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Web on page 287 of the PHB says (emphasis mine):

You conjure a mass of thick, sticky webbing at a point of your choice within range. The webs fill a 20-foot cube from that point for the duration. The webs are difficult terrain and lightly obscure their area.

As the area is lightly obscured it would seem likely that creatures can see through to the other side. Assuming that the creature can see the target on the other side of the web, do ranged physical or magical attacks pass through an area affected by the Web spell, or does the mass prevent it?

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As a general rule...spells do exactly what they say they do, and no more.

In regards to ranged attacks, anything on the other side (or inside) of a Web Spell will be Lightly Obscured.

Lightly Obscured (PHB 183)

In a lightly obscured area, such as dim light, patchy fog, or moderate foliage, creatures have disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.

This has no impact on ranged attacks.

If the Web could block a ranged attack, the spell would either specify that it grants Cover (PHB 196), or that it Heavily Obscures the area (PHB 183).

Because it does not specify that it creates any of these effects, Web has no impact on ranged attack rolls.

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Yes.

The only condition that prevents ranged attacks from passing through at all is total cover (PHB 196):

A target with total cover can’t be targeted directly by an attack or a spell... A target has total cover if it is completely concealed by an obstacle.

However, lightly obscured has a different meaning (PHB 183):

In a lightly obscured area, such as dim light, patchy fog, or moderate foliage, creatures have disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.

Given that attacks can easily pass through all three of those examples, we can safely conclude that ranged attacks can pass through web.

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As the area is lightly obscured it would seem likely that creatures can see through to the other side.

They can see through. "Lightly obscured" is a game term, and creatures in lightly-obscured areas have disadvantage on Perception checks that rely on sight.

Whether ranged attacks are interfered with by this is somewhat subjective, but given the description including "mass" and "thick", I'd look to the rules for Cover. Half cover examples include hiding behind furniture, a creature, or a "narrow tree trunk". Being behind this type of cover gives +2 to AC and Dex saves. I think whether the "thick mass" is up to this level of protection is a reasonable call by a DM either way. On the plus side, "thick mass" seems like it might be at least as much protection as a small tree or a dining room chair. On the negative side, there are spells like Bigby's Hand which explicitly offer half cover, and that's not called out here.

Either way, it'd be quite a stretch to say that this would grant the total cover required to prevent attacks entirely.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This. Yes the description says that the area is lightly obscured, but don't ignore that fact that it also says "a mass of thick, sticky webbing ... fill(s) a 20-foot cube from that point". Treat this the same as you would any other mass of thick, sticky webbing filling a 20-foot cube, whether created by a spell or not. \$\endgroup\$ – Nelviticus Aug 4 '17 at 8:13
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Lightly obscured just provides a disadvantage on perception checks to see things on the other side of the obscurity, so as the spell is written, yes ranged attacks can pass through the mass. Where you might run into trouble is actually finding your target on the other side of the mass. It wouldn't be far fetched for a dm to impose disadvantage to ranged attacks through the web as a result of the light obscurity.

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