Greatswords in D&D 5e: A Guide for Warriors

Published on February 19, 2023, Last modified on December 8th, 2023

Greatswords are a popular weapon choice for many martials in D&D 5e. These massive blades can deal incredible damage to foes, but they require a lot of strength to wield effectively.

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What is a Greatsword in D&D 5e?

In D&D 5e, a greatsword is a two-handed melee weapon that deals 2d6 slashing damage on a hit. It has the “heavy” property and it requires two hands to wield, which means creatures using one of these weapons won’t be able to benefit from a shield.

The greatsword is a classic weapon that has been featured in many different fantasy settings, and it is a favorite of many D&D players for it’s propensity for dealing damage in combat.

Greatsword Property Breakdowns

Name Cost Damage Weight Properties
Greatsword 50 gp 2d6 slashing 6 lbs  Heavy, two-handed

Weapon type: Greatsword are martial weapons, meaning they’re restricted to builds with proficiency in martial weapons.

Damage: Greatsword users are focused on dealing as much damage as possible with each attack. It, along with other two-handed weapons, sacrifices the protection of a shield (+2 AC) for the extra damage. At 2d6, greatswords, along with mauls, are on average the highest damage-dealing weapons in 5e.

Damage type: Damage types aren’t particularly important, but it can determine which of the Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything damage-type feats you can use. Because they deal slashing damage, you’re greatsword build opens up the Slasher feat, which is unfortunately the worst of the damage-type feats.   

Properties: The greatsword has a couple important properties:

  • Heavy: Having the heavy property means you can use the (arguably) best martial feat in the game with greatswords, Great Weapon Master. This allows you to take a -5 penalty to your attack roll to deal 10 extra damage on hit, which is particularly effective at higher levels when your bonus to hit is higher. This also allows you to take an extra attack as a bonus action when you crit or down a creature. But, this ability doesn’t require the use of a heavy weapon. The heavy property of the greatsword also means that Small creatures have disadvantage on attack rolls with it. So, if you’re choosing to build a goblin, kobold, halfling or other Small race, you’ll want to use a different weapon.
  • Two-handed: This means you’ll need both hands to attack with this weapon. No shields or two-weapon fighting. Also, if you’re a spellcaster, you have to be careful of your somatic components. These can be negated by picking up War Caster, if you’re building a martial spellcaster who wields a greatsword.

Greatswords vs Mauls in 5e

The greatsword has the same damage dice and properties as the maul does, but there are a couple differences. First, a greatsword is lighter than a maul (6 lbs compared to 10 lbs) and costs more (50 gp compared to 10 gp). The biggest difference is greatswords do slashing damage while mauls do bludgeoning damage. This can impact the feats your character can take, as Slasher applies only to slashing and Crusher only applies to bludgeoning damage.

In my opinion, the Crusher feat is far superior to the Slasher feat, which means I tend to choose mauls over greatswords for most of my character builds.

Best Uses for Greatswords in 5e

Greatsword builds are all about outputting damage. Here are some builds that particularly like this playstyle, as well as some ways to enhance your damage:


Marital classes that focus in strength are the best option for greatswords in 5e:

  • The fighter class an obvious choice for using a greatsword. Fighters are proficient in all martial weapons, and they eventually get access to more attacks in a weapon round than any other class, which means they can output some heavy damage with greatswords.
  • Paladins are another great choice for using a greatsword. They have access to smites, which can add extra damage to their attacks, and they usually stack into Strength.
  • Barbarians are known for their brute strength, and can use a greatsword to devastating effect. They can also Rage, which gives them extra damage and resistance to certain types of damage, making them even more formidable in combat.

Fighting Styles

It might occur to you to take the Great Weapon Fighting Fighting Style when creating a greatsword build. Unfortunately, this option only results in an average of 1.33 extra damage per turn. The Defense Fighting Style is much more effective by giving you a flat +1 AC bonus that helps offset your lack of a shield.


Obviously the best feat to take with a greatsword build is Great Weapon Master. But there are some other (admittedly, less optimal) options if you’re looking for a change:

  • Slasher: Not only do you get a +1 STR or CON boost, but the additional ability reduces your enemy’s speed and attack rolls.
  • Martial Adept: Picking up some good Battle Master maneuvers, like Ripose or Trip Attack can net you more attacks or attacks with advantage, to help offset Great Weapon Master.
  • Orcish Fury: Bonus to STR or CON, damage bursts, and reaction attacks all make this appealing for greatsword users.
  • Sentinel: More attacks equals more damage.
  • Savage Attacker: This can help net some extra damage, but is usually better reserved for a greataxe’s d12.

Mike Bernier

Mike Bernier is the lead content writer and founder of Arcane Eye. He is a Adamantine best-selling author of Strixhaven: A Syllabus of Sorcery on DMs Guild and is a contributing author at D&D Beyond. Follow Mike on Twitter.

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