The most common and archetypal weapons have earned their status generally because they're the most tried-and-true, but they all melt into the background upon the arrival of that one troublemaker with the unique weapon nobody's ever seen before.
I'm talking about exotic weapons: those instruments of war so obscure and exacting that only the most dedicated can bring them to bear against their hapless foes. The use of such weapons is rarely seen, since the cost of a feat is generally not worth whatever they have to offer, but the psychological edge of someone wielding a weapon that A) Is unknown to you, and B) They're convinced is worth the cost of a feat, can sometimes be power enough.
So the inevitable question stands - which exotic weapons are worth it? Surely the price of a feat isn't worth one extra point of damage or a +2 bonus to disarm... nevermind the roleplaying nightmare of tracking down a blacksmith able and willing to forge your Kaorti Resin Elven Courtblade. There is no obscure weapon out there that closes the gap between magic and mundane, no matter how many times they fold the steel, but there is the occasional standout for combat utility or sheer brute force. At the very least, the use of a unique weapon can provide interest and roleplay potential to a character, or distinctiveness and mystique to an NPC. So if you're planning to do it anyway, might as well pick up something that can perform decently well while you're at it.
The most straightforward way of acquiring proficiency with an exotic weapon is to bite the bullet and take the corresponding Exotic Weapon Proficiency feat. Feats are preciously few and far between, though, and spending one for the privilege of holding a sword in the shape of Burgess Meredith might seem unattractive while things like Power Attack and Shock Trooper exist. Fortunately, as with most anything in 3rd edition, There Is Always A More Complicated Way.™ There exist a few ways of scoring proficiency with your Weapon of Choice that require neither a wasted feat nor paying royalties to Fatboy Slim.
Master of Masks: This prestige class lets you choose from a variety of masks which, while worn, each grant a variety of benefits. The Gladiator Mask gives you +1 to hit and damage, as well as proficiency with all martial and exotic weapons. Yes, all exotic weapons. The nature of exotic weapons only providing a small, situational benefit makes for poor feat choices, but if you can pick from any of them at any given time, suddenly their situational nature is far more tenable. One round you're debuffing foes with nets and lassos, the next you're tripping them with a spiked chain or ritiik, then you go for the kill with a jovar or minotaur greathammer. Other than your carrying capacity, there’s no limit to how many weapons you can have.
Warblade: In addition to being an all-around superb melee class, Warblades get Weapon Aptitude at level 1. This class feature lets them re-designate which weapon any weapon-specific feats they possess apply to, every day if they so choose. The most obvious application here is using it with EWP to make the feat a little less restrictive: maybe you want to use a sharktooth staff from level one, then swap it out for a greathammer when you have access to one. Or maybe you can try out a weird new exotic weapon the DM lets you find. More impressively, though, if you combine it with a one level dip in Master of Masks for the gladiator mask, you can use it to swap around all of your weapon-specific feats to apply to whatever you want to be using for the day. Staggering Critical, Weapon Supremacy and even Ancestral Relic (don't tell dad) can all be shuffled around to whatever exotic weapon you like in just one hour's time.
Skillful: This +2 melee weapon enhancement allows its wielder to wield it without penalty if he's nonproficient. The flavour suggests it was intended for full casters who want to use martial weapons, but of course it can be applied to exotic ones, too. Likewise, it also improves your BAB to cleric level, which is probably going to be wasted unless you're a straight wizard who wants to get all-up-in with a bohemian earspoon. This is all in all a pretty costly option, but it's an option nonetheless.
Heroics: A level 2 wizard spell from the Spell Compendium, heroics grants its target a fighter bonus feat for 10 minutes/level. It just so happens that Exotic Weapon Proficiency is a fighter bonus feat. A wand of heroics is far less costly than a feat slot, but the fact that you're stuck with that non-proficiency penalty whenever it isn't active is a pretty big deterrent.
Master's Touch: This spell gives you proficiency with any one weapon, even an exotic one, for 1 minute/level. Shorter duration and less versatile than Heroics, but it is lower level and also available to bards. Since it's Range: Personal (and only level 1) it can be persisted. A gish with levels of Incantatrix could make good use of this.
Wieldskill: A level 1 spell from the Player's Guide to Faerûn that grants proficiency with a single weapon, even an exotic one, for 1 minute/level. Can also grant proficiency in any type of armor/shield, or a +5 competence bonus on one skill, so it's a useful spell to have around. More versatile than master's touch, but a whole lot harder to get access to.
