D&D 5E How to make an optimized and powerful net user

caleb lucas

Villager
in a 1v1 with a friend(dex fighter vs dex fighter), i used net and disarming strike, knocked his flame tongue rapier out of his hand, and used action surge to steal it and retreat. he then had to spend the entire turn dealing with my net as i dropped the rapier(cuz' it was attuned), walked back up to him, drew both my axes(TWF, DW feat, Flavor) and pummelled him as he had to work his way past my sentinel-feated self with darts and fists. he was glaring at me every second he wasn't laughing.
 

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ccs

41st lv DM
"to attack with a net,"

You're not attacking with a net though. You're attacking with a modified crossbow, so this is legal. =]

Well, since net launchers aren't a thing (even if you are a rock gnome) unless the DM says they are, then whatever rules apply to them also come from the DM. :)

Anyways, you're going to be a rock gnome (3'-4' tall), firing some 18lb modified heavy crossbow contraption (wich is likely nearly as big as you are & about 1/2 your weight), that launches nets big enough to restrain Large size creatures.
And you're going to try & convince me that your attacks should ignore the negative loading & net rules, but not the entangling benefits etc? So that you can spray out ranged vollys of 2, 4, or even 8! nets per 6 second turn??

Ha Ha, Ha Ha Ha.
No. You don't get all the benefits + more without some trade off.

1st, count yourself lucky if the DM let's you build a net launcher. Because yes, it is a very tinker gnome thing.

2nd, You're 3-4 tall. Where are you carrying enough nets (each one big & strong enough to restrain a horse) to allow those rates of fire (even once)? You bringing a pack mule? Investing in the variant noble background to get 3 non-com NPCs to act as loaders?
And Ok, other than weighing 3lb each in the book, do you know how big a net that could restrain a horse is? Even if you wrap it up like an umbrella/wad it into a ball?
 

caleb lucas

Villager
Well, since net launchers aren't a thing (even if you are a rock gnome) unless the DM says they are, then whatever rules apply to them also come from the DM. :)

Anyways, you're going to be a rock gnome (3'-4' tall), firing some 18lb modified heavy crossbow contraption (wich is likely nearly as big as you are & about 1/2 your weight), that launches nets big enough to restrain Large size creatures.
And you're going to try & convince me that your attacks should ignore the negative loading & net rules, but not the entangling benefits etc? So that you can spray out ranged vollys of 2, 4, or even 8! nets per 6 second turn??

Ha Ha, Ha Ha Ha.
No. You don't get all the benefits + more without some trade off.

1st, count yourself lucky if the DM let's you build a net launcher. Because yes, it is a very tinker gnome thing.

2nd, You're 3-4 tall. Where are you carrying enough nets (each one big & strong enough to restrain a horse) to allow those rates of fire (even once)? You bringing a pack mule? Investing in the variant noble background to get 3 non-com NPCs to act as loaders?
And Ok, other than weighing 3lb each in the book, do you know how big a net that could restrain a horse is? Even if you wrap it up like an umbrella/wad it into a ball?

Both of those solutions you just threw out there(minions and mules) are perfectly reasonable, if you can't find a bag of holding/efficient quiver. As for your firing speed complaint, volleys of 2, 4, or 8 normal bolts in 6 seconds is impressive anyway, regardless of race. I've used crossbows in real life. besides, crossbows could only be fired more than once if you take Crossbow Expert, a feat that says you extensively train with the weapons in question. otherwise, you only get one shot per attack action, bonus attack, etc. Anyway, to restrain a horse, you don't need to encompass the entire animal, just the legs. The same can be said for most Large animals, considering exactly what restrained means gamewise(no moving, bad dex saves, disadvantage on attacks. It'd still be big, but you've built/modified a crossbow just for this projectile.

If I were DM on the spot, I'd give it one session's worth of testing(or less if the need arises) under normal tinker rules(clockwork toy?), including upkeep. If a problem shows, say that the stress of launching such a heavy projectile so often causes too much stress on the mechanisim, and will require an additional X gold on upkeep.

