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I DM a 5e session, and I recently gave one of my players "Gloves of Missile Snaring." Naturally, one of his first questions was "what can they block?"

By RAW, they affect "ranged weapon attacks." In most cases this is is pretty simple - it blocks arrows and bolts. However, the situation becomes more complicated quickly. Here are some examples:

... javelins? By RAW, these are ranged weapon attacks, so yes. The problem here is that this opens the door for all thrown-melee weapons. Can one block handaxes or hammers that are thrown? Improvised weapons, like a chair tossed at you in a bar fight?
... ballista bolts? By RAW, one would assume these count as a ranged weapon attacks, so yes, but seriously?
... boulders? By RAW, I'm not sure what this would be considered, but if the logic of "it's a projectile and it's being thrown at me" applies to ballistae, then why not boulders?

It's also important to note that these gloves do not work like the similar Monk ability, as they do not allow a user to throw the items back. This implies to me that, despite the name, the gloves work more like "swatting" rather than "snaring", and this too indicates that they may actually reduce damage from items as large as ballista bolts.

So I turn to the RPG-SE community for answers. What are the limits of Gloves of Missle Snaring?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Moral of the story: don't give your players items that don't make sense to you. \$\endgroup\$ – Ilmari Karonen May 6 '15 at 17:18
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The Gloves of Missile Snaring don't block, precisely. They reduce the damage you take from ranged weapon attacks by 1d10 + Dex.

So against a ballista bolt or a boulder, they will still function, but a ballista deals 3d10 damage, and the boulder thrown by a hill giant (the weakest giant) deals 3d10 + 5. To reduce either of those to 0 would take a lot of luck.

It's important to note that if you reduce the damage to 0 (and the projectile is small enough to fit in one hand), they also allow you to catch the missile, just like the Monk's Deflect Missiles.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't have the rulebook with me. Do they allow you to catch+throw, or just catch? \$\endgroup\$ – WannabeCoder May 6 '15 at 13:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @WannabeCoder Just catch. You could throw it on subsequent turns, of course, but you don't get it for free or get free proficiency like the Monk does. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman May 6 '15 at 13:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, maybe that's where my confusion was. I'll edit the question. So you don't see any reason to give boulders/ballista (larger than normal attacks) any special treatment? \$\endgroup\$ – WannabeCoder May 6 '15 at 13:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @WannabeCoder Nope, not really. You're free to rule otherwise, of course, if you want these attacks to be more impactful. Alternatively, you could model them as a hazard rather than an attack. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman May 6 '15 at 13:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ If the player tries to catch a ballista, they reduce the damage by 1d10+dex -- and I'd probably narrate them actually catching it and flying off a short distance, then crashing to the ground. Because they tried to catch a ballista bolt, and the visual would be cool. \$\endgroup\$ – Yakk May 6 '15 at 21:26
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The exact text is:

These gloves seem to almost meld into your hands when you don them. When a ranged weapon attack hits you while you're wearing them, you can use your reaction to reduce the damage by 1d10 + your Dexterity modifier, provided that you have a free hand. If you reduce the damage to 0, you can catch the missile if it is small enough for you to hold in that hand.

Weapon is self-explanatory. Ranged is any weapon with a Range that you throw or ammunition fired from a ranged weapon and any improvised weapon that you throw (which means basically everything). Everything you describe is covered. Ranged spell attacks are not as they are not weapons.

You must use your reaction, so you can only affect one in a turn. A dozen archers are going to be a problem.

The last sentence is self-explanatory. Catching a javelin is fine, catching a ballista bolt or a giant's rock is not as they are not small enough to hold in one hand even if you do reduce the damage to 0.

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