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Natural Weapon Feats | New Player Options for Fifth Edition

This article introduces a collection of special feats that allow you to explore the natural weapons inherent in your race. Many of these feats are associated with the wilder races presented in the official Fifth Edition book VGtM. Always check with your GM before incorporating an option into your character build.

Only five of the feats I created for this article are included. The remaining feats—hagblooded, oversized weapon proficiency, spiderblooded, and worrying bite—are in the PDF version of this content on my Patreon. It’s only $3 to unlock this PDF, plus you get more than 90 other PDFs plus new PDFs daily.

Dragon Bite

Prerequisite: Dragonborn

Your jaw is larger than normal and acts as a natural weapon with which you can make unarmed strikes. On a hit, your bite deals piercing damage equal to 1d4 plus your Strength modifier plus 1d4 damage of the damage type specified by your ancestry in place of the normal damage dealt by your unarmed strikes.

Gore

Prerequisite: Tiefling

Your horns are a natural weapon that you can use to make attacks in place of your normal unarmed strike. On a hit, your horns deal piercing damage equal to 1d6 plus your Strength modifier. And if you move at least 10 feet in a straight line immediately before attacking with your horns, you deal an additional 1d6 piercing damage on a hit.

Limited Magic Immunity

Prerequisite: Magic resistance trait or gnome cunning

You can’t be affected or detected by spells of 1st level or lower unless you wish to be. You can take this feat up to three times. Each time you do, the level of spells that cannot affect or detect you increases by 1.

Natural Weapon Expert

Prerequisite: A natural weapon you can use for unarmed strikes such as claws or bite

You have practiced extensively using your natural weapon in combat, gaining the following benefits:

  • Increase your Strength or dexterity score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
  • The damage dealt by your natural weapon increases by 1 die size. 1d4 becomes 1d6, 1d6 becomes 1d8, 1d8 becomes 1d10, and 1d10 becomes 1d12.
  • You gain a +2 bonus on Strength (Athletics) checks made to grapple another creature.

Worrying Strike

Prerequisite: Natural bite which you can use to make unarmed strikes with

When you hit a creature with your bite attack, you can use your bonus action to attempt to grapple the target. On a success, you grapple the target using your jaws. While grappled by you, the target takes 1d4 piercing damage at the start of each of its turns and you cannot use your bite attack on another creature.

Wounding Strike

Prerequisite: Natural claws which you can use to make unarmed strikes with

When you hit a creature with your claw attack, the target must make a Constitution saving throw with a DC equal to 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength modifier. If the creature fails its saving throw, it must take 1d4 slashing damage at the start of each of its turns due to a fiendish wound. Any creature can take an action to stanch the wound with a successful DC 13 Wisdom (Medicine) check. The wound also closes if the target receives magical healing.


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Request: Blowgun Feats | New Player Options for Dungeons & Dragons

Still working my way through July patron requests, this one comes from Mauricio:

What about a feat that gives Blowgun some love? Maybe it focuses on hitting specific body parts of creatures or focusing on something, idk just spit-balling.

Spit-balling? “No pun intended, right?” 😛

Small Missile Mastery

You master the sling, blowgun,  and dart. You gain the following benefits when using any of them:

  • You gain a +1 bonus to attack rolls you make with the weapon.
  • Whenever you have advantage on a ranged attack roll you make with the weapon and hit, you deal an extra 1d4 damage if the lower of the two d20 rolls also would have hit.
  • Any hit you score with this weapon against a creature that is surprised is a critical hit.

Poison Mastery

You are an expert poisoner, capable of concocting dangerous toxins. You gain the following benefits:

  • You gain proficiency in the poisoner’s kit. Your proficiency bonus is doubled for any ability check you make that uses this proficiency.
  • You have advantage on saving throws against poison.
  • When harvesting poison from a creature, if you fail your Intelligence check using your proficiency in poisoner’s kit by 5 or more, you are not subjected to the creature’s poison.
  • Your poisons are particularly potent. Creatures have disadvantage on their saving throws against the poisons you create.

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Roguish Feats | New Player Options for Fifth Edition

If you haven’t heard the news, requests are back on over on my Patreon. The first set of requests I got came from longtime DMDave fan and Patron, Charlie R.

