would a war axe actually be an effective weapon at all, or has it just been made flashy for appeal? how strong would you need to be to be able to use one if so?
certain which axe you’re thinking of, but axes have been used
extensively in warfare, including specialized designs intended specifically for
combat. These range from simple hatchets that function in roughly the same
capacity as a dagger up through the Danish axe. It’s also worth remembering
there are entire families of polearms that are, basically, very long axes.
mentioned axes a couple times when discussing historical sidearms. They were,
frequently, used as backup weapons in medieval infantry. In part, because battleaxes
were, generally, cheaper to produce than swords, and (in theory) easier to
train on, so it was easier to arm infantry with battleaxes than swords.
combat tactics with the axe involve generating inertia, and then once the
weapon is up to speed you connect. The examples I’ve seen were figure eight
patterns, though I assume there are others.
cultures also developed axe variants for use as thrown weapons. We’re usually
pretty critical of throwing knives as a combat skill, but historically, some warriors
did carry extra axes to throw at foes.
As for strength,
the axe is like nearly every other melee weapon. It’s useful, but anyone of
roughly average strength should be able to use these things. Historical
battleaxes weighed somewhere between one to six pounds, so we’re not talking
about some massive Berserk style
chunk of steel. And, yes, this includes two handed designs. Compared to swords,
axes were lighter, (probably because there was less metal involved.) As with
any weapon, training and experience is far more important than strength. Put
another way, a battleaxe weighs less than your average housecat. Remember, axes
were light enough to bring extras for sharing with the crowd.
harp on this a bit for a second, but it is
worth remembering that most weapons are pretty light. There are outliers, but
if you’re bringing a weapon to a battle, then you can expect to be swinging it
all day. A heavy weapon would wear you out, and leave you vulnerable.
weight is important for an axe, but the
distribution is what matters. The weight behind the blade will do the work for
you, when striking, you just need to get that weight moving, and then direct it
into the target. To make this work, you don’t need a lot of weight, and the
more you add, the harder it becomes to get the weapon moving and control it, so
you’re looking for a sweet spot of mass and control. Historically that appears
to have been somewhere around two or three pounds.
if you’re looking for a weapon that actually
required a lot of strength to use, that’s the longbow. Drawing one could
require the archer to pull anywhere from forty to sixty pounds, (or more in
some rare cases.) Or, in other words, your mental image of how medieval
combatants looked is on its head, the front line infantry were (in some cases)
scrawny little guys, and the archers were stacked.
A list of magic weapons and items specially designed with fighters in mind.
Beacon of Heroism
Wondrous Item (neck), Rare, requires attunement by a fighter
A gold amulet with an amber gem clasped by a dragon claw. When you use your Action Surge, all enemies in a 40 ft. radius that can see you must make a CON saving throw with a DC of 15 or become blinded for 1d4 rounds.
A belt of deflection comes in three different materials, each with a slightly different property.
Snakeskin: The wearer has resistance to piercing damage.
Tiger Fur: The wearer has resistance to slashing damage.
Rhino Leather: The wearer has resistance to bludgeoning damage.
Cape of the Oracle
Wondrous Item (back), Rare, requires attunement
A knee-length, rectangular purple cape with intricate swirling patterns converging on a large central eye motif. The cape alerts the wearer’s intuition whenever an attack comes from their rear. Flanking attackers do not gain advantage on attack rolls against the wearer, and simply being behind the wearer does not grant advantage as if the attacker was unseen.
Magic Weapon (warhammer or maul), Very Rare, requires attunement
A heavy hammer with a head that looks like a giant ram’s horn, with the cross-section of the base forming the front face of the hammer. The weapon is treated as a +1 magic weapon. Whenever the attuned creature hits an enemy with the hammer, the creature must make a STR saving throw with a DC of 16 or be knocked backward 5 ft. On a critical hit, the creature is automatically knocked back 15 ft. and falls prone.
A pair of supernaturally heavy gloves that look and feel like lead, yet are malleable as leather. While wearing the gloves, the attuned creature deals 1d6 base damage when making unarmed attacks with their fists. Also while wearing the gloves, spellcasters have a 25% chance that any spell that they cast fails. This damage does not stack with other bonuses to unarmed damage such as from a monk’s Martial Arts feature or the Tavern Brawler feat.
Magic Weapon (any), Rare
This weapon is wreathed in a set energy type chosen when the item was created. Variations include fire, cold, lightning, thunder, acid, poison, necrotic, and radiant. The energy is visible but can be dismissed as a free action. When the weapon’s wielder hits with an attack, the weapon deals a bonus 1d4 damage of the energy type.
