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)
  • \$\begingroup\$ Seeing how a lot of the answers debate whether no damage is zero damage, I wonder if this question is relevant: Does dealing 0 damage to a concentrating spellcaster require a saving throw? It deals with the inverse problem, and there is an argument to be made that the relationship should be commutative. That is, if damage reduced to zero is equal to no damage, then why should no damage not be equal to zero damage? \$\endgroup\$
    – RHS
    Mar 6, 2023 at 11:24

6 Answers 6

  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. :-)


@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.

  • \$\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, 2016 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, 2016 at 0:47
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    \$\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, 2016 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, 2016 at 1:59

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 something 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

  • \$\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, 2016 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\$ Aug 8, 2016 at 2:55
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    \$\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, 2016 at 13:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ I see no link/connection that the "One "specific" describes the effect of a weapon (net) that does not apply damage;". I see a "Special" property that gives the condition restrained on a hit. This has nothing to do with damage/there is no direct correlation. In the damage column there is "-", which means there is no initial damage die on a hit. \$\endgroup\$
    – Al Sun
    Aug 8, 2016 at 22:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ To be clear, the properties column does not impact/refer to the damage column in any way on any weapon. If they truly wanted to be specific and make the connection, they should have said Nets never deal damage (or something to that effect) in the net "special". They didnt; they mention the restrained condition, where net have no effect, how to get free of a net, and that you can only attack once with a net. Nothing to do with nets cannot have damage added (or cannot be used with other abilities/feats to add damage). \$\endgroup\$
    – Al Sun
    Aug 8, 2016 at 22:17

Yes, maybe, but only rarely…

General consensus is that because a Net deals "–" damage (no damage) rather than 0 damage, other features can't add additional or extra damage to it. Designer Jeremy Crawford summarises this as:

"The intent is that a net doesn't deal extra damage because it's not dealing damage in the first place."

So in order to add damage (from other class abilities/feats) to Net attacks, you would first need to swap out the "–" damage.

Here are ways to potentially make a Net do damage…

Cast Lightning Arrow

The bonus action Ranger spell Lightning Arrow (available to Rangers at level 9, and also to Lore Bards at level 6 through Magical Secrets) significantly uses a different wording to most similar spells:

"Make the attack roll as normal. The target takes 4d8 lightning damage on a hit, or half as much damage on a miss, instead of the weapon's normal damage."

Both multiclassing with a Rogue dip to add Sneak Attack damage, and taking the Sharpshooter feat to add the +10, should work on this once the Net is inflicting damage, and all it took was 6 levels of Bard.

Use Monk Deflect Missiles

Have a friend make a ranged weapon attack with a Net at your level 3 Monk and use Deflect Missiles to try to catch it, and then 1 ki point to make a ranged attack with the same Net "as part of the same reaction".

"You make this attack with proficiency, regardless of your weapon proficiencies, and the missile counts as a monk weapon for the attack."

Your Monk can now inflict damage with this Net attack because their Martial Arts feature says monk weapons deal d4 damage "in place of the normal damage" rather than "extra damage" or whatever.

This Monk approach depends on your DM ruling that you can "reduce the damage to 0" with Deflect Missiles for "the damage you take from the attack " despite a "–" damage dealt by the Net (which may be related to the "Taking 0 damage is the same as taking no damage" point here https://rpg.stackexchange.com/a/111864/81166); and that a Net is "small enough for you to hold in one hand", which could be argued as a Net is thrown with one hand (and Monks are meant to be dexterous). For the counter argument, see: https://rpg.stackexchange.com/a/145088/81166.

Use a Ranged Weapon to make a Melee Attack

Finally, you could do damage with a Net by giving up (some or) all of the Net's features.

The rules in the Improvised Weapons section of the Player's Handbook say:

"If a character uses a ranged weapon to make a melee attack … it also deals 1d4 damage."

So by using your net to make an improvised weapon strength-based melee attack it will do damage, but almost certainly without retaining its special properties to restrain on a hit.

Narratively this could make sense as some nets were weighted.

The Tavern Brawler feat would make you proficient with these improvised weapon melee net attacks.

