Rapier 5e guide

Rapier 5e Guide: The Only Non-Light & Finesse Martial Melee Weapon

There are many ways to make a dent in your enemies’ HP. However, if you are not a spellcaster, you generally use weapons to hit them. Choosing a weapon is like picking candies from a candy store; there are so many to choose from, yet you cannot have them all. Should you choose the heavy 1d12 slashing damage-dealing greataxe? Or should you choose the light 1d6 piercing damage-dealing shortsword? Read our Rapier 5e Guide to find the answers you were looking for.

When picking a weapon, there are many attributes to consider. Most weapons, in general, use the Strength modifier to add to your attack roll and your damage bonus. This greatly benefits buff character class builds such as barbarians. However, if your character is a rogue who specializes in dexterity than strength, what would you do?

If you: are proficient in martial weapons; specialize in being agile rather than being brawny; prefer to have a weapon on one hand only instead of both, then what you need is the rapier. It is a unique weapon because it is the only weapon available in the Weapons Table that is a martial melee class and only has the finesse property.

Are you considering picking the rapier as your weapon of choice, but unsure if it is worth it? Read more to find out if it is the right weapon for you.

What is a rapier?

Rapier

A rapier is a martial melee weapon that deals 1d8 piercing damage, costs 25 gp, weighs 2 lbs., and has the finesse property. Since it is a martial weapon, you would need to have proficiency in wielding such weapons to use them properly and effectively. If you do not have proficiency with it and you use it to strike down a foe, you cannot add your proficiency bonus to your attack roll.

In appearance, a rapier is a slender, well-balanced sword with a sharp end and two edges. It is primarily a weapon used for thrusting and stabbing people, hence the piercing damage. It is characterized as quick and incisive because of its form. On the other end of the sharp and pointy blade, there is a protective hilt that can protect the hand.

It has only one notable property, which makes it one of the most unique weapons in the Weapons Table: the finesse property.

Finesse

To determine if your attack hits during combat, you roll a d20 versus your opponent’s armor class or AC; this is called the attack roll. You also add in the appropriate ability modifier to the attack roll along with your proficiency bonus if you are proficient with the weapon you are using. If your attack lands, you again add in the said ability modifier.

Usually, the ability modifier used by most weapons is the strength modifier. Note the “most”, because you can add another ability modifier instead of the Strength modifier. This is where finesse comes to play; you add in your dexterity modifier instead. This is especially useful for characters who want to use weapons but have invested in their dexterity score more than their strength score.

Let’s say that your character is a level-one rogue with a rapier. They have a strong modifier of -1 and a dexterity modifier of +2. They try to attack an opponent with a 15 AC using the rapier, and they roll an 11 on their attack roll. Will, it hit? Firstly, rogues are proficient with rapiers, so right off the bat, they add their proficiency bonus of +2 to their attack roll making it 13. Next, the ability modifier.

Again, since rapiers have the finesse property, they can choose the dexterity modifier to add to the attack bonus instead of the Strength modifier. If done, they would get an attack roll of 15 making the attack a success. If the rapier did not have the property, then it would instead result in a 12, since you would need to apply the strength modifier of -1.

Which classes can use a rapier?

Barbarian

Rapiers are martial weapons, so having proficiency with them is not that common for many classes. Of course, anyone can use a rapier, but not everyone is proficient in using it. Not being proficient with a weapon means that you cannot add in your proficiency bonus to your attack rolls. This may not sound much; after all, at level one, you only have a +2. However, this number will go higher the further your level is.

In general, most magic-based classes are not proficient with the weapon. There are only six classes that have the rapier proficiency, namely:

  • Barbarian (as a martial weapon)
  • Bard
  • Fighter (as a martial weapon)
  • Paladin (as a martial weapon)
  • Ranger (as a martial weapon)
  • Rogue

Most of these classes are more into weapon fighting than magic spells, except for the Bard. Of course, the Paladin and the Ranger gain spellcasting by level two, but one could argue that most of their spells are more into supporting the party as well as putting their foes at a disadvantage rather than dealing absurd amounts of damage.

Also, the Rogue and the Fighter have subclasses that can gain spellcasting, mainly being the Arcane Trickster and Eldritch Knight respectively. Then again, that is reached by level three, and at that point characters with these classes would have gone accustomed to fighting using weapons.

Which classes start with a rapier?

All of the classes that are proficient with the rapier except for one can start with the weapon. The only exception is the Ranger class, whose melee weapon choices are either two shortswords, or two simple melee weapons. When picking a starting weapon, classes usually have a choice to choose from. Many of these classes can start with a rapier as a choice for picking the “martial weapon” option.

Below are the five remaining classes that can start with a rapier along with the choices presented to them.

  • Barbarian (a greataxe; or any martial melee weapon)
  • Bard (a rapier; a longsword; or any simple weapon)
  • Fighter (a martial weapon and a shield; or two martial weapons)
  • Paladin (a martial weapon and a shield; or two martial weapons)
  • Rogue (a rapier; or a shortsword)

Are 5e rapiers magical?

5e rapiers magical

Not normally. Rapiers are martial weapons, but they are mundane items within the D&D world. They can be used by the skilled fighters out there, but they come from your everyday blacksmiths. There are, however, a lot of rapiers with magic in them. Here is a list of them along with their rarity and the sources they originate from. Also added to the list is if you need to be attuned with said items.

Note that the “A” column in the table means “needs attunement”. If it is a yes, then the item would need attunement. If no, then otherwise.

