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This all started because I was telling a friend how bad a reputation the standard Net weapon has, in 5e... They said "How big is the net?"

I double-checked the item listing but it didn't say (actually I have two & neither say), so I started running searches online. I'm a stickler for finding any canonical points that may pertain, before I commit a game forever to some ruling, so I went on a deep dive to figure out how I'd rule on this... but I'm still not convinced that my own answer of 10ft is the only reasonable answer, nor am I certain what effects such a ruling might have.

I quickly found some numbers & got over-excited & posted this related question, asking if there's any possibility of a net hitting 4 medium creatures, which was not well framed & understandably none too well received. In all likelihood, a Net attack roll can only ever hit one creature.

But in addition to some (¿still iffy?) points about what attacks targeting a location are for, the very crux of that admittedly pretty stupid question, hung upon the size of a Net weapon being larger than 5ft×5ft! Since the item listing doesn't say that, that would obviously not a safe assumption for a player, but after quite a bit of searching & Q&A, I do think that both realism & what little text about nets exists, tend to support a GM ruling that a Net weapon is 10×10 when laid out flat.

Here's why:

A Large creature which controls a 10ft×10ft space, becomes Restrained if Hit by a net (PHB p149):

A Large or smaller creature hit by a net is restrained until it is freed. A net has no effect on creatures that are formless, or creatures that are Huge or larger.

The Creature Size Categories on PHB p191, say that Large creatures control a 10ft×10ft space, instead of 5ft×5ft for Medium & Small creatures. Absent any other data to indicate size, a net sized to cover the space of the creature it's restraining, seems like a reasonable inference to take as a starting point?

Additionally, the only sizes we do have listed for a net (including all the new rules for traps and crafting during downtime), are the nets used for the Falling Net (DMG p122) & the Net Trap (XGE p113):

When the trap is triggered, the net is released, covering a 10-foot-square area.

A net covering a 10-foot-by-10-foot area centered on the trip wire falls to the floor as a bell rings.

Those both specify a 10ft×10ft net, but those are traps which may not be representative of the dimensions for a Net weapon. As any stickler for "what is RAW" may point out, Net Traps being 10ft doesn't explicitly establish that Net weapons are 10ft. RAW doesn't cover this question (if it did, I'd have no need to ask).

So, since RAW doesn't say the dimensions, & direct comparables are lacking, perhaps it's prudent to also consider how big a standard Net weapon would realistically need to be, given the criteria that a standard Net can restrain a Large creature? Well, realistically I'd say a net needs to cover at least a 10ft area, to halt a creature that controls a 10ft area... Even a 10ft net barely reaches the floor when thrown over an average ("Medium" sized) person. Such a conclusion also fits with most media I've found depicting nets as a thrown weapon.

But the listing for the Net, simply doesn't say what size it is. We have to make an educated guess, & so far it seems like all we've got to go on, are a couple 10×10 trap listings & an item listing for the Net weapon which specifies that it can restrain a Large creature.

An entirely RAW Answer is not available, or the Question would be moot; and any Answer may earn criticism for any lapse in justification or reasoning or style etc...

I have a sinking suspicion that a 10ft Net will be problematic somehow, that I just haven't spotted yet.

Thankfully, the use cases where a net's size becomes a critical question mechanically, seem extremely limited, & the only combat option that came to mind where it would matter (Net attack as AoE), does not seem supported by RAW.

Nonetheless, for the sake of avoiding broken gameplay, & for the sake of expediting future trap crafting questions, & utilitarian usages for nets, & so on:

Is it reasonable to rule that a Net (weapon) measures 10ft×10ft, & what other gameplay implications should I consider before ruling that a Net is a given size?

