DD 5e bow list
by Samuel James in
DnD Rules

People often say that life’s a journey, not a destination – and if that’s the case, I’d rather my journey took place in the exciting world of Dungeons & Dragons. With its rich fantasy setting and unique characters, it’s no wonder that D&D is among the most popular tabletop games in the world. But in this magical world, it’s not just about whom you meet on the road, but what you carry with you. As an adventurer, your weapons are your bread and butter. And, among them, bows are revered as some of the mightiest tools for any ranger or rogue.

When you strap that quiver to your back and string up your bow, you’re taking up a mantle – whether that of the silent assassin lurking in the shadows or the heroic ranger leading the charge. So, let’s sink our teeth into the world of D&D 5e bows. Take a deep breath and put on your adventurer’s cap; let’s dive right in, shall we?

What is a bow in D&D 5e?

Picture yourself, standing at the edge of a clearing in the thick of the forest, a gentle wind blowing through the trees. A deer grazes peacefully, unaware of the danger lurking. You steady your breath, pull back your bowstring, and let an arrow fly. It zips through the air like a striking viper, hitting its mark, and the hunt is successful.

In D&D 5e, the bow echoes this imagery and imbues it with more! They’re long-range weapons that adventurers use, and they come in various shapes and sizes, each with their special enchants and unique capabilities. More than just a weapon, a bow can be an adventurer’s best friend – striking from a distance, keeping you out of harm’s way. The road ahead is perilous, but with a trusty bow in hand, you can make the difference between a fatal encounter and a successful hunt.

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How many types of bows are there in D&D 5e?

Imagine a chest; it’s weathered, old, and beaten, yet it carries the promise of treasures untold. Just like opening that chest unveils a plethora of jewels inside, the world of D&D 5e offers an assortment of bows to choose from, each more enticing than the last.

There are four main types of bows in D&D 5e: Shortbows, Longbows, Crossbows, and Magic Bows. Each has its advantages and drawbacks, their unique range, attack speed, and damage output. The courageous adventurer must choose wisely, for a bow is not just an instrument of destruction; it’s an extension of your will, a manifestation of your determination.

Full Bow List

Bow TypeRangeDamageSpecial Features
Shortbow80/3201d6 piercingAmmo, Two-Handed
Longbow150/6001d8 piercingAmmo, Heavy, Two-Handed
Light Crossbow80/3201d8 piercingAmmo, Loading, Two-Handed
Heavy Crossbow100/4001d10 piercingAmmo, Heavy, Loading, Two-Handed
Hand Crossbow30/1201d6 piercingAmmo, Light, Loading
OathbowVariesVariesWhen sworn against a creature, does extra damage

It’s very important to note that these are just the basic parameters of the weapons without any additional enchantments, buffs, or crafting modifications that may be added during gameplay. Individual Dungeon Masters may also introduce unofficial or homebrew bows not included in this list.

The characteristics of the bows may also change depending on the situation and skill of the characters using them – the magical themed Oathbow, for instance, does variable damage.

What is a Shortbow?

Ah, the Shortbow! Don’t let its name fool you – this little bad boy is no pushover. Quick to draw and handy in a pinch, the shortbow is the rogue’s trusty sidearm, always there when in a tight spot. Compact and light, it’s easy to handle, making it great for those who shuffle between the clatter of near skirmishes and the comfort of distant damaging.

D&D 5e Shortbow has got charm, with its impressive range and decent damage making it a favorite for the sneaky types who like to strike from shadows unopposed. It’s like the sly fox of the bow family; it might not pack the biggest punch, but it sure knows when and where to hit.

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What is a Longbow?

Now onto the big league, where the battles are fierce and arrows rain from the skies like a mighty storm! This is the realm of the Longbow. With its majestic length and imposing reach, the Longbow is the symbol of unstoppable range and devastating damage. Imagine it as the thunderous roar of a lion, echoing across the savanna, its might unchallenged and respected.

