I want to make a character that specializes in throwing cards. I took 2 levels in Brawler, which gives me proficiency in Improvised Weapons. It also lets me choose Improvised Weapons as my weapon focus and weapon specialization. Can Improvised Weapons count as both melee and ranged weapons for Ranged Weapon Mastery and Melee Weapon Mastery? Is there a way to make Ranged weapons count as melee for Melee Weapon Mastery?

What kind of craft should I take in order to craft cards?

Is there any way you can add an enhancement to an improvised weapon? Let's say my character makes his own masterwork cards, and he treats them as weapons, he has weapon focus and specialization in Improvised Weapons, wouldn't they be treated as weapons with that already?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Hi Mole, welcome to rpg.se! Take the tour and visit the help center for more information about the site. You seem to be asking multiple things at once, while all related questions here do better if you ask only one thing per question, asking multiple questions will get closed as too broad. In particular I would remove your crafting question and focus on the improvised weapons in this question. Once you have some good answers you can ask another question about crafting if you want to. Good luck and happy gaming! \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin
    Oct 9, 2019 at 22:53

2 Answers 2


Improvised weapons are mostly left up to the DM. There is very little we can tell you for sure; most of these questions you will have to ask your DM about.

Improvised weapon as both melee and ranged

A weapon can count as both a melee weapon and a ranged weapon; many throwing weapons do that. An improvised weapon could be likewise—you can slam a brick down on someone’s head, or you can throw a brick at someone, and both would be attacks with an improvised weapon. On the other hand, while—in the appropriate fantasy setting—we can imagine a thrown playing card being able to hurt someone, I’m struggling to imagine how you could hit someone with one in melee that would hurt them. (Just punching them with the card wrapped around your fist probably doesn’t count.) Your DM may or may not allow it, but it will likely come down to whether or not they can imagine it actually hurting someone.

Melee Weapon Mastery and Ranged Weapon Mastery with thrown weapons

Anyway, if allowed, yes, thrown weapons can be both a melee weapon and a ranged weapon, and the wording on Melee Weapon Mastery and Ranged Weapon Mastery is that you get the bonus when you use the correct sort of weapon—regardless of what kind of attack you make. And, officially, they stack. So you could get +4 to attack and damage with a thrown weapon if you took both. You should ask your DM about it, however, since some DMs may find it cheesy to get both like that. Personally, considering that you have burned four feats on this, I do not think this is a very strong choice, even if your DM allows it—Weapon Focus, Weapon Specialization, Melee Weapon Mastery, and Ranged Weapon Mastery are rather weak feats.

Magical Improvised Weapons

In order to become magical, a weapon must first be a masterwork weapon. An improvised weapon is, by definition, something that wasn’t made to be a weapon at all. If you made a card that was designed to be a weapon and made with masterwork quality, it would no longer be improvised—it would be a real weapon. Whether or not that is possible in your game world is up to your DM.


Ask your DM for fancy, maybe exotic, weapons that are actually-weaponized playing cards. Sharpened metal edges, perhaps. Use the stats for a dagger, maybe. Then you can get masterwork versions and put magic on them and there are no questions. Having actually improvised weapons is a bad idea—there really is no advantage to using them at all, I checked.

Also, you probably should not take Weapon Focus unless something really good requires it. You probably shouldn’t take four levels of fighter—a feat per level for the first two levels is OK, a feat every other level is really weak. And even if you do, you almost-certainly shouldn’t take Weapon Specialization. That nixes the Weapon Mastery feats, but they aren’t that good anyway. Instead, I recommend looking into master thrower from Complete Warrior. Bloodstorm blade from Tome of Battle is rather good for throwing, too. If you want to be Strength-based, Brutal Throw from Complete Adventurer is good and ranger can get you dual-wielding or ranged-attack feats without Dexterity. If you want to be Dexterity-based, Dead Eye from Dragon Compendium can get you Dex to damage, and if you do treat the cards as if they were daggers, Shadow Blade from Tome of Battle will as well (they stack). Swordsage is useful for getting Shadow Blade, and may have more useful things you can do as well.

  • \$\begingroup\$ You obviously have not watched enough anime, if you missed cards being used as weapons in melee.... ^^ \$\endgroup\$
    – nijineko
    Oct 9, 2019 at 22:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nijineko Fair enough; my exposure to anime is extremely minimal (Cowboy Bebop was excellent, but aside from that, uh...), and like I said, ultimately it’s up to the DM to buy the explanation of how it’s used as a weapon. If I were DM, I might have reservations, but some clips from an anime for how it’s done would probably work fine for me. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Oct 10, 2019 at 0:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was gonna say, a dagger can be used in melee+ ranged normally. you already kinda mentionned it. goog job \$\endgroup\$
    – Maxpire
    Oct 29, 2019 at 7:53

On playing cards as improvised weapons

A talis deck (Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 97) (2 gp; 0.25 lbs.) is a "deck of seventy-eight cards, typically made of lacquered paper or parchment, in a wooden case." I couldn't find another mundane deck of cards in official material for this edition.1

Complete Warrior on Table 4–7: Improvised Weapon Damage has this footnote: "If an item has no weight worth noting, it doesn’t deal any damage when used as a weapon" (159). Although it may seem bold, I think many DMs would be inclined to rule that a talis card has no weight worth noting, seeing as how it weighs at most 1/78 of 1/4 lb. That is, it's hard to imagine an individual talis card weighing more than, for example, a candle, an inkpen [sic], a signet ring, or a glass wine bottle. (All of which are for-reals examples of items from the Player's Handbook that have negligible weight.)

