Polearms in 5e: Halberd vs Glaive vs Spears & More (2023)

Last Updated on January 22, 2023

In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about using Polearms in DnD 5e.

From Halberds to Glaivers, we’ll highlight the differences between these weapons and how to get the most from polearms, both in and out of combat.

Great for combat, and even better for roleplaying, polearms are much more than a “blade on a stick.”

Characters that specialize in these weapons gain additional roleplaying opportunities, as well as access to special feats that extend their abilities in combat.

Table of Contents

What are Polearms?

A polearm is a melee weapon composed of a long shaft and a fighting component, usually a blade or spike. These weapons typically require the use of both hands and extend the character’s reach and fighting power.

There are many polearms to choose from in 5th edition, including spears, halberds, and glaives. Characters using polearms can gain extra benefits by taking the Polearm Master feat.

The Best Polearms in 5e

There are many polearms for adventures to choose from. While most players will be familiar with spears and quarterstaffs, lesser-known weapons such as glaives and halberds are also available.

The best polearm will be the one that works well for your character. A soldier with a haunted past may be inseparable from his spear, never letting it out of sight. Another character’s trusty glaive may be a treasured family heirloom.

Many polearm weapons share similar properties. For example, long spears, glaives, halberds, and pikes all have reach, are heavy, and require two hands to use. Some of these weapons are made for thrusting, while others are good for chopping. This accounts for their varying damage types.

  • Long Spear: 1d10 damage – Heavy – 2 handed – Reach + – Finesse – Piercing Damage
  • Halberd: 1d10 damage – Heavy – 2 handed – Reach + – Slashing Damage
  • Glaive: 1d10 damage – Heavy – 2 handed – Reach + – Slashing Damage
  • Pike: 1d10 damage – Heavy – 2 handed – Reach + – Piercing Damage
  • Lance: 1d12 damage – Heavy – 2 handed – Reach + – Piercing Damage
  • Spear: 1d6 damage – Thrown (range 20/60) – versatile (1d8) – Piercing Damage
  • Quarterstaff: 1d6 Damage – versatile (1d8) – Bludgeoning Damage

Players can find information about polearms and other weapons in the Player’s Handbook (p149).


The spear is a popular polearm for a reason. This versatile weapon can be wielded with two hands or used in combination with a shield. And as a ranged weapon, the spear is deadly up to 60 feet.

On top of being a popular choice for its roleplaying potential, the spear is also quite common. Whether the party is in a town or deep in an underground dungeon, it’s practically guaranteed that one is nearby.


The glaive consists of a single-edged blade mounted on a pole. This weapon is around seven feet long and requires two hands to wield correctly. Glaives are heavy weapons with an extended reach.

They have the potential to deal massive combat damage in the right hands.


Useful against mounted combatants, the halberd consists of an axe blade attached to a wooden or metal shaft. Tipped with a spike, the halberd requires the use of both hands.

Similar to a glaive, this heavy weapon offers an extended reach. And it deals 1d10 slashing damage.


This versatile weapon is an excellent choice for spellcasters and polearm masters alike. Quarterstaffs deal bludgeoning damage and are versatile, meaning they can be used with one or two hands.


Similar to a halberd, the pike resembled a battle axe mounted on a long pole.

The pike is tipped with a longer spike than the halberd, making this weapon excellent for thrusting attacks. Use the Pike to pierce an enemy’s defenses.

Halberd vs Glaive

In DnD, the difference between a halberd and glaive is mostly aesthetic, at least as far as combat is concerned. In the Player’s Handbook, these weapons share identical properties, damage, weight, and cost.

However, DnD isn’t just about combat, and neither are weapons. A player can tie a banner to a glaive and waive it to signal an ally. The hook on the backside of a halberd can be used to hang a lantern or a decapitated head.

Halberd vs Pike

A pike is similar to a halberd. Both consist of an axe blade and a thrusting spike. The difference is that the spike on the halberd is considerably larger than the one on the pike. As a result, the pike deals piercing damage rather than slashing damage.

The pike, however, suffers in that it isn’t included in the list of weapons that benefit from the first property of the Polearm Master feat. For characters looking to take full advantage of the benefits of this feat, the pike is to be avoided.

