Can I use the Catapult spell from the Elemental Evil Companion to launch ammunition (like bolts, arrows, and sling stones) and weapons within the weight requirements? Would the damage still be bludgeoning if I used a weapon with a different damage type?

My DM does not believe that I can use this spell to temporarily substitute for my missing heavy crossbow. Since the spell says that the object launched flies in a straight line, I think things like spears, arrows and bolts should be able to deal piercing damage when launched by the spell.

I'm playing an Assassin 5, Sorcerer 4 and I plan on using this spell as part of an assassination attempt. I plan on hiding a crossbow bolt inside a long sleeve of a shirt and whistling as the Somatic component. If I did this, would it count as a surprise attack to the target, allowing me to get the automatic crit with the crossbow bolt, sneak attack damage dice, and the 3d8 piercing/bludgeoning from the spell itself?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Not an answer but why not just poison the bolt in your sleeve, instead of contending for the sneak attack? I know that'd be a good separate question if a poisoned bolt can be catapulted and deal poison damage. \$\endgroup\$ – daze413 Mar 23 '17 at 6:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think there are two questions here: Does the catapult spell do piercing damage if it launches piercing ammo/weapons? And if you use it, can it benefit from assassin surprise/sneak attack benefits? The second should probably be split into its own question. \$\endgroup\$ – Gregory Avery-Weir Mar 23 '17 at 19:20

The spell does exactly what it says it does, and no more

Choose one object weighing 1 to 5 pounds within range that isn't being worn or carried.

This means that you can't use it on an item that you are carrying, so you can't use this spell on the crossbow bolt hidden in your sleeve. You probably can't cast it on a crossbow bolt anyway, since it most likely weighs less than a pound. However, you can get around this limitation by casting it on nearby objects, like rocks, or by dropping the item you want to catapult first.

Additionally, you don't get any critical or sneak attack damage because this spell requires a saving throw, not an attack roll. This question explains why there are no critical hits on spells that require saving throws. Similarly, the Assassin's Assassinate feature only applies to attack rolls. Thus, you only get the 3d8 damage from the text of the spell.

Finally, it's reasonable for your DM to rule that sharp items could deal piercing damage, but that would be a houserule. Officially, every item flung by Catapult deals bludgeoning damage--if that's what your DM has decided, he is supported by the rules.

Whistling is probably not an appropriate somatic gesture

PHB 203 states,

Spellcasting gestures might include a forceful gesticulation or an intricate set of gestures. If a spell requires a somatic component, the caster must have free use of at least one hand to perform these gestures.

Which suggests that spells that require somatic component require hand motions. Whistling is arguably a verbal component, rather than somatic.

  • \$\begingroup\$ You couldn't use it on an object hidden in your sleeve, RAW, but you could drop an object as you cast the spell, or some other such gimmick - as a GM I'd probably rule that "isn't being worn or carried" means something like "isn't being worn, and isn't being carried by a non-willing creature", but maybe that's just me. \$\endgroup\$ – Tin Wizard Mar 23 '17 at 18:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd think that quickly tossing the item from your sleeve into the air in front of you would satisfy the "not being worn or carried" constraint, and make some nice dramatic flair as well. \$\endgroup\$ – aroth Mar 24 '17 at 8:51

This doesn't work the way you think it does

You can launch weapons and ammo (as long as it weighs 1-5 lbs) using the catapult spell, but the spell operates exactly the way it says it does. It does not add any additional damage based on what is launched, even if it is a weapon or ammunition. A DM is welcome to adjudicate otherwise, changing the damage type or adding weapon damage, but is in no way obligated to, as yours has not.

Additionally, you do not get Sneak Attack from using catapult. Sneak Attack requires an attack with a finesse or ranged weapon, and not only does catapult not use a finesse or ranged weapon, it requires a saving throw, rather than making an attack.


Totally agree with the other two answers. The spell does what it says it does and no more. If your GM wants to house rule that it can do more, that is his right, but he should take a minute to think about what actually happens with this spell.

Arrows and spears do piercing damage when they strike point first. If they strike butt first, bludgeoning seems more reasonable. Bludgeoning damage is consistent with the object flipping end over end as it flies, the way items launched from catapult's fly.

Rogues know how to "strike subtly and exploit a foe's distraction." There is nothing subtle or precise about this spell. Sneak attack damage doesn't make sense. It is very different than firing a crossbow. It doesn't make sense for you to get the same bonuses you would get with a crossbow.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Much appreciated as you guys answered the main question. Can't sneak attack with t cause its a spell not a an actual weapon attack. But can you use the Catapult spell in tandem with the Assassinate ability and create surprise situation. For example a dagger unattended on table with the victim directly with in the spell's range and their back is turned to it. Pop catapult spell. Does this count as surprise and is an automatic crit? \$\endgroup\$ – Jhyarelle Silver Mar 26 '17 at 7:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JhyarelleSilver That sounds like an entirely separate question. A comment thread below the lowest rated answer is not the place to answer that. \$\endgroup\$ – BobTheAverage Mar 26 '17 at 23:02

The only thing stealthy about this spell is that it doesn't require a verbal component, and a somatic component should be easily concealed, especially for a rogue.

I would think that an arrow or some item designed to self-stabilize could do piercing damage. Otherwise, as was stated, there's no guarantee that something else might hit pointy end first.

This could be altered be creating special "ammunition" for this spell - such as leaving just the head of a morning star somewhere on the ground for use with this spell ought to produce piercing damage.

If you are trying to assassinate, though, it'd be easy enough to do without a crossbow bolt. 60ft is a lot of space, and it'd be easy enough to find something reasonably dangerous to launch without being noticed.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. Your answer seems to assume that the answer to the title question is yes, but you don't really back this claim up at all. Can catapult be used to launch ammo/weapons in the first place? \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Oct 6 '19 at 7:43

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