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My bugbear barbarian, who can lift about double the weight of a wolf, wanted to throw the wolf at a second wolf. How would we go about doing that given existing rules options?

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Change the Description of a Normal Attack

If a player just wants to an damage opponent in a cool way, it's easiest to conduct it as the PC's normal attack, but describe it however you want (without any mechanical change).

Alternately, if the player wants to move an opponent to another square, you can use the Shove or Moving a Grappled Creature options (re-flavoring as needed).

Story time: last night my barbarian player wanted to clobber the Big-Bad, using a nearby minion as a club (as you do). I simply said "Sure. You have two attacks, so we'll assign one to each". He hit with both (crit'd actually) and we described the glorious carnage exactly as he specified.

If he had only one attack, we probably would've still described it mostly the same (but only one opponent would've lost HP). Indeed, players really don't even need permission to describe their attacks in a cool way, since they are just following the normal rules. Plus, if the DM likes it: he is free to give advantage to the attack(s).

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There are no official rules for throwing other creatures.

However, if homebrew is an option, the PHB has rules about grappling and shoving, for a start.

Grappling means that you grab a creature and hold it in place. Shoving means that you, well, shove a creature away from you, generally 5 feet or 1 square, if you're using a map. When you have a creature grappled, you can drag it along with you at half your movement speed.

Grappling (PHB p. 195):
When you want to grab a creature or wrestle with it, you can use the Attack action to make a special melee attack, a grapple.
[...]
Using at least one free hand, you try to seize the target by making a grapple check, [...]
Moving a Grappled Creature. When you move, you can drag or carry the grappled creature with you, but your speed is halved, unless the creature is two or more sizes smaller than you.

Shoving (PHB p. 195/196):
Using the Attack action, you can make a special melee attack to shove a creature, either to knock it prone or push it away from you. [...]
You make a Strength (Athletics) check contested by the target’s Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check (the target chooses the ability to use). If you win the contest, you either knock the target prone or push it 5 feet away from you.

Now, allowing a player to throw a creature instead of shoving it would pretty certainly be homebrew, I'm not aware of any official rules for this.

Therefore, let's take a look at the rules for throwing weapons. Most of the time when you throw a weapon (improvised weapons, and most throwable weapons, such as handaxes), you have a range of 20/60, i.e. a 20 feet range for a normal attack, and a 60 feet range with disadvantage. Javelins, which are specifically meant to be thrown, have a higher range (30/120), and nets have a lower range (5/15).

Thrown (PHB p. 148). If a weapon has the thrown property, you can throw the weapon to make a ranged attack. [...]

Improvised Weapons (PHB p. 147/148) [...]
An object that bears no resemblance to a weapon deals 1d4 damage (the DM assigns a damage type appropriate to the object). If a character uses a ranged weapon to make a melee attack, or throws a melee weapon that does not have the thrown property, it also deals 1d4 damage. An improvised thrown weapon has a normal range of 20 feet and a long range of 60 feet.

Obviously, a creature weighs more than a stick (improvised weapon) or a handaxe, so you should clearly have a shorter range. Still, no official rules on this, so: how could your DM rule?

My ideas off the top of my head:

  • Require the player to take the "grappler" feat, which allows the player to pin grappled creatures to further limit their mobility by rendering them restrained. You could allow lifting as an alternative to pinning a creature, and throwing them would then be a shove action.

    Grappler (PHB p. 167):
    [...]
    • You can use your action to try to pin a creature grappled by you. To do so, make another grapple check. If you succeed, you and the creature are both restrained until the grapple ends.

  • If the DM thinks that requiring a feat would be too much, he could also just require you to grapple a creature, then make a contested strength check against the creatures strength to lift it, and then another strength check (this one not contested) to throw it.

  • The range could be based on the range for throwing weapons (20/60), but lowered due to the massive weight differences between a handaxe and a wolf. I would suggest a range around 10/30, i.e. 10 feet for a normal attack (since you can already shove a creature 5 feet without additional strength checks or an attack roll), and 30 feet with disadvantage on the attack roll.
  • Instead, the maximum throwing range could also be based on the players strength score (i.e. 5 feet * STR modifier). However, that doesn't take the creature's weight into account, even though you can obviously throw a rat further away than an owlbear. Therefore, you could substract the creature's weight from the player's maximum lifting weight (i.e. 30 * STR score (not modifier), in lbs.) and develop a formula from the remainder.
    • example: creature weighs 250lbs / 125kg, the PC has a STR score of 16, i.e. 480lbs lifting capacity. 480 - 250 = 230, so the PC could throw the creature 230 : 50 = 4.6 squares, i.e. `4.6 * 5 feet = 23 feet. Rounded down, that's 4 squares (obviously). Keep in mind that using this rule could allow your player to throw a halfling or creature of similar weight (~50lbs) very, very, VERY far.

Again, note that the suggestions above are my own, which I have not tested in an actual game. They're just what I'd deem reasonable - you would be the first playtester(s) if you will.

All emphasis and page references mine.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure that will work if my character can lift one tonne he can throw things really really far \$\endgroup\$ – Sometwin123 Feb 9 '18 at 14:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Sometwin123 Trying to throw something half as heavy as your maximum carry weight isn't easy. I can more than easily carry my 8 year old but I could not throw her very far and she probably isn't even half my maximum carry weight. \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Feb 9 '18 at 15:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ Disclaimer: Please don't try how far you can throw your 8 year old \$\endgroup\$ – Theik Feb 9 '18 at 18:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ where did you take the divison by 50 from? \$\endgroup\$ – Rapha Dovahzord Nov 25 '19 at 3:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RaphaDovahzord it's been 1.5 years, so I'm not entirely sure; however, it seems to me that I picked 50 as the divisor more or less arbitrarily, except so that the resulting throwing distance is realistic. \$\endgroup\$ – PixelMaster Nov 25 '19 at 14:32

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