Glaive vs Spear

While at a distance these two weapons may appear similar, they function very differently in combat. The glaive is much heavier than the spear and has a longer reach.

The spear is more versatile than the glaive, and can be thrown or wielded with one hand.

Quarterstaff vs Trident

The three-pronged trident is a favorite of watery gods and DnD adventurers alike. Unlike quarterstaffs, tridents can be thrown for a ranged attack. The versatile trident can also be used for two-handed fighting.

Quarterstaffs, however, gain benefits from the Polearm Master feat that the trident does not.

How to Play a Polearm Master

Players wielding polearms can take advantage of the properties of these weapons in combat in several ways. Some polearms, such as a glaive or halberd, offer characters an extended reach in combat.

With these weapons, characters add an extra 5 feet to the range of their melee attacks.

Players who want to dedicate their characters to polearm weapons should consider taking the Polearm Master feat. With this feat, characters wielding certain polearms can use a bonus action to deal an extra attack that deals 1d4 damage.

Also, this feat allows characters to take an attack of opportunity when another creature enters their reach.

Best Feats for a Master of Polearms

Characters who take the Polearm Master feat can benefit from additional feats. The Sentinel feat and Great Weapon Master feat are great choices for taking polearm fighting to the next level.

Used in conjunction with Polearm Master, these feats offer additional advantages on the battlefield.


The Sentinel feat is an excellent choice for any melee-focused character, but it’s especially good for those with Polearm Master. When a character with sentinel hits a creature using an attack of opportunity, that creature’s speed is reduced to 0.

The motto of the Sentinel is “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” This wicked combination allows characters to tactically control enemies and protect teammates.

A character with Sentinel, Polearm Master, and the 10-foot reach of a glaive is almost scary.

Great Weapon Master

With the Great Weapon Master feat, a character using a heavy weapon can choose to take a -5 penalty on an attack roll. If the attack lands, the character can add +10 to the attack’s damage.

Characters who find a way to mitigate the penalty will routinely deal massive combat damage.

Can You Dual-Wield Polearms in 5e?

No. Large polearms require two hands to use properly. A glaive, for example, has a heavy steel blade. A character needs to use both hands to swing this weapon. The same is true for a halberd or a pike.

Some polearms are versatile and can be wielded with one hand. For example, quarterstaffs and spears share this property. Characters are free to use a shield in their off-hand when using these weapons.

Two-weapon fighting, however, is normally only possible when characters are using light weapons. Even though quarterstaffs and spears are versatile, they do not count as light weapons.

But by taking the Dual Wielder feat, characters can bypass these limitations. With this feat, players can use two-weapon fighting techniques even if their weapons are light.

Using Polearms Outside of Combat

Weapons aren’t just for combat. This is true for polearms as well. Imaginative players have come up with a variety of ways to use weapons outside of battle.

The best part of a polearm is its length. Use a polearm to reach high places, or to prop open a door. Spot a trap in the ceiling of a tunnel? Use a spear to safely trigger it from a distance.

It’s not uncommon for a soldier to tie a banner or flag to their polearm. This makes an excellent signal. And if a fight is going really bad, waving a white flag is pretty useful.

But it’s as tools of roleplaying that polearms really shine. After all, what’s a Wizard without his trusty quarterstaff, or a town guard without a spear? And where would the Druid be without her gnarled staff?

A character’s weapons can serve as a defining feature. When we think of many heroes and heroines, we often identify them by their weapons of choice. A whip or a shield can be iconic and memorable. The same goes for polearms.

Players will remember when a fighter cuts a ship’s rigging with her glaive, helping the party to escape the bloodthirsty pirates.

And when the group’s Paladin fearlessly charges at a dragon waving his family’s ancestral halberd, you can be sure he’ll leave a lasting impression, even if that’s all that he leaves.

Adventures Await

Polearms have a long history in DnD. Brave Fighters and Paladins have brandished these weapons in the name of honor and glory, but not all have lived to tell of their adventures.

Perhaps your party will be different. Perhaps you’ll play the game well, overcoming the challenges ahead, gripping your trusty halberd in the face of all that’s dark and terrifying.

