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A player with a loxodon artificer wants to wield a shield and use a sling, blowgun, or hand crossbow, where the loxodon's trunk grasps the weapon and frees one hand to load the ammunition.
Is this within the 5E rules?

Considerations:

  • A loxodon trunk can't wield weapons or shields or do anything that requires manual precision, such as using tools or magic items or performing the somatic components of a spell. It can lift and grasp things, open/close doors and containers, grapple, and shove, among other uses. (Guildmaster's Guide to Ravnica, p. 18)

  • The ammunition and loading rule is that: "Drawing the ammunition from a quiver, case, or other container is part of the attack (you need a free hand to load a one-handed weapon)."

  • Loading the three weapons in question would require the trunk to:

    1. Take a stone from an open bag and place it on the sling pouch.
    2. Grasp the blowgun, freeing the hand to retrieve and load a dart into the mouthpiece.
    3. Grasp the crossbow, freeing the hand to wind and load.

Would any of that be 'wielding' a weapon?

What's the difference between wielding versus holding a weapon? Would any of that require 'precision'?

Loading, by rule, is part of the attack, and the trunk can't be used to attack. However, in the latter two cases, the free hand does the loading, and the trunk only grasps the weapon. The sling, in contrast, has the trunk loading and the hand grasping.

Could the loxodon player get around this by grasping the sling with the trunk, loading with the free hand, and swapping the loaded sling from the trunk back to the hand?

The description of the loxodon trunk says it's my decision as the DM, but I'm looking for specific rules or Sage Advice (if any) on which I can base that decision.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I've tagged this [dnd-5e] since you mentioned "5e" in the question and mention a D&D 5e race and class. Be aware, there are lots of RPGs out there, many of them having a 5th Edition, so it is best to specify that you are playing Dungeons & Dragons 5e (which you can do by adding an appropriate system tag when composing questions). \$\endgroup\$ Apr 9 at 18:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ If you are the player: when you asked your DM, what was the reply? If you are the DM, why do you feel that you cannot make a sensible ruling and put it into play? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 9 at 19:51
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Many would give a "yeah sure! you can handle objects, so you can manipulate ammo as well" argument... but imo that's not exactly correct, especially if you are familiar with the reloading mechanism of a crossbow. Ammo's not the only thing you are manipulating during the reload, and you need to be accurate on the draw, just pulling into position is not gonna work if you don't have the manual precision of drawing it in the right way(you might damage it).

Usually, you need both hands and a foot to draw it precisely in a certain position(that or you use a reloader that requires manual precision to be applied)... maybe a hand crossbow would be a bit different but all crossbows specifically say "you need a free hand to reload" and that in my opinion, rules out a trunk that lacks manual precision.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This answer has two problems. 1. The speculation about loading a hand crossbow is unnecessary and incorrect. The linked video shows a 10" medieval hand crossbow being wound and loaded, where at all times one hand merely grasps the tiny weapon while the other hand does the dexterous work. A fighter could probably put it down to wind and load it with one hand. 2. I asked for a rules-based (not reality-based) answer. By rule, yes, you need a free hand to reload. Once the trunk is holding the weapon, and the hand is not, how are you lacking the free hand necessary to do the loading? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 12 at 18:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's a hand crossbow with an integrated redraw mechanism assembled by Tod's Workshop. Furthermore, i already said a hand crossbow is a different matter in the answer above(posted by error before completion). I addressed how i would rule it, but feel completely free to disregard what i said if that's not your cup o' tea \$\endgroup\$
    – TheBumba
    Apr 12 at 22:07
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Yes, and...

The Loxodon's trunk description reads in part:

You can grasp things with your trunk, and you can use it as a snorkel. It has a reach of 5 feet, and it can lift a number of pounds equal to five times your Strength score. You can use it to do the following simple tasks: lift, drop, hold, push, or pull an object or a creature; open or close a door or a container; grapple someone; or make an unarmed strike. Your DM might allow other simple tasks to be added to that list of options.

Your trunk can't wield weapons or shields or do anything that requires manual precision, such as using tools or magic items or performing the somatic components of a spell.

You state that the trunk can't be used to attack but quite the opposite is true: specifically grappling (or shoving, which can be done with any part of the body) and unarmed strikes.

The rules do preclude a loxodon from "wielding a weapon," but it does not preclude the handling of ammunition. Since the trunk can already be used to lift, drop, or hold "an object" and bolts and arrows and darts and stones, etc are all objects, the Loxodon is granted the ability to use its trunk to handle ammunition.

The only real sticking point, I believe, is whether or not the loading a piece of ammunition requires "manual precision." That's a DM's call. I would imagine that certain ranged weapons require a little more manual precision to load than others. Perhaps certain weapons can be reloaded by trunk and others can't?

The rules state that the DM has the ability to allow other simple tasks to the list of explicitly permitted tasks. That's a bit redundant to me because the DM always has the ability, but it's carte blanche to adjudicate as necessary.


One last note: The loxodon player could get around all this a different way: since s/he is an Artificer and has access to the Repeating Shot weapon infusion:

This magic weapon grants a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with it when it's used to make a ranged attack, and it ignores the loading property if it has it. If you load no ammunition in the weapon, it produces its own, automatically creating one piece of magic ammunition when you make a ranged attack with it. The ammunition created by the weapon vanishes the instant after it hits or misses a target.

Given how easy it is to bypass the issue with the infusion (which would be desirable for a loxodon artificer with a loading ranged weapon anyway), I would personally rule that the trunk could be used to satisfy the loading condition. Loxodons are freaking cool. Let them be cool!

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    \$\begingroup\$ Repeating Shot does have at least one major limitation (which I discovered to my great chagrin when I tried to make an artificer around the similar Returning Weapon infusion)—it can’t be applied to an already-magical weapon. That means if you find some great magical crossbow, you can’t use it with Repeating Shot, which is rather painful at high levels when a magic weapon can be much greater than the +1 that Repeating Shot offers. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Apr 9 at 21:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kryan Ah, yes, very true. I guess that would mean that, if the Artificer ever got such a weapon, s/he would have to burn an ASI to get Crossbow Expert instead. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rykara
    Apr 9 at 21:58
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Since passing items from hand to hand or changing how many hands you're holding something with is not an action or object interaction, it seems to me that in most cases, you can move whatever's in your left hand (e.g. torch, sword, implement...) to your trunk for long enough to load the weapon and then switch it back to your hand, so you wouldn't need to worry about this. The only reason I can think of that you'd need to think about this is if you have a shield strapped to your off-hand (which requires an action to doff).

At my table, I'd rule that loading a one handed weapon requires a dexterous off-hand in addition to the hand you're firing with, so your trunk wouldn't be viable for the purpose.

All that said, I generally don't find it particularly useful to keep very close track of what everyone's hands are doing at any given time. I'd rather overlook an occasional weird thing than get into a lot of bookkeeping about how exactly you're juggling your items to do a thing.

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