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My character bought a toy wooden ball for it to be thrown. The ball cannot bounce nor can it be kicked, its purpose is to be thrown. In game my character threw the ball with the intent of dealing nonlethal damage. I took a -4 penalty for throwing the ball because I didn't have the feat "Throw anything" and it was considered an improvised thrown weapon.

I argued that it is a ball meant to be thrown, like a baseball, and is not an improvised thrown weapon because that is its function. What are the rules for this?

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It's an improvised weapon.

It's not improvised in the sense that it's not designed to be thrown, but it IS improvised in the sense that a wooden toy ball is not a weapon. You take a penalty when trying to use things that are not designed to be weapons as weapons, even when you're only trying to do nonlethal damage, unless you've got a special ability (like the Throw Anything feat) which says otherwise. A baseball would be an improvised thrown weapon too, if you were trying to deal damage with it.

This has no bearing on how proficient you are with the item in its intended use. You could earn a living by taking the skill Profession (baseball player) and be very good at throwing a ball in that context, even though such a skill is no help in throwing a ball in combat. In much the same way, the Profession (lumberjack) skill makes you great at cutting down trees with an axe, but does not help you when it comes to fighting monsters with an axe (not even tree monsters).

As a final note, even if you had a ball which was designed to be used as a weapon, it would not be improvised, but you would still have to be proficient with it as a weapon to avoid the -4 nonproficiency penalty. If your GM ruled it an exotic or martial weapon, getting that proficiency is probably not worth it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Even if it weren't improvised, it would still be exotic. \$\endgroup\$
    – fectin
    Jun 24, 2017 at 20:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @fectin What's the reason for that? \$\endgroup\$ Jun 26, 2017 at 22:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's not simple or martial, so it must be exotic. \$\endgroup\$
    – fectin
    Jun 26, 2017 at 22:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @fectin But a ball could just as easily be simple because a ball's neither martial nor exotic, right? Or are you, at this point, just having fun at this logic school dropout's expense? \$\endgroup\$ Jun 26, 2017 at 23:14
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ruled by the spirit of the game, rather than rules as written, an NPC that is proficient with an object or weapon in the narrative, is defacto proficient in game. Sticklers would vote the opposite. To them I simply remind them of the World of Darkness Pope that was declared an Antediluvian because he was fluent in too many languages for a human by core rules.

In other words, core rules be damned. Play Ball!

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    \$\begingroup\$ Proficiency notwithstanding, the item is not a weapon in the first place. How does WoD or spirit of the game impact this discussion? \$\endgroup\$
    – Chemus
    Jun 24, 2017 at 23:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi Tristian. In general when a question is seeking rules guidance, we expect people to provide guidance about the rules -- a sentiment of "forget the rules" or whatever doesn't substitute for doing so. An answer like this ought to be handled by explaining the rules (or lack thereof), and if you suggest handling it differently, do so after that explanation. See: How do we handle a desire to challenge the frame of a question? \$\endgroup\$ Jun 25, 2017 at 1:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Proficiency can be gained via feats and traits, that is how you can create an npc that is good at something unexpected. The gm is even allowed to create a class archetype that allows a npc to throw deadly wooden toys, it has even been done before (deadly dealer magus archetype). \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Jun 25, 2017 at 16:20

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