Item Name Rarity A. Source
+1 Rapier Uncommon No Dungeon Master’s Guide, page 213
+2 Rapier Rare No Dungeon Master’s Guide, page 213
+3 Rapier Very rare No Dungeon Master’s Guide, page 213
Acheron Blade Rapier Rare Yes Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount, page 265
Corpse Slayer Rapier Rare Yes Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount, page 266
Dancing Rapier Very Rare Yes Dungeon Master’s Guide, page 161
Defender Rapier Legendary Yes Dungeon Master’s Guide, page 164
Dragon Slayer Rapier Rare No Dungeon Master’s Guide, page 166
Drow +1 Rapier Unknown No Monster Manual, page 126
Flame Tongue Rapier Rare Yes Dungeon Master’s Guide, page 170
Frost Brand Rapier Very Rare Yes Dungeon Master’s Guide, page 171
Giant Slayer Rapier Rare No Dungeon Master’s Guide, page 172
Hellfire Rapier Uncommon No Baldur’s Gate: Descent Into Avernus, page 223
Holy Avenger Rapier Legendary Yes Dungeon Master’s Guide, page 174
Luck Blade Rapier Legendary Yes Dungeon Master’s Guide, page 179
Mind Blade Rapier Rare Yes Volo’s Guide to Monsters, page 181
Moon-Touched Rapier Common No Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, page 138
Nine Lives Stealer Rapier Very Rare Yes Volo’s Guide to Monsters, page 183
Rapier Armblade Common Yes Eberron: Rising from the Last War, page 276
Rapier of Certain Death Rare No Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount, page 270
Rapier of Life Stealing Rare Yes Dungeon Master’s Guide, page 206
Rapier of Vengeance Uncommon Yes Dungeon Master’s Guide, page 206
Rapier of Warning Uncommon Yes Dungeon Master’s Guide, page 213
Rapier of Wounding Rare Yes Dungeon Master’s Guide, page 207
Vicious +1 Rapier Unknown No Acquisitions Incorporated, page 149
Vicious Rapier Rare No Dungeon Master’s Guide, page 209

Is the rapier good?

Rapier 5e

Again, if you:

  • Are proficient with the rapier
  • Have a higher dexterity modifier compared to your strength modifier
  • Want to wield the rapier on one hand only

Then yes, the rapier is good because of its higher damage (1d8 piercing damage) compared to the other martial melee weapons with the finesse property, namely the shortsword (1d6 piercing damage), the scimitar (1d6 slashing damage), and the whip (1d4 slashing). However, compared to the shortsword and the scimitar, the rapier does not have the light property.

The light property grants you the ability to do a second attack as a bonus action using another light weapon on your other hand. The rapier cannot do this. Instead, a better alternative would be to have a shield on your other hand. This way, you deal 1d8 piercing damage plus have an additional two on your AC, making you more difficult to hit.

However, there is a way to dual-wield rapiers without the need for the light property, and that is through the Dual Wielder feat found in the Player’s Handbook, page 165. With it, you:

  • Have a +1 on your AC if you are dual-wielding with both hands
  • Can do a second attack as a bonus action using another weapon on your other hand even if the weapons you are wielding do not have the light property
  • Can draw or stow two one-handed weapons instead of just one

So, if you are planning on a character who can use two weapons simultaneously, but find the light weapons to be too weak, then this is a perfect feat to take.

The whip is inferior when it comes to damage, but it has farther reach because of its reach property; with it, you can attack further by 5 feet more. So, it comes down to which you value more: further reach or more damage. Usually, the distance between you and your enemies is not something that should be troubled about since you can walk with your running speed to them. By that logic, the rapier would be a better choice.

Overall, the rapier is a good weapon dealing 1d8 piercing damage. The average damage of that would be 4 or 5, and the damage will still increase by adding in the appropriate ability modifier. Because the rapier has the finesse property, you can use your dexterity modifier for this.

Rapier 5e Guide: FAQs

Question: How much damage does the rapier deal?

Answer: The rapier deals 1d8 piercing damage.

Question: How much does the rapier cost?

Answer: According to the Player’s Handbook, the rapier usually costs 25 gp.

Question: How far does the rapier reach?

Answer: Since it does not have the reach property, then the rapier would reach 5 ft. next to the user, similar to other martial melee weapons.

Question: Can you dual-wield two rapiers?

Answer: Normally, no since the rapier does not have the light property. However, you can take the Dual Wielder feat found on page 165 so that you can dual-wield rapiers.

Question: Can you wield a rapier and a shield?

Answer: Yes, you can. Rapiers are one-handed weapons, so you can grip a shield on your other hand to give you that extra +2 boost for your AC.

Question: Which is better, rapier or shortsword?

Answer: That depends on what you want to do. The rapier deals higher damage (1d8 piercing damage) compared to the shortsword (1d6 piercing damage).

However, the shortsword has the light property while the rapier does not. Thus, you can use two-weapon fighting with two shortswords, something the rapier cannot achieve. Do you want to dual-wield? A shortsword is better. Do you want a weapon with higher damage? Then rapier. The rapier is also better if you plan to bring with you a shield.

Question: Which is better, rapier or scimitar?

Answer: This is the same as the comparison between the rapier and the shortsword since the scimitar has similar properties to the latter.

The main difference is that the scimitar deals slashing damage, while the rapier and shortsword deal piercing damage. This does not come up regularly during battle, but some monsters are immune or resistant to piercing damage, while some to slashing damage. It is up to what kind of enemies you think you will be facing.

Question: Which is better, rapier or longsword?

Answer: The rapier (1d8 piercing damage) and the longsword (1d8 slashing damage) deal the same amount of damage while used on one hand. However, the longsword has a versatile property, which means that you can use it with two hands, increasing its damage (1d10 slashing damage). But the longsword does not have the finesse property, so you can only add your strength modifier. If your dexterity modifier is bigger than your strength modifier, it might be better to stick with the rapier.

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