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It's a general question, I don't want a specific answer for a dagger.

Is an object stabbed in a creature considered an "worn or carried" object?

Examples :

  • Can I use Mage Hand to retrieve a thrown dagger?
  • Animate object on arrows to mock the opponent?
  • Will my arrows burn after a fireball?
  • Etc.
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There are no rules for weapons sticking in the target after attacks

As cool as this concept is, there is no rule for it under RAW so it lies firmly under the realm of DM fiat.

Previous editions had rules for whether or not ammunition (such as arrows) broke on impact based on a variety of factors. In 5th edition we only have this quote from the PHB weapon rules on ammunition:

At the end of the battle, you can recover half your expended ammunition by taking a minute to search the battlefield.

From this we can assume that the ammunition remains on the battlefield but there is no advice given to it sticking in an enemy. There is a similar question on reusing arrow stuck in my character and the answer was that there is no rules for it.


How would I rule it?

With all that said how would I rule it if a player tried this at the table? Under rule of cool I think this should probably work. But if it works then there are appropriate drawbacks as well.

If arrows burn during a fireball they are also destroyed and cannot be recovered at the end of the fight. If you can recover a dagger with mage hand, your enemy can also hurl it back at you. This is a ruling that either applies all the time or not at all.

I have always played that weapons and ammunition are just objects and continue to exist after the attack so can be interacted with during combat. Whether they are stuck in a target or on the floor comes down to how the attack was narrated and sometimes how good the attack roll was. It has never caused any issues to rule it this way at my table.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Exactly what I wanted to confirm :) Thanks \$\endgroup\$ – James McGrath Feb 1 at 2:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ If I were GMing a combat where a player RPs pulling a dagger out of their back and throwing it at someone else, I'd not only allow it, I'd give them whatever bonus the system normally applies to Rule of Cool... Although I might make them roll for additional damage from awkwardly pulling a blade out of an injury. \$\endgroup\$ – Shadur Feb 1 at 14:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Shadur I would roll somewhat the same. Sometimes sticking too much to the rules can be a bit detrimental to the power fantasy of the game. Allowing those bits of "Action Movie Moments" can really up the fun for some tables. \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar - Reinstate Monica Feb 1 at 14:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ You can't attack with Mage Hand. Not in 5e at least. \$\endgroup\$ – Stackstuck Feb 3 at 22:13
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While there’s no rules as written answer, and of course a DM can rule either way, I think ruling it is not worn or carried makes sense on two counts:

  • First, it’s established that 5E uses natural language when not using specific game terms, so “worn” and “carried” (and “held”, which is also sometimes used) mean what they usually mean, and you wouldn’t describe someone wearing, carrying or holding an arrow or dagger that’s stuck into them. (“Carrying” might be technically correct, but I think such usage would be sarcastic or metaphorical.)
  • Second, some spells and so on use this wording to give the character wearing or carrying an item a saving throw to avoid some or all of the magic’s effect. That implies the character is able to affect the weapon or item because they are wearing or carrying it, by dodging the spell or wresting control of the item. That’s not so easy to do when it’s stabbed into you, though I guess that might vary depending on where the wound is.

So for those reasons, I’d rule it’s not worn or carried, though there might be cause to still give a character in such a situation some kind of saving through to avoid or mitigate whatever the weapon is doing, for the sake of balance. (That might effectively be a reinterpretation of the existing mechanics, or they might need to be modified, swapping a Dex save for a Con one for example.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Many items that penetrate the body are considered both "worn" and "carried." This includes ear- and nose-rings, piercing of any kind, studs or horns inserted into the head, and drugs, sex toys, and other small objects inserted in various orifices. If a magic earring confirs a magical effect when penetrating an earlobe, i don't see why a magic dagger would not confer its effects when penetrating an arm. \$\endgroup\$ – Slam Feb 2 at 1:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Slam - I'm not sure of your point? You absolutely wear rings, studs etc inserted into a permanent piercing, and if you're carrying something in an orifice, you're carrying it. The natural usage of the words apply, as per my answer. I think it's clear we're talking about weapons and offensive objects stuck in wounds, rather than anything about orifices, natural or otherwise. Though, for the record, I don't think "worn" or "carried" apply to permanent body modifications; you have horns or tattoos etc. and for game purposes I'd rule them part of a character's body, not separate items. \$\endgroup\$ – Guybrush McKenzie Feb 3 at 3:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Slam - as to your second point - a magical dagger is generally enchanted to offer a benefit to its wielder, and/or do something awful to its target. If you've been stabbed with a dagger, it's pretty clear you're the target; likewise, if you have a dagger strapped onto your arm as a replacement for a lost limb, you're clearly wielding it, and "worn or carried" (or "held") would certainly apply. Again, though, in the latter case, if it's grafted on, none of those words are quite appropriate; I'd count such a weapon as part of the character's body, also meaning they can't be disarmed etc. \$\endgroup\$ – Guybrush McKenzie Feb 3 at 3:15
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I would likely rule out that, unless the thrown dagger scores a critical hit, it is very unlikely stuck in your oppoenent as 'hp' are just a measure of training and how good the character is at avoiding deadly blows. A fighter with 120 hit points is not receiving 30-50 sword blows to the belly before dying, most of the attacks are just grazing him, barely hitting him, but dwindling his energy (hp)... a critical hit on the other hand means you hit some vital spot, or did land a very good blow, this could mean the arrow or dagger sticks in the body of the target (his arm, shoulder, leg) but unless it is killing the character, it will likely not be stuck in the middle of his chest or his forehead. And if stuck I beleive the weapon ius carried (using the appendage it is stuck in). Even if unwillingly, it is being 'carried' albeit in a very unusual way, by the appendage it is stuck in.

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