Mouthpick Weapon: A peculiar weapon enhancement from Lords of Madness, this +1 bonus lets you wield the weapon in your mouth, and even gain iterative attacks with it, so long as you have a natural bite attack for it to replace. For what it's worth, it also grants you automatic proficiency with the weapon (mostly because it was designed to be used by things like Beholders, who don't get martial weapon proficiencies.) If you want to play as Great Grey Wolf Sif, might as well spring for an exotic weapon.
Planar Touchstone: This feat, from the Planar Handbook, requires a bit of jumping through hoops but offers a wide variety of options. Essentially, you pick an extraplanar locale from a list and get a benefit based on which one you chose. When attuned to the Catalogues of Enlightenment, you pick a Cleric domain and gain its domain power (which is where much of this feat's versatility comes from.) If you pick the War domain, you gain Weapon Proficiency and Weapon Focus in the favoured weapon of a deity of your choice. Some juicy options this allows for include the Drow Scorpion Chain, Net, Pincer Staff and even the Spiked Chain. This still results in spending a feat to gain proficiency, but when it comes with Weapon Focus thrown in for free, it's a little more interesting. Whether a Warblade could then use weapon aptitude to swap both feats over to any weapon of his choice makes it a lot more interesting.
The Triad: From a web enhancement on the Wizards site, this vestige grants you, among other abilities, proficiency in all simple, martial and exotic weapons. Yes, every last one. If you were interested in the adaptable, ever-changing play style of a Binder, then this option lets you do one better with the long list of exotic weapons. Content from web enhancements is of somewhat dubious credibility, though generally more readily accepted than that from Dragon Magazine.
Exoticist: This alternate class feature for fighters is from Dragon Magazine, a source I'm generally going to avoid recommending from. That said, this is an option I like enough that I'll make the exception. Basically, instead of proficiency in all martial weapons, you get four exotic weapon proficiencies of your choice. Unless you're planning to use an enormous variety of weapons, this will generally be as good or better than Master of Masks, but with a bonus feat and no prerequisites.
A little feature that helps provide some small amount of incentive to not play a human, a few other races have racial weapon familiarities - that is, there are a couple items that members of that race treat as martial, but which other races treat as exotic. In core, dwarves get the dwarven urgosh and dwarven waraxe, gnomes get the gnome hooked hammer. Thri-kreen get the gythka and chatchka, raptorans get the footbow.
It's not exactly a big deal, but it's something. Consider the bastard sword: it's a feat for an average of +1 damage compared to a longsword. Very unimpressive. If you're a dwarf, the dwarven waraxe is +1 damage for free, which is delightful.
This gets more interesting when you consider the entry in Complete Warrior that states a character with racial familiarities can swap them out for any other race-specific weapons. Thus, a dwarf could swap out familiarity with the waraxe and urgosh for the dwarven warpike and buckler-axe. The buckler-axe can now be used as a weapon that allows you to threaten adjacent squares and gives you your shield enhancements. The warpike does the heavy lifting you'd normally see from a spiked-chain user, with far superior damage output at level 1 and superior feat economy at all levels. Enhancing the buckler-axe as a weapon is pretty much unnecessary, since you're almost never going to actually attack with it, just use it so you threaten more squares and force opponents to act accordingly.
Note that an elf can't swap out his or her proficiency in the longsword, rapier, longbow and shortbow for other weapons, such as the various elven blades from Races of the Wild. They don't have racial familiarities, but actual granted proficiencies.
List of Exotic Weapons
We could only put it off for so long. Here, then, is a list of exotic weapons that have something to offer the discerning PC - some in terms of utilitarian interest, others just in raw numbers that are hard to throw around otherwise.
Annulat (Planar Handbook): A thrown weapon that imposes a -2 penalty to AC against your target if they have cover. If you're going to throw something, why not make it easier to hit? It's also noteworthy that neraphim treat it as a martial weapon, making a neraphim Master Thrower/Bloodstorm Blade a tempting option.
