Haven't played D&D since ABBA was hot, and I'm trying to retool on 5e, playing a Wood Elf Monk.

I see that on p78 of the PHB it states in Martial Arts that monk weapons are "shortswords and any simple melee weapons."

However, as a Wood Elf, I am proficient with "longsword, shortsword, shortbow, and longbow" (PHB p 24).

I also read in Diskmaster's 5e Monk Guide in section 1 that the Shortbow is recommended.

Am I allowed to use a shortbow? What, if any, class limitations apply?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Since when is ABBA not hot anymore? ;-) \$\endgroup\$ – DevSolar Aug 14 '15 at 7:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Dev 1978 called; it wants its polyester shirt and platform shoes back \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 14 '15 at 11:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Did you warn them? \$\endgroup\$ – Oblivious Sage Aug 14 '15 at 13:05

So, first up - anyone can use any weapon. Proficiency merely determines whether you can add your proficiency bonus to your attack rolls.

Proficiency with a weapon allows you to add your proficiency bonus to the attack roll for any attack you make with that weapon. If you make an attack roll using a weapon with which you lack proficiency, you do not add your proficiency bonus to the attack roll.

If you look under your Monk proficiencies, one of the things listed there is "simple weapons". The shortbow is a simple weapon, so you don't need to be a wood elf to be proficient with it.

As you've said, monk weapons are shortswords and any simple melee weapons. The shortbow is not either of these things, so it is not a monk weapon. However, this doesn't mean you can't use it - it just means that it won't benefit from your Martial Arts ability.


I have to respectfully point out that simple weapons include melee and ranged.

In the players handbook, page 77, it says "simple weapons;" it does not say simple melee weapons or simple ranged weapons.

By your explanation, a monk could not use a dart or a sling (both simple weapons) but the starting equipment for a monk includes darts.

So for me, as a DM, I would allow monks to use ANY simple weapons, range or melee so long as it falls under the simple category. That fits what it says in the players handbook.

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    \$\begingroup\$ How do you address that they are a wood-elf and given additional weapon proficiencies? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Mar 25 at 17:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Be sure to check out the tour and the help center if you have any questions. \$\endgroup\$ – Peregrine Lennert Mar 25 at 17:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Mig, welcome, I made an edit to your answer since it came across as a forum type response to the question, which does not really fit our format. What we do here is Question and Answer, which takes the question, as asked, and then someone (like yourself :) ) provides an answer to that. (Irrespective of other answers to the same question) . It is not a threaded forum discussion style. People then vote on which question is best/most helpful/whatever. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Mar 25 at 17:22

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