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For weapons like the spear that have the Thrown property, can a Rogue use sneak attack with them?
Thrown is considered a ranged attack and Sneak Attack specifies that "The attack must use a finesse or ranged weapon."
Does this mean a rogue could potentially apply Sneak Attack to an attack using a spear as it is technically a ranged weapon? If so, would this also work if you were using the spear in melee?

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Sneak Attack does not work with melee weapons that have the thrown property, but lack the finesse property

The Rogue's Sneak Attack feature states:

The attack must use a finesse or a ranged weapon.

A melee weapon cannot simultaneously be a ranged weapon, because as the Weapons section (PHB, p146) states:

Every weapon is classified as either melee or ranged.

In fact, a weapon must be listed in either the Simple or Martial Ranged Weapons tables to be considered a ranged weapon.

Moreover, the thrown property (PHB, p146) does not turn a melee weapon into a ranged weapon. It states:

If a weapon has the thrown property, you can throw the weapon to make a ranged attack. 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. For example, if you throw a handaxe, you use your Strength, but if you throw a dagger, you can use either your Strength or your Dexterity, since the dagger has the finesse property.

Making a ranged attack does not imply using a ranged weapon.

The thrown property allows you to make a ranged attack by throwing the melee weapon despite it being a melee weapon.

Whether or not you throw a melee weapon does not matter. If it lacks the finesse property, then it won't work with Sneak Attack.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 For thrown weapons are not ranged weapons. That is clearly the OP's misunderstanding and is absolutely the most important point. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Apr 10 at 23:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Making a ranged attack does imply using a ranged weapon." - I assume you mean "does not". I've edited it accordingly. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Apr 11 at 3:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast those pesky "not"s... I don't know how they always manage to get away. \$\endgroup\$ – Ruse Apr 11 at 7:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ Were you using the "Forget-me" nots by mistake? :P \$\endgroup\$ – Dave B Apr 11 at 17:47
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No. A thrown weapon is not a ranged weapon for Sneak Attack.

TL;DR: A melee weapon does not become a ranged weapon even if you throw it, nor does it count as a ranged weapon.

This is also discussed in Miniman's answer to the question: "Are weapons with the “Thrown” property considered a “Ranged Weapon” for the purpose of sharpshooter?".

Like Sneak Attack, another class feature that requires a ranged weapon is the Archery fighting style. For that feature, there is a canonical answer regarding whether thrown weapons count as ranged weapons. Per the Sage Advice Compendium, they do not:

Does the Archery fighting style work with a melee weapon that you throw? No, the Archery feature benefits ranged weapons. A melee weapon, such as a dagger or handaxe, is still a melee weapon when you make a ranged attack with it.

So the spear in your example is not a ranged weapon, whether or not you throw it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Darts are ranged weapons, even though they are thrown. They also have finesse though, so I guess it's moot! \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Apr 11 at 13:37

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