Stop! Hammer time.
Seriously, it’s hammer time. It’s time to talk about hammers. Specifically, big ones: Mauls!
Have you ever used a warhammer and thought, “If only this were a little more weighty”? Have you ever used a club and thought, “If only this were designed a little better”? Have you ever used a net and thought, “Gee whiz, this is terrible! Maybe I should use a real weapon; for some reason, I like the idea of a gigantic reinforced sledgehammer”?
If the answer to any of those (admittedly quite specific) questions is “yes”, you might have found your weapon of choice, and what a smashing weapon it is!
Welcome to a Maul 5e guide!
Bottom Line, Up Front
A Maul is a sizeable martial weapon that requires both hands to use, inflicts 2d6 bludgeoning damage, and resembles a sledgehammer. It is heavy at 10lb and good value for money at 10gp. On and off the battlefield, mauls are made for mashing and designed to destroy.
A maul is a gigantic, double-handed hammer. Typically, Mauls are flat on one side of the hammer, with the other side tapered to a point resembling an axe or pick, albeit thicker and blunter. They were initially designed to split wood.
Thanks to their weight and width, they are well suited for this task. Not all mauls are built this way: some are designed with a much simpler sledgehammer-like design, flat on both sides.
By strengthening the handle, they serve as threatening weapons often favored by those that would hunt quarry vulnerable to bludgeoning damage, such as the undead.
For the sake of easy reference, here are the typical statistics for a maul:
- Category: Weapon
- Weapon Type: Melee, Martial
- Rarity: Standard
- Damage: 2d6
- Damage Type: Bludgeoning
- Properties: Heavy, Two-Handed
- Weight: 10lb
- Cost: 10gp
The maul possesses two unique properties that should be taken into account when choosing to wield this weapon:
This property reflects the effort required to lift a weapon with such impressive weight and size. As a result, small creatures can’t wield it without suffering disadvantage on their attack rolls. It’s worth keeping in mind that this isn’t something that can be overcome by compensating with an excessive strength stat.
Even a halfling with a strength stat of 20 will suffer this penalty, as the weapon is simply too large and cumbersome in their hands.
So is this property just a nerf that gatekeeps small creatures from accessing certain weapons? Not entirely. It also allows the Great Weapon Master feat to shine, giving a bonus option for heavy weapons (more on later).
A weapon with this property can only be wielded with two hands. This means that you can’t dual-wield it or use it at the same time as a shield.
It also makes spellcasting difficult, as one hand is usually required to be free for somatic and material components. This may seem harsh but is balanced by the extra force and damage you can inflict with such a large weapon.
Classes that Can Use Mauls
Some D&D classes know how to use weapons better than others. However, it’s worth remembering that this isn’t the only way a character can gain weapon knowledge.
For instance, all classes can take the Weapon Master feat, which allows them to gain proficiency in four weapons of their choosing. With that in mind, here is a list of classes that can use mauls as part of their innate proficiencies:
Barbarians aren’t one for using shields very often, choosing instead to reduce incoming damage with the power of being incredibly angry. This makes them well suited to two-handed weapons. Whilst most barbarians are looking for a greataxe or greatsword to live out those Conan fantasies, a maul is significantly cheaper and easier to find.
If you’re struggling for gold, picking up a maul isn’t a lousy standby and might be worth keeping so you can switch out damage types between slashing and bludgeoning.
Fighters are more likely than barbarians to value shields over large weapons, but there are still quite a few builds that could utilize the maul regardless. A barbarian/fighter multiclass is often seen with such weapons and can dish out a ludicrous amount of damage on the frontlines.
Rangers value movement and speed. Dexterity is often their most important stat. Generally, they want their weapons to reflect this and stick to a bow or dual-wielding finesse weapons. This makes a maul an odd choice but can still be used effectively by a strength-based ranger, making for a somewhat unique build.
Crushing skulls with righteous zealotry hits a little harder with a huge hammer. Like the fighter, paladins may want to use a shield, but in the cases that they don’t, a maul is an excellent choice. Undead, often a scourge paladins are tasked to eliminate, are commonly vulnerable to bludgeoning damage.
