D&D’s Five Deadliest Weapons
D&D is full of powerful and dangerous spells, magic swords, and miniature black holes. But these weapons? These are the deadliest.
Dungeons & Dragons is a game about adventure. At least on the surface of it. Heroic characters go on fantasy adventures. Magic swords are found, gods get smote, it’s all good fun. But if you go deeper? You’ll find dangerous things. Broken combos of classes. Spells that do more than you think they’d do.
Spells that kill you in an instant. Miniature magical black holes. And a rift in reality behind any one with two magic items and a bright idea. You’d be surprised at some of D&D’s deadliest weapons. So let’s take a look.
This one is a classic from editions past, and it’s still fairly deadly in 5th Edition. It’s swingy, for sure. You have to roll a natural 20. But if you do, this sword’s power activates and you cut off someone’s head. None of this arm nonsense, you go straight for the kill. D&D being D&D, that won’t auto-kill everything. There are a surprising number of monsters that don’t care about having a head (either they have more than one, or don’t have one in the first place). But by and large this is a recipe to kill anything, if you’re lucky.
Or if you’re friends with a Divination Wizard, who can tell you when the fates have aligned to guarantee you a critical strike (because they get to roll 2d20s per day and set them aside for anyone to use later).
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I mean, come on, a sword? No, we can do much better than that.
The Bag of Daggers*
For starters, we can roll with a bag of daggers. You really only need 10, but the more you can fit inside the better it’ll be when you dump them out as a free action and then, as your action on the turn cast Animate Object and watch them 10 of them come to life to strike at your foes. Now, by itself, this isn’t especially deadly – 10 daggers only do 1d4+4 with each attack, but, that’s where the asterisk comes in. Because these aren’t just any daggers. These are daggers coated in purple worm venom.
Now a curious property of purple worm venom means that it doesn’t dry out like other poison, once it’s on the blade it stays potent until it activates. So coat those daggers in poison, and suddenly you’re doing ten attacks for a potential 10d4+40 + 120d6. For reference, the average damage of 120d6 is a nice 420 points of damage. Anything on top of that is gravy.
Admittedly this does cost you 20,000gp or you have to go find a Purple Worm whose venom you can milk – so this is an item for the 1%. But finally, something to spend all that gold on.
Scroll of Conjure Woodland Beings
What if you don’t have 20,000gp lying around. Well, you could instead spend your gold on a scroll of conjure woodland beings, or just hang out with a Druid/higher level Ranger. Conjure Woodland beings is one of those hotly contested spell that is potentially game breaking, and here’s why. When you cast it you can summon fey creatures, you get one fey creature at CR 2, two fey creatures at CR 1, four fey creatures at CR 1/2, or eight fey creatures at CR 1/4.
That last part is the most relevant one, because pixies are CR 1/4, and you’ll want to summon eight of them because once per day, pixies can cast Polymorph. Which means you and up to eight of your friends can be polymorphed into a beast of CR equal to your level or lower. As soon as you’re 8th level, everyone can be a T. Rex, but even if you’re only level 2 (and casting the spell because you’re very Wise), you can all be bears – which is enough to endure about anything.
But sometimes damage isn’t enough.
Sickening Radiance/Wall of Force
Combat can be exhausting. And if you have access to the spell Sickening Radiance, you can ensure your enemies come out of every fight feeling dead tired. Or just dead.
If you’re unfamiliar with the spell, Sickening Radiance is one of the new spells in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, and it wields a power we’re all familiar with in the real world: Exhaustion. One of the few things to actually touch the exhaustion system, Sickening Radiance is basically magical radiation from beyond the stars that lasts for up to 10 minutes, and every round you’re in the area, you make a Con save or take 4d10 radiant damage and gain one level of exhaustion.
This last part is especially dangerous – as your Frenzied berserker can tell you, exhaustion is no joke in 5th Edition. One level is disadvantage on ability checks, then your speed is halved, then it’s disadvantage on all rolls, then you have half hit points, your move speed is 0 and then at six levels of exhaustion, you die.
So what makes sickening radiance so deadly? You use a spell like Wall of Force, or if you really need to make sure someone is trapped, Forcecage, to trap an enemy in place, while Sickening Radiance is active. This requires two casters, because both spells are concentration, but Sickening Radiance lasts 10 minutes, which means that a creature needs to make at least 95 out of 100 saves, if you trap them the entire duration. And by the time they fail three, they’re at disadvantage. So good luck.
But that’s still a spell. We can do better. What about…
Arrow of Astral Conveyance
This is also called the D&D WMD, the Arrow of Mass Destruction, the Arrowhead of Total Annihilation, etc. This item, you’ve probably seen before. It takes advantage of a peculiar combination of magical effects. It is a special arrow, constructed with a portable hole rolled up in a tiny tube, and a small bag of holding, a pouch, really. Or maybe a pocket off of a Handy Haversack.
The idea is that when the arrow strikes, the portable hole enters the bag of holding, and the two party down, atomic style. Now, this isn’t as deadly as it once was – in older editions, there was a 50/50 chance that anything within range of it was destroyed or shunted to the Astral plane, now this combination just sends you straight to the Astral plane with no way back.
And the key is it works on any creature within 10 feet of the explosion, no matter how large or small. If you’re facing down a Tarrasque and need to deal with them, here’s one way to strand them in space where they’ll have to deal with Astral Dreadnaughts. Speaking of the Tarrasque though…
Bonus: Scroll Tarrasque Summoning
When you absolutely, positively have to kill everything within at least a mile radius… this scroll just lets you summon the Tarrasque – as an action – somewhere within a mile of you. That’s probably a safe distance.
What are your deadliest weapons and combos in D&D? Let us know in the comments, and as always, happy adventuring!