Simple weapons are a reliable staple at the start of any D&D campaign. Whether you’ve just created your character or want to arm a mob of villagers, these weapons will eventually become necessary. A simple weapon is a weapon that can be used by someone with limited proficiency.
As is usually the case in D&D, you have a ton of simple weapons to choose from. This list of the best simple weapons serves as a way to pick the best one for your characters or NPCs in any given situation. We based the ranking on our experience playing and an in-depth overall comparison.
In real history, no weapon has had as much impact on war as the spear. This easy-to-understand weapon can put distance between you and your foe. You can use the spear with both hands or wield a shield. The spear can also be thrown. The damage of a spear is 1d6 of piercing damage, which is pretty decent too.
The spear can be used by just about anyone. While their length and weight make them hard to transport, they are not too expensive to buy in bulk and arm a mob with. Generally speaking, the spear is the strongest of the simple weapons due to the amount of use it has.
Simple weapons can be elegant and fancy too. The rapier is a great example of this. This one-handed finesse weapon can deal a decent 1d8 of piercing damage. If your character has a high dexterity stat, the rapier can be extremely potent.
Thanks to its lightweight and small size, you can easily take it with you on an adventure or smuggle it in a hidden compartment. Generally speaking, this is the simple weapon that is often useful and can deal tons of damage in the process. On the right build, like a rogue, the rapier is a potent and reliable ally in battle.
The longbow is the top simple weapon to fight enemies from afar. The longbow has an incredible range of 150/600 feet and can deal a staggering 1d8 of piercing damage. This probably makes it the strongest simple weapon in D&D 5e. The ammunition you use is quite cheap and can be reused.
The longbow is a fantastic weapon to have if you’re fighting in open spaces or are able to get the high ground. If you’re exploring dungeons and fighting in buildings, this weapon is not going to help you very much.
The sling is a potent ranged weapon that uses the cheapest and most abundant ammo available: stones. A stone that hits the target can deal 1d4 of damage, and the range is 30/120 feet.
Using a sling is easy, and the stones can be retrieved. While you won’t take down helmed horrors or other high-AC monsters with this simple weapon, it is great against mobs of weak goblins.
The dagger is versatile, light, and easy to conceal. It is a finesse weapon that is excellent for those who use dexterity and sneak attacks to outmaneuver their enemies. The dagger deals 1d4 piercing damage and uses the DEX modifier for your attack and damage rolls.
The dagger is also a ranged weapon, so it can be used from a distance if you do not want to get too close to your enemies.
The shortbow has less range and deals less damage than the longbow but is pretty useful nonetheless. The range of the shortbow is 80/320 feet and deals 1d6 of piercing damage upon a successful hit.
Since it has the ammunition property, you can retrieve the arrows. This makes it a cheap and effective weapon for those who do not want to use a longbow or want a slightly shorter minimum range when firing.
A fun and interesting two-handed weapon to use is the Quarterstaff. Not many players use this, so you might be unfamiliar with the versatility and potency of this humble staff. First of all, you can use it with two hands or one hand, making it great if you want to be more offensive or defensive. The quarterstaff has a base damage of 1d6 bludgeoning.
The downside to the weapon is that it is quite bulky, so you won’t be able to hide it or transport large amounts of them.
My favorite thrown weapon in DnD 5e is the javelin. This strong weapon with a range of 120 feet and 1d6 piercing damage is cheap and easy to transport. If you want to arm a large group with strong thrown weapons, this is one of the best options. They are common and abundant, making them easy and cheap to acquire.
Another potent thrown weapon is the handaxe. Just like the javelin, it is light and can be transported easily. However, it is a bit more expensive to acquire and rarer in general. Unlike the javelin, the handaxe can also be used as a melee weapon.
If you are expecting your enemies to come close while ranging them, then having this weapon on you might save you in a pinch.
The simplest among simple weapons has to be the club. This fun and cheap weapon can be found all over the world and is ideal for mobs and low-level creatures like kobolds. A successful hit with a club can deal 1d4 bludgeoning damage.
Having this weapon won’t win you hard battles, but it is better than going into a fight empty-handed. The club is also a great bare minimum weapon to start with, as it is as good as free to get.
One weapon you rarely see NPCs use is the mace. While low-level characters don’t get too much use out of them as there are not many heavily-armored low-level foes to beat, NPCs do. If your bandits and thugs have access to a weapon like the mace, they will be able to deal a ton of damage to the party’s tank.
The reason for this is that the mace hits harder against opponents that are wearing armor. The standard 1d6 bludgeoning damage is pretty nice too. On top of that, there is the fact that these are not too large. Unfortunately, the mace is quite expensive.
Talking about weapons you almost never encounter in a campaign is the sickle. This simple weapon can deal 1d4 slashing damage and has light property. A sickle is pretty versatile and underrated in my opinion. It makes a ton of sense to have this as a druid but also as an adventurer in general.
The sickle can be wielded with one hand and combined with a shield in the other. As you probably know, sickles are a tool too, so you can use them to cut through roots or harvest certain herbs and crops.
We are finishing off our list with the trident. This is another weapon that can be thrown as a ranged weapon and used as a melee weapon. You can also wield the trident with one hand and a shield or with both hands at once. The damage is okay, 1d6 piercing damage.
The weapon is pretty expensive and hard to get, so we chose not to put it too high on the list.
There are a ton of great simple weapons in 5e DnD. This list will give you some guidance in choosing the best ones for your characters and NPCs. Like in many cases, which one is the absolute best depends on the situation you are in.
There are many more simple weapons than those on the list, but these will get you pretty far in terms of arming mobs and the earlier levels.