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Weapon Groups

The Unearthed Arcana defines a new list of feats called Weapon Group proficiency feats. Rather than having all weapons split into three categories: Simple, Martial, and Exotic, weapons belong to one or more smaller groups, and characters gain proficiency in smaller groups of similar weapons.

Using this variant rule, any of the weapon-specific feats (Improved Critical, Weapon Focus, and Weapon Specialization) apply instead to a weapon group. The normal prerequisites for such feats still apply.

Weapon Groups
Type Normal Weapons Exotic Weapons Exotic Double Weapons
Axes handaxe, battleaxe, greataxe, dwarven waraxe dwarven waraxe (one-handed use) orc double axe, dwarven urgrosh¹
Basic Weapons club, dagger, quarterstaff    
Bows shortbow, longbow, composite shortbow, composite longbow elven double bowA, greatbowW, composite greatbowW  
Claw Weapons punching dagger, spiked gauntlet bladed gauntletA, claw bracerA, panther clawA, stump knifeA, tiger clawsA, ward cestusA  
Crossbows heavy crossbow, light crossbow, repeating heavy crossbow, repeating light crossbow great crossbowA, hand crossbow  
Druid Weapons club, dart, quarterstaff, scimitar, sickle, shortspear, sling, spear greatspear  
Flails and Chains light flail, heavy flail chain-and-daggerA, scourge, spiked chain, three-section staffA, whip, whip-daggerA dire flail, gyrespikeA2
Heavy Blades longsword, greatsword, falchion, scimitar, bastard sword (two-handed use) bastard sword (one-handed use), mercurial longswordA, mercurial greatswordA double scimitarA, gyrespikeA3, two-bladed sword
Light Blades dagger, punching dagger, rapier, short sword kukri, saparaA, triple daggerA, war fanA  
Maces and Clubs club, light mace, heavy mace, greatclub, morningstar, quarterstaff, sap, warmaceW (two-handed use) warmaceW (one-handed use), tonfaA double maceA
Monk WeaponsI kama, nunchaku, quarterstaff, sai, shuriken, siangham butterfly swordA, tonfaA  
Picks and Hammers light pick, heavy pick, light hammer, warhammer, scythe, maul (two-handed use), lucerne hammerA dire pickW, gnome battlepickA, maulA (one-handed use) double hammerW, gnome hooked hammer
Polearms glaive, guisarme, halberd, ranseur heavy poleaxeW  
Slings and Thrown Weapons dart, sling bolas, chakramA, gnome calculusA, halfling skiprockA, net, orc shotputA, shuriken, throwing ironA  
Spears and Lances javelin, lance, longspear, shortspear, trident duomA, greatspearW, harpoonA, mantiA, spinning javelinA dwarven urgrosh4
IMust also have the Improved Unarmed Strike feat.
1Must also have proficiency in Weapon Group [spears and lances]
2Must also have proficiency in Weapon Group [heavy blades]
3Must also have proficiency in Weapon Group [flails and chains]
4Must also have proficiency in Weapon Group [axes]
AWeapon from Arms and Equipment
WWeapon from The Complete Warrior

By taking a Weapon Group feat, a character may use any of the Normal weapons listed in that group without penalty. A character using a weapon from a Weapon Group in which he has no proficiency takes a -4 penalty on attack rules.

In order to use the Exotic or Exotic Double weapons without a -4 penalty on attack rolls, additional feats are required.

Special Weapon Group Feats
Feat Prerequisites Benefit
Weapon Group (Exotic Double Weapons) Base attack bonus +1 You may use the exotic double weapons from any Weapon Groups you have mastered
Weapon Group (Exotic Weapons) Base attack bonus +1 You may use the exotic weapons from any Weapon Groups you have mastered

Taking one of these feats allows a character to use the whole list of Exotic or Exotic Double weapons from all of the weapon groups she has mastered.

Characters gain weapon group proficiencies whenever they take the first level in a new class. This applies even if the class is not the first class a character has taken: just as a rogue character taking a level of Fighter learns to use heavier armor and shields, and gains feats to account for it, a character training in a different class can be expected to learn to use additional weapon groups.

Class Weapon Group Proficiencies at 1st level
Barbarian Basic weapons, plus any other three
Bard Basic weapons, plus any other two
Cleric Basic weapons, plus any other two
Druid Basic weapons, plus either druid weapons or spears
Fighter Basic weapons, plus any other four
Monk Basic weapons, plus any other one
Paladin Basic weapons, plus any other three
Ranger Basic weapons, plus any other three
Rogue Basic weapons, plus any other two
Sorcerer Basic weapons, plus either spears or crossbows
Wizard Basic Weapons or crossbows

Weapon Group (any) is available on the Fighter's list of bonus feats.

Finally, certain races gain some free weapon proficiencies or are naturally familiar with specific exotic weapons.

Race Prerequisite Extra Weapon Group Proficiencies
Drow   Weapon Group(crossbows), Weapon Group(light blades), hand crossbow
Dwarf Weapon Group(axes) dwarven waraxe, dwarven urgrosh
Elf   Weapon Group(bows) and either Weapon Group(heavy blades) or Weapon Group(light blades)
Gnome Weapon Group(picks and hammers) gnome hooked hammer

Final notes:

  1. The Weapon Groups listed in Unearthed Arcana omitted several weapons from the Player's Handbook. I have assigned them above into appropriate groups: Morningstar (Maces and Clubs), Two-bladed sword (Exotic Double Heavy Blades), and Net (Exotic Thrown Weapons).
  2. Drow did not have a distinct list of racial weapons in Unearthed Arcana but the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting said that drow are proficient in short sword or rapier, as well as light and hand crossbow, rather than the usual Elven weapon proficiencies. The list I gave seems compatible with that.

Copyright © 2004 by Brianna Sollandry <brianna at hambo dot com> Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu
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