The 5e net is considered one of the most gimmicky, useless, and pointless weapons for Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition. In fact, I guarantee if you ask veteran users if they ever played a class around the 5e net mechanic. The answer is going to most likely be no. Then, you might be thinking, “why is the net considered so terrible?”
Well, the net in 5e is considered suboptimal due to three big reasons. All attack rolls with it are rolled at disadvantage. The creatures it works on is situational at best. And attacking with the net forgoes all other attacks you can make with that action. That said, this article will go over how troublesome these disadvantages actually are, as well as ways to overcome them.
Overcoming The Stigma
A Large or smaller creature hit by a net is restrained until it is freed. A net has no effect on creatures that are formless or creatures that are Huge or larger. A creature can use its action to make a DC 10 Strength check, freeing itself or another creature within its reach on a success. Dealing 5 slashing damage to the net (AC 10) also frees the creature without harming it, ending the effect and destroying the net. When you use an action, bonus action, or reaction to attack with a net, you can make only one attack regardless of the number of attacks you can normally make.
To overcome the problems with the 5e net, the first thing I need to address is the stigma behind it. (And believe me, there is a lot of stigma.) Therefore, the rest of the article will address a stigma regarding nets in 5e and then ways to overcome them. To do so we need to break down the wording and ruling of the entire definition. As such, I have attached the wording for the net in 5e above in the gray box. With that said let’s get to work.
The first stigma is in regard to, “A net has no effect on creatures that are formless or creatures that are Huge or larger. Immediately this makes the net a situational use as if you are fighting anything huge or larger, it becomes useless. Then if you are fighting something like a ghost, again it is useless.
This creates the first boundary against using the weapon. After all who wants to use a weapon that doesn’t work all the time.
Then why would I want to have it? Simple. Think of it like a spell for a spell caster or why a fighter has hand axes in addition to his main weapon. It is better to have options for a situation then only one move. So even if this doesn’t apply to all, neither does a sword. A sword is only good for melee. A dragon in the sky breathing fire on you from a distance defeats your ability to use your cool sword since you can’t hit it. Same functions for the net.
Moreover, I want to mention this. After combine all the books released, there are 1744 monsters’ stats listed in the books. Of that, 209 are considered huge or bigger. Which means as of now 11.98% of the monsters are immune due to their height. A decent percentage to be sure but still, that means the weapon can apply roughly 88% of the time.
A DC of 10. Considered an easy ability check to beat according to the “Dungeons and Dragons DC Guide”. As such, many see that the 5e net in Dungeons and Dragons only has a DC 10 check and immediately rules it out. This, however, should not be the case.
The first thing to look at is not the DC, but what it costs. Which is their action. Now the action economy is incredibly important for D&D. So much so I actually wrote an in-depth article going over it which you can read more about here. As such by forcing the villain to use their action to break, this forces them to waste their entire round basically just getting out of a net. Setting you up to control the field.
Now I know what some of you are thinking, “what about legendary resistances? Can’t they just automatically beat it?” This is not true. A legendary resistance only applies to saves. Getting out of a net requires a check. Two very different mechanics which means creatures with legendary resistances have to use their action, either way, to break out of it.
Low Hit Points
It should also be noted that many talk about the low hit points of a net. Therefore, instead of the monster wasting their entire action, just use up one attack. This is definitely the smart move for a monster in terms of not wasting their entire action. However, there are two interesting rules that address this situation.
The first rule is that slashing damage is the required form of damage besides flames that can destroy a net. This means that unless a monster can do slashing damage. The net is considered immune to the damage. Already making its low hit points a moot point to all that do not deal slashing damage.
The second point is that all creatures’ attacks while in the net are made at disadvantage. Transforming the 10 AC into basically a 15 AC. Which is rather high all things considered. As now a creature needs to beat effectively an AC of 15 and deal slashing damage to break out of the net.
There is also another point to bring up too. It still uses up part of an action if not all of the action. In other words, while not nearly as debilitating as using up an entire action, having one less attack made against you is nothing to sneeze at. Especially since one hit point can change the entire course of the battle.
Only Make One Attack.
The second biggest reason people stay away from this weapon. If you decide to use this weapon, you also limit your own action economy. Now I do not know if Wizard of the Coast just really wanted a weapon that limited the enemy and you, but it is a debilitating effect nonetheless.
That said, the wording is crucial for understanding this mechanic to the net for 5e. You see, when I first read it, I read it as it used all your actions, main, bonus, and reaction. After all, it does state, “When you use an action, bonus action, or reaction to attack with a net, you can make only one attack regardless of the number of attacks you can normally make.” And when you are new to reading rules and Dungeons & Dragons. Listing all three automatically must mean it uses up all three.
Thankfully, I was wrong on my first read. What gets used up is that action you have in regard to it. This is mainly to be applied to the mechanic multi-attack. Which is a mechanic that allows you to attack multiple times with one action. Which means, this mechanic limits those with multi-attack. Those with only one attack, however, are not limited by this wording.