Boomerang (Complete Warrior): Taken at face value, this weapon is lousy. It deals less damage than most other thrown weapons, but if it misses, you can make an attack roll to catch it. However, proficiency with this weapon opens the door for the Boomerang Daze feat (Races of Eberron) which forces anyone who takes damage from your boomerang to save or be dazed (one of the nastiest conditions in the game) for 1 round, and Boomerang Ricochet (also RoE) which lets you hit a second adjacent target with your boomerang (potentially dazing both) after you hit the first. Marginally more powerful variations of the boomerang exist in Eberron Campaign Setting.
Caber (Masters of the Wild): A large wooden log meant for hurling at undesirables and breaking up formations. Rather than making ranged attack rolls with it, though, you attack a 10-foot-square, aiming to hit AC 15. If you "hit," everyone in that square has to make a reflex save or be knocked backwards, and if they're knocked into something, they take 2d6 damage. Interesting that its effect is flatly stated in the description, meaning a fine or colossal caber will both still affect exactly a 10-foot-square. Not a hugely effective tool, but a fairly unique option for mundane weapons. Plus, you get to throw trees at people.
Chatkcha (Expanded Psionics Handbook): A crystalline throwing wedge favoured by the Thri-kreen. 1d6 damage isn't anything special, but an 18-20 threat range makes it the highest you can get on a thrown weapon. Only worth it if you can use it through racial weapon familiarity.
Collapsing Crescent Fan (Sandstorm): Gets a +4 bonus on attacks against flat-footed foes. Great when combined with Iaijutsu Focus, and generally just stylish.
Composite Greatbow (Complete Warrior): Does 1d10 damage and has a 130 ft range increment. A good long-ranged weapon for pure damage dealing, if combat starts from a long distance. See if you can get one made from dragonbone for a 150 foot range increment!
Dragonsplit (Monster Manual 4): An intriguing weapon for two-weapon fighting. While it's a one-handed weapon, it counts as a light weapon for Two-weapon Fighting and Weapon Finesse. You can also choose between a x4 or 18-20/x2 modifier, with piercing or slashing damage. Compares favourably to the tigerskull club, and slashing damage qualifies it for some things the club misses out on. However, it has no tripping or disarming qualities.
Drow Scorpion Chain (Secrets of Xen'drik): Exactly the same as a normal Spiked Chain, except it deals less damage and has a 19-20 threat range. If you happen to be a drow, you can take the Drow Skirmisher feat (which grants several proficiencies and minor bonuses) instead of Exotic Weapon Proficiency to get proficiency with it.
main shaft. You even get a +2 bonus to the first attack you make against an adjacent opponent!
Dwarven Warpike (Races of Stone): Potentially the best polearm there is, with 2d6 damage, slashing or piercing damage, x3 critical, the ability to trip, and even the ability to be set against a charge. If you're a dwarf, there's little reason not to use one.
Elven Courtblade (Races of the Wild): 1d10 damage, 18-20 threat range. Slightly less damage than the Jovar, but this two-handed weapon can be used for both Power Attack and Weapon Finesse.
Elven Lightblade (Races of the Wild): This little guy and its big brother, the elven thinblade, are just kukris and rapiers (respectively) with bigger damage dice, although the lightblade does piercing damage, not slashing. Nothing special, but if you’re an elf, Improved Weapon Familiarity gets you proficiency in both. What’s better, feats that name rapier (Weapon Focus, Weapon Specialization, etc.) apply to both.
Etherblade (Fiend Folio): 1d10 damage is nothing special on a two-handed weapon, amounting to a glaive without reach and a smaller critical modifier. However, an etherblade also comes with pewpewlasers.
Yes, that's right. Much like latter-day Final Fantasy weaponry, the etherblade is a gunsword... er... magicmissileglaive. You can fire a ray of force from one as a ranged touch attack for 1d6 damage, with a 40 foot range increment. They come with 50 shots, and there's no way to reload one.
Functionally, they're just okay, but there's something very special about having an honest-to-god laser gun in the official D&D rules.
Flindbar (Monster Manual III): You get a free disarm attempt with a +2 bonus every time you threaten a critical hit. Other than that, 2d4 with a 19-20 threat range are pretty impressive numbers for a one-handed weapon. And hey, the proficiency's free if you’re ever a Flind.
Footbow (Races of the Wild): At first glance, this item is pretty out there. It's an exotic Composite Longbow that you fire by bracing the length with your feet and drawing it back with one or both hands. Understandably, it is designed for use while flying; it takes a -4 penalty when used on the ground and can only be used prone. Why bother, you ask? While you can fire it with one hand as per normal, having your other hand free for lewd gestures, you can also fire it two-handed and add 1½ Str to damage. No other bow in the game can be drawn with both hands, and thus this lets you improve the usefulness of one of your stats by 50%. If you can readily be airborne, this would even be worth the price of a feat.
