So, I was DMing a one-shot test dungeon with some Vexgit Gremlins (backported from PF) in it, and the party mage (Wiz3, 0 STR mod, +2 DEX mod) grappled one of them easily as they're Tiny, then proceeded to hurl it 10' at a nearby door/wall. I treated it as a ranged attack roll (and then proceeded to blooper it by leaving the -4 improvised weapon penalty off, so he hit the door with the vexgit instead of the wall next to the door, oh well :), and then rolled for fall damage (1d6+1), which was more than enough to get the kill as untyped damage (such as fall damage) bypasses DR (Vexgits are DR5/cold iron), to the best of my understanding.

Is it correct to treat a thrown creature as an improvised ranged weapon, is there a different attack roll made to adjudicate what happens to the throwee, or is this covered by some type of check instead of an attack roll? Also, how should damage for horizontally projected (thrown, etal) creatures be adjudicated? Is it the same dice as falling damage? Is there a unique set of damage dice to use for this application? What type of damage is inflicted on a horizontally projected creature when stopped by an impact with a wall or other immobile object?

RAW is preferable, but experience-backed houserules are good to have as well -- I'm not sure if this case is even covered in the 3.5 RAW to begin with.


3 Answers 3


The case is not covered in RAW. There is a feat in the Races of Stone (I don't remember what it's called) that has rules on throwing someone. Without that as a guide I would say a mix of RAW and experienced-backed house rule is the best option. Here is mine:

Make sure the PC is strong enough to pick up the creature in question. If they can't lift/press the creature they can't throw them. For the roll to see how far and if he could hit what he was aiming at I use the Throw Splash Weapon. I don't base the range and damage on falling. I base them on size category and treat all damage as non-lethal.

If the same size as PC: distance of 10' max, d2 points of non-lethal damage (d4/2).

If one size small than PC: distance of 15' max, d3 points of non-lethal damage (d6/2).

If two sizes smaller than PC: distance 20' max, d6 points of non-lethal damage.

If three sizes smaller than PC: distance 25' max, d6+1 points of non-lethal damage.

If four sizes smaller than PC: distance 30' max, d6+2 points of non-lethal damage.

Note: it is possible for a thrown creature to die from non-lethal damage. It is also possible for the thrown creature to be thrown into something that will cause lethal damage (a fire, off a cliff, into spikes, etc.) In these cases only the result of the lethal damage is applied.

If the creature is greater in size than the PC, I use the Trip rules with no damage being dealt.

This rule works in my games because it leverages the rules the players have access to (Splash Weapon and Trip) and models a real world throwing situation on a simple progression chart. When throwing anything (animate or inanimate) getting it to go in the direction you want is not that hard (hence the use of the Splash Weapon rule). It's really about can you pick it up and how far are you throwing it. A PC could come across an extra-planar creature that is size category Tiny but weighs 1,400 lbs. It may be tiny but you're not throwing it.

Even people of exceptional strength can't generally throw someone their own size more than 10'. The personal being thrown is not inanimate while being thrown. They're trying to get away and will react to break their fall. If they were inanimate, they would be like a huge sand bag. Just as difficult to throw and doesn't land in a fashion that is generally harmful to themselves. This is why all the damage is non-lethal.

The greater your size to the person being thrown the more speed and distance you can attain with a throw and slightly more damage is done on impact. The greater the size of the person you are throwing the less speed and distance and thus less damage. In general, even with exceptional strength, you aren't going to be able to throw someone of greater size farther than a couple of feet (hence using the Trip rule).

The house rule also allows for balanced application by both the DM and the players without unbalancing the game.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I assume the suggested house rule is for creatures engaged in a grapple? Must the grappler pin the creature to be thrown first? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 8:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ You don't necessarily need to be engaged in a grapple to use this rule. You could be picking up a prone, sleeping, or unconscious opponent. For grappling it's another action you can perform (like Damage Your Opponent). You would need to make the opposed grapple check and then follow the rule for throwing. In general a pin is not required to execute this action. In some situations (DM discretion), like trying to toss a greased pig, you would need to pin the opponent first to get the best grip for throwing. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 20:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually, the potential to toss one's foes worries me less than one tossing one's friends. A summoned earth elemental might be better served hurling the fighter into battle than battling himself, and with only a grapple required, the action cost becomes trivial. Further, the pin means winning, but grappling means still contesting--I'd think this would be a hard trick to pull off on someone one didn't already have at one's mercy. (Admittedly, though, the bulk of my wrestling knowledge comes from WWE.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 21:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan -- "Use your head, Rex!" "But I don't want to use my headddddddd!" CRASH \$\endgroup\$
    – Shalvenay
    Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 23:12

This is possible, entirely as written, by combining the dungeoncrasher fighter ACF from Dungeonscape with the Knockback feat from Races of Stone. Dungeoncrasher deals hefty damage by bull rushing foes into walls, and Knockback allows you to bull rush after each melee attack, and you do not move with your foe when you do this.

The name Knockback and the mechanics of it following an attack with Power Attack, and gaining bonuses for using Power Attack kind of imply that this is more of a home run kind of maneuver than it is a throw, but this is just description. If you use an unarmed strike for your attack, it is entirely reasonable to describe the knock back as a judo throw kind of thing.

Now your wizard, obviously, doesn’t have either of these. The implication, then, is that he cannot accomplish this maneuver—which is a dangerous, damaging implication in general, many consider “do you have the feat for that” syndrome to be among the biggest flaws in the game. In this case, however, a bull rush is the expected, default way to handle any attempt to physically move someone, so I think that has merit. And dealing extra damage for bull rushing someone into a wall seems like a reasonable thing to restrict some. So in this case, I would probably not have allowed this from the wizard.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This is not technically true: Knockback allows you to activate it on any hit made in a round you activated Power Attack. The attack does actually have to meke use of the feat. RAW and all that; it gets silly. \$\endgroup\$
    – Weckar E.
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 6:59

There is an article in Dragon Magazine #306 by JD Wiker which covers Action Movie Stunts in D&D 3.5 which inlcudes throwing an opponent as an option under the grappling rules

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to rpg.se! Please take the tour and visit the help center when you get a chance. Answers here need to stand on their own without having to follow links or own certain rare content, can you perhaps include a quote from the article to answer question? \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin
    Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 10:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ I just reread these rules, and, while complicated, they do address the question. They also have the added annoying issue of the DM needing to figure out how much a creature weighs, which I can imagine causing disputes at the table. That said, if you summarize these rules, I'll upvote this answer—I'd forgotten about those rules completely. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 12:23

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