Weapons that have the ammunition property, such as bows and crossbows, can be used without having to worry about the action economy with regards to the ammunition itself (such as arrows or bolts) as drawing the ammunition is considered part of the attack.

From PHB (pp. 146-147):

Ammunition. You can use a weapon that has the ammunition property to make a ranged attack only if you have ammunition to fire from the weapon. Each time you attack with the weapon, you expend one piece of ammunition. Drawing the ammunition from a quiver, case, or other container is part of the attack.

Some melee weapons have the throw property, such as the Javelin, allowing the weapon to be used to make a ranged attack.

From PHB (p. 147):

Thrown. If a weapon has the thrown property, you can throw the weapon to make a ranged attack.

As it stands, because Javelins and other thrown weapons do not have the ammunition property, an object interaction (or even an action) would be needed to draw the weapon before it can be thrown. In particular, characters with Extra Attack can only use both attacks to throw such weapons if they started their turn already holding one.

When a melee-focused STR-based character such as a Barbarian or a Paladin is forced to use Javelins at range (for example, against flying creatures), it can be frustrating to essentially lose out of their Extra Attack class feature because they can't draw enough Javelins per round, whereas if they were a DEX-based character with a bow (such as a Ranger) they would have no such penalty and could make full use of their Extra Attack class feature.

Therefore, I propose the following houserule:

  • Thrown weapons can be treated as being drawn as part of the attack, just like weapons with the ammunition property;
  • However, they can only be drawn "for free" like this if they are immediately thrown as a ranged attack;
  • If you are drawing one just to hold it or to make a melee attack with it, you must use the free object interaction or your action like normal;

This way, a Barbarian or similar can make two ranged attacks with thrown weapons per turn, but this can't be exploited for being used in melee.

Is this balanced? Is there anything I'm overlooking with regards to balance or other exploits I haven't considered?

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    \$\begingroup\$ In order to resolve the awkwardness about only being able to draw as part of the attack if the weapon is immediately thrown, I suggest that you instead implement it as: "After throwing a thrown weapon, you can immediately draw another similar thrown weapon as part of that attack." This basically gives you the same thing, but avoids the issue of the action cost of drawing depending on future actions. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 16, 2019 at 4:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Like any free action the drawing of the weapon can occur anywhere in the turn. If you started off holding two javelins in each hand with extra attack you would be able to throw two and draw one. This would allow you to start the next turn with two in each hand whereupon you could throw two more and draw one. On the third round you would only have one to throw. If you have two weapon fighting you could draw two per round. Throwing should perhaps have its own feat. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 24, 2022 at 15:30

2 Answers 2


Str primary classes become less limited against flyers

Currently warriors using two-handed weapons do much more damage1 in melee than dexterous ones, especially after level 4. In return, they do significantly less damage at range, as they are limited one javelin2 attack per turn, and their defining feat is not usable.

After this houserule their melee capabilities will not change, but they will be less far3 behind Dex builds at range.

This will not break anything

Unlike in 4e, magic thrown weapons do not automatically return, so a thrower build is still not really viable. Javelins keep being a backup weapon, just less bad.

Existing returning weapons

There are some returning weapons that make a thrower build viable, but the cheapest is a very rare.
And if it is returning, you do not care about free draw anyway.

So this rule does not help much, unless you play in a very low magic setting.
Otherwise you either have a returning weapon, where free draw does not matter, or you cannot affort throwing away your magic weapons. Only if no one has magic items, does a thrower build become viable by this rule.

1) With Great Weapon Master
2) They could use a bow, but if well optimized, Dex is way behind Str
3) Javelins have a bit smaller damage, and lot smaller range than Longbows

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/103023/… - there are a few returning throwable weapons, but they're all high-tier, and if you have one of them, you don't much care about the weapon drawing anyway. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben Barden
    Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 14:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ For returning weapons, see also: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/121141/… \$\endgroup\$
    – StuperUser
    Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 14:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ You may want to modify this answer to take into account the "Thrown Weapon Fighting" fighting style from Tasha's Cauldron of Everything. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 4:11

Thrown weapons are more versatile than ranged weapons, so they're meant to have that additional cost.

Because a thrown weapon works both melee and ranged, it means a Fighter with 4 attacks can attack 3 melee targets, and another ranged target, every turn (without counting off-hand attacks). With a ranged weapon, to properly engage a group of enemies where one of them has gotten into melee range of you, you need to move away or you'll have disadvantage on your attacks.

Also, having melee weapons in hand allows you to do Attacks of Opportunity with them, while ranged weapons do not. In other words, if your Fighter draws and throws 4 javelins, and uses his object interaction to draw a 5th one, he can still handle AoO or melee combat just fine. Ranged fighters need to stow in one turn, and draw in the next, they don't have as much flexibility.

The fact that thrown weapons are more versatile (working both melee and ranged) means they need some sort of balancing to avoid them being plain stronger than a ranged weapon.

With your change, your strength fighter can do more than a ranged dexterity fighter. They can attack at a distance and at melee range, with no consequences, and that is not intended. As András pointed out,

D&D 5e rewards specialisation over flexibility.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ My players carry 5+ javelins on backs/bags of holding, but that might just be my table. However, remember you can pick up javelins after you throw them depending on where they landed/etc, and also that combats last, on average, 2 rounds, and rarely over 5. \$\endgroup\$
    – BlueMoon93
    Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 12:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ you have disadvantage on ranged attacks, not attacks with ranged weapons when an enemy is close to you. \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 14:43
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ DnD5 (like every rpg I know) rewards specialization over flexibility. Also magic weapons are important, and it is unlikely you will have 5+ magic javelins. \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 14:47
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @András Fixed, my bad \$\endgroup\$
    – BlueMoon93
    Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 15:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ if the Dex fighter is serious about ranged attacks, he will have Sharpshooter. It does not work with javelins. \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 16:06

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