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
  • \$\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

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.

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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