Welcome back to another edition of War Talk. Today’s topic of conversation is a wonderful tool from the Medieval period called the halberd. Often equated to a medieval can opener, the halberd was a fearsome combination of spear and axe. Most halberds feature a single axe head on the weapon, with a point or spear tip on the same side. This configuration allows for greater flexibility for the wielder, as they can thrust, slash, or hack with the same weapon!
Due to the its flexibility, the halberd was highly effective at dismounting and dealing with heavily armored cavalry. Variations on the halberd, such as the weapon favored by the Dutch during their wars for independence against Spain, were signs of the decline of the mounted knight in medieval warfare. The weapon is also a badge of station of the Papal, or Swiss Guard, the military contingent charged with protecting the Pope. It is both fancy and intimidating, so the weapon is typically given to guards to reflect their elevated purpose and status.
In Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons, the halberd is great for any two handed martial character. The weapon features the reach property, which lets your character engage targets in melee combat at an additional 5 feet of distance. It is also two handed, and deals 1d10 slashing damage. One of the ways I like to differentiate this weapon from others similar to it like the Glaive or Great Axe is by giving the user advantage on damage rolls against heavily armored opponents. It’s a decent boon and gives characters a reason to use the weapon in a historically accurate way!
Do you have a tactic or weapon you’d like to see featured on this blog? Let me know in the comments below!