To be clear, on Minimum Damage does say, "If penalties reduce the damage result to less than 1, a hit still deals 1 point of damage" (PH 134), but dealing no damage isn't actually a penalty, so that doesn't apply. It takes the Dungeon Master's Guide to explain a weapon dealing no damage, doing so in the context of decreasing a weapon's damage due to its size: "Weapons that deal less than 1 point of damage have no effect. Once a weapon only deals 1 point of damage, it’s not a weapon if it shrinks further." This reader feels that it's reasonable to extrapolate just a little from last sentence: Once a weapon only deals 1 point of damage, it’s not a weapon if its damage shrinks further.2

So the DM must agree that 1/78 of 1/4 lb. (at most!) is a weight worth noting, and— technically, I mean—it is a weight worth noting: the game notes it. The game offers a weight for the talis deck and the description lists a precise number of cards and that wooden case as what's purchased. The DM must make a ruling about the talis deck's weight with regard to the case-to-cards ratio, but it is a weight that is—to some degree, anyway—noted. If the DM agrees, then the brawler in question will be able to hurl that 1/78 of 1/4 lb. (at most!) talis card as an improvised weapon that deals 1d3 points of (slashing?) damage. He'll also be able to use it in melee as a light weapon. (Complete Warrior also says, "If an object weighs up to 2 pounds, a Medium character can treat it as a light weapon" (ibid.).)

(Honestly, this DM wouldn't have a problem with shuriken (PH 117) (2 sp; 0.2 lbs.) reskinned as playing cards. Decks'll be heavy—fifty shuriken cards weigh 10 lbs.—, but it's a lot easier to find options for shuriken than playing cards! Reskinning spells—with or without the feat Spell Thematics (Player's Guide to Faerûn 44)—is certainly a thing, too. You want your magic missile spell effect to look like an ace of spades? This DM doesn't see why not. I mention these options because they're much less prone to needing additional rules intervention than the improvised weapon rules which are kind of rough around the edges.)

On improvised weapons

  • Can a character like that in the question use an improvised weapon to meet the prerequisites of the feat Melee Weapon Mastery (Player's Handbook II 81)? The feat's benefit, in part, says

    When you select this feat, choose bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing. You must have Weapon Focus and Weapon Specialization with a melee weapon that deals this type of damage. When using any melee weapon that has the damage type you selected, you gain a +2 bonus on attack rolls and a +2 bonus on damage rolls.

    Complete Warrior says, "Most improvised weapons deal between 1d3 and 1d6 points of damage (usually bludgeoning, but possibly piercing or slashing)" (159). Thus the DM can let the question's brawler-and-potential-improvised-weapon-master pick any of those three damage types due to the weapon master's usual feats. Similarly, the brawler meets the prerequisites of the feat Ranged Weapon Mastery (PH2 82) therefore is also able to pick there from among any of those damage types.

  • Can a ranged weapon count as a melee weapon for the Melee Weapon Mastery feat? So as to reap simultaneously the benefits of both the feats Melee Weapon Mastery (slashing) and Ranged Weapon Mastery (slashing), for example? If so, the Dragon #351 Sage Advice column “Official Answers to Your Questions” includes this exchange:

    Does a spear count as a melee weapon or a ranged weapon for the purpose of qualifying for the Weapon Mastery feats…?

    Both, actually, although you can gain the benefit of only one feat or the other at any one time, and only when using the weapon in the appropriate manner. For example, if you have Melee Weapon Mastery (piercing), you’d apply the feat’s benefit only when using the spear in melee, not when throwing it. (82)

    (This exchange is repeated in the sometimes-maligned FAQ (47).) So in Andy Collins's campaign, the answer would be no. However, like this fine answer implies, there is a gray area as to whether an object is always itself (e.g. a melee weapon is a melee weapon even when with it are made ranged attacks) or if an object is what it's being used for now (e.g. a melee weapon that's thrown becomes a ranged weapon) or some compromise between. Ultimately, though, in this case to this DM it wouldn't matter: The brawler's only trying to deal more damage with a playing card—this DM'd be okay with the feats' benefits stacking.

  • What Craft skill allows a craftsman to manufacture playing cards? I imagine manufacturing the physical cards would be covered by the skill Craft (papermaking). Then making the cards look nice would take an artistic skill like Craft (painting) or Craft (drawing). However, I can't imagine actual cards being required to kill foes. While they might think the brawler a little sketchy, foes cut down by piece of heavy cardstock with a handwritten number on it should still appreciate the brawler's commitment to theme.

  • Is there any way to grant an improvised weapon an enhancement bonus? Maybe. That is, spells like the 1st-level Sor/Wiz spell magic weapon [trans] (Player's Handbook 251) et al. that have the entry Target: Weapon touched or similar with the DM's permission may be able to target an object that's currently being wielded as an improvised weapon. To be clear, we're back to Is an object is always itself or is an object what it's being used for now? Ask the DM, but, in this case, the world's a cooler place if it's the latter—it makes for better cinema.

1 The Arms and Equipment Guide, for example, includes the portable game board (AE 22–3) (2+ gp; 1+ lb.) but no cards. And the Three Dragon Ante Web enhancement, for example, doesn't actually include stats for a Three Dragon Ante deck.
2 If the DM rules that something can be added to nothing—a risky ruling!—, then things like the extraordinary ability sneak attack (Player's Handbook 50) and the magic weapon special ability flaming (Dungeon Master's Guide 224) (+1 bonus; 0 lbs.) can still be used in conjunction with weapons that deal no damage. However, such a ruling sends likely unintended ripples throughout the game. For example, by extrapolation, a typical Small creature that can spit like a halfling possesses a natural (if exotic) ranged touch attack with a 10 ft. increment (maximum 5? 10? Does it matter?) that deals no damage, making ambushes by halfling rogue spitters particularly dangerous. And gross.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Wow! Thank you for this answer! \$\endgroup\$
    – mole
    Oct 16, 2019 at 3:54

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