from that, the eagle gives you more movement, and the wolf gives you tools for helping your team. This is by far the strongest Halberdier you can get in the game.
Divine smite, Fighting with two weapons, support skills and magic, and heavy armor. Paladins have everything a character with a strength base could want.
They can do a lot of different things and do the most damage of any class. The Summon Steed spell also looks like a pole-arm. Knighthood is a big part of halberds, and Paladins are the best kind of Knights:
Even though the Vengeance Paladin is usually stronger, the combination of Aura of Conquest and Conquering Presence locks a creature within 10 feet of the Paladin.
This makes the enemy an easy target for all hits with the reach of the halberds.
The Battle Smith is the only artificer worth having because the other two don’t have Martial Weapon Proficiency and their skills often fight with martial weapons.
They make up for what they lack in AC by having a pet with strong armor. Even without a shield, Battlesmiths are great tanks because of their Steel Defender and how it reacts.
Plus, they use their brains to attack, have an extra attack, great offensive spells, and other ways to do more damage.
When this subclass uses both the steel defender and the halberd’s reach, it can stay away from the enemy without leaving its friends.
Most people see the holy agents of gods as weak healers who stand in the background to avoid getting hurt. But in DND, clerics can take many different forms, and many of them are great for close fighting.
The best subclasses for a pole-arm style of play are those with Heavy Armor and Martial Weapon Proficiency, since they tend to have things that make melee fighting stronger:
The Tempest Domain is without a question the strongest pole-arm Cleric.
At level 6, when they do damage with thunder or lightning, they can push a monster 10 feet away. This works great with their Wrath of the Storm at level 1 and Divine Strike at level 8.
When you use these skills with a halberd, your reach is amazing because you can move animals without ever getting in their way.
Also, if they get past your reach, you can still push them away quickly, keeping your space and doing a lot of damage with spells.
In DND, feats are extra rules. But, for good reason, few tables don’t use them. They give the game a lot of personality, which makes each table different. But feats aren’t just for adding flavor.
They give strength to a full character. When it comes to halberds and glaives, there are a few feats that stand out and make a broken build into a good weapon.
These are talked about a lot on the internet, so I won’t go into too much detail here.
This feat gives the halberds a new level of reach. Your character is a pain for the DM if he or she can just hit an enemy with an attack and slow them down to 0 speed.
This move locks an enemy who can only use melee attacks 10 feet away from you and your allies. Some animals die when this combination is used.
For example, monsters that can fly but can’t hover would fall to the ground on their backs. All of this is better when done with the next trick.
Master of Polearms
Now, you can make the same attack of chance against a creature that enters your reach. If they get too close, they get hit, and their speed drops to 0. The same thing happens if they try to run away.
As long as you don’t miss the move, your opponents are in trouble. On top of that, you get an extra action move that can make a big difference over time. If you take the Battlemaster’s Brace move, this feat isn’t as important.
Again, a skill that makes it harder for enemies to move and makes your reviewers better.
With this feat, you can have even more power over the battlefield because you can make it harder for enemies to get around you.
Master of Weapons
Once you’ve cornered your enemies, it’s time to kill them. If you are sure you will hit your target, you can add +10 damage to every hit you make. I don’t have to tell you how strong this is.
Also, when you get a critical hit or kill an enemy, you can use an extra attack on another enemy.
As we’ve seen, a pole-arm fighter needs to be able to move around more. Mobile is a way to get more mobility for a fighting build. It makes you run faster and makes you less likely to get attacked by chance.
Inspiration for Halberds and Glaives
We’ve seen all the ways to optimize a build in the game, and it’s up to you to decide which ones work best for the character you want to play.
Having said that, I’d like to give you some tips based on past and my own experience about how to make the most of the weapon you choose. In other words, I’d like to help you improve your acting by giving you some tips.
In DND, your choices of Class and Race, but especially your Background, Bonds, Ideals, and Flaws, are the most important parts of roleplaying.
When we think about who our character is, the tool they choose can tell us a lot about them. So, you can see that guns are more than just ways to kill.
They can be used and made to look like works of art. Also, they can know you or someone close to your character.
You can use that link to fuel your roleplay, whether it has to do with an inheritance, a personal like, a mentor, or a trauma.
Maybe you never put your halberd down, but instead stick it in the ground so that the flag of your country flies proudly wherever you go. I once had a player whose father gave him a sword that tried to take over every day.
History and Mythology
In the past of weapons, halberds and glaives have made a huge difference. Most of the time, they were used against horses and plate armor. Both weapons had a side spike that was used to pull enemies off their mounts and put them on the ground where they could be cut to death.