  • About Author
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Rich Kibble

I played the game a lot as a kid, back in first edition. Over the past few years since 5e was released, I’ve really started getting back into it. Currently, I run a campaign online for some friends and my brothers, and we also play a side-sesh just to mix things up.


Polearms in 5e: Halberd vs Glaive vs Spears & More? ›

Glaives were used earlier than this. Though it gets complicated in that there are late medieval/renaissance weapons that are also called glaives too. In general, halberds were more professional or higher classed weapons; often being finely crafted and decorated.

Is a halberd better than a glaive? ›

Glaives were used earlier than this. Though it gets complicated in that there are late medieval/renaissance weapons that are also called glaives too. In general, halberds were more professional or higher classed weapons; often being finely crafted and decorated.

What is a halberd vs spear vs glaive? ›

A Glaive is a sword that is on a stick and a Halberd is also categorized as a sword but is an ax on a staff. Halberd is also considered a combination of a spear and an ax, although the shaft is slightly longer than of a spear. The reason Halberd is called an ax is that it has an axeblade on one side of its shaft.

What is the best polearm in 5e? ›

What's the best weapon for Polearm Master? Glaives and halberds are the most effective weapons if you want pure damage output as they have a d10 damage dice, are compatible with Great Weapon Master, and have the reach property. The only downside of these is the two-handed property which restricts access to a shield.

Why would anyone use a glaive instead of a halberd or poleaxe? ›

As a short polearm, the glaive makes frequent use of beats against other polearms and is not afraid to use the butt end of the weapon to strike. It can cut more powerfully than a short spear, though not so powerfully as a poleaxe or halberd, but it also retains a spear-like nimbleness when thrusting.

What was the advantage of the halberd? ›

It had the advantage that it could be used in a pinch by a single man, such as when ambushed on a foraging or plundering raid, while a twelve-foot-long pike was of use only by soldiers in massed formation, and for a single man was more of a hindrance.

Why is the halberd best? ›

Their long reach, high damage, and powerful choices for Weapon Skills combine to make them among the best weapons in the game. Elden Ring's batch of Halberds is also an extremely versatile group of weapons, with an option for almost any build.

Which polearm is better? ›

Finally, as one of the best Polearms in Genshin Impact, Engulfing Lightning is placed at the top of the list. Unlike Staff of Homa and Primordial Jade Winged-Spear, Engulfing Lightning is mostly suitable for a support or Sub-DPS.

Is halberd a good polearm? ›

The axe-mounted polearm — the halberd — is preferred by warriors of great strength. It has also come to symbolize the honor and bravery of Millelith officers. Though peace prevails in the Liyue Harbor of today, the sight of brave warriors with halberd in hand is a ubiquitous one on the city streets.

Can a halberd be used as a spear? ›

A halberd was used in battle as a combination of a spear and an axe, merging the benefits of these weapons to create one more powerful than its separate parts. As a spear, it was held out in front of the wielder if his enemy was charging him, so as to allow the attacker to run right into the halberd.

Are polearms better than spears? ›

There is no difference. A spear is a pole arm, but not all pole arms are spears. A pike, a poleaxe, a billhook, a halberd, and a spear are all pole arms. A spear is one type of pole arm.

Which polearm for obedience? ›

Obedience is a Diablo 2 Resurrected runeword created by combining hel + ko + thul + eth + fal into a 5 socket polearm or spear . It requires at least level 41 to equip.

Does a glaive count as a polearm? ›

A glaive (or glave) is a European polearm, consisting of a single-edged blade on the end of a pole. It is similar to the Japanese naginata, the Chinese guandao, the Korean woldo, and the Russian sovnya.

What is the best type of halberd? ›

Golden Halberd: Widely considered to be the best Halberd in the game, the Golden Halberd is reminiscent of Dark Souls' Black Knight Halberd in that it's an early weapon that can take players all the way to the finish line.

Is a spear or halberd better? ›

A halberd gives you more options at the cost of greater weight and more difficulty in handling. When in formation or fighting one on one, your best option with the halberd is using the spike like a somewhat clumsy spear. Only when facing multiple foes do the other options come up.