Cool if I can get a feat for throwing daggers or other throwing items? It would work like crossbow expert where you would get advantage on throw attacks and the damage die would go up by one, and even if its a bonus action attack you can use a mod or something like that. And for the next one would be something that boosts finesse weapons in some way.

Sounds fun! Since both feats fit with “assassin” type characters, I figured I’d call them “feats for rogues.” Of course, any character is free to use them any way they like. Dex-based monks, rangers, and fighters will benefit greatly from these feats, too. Also, I wanted to make sure that the feats still worked with other feats, so I tried to avoid duplication of feat benefits and class features.

 

Nimble

Prerequisite: Dexterity 13 or higher

When you take the Disengage or Dodge action, you gain a bonus to your AC equal to your proficiency bonus until the start of your next turn. You lose this benefit if you are incapacitated or if your speed drops to 0.

 

Offensive Duelist

Prerequisite: Dexterity 13 or higher

When a creature misses you with a melee attack, you can use your reaction to make an attack with a light melee weapon against the creature.

 

Reactive

Prerequisite: Dexterity 13 or higher

During the first round of combat, you can use your bonus action to make a single weapon attack against a creature that hasn’t taken a turn in combat yet.

 

Thrown Weapon Master

Almost any weapon that you are proficient with becomes a ranged danger in your hands. You gain the following benefits:

  • All weapons that you are proficient with gain the thrown weapon property (range 20/60) when you wield them, so long as the weapon does not have the heavy or two-handed properties.
  • The normal range for your thrown weapons increases by 10 ft. and the long range increases by 20 ft. This excludes any weapons that gain the thrown weapon property from this feat.
  • You can use your Dexterity instead of Strength for the attack and damage rolls of your thrown weapons even if the weapon lacks the finesse property.

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Archers | Player Supplement for Fifth Edition (Part 3)

This article adds new rules, subclasses, prestige classes, magic items, and more for players interested in expanding archer characters in Fifth Edition.

Here is a summary of what’s included in this article:


Part 3: Optional Rules

The optional rules in this section pertain to using bows and arrows in your Fifth Edition game.

Special Shots

Sometimes, a character needs to use his or her bow and arrow to do more than just “stab a target that’s over there.” An arrow could be used to set a fire. The archer may wish to aim for a particular spot on a target such as the eye or their hand. Firing an arrow with a rope attached to it makes for a great zip line; a classic staple of great adventures.

The following rules options can be used by archers in your game.

Small and Large Targets

The Fifth Edition ruleset assumes that you will always be targeting a Medium or larger sized creature. However, if you’ve ever fired a ranged weapon of any sort you’ll know that the smaller the target is, the harder it is to hit. Inversely, large targets are a lot easier to hit.

As an optional rule, you can give an attacker disadvantage on ranged weapon attacks made against targets that are two or more size categories smaller than the attacker. And if the target is two or more size categories larger than the attacker, the attacker has advantage on ranged weapon attacks against the target.

arcane-archer
Art by Wizards of the Coast.

Firing at Narrow Openings

Sometimes, an archer needs to fire an arrow or other projectiles into a small opening such as a narrow window, a keyhole, or between the legs of an ogre. Normally, the opening itself would provide cover if the attacker was targeting a creature or object on the other side of the opening. However, if there is no specific target, the AC depends on the actual size of the opening. Refer to the Opening Armor Class table below to determine the roll needed to get your projectile through the opening.

Opening Armor Class

Size AC
Tiny (inside a bottle, keyhole) 20
Small (arrow slit, closing chest) 15
Medium (doorway, well opening) 10

Flaming Arrow

You can fire a flaming projectile at a target that you can see within range. The arrow (or other projectiles) must have some way of being set ablaze, such as coated in pitch, or wrapped in dry paper. You or another creature must use an action to light the fire. If the flaming arrow hits a flammable object such as a barrel of gunpowder or thatch roof, the object takes the weapon’s normal damage and ignites. If the arrow hits a creature, that creature takes weapon’s normal damage and must make a DC 10 Dexterity saving throw. On a failed saving throw, the creature takes 1d10 fire damage and catches fire. Until someone takes an action to douse the fire, the creature takes 1d10 fire damage at the start of each of its turns.