Cleric (War/Tempest/Twilight Domain)
Clerics don’t usually get access to martial weapons, which limits their weapon choices a bit. If you choose the War, Tempest or Twilight domain, martial weapons get added to your proficiencies.
In this case, consider picking up the maul. Like paladins, clerics are often tasked with undead extermination, and a maul will prove itself an invaluable tool for smashing skeletons to smithereens.
There are a few feats that work very well with mauls. Here are a few of them:
Part of the appeal of swinging around a giant hammer is bullying your opponents with sheer impact force. With that in mind, this feat delivers, allowing you to push your targets 5ft. in any direction after you hit them with bludgeoning damage.
It also makes your critical hits even more debilitating, causing all subsequent attacks on that creature to be made with advantage until the start of your next turn.
It also comes with an attribute point to put into either strength or constitution, which is a welcome bonus.
Fighting Initiate (Great Weapon Fighting)
Fighting Initiate is an excellent feat for a whole host of weapons simply because of how many options are available from it. In this case, I highly recommend Great Weapon Fighting, which allows you to roll again whenever you get a 1 or 2 on a damage die.
The weapon must have the two-handed or versatile properties for this feat to work, which makes the Maul ideal. What’s more, the Maul rolls two dice for its damage making rolls of 1 and 2 quite frequent, giving this feat even more utility.
Very similar to Great Weapon Fighting, this feat allows you, once per turn, to reroll a melee weapon’s damage die and use either total. It is a bit lackluster on its own but paired with other reroll feats, it can allow for some consistently high damage output.
Great Weapon Master
As mentioned before, this feat makes a weapon with the heavy property significantly better by giving you the option of taking a -5 penalty to the attack roll in exchange for +10 to the damage roll. This is excellent against particular creatures, such as the Nightwalker, with vast amounts of hit points but low AC.
This feat also helps with your action economy, allowing you to take another attack as a bonus action every time you land a critical hit or reduce a creature to 0 hit points.
Creatures that Use Mauls
Of course, player characters aren’t the only ones that can use mauls. You can encounter many creatures along your adventures that might also take a shine to the sledgehammer. Here are a few examples of them:
A relative of the troll, the moss lurker is found in forests and caves. They are covered in moss (hence the name) and smell of damp fungus. They either wear simple garments of leather and wool or nothing at all, often covering themselves in mud and grass to blend in with their surroundings.
As far as weapons are concerned, they enjoy using rocks as projectiles and traps. When they can’t, they use large weapons, such as the maul.
Quite possibly the most intimidating race of giants, these 26 ft. tall behemoths are more than capable of wielding the largest of weapons. Their affinity for weather-based spellcasting means they can stay out of melee combat if they want to, but when met in the fray, their use of two-handed weapons can rend even the strongest foes.
Most storm giants prefer to wield the greatsword, but a select few elect to choose alternative weapons, such as the greataxe and, of course, the maul.
The dao are genies from the Elemental Plane of Earth, though they are often seen on the Material Plane mining for gems. Though humanoid, they lack legs, hovering around on dust clouds. They also have rock-hardened skin and can burrow through stone with ease.
Whilst possessive of magical abilities, they prefer melee combat, in which they employ massive mauls that can knock an opponent prone if they fail a DC 18 strength check.
Maul of the Titans
An 8 ft. long mallet. Though it resembles a maul (and even has the word “maul” in its name), it uses the stat block of a +3 greatclub. It deals triple damage against inanimate objects, which makes it excellent for smashing through barricades and knocking down bridges.
However, it’s a difficult weapon for most characters to utilise due to its steep strength requirement. Anyone with a strength score below 18 will suffer -4 to all their attack rolls with it.
Also known as Frost Father or The Maul of Brutal Endings, this cold iron maul belongs to the demon lord Kostchtchie. The Prince of Wrath uses this black hammer to inflict brutal amounts of cold damage to his opponents whilst granting himself complete cold immunity.
This maul is the immolating weapon of Grand Legate Phaestor, the fire giant ruler of Vulkanon. Forged from deep red iron and infused with a magical fire opal, this hammer burns with everlasting flame.
