I can't possibly explain how many times I've been in conversations ~ and arguments ~ about classes being free to use weapons in D&D. I would expect the issue itself is dead as a dodo in 5th Edition, but that doesn't matter because the weapons are indistinguishable from one another anyway with regards to the effects of combat. For me, the weapon by class restrictions have long been Biblical.
I have mostly argued that they exist because something needs to balance the power of the cleric or the wizard, and give a benefit to the fighter who, let's admit, never lacks for needing benefits. So I have taken a hard stand, a slightly unrealistic stand, arguing for playability, enduring all the mentions of Gandalf's sword (who is, incidently, NOT a wizard, look it up you morons), Elric of Melnibone (who is barely a wizard), and Friar Tuck from that brilliant 1938 Robin Hood movie.
Okay, I made up that last one. No one on the internet has ever seen the 1938 Adventures of Robin Hood, and so they don't know that Friar Tuck uses a sword in it, though he is obviously a cleric, but that is my cross to bear, isn't it?
|A friar with a sword? Ridiculous! Eugene Pallette squares off with Errol Flynn.|
Incidentally, the film ~ and the legend ~ has a bard in it, mixing up Will Scarlet and Alan-a-Dale. Ah Hollywood, what a minx you are.
The youngster was clothed in scarlet red,
In scarlet fine and gay,
And he did frisk it over the plain,
And chanted a roundelay.
Describing Will Scarlet, circa 1600. But I digress.
Without intending last night, I was sketching out some of the details for my post earlier today, and realized there was a way of looking at weapon's use that I hadn't considered before. For a couple of decades I had adjusted my thinking to the simple logic that clerics weren't able to use edged weapons simply because their masters didn't bother to teach such things. We use bludgeoning weapons because we always have, and we always will, goes the call, and if that doesn't sound like religion, nothing will. How is a mage going to learn to use a sword when there is so much time needed to learn how to cast spells and cantrips? Where would a druid find a crossbow? That sort of thing.
And of course the classes do use these weapons. Fighter/clerics, mage/rangers ... there's plainly nothing wrong with a spellcaster using a sword if the training is there. It doesn't mess up the magic or the prayers when it's part of a multi-classed character. So there's room for flexibility.
I think I've found a nice formula for this, that fits into my ideas for allowing player characters to advance common ordinary people into roles as soldiers and even levelled persons. I've had this spontaneously happen in more than one campaign and the players seem to love shepherding non-player characters into tougher, stronger roles.
I've made this link live, this evening: Give Proficiency. It explains how the player character with the Instruction sage study can teach anybody ~ well, almost anybody, there is a restriction, though it isn't class ~ how to use a sword. Or a bow. If you have the stats (and they're not that high), and you put in the time, then yes. Your illusionist, mage or cleric might be able to use a long bow.
And the way I've put it together, I don't think it breaks the game at all.