Zip Line

You can attach a rope to your arrow with the intent of creating a zip line from it. Due to the weight and awkwardness of the attached rope, your ranged weapon attack rolls made with the arrow are made at disadvantage. You can then can fire the arrow at an object you can see within the weapon’s normal range. If the arrow hits, the arrow sticks and the rope is anchored in place. You and other creatures can then climb along the rope.

Called Shots

With this option, if you make a ranged weapon attack roll and score a critical hit, instead of dealing double damage, you may substitute one of the following options:

  • Your arrow pierces the creature’s hand. If the creature attempts to make an attack with a weapon using that only that hand, its attacks are made at disadvantage. If the creature receives magical healing, this effect ends for it.
  • Your arrow pierces the creature’s foot. The creature’s walking speed is halved. If the creature receives magical healing, this effect ends for it.
  • Your arrow pierces the creature’s eye. The creature has disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight and on ranged attack rolls. Magic such as the regenerate spell can restore the lost eye. If the creature has no eyes left after sustaining this injury, it is blinded.
  • Your arrow pierces the creature’s artery. Until the creature receives magical healing or a creature makes a success DC 10 Medicine check to staunch the bleeding, the creature takes damage equal to the weapon’s die roll at the end of each of its turns as it continues to bleed out.
  • Your arrow permanently scars the creature. It is disfigured to the extent that the wound can’t be easily concealed. It has disadvantage on Charisma (Persuasion) checks and advantage on Charisma (Intimidation) checks. Magical healing of 6th level or higher, such as heal and regenerate, removes the scar.

Threatening Shot

Sometimes, a well-fired arrow can do more than damage a target. It can help you change a foe’s attitude and demonstrate who is control. When you make a ranged attack roll at a target and hit, you can choose not to deal damage. Instead, the arrow lands within inches of the target, narrowly missing them. You can then immediately make a Charisma (Intimidation) check contested by the target’s Wisdom (Insight). With a successful check, the target’s attitude becomes indifferent towards you if it is hostile or friendly if it is indifferent. If the target is immune to being frightened, it automatically succeeds the contest.

merida
Art by Paizo Publishing.

Archery Competitions

During an archery competition, two or more archers test pit their archery skills against each other. Below are a few of the competitions that an archer may compete in.

Multiple Targets Competition

In this type of competition, small objects are placed just outside of a weapon’s normal range (for example, bottles are set atop a fence post 100 feet away from an archer wielding a short bow). The archer is allowed to make a number of shots equal to the number of targets present and must roll a 15 or higher to hit each target (or 20 if the targets are moving). Each target the archer hits is worth 5 points.

Shooting Target Competition

The archers fire at a shooting target placed 230 feet away. The archer then makes a ranged attack roll against the shooting target. There are two ways to determine the winner of a shooting target competition:

  1. Each archer compares the result of their attack rolls. The archer with the highest die roll is the winner. If an archer rolls a 20 or higher on his or her die roll, the arrow hits the bullseye. If two competitors roll the same result, the first archer to achieve the result is the winner. Any archer that rolls a 9 or less completely misses the shooting target and is disqualified.
  2. Each archer is allowed three shots at the shooting target and scores points for accuracy. Archers score points based on where their arrow lands. Refer to the Shooting Target Results table below for scoring.

Shooting Target Results

Result Points
9 or less -5
10-14 +5
15-19 +10
20+ +20

“William Tell” Competition

The third type of archery competition is a little more dangerous. A “volunteer” holds the object for the shooters to target. The target can be an apple placed atop the volunteer’s head, a balloon held in their mouth, or an item that they toss into the air. The archer makes a ranged weapon attack against the object and the object counts as having half cover provided by the creature. If the shooter misses the target but is still within the range that the creature’s half-cover provides, the shooter hits the creature instead and the creature takes damage.

Archer Feats

The archer feat options below are presented in alphabetical order.

Assault Archer

You are deadly with ranged weapons, especially at close range. You gain the following benefits:

  • Your ranged weapon attacks do not suffer disadvantage when targeting prone creatures.
  • Being within 5 feet of a hostile creature doesn’t impose disadvantage on your ranged attack rolls.
  • When you score a critical hit with a ranged weapon attack while within 30 feet of the target, you can roll one of the weapon’s damage dice one additional time and add it to the extra damage of the critical hit.