Energy Burst Weapon
Magic Weapon (any), Very Rare
This weapon acts like an Energy Weapon (see above) but on a critical hit it deals 1d4 energy damage of the same type to all enemies within 5 ft. of the enemy struck.
Energy Blast Weapon
Magic Weapon (any), Very Rare
This weapon acts like an Energy Weapon (see above) except once per short rest, the wielder can speak the command word and use an action to fire a 60 ft. line of energy of the same energy type. Creatures in the area of effect must make a DC 14 DEX saving throw to try and dodge it. Creatures that fail their save take 8d6 energy damage or half that much damage on a successful save.
Magic Weapon (any melee), Uncommon
Once per short rest, this weapon’s range increases by 5 ft. for one round.
Gauntlets of Inevitability
Wondrous Item (hands), Rare, requires attunement
A pair of metal gauntlets studded with tiny claws on the back of the hand. They seem to guide your hands towards those trying to escape you. Creatures taking the disengage action to move outside of your threatened area still provoke an attack of opportunity as if they had not used the disengage action.
This bucket helmet has a single opal in the center of the forehead. The wearer has blindsight but only with a range of 5 ft.
Magic Weapon, Uncommon
This weapon in its basal form is a glob of silvery clay. With a command word, the wielder can cause it to change its shape into any nonmagical weapon that the wielder can imagine. Regular rules for proficiency apply when wielding a weapon. The weapon still counts as magical when taking the form of a nonmagic weapon.
Pauldrons of Wailing
Wondrous Item (shoulders), Rare, requires attunement by a fighter
These shoulder guards are made of iron and depict screaming ghouls with sharp teeth. When the attuned creature uses their Second Wind ability, all creatures in a 10 ft. radius must make a DC 17 WIS saving throw or become frightened for 1 round.
Magic Weapon (any Finesse weapon), Very Rare
This weapon is bright silver and sparkles with veins of blue light. The weapon is treated as a +1 magic weapon and when the wielder lands a critical hit, the hit becomes a regular hit and then the wielder gains another attack immediately afterward against a creature within 5 ft.
Sandals of the Surging Waves
Wondrous Item (feet), Rare, requires attunement by a fighter
This set of calf-height sandals are patterned with undulating strips of tough fish leather lined with satin. When the attuned creature uses their Action Surge, an illusory surge of water follows you in your wake. Until your next turn, your movement does not provoke attacks of opportunity and creatures you pass through must make a DC 15 STR saving throw or be knocked prone.
Wondrous Item (head), Rare, requires attunement by a fighter
A gold crown with a starburst motif at its front depicting rays of light emanating from a rearing lion. When the attuned creature heals themselves with their Second Wind ability, all allies within 20 ft. of the creature heal for an equal number of hit points.
This blade produces two spectral duplicates, one red and one blue, that float a few feet away from each other with a command word. The weapon itself is a +2 weapon. When the attuned creature makes an attack against a creature with the Trifold Blades, they may also choose to let the attack affect a creature to their immediate left and immediate right. The secondary attacks use the same roll as the original attack against the new targets’ AC. The shadowy blades can be withdrawn as a free action.
Wheel of Pain
Magic Weapon, Very Rare, requires attunement
This thin wheel has spikes emerging from its circumference. The wheel can be used as a martial melee weapon with 1d8 slashing base damage. The wheel can also be thrown up to 30 ft. away to deal similar base damage. Once thrown, the wheel spins wildly in place and obeys the attuned creature’s mental commands. The wheel can be moved up to 30 ft. as a bonus action on the attuned creature’s turn, attacking all creatures’ spaces it travels through. The wheel can only move in a straight line in this way. When the wheel attacks a creature in this way, it uses the attuned creature’s proficiency modifier plus their CHA modifier for the attack roll, and the CHA modifier for the damage roll. If not commanded in any way, the wheel spins in place and threatens the space it is in. The wheel will stop moving if the attuned creature wills it to stop, or after 5 rounds.
A handmade custom battleaxe comprised of a baseball bat, circular saw blade and a chainsaw chain. I’m not sure if its a one-off build or if the guy is willing to make more but it is for sale in his Etsy shop. Price is about $281.00. This is making me rethink my own baseball bat build. (GRH)
Dacey Mormont looked up at the sky. “I would sooner have water raining down on me than arrows.”
Catelyn smiled despite herself. “You are braver than I am, I fear. Are all your Bear Island women such warriors?”
