[RPG] What advantages does a flail have


Compared to other similar weapons, there seems to be zero reason to use a flail.

Weapon Name Cost Damage Weight Properties
Flail 10 gp 1d8 bludgeoning 2 lb..
Warhammer 15 gp 1d8 bludgeoning 2 lb. Versatile (1d10)

Both weapons are martial.

I can't imagine a scenario where a character feels they need to forgo the versatile trait to save 5 gold. Especially classes that can start with any martial weapon they choose.

What advantages does a flail have? Am I missing something?

Best Answer

The flail has no mechanical advantages over the warhammer.

As you correctly note, the only mechanical differences between a flail and a warhammer are the price and the Versatile property. To a player only concerned with having the best weapon mechanically, there is no reason to use a flail.

One of the big differences between 5th edition and previous editions of D&D is that it makes no attempt to assure that all character options are totally balanced against eachother. There are many cases of some character options being worse than others, especially in the weapon table. To give some other examples: the Quarterstaff is better than the Mace, the Handaxe is better than the Sickle, and the Rapier is better than the War Pick and Morningstar.

These weapons were probably included so that, when a player asks their DM if they can have a flail, because they think flails are cool, the DM can say yes, and have rules that apply to that weapon, rather than making something up on the spot.

Unearthed Arcana added Flail Mastery feat that makes the weapon more viable against shields, have a chance to knock enemies prone on opportunity attacks and add +1 to attack rolls with the weapon. However, as access to Unearthed Arcana material isn't a given in all games, this feat isn't something that a player can assume to have access to.