The Longbow tastes like victory to many D&D 5e adventurers. Its remarkable range sets it apart, making it perfect for those who like to keep their enemies at an arrow’s length. The Longbow sings a song of power, of dominance, a symphony of calculated destruction from afar.

What is a Crossbow?

Picture the hustle and bustle of a busy craftsman’s workshop, filled with contraptions of all sorts, machinations of pure practicality. Now, picture an invention born from such a place, a combination of raw power and mechanical ingenuity. That’s what a crossbow is, my friend.

The Crossbow, in D&D 5e, is the perfect symbol of technological prowess. Its structured design works like a miniature ballista, just waiting to unleash its deadly bolts. It might be heavier and slower to reload than the traditional bows, but what it lacks in speed, it makes up for in raw power. A crossbow bolt can punch through armor like a hot knife through butter, and in the hands of a skilled user, it can pierce even the toughest scales.

What are magic bows?

In a world where dragons soar through the skies and shadows whisper tales of forgotten lore, would you be surprised to find bows imbued with magic’s mystic might? Of course not!

Magic Bows in D&D 5e can truly tilt the battlefield in your favor and turn the tide of the most daunting battles. From Bows of Lightning that sizzle with electric energy to Oathbows that swear vengeance against a single target, magic bows are wonder tools combining the finesse of archery and the charm of arcane arts.

How do I choose the right bow?

Choosing the right bow in D&D 5e is like picking a dance partner for the grand ball. It must match your rhythm, your style, and most importantly, your character’s class and abilities. It’s a dance, really, a tango of power and precision.

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Consider your character’s attributes, their strengths, and weaknesses. Think of a bow that complements them, gives them the edge they need. Weigh its merits, its range, its rate of fire. Ponder upon the nature of your opponents. And voila, you’ll find the perfect bow waiting to dance fury into your enemy’s heart.

What are the rules about using bows?

Ah, the rules – the old ball and chain, the guidelines that hold the chaotic world of D&D together. Don’t fret! They’re not as complex as Ravenloft’s misty maze nor as rigid as a Stone Golem.

In D&D 5e, bows are primary ranged weapons, so you need to maintain a distance from your enemy. You also need ammunition – arrows or bolts – and taking an attack action involves notching and firing one. Your proficiency with the bow matters too, adding a bonus to your attack rolls. Lastly, some bows require a sufficient Strength score to wield, like the mighty Longbow.

Can you enchant a bow in D&D 5e?

Why, I see a sparkle of curiosity in your eyes, a thirst for the extraordinary. Speak the language of magic, and enchanting a bow you can! Ah, the arcane art of enchantment – delicate like a butterfly, yet potent as a dragon’s fire.

You can indeed enchant your bow in D&D 5e. With the right spell, ingredients, magical location, or an NPC’s help, you can imbue your bow with elements of the arcane, bestowing it with power beyond the mortal realm. Fire, ice, thunder—you can wield these and more at your fingertips, bending them to your will with every shot you take.

What is the most powerful bow in D&D 5e?

And now, onto the cherry on top, the star of the show, the pièce de résistance – the most powerful bow in D&D 5e. Like the climax of an epic tale, the question hangs in the air, a shroud of mystery releasing a chilling thrill.

That title goes to the Oathbow, a magic weapon of incomparable power. This isn’t just a bow – it’s a statement, a declaration of vengeance and wrath. When you swear to your Oathbow an oath of enmity against a creature, your strikes become deadly, turning mere scratches into fatal wounds and turning you into the unstoppable force that adventure calls for.

Adventure awaits in the world of D&D, a world of brave heroes, perilous journeys, and epic tales. A bow, on this journey, can be the trusty companion that clears your path, reins in the chaos, and brings you the glory you seek. So take a moment, take a bow, and make your pick because the road ahead teems with possibilities, and every arrow in your quiver counts.

Samuel James is a passionate writer with a love for MMO and ARPG games. When he's not busy exploring virtual worlds, he enjoys taking his dog for long walks and writing detailed gaming guides for XPGoblin. He also loves watching sci-fi films, with a particular fondness for the works of Stanley Kubrick and Ridley Scott.
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