“She-bears, aye,” said Lady Maege. “We have needed to be. In olden days the ironmen would come raiding in their longboats, or wildlings from the Frozen Shore. The men would be off fishing, like as not. The wives they left behind had to defend themselves and their children, or else be carried off.”
“There’s a carving on our gate,” said Dacey. “A woman in a bearskin, with a child in one arm suckling at her breast. In the other hand she holds a battleaxe. She’s no proper lady, that one, but I always loved her.” ― Catelyn V, A Storm of Swords.
Visiting another of my favourite planes in search of inspiration, here’s my take on some of Lorwyn and Shadowmoor’s equipment cards as D&D items:
Blight Sickle Weapon (sickle) - Uncommon A character damaged by this weapon reduces their maximum hit points by the amount of damage suffered, until they next take a long rest.
I used lowering the maximum hit points in the same manner as -1/-1 counters lowering a creature’s stats, in that it damages as normal in combat but if they try to heal, their hit points remain reduced.
Cloak and Dagger Weapon (dagger) and Wondrous Item - Uncommon - (Requires Attunement - Does not require attunement for Rogues) This item consists of an enchanted cloak and dagger, which share a combined enchantment and can not be used separately. These items together grant advantage on stealth rolls and attack rolls made against targets that are surprised.
This is the first of the tribal equipment cards I designed as D&D items. These are conveniently class-tribal, so they can be easily aligned with D&D classes. To represent the free-equip ability, I decided that some classes not needing to attune would be the ideal solution. One core part of putting this together was making it clear that the items are essentially “one item in two pieces.” The effect of the item is one that benefits Rogues especially, but functions for other classes, making this work similarly to the card as a Rogue-tribal equipment that can still be used by non-rogue creatures.
Obsidian Battle-Axe Weapon (battleaxe) - Uncommon - (Requires Attunement - Does not require attunement for Barbarians) When moving, you can move up to an additional number of feet equal to half your movement speed towards an enemy of your choice that you can see or hear. You must end this move closer to the enemy than you started.
This item’s movement extension is based on the Aggressive ability. Like the Cloak and Dagger, it grants a general advantage, but is more specifically helpful to Barbarians, as it allows an option for the wielder to get to make sure they can attack a target in their turn, allowing them to prolong their Rage ability.
Runed Stalactite Weapon (club) - Rare (Requires attunement) A character attuned to this item counts as all types of creature (Aberration, Beast, Celestial, Construct, Dragon, Elemental, Fey, Fiend, Giant, all types of Humanoid, Monstrosity, Ooze, Plant, and Undead). A creature that interacts with a character attuned to this item considers them to be a character of the same creature type as them, and is not hostile towards them unless provoked.
For this item’s design, I wanted it to reflect the idea of the changeling, specifically to the effect that it the wielder is never seen as a threat. This reflects the mythology that serves as a basis for this item, that a changeling is uncanny, but not so much so that they would be considered as an alien and threatening creature.
Veteran’s Armaments Weapon (longsword) and Armour (breastplate) - Uncommon (Requires Attunement - Does not require attunement for Fighters) This item consists of an enchanted sword and suit of armour, which share a combined enchantment and can not be used separately. When attacking with this item, you may double your proficiency bonus for attacks made with this weapon if you have an ally within 5 feet and the ally isn’t incapacitated, or if your the creature you are attacking has an ally within 5 feet and the ally isn’t incapacitated.
The bonus this item
grants (or rather these items grant) is one designed again to work especially well for Fighters, but still be an effective boon for other classes. For a character proficient in Martial Melee weapons, this item is certainly useful, but not all characters of other classes will gain this benefit. On the other hand, all fighters will always be proficient with this item. In addition, the ability relying on you or your enemy having an ally serves to mirror the card’s bonus being based on the number of attacking creatures.
Sorry again for a later post than usual, this weekend I’m actually at the convention I mentioned in my previous post! I have found some fantastic vintage sourcebooks which I’ll be using for inspiration in my own designs, including the introductory box for Planescape, and a first edition AD&D Player’s Handbook and Monster Manual! Also, I met one of my followers! Sadly I didn’t catch the fellow’s username, but I’d just like to add to this post a little thank you for the kind words about the blog!
So I entered Riften when the guards suddenly detected a thief. As the Dragonborn, I take it as my divine responsibility to kill the thief but when I got to the marketplace, I realised that I wasn’t the only one wielding an ebony weapon. Edda might be starving but so is her EBONY BATTLEAXE for some blood.