To summarize:
Unless you train(take a feat) with your new weapon you must make, build, and maintain daily, you have a single weapon that you can fire once per turn (loading property) that deals no damage(unless you go through even more precautions, such as a martial maneuver) to restrain an opponent for one round unless they're incredibly weak or unlucky. on top of that, you'll need minions or animals to carry more than five nets unless you're really strong or have a Wondrous Magical item. if you do take a feat, you get to fire more often, but will need to go back to them after a few shots. I'd insist that the net launcher mechanism must be mounted on a heavy or light crossbow, meaning that there would be no extra attack from the feat on top of that, I'd say the mechanism interferes if you try to fire normal bolts unless you take it off(Use Object Action).

All this to negate disadvantage and boost the range.

I've not played a ranger in 5e yet, so I don't know about swift quiver, but for other classes, so far I'd say that the constant maintenance as well as the inconvenience of going to another being and getting stuff off of them before reloading your crossbow balances out with the benefits of the net. my problem would be the range. I'd have to work out the ranges, but I'd say the range of a net on a light crossbow, and the range of a dart on a heavy crossbow. however, I'd say the H. Crossbow would cost extra on top of whatever price is settled on.
 

Mars Hall

Explorer
At first glance, nets are crap. 5ft range + Thrown = 100% disadvantage when using them. Making enemies lose their action to free themselves is a really strong mechanic though... So I thought about it and it struck me: what if I use a Net Launcher instead of just throwing them?

Then I thought, "Who can craft a Net Launcher?". The answer is Rock Gnome, because of their Tinker ability. Turning a crossbow into a Net Launcher is perfectly reasonable and believable for a Tinkering gnome.

The Crossbow Expert feat would be great too. 2 Net Launchers with free reloads and no disadvantage in melee range? Sign me up.

So what's the best class for this? My first thought was Ranger because they get access to Swift Quiver and can pick the Archery school. But then I realized that Bard can also steal this spell...7 levels earlier... And guess what else Lore Bards get: Cutting Words. Cutting Words can be used to make an enemy fail their STR check when trying to free themselves. Dude.

The only downside so far is that you only get 1 bonus action per turn, so you have to choose between Swift Quiver's 2 free attacks or Crossbow Expert's 1 free attack. Sounds obvious, but keep in mind Swift Quiver is a spell and requires a high level slot, while Crossbow Expert just kicks in for free. So is there another spell that grants an extra net attack (pun intended)? Yep! Hello, Haste. Haste is only a level 3 spell too, instead of Swift Quiver's level 5 slot. Casting Haste also grants other rewards, like higher speed and AC.

As a side note, you can get away with 1 Net Launcher instead of 2. Crawford confirms this: Does Crossbow Expert should just let him double attack with a hand crossbow? So you can wear a shield in your offhand for more AC, or maybe a light melee weapon?

So what do you guys think of this? A Rock Gnome Lore Bard with a Net Launcher gets:

Level 3: d6 Cutting Words reactions to lower enemy STR checks when breaking free
Level 4: Crossbow Expert feat
Level 5: d8 Cutting Words, plus Font of Inspiration to regain the dice after every short rest
Level 6: Additional Magical Secrets for the Haste spell

By level 6 you get 3 net attacks per turn, and a virtually unlimited number of Cutting Words to force fails from breaking free. You can take 2 levels of Fighter for Action Surge, giving 4 net attacks per round by level 8 and the Archery fighting school bonus. I'm sure there are nice multiclass combinations beyond that as well, but most campaigns don't go too high. For a standard low-mid level campaign, this build seems fantastic! If you can convince your DM to give you a Net Launcher without going Rock Gnome, even better. Take variant human and get Crossbow Expert right at level 1, plus better stats!

Thoughts?
My thoughts are that I wouldn't try to build a Net-user in 5E unless I was using the Arkadia book, tbh.
 

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