Note that Raptorans have racial weapon familiarity with footbows, making Raptoran archers a very solid prospect.
Fullblade (Arms & Equipment Guide): Something akin to a large bastard sword, as its sheer size means a medium character needs an EWP just to manage wielding it in both hands. In return, though, 2d8 damage and 19-20/x2 are the fattest numbers you'll find on a melee weapon for medium characters. If you want to play as Guts and wield a sword as big as you are, here's your chance.
Glot (Frostburn): Can be used to make ranged trip attacks, and deals better damage (with an 18-20 threat range) than bolas or barbed bolas. Plus, who hasn't wanted to shatter someone's ankles with a curling rock?
Gnome Calculus (Arms & Equipment Guide): A giant slingshot that lets you launch alchemical flasks (acid, tanglefoot bags, alchemist's fire etc.) with a 50 foot range increment. There's no ruling to suggest that an enchanted calculus wouldn't apply its bonus and weapon properties to any alchemical items flung, as any ranged weapon does to its ammunition.
Gnome Quickrazor (Races of Stone): A dagger that can be drawn as a free action. Note that at the end of your turn, you have to sheathe it again (also as a free action) so it doesn't let you threaten spaces.
The unusual nature of the Quickrazor, namely that you're drawing it every turn, opens up some interesting opportunities. As mentioned earlier, it becomes a fear-causing machine when made of Pandemonic Silver. Consider also Iaijutsu Focus, an obscure skill from Oriental Adventures. Whenever you attack a flat-footed foe (not just denied their Dexterity bonus – they specifically have to be flat-footed) immediately after drawing a weapon, you may make an Iaijutsu Focus check as a free action. Based on your roll, it adds free damage to your attack - up to as much as 9d6 of it! This gives you a weapon you can draw every turn; making enemies flat-footed is the only other hurdle.
Greathammer (Monster Manual 4): 1d12, 19-20/x4 - a stack of numbers that might finally, actually be worth the cost of a feat. Also gives you +2 to Sunder a weapon or shield, but sundering your future treasure is generally a bad idea. Note that the book never actually lists a price for the greathammer.
There's some debate as to whether it was reprinted in Races of Stone, wherein it simply has a x4 critical. Note that the weapon in that book is called the "goliath greathammer," though, arguably making it a separate entity.
Gythka (Expanded Psionics Handbook): 1d10/1d10 is the best damage you can get on a double weapon. Again, don't bother unless you're already a Thri-Kreen.
Harpoon (Frostburn): A harpooned creature moves at half speed, cannot charge or run, needs to make concentration checks to cast spells, and if you attach a rope to it you can limit their movement away from you. It can be removed with a full-round action, which deals damage again. Pretty impressive battlefield control for a nonmagical weapon. Plus, a +1 Returning Harpoon will deal double damage on each hit. The fleshgrinding enhancement might be pretty neat, as well.
Hellfire Crossbow (Fiendish Codex II): Not needing bolts, this crossbow shoots streams of hellfire (so its ignores resistances or immunities to fire) as a ranged touch attack, with a range of 400 feet and no range increments. Also, it can be fired as a move action, incredibly enough. Sounds great, but there's one problem - it distinctly states that only Baatezu can use such a weapon. Hmmm... Use Magic Device, anyone?
Ice Axe (Frostburn): Belongs to the elite few one-handed slashing weapons with a x4 critical. Also grants a +4 to Climb checks, which is a nice bit of non-combat utility.
Jovar (Planar Handbook): 2d6 damage with an 18-20 threat range, making it a respectable no-frills damage-dealing weapon. Combine it with a Scabbard of Keen Edges and/or Kaorti Resin to take advantage of the threat range.
Kusari-Gama (Dungeon Master's Guide): A spiked chain that you can wield in one hand! You can’t Power Attack with it, but it's got all the other goodies of the spiked chain wrapped in a light weapon, opening the door for Two-Weapon Fighting with reach weapons. The Spinning Sword (see below) is probably superior, but comes from a more obscure source.
