Gear Guide: Scythe Weapons in DnD 5e

Last Updated on January 22, 2023

When it comes to weapons and armor, Dungeons and Dragons has a tradition of missing the mark. They’ve almost single-handedly spread the misinformation that studded armor was a powerful set of armor, and they have absolutely no idea how well the sling works. 

Today, we’re going to be talking about scythes, a farming tool commonly used as a weapon throughout history. While the scythe doesn’t have any stats in 5e, it could be an excellent weapon, and we’re going to do everything we can to bring it to your table.

Scythe 5e


Proficiency with a scythe allows you to add your proficiency bonus to the attack roll for any attack you make with it.

  • Type: Simple Melee Weapon
  • Cost: 5 sp
  • Weight: 3 pounds
  • Damage: 1d4 piercing
  • Properties: Reach, two-handed

War Scythe

Proficiency with a war scythe allows you to add your proficiency bonus to the attack roll for any attack you make with it.

  • Type: Martial Melee Weapon
  • Cost: 5 gp
  • Weight: 5 pounds
  • Damage: 1d8 piercing or slashing
  • Properties: Reach, two-handed

How Does a Scythe Work?

A scythe is the weapon we commonly see depicted with avatars of death. It’s a long pole with a curved blade on the end that sticks out 90 degrees. However, this actually isn’t a historic weapon but rather a farming tool.

Scythes were used to cut large quantities of grasses and wheat with a single swipe, and it’s the reason their blades are perpendicular to the poles. 

The association of the scythe with Death or the Grim Reaper comes from more metaphorical purposes. Death is seen as the harvester of souls, so it carries a harvesting tool. Any further uses in pop culture are merely attempts to keep the imagery the same while giving Death a unique and interesting weapon.

So why are we talking about it as a weapon? Well, because scythes were used as weapons even if that wasn’t their original purpose. Poor farmers heading off into battle would often grab any sharp implements they had hanging around, and a long-bladed pole certainly does the trick in a pinch.

This same principle is why we end up with a lot of interesting weapons, particularly weapons used in Eastern martial arts such as nunchucks and kama (which is essentially a very small single-handed scythe).

A scythe could be used in battle, although it’s an awkward instrument. It has an impressive blade, but it’s not facing the enemy. The best strategy for a farming scythe is to use it for swinging down and stabbing enemies.

For this reason, we’ve made the basic scythe into a simple weapon that can deal a small amount of piercing damage. It does have reach, which is helpful in many instances, but it isn’t an impressive weapon by any means.

The Improved War Scythe

Early soldiers realized their scythes had impressive blades that couldn’t quite be used. They were using improvised weapons that weren’t fully designed for combat, so an idea came along to design scythes that were specifically made to win battles.

This is where the war scythe came from. This underrated weapon was a polearm, much like a halberd, that consisted of a long wooden pole with a thicker, shorter, curved blade on the end. Fortunately, the blade this time was actually facing the right way, protruding directly from the pole.

The war scythe was an incredibly effective weapon as it could be used for both puncturing armor and making wide slashes at the enemy. All of this, of course, was done at a significant distance. 

While the difference between slashing and piercing is negligible in 5e, the real-world ability to do both has always been important in bladed weaponry. This allows you to deal with all sorts of armor, be they thick platemail, chainmail, or even leather.

Since this is the real historical weapon, I gave it a significant upgrade in stats and even the ability to deal both slashing and piercing damage. Hopefully, you’ll find it useful in your next campaign.

Magical Scythe Variants

Let’s be honest, you’re here for cool weapons to bring to your next adventure, not for a new way to deal 1d8 of damage with a melee weapon. There’s a reason we don’t have every variation of polearm in 5e, and that’s because that’s boring for all but the biggest history buffs out there. So, let’s talk about some magical scythes.

The Reaper’s Blade

Weapon (Scythe), Very Rare (Requires attunement by a spellcaster) 

This ebony-handled scythe surges with necrotic energy and is said to have once been wielded by the servants of an ancient and forgotten death deity. While holding this weapon, you gain a +3 bonus to necromancy spell-attack rolls and the saving throw DCs of your necromancy spells. In addition, you can use the scythe as a spellcasting focus for your necromancy spells.

When you target a creature with a necromancy spell or whenever you hit a creature with this weapon, that creature cannot regain hit points until the start of your next turn. Additionally, if you drop a target to 0 HP with this weapon, they immediately fail their first death save.

The Scythe of Grim Harvest

Weapon (Any scythe), Rare (Requires attunement) 

This scythe is said to be fashioned from the bones of a lich. When you hit with an attack roll using this scythe, it deals an extra 1d10 necrotic damage. 

This scythe has 3 charges and regains 1d3 charges daily at dusk. When you hit a creature with an attack roll using the scythe, you can expend 1 charge to regain a number of hit points equal to the extra necrotic damage the scythe dealt.

While you are holding this scythe, you may use a bonus action to spread magical darkness in up to a 40-foot radius. This effect ends if you are incapacitated, if you drop the scythe, or if you use another bonus action to end it.

The Scythe of Bountiful Harvest

Weapon (Any scythe), Rare (Requires attunement) 

This scythe was crafted by the light of a harvest moon. When you hit with an attack roll using this scythe, the target must succeed on a Strength saving throw (DC 14) or be knocked prone.

This scythe has 6 charges and regains 1d6 charges daily at dawn. As an action, you can expend charges to cast the following spells: Entangle (1 charge), Goodberry (1 charge), Spike Growth (2 Charges), or Moonbeam (2 Charges).

There you have it, a full complement of magical scythes. Obviously, I went for the necrotic/death theme on two of them, but I also wanted a scythe that harkens back to the simple farming roots.

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about this historical weapon, and I hope you’ll get the chance to use one in your next campaign. As always, happy adventuring.

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