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In core 5e RAW rules, Javelins are simple melee weapons (STR based). However in this particular players guide they talk about Ranged weapons, which Javelins are mentioned.

On Page 20 of the "Odyssey of the Dragon lord" players manual:

Thylean Weapons Warriors in Thylea typically use spears, shields, and swords. There are exceptions, of course, but the armies of Mytros and Aresia train thousands of soldiers in the use of these simple armaments. Heavier weapons, such as halberds and greataxes, are thought to be barbaric.

Ranged weapons are typically limited to javelins, slings, longbows, and shortbows, although there are some who have adopted the use of complex recent inventions, such as crossbows. These weapons are engineered in small quantities by the Academy and are not widely available. Thylea boasts a handful of unique cultural weapons, which can be found at just about any blacksmith or adventuring shop. With the exception of the chakram, they function identically to their normal counterparts (unless they are magical).

There are other places where they change/add new descriptors to existing core weapons. For example page 49 of the same players guide:

Vagrant Soldier Despite your roguish demeanor, you have all the training of a common soldier. When you choose this archetype at 3rd level, you gain proficiency with shields. Additionally, spears and tridents count as finesse weapons for you.

If anyone has played this campaign and can prove a definitive ruling on this question - using RAW or other items from the publishers, that would be great.

As usually, it is up to the DMs discretion for a final ruling - this is a known and doesn't need further mentioning as part of an answer.

Thank you.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It would be good to add that this is not published by Wizards of the Coast as an official module. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Mar 5, 2021 at 13:25

2 Answers 2

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RAW, Javelins use Strength, not Dexterity, for attacks and damage

In the Player's Handbook, weapons are classified as melee or ranged. Javelins are included in the melee weapon section, not the ranged weapon section. And the general rule is: Melee weapons use Strength, Ranged weapons use Dexterity.

Many melee weapons however have the thrown property. In the section describing the Thrown property it specifically calls out that you are using a melee weapon to make a ranged attack, and that you still use the ability you would normally use for that weapon, i.e. Strength.

There is an exception - Finesse weapons. Weapons with this property may use Dexterity instead of Strength, whether used for melee or ranged attacks. This is also mentioned in the rules for the Thrown property: A melee that had both "Thrown" and "Finesse" properties may use Strength or Dexterity.

I can't speak for how or why the Odyssey book seems to think Javelins are ranged weapons (though you would typically think this is the case). It could be an understandable error or they may be missing a new ruling. Either way, this is not an official WoTC module (as @NautArch pointed out).

In the case of the Vagrant Soldier - there is a specific rule, overriding the general rule, that gives spears and tridents (but not javelins) the Finesse property so they can be used with Dexterity instead of Strength.

As a DM, it would probably be reasonable to add Javelins to that list (especially as the damage output is identical to a spear), but that would be a house-rule.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It seems that in real world javelins are (were) actually used as ranged weapons: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Javelin. This particular campaign seems to be more historically accurate than DnD5e core rules. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Commented Mar 5, 2021 at 10:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Eddymage Agreed. DnD is not the most historically accurate set of rules. \$\endgroup\$
    – PJRZ
    Commented Mar 5, 2021 at 10:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ Given that a thrown spear and a thrown jav do the same damage, you might want to comment in your last bit that "it would have no impact on balance/damage output" \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 5, 2021 at 17:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Agree that jav are melee (STR) weapons with a thrown property (RAW). However, it seems this campaign/players guide "adjusts" RAW for some weapons. It seems to list all the "ranged" weapons (even going into Xbows) as examples, which Javs are one of them. So do they means these are the ranged weapons used in the campaign, or these are the weapons usually used in ranged attacks. \$\endgroup\$
    – Al Sun
    Commented Mar 5, 2021 at 21:26
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Javelins are already ranged weapons

The weapons table lists javelins thus:

Javelin 5 sp 1d6 piercing 2 lb. Thrown (range 30/120)

They can be thrown up to 30 feet normally and up to 120 feet with disadvantage.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is just incorrect. They are under melee weapons and have the thrown property, not ranged weapons. \$\endgroup\$
    – RallozarX
    Commented Mar 5, 2021 at 8:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RallozarX I'm pretty sure they are using the term ranged weapons to refer to weapons design to be used at range. They aren't reclassifying javelins. I can't think of any class that distinguishes between ranged and melee. Just simple and martial. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 5, 2021 at 8:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ It matters for purposes of ability used for attack/damage though. A javelin is a melee weapon with the 'thrown' property. This allows you to make ranged attacks with a melee weapon but using the ability you normally use for melee. i.e. Strength. This is all in the PHB under section describing weapon properties. \$\endgroup\$
    – PJRZ
    Commented Mar 5, 2021 at 8:56

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