I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man's. I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.

- William Blake

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Trip (D&D 5e melee weapons)

As you know, I have many issues with D&D 5e and how it treats melee weapons; I've discussed this many times in my blog, and I finally compiled a small document to put in DTRPG.

You can find my Manual of Arms here; if you like my posts about weapons, you'll certainly like this book.

Anyways, one thing I found is that by adding the trip propriety to the list, I can fix most of the issues I have with martial melee weapons:

Trip: This weapon can be used to trip a creature, knocking it prone. It uses the same rules as Shoving a Creature. However, you cannot use this weapon to push a creature away.

Add this to the flail, warpick and trident to make these weapons more useful; you can also add this to the whip and halberd to add flavor (you need to add something else to the glaive). 


There is an entire book to be written about grappling with weapons, of course. But this single propriety is small enough to fit in the existing rules (disarming, for example, is an optional rule, while "Shoving a Creature" is not) and to add some extra nuance, detail and balance to the current weapon list.

By the way, if you WANT to read a whole book on grappling, I'd recommend Dungeon Grappling* by Douglas Cole. There is a review here; might be worth mentioning that I wrote a page in one of Douglas' books (Dragon Heresy) but that was a while after I had posted the review. [Affiliate link - by using this, you're helping to support this blog!]


  1. Would it work to give any two handed shafted weapons (polearms, spears, Great Axe and Great Maul) essentialy Polearm master? I am thinking 1d4+Str along with a suitable effect (Disarm, Shove, Trip) to represent using the stave of the weapon for better leverage (heh) in combat. Or make a choice between a bit of damage or a skill contest, with a failure on the attacker's side having concequences. (Beat opponent by 10, disarm them or send weapon flying double distance if already disarming. Lose by 10, they do the same to you.)

    If you want absurdity, beat skill check by 20, and make an improvised attack roll vs a creature within range of flying weapon at disadvantage.

    At the end of the day, I would probably settle for any weapon that would be a "main hand" weapon to have a skill contest ability attached to it, with off hand weapons (most Light weapons) having a benefit such as extra attack on a critical hit.

    1. Yes, it would be good to have a more extensive model for skill contests in general... I am looking into this.
      Giving an extra attack OR contest (but not both) when you crit is a great idea.

  2. It's not a bad idea, but how does it add something new? There is currently nothing stopping a person with a hand free shoving a foe, and thus knocking them prone.

    1. Well, the whip and halberd have reach. For the flail, warpick and trident, the main advantage would be using a shield (i.e., needing no free hand).
      Still, it might be too little (well, usually there is NO reason to get a flail, warpick and trident IIRC)...
      Maybe a small bonus to tripping (+2) would be better, but it breaks the whole bounded accuracy idea...
      Making a trip bonus action when you hit an enemy might be interesting too.