I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man's. I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.

- William Blake

Friday, March 09, 2018

D&D 5e fighting styles: Thrown weapons

As we've discussed here, thrown weapons in 5e are basically a way of Str-based characters to gain some ranged options, but they are still a bit underwhelming when compared to ranged weapons.

Now, I'm not that concerned about "fixing" the mechanics. It is even a bit "realistic" that thrown weapons are sub-optimal in comparison to bows and crossbows. What bothers me is that the lack of decent thrown weapons excludes some popular archetypes, such as the knife thrower or rock hurler.

In fact, thrown weapons work well enough, but they lack a feat as useful as Sharpshooter, for example - one of the best feats in the game.

In order to "fix" thrown weapons we would have to give them a feat with:

* Better reach.
* Faster drawing/throwing.

Easy enough, right?

Thrown Weapon Master
You are expert at hurling weapons at your foes.

  • When you throw a weapon, its normal and long ranges are doubled.
  • You can draw a weapon with the "thrown" property as part of an attack you make it with, without spending your free object interaction. If you have multiple attacks, you can draw and throw a weapon for each one of them.
  • When you make a ranged attack with a thrown weapon, you do not have disadvantage on the attack roll if you are within 5 feet of a hostile creature who can see you and who isn't incapacitated.

  • Admittedly, throwing three or four javelins against someone who in standing withing 5 feet of you looks a bit silly. If this bothers you (although it is already int he game in the form of Crossbow Expert, you could probably limit the second and third bullet points to weapons that have the light or finesse property.

    Another thing 5e seems to be missing is the cool-looking Atlatl.

    Here is the 3e version:

    An Atlatl (otherwise known as a spear-hurler) is used in the aid of throwing a javelin. Using an Atlatl adds +10 ft to the javelin's range increment, and an amount to the damage roll, as shown on the table above, and a +2 competence bonus to the attack roll.

    A 5e version would be something like this:

    An Atlatl (otherwise known as a spear-hurler) is used in the aid of throwing a javelin. Using an Atlatl adds +20/+40 ft to the javelin's range, and increases its damage to 1d8.

    Enough to turn the javelin into a really fearsome weapon!

    And, finally, one of the most "exotic" weapons in the list... the net!

    Here is how it works in 5e:

    Martial) Ranged WeaponsCostDamageRangeWeightProperties

    Net1 gp5/153 lb.thrownspecial2

    Net: A Large or smaller creature hit by a net is restrained until it is freed. A net has no effect on creatures that are formless, or creatures that are Huge or larger. A creature can use its action to make a DC 10 Strength check, freeing itself or another creature within its reach on a success. Dealing 5 slashing damage to the net (AC 10) also frees the creature without harming it, ending the effect and destroying the net. When you use an action, bonus action, or reaction to attack with a net, you can make only one attack regardless of the number of attacks you can normally make.

    Retraining a creature is a pretty powerful:

    A restrained creature’s speed becomes 0, and it can’t benefit from any bonus to its speed. Attack rolls against the creature have advantage, and the creature’s Attack rolls have disadvantage. The creature has disadvantage on Dexterity saving throws.

    On the other hand, by RAW you always have disadvantage if you're using a net, because of its range.

    The use of a net as a dueling weapon is the mark of the Retiarius, picured above.

    Since the trident is such a useless weapon in 5e, is just too tempting to fix the two things at once:

    You are trained in the gladiatorial art of fighting with trident and net.

  • When you take the Attack action and attack with a net, you can use a bonus action to attack with a melee weapon that you’re holding in the other hand.
  • When you hold a trident with both hands, it gains the Reach property.
  • When you make a ranged attack with a net, spear or trident, its normal and long ranges are doubled.
  • When you hit a restrained enemy with a melee weapon, you add your proficiency bonus to damage.

  • The first bullet point could be done in reverse (i.e., use a bonus action to attack with a net), although I'm wary of giving advantage to every attack after that. The bonus damage is added both to mitigate the cost of diminishing the number of possible attacks and to make the feat useful in different circumstances.

    You might notice that if you keep your foe at 10 feet distance, you can attack with your trident... but it can't move to attack back until it gets rid of the net!

    Sounds like an awesome fighting style to me!


    1. Hah. I just revised my net rules for Dragon Heresy. And this post reminds me I need to rationalize the Fighting Styles in DH before it goes to final...

      1. Fighting Styles in 5e are a bit messy... I'll be happy to see what you came up with for nets in DH.


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