Long-range Archer

Prerequisite: proficiency with longbows

You have perfected using a longbow at long range. You gain the following benefits:

  • Increase your Dexterity score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
  • Your range when using a longbow is 200/800.
  • Strong wind doesn’t impose disadvantage on your ranged attack rolls.

Shortbow Archer

Prerequisite: proficiency with shortbows

You are able to loose arrows at a dazzling speed. When you use the Attack action to make a ranged weapon attack with a shortbow, you can use a bonus action to make an additional attack with the same weapon.


Next: Part 4. New Magic Items

Thumbnail art by Paizo Publishing.

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Spell Savant Feat | New Feat for Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition

Feats! Man, I never get to make feats, so I was pretty pumped when this request came in from one of my patrons:

How’s it going? I really enjoy your work and I love that I get to help build Wandrossa with the daily polls. I signed up for the silver tier about a week or so ago and finally have thought of my request. In the campaign I’m in, all the spellcasters feel that due to bad stat rolls, or in my case really good stat rolls, even when we try our best to do our job, everything seems so lackluster whether it’s low spell save DC’s or just not enough prepared spells choices. I was curious if you could make two feats to help give a small boost to spell casters. One that would help raise the spell DC, and one to give an increased prepared spells list.

Interesting ideas! And I think it’s totally doable.


Playtest Content

The material here is presented for playtesting and to spark your imagination. These game mechanics are in draft form, usable in your campaign but not refined by final game design and editing. They aren’t officially part of the game.

Constructive feedback is welcome and appreciated in either comments or social media. If you can give me a valid reason with examples why something is off, 9/10 I’m likely to make changes to the content and credit you for doing so. Otherwise, feedback without anything to back it up gets ignored (or at most a smile emoji like this 🙂 ) Thanks!


Design Notes

Feats are usually pretty simple to write and balance, especially if there’s something similar to compare the feat to. Oddly, there aren’t a whole lot of published feats. There are all the ones in the Fifth Edition PHB as well as Xan’s. But that’s about it.

Understanding Feats

There is something pretty important that everyone should understand when it comes to feat. Feats offer some extraordinary benefits, but mostly at the expense of what you lose with it: the Ability Score Increase.

Let’s say that Max didn’t get the feat and just stuck with the ASI’s Int increase. A +2 to Int equals a +1 bonus to spell save DC and attack rolls in addition to bonuses in Intelligence saving throws, skills, and other related checks.

That’s pretty big! Therefore, if you’re going to take a feat over that, it needs to be pretty good and make sense.

Comparable Feats

The biggest feat that we should consider when building out Max’s request is the Magic Initiate feat. It lets anyone learn two cantrips which they can cast at will and then a 1st-level spell from the same list. The 1st-level spell is a once-per-long-rest. This turns a non-caster into a caster and makes a current caster a little better (although, one would argue that for someone that’s already slinging spells, this isn’t probably a dud of a choice).

The next feat I’m taking a look at Elemental Adept. You have to be able to cast at least one spell. Then you pick an element. Spells you cast ignore resistance to damage of the chosen type and it deals extra damage kind of inline with the Great Weapon Fighting fighting style; you count 1s as 2s. I’ll show in the math below that the damage boost is the equivalent of food coloring–not really a big deal–but it’s the ignoring resistance that’s important since you’re effectively doubling the damage of those spells against certain creatures. However, it’s very specialist and kinda niche.

Another cool feat is Spell Sniper. It increases your effective range, ignores cover, and lets you learn damage dealing cantrip.

Elemental Adept Math (or Why Counting  a 2 as a 1 Kinda Sucks)

So how good is counting a 1 as a 2? Depends on the die!

With a d4, your rolls a 2, 2, 3, 4; that’s an average of 2.75, which is 0.25 more damage on average than a d4’s normal average, which is 2.50.

With a d6, your rolls are 2, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6; that’s an average of 3.67, which is 0.17 more damage on average than a d6’s normal average, which is 3.50. Notice how the amount diminishes the bigger the die is.

A d8 does 4.63, which is 0.13 more than normal.

A d10 does 5.60 which is only 0.10 more than normal.

And a d12 does 6.58, which is a measly 0.08 increase in average damage.

As I explained above, it’s the overcoming the resistance that really matters with this feat. But it’s niche AF. Where it’s going to really matter is when you’re going up creatures (usually at higher levels) that have a lot of resistances, like fiends.

So, how does improving DC improve damage?