Just as a note, this question originally asked for rulings that would be appropriate "supported by RAW" but an editor objected that a ruling cannot be based on RAW anywhere that raw is not fully explicit. Rather than point this out as a comment on this question & thereby grant the possibility to improve the question, their criticism of the question was inappropriately posted as an Answer (which it quite clearly is not), & my attempts at clarifying the question were then undone on the basis that, essentially, "what do the rules say" & "what ruling is supported by what text exists" are questions too different to be revised, despite no pertinent answer having been posted yet. I'm now editing it again because this is substantially the same question I originally asked & I'm just looking for some freaking opinions founded on what does already exist in the game, as opposed to deciding solely by GM fiat: Does a 10ft net actually make sense to any of you from a gameplay standpoint & either way, why?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I’ve rolled back to revision 2. We prefer to avoid substantially altering a question after answers have been given and voted on. Your edit changed the question being asked to something quite different. I recommend either posting a new question, or taking a step back and reevaluating what you’re really looking for here, because that isn’t clear. Maybe start a discussion in Role-playing Games Chat. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 3, 2023 at 16:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ “What do the rules say is the size of a net” and “what are the mechanical implications of ruling a net is X size” are entirely different questions. You don’t get to change your question to an entirely different one because you don’t like an answer. If you have a new question, ask a new question. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 3, 2023 at 17:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ProphetZarquon I don't want to be confrontational but it's your constant edits (that fundamentally change a question instead of clarifying) and your refusal to follow guidelines such as submitting an answer for votes instead of trying to direct answers towards your desired conclusion within the question. Please reflect on how these questions have been received, your reaction to that guidance and criticism, and admit to yourself how you could be a part of the problem. Instead of just blaming us. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jason_c_o
    Commented Sep 3, 2023 at 18:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ Voting to close as this is now an opinion based question. What’s reasonable rulings are table dependent and any assessment will inherently be opinion based. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Sep 3, 2023 at 18:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ The very fact you're calling answers on this site "insubstantial rebukes" because you aren't liking what the rules seem to actually be saying is exactly what I'm talking about. I'm sorry you aren't comfortable submitting an answer, and again I implore you to reflect on these experiences. In order to not chat in comments, and because I feel I don't have anything more to add, this will be my last comment on the matter. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jason_c_o
    Commented Sep 3, 2023 at 19:00

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This is outside the scope of the rules.

There is no ruling that is “supported by RAW”, because this isn’t a question the rules address. It is simply outside their scope. The DM decides the dimensions of a net if it ever becomes relevant.

As for guidance I might offer about the size, something like “whatever sounds reasonable to you and/or the players at your table” is probably sufficient for most situations. Of course 1 ft x 1 ft is probably too small for most people’s sensibilities, and 50 ft x 50 ft like wise too large. 10 ft x 10 ft seems reasonable to me, however, what’s reasonable to me may not be to you, or anyone else. So like I said, it’s really up to the DM to work it out, but I can’t really come up with any circumstances where a concrete number matters all that much.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ How would you suggest I phrase a question on what canonical criteria to arrive at a ruling by, besides "based on RAW"? I realize that a purely RAW original ruling is a contradiction in terms, but what's a better way to express that any related citations & explicit rules are of foremost consideration in arriving at a ruling? Conceptually, any ruling that didn't have explicit rules to go by, but used similar rulestext as an analog without creating conflict with existing text, can be considered "supported by RAW" & that's what I'm asking for here: "What is the most reasonable inference?" \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 3, 2023 at 16:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Asking questions trying to prove your position about another question generally don’t work well anyway. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 3, 2023 at 16:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Excuse me: I asked a poorly composed question, was told I should post separate questions instead of one big one, & now that I've dutifully done so, I'm relentlessly accused of... what? Asking questions that relate to questions, in search of answers that clarify or relate to my original question? Failing to upvote an answer before it cited any reasoning? I'm pretty sure that's how Q&A is supposed to work. I have no stake in dis/proven, I just want a good answer. I'm sorry my first question was bad, but don't see why I need to be repeatedly admonished for trying to improve it? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 3, 2023 at 17:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ProphetZarquon “What size is a net” is already a valid, acceptable question, and this is how I would answer it with or without any requests about RAW in the question body. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 3, 2023 at 17:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ Unfortunately, , asking what is the most reasonable inference would be an opinion based question. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Sep 3, 2023 at 17:41

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