Were halberds effective against armor? ›

Old testimonies and tests alike tend to prove that the hallberds were indeed potent weapons against armored targets.

When did the halberd stop being used? ›

The halberd was an important weapon in middle Europe from the 14th through the 16th century.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a halberd? ›

The success of the use of a halberd in the hand of a soldier depended on three things: agility, accuracy and strength. One of the key disadvantages of the halberd was the fact that it was a pole arm and was effective only at a certain length.

Why the halberd is the best weapon? ›

It was among the best battlefield weapons until gunpowder use became vogue. And even then it hung on for a good while. Halberds were also inexpensive to produce compared to swords so could outfit armies easily.

Is halberd strength or dexterity? ›

The Halberd scales primarily with Strength and Dexterity and is a good Weapon for a starting melee weapon choice.

What is the difference between a halberd and bardiche? ›

The bardiche differs from the halberd in having neither a hook at the back nor a spear point at the top. The use of bardiches started in early 14th-century Austria. In the 16th century the bardiche became a weapon associated with the Russian streltsy.

Are halberds good against cavalry? ›

Halberdiers need to be massed in order to be effective, but they are cost effective against all cavalry units, even Cataphracts.

Is glaive the best weapon? ›

This weapon has wide-swinging attacks which makes it great for taking on multiple enemies at the same time. The Glaive will deplete enemy health and spirit in large chunks making it one of the best weapons to choose from in the polearm classes.

Why were polearms so effective? ›

Polearms were common weapons on post-classical battlefields of Asia and Europe. Their range and impact force made them effective weapons against armored warriors on horseback, because they could be dismounted and/or penetrate said armor.

Which polearm gives HP? ›

List of Polearms
NameBase ATK (Max)2nd Stat (Max)
Royal Spear44 (565)ATK 6% (27.6%)
Wavebreaker's Fin45 (620)ATK 3% (13.8%)
Black Tassel38 (354)HP 10.2% (46.9%)
Halberd40 (448)ATK 5.1% (23.4%)
22 more rows

Is halberd good or bad? ›

As it turns out, Middle-earth's big bad was hidden in plain sight all along under the identity of Halbrand (Charlie Vickers), the castaway who eventually claimed the role of long-lost king of the Southlands in a seemingly Aragorn-like tale — only, well, he turned out to really be the biggest villain of the story.

Is a halberd versatile? ›

John of Winterthur described it as a new weapon used by the Swiss at the Battle of Morgarten of 1315. The halberd was inexpensive to produce and very versatile in battle.

What class uses a halberd? ›

Ardents, avengers, barbarians, battleminds, fighters, paladins, rangers, wardens, and warlords are proficient with all military melee weapons, including the halberd. Other classes do not have proficiency with the halberd as a class trait, but any character can become proficient by taking a Weapon Proficiency feat.

Can you parry with a halberd? ›

You can parry any r1 on halberds.

What gun is equivalent to a spear? ›

A bayonet (from French baïonnette) is a knife, dagger, sword, or spike-shaped weapon designed to fit on the end of the muzzle of a rifle, musket or similar firearm, allowing it to be used as a spear-like weapon.

What is the difference between a poleaxe and a halberd? ›

The poleaxe was the western European equivalent of the halberd and was similarly designed for hacking and stabbing and for piercing armor plates. However, the heads of halberds were constructed in one intergral piece, but the heads of poleaxes were composed from separate elements, held together by rivets.

What polearms can have 5 sockets? ›

Polearm rune words
  • Crescent Moon (3 sockets)
  • Doom (5 sockets)
  • Eternity (5 sockets)
  • Fury (3 sockets)
  • Hand of Justice (4 sockets)
  • Honor (5 sockets)
  • Passion (4 sockets)
  • Malice (3 sockets)

What type of spear is most effective? ›

The term "spear" may be applied to two separate weapons, the throwing spear and the thrusting spear. Although the origins of the two are interrelated, their histories, development, and characteristics are very different. The bladed thrusting spear is the most effective hand-held, edged weapon of all time.

What is the difference between a polearm and a glaive? ›

Polearms are any staff weapon with a metal weapon on it. Glavies are simply a spear with a large knife rather than a dagger on the end. Glaives are basically spears meant for better cutting and slashing.

