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It's my understanding that the dart is the optimized fighter's weapon of choice. In a traditional Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, 2nd Edition campaign that's run as much as it can be by the , is the dart really as effective as some claim, or is the dart only effective theoretically, requiring, for instance, several unlikely-to-be-rolled-legitimately ability scores, a liberal reading of the rules for drawing them and closing to melee range, a specific magic item or suite of magic items that the player would hope the DM would provide, or a combination of these and more?

Campaigns in which I participated didn't allow access to the Player's Option line of books, so was real ultimate dart power further enabled by those texts?

Illustrating the dart's effectiveness—or ineffectiveness—with an experience from an encounter from a published module would be especially welcome.

Note: I was recently reminded again of this apparent rules quirk by comments on an answer to this question. In Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, 2nd Edition I played wizards almost exclusively and, honestly, never bothered learning that much about the blood and fury of 2e weapon-based combat. In fact, in the longest-running campaign in which I participated, the other PCs were a paladin and a psion, neither of whom were dart-powered. Thus I never even saw an optimized 2e fighter, but the Internet seems to agree—like here, here, and here—that the lowly dart was his primary weapon.

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Yeah, darts. (I was the one that commented on that answer, but the comment seems to be deleted).

The original comment was something like this:

These many attacks remind me of the AD&D 2nd ed. Dart-Specialist Fighter with Gauntlets of Ogre Power... [1]

So, the thing is, darts have a monstrous rate of fire. Add on top of each hit a +8 damage from STR and specialization and you get a huge DPR.

From table 45:

\begin{array}{l} & \text{ROF} & \text{S} & \text{M} & \text{L} \\ \hline \text{Dart} & 3/1 & 10 & 20 & 40 \end{array}

The 3/1 is the unspecialized ROF. Specialist fighters could increase it (tabel 35):

\begin{array}{l} \text{Level} & \text{1-6} & \text{7-12} & \text{13+} \\ \hline \text{Dart}(*) & 4/1 & 5/1 & 6/1 \\ \text{Melee} & 3/2 & 2/1 & 5/2 \\ \text{Dagger}(*) & 3/1 & 4/1 & 5/1 \\ (*)\ Thrown \end{array}

The damage of the dart was 1d3 / 1d2 but the ROF and the +8 damage bonus put them in the top DPR category.

And we haven't even added Girdles of Giant Power or Haste yet...


[1] One could get a legit 18/00 by rolling, but we are just going with the magical item instead.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ O, I totally get the rate of fire thing, but other threads have pointed to the dart's extremely short range, the difficulty of using them once melee has been joined, Sage Advice maybe limiting dart damage, and the logistics of toting, like, thirty foot-long darts. Added to that is the difficulty of happening upon magical darts and the magical gauntlets that make them (even) awesome(r). Rate of fire seems only to scratch the surface. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Aug 15 '17 at 17:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan it is a mathematical exercise to get a high DPS under optimal circumstances, I really can't recommend this build to anyone intending on playing seriously... The dagger could be a more balanced option, being able to gain a improved melee attack rate, easier to find on magical charts, losing only 1 thrown attack per round. \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Aug 15 '17 at 18:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ So it's not a practical optimization scheme but a theoretical one, looking good on paper but not holding up in actual play? (Your comment was my thought, too. Losing one attack per round out of six seems a small price to pay for being able to engage in combat with a foes that can only be hit by magical weapons! The dagger really seems like a better long-term optimization choice.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Aug 15 '17 at 18:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan and if the dagger fighter has enough stats, he can just up his outlook a pip and dual-class thief (assuming human). Then cleric, and wizard. And he should be named Retsnimle Ramua. \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Aug 15 '17 at 18:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mindwin practically speaking, anything that starts leveraging dual-class too hard starts looking like theoretical optimization again. It works for very specific campaign types, where you can take a character that you've leveled up, dual-class him down to first, and go adventuring with a low-level group as a somewhat juiced version of a first-level whatever, but for the now-standard persistent party format, it has some issues. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Aug 15 '17 at 19:59

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