The game is built roughly around the idea that a character has about a 60% chance of hitting creatures with spell attacks (a spell save DC is just an inverted attack where the target is performing a “defense roll” versus an attack roll). By increasing the DC by 1, it’s effectively increasing an attack roll by +1. That improves the chance to hit by 5%.

Often, when I’m doing designs, I use something called virtual damage. Virtual damage is the average number of damage multiplied by the chance of it hitting.

So, for example, if you have a 60% chance to hit with an attack that deals 1d10 damage (let’s pretend there’s no mod), that’s virtual damage of 3.3. If we up the chance to hit, that virtual damage becomes 3.575. That’s a bump of 0.275, already more potent than the boosted damage from Elemental Adept.

Where improving the DC really starts to matter is on higher level spells. Referencing the average spell damage charts on page 284 of the DMG, cantrips deal 1d10 damage to individual targets on average and 1d6 to multiple targets.

Now imagine this: a fireball that deals 8d6 damage on a hit: that’s an average of 28 fire damage or 16.80 damage. On average, a fireball’s probably going to hit 2 creatures full on (according to the DMG at least), so really that’s virtual damage of 33.60.

But if we up the chance to hit with that fireball to 65%, then that’s virtual damage of 18.20, or 36.40. An increase of 2.80 damage overall. Which, honestly, isn’t that huge when it comes to average damage.

Just One Last Thing…

When it comes to feat creation, there’s one feat that I really like to use as the Feat Rosetta Stone and that’s Great Weapon master. GWM lets you take a bonus attack if you crit or reduce a creature to 0, basically upping your action economy for being a killing machine. Also, it lets you exchange the attack roll bonus for extra damage at an exchange rate of 1:2.

Let’s put that into math terms real quick.

Let’s say a 1st-level human fighter is wielding a greatsword and deals 2d6 + 3 damage with the thing and hits with a +5. The fighter gives up pretty much its entire bonus to deal 10 extra damage. Therefore, it’s to hit goes from 60% to 35%. Let’s compare the two situations and virtual damage.

If the fighter makes a normal attack, it deals an average of 10 damage or 6 virtual damage.

If the fighter gives up its attack bonus for 10 bonus damage, it deals an average of 20 damage, or 7 virtual damage. So it gets 1 extra damage out of the attack. Not too shabby.

Mathematically speaking, GWMs should always give up the bonus for the extra damage.

Okay, One More Thing (For Real This Time)…

Finally, I took a look at the Savage Attacker feat. It basically gives you “advantage” on a weapon’s damage dice roll. On average, the damage for a dice roll is going to be 50% of the sum of all results. Give it “advantage”, and you multiply that number into itself and then subtract that from 1. So if you get 50% of the total results for normal damage dice rolls, that means you’ll get 75% of the total results for damage dice with advantage.

So for a 1d10, that’s 5.5 average damage most of the time, but with advantage that’s 8.25 damage. That’s a difference of 2.75 damage (or 1.65 virtual at a 60% chance to hit).

Let’s compare this to the virtual damage of DCs. If a 1d10 attack has a 60% chance of hitting, that’s virtual damage of 3.3, right? Adding in the 1.65 virtual to that, we come up with 4.95. That would mean that we’ve got a freakin’ 90% chance to hit (4.95/5.50 = 90%). That’s an effective DC or attack bonus boost of +7! Wow!

Enough Rambling, Dave

Okay, so let me end this stream-of-conscious process. I like to write this kinda stuff out, ’cause it helps me later on. Anyways, upping the DC isn’t that big of deal since taking an Intelligence bump is pretty much going to do that anyways (with some more benefits, too, mind you).

What I propose is something similar with magic, but in reverse. Basically a GWM for damage dealing spells.

What About the Spell Slot Boost?

Magic initiate does exactly what Max is asking for. And I’m guessing that’s about as powerful as you can get. There’s a reason why 1st-level is the only level that gets 4 slots. Once you start climbing up into the levels, there’s some pretty heavy damage. Adding an additional slot means pure chaos. So, unfortunately, there’s no careful way to balance getting an extra slot beyond first level’s.

Now, I don’t mind breaking the game a little (shit, you should see some of my older class builds), but there’s probably nothing I can create that can effectively replace Magic Initiative for the extra spell slot booster.