Lasso (Book of Exalted Deeds): Using a lasso is a ranged touch attack that imposes a -2 penalty to attack rolls and -4 to Dexterity (no save.) A nice little nonmagical debuff.
Longstaff (Complete Adventurer): If you fight defensively or use Combat Expertise while using this weapon, you can’t be flanked. It's not exactly a combat beast, but it can be a great defensive tool against rogues.
Mancatcher (Complete Warrior): A reach weapon that gives you a free grapple attempt when you hit your enemy. While grappling with a mancatcher, you can attempt to force your foe prone. Also, as long as your enemy can’t reach you, they can’t attack you or do anything other than attempt to escape from the grapple.
Net (Player's Handbook): Using a net is a ranged touch attack (maximum range of 10 feet) that imposes a -2 penalty to attack rolls and -4 to Dexterity, halved movement, and an inability to charge or run (no save). You might be able to stack it with a lasso to try and get a foe down to 0 Dexterity. While this is an exotic weapon, ranged touch attacks are easy to make even with a -4 nonproficiency penalty, so this can be a perfectly valid debuff/delay tactic even if you don't bother to get proficiency.
Orc Shotput (Arms & Equipment Guide): Just a goofy pile of numbers: 2d6 damage, 19-20/x3 threat range, 10 foot range increment. Potentially the only weapon with an increased range and multiplier that has no errata. Combine it with Master Thrower and Disciple of Dispater and you can deal 2d6, 13-20/x4. Seeing as it's a 20-pound throwing weapon, you'll probably want only a single Shotput with the Returning enhancement on it.
Pincer Staff (Underdark): Basically a mancatcher that deals more (and lethal) damage.
Razor Net (Dragon Compendium): All the hassle of a regular net, and it does 1d6 damage. Note that it is single-use, though.
Ritiik (Frostburn): If you successfully hit an enemy, the enemy must make a reflex save. If they fail, you get a free trip attempt. Basically a weaker version of the Knock-Down feat, but for free. Presumably, if you have Improved Trip, you could then make an additional attack.
Scorpion Claws (Sandstorm): Light weapon, 1d6/x2, slashing or piercing. Pretty sub-par, but check this: they grant a +4 bonus to grapple checks (unnamed, so it stacks with Improved Grapple,) and you can use them for damage with a grapple check, instead of the regular attack rolls with a -4 penalty. As a result, you can also enchant these and do significantly more grapple damage than would otherwise be feasible. Highly recommended for any non-monk grappler. Being light means no Power Attack, but yes to two-weapon fighting. Not only can you use this on the offhand just fine, you can even do it without proficiency and still get the +4 grapple bonus.
Sharktooth Staff (Savage Species): Combine the damage dice of a greatsword with the crit multiplier of a greataxe, and you have a decent weapon. Hell, it’s even cheaper and weighs less than a greatsword. However, you also get to make a free grapple attempt on any Small or Medium enemy you hit, and then deal free weapon damage in subsequent rounds. Unlike the mancatcher or pincer staff, it has no reach, but it deals much more damage than either. Combine it with constrict (most likely through the Crushing Weight of the Mountain stance) and you get a solid damage-dealer.
Shuriken (Player's Handbook): Yeah, I know what you're thinking. 1d2 damage, 10 foot range increment, and you keep having to replace them, which especially hurts when you're enchanting them. Hold on, though, for shurikens possess a rather unique and exploitable feature - "although they are thrown weapons, shuriken are treated as ammunition for the purposes of... crafting masterwork or otherwise special versions of them." What does this mean? Since the price of enchanting ammunition is for 50 at a time, you can enchant just one for 1/50th of the enchantment price. This grants you monumental savings on all sorts of weapon enhancements which have utilitarian or non-scaling effects - excellent options include Agility, Displacement, Elemental Power, Flying, Initiative, Manifester and Warning. +5 parrying displacement defending shuriken of initiative and warning for 6000 gp? Yes, please.
Spiked Chain (Player's Handbook): The gold standard for exotic weapons; most of us know how obvious this is. It is a two-handed weapon you can power attack with, it is finessable despite not being light, it can trip, it can disarm, it has reach but can still hit adjacent foes... there's not much you could want that the spiked chain doesn't offer. There are plenty of melee builds built around the spiked chain, often with a plethora of battlefield control feats. It's also a favored weapon of the Shadow Hand discipline, meaning the Shadow Blade feat can add your Dexterity to damage on top of 1½ times your Strength modifier.
