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I assume that if the attack hits, it lands in the target's space or is embedded in the target in some way.

However, if the attack misses where does it land? Is it assumed that whoever threw it has at least enough accuracy that it landed in the same square as the target? Does it even land in their vicinity?

The compendium says that arrows, bolts and bullets are all consumed upon firing. Also, magical thrown weapons return to the thrower after the attack. So this question really only applies to mundane thrown weapons.

I know this is an odd question, but it could have consequences in a more extended combat sequence, or if you want to pick up an opponents mundane thrown weapon.

As this does not seem to be covered in the rules as written what are some suggestions for dealing with this situation should it arise?

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I'm going to guess that there aren't rules for this, as it only really applies to the first level or two (after that, most players will have upgraded to magic thrown weapons, which don't land anywhere). Still... It'd be interesting to see how it was handled if there are. – AceCalhoon May 13 '11 at 18:54
@AceCalhoon Technically! There is a passage with the magic thrown weapons that states if you don't want to grab it, or can't grab it, the weapon lands at your feet. :D – Cthos May 13 '11 at 19:34
Was hunting around in the compendium and realized that arrows, bolts and bullets are all consumed upon firing. This question only really applies to mundane thrown weapons. – wax eagle May 15 '11 at 14:45
up vote 6 down vote accepted

There are no rules for this, but there is a lot reasons to use some best guessing to handle it.

Since 4e is a miniatures based system, I note the direction and type of missile used.

If it is hand-throw I figure that it travels the same distance beyond the target that it was thrown to get to the target. This gives me a simple way of tracking without complicating my life at the table. Remember that magic items that can be thrown will return to the thrower's hand.

If it is a fired weapon, like a crossbow, sling, or bow, then it travels 3 times the distance between the firer and their target. Again, simple and easy to track when you are at the table.

If then there is a reason to look for missile items during or after combat, it is simply a DC check vs. perception. This can be modified by visibility, terrain, combat conditions or weather.

I use easy DC values for hand thrown items and moderate for fired items. I do this to simulate breakage of the items. The searcher may find the item but it can not be reused. Again simple and relatively accurate for game purposes. Really difficult terrain or conditions that could have items be lost or break moves the DC value up to the next higher bracket.

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No rules here, just speculation.

Is it assumed that whoever fired it has at least enough accuracy that it landed in the same square as the target, or even in the vicinity?

Doubtful. Especially if you're talking about a fired bolt or arrow. Those things will sail for quite some time, especially if the shot went high. I'd probably rule that it lands 1d20 squares behind the target. Less for a thrown weapon. Alternatively you could set it back a number of squares dependent on how much the roll missed. That way shots that were just barely misses will be easier to retrieve than a natural one.

In any case though, adding rules for projectiles continuing to fly will bring up the issue of innocent bystanders. And that's another whole set of potential rules not covered by the books.

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not just innocent bystanders, but not-so-innocent ones as well, perhaps? Tight formations vs. loose ones ... is it easier to hit something in a bunch, or is that offset by the fact that you don't have a fixed target as you would with an individual opponent and thus are simply firing into the air? – Dave DuPlantis May 14 '11 at 2:42

As a side discussion for being able to pick up or recover either your weapon or an opponents, I think you need to also consider whether a thrown or fired weapon is actually recoverable at all. In other words, even if you find it, is it still in a condition that would allow you to reuse the weapon. An arrow, for instance, if it misses a target and strikes a wall or the ground behind the target, is likely to be rendered useless by the impact. A wooden javelin might splinter or a metal javelin might get bent by striking a surface. If you're going to create a set of house rules for where a missile weapon might land, you should consider this as well.

In our 3.5/Pathfinder campaign, we rule that any arrow or bolt that strikes an opponent is useless and any that miss have a 50% chance of being reusable. For javelins, we ruled they were usually recoverable unless it was clear they struck a stone wall or something like that. (DM's discretion)

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There are no hard rules, I don't think (outside of magic weapons). I would say use your discretion. Did the character just barely miss? Was it a clear shot? Did the targets AC or Reflex come into play? Were any bonuses responsible?

Take these all into account when determining how a thrown weapon might land. For example, if they rolled a 16, and need 17, maybe just a square to the side and back. If it was due to a bonus, maybe at the foot of the target, having impacted their shield/magical barrier.

Use your imagination! The fun part about being a DM is thinking on the fly!

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