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A thrown melee weapon is considered a ranged attack.

However, the Net has a throwing range, is listed as a Martial Ranged Weapon, but doesn't inherently state that it requires you to throw the net in order to use its effects, only that it hits.

Additionally, the Thrown feature refers to using the same attribute that you would use for the weapon if you were to use it for a melee weapon attack.

This implies that a melee weapon attack is possible with the net, but doesn't express how. If a melee weapon attack wasn't possible, then that would, RAW, indicate that no attribute is used for the Net to throw it.


What would happen if I tried to make a melee weapon attack with a net?

  • Would the net be treated as an improvised weapon?
  • Would it still be able to capture a target?
    • If it was an improvised melee weapon, but couldn't capture anything, would it still inflict standard improvised weapon damage?
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    \$\begingroup\$ Part of your premise is invalid. Specifically, the description for the Thrown property says "If the weapon is a melee weapon, you use the same ability modifier for that attack roll and damage roll that you would use for a melee attack with the weapon." The Net is not a melee weapon, so you use Dexterity as is normal for a ranged weapon. I think it's still valid to ask whether making a melee attack with a net as an improvised weapon would capture a target. \$\endgroup\$ – Kamil Drakari Nov 1 '18 at 18:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ Related on Can I make a melee attack with a ranged weapon? I do not think this is a dupe because we're also talking about the special property the Net has which is not asked by that question. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Nov 1 '18 at 19:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KamilDrakari: I think general policy is to correct misconceptions in the question by answering (especially if the correction answers part of the question), rather than in a comment. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Nov 1 '18 at 21:51
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No, it would be an Improvised Weapon for 1d4 bludgeoning

The Net is listed under the Martial Ranged Weapons chart and there are no existing Ranged weapons that can be used as Melee Weapons at this time.

Because of that, this is purely a ranged weapon. If you'd like to use it as an improvised weapon, then it becomes purely an improvised weapon without its additional special properties. If you give it the additional special properties and allow for it to be used in Melee, then you are creating properties that don't currently exist for it or any other ranged weapon at this time.

Improvised Weapons deliver 1d4 damage of the type determined by the DM that's appropriate to the net. Given the limited options here, I'd probably say it's bludgeoning damage because it has nothing that will slash or pierce.

But why can't it still work as a net?

I think the reason behind this is in that when you throw the net, you are carefully tossing it in attempt to capture and you need some room in order to that.

If you are using it as a melee weapon, you are not doing arranging the net appropriately for capture and just whipping someone with it. There is no opportunity to capture someone, just an opportunity to hurt someone.

The above is just my reasoning behind the mechanics. Feel free to come up with your own, but the mechanics do remain the main driver here.

Damage vs Restraining

In addition, if one were to rule that you could use a melee attack and still get the special properties, you have just upgraded the weapon to one that deals damage and can restrain. If they wanted damage on an attack, they'd have given it to the ranged option.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The net needs to spread out to actually work. Not using a weapon as intended makes it improvised. \$\endgroup\$ – XAQT78 Nov 1 '18 at 19:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's possibly worth noting that if one takes the Sharpshooter feat, then they can make a ranged attack with a net and deal 10 damage (given they take the -5 to hit). \$\endgroup\$ – goodguy5 Nov 1 '18 at 19:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @goodguy5 Started to add that, but there are other ways to add damage besides that (not a flat 10, but other ways.) I'm not sure it's directly relevant to the question and not sure I want to go through and find all the possible ways to do so. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Nov 1 '18 at 20:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @goodguy5: Relevant Sage Advice from Crawford (replying to a deleted tweet apparently asking whether Hunter's Mark + Sharpshooter net attack would do 1d6+10 damage): "The intent is that a net doesn't deal extra damage because it's not dealing damage in the first place." \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Nov 1 '18 at 21:49
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There doesn't appear to be any reason that a net couldn't be used in melee, if you research gladiatorial weaponry you'd see images of fighters using nets held in one hand that are meant to entangle and control their opponent, it seems like people think that the only way to use a net is to throw it like you were fishing with it but that is only one way to use a net. If we take a look at the dart which is listed under the ranged weapon chart yet still has the (finesse) property but ranged weapons already use dexterity modifier and thus this property has no use being here other than to imply that you could simply hold the dart in your hand and press it into a creature in melee to accomplish the same task while also giving you the option to do so gracefully with the finesse property. If we apply this logic to the net we could reason that if one were to hold a net in one hand and slap an enemy with it that they would accomplish a similar effect as throwing it although they would be applying their strength modifier for the attack, it could also be reasoned that if you keep hold of the net that you can then move an entangled target much like you would a grapple and using the same rules. Lastly to those who believe the net would have to be treated as an improvised weapon the PHB reads "In many cases, an improvised weapon is similar to an actual weapon and can be treated as such. For example, a table leg is akin to a club. At the DM ’s option, a character proficient with a weapon can use a similar object as if it were that weapon and use his or her proficiency bonus."

This is telling us that if it looks like a net and you use it like a net then its a net. If it looks like a longbow and you use it as a club then its a club. Entangling a creature with a net only requires you to hit the creature with it so if you use it in melee and hit a creature with it, you're not hitting it with a club you're hitting it with a net and thus entangling/restraining it.

I feel like the net entry in the PHB may have been misplaced or at least misrepresented, there is a lot of potential in using nets if good rules can be setup to support them. There are lots of other options when it comes to battlefield control, the net is probably one of the weaker ones so consider that someone who is trying to make use of them in your game is trying to be creative in their combat or role-play and instead of just smacking things endlessly with the largest weapon they can find they choose to handle things differently to make things hopefully more enjoyable.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi Skrag! Welcome to the stack :) Please take our tour to learn more about we operate here. Unlike forums, we expect answers to be fully supported either by the rules or be gameplay experience. You're not wrong in your assessment of the net in 5e, but you'd need to back up different uses that you've used or seen in play. Just presenting the idea or comparing it to real world uses doesn't back up your answer. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Sep 18 at 21:37

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