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While reading the Monster Manual, I came across

Ammunition

A monster carries enough ammunition to make its ranged attacks . You can assume that a monster has 2d4 pieces of ammunition for a thrown weapon attack, and 2d10 pieces of ammunition for a projectile weapon such as a bow or crossbow.

So, first and foremost, ammunition for thrown weapons are just... more weapons? E.g., carrying 5 daggers?

Does this imply that a monster is supposed to carry (on average) 5 hand-axes (or some other thrown weapon) to throw away at PCs? It seems to me that this makes battlefield scavenging much more lucrative than I was assuming, and it also seems kinda silly for some creatures. I don't imagine a host of bandits to each carry 5 javelins on their backs, a greatsword, and a longbow as they move around.

I know that I can adjust them and not make them carry such weapons when the occasion isn't appropriate. However, is my interpretation of the rule correct? Are monsters meant to carry around 5 of each thrown weapon they have?

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You're correct.

I think your quote is pretty clear on monsters carrying ammunition for the weapons that they carry, and carrying extra copies of thrown weapons.

It seems like your main concern is that it seems unreasonable for monsters to carry multiple copies of thrown weapons. However, based on the stat blocks (using the various humanoids at the end of the MM), most of the NPCs only have one or two weapons. Only the Veteran has 3, and none of those are thrown weapons. Also consider that the PCs themselves might be carrying a ton of thrown weapons as well. Moreover, if the bandit has a pack or something, they could easily fit a few daggers in there.

Finally, real-world soldiers often carry very large loads while on combat missions. A quick googling shows that modern US soldiers sometimes carry something like 60lbs in combat, and up to 127lbs of equipment on patrol.

As for battlefield scavenging, you can look at this question (Thanks SevenSidedDie) to see that "used" equipment isn't really salable. Additionally, I'd argue that even if it were salable, picking up weapons isn't even that useful, as they aren't worth very much, and other loot from encounters is likely to be much more valuable.

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Not necessarily.

Monsters don't actually have weapons — they have attacks.

For example, a monster entry might say "Greatsword, 4d6+6 damage." This does not mean the monster is carrying a greatsword that does 4d6 damage; it just means that the monster's attack does 4d6+6 damage (which is based on its Offense Rating). If a character loots the greatsword (which they might not be able to, see below) then they do not get a weapon that does 4d6 damage.

In other words, there is no correlation between the amount of damage a monster does and the equipment it is carrying. Monster gear is cosmetic.

Similarly, if a monster has 2d4 pieces of ammo, that doesn't necessarily mean it has 2d4 boulders or axes or daggers, it just means it can do 2d4 ranged attacks before it has to close to melee. I guess the thinking is that it would be lame if the monster spent the entire combat running away and throwing daggers.

Generally, monster equipment is unusable after the monster is defeated (PHB page 144, MM page 11). It doesn't matter if it had 2d4 hand axes - the PCs aren't going to loot them.

On the other hand, if you describe a monster as "has a bandoleer or throwing axes across its chest" then the players have good information to plan their tactics. It's also good for verisimilitude.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Regarding the paragraph about monster equipment: Are enemy weapons and armour up for grabs as loot? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 17 '17 at 0:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ What's the difference between a greatsword that deals 4d6 damage and a "really big sword" that deals 4d6 damage? \$\endgroup\$ – Icyfire Feb 17 '17 at 0:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ Could you specify, what monster has the "Greatsword, 4d6+6 damage"? It might be explained through its stats. For instance, a Bugbear deals 2d8+2 piercing damage: 1d8 from its morningstar, 1d8 from its "Brute" feature and +2 from its strength. That means that the morningstar itself deals 1d8 damage, just like a regular mace. \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Feb 20 '17 at 7:35

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