4th edition magic thown weapons

Hi reader(s)! I finally had a few minutes away from work and taking care of my babies to try and write something interesting in here.

Here’s something from the PHB 4th edition I actually don’t like:

Thrown Weapons: Any magic light thrown or heavy thrown weapon, from the lowly +1 shuriken to a +6 perfect hunter’s spear, automatically returns to its wielder’s hand after a ranged attack wit h the weapon is resolved.

Catching a returning thrown weapon is a free action; if you do not wish (or are unable) to catch the weapon, it falls at your feet, in your space.

Game mechanics reasons

Chatting on the subject with Phil, the ChattyDM he proposed a valid argument to support the rule:

Thrown weapons are effectively more expensive than others

The ranger with his magic bow only has to purchase (or acquire) a bow. Then, it shoot regular arrows – which are turned magical by the bow itself.

A row has to purchase 6 daggers each one at the same price as the single bow. Then, after six shots, its over.

So, basically, the rogue pays more and has less – which feels rather unbalanced.

Having the magical daggers return automatically fixes that.

Why I still don’t like it

With this rule, ‘return magically’ is no longer special – every magical weapon has it!

To me, this removes a lot of flavor. Here’s an example: one of the magical objects I introduced in my campaign is a magical phantom dagger that is summoned by a ring.

The wielder wears a ring and looks unarmed. If he wishes it, a dagger materializes in his hands. He can throw the weapon – it will disappear when he wills it or when he wills a new dagger in his hands.

To me, this is a pretty valuable artifact – especially cool for an assassin.

But under 4th ed rule, its much, much less special as even the lowly +1 shuriken does nearly as much.

Another reason: counting ammunition actually provides a sense of drama.

Throwing your last dagger is stressful – every dagger counts; especially the last one. That whole stress is gone in 4th ed because as soon as players find their first ever magical weapon, ammunition is no longer an issue.

And the rule doesn’t restore balance with the bow – the bow can still run out of munition.

The solution

At first, I though: perhaps there should be a delay before returning the dagger. Or perhaps, when a dagger hits, it can’t come back automatically since its (possibly) firmly stuck in a body.

But Phil, again, in his infinite wisdom (he’d probably say « finite wisdom », which would prove my point), came up with the perfect solution:

Since the bow imbues the projectile with magic, why don’t we do the same with the daggers: have a belt, which can hold up to 6 daggers be magical.

The magical belt would turn any dagger that has stayed long enough in into a magical.dagger for a limited time.

The rogue can then throw and loose his daggers with no worry; as long as he has the belt he won’t be loosing his valuable daggers.


I applaud Phil’s idea and reject that all daggers automatically return – some can, of course, but not all of them.

I shall discuss this with my group and see if we can make this official 🙂

Edit: It has been unofficially decided that we will not « nerf » the daggers and leave them as in the current rules. I still love the magical belt, though.



Les commentaires de 3 sur “4th edition magic thown weapons

  1. Well, in theory this sounds fair. But implementation of special properties on daggers is gonna be tricky.

    For example, lets say i have one of those special belt. Huzza !!! But what if i find a +2 vorpal dagger later on ?

    Does the belt do anything to this dagger ? Will you make every special daggers like this returnable ?

    The point in the example above, is that it solves an issue with low level magic items. But later on, the same problem is gonna arise. The ranger with the super power bow will still have the advantage over the dagger thrower.

    I think the idea initially accounted for the fact that arrows can be broken upon their uses. But with daggers (might be wrong here) it isnt the case i think. So, rangers can « imbue » their arrow but they loose most of them eventually. The rogue on the other hand can always recover his or her daggers from the battlefield thereafter.

    The rule was also implemented this way so Rogues would start using more of their daggers in a ranged scenario. In 3rd edition, if you were lucky enough to have a player use daggers in the game, most would not throw the magic ones by fear of loosing them. For me that’s the part im most dissapointed about. Magic items have been trivialised even more in this edition. There is no feeling of « specialness » about them anymore….

  2. @SM the DM :

    Makes sense.  I guess at higher levels, its less of an issue. 

    Martin also made a good point about that yesterday as its mostly a flavor issue… which is very important to me 🙂

    Perhaps the magical dagger belt should only work on non-magical daggers and I could just leave the other magical daggers alone.

    PS: About the arrows thing, I think that 4th edition has it as: an arrow shot is an arrow lost.  The arrow recovery rule is an in-house rule.  Can’t find anything tangible in the books.

  3. Couple things: If the archer wants to not run out of ammunition, he/she can spend 4200 gold on an endless quiver, it pops out new ammo as quickly as you can want it, so the archer can very cheaply be on equal footing with the thrown weapon guy; vorpal is only available as a +6, not a +2, and even if it were, you can only get it on axes and heavy blades, not on a dagger.

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