What does this mean? Well, it means unless you have a way to use your bonus action with this weapon. Or only have one attack with your main action. You limit yourself in personal damage potential. Hence, while a limiting factor for those like the fighter or barbarian, actually synergize well with classes like the rogue. So, the best way to overcome this limiting factor is to find ways to do it via bonus action, or when you only have one attack action, to begin with.
Disadvantage On Attacks
I give you the biggest reason why people hate on the net in 5e. Not only does it limit your action, have low DC and hit points, it also has disadvantage when rolling attacks with it. This is the final nail in the coffin for many people. After all, who wants a weapon that has so many drawbacks for using it.
Which is a good point. After all, you roll to beat their AC with this weapon, rather than making them make a save. Therefore, they effectively gain a +5 to their AC when you use that weapon. Especially when looking at the range of the 5e net, and noticing it is only 15 feet at max distance in which you can throw.
The arguing points for this are if it hits, then all attacks are at advantage against them and they have disadvantage on all attacks against your party. While the second point is that there are ways to overcome disadvantage with the net in 5e. The first point has already been explained up above, but the second point has quite a few ways to overcome it and will be listed in the following section.
Overcoming Attack Disadvantage: Crossbow Expert
Then what are the ways to overcome the disadvantage on attack rolls with the net in 5e. Well, a few ways.
One is to take the feat “Crossbow Expert”. I know what you are thinking, “Why is a feat for crossbows useful for the net in 5e?” Well, the reasoning comes from the following verbiage of the ability.
“Being within 5 feet of a hostile creature doesn’t impose disadvantage on your ranged attack rolls.”
Now, since for 5e, the net is considered a martial ranged weapon. This means now when you make an attack roll within 5 feet, you would normally have disadvantage. Since you have this feat though, you no longer suffer from the disability from the ranged mechanic. As such, you now can roll a net attack roll as a straight roll instead of disadvantage. Though you still need to be within 5 feet.
Also note, this feat also allows a bonus action attack if you are using a hand crossbow.
“When you use the Attack action and attack with a one-handed weapon, you can use a bonus action to attack with a hand crossbow you are holding.”
Therefore, while you may not have any more main action attacks, you can still attack once with your bonus action. Thus giving you more options to work with.
The next way to overcome disadvantage attack rolls is through the feat Sharpshooter. The feat Sharpshooter states that
“Attacking at long range doesn’t impose disadvantage on your ranged weapon attack rolls.”
Henceforth, the net in 5e would not suffer from attacking at range between 10-15 feet but would suffer on attack rolls within 5 feet. This still overcomes a lot of the problems with the 5e net disadvantages as now you no longer have to worry about throwing at disadvantage while still being out of the enemies reach to attack you.
The one thing I would note though is I actually have a preference toward Crossbow Expert, as if you are needing to make a ranged weapon attack in short-range combat, you are probably going to deal more from being too up close than too far away. As such, if you are choosing one of these feats to make a net character build, I would recommend Crossbow Expert personally for this reason alone.
The final big way to overcome disadvantage with the 5e net is having advantage. The rules state that no matter how many disadvantages you may have, 1 advantage will always balance the two out to one roll, and vice versa. Therefore, if you gain advantage on your attack roll, you no longer would suffer disadvantage from the attack roll.
There are many ways to overcome disadvantage with the net. For instance, someone taking the help action would grant you advantage. Another way for someone is to be hiding. If you are hiding from the enemy, then you would be given advantage but remember you need to be within 15 feet for that to reach them.
If you are curious on an entire list of the ways to gain advantage, you can read more about them in my article on advantage and disadvantage.
Popular 5e Net Build
Now that we have gone over the net and addressed their problems, let me gift to you a build that I have personally played and considered fun but a little gimmicky.
As mentioned before surprising the net in 5e synergizes rather well with the rogue class. As such consider playing a human rogue with crossbow expert as your feat. Then play 1 level of fighter and choose the fighting style “archery” to gain +2 to ranged attacks. After that put the rest of your levels into rogue.
Once you get to level 3 in rogue (level 4 all together), I suggest playing the rogue subclass Mastermind from my favorite Dungeons and Dragons book, Xanathars Guide to Everything. It’s a really strong subclass in my opinion that is great for creating battlefield control and synergizes well with the net in 5e. The reason being you can attack with your main action and potentially get sneak attack with the weapon. Because, yeah sneak attack triggers with hitting with a net. Then give another ally within 30 feet advantage on an attack roll against someone else if they need it with the help action. Meanwhile, you and the rest of your party curb stomp the person hit with your net and severely wounded from a sneak attack.
While this is only a brief description of a build for it. I hope you found it useful in giving you some ideas with the net in 5e for creating your own builds.
Net 5e: Conclusion
Well, there you have it. A summary of every problem with the net in 5e, ways to overcome it, and a potential build you can do to optimize the net to best of your abilities. I hope you all enjoyed and if I might suggest. The strongest way is to gain advantage is through the help action via a familiar. If you are unsure about which familiar to choose, I actually wrote a roughly 5000-word article going over each and every single familiar available in the find familiars list. You should really check it out as it is quite good if I say so myself. Anyways, hope your day is absolutely superb and you enjoyed!
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