Spinning Sword (Secrets of Sarlona): Basically a spiked chain that you can use with one hand. Does less damage and can't trip, though. You also don't get to add 1½ times your strength modifier to damage if you use it in both hands, so they're suited for two-weapon fighting or sword-and-board.
Stump Knife (Arms & Equipment Guide): This weapon is basically an unthrowable dagger, except after you damage someone with it, its threat range becomes 17-20 against them. Presumably, a Keen stump knife will have a threat range of 13-20. You need one attached in lieu of a hand, though, so you probably aren't using them unless you were planning to lop your hands off anyway.
Sugliin (Frostburn): The ultimate in Neolithic warfare! Deals a staggering 2d8 damage, but it’s a full round action to make a single attack. But hey, until you get to +6 BAB, this is your weapon of choice for pure damage-dealing when you’re already standing next to your enemy. The timing limitation makes it compare unfavourably to the fullblade, but a) it has reach, which is always good, and b) it's not 3.0, so there is no grey area as to its functionality. Martial adepts might also be able to cheat the system by attacking with the sugliin as part of standard action Strikes, but don't be too shocked if your DM takes a dim view of this interpretation.
Tigerskull club (Frostburn): A x4 multiplier, two types of damage, tripping and disarming abilities, and it’s one-handed. Also probably one of the better uses of the Exotic Weapon Master’s uncanny blow stunt. For a character with an abnormally high Str score, multiplying your modifier by a full 2 instead of 1½ can start to get a little unreasonable at a brisk pace.
Vulcanian Thunder Club (Dragon Compendium): If you're still reeling from the etherblade, you may want to sit down for this one. While it is technically Dragon Magazine content, the thunder club still made its way into a hardcover book of sorts, so we're putting it on the watch list. It functions as a greatclub, but it also has a hollow metal chamber on its end that can be packed with Ye Olde Buckshot: alchemist's fire and iron pellets. As a standard action, you can choose to fire it for 2d4 damage in a 20-foot cone, with a DC 15 Reflex save for half damage. Reloading it is as simple as inserting a new ammunition packet, though they cost 105 gp a pop. Once again we have slapped a futurist projectile weapon onto an unassuming melee patsy, resulting in something... impractical but intriguing, I guess.
Warmace (Complete Warrior): 1d12 damage on a one-handed weapon, though it gives you a -1 penalty to AC. If you can get a bunch of size increases, this is the fastest scaling one-handed weapon available. Greater mighty wallop is the low-hanging fruit here.
Whip Dagger (Arms & Equipment Guide): 15 feet of reach, which might be helpful on occasion. Note that it's from 3.0, however, when whips were considered ranged weapons rather than melee weapons that don't threaten area.
Yuan-Ti Serpent Bow (Secrets of Xen'drik): A bow with curved blades at the edges. You can use it as a ranged weapon or as a melee weapon interchangeably, and it always threatens area. Note that the bow part and the blade part are enchanted separately. A nifty choice for archer builds that find themselves in dungeons and other enclosed spaces a lot. You might be better off with an Elvencraft Bow (Races of the Wild,) though.
If Dragon Magazine content is on the table and your DM doesn't mind you dismantling his campaign, the door is opened to some insane stuff like the crescent knife, braid blade and fukimi-bari.
Build-your-own Exotic Weapon
There are definitely plenty of exotic weapons to pick from, some of them even being worthwhile. However, if the options just aren't appealing enough to you, there are certain materials you can build your weapon from in order to turn them into exotic weapons.
This has some interesting applications: since it "creates" an exotic weapon you need proficiency for, it's basically always worth applying to weapons that are already exotic. For instance, a bastard sword needs an Exotic Weapon Proficiency, as does a heavy longsword, but a heavy bastard sword doesn't need two proficiencies to use. EWP: heavy bastard sword would be enough to use a heavy bastard sword, but you wouldn't be able to use regular bastard swords.
Heavy weapons (Magic of Faerun): As briefly touched on before, a "heavy" weapon is made of gold or platinum and as a result is more hard-hitting but unwieldy. The increased weight means you either need an Exotic Weapon Proficiency or to wield the weapon in one more hand than usual in order to use it without incurring a -4 penalty to attack rolls. Of course, if you're a Master of Masks or are binding The Triad, this problem is solved before it even occurs. The rest of you might need to plan ahead if your exotic weapon(s) of choice is to be heavy.