Note that Magic Initiate’s extra spell slot doesn’t let warlocks nap-it-off either. Very carefully worded that one.

New Feats

The following feats options are available to players in addition to those normally offered.

Spell Savant

Prerequisite: The ability to cast at least one spell

You have specialized in the execution of spells, making you a deadly arcane opponent on the battlefield. You gain the following benefits:

  • When you cast a cantrip that requires a target to make a saving throw, the spell save DC for the spell increases by 5.
  • You learn one cantrip that requires an attack roll. Choose the cantrip from the bard, cleric, druid, sorcerer, warlock, or wizard spell list. Your spellcasting ability for this cantrip depends on the spell list you chose from: Charisma for bard, sorcerer, or warlock; Wisdom for cleric or druid; or Intelligence for wizard.

 

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Improved Slings | Optional Rules for Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition

This one comes from Patron requests. Here’s what was asked:

My DM HATES slings. I’d love to have a way to use slings that doesn’t totally gimp my character.

Pretty weird that the guy would hate slings, but I understand weird hangups (I personally hate horses! Grrrr).

I thought about it for a minute and thought, why not expand upon the basic idea of slings?

Playtest Content

The material here is presented for playtesting and to spark your imagination. These game mechanics are in draft form, usable in your campaign but not refined by final game design and editing. They aren’t officially part of the game.

Constructive feedback is welcome and appreciated in either comments or social media. If you can give me a valid reason with examples why something is off, 9/10 I’m likely to make changes to the content and credit you for doing so. Otherwise, feedback without anything to back it up gets ignored (or at most a smile emoji like this 🙂 ) Thanks!

Design Notes

Here are my notes for this build.

Before the Build

So what do we know about the sling? Let’s break it down:

  • It’s a simple ranged weapon. And every single class can use it.
  • It costs 1 sp itself. Sling bullets cost 4 cp for 20.
  • A sling bullet deals 1d4 bludgeoning damage.
  • Slings use ammunition, of course, and have a range of 30/120.

In addition to the sling itself, there are a couple of feats that can buff it.

  • Crossbow expert lets you make attacks within 5 feet of a hostile creature without imposing a disadvantage to the roll.
  • Sharpshooter allows you to attack at long range without getting disadvantage, ignore half and three-quarters cover, and you can take a -5 penalty to the attack roll to add +10 damage to the attack.

Let’s take a look at the sling’s history. This comes from the site Rome Across Europe (bold emphasis mine in a few areas):

“A sling is a projectile weapon typically used to throw a blunt projectile such as a stone, clay, or glandes plumbeae (lead sling-bullet). Also known as the Shepherd’s Sling, this personalized weapon has a small cradle or pouch in the middle of 2 lengths of cord.

“The sling was inexpensive and easy to build. It has historically been used for hunting game and in combat.

“A classic sling is braided from a non-elastic material. The traditional materials are flax, hemp or wool; those of the Balearic Islands were said to be made from a type of rush.

“Flax and hemp resist rotting, but wool is softer and more comfortable. Braided cords were used in preference to twisted rope, as a braid resists twisting when stretched and thus improving accuracy.

“The overall length of a sling varied based on the range a slinger needed to hit, with a longer sling being used when greater range was required. An average sling would be about 2 to 3.28 ft in length.

“At the center of the sling was a cradle or pouch. This was either formed by making a wide braid from the same material as the cords or by inserting a piece of a different material such as leather.

“Typically diamond shaped, the cradle would fold around the projectile in use. Some cradles have a hole or slit that allows the material to wrap around the projectile slightly, thereby holding it more securely.

“At the end of one cord (called the retention cord), a finger-loop was formed, while at the end of the other cord (the release cord,) it was a common practice to form a knot or a tab. The release cord will be held between finger and thumb to be released at just the right moment.

“The simplest projectile was a stone, preferably well-rounded, and most likely from a river. The size of the projectiles varied dramatically, from pebbles massing no more than 1.8 oz to fist-sized stones massing 18 oz or more.

“Projectiles could also be purpose-made from clay, which allowed for very high consistency of size and shape to aid range and accuracy. Many examples have been found in the archaeological record.

The best ammunition was cast from lead (looking like an almond) which were widely used in the Greek and Roman world. For a given mass, lead, being very dense, offers the minimum size and therefore minimum air resistance.

