[RPG] How to make Attacks of Opportunity using a ranged weapon


Is there any way a character can make an attack of opportunity using a ranged weapon?
If so, how?
What book does it come from?

Best Answer

Yes, there is a way to way to make attacks of opportunity (AoOs from now on) using a ranged weapon. In fact, there are several, which I'm going to detail.
I'm including 3e sources in this answer, since they're still valid in 3.5e

Use a throwing weapon

Any throwing weapon can be used in melee with no penalty. This is the trivial solution.
Of course, throwing weapons have a short range increment, each "ammunition" is heavy and costy and every single weapon must be enchanted separately, making this a subpar choice for the vast majority of ranged weapon builds.

Attacks of Opportunity while wielding a ranged weapon

There are several ways to have a melee weapon ready for dealing AoOs even while you're using a two-handed projectile weapon.

The first one is being able to use a weapon with a different part of your body, including but not limited to:

  • natural weapons (except claws, but keep reading for those)
  • hidden blades (Complete Scoundrel)
  • armor spikes/razors (PHB/*Underdark*)
  • braid blade (Dungeon Magazine #120, except if it's ruled to be only useable during complete attacks)
  • Improved Unarmed Strike (PHB feat)
  • Bracers of Striking (Magic of Faerun)

When you wield a two handed weapon, including a bow, you can change your grip to just hold it in your off-hand as a free action, allowing you to attack with your free hand:

  • claw attacks
  • spiked gauntlets (PHB)
  • gnomish quick razor (Races of Stone)
  • drawing a weapon with Quick Draw (PHB) or one Crystal of Return (Magic Item Compendium) per weapon and discarding it before using the bow again (works better with an unseen servant picking up the weapon and sheating it again for you)
  • switching weapons thanks to two Gloves of Storing (DMG), the cheaper Gloves of the Master Strategist (Ghostwalk) or similar items

Attacks of Opportunity made with a ranged weapon

Some bows from Races of the Wild are built to double as melee weapons:

  • any elvencraft bow also counts as a nonmagical quarterstaff
  • three different weapons grouped under the Swordbow name. Keep in mind that the most useful weapon enchantments for ranged weapons (Splitting comes to mind) are useless on the blade shape

Some ways to do a ranged AoO:

  • 8 levels in the Peerless Archer PrC (Silver Marches), 5' range
  • the arrow mind spell (Complete Adventurer/*Spell Compendium*), possibly from a wand or an eternal wand (Magic Item Compendium) stored in a wand chamber (Dungeonscape), 5' range
  • Ranged Threat feat (Dragon Magazine #350) - awful prerequisites but allows one AoO per round up to a 15' range

These options are not guaranteed to prevent people at the right distance to make an AoO against your using a ranged weapon in melee.

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