In the late Middle Ages, these weapons were so common that whole sections of forces were used to fight against enemy cavalry. So, the amount of cavalry squads started to go down. This is a simplification, but you get the idea.
Pole-arms started to lose their place on the battlefield slowly but surely as time went on and fire guns became more common. They were still used for ceremonies, especially as halberds.
Generals often used halberds because they were a way to show their rank and wealth. On the other hand, glaives (especially guisarmes) were easier and cheaper to make, so they were more common among foot soldiers.
Few people have access to medieval weapons, especially pole guns, in the modern world. The Swiss Guard in Vatican City is taught to use halberds as a traditional way to defend themselves. This is the most well-known use of halberds today.
Last but not least, I’d like to make a point about glaives. Most of the time, people mistake the glaive for something else. This means that the glaive and the halberd are pretty much the same in the game, which bothers me.
So, I think we should talk about the Japanese Naginata whenever we talk about the glaive. This simple change of view gives you a glimpse into a different society, which makes the game more interesting.
During many times in Japan’s past, samurais used naginata, which was a pole weapon. The weapon was a Glaive with a longer tip and no spikes on the side. This pole-arm was a favorite among the wives of samurai.
Over time, this tool became a must-have for women in the country to use for self-defense. It is used as a sport tool in martial arts these days.
I’d like to suggest a little homebrew where halberds become 1d10 piercing weapons and naginata (glaives) stay 1d10 slicing weapons. We could make these two stand out more if we did this.
Fantasy and the World of DND
Even though pole-arms were so common in real life, they aren’t given enough credit in fiction.
This is possibly because these weapons didn’t come into use until late in the Middle Ages.
This means they didn’t exist in ancient times, which is where most myths come from.
Still, there are a few guns in the Forgotten Realms that stand out and could be used as models.
- Fayr’s Halberd: Bedwyn Fayr used his magical halberd to fight enemies. He hit them from afar while his shorter allies stood in front of them as a first line of defense.
- Ravager: Imix, the Fire Prince of Elemental Evil, used this famous halberd. The blade of the weapon leaked blood all the time.
- Wave: Followers of an ocean god named Umberlee made this halberd, which could drain water from people’s bodies.
- In many places around the world, like Shadowdale or Sembia, halberds were used as guard weapons.
- Dauphal: This loxo, which is half human and half elephant, had a burning glaive that, despite his large size, he used with great skill.
- Heart-cleaver: The evil lord Baphomet is one of the most powerful things in DND. He looks like a minotaur and is hungry for blood. He fights his enemies with a huge glaive.
- Syr’daun Hunzrin: This human left his home because he wanted to show the world how good he was at fighting. He used to farm and was very good with glaives.
- Havilar: A Tieflin Warrior named “Devil Slayer” had a sad past in a town where she and her sister were kicked out.
- There is also the typical Japanese reference in the world of DND. In this case, Samurais, Geishas, and Sohei fighters all used the Naginata. It was also known that hobgoblins and ogre magicians used glaives and naginatas.
What is a Halberd in D&D 5e?
In D&D 5e, a Halberd is a versatile melee weapon with a long handle and a blade mounted at the end. It combines elements of a spear and an axe, allowing for both piercing and slashing attacks.
What are the damage and properties of a Halberd?
A Halberd deals 1d10 slashing damage when wielded in two hands or 1d8 slashing damage when wielded in one hand. It has the Heavy and Reach properties, meaning it requires two hands to use effectively and can attack enemies from 10 feet away.
Can my character use a Halberd proficiently?
Proficiency with the Halberd depends on your character’s class and chosen weapons. Some classes, such as the Fighter or Paladin, have proficiency with martial weapons like the Halberd. However, it’s always a good idea to consult your DM or refer to your character’s class features to determine your proficiency with the Halberd.
Are there any special features or abilities associated with using a Halberd?
The Halberd itself doesn’t have any inherent special features or abilities beyond its damage type and properties. However, certain class features, feats, or magical enhancements can modify its effectiveness or grant additional benefits when wielding a Halberd. These can include increased damage, expanded reach, or improved critical hit chances.
Can a Halberd be used for both melee and ranged attacks?
No, the Halberd is primarily a melee weapon designed for close-quarters combat. It doesn’t have any properties or abilities that allow for ranged attacks. However, you can still throw a Halberd in combat as an improvised ranged weapon if needed, though this would typically be less effective than using it for melee combat.
Remember, specific rules and details regarding weapons like the Halberd may vary depending on the DM’s rulings, character class, feats, or any additional sourcebooks used in your D&D campaign.
Always consult your DM and refer to the official D&D rulebooks for the most accurate and up-to-date information.