I introduced a simple rule in my D&D5 campaign about switching weapons but first I’m going to explain how all of this is supposed to work RAW (rules as written).

How it works RAW

  • Dropping something you are holding is a free action
  • You have one interaction per turn such as drawing a weapon

Which means that if you’re holding nothing in your hand you can use your interact action to draw a weapon. If you need to draw an other weapon in your other hand (or interact with an other object) you need to use you action to do so, that’s one of the perks of the Dual Wielder feat.

What about switching weapons (meaning that you are already holding one)? Let’s say you are using a short sword and that you want to draw your bow. You may do it one of two ways:

  1. Sheathe your shortsword weapon with your “interaction”
  2. Draw your bow with your action, you have to use your action because you already used your one interaction Or:
  3. Drop your sword of the ground (free action)
  4. Draw your bow with your one interaction
  5. Fire!

An interaction is defined at the page 190 of the PHB:

You can also interact with one object or feature of the environment for free, during either your m ove or your action. For example, you could open a door during your move as you stride toward a foe, or you could draw your weapon as part of the same action you use to attack.

If you really don’t want do drop your weapon the first one is better but it’s infrequent enough so that it doesn’t really matter, so in general the second way is better. But I think it’s stupid so let’s make a rule to make it better!

Change, change change change

What we don’t want:

  • Characters switching weapons between attacks without penalty
  • Characters switching weapons multiple times per turn without penalty

So let’s say:

You can switch weapon whenever you want but the next attack is made with a disadvantage

There is good things about this rule:

  • Character with multiple attacks are less disadvantaged than others wince a lower ratio of their attacks will be made with disadvantaged. Martial character should be better in combat so it doesn’t bother me.

There is a few problems with this rule:

  • It allows a caster to switch weapon and, after that, cast a spell that is not an attack without penalty
  • When you are already at disadvantage switching to your melee weapon is free (when you’re holding a ranged weapon in melee for example).

So let’s change the rule to:

If you would make an attack during your turn without having a disadvantage you can choose to make this attack with a disadvantage and interact with one object or feature of the environment for free as part of this attack.

Next time we’ll talk about how to cast spells while you hand aren’t free, it’s more complicated than one can think…