Daggers can do either slashing or piercing damage, and have a range increment of 10'. I don't see anything in the rules to suggest that thrown they only deal piercing damage...though it seems like a reasonable rule.

Am I missing something?


2 Answers 2


Yes - It's Attacker's Choice

The dagger weapon entry says "P or S" for its damage type, as you mentioned. The important part is how you resolve the two types, which is here (emphasis mine):

Some weapons deal damage of multiple types. If a weapon causes two types of damage, the type it deals is not half one type and half another; all damage caused is of both types. Therefore, a creature would have to be immune to both types of damage to ignore any of the damage caused by such a weapon. In other cases, a weapon can deal either of two types of damage. In a situation where the damage type is significant, the wielder can choose which type of damage to deal with such a weapon.

You always get to choose which one you want, even when throwing it.

If you wanted to houserule it that it only does one type when throwing it, you certainly could. But it's not a core rule.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Rules are rules of course, but I wonder how can anyone do slashing damage by throwing dagger.. \$\endgroup\$
    – UtherTG
    Mar 19, 2014 at 3:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @UtherTG by throwing it badly? It only pierces if it hits tip first. Try to throw a knife, you will not manage hitting something tip first if you don't train extensively. A knife or dagger is not a dart :) \$\endgroup\$
    – nvoigt
    Mar 19, 2014 at 7:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sure you can cut some skin. And in rare dire situations you can even cut blood vein(serious damage). But to cut something good, you need to apply force from two directions. \$\endgroup\$
    – UtherTG
    Mar 19, 2014 at 7:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ Indeed, no slashing damage is possible, according to my very limited experience. Heck, bludgeoning damage (from hitting handle-first) would be orders of magnitude more damaging than a slash from badly thrown knife. But what about some curved knifee.g. karambit? \$\endgroup\$
    – Vorac
    Mar 19, 2014 at 13:55

The rules let you do slashing damage with a thrown dagger, and that's physically reasonable when spinning it.

According to the laws of physics, you get a large contribution to the kinetic energy of an object by spinning it - especially if the object is heavy and weghted in the correct way.

The linear momentum is one thing (ie: p = m × v), but by spinning you also get angular momentum: L = r × m × v

A thrown dagger will only deal straight piercing damage if you land a hit without spinning it. Otherwise it will be a linear combination. Imagine a spinning dagger, just as it is about to hit its target - it will be a slashing motion combined with forward momentum.

The faster you spin the dagger the more slashing damage you will do.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This question is about whether the rules of the game in question (D&D 3.5e) allow you to do so, and answers need to be based on the game rules. Whether physics allows it or a dagger throwing expert can do this is irrelevant as far as the actual rules are concerned, as they could simply say "no you can't." This is also D&D 3.5e, specifically, which completely ignores physics or makes no sense in the face of it on a regular basis. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 19, 2014 at 11:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ Further, the physical explanation is flawed. You don't hurl daggers spinning frenzily, but give them just enough spin to do a half turn (or a one-and-half turn if you're a circus artist). Everything else will be "out of control" and hitting with either hilt or blade based on pure luck. \$\endgroup\$
    – Damon
    Mar 19, 2014 at 11:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JonathanHobbs - you're right that my question was about game mechanics but, given that the mechanics do allow ranged slashing, an answer about why that's not completely ridiculous in real-world physics helps on the question of whether this needs a house rule. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jeff Fry
    Mar 19, 2014 at 15:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JeffFry I modified the first sentence to pretty much say that, so that it starts from a very brief grounding in the rules before delving into the "why" with physics. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 19, 2014 at 17:28

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