It's very debatable whether the net is still a 'ranged weapon' for the purposes of Sneak Attack or Sharpshooter (although "a character uses a ranged weapon to make a melee attack" could imply that), but you could add other class abilities like Rage bonus or Battle Master Maneuvers for example. If you still want to restrain with an improvised melee Net attack, then cast Ensnaring Strike (1st level Ranger spell).

  • \$\begingroup\$ “Instead/in place of the normal damage” seems to me to indicate that it has to do damage to be able to replace it. The net doesn’t have normal damage. -1. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 2, 2023 at 2:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ I did not -1 this, but since the full text of the ability includes "If you reduce the damage to 0, you can catch the missile if it is small enough for you to hold in one hand and you have at least one hand free. If you catch a missile in this way, you can spend 1 ki point to make a ranged attack ", and you did not reduce any damage, the monk part would not work, IMHO. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 2, 2023 at 4:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks @ThomasMarkovisonStrike that is a good way to read these features to try and keep them in line with Crawford's intent tweet. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 2, 2023 at 6:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NobodytheHobgoblin is there also another counter argument to the Monk approach I've written here that the Monk has already been "hit by" the Net attack and so is already Restrained ("A Large or smaller creature hit by a net is restrained until it is freed") when she tries to Deflect Missiles? \$\endgroup\$ Jul 2, 2023 at 6:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @yeastgoblin I’m not sure I can follow what you mean — how would having been hit or being restrained or not have any bearing on the criterion of reducing damage? \$\endgroup\$ Jul 2, 2023 at 7:50

A net with Sharpshooter deals 10 damage and can Sneak Attack

The rules on D&D Beyond now list a net as dealing 0 bludgeoning damage:


Net_____1 gp___0 bludgeoning___3 lbs____Special, Thrown (range 5/15)

If you are playing using the D&D Beyond rules, then you can use sharpshooter to increase the damage as you would with any other ranged weapon, and you can trigger sneak attack with the net.

However D&D Beyond staff have confirmed this is just an error in their system, it is not supposed to deal 0 damage. The intention is for it to deal "no damage" regardless of bonuses:

The damage is "-" as per the Player's Handbook and Basic Rules

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    \$\begingroup\$ I feel it's worth me pointing out the fact that this hasn't actually been officially errata'd though. Dndbeyond appears to be the only place that a net is noted as dealing 0 damage (I've check the SRD and Roll20 just for comparison). It's possible that they simply couldn't put nothing in the damage section so they chose to put 0 instead. Dndbeyond, while licensed by Wizards, isn't run by Wizards so there may be the occasional discrepancy. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 8, 2020 at 2:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PurpleMonkey While true that Curse isn't WotC, WotC consider D&DBeyond to be an official rules source. Many players, myself included, use dndbeyond as their primary rules source, so I think this is a valid argument for anyone who uses dndbeyond. Roll20 is not official, the SRD is limited in scope and function. YMMV, i stick to dndbeyond. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 8, 2020 at 2:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ While D&D Beyond attempts to replicate the rules as accurately as possible, when D&D Beyond's listings conflict with the rules, the rules take precedence. D&D Beyond being forced to display something in a certain way due to technical limitations doesn't change the rules. A DDB staff member confirms here that it is indeed a technical limitation. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Jan 8, 2020 at 7:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ Jeremy Crawford touches on such discrepancies in this exchange on Twitter: "The "Player's Handbook" is the game's official rulebook. [...] D&D Beyond presents a reproduction of the "Players Handbook." If something has gone awry in that reproduction, please let @DnDBeyond know, and they'll fix it. They're committed to being as accurate as possible." \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Jan 8, 2020 at 7:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ "D&D Beyond's PHB" just attempts to reproduce the physical PHB. The latest PHB says the same thing (for the net) that it always has. There's just a dash under the "Damage" column for the net. You can actually see the same on DDB in the basic rules compendium (and PHB compendium). It's just the standalone item listing that shows "0 bludgeoning", presumably due to technical limitations. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Jan 8, 2020 at 8:55

RAW: Yes it would deal damage when combined with the abillities you listed, because they add damage to the weapon used and no matter "-" or "0" (Zero definition is - the arithmetical symbol 0 denoting the absence of all magnitude or quantity) not existing damage still the same thing. "0" means not existing, if I have "not existing apples" I can add apples to this, because that is exactly the idea of adding. There is no rule saying that nets can't deal damage, they just don't give damage by it selves.


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