“Why the almond shape was favored is not clear, but it may provide some aerodynamic advantage. Itś just as likely that the shape was easy to extract from a mold, or it would rest in a sling cradle with little danger of rolling out.

“Almond shaped leaden sling-bullets were typically about 1.4 inches long and about 0.79 inches wide, massing approximately 0.99 oz. Very often, symbols or writings were molded into lead sling-bullets.

“As a reminder of how a sling might strike without warning, examples of symbols included a stylised lightning bolt, a snake, and a scorpion. Writing might include the name of the owning military unit or commander or might be more imaginative: “Take this,” “Ouch,” and even “For Pompey’s backside” added insult to injury, whereas dexai (“take this” or “catch!”) was merely sarcastic.

“Julius Caesar writes in De bello Gallico, Book 5, about clay shot being heated before slinging, so that it might set light to thatch.

“A skillful throw requires just one rapid rotation. Some slingers would rotate the sling slowly once or twice to seat the projectile in the cradle.

“One made an overhand throw in a motion similar to [pitching a baseball]. This is relatively accurate, instinctive and quite powerful.

“Facing 60 degrees away from the target, with slinger stood with his non-throwing hand closest to the target. With the target at the 12 o’clock position, a right-handed thrower would orient his body toward 2 o’clock, with the arm rotating vertically in the 12 o’clock plane.

“The coordinated motion was to move every part of the body (legs, waist, shoulders, arms, elbows, and wrist) in the direction of the target in order to add as much speed as possible to the stone. The slinger released the projectile near the top of the swing, where the projectile would proceed roughly parallel to the surface of the earth.

“There were also sideways releases, in which the swing goes around. However, these throws made it very easy to release the projectile at a slightly wrong time and miss the target.

“Ancient peoples used the sling in combat. Armies included both specialist slingers and regular soldiers equipped with slings.

“As a weapon, the sling had the advantage of its bullet being lobbed in excess of 1,300 ft. A bow and arrow could also have been used to produce a long-range arcing trajectory, but ancient writers repeatedly stress the sling’s advantage of range.

“The Roman slingers would have exacted a heavy toll, for recent experiments conducted in Germany showed that a 50-gram Roman bullet hurled by a trained slinger has only slightly less stopping power than a .44 magnum cartridge fired from a handgun. Other tests revealed that a trained slinger could hit a target smaller than a human being from 130 yards away.”

Okay, wow. That’s a lot of cool shit. And it makes me wonder why slings got nerfed so much. I guess the game needed a cheap weapon that any dodo could use and “rope with rock” sounded like it hit the spot.

Right away, I know a few things that I want to do with this awesome weapon:

  • Rules for different types of ammunition for the sling. Probably “just a stone”, the clay bullet for versatility, and then the lead bullet. Maybe even mithril?
  • Possible magic that can improve a sling? Maybe a feat, or a new cantrip. I don’t feel like it needs an entire subclass, but maybe a magical feat that lets casters heat up stones with spells.
  • Feats that can make a sling what it’s really supposed to be: a long-range gun. That’s a tough area to work in since feats rarely ever raise DPS, and if it’s supposed to do .44-magnum damage, then its damage output would need to be 2d8 piercing plus Dex mod. That’s an effective increase of 6.5 damage or a 1d12.

Cool. This is exciting!

After the Build

I took a few cues from the Weapon Expert build I did not too long ago. First, I created some new sling bullets based on the historical information I listed above. The stone bullet was just a way to find cheap, free stones and gives some rules for such.

Because of the increased damage and range on the other two bullets, I had to make them martial weapons. Mithril’s cost is roughly 1/5 of what +1 ammo would cost as it only gives a +1 to attack rolls and not to damage and as ammunition, you’ll end up losing half of it every time you use it.

The two feats are no-brainers.

Because of the niche nature of sling master, I gave it a Dex bump. It increases critical damage by an extra die, but that’s barely a blip. Effectively, it’s an additional 0.275 damage per turn even with mithril, nothing to write home about. Also, I tossed in the martial proficiencies for wizards and sorcerers who plan on picking up this feat.

Arcane slinger allows a caster to learn a relevant cantrip, then cast it on sling stones. I changed acid splash’s ability a little, borrowing from oozes, but the rest are more or less the same. Some will be better with the sling (such as shocking grasp), while others which already have a pretty long range might suffer. That’s for the caster player to decide themselves.