As a result, the weapon still counts as its original size even if it punches above its weight. For instance, an exotic weapon master holding a heavy warmace in both hands is indeed holding a one-handed weapon in two hands, granting him access to Uncanny Blow.
The damage a heavy weapon deals is increased depending on its base damage, as follows:
|Old Damage (Each Die)||New Damage|
|1d8 or 1d10||2d6|
Note that this increase applies to each die of damage the weapon deals. For instance, a heavy kukri will have its damage upgraded from 1d4 to 1d6. A heavy scythe, meanwhile, will have its damage increased from 2d4 to 2d6. For most weapons, this barely increases the average damage by 1. However, for d8 or d12 weapons, the average damage kicks up about 2.5 points - much more exciting. The Greathammer, with its d12 damage, is an excellent and straightforward candidate for being made heavy. An ordinary longsword becomes a one-handed greatsword. A fullblade, which deals 2d8 damage, is suddenly dishing out 4d6 if it's made heavy.
Generally speaking there are two things to be on the lookout for when crafting heavy weapons: multiple damage dice, and dice of d8 or higher. If money were no object, a character that is proficient in all exotic weapons could simply have all of their weapons be heavy, but chances are it isn't, so you'll have to make some careful choices.
Some thought-provoking heavy weapons:
Heavy Dragonsplit: The heavy quality makes it no longer qualify for Weapon Finesse, but it says nothing about Two-Weapon Fighting, and it is an inherent property of the dragonsplit that it counts as light for TWF. Therefore, your two "heavy" weapons will count as light, so long as you hold both at the same time. Don't ask too many questions.
Heavy Elven Thinblade: 2d6 damage, 18-20/x2. It will no longer qualify for Weapon Finesse, but a one-handed Jovar is pretty impressive. A heavy great scimitar (Sandstorm) is also functionally the same.
Heavy Fullblade: Utter madness. 4d6 damage from a medium-sized, nonmagical weapon.
Heavy Great Falchion (Sandstorm): 2d8 damage, 18-20/x2. A small step up from the thinblade and great scimitar. It's a matter of preference whether you'd rather have the 18-20 threat range versus the heavy greathammer's x4 multiplier.
Heavy Harpoon: The damage upgrade to 2d6 gives you a better chance of skewering foes. Likewise, a heavy ritiik is made more likely to trip.
Heavy Hydraflail (Dragon Compendium): 2d6 damage, x3 critical on a one-handed weapon. Gives you a +4 bonus to disarming, too.
Heavy Longaxe (Complete Adventurer): 2d8 damage, x3 critical. However, if you spend 3 or more points on Power Attack in a round, it has 10' reach for the turn. Functionally a harder-hitting but less tricksy spiked chain.
Heavy Warmace: 2d8 damage on a one-handed weapon! The ding to your AC is probably worth it, and if you go all-out with Two-Weapon Fighting and Oversized Two-Weapon Fighting, that's 2d8 in each hand for -2 AC. You won't be worried about your AC anyway if you're going Pounce/Shock Trooper/Leap Attack on top of that.
If you use Strongarm Bracers (or have Powerful Build,) the great many 1d6 weapons all move up to 1d8 base damage, that magic number. The dragonsplit, kusari-gama, dwarven buckler-axe, annulat, chatchka and collapsing crescent fan are all interesting candidates for being
Kaorti Resin weapons (Online): The kaorti are a malevolent race from the far realms - the D&D equivalent of outer space. Generally speaking, they're something to be avoided, but it just so happens that they excrete a resin that can be worked and fashioned into arms or armour.
Piercing or slashing weapons made of kaorti resin have their critical modifier changed to x4. Obvious candidates for being made of resin include anything with a large threat range: a keen elven courtblade will have a 15-20/x4 critical!
The big disadvantage kaorti resin has to heavy weapons is just how exotic it is. Any old chimp with a hammer can pound out a platinum sword, but only a kaorti can make a resin weapon. Either you're convincing an Evil Outsider to spend XP for you, or you're playing as one yourself (with a +4 level adjustment.) But really, what kind of DM would deny their player a weapon crafted from goo secreted by far realm horrors who seek to warp the material plane into a mockery of itself? Rogue Kaorti smiths are a dime-a-dozen. Plus, it's web content. DMs love web content.