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While reading the answer to Are attacks with nets always made with disadvantage?, it found a few feats that could help avoid the disadvantage (Crossbow expert and Sharpshooter).

My initial follow-up questions are:

  1. why can't you use the sharpshooter feat to add 10 damage (at the cost of -5 to hit)? It's a ranged weapon (and assume that I am proficient with it)
  2. If I am a rogue, can I add my sneak damage on a hit? The rules on sneak attack are finesse or ranged weapons - Net is a ranged weapon (assume no disadvantage on the attack due to feats)
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  1. why can't you use the sharpshooter feat to add 10 damage (at the cost of -5 to hit)? It's a ranged weapon (and assume that I am proficient with it)

The sharpshooter feat says:

Before you make an attack with a ranged weapon that you are proficient with, you can choose to take a - 5 penalty to the attack roll. If the attack hits, you add +10 to the attack’s damage.

Well, its a ranged weapon and you're proficient with it so you can do this. This just leaves us with the interpretation of adding +10 to an attack that does no damage - not 0 damage: - damage.

One way of interpreting it is that adding a number to a - makes as much sense as adding a number to a kumquat: you can't add a number and not a number so you can take the penalty if you want, you just gat no advantage.

Alternatively, you could say that - damage is 0 damage and of course you get the +10 damage. You're a sharpshooter after all and this could represent dropping the net around someone's neck or other vulnerable extremity and pulling and twisting it to cause damage.

RAW is sufficiently vague that either interpretation is valid and will depend on individual DMs.

  1. If I am a rogue, can I add my sneak damage on a hit? The rules on sneak attack are finesse or ranged weapons - Net is a ranged weapon (assume no disadvantage on the attack due to feats)

Sneak attack says:

Once per turn, you can deal an extra 1d6 damage to one creature you hit with an attack if you have advantage on the attack roll. The attack must use a finesse or a ranged weapon.

This runs into the same issues: "extra damage" implies that there is some damage there already. Your DM can decide that this is the same as they decided above, or that its different.

Equally, they could decide that the god's can't stand a smart-ass and obliterate your character. :-)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for your response! I was hoping to get a little more ammo before going to my DM about this, but I agree that the rules are vague enough in this particular issue to let my DM make the call. \$\endgroup\$ – Al Sun Aug 8 '16 at 0:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ One thing I'd like to add is that there are "-" all over the weapons list (just in the different columns). A "-" is just a way for the Devs/writers to indicate a Zero value or a blank. For example a sling's wt is Zero and a war pick has no properties. Just because there is a "-" does not mean it refers to a "special" property. My interpretation is that a "-" in the dam col = 0 (or no initial dam die). There seems to be nothing in the rules that says otherwise. \$\endgroup\$ – Al Sun Aug 9 '16 at 3:26
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@KorvinStarmast's answer is good, but addresses your question in very general terms. To address your specific questions:

  1. why can't you use the sharpshooter feat to add 10 damage (at the cost of -5 to hit)? It's a ranged weapon (and assume that I am proficient with it)

Here's what Sharpshooter does:

Before you make an attack with a ranged weapon that you are proficient with, you can choose to take a -5 penalty to the attack roll. If the attack hits, you add +10 to the attack's damage.

So why won't this work with nets? Because you add +10 to the attack's damage. However, an attack with a net doesn't deal damage in the first place, so there's nothing to add damage to. It's not a case of 0 + 10 = 10; a net lists "-" as its damage, not 0.

  1. If I am a rogue, can I add my sneak damage on a hit? The rules on sneak attack are finesse or ranged weapons - Net is a ranged weapon (assume no disadvantage on the attack due to feats)

And here's what Sneak Attack does:

Once per turn, you can deal an extra 1d6 damage to one creature you hit with an attack if you have advantage on the attack roll.

That's 1d6 extra damage. For there to be extra damage, there has to be damage. Since there's no damage to begin with, you can't have extra damage.