Does polearm Master apply to Spears? ›

Your mastery of polearms means that when you wield a spear it has the reach property, and your weapon damage die increases from a d6 to a d8 (and from a d8 to a d10, when used two-handed).

What are the best Insight polearms? ›

Best Socketed Base Items for Insight

The fastest Polearms are the various Scythes: Scythe and War Scythe (Normal), Battle Scythe and Grim Scythe (Exceptional), and Thresher and Giant Thresher (Elite).

Which 4 star polearm is best? ›

1) Deathmatch

Travelers can only get this 4-star weapon by buying the Gnostic Hymn for the Battle Pass. Thus, it can never be obtained by true F2P players. Nonetheless, its stats and passive are good for gamers seeking reliable damage. This Polearm is a terrific option for Genshin Impact players who need CRIT Rate.

What weapon is similar to glaive? ›

synonyms for glaive
  • blade.
  • dagger.
  • saber.
  • backsword.
  • brand.
  • broadsword.
  • claymore.
  • creese.

Would a Scythe be a polearm? ›

A war scythe or military scythe is a form of pole weapon with a curving single-edged blade with the cutting edge on the concave side of the blade.

Is a halberd a glaive? ›

Both the Halberd and the Glaive are identical in the PHB (p. 149): Melee Martial Weapon, 20 gp, 1d10 Slashing, 6 lb., Heavy, Reach, Two-Handed. Traditionally, both pole arms are meant to be wielded with two hands and to provide reach.

What replaced the halberd? ›

Since halberds and other large weapons were primarily designed for attacking an armoured horseman, they rapidly became redundant. Under the 'New Discipline' that developed in European warfare during the 16th, infantry regiments gradually replaced their bows and halberds with muskets and pikes.

Why the spear is the best? ›

It can sneak around shields and makes it easy to hit the head, torso, or lower leg with equal ease, again at the range. A spear can cut, slice, and thrust with extreme effectiveness. It can be used to beat swords and soldiers to the ground. It can even be thrown with deadly efficiency when balanced in the right hands.

Why did sergeants carry halberds? ›

The halberd was a versatile pole arm developed as an infantry weapon in the 13th century. It has an ax-like blade and a steel spike mounted on the end of a long shaft. By the time of the Seven Years War it was carried by sergeants as a symbol of rank and authority.

Can you dual wield halberds? ›

I think that utilising a small shield and learning to parry may be the best way of learning Elden Ring's combat mechanics, but dual wielding halberds is certainly better than hiding behind a shield that's nearly as big as my character.

Are halberds better than pikes? ›

Pikes on defense against infantry are usually pretty good as well but the lack of armor means archers cut through them while the slow movement and dense ranks make them perfect targets for artillery. Halberds are better all around units but Pikes are very useful for some situations.

Is a halberd the best weapon? ›

It was among the best battlefield weapons until gunpowder use became vogue. And even then it hung on for a good while. Halberds were also inexpensive to produce compared to swords so could outfit armies easily. What is a halberd?

Is a halberd an effective weapon? ›

The halberd was an important weapon in middle Europe from the 14th through the 16th century. It enabled a foot soldier to contend with an armoured man on horseback; the pike head was used to keep the horseman at a distance, and the ax blade could strike a heavy cleaving blow to finish the opponent.

Who should use halberd? ›

The axe-mounted polearm — the halberd — is preferred by warriors of great strength. It has also come to symbolize the honor and bravery of Millelith officers. Though peace prevails in the Liyue Harbor of today, the sight of brave warriors with halberd in hand is a ubiquitous one on the city streets.

Why use a glaive 5e? ›

In conclusion, the glaive is an excellent weapon choice for heavy martial characters due to its long reach and versatility in combat situations. It's ideal for characters want to control the battlefield.

Were halberds used in combat? ›

The halberd is first mentioned (as hallenbarte) in a work by 13th-century German poet Konrad von Würzburg. John of Winterthur described it as a new weapon used by the Swiss at the Battle of Morgarten of 1315. The halberd was inexpensive to produce and very versatile in battle.

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