Improved Slings

The optional rules in this article pertain to using slings in the game.

New Ammunition

In addition to the clay bullets normally offered in the PHB, a character has the following sling ammunition available to them.

Sling Bullets

Name Cost Weight Damage Range
Simple Ranged Weapons
Stone (20) * 3 lb. 1d4 bludgeoning 30/90
Clay (20) 4 cp 1 ½ lb. 1d4 bludgeoning 30/120
Martial Ranged Weapons
Lead (20) 5 sp 1 ¼ lb. 1d8 piercing 80/320
Mithril (20)† 75 gp 1 lb. 1d10 piercing 100/400

* Stone bullets are not purchased but found. While foraging outdoors near a river or similar body of water, a character can make a DC 10 Wisdom (Survival) check to find 20 stone bullets. Certain environments such as a natural cave or outdoors might also provide stones for the sling. These can be found with a successful Search action, DC 10 Wisdom (Perception).

† Due to the improved aerodynamic properties of mithril bullets, a character proficient with mithril bullets receives a +1 bonus to his or her attack roll on attacks made at normal range.

The table above replaces the normal statistics for a sling. A character proficient with slings can use both the stone and clay ammunition (clay ammunition is the standard ammunition detailed in the PHB). However, a character must be proficient with martial weapons or specifically with martial slings in order to use lead or mithril sling bullets.

New Feats

This section introduces a collection of special feats that allow you to improve the use of a sling. The feats are presented below in alphabetical order.

Arcane Slinger

Prerequisite: The ability to cast at least one spell

You have learned techniques to enhance your sling attacks with certain kinds of spells, gaining the following benefits:

  • You learn one of the following cantrips: acid splash, chill touch, fire bolt, ray of frost, or shocking grasp. Your spellcasting ability for this cantrip is Intelligence.
  • On each of your turns, you can use your bonus action to cast a cantrip you know selected from the list below on one of your sling bullets. If the next ranged attack roll you make using your sling hits, the bullet’s damage type is replaced as determined by the cantrip you cast upon it. Otherwise, the spell’s effect on the bullet ends at the end of your turn:
    • Acid splash. The sling bullet’s damage type becomes acid. In addition, nonmagical armor worn by the target is partly dissolved and takes a permanent and cumulative -1 penalty to the AC it offers. The armor is destroyed if the penalty reduces its AC to 10. The bullet’s damage increases by one damage die when you reach 5th level (2 damage dice), 11th level (3 damage dice), and 17th level (4 damage dice).
    • Chill touch. The sling bullet’s damage type becomes necrotic. If you hit an undead target, it also has disadvantage on attack rolls against you until the end of your next turn. The bullet’s damage increases by one damage die when you reach 5th level (2 damage dice), 11th level (3 damage dice), and 17th level (4 damage dice).
    • Fire bolt. The sling bullet’s damage type becomes fire. A flammable object hit by the bullet ignites if it isn’t being worn or carried. The bullet’s damage increases by one damage die when you reach 5th level (2 damage dice), 11th level (3 damage dice), and 17th level (4 damage dice).
    • Ray of frost. The sling bullet’s damage type becomes cold. In addition, the target’s speed is reduced by 10 feet until the start of your next turn. The bullet’s damage increases by one damage die when you reach 5th level (2 damage dice), 11th level (3 damage dice), and 17th level (4 damage dice).
    • Shocking Grasp. The sling bullet’s damage type becomes lightning. In addition, the target can’t take reactions until the start of its next turn. The bullet’s damage increases by one damage die when you reach 5th level (2 damage dice), 11th level (3 damage dice), and 17th level (4 damage dice).

Sling Master

You gain the following benefits:

  • Increase your Dexterity score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
  • You gain proficiency with martial slings.
  • You can roll one additional weapon damage die when determining the extra damage for a critical hit with a sling attack.  If you have a class feature or other effect that gives you additional weapon damage dice on a critical hit such as a Barbarian’s Brutal Critical feature, you add the dice together. For example, a 13th-level Barbarian that is a sling master rolls three additional weapon damage dice on a critical hit for a total of 4d4 (1d4 for the weapon x 2 + 1d4 for the Barbarian Brutal Critical Feature + 1d4 for this feat).

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