If you prefer to hear it from the designers, both Crawford and Mearls said the same thing with the same reasoning.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for your response, it is a solid answer that shows me a different perspective (especially the links to the designers). However, as a new 5e player, I really believe that additional abilities (Class/feats) should be usable when they meet their criteria. Ex - Lv10 rogue uses sneak atk with a dagger (d4 +5d6 sneak). Most of the dmg is from the sneak atk (not the weapon), thus its the ability/skill of the character that makes the atk deadlier. Same with sharpshooter, you take a -5 (-25%) to hit penalty to angle your atk to do +10 dmg. Makes sense to me/doesnt seem to break the game. \$\endgroup\$ – Al Sun Aug 8 '16 at 0:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AlSun As a DM, I would agree with you that arbitrarily limiting players from using their abilities is a bad idea. But from the POV of making sense, no matter how sneaky or skillful you are, you're not going to be able to make a net hurt someone. Assuming it's a weighted net, you might bruise them, but 10 damage is more than a D&D character takes from being stabbed. There's just no way a net could do that. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Aug 8 '16 at 0:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ I suppose making sense is all a matter of perspective. With the sharpshooter feat I tossed a dart for 20 dam @level 1 (1 for dart +3 dex +10 sharpshooter +6 sneak damage). Is it possible that the issue could be the sharpshooter feat is overpowered? At -5 to hit I dont think so, but my point is its not the amount of damage, its about using abilities that the rules lay out for us. If an errata comes out and changes this, I'll happy follow those rules. Thanks for your comment. \$\endgroup\$ – Al Sun Aug 8 '16 at 1:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Slightly off-topic, but when throwing a Net with enhanced ability (sneak/sharpshooter), my active imagination has the net wrapping up the target like a cocoon with the weights on the net smacking them in the head (or other vital area). Or tossing the Net face first, wrapping around the head so tight they get straggled. Point is anything can be used as a lethal weapon (with enough skill) - ever see Chon of Riddick? He kills someone with a tea cup =) \$\endgroup\$ – Al Sun Aug 8 '16 at 1:59
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Nets Don't Do Damage

The reason you can't add damage to the net from Sharpshooter (or other feat) is that a net doesn't do damage in the first place. This can be seen in the entry for net on the Weapons table on page 149 of the PHB.

Damage for a net is undefined. If there is no damage type, no damage die, and no damage value in the first place, damage isn't a category of the effects of a net in combat. It's effect in combat is "special" and is listed on PHB p. 148 as somehting that, on a hit, will restrain a creature. Restraining by itself, as a Condition (see Appendix A, PHB, Conditions, p. 292) also does not apply damage.

You can also address this as a matter of specific over general. The specific exception to weapons doing damage is the net, as spelled out in the Special Weapons paragraph.

Net. 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. A creature can use its action to make a DC 10 Strength check, freeing itself or another creature within its reach on a success. Dealing 5 slashing damage to the net (AC 10) also frees the creature without harming it, ending the effect and destroying the net. When you use an action, bonus action, or reaction to attack with a net, you can make only one attack regardless of the number of attacks you can normally make.

Put in a more mechanistic way: as there is no damage entry per the weapons table, there is nothing to add +10 to. You can make an attack. The effect of a successful attack isn't damage, it is a condition: restrained.

Look at the weapons table from top to bottom. Every weapon has a damage die (range of value) associated with it, and a damage type.

The entry for net has no damage value and no damage type. It doesn't do damage.

Damage by a net is something like dividing by zero: undefined.


Note: for those with older versions of the PHB, Unarmed strike was removed from the Weapons table in the PHB errata. Thanks to @Miniman

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Obviously not the answer I was hoping for, but thank you for responding. While I agree that a Net normal does "Zero" damage (while undefined it still has a numeric value assigned on a hit), I feel that feats and class abilities (being specific over general rules) should add damage. The sharpshoot feat spells out +10 dam at -5 to hit with a ranged weapon. Im not sure I agree that you cannot add +10 to "Zero". Same with the rogue sneak attack ability - ranged weapon (and have advantage or ally 5ft of the target). In both cases you are using an extra ability to deal extra damage. \$\endgroup\$ – Al Sun Aug 7 '16 at 23:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Al Sun The extra ability adds damage to damage already being dealt. It does not add to "no damage being done" any more than it adds damage to casting a paralysis spell. I think the root problem is the game calling the net a weapon. It's a tool that when used well creates the restrained condition. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 8 '16 at 2:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Agreed. If they changed this to a tool instead of a weapon, that would change my view. However, currently, I still believe that "-" is just another way of saying no rolled/initial damage for nets (without feats/other abilities). The fact that "Special" is in the properties, just means that on a hit the target is "restrained". The logic above infers that the property of the weapon has something to do with the damage - I believe this is flawed. The lance also has a "special" property, but has nothing to do with the damage. In fact no weapon has any property that impacts the damage column. \$\endgroup\$ – Al Sun Aug 8 '16 at 13:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Al Sun You will note that a Lance has hit die that you need to roll. The special has to do with one handed/two handed mounted/unmounted to prevent cheese. 5e authors are aware that munchkins exist. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 8 '16 at 13:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi. Was just pointing out that the property of a weapon ("special" or otherwise) has nothing to do with the damage (or lack of damage) the weapon does. Yes, lance has a damage die, but just because there is "special" in the properties, doesnt mean you cannot add additional damage due to abilities/feats. Just highlighting that the "special" in the Net property doesnt have any impact on the "-" or no initial damage die on the weapon. \$\endgroup\$ – Al Sun Aug 8 '16 at 13:51

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