It is unique in that it has three separate states: Dormant, Awakened and Exalted. As it progresses through these states, it grows in power, eventually gaining the ability to reduce whatever it hits to ash.
The Magmahammer of Dumathoin
It would only make sense that one of the most potent mauls to exist would be found in the hands of the dwarven god of mining. As the name suggests, it’s a hammer made of magma. As a result, it inflicts fire damage in place of bludgeoning damage.
The Great Mallet of Silvanus
Silvanus, the god of nature, is often worshipped by loggers. Despite this, the Oak Father favours a maul to an axe. His +5 maul allows him to make extra attacks after reducing a creature to 0 hitpoints.
The greatsword is essentially the same as the maul, but with slashing damage instead of bludgeoning. It’s also five times more expensive at 50gp and slightly lighter at 6lb. Other than that, it’s the same weapon with the same properties.
A greatclub is a simple variant of the Maul, which means you don’t need proficiency with martial weapons to wield it. It does slightly less damage, at 1d8 bludgeoning, but doesn’t have the heavy property and, as such, can be used by small creatures without issues.
The quarterstaff is arguably just a better greatclub. When wielded in one hand, it does 1d6 bludgeoning damage. However, thanks to its versatile property, wielding it in both hands raises its damage, matching the greatclub with 1d8 bludgeoning.
It’s a simple weapon and doesn’t have the heavy property, just like the greatclub, but doesn’t have the two-handed property, so can be used alongside a shield. Honestly, there’s no reason to use a greatclub if you can get your hands on a quarterstaff instead; it’s superior in every way.
The warhammer is, like the maul, a martial weapon. It has the versatile property, coming in with 1d8 bludgeoning damage, switching to 1d10 when used with both hands.
It doesn’t have the heavy or two-handed properties and still comes with decent damage, so if you’re looking for a version of the maul you can use with a shield, this might be the best option.
Interesting read: Comprehensive Guide to D&D Weapons.
Question: What is a Maul?
Answer: It’s a big hammer. Imagine a sledgehammer, but a bit beefier so you can use it in combat. That’s essentially it.
Question: Is the Maul Good or Bad?
Answer: Whilst far from the best weapon in the game, I would say that it’s remarkably underrated. It’s cheap, doesn’t comparable damage to a greatsword, and deals a damage type that can exploit many a creature’s weaknesses.
It also boasts a good amount of utility outside of combat, allowing you a way to break down weak walls, doors and floors. It’s not a subtle weapon and takes up a lot of space, but in the right hands, you’ll be surprised how useful it is.
Question: What is the Price of a Maul?
Answer: It’s 10gp. This makes it exceptionally cheap for a weapon of its size.
Question: What is the Weight of a Maul?
Answer: It’s 10lb. This makes it exceptionally heavy, even for a weapon of its size.
Question: Can a Dwarf Use a Maul?
Answer: Yes. A dwarf is classed as a medium creature, so the heavy property won’t adversely affect them. That said, they will still have to pick a class, or take a feat that gives them proficiency with mauls, as the racial feat Dwarven Combat Training only gives them proficiencies with battleaxes, handaxes, light hammers, and warhammers.
Question: Is 2d6 Better than 1d12?
Answer: This depends on how much of a gambler you are. If you’re interested in consistent average damage, you’re better off with 2d6. If you’re looking to roll a 12, you’re better off with 1d12.
You can’t roll a 1 with 2d6, but you’re also less likely to roll a 2 with 2d6 than a 1 with 1d12. In short, 2d6 will give you consistent middle numbers, while 1d12 is a bit more wildcard.
Maul 5e Guide: Final Thoughts
The maul is excellent at what it does: being a blunt battering ram. If that sounds like your style of fighting, you’re in luck. Sure, it’s rarely the weapon of a lithe elf or a spellcasting intellectual, but I’d like to see your average ranger get through a reinforced gate with their toothpick of a sword!
Whether you’re against a hoard of monsters or need to do some fast renovation work, the maul is a decent problem solver. You’ll just have to look past the fact that it only has one solution: “hit it really hard!”