[Top 10] D&D Best Bows, Crossbows, and Ranged Weapons

D&D Best Bows, D&D Best Crossbows, D&D Best Ranged Weapons
“No one uses bows cause they're efficient, you use 'em cause you look hot doing it” – archer's proverb

Pick up these bows the next time you're in town, and bring your damage game to the next level.

The Ranger, a classic image of a Dungeons & Dragons character if there ever was one, is not as often maligned as their unarmed friend, the Monk, but is perhaps more overlooked.

The Ranger is so often passed by that even after 10 years of nearly weekly play I have never built a dedicated master of the bow.

Lackluster in combat in low levels, and out shined by the warlock at higher levels, the poster-class for Legolas fans could use a buff or two.

Here are 10 bows to eldritch blast that cantrip spamming, robe wearing, demon lover back to the front lines so you can do what you do best, and Let 'em FLY! 

“But Chris, a good class has nothing to do with magic or cool weapons, it is all in the character build.” Well, listen here illusory effigy of an outraged and argumentative commentator, we aren't talking builds today.

No, this article is all about boosting that 1d8 piercing damage without touching your characters attributes, but more importantly it is about cool items and that sweet, sweet lore.

10. Oathbow

it swore an oath, and your enemies will bow...

Nock an arrow, friend, and hear this bow speak in elvish tongues “swift defeat to my enemies.” Making an Attack while speaking the Command phrase, "Swift death to you who have wronged me,"  will result in the bow declaring the target its Sworn Enemy. Having a nemesis has always been a secret dream of mine, and in my younger years I attempted to rack them up, while I don't suggest such nonsense in the real world (the dry cleaning & gas bills alone are astronomical), having one in roleplay space comes with some nice perks. For seven days, or until the target dies, you have Advantage on attacks made with the Oathbow against the sworn enemy. Having the chance to reroll an attack and take the highest number is an opportunity that cannot be missed.    

Along with this sudden boost in effectiveness your archer will also receive the ability to see through any cover the target might try to hide behind as long as it isn't total cover. Any arrow placed in this bow is at a near can't miss hit rate. Couple these boons with the additional 3d6 piercing damage on all successful hits and what more could you want from a weapon? 

In the Forgotten Realms, Tyresia, an elven wizard crafted an oathbow for his half-brother High Lord Methrammar Aerasumé, Swiftflight was an oathbow imbued with the personality of the elven wizard. High Lord Aerasumé carried Swiftflgiht through his many adventures as High Marshal of the Argent Legion while leading 400 soldiers at Rauvinwatch Keep. Young adventurers can take note from the Lord of the Silver Marches, ruler of the Silverymoon, Methrammar Aerasumé was always armed with +2 magical arrows. In other words, spend your gold wisely.

Weapon Stats

  • 1D8 Damage, +3d6 Damage on Sworn Enemy 

  • Piercing Damage 

  • Very Rare Item 

  • Heavy, Ranged, Two Handed

  • Martial Ranged Weapon

Why Is It So Cool?

  • It talks! Not like a certain crooked talking sword we all love, but it speaks and that's fun

  • It is the Death Note of weapons! All you have to do is tell it you hate THAT GUY and loose an arrow at 'em. 

  • Being able to shoot clear through cover. This bow is out for blood!

9. Vicious Heavy Crossbow

 

Certainly a vicious & heavy crossbow, but not EXACTLY a Vicious, Heavy Crossbow

Maybe calling out your enemies isn't your style. Perhaps you'd rather your good hits require luck.  Welcome, friends, to the land of vicious weaponry. This enchantment, which can be placed on any weapon if you have the coin, adds a +7 to the damage of its attack whenever you roll a 20. While this is a seemingly rare occurrence, the chance to score a full extra 7 damage along with the extra damage roll of a critical hit you are looking at an average of 14 damage with one bolt.  Look I know the idea that you are gonna score that natural 20 more than once per session is a slim margin, but as we discussed earlier, the best way to get more from your bow is to make more of the archer.

Weapon Stats

  • 1d10 Damage, +7 Damage On Critical Hit

  • Piercing Damage

  • Heavy, Loading, Range, Two-Handed Properties

Why Is It So Cool? 

  • It's an enchantment so you can buy it off just about anybody or get your artificer friend to conjure one up for you

  • Because it's considered an enchantment the crossbow itself can look like any old crossbow, or even your character's favorite crossbow that they've been modifying and caring for over their entire adventure 

  • though you're depending on the critical roll to make the magic activate, it is a satisfying day when you do

8. Wands & Staves

Just cast it at the darkness, and then go get some Cheetos

Yes, nerds, I realize that I am stepping slightly outside of definitive parameters. This isn't a bow or a crossbow and some people might question whether a blanket term like wand can cover or count as a ranged weapon. Well, I say, if you point a stick at a goblin that is 120 feet away and that goblin is devoured by fireballs or engulfed in lightning bolts then you have just made a ranged combat attack.

Most wands come packaged with 7 charges that can be replenished by a magic user or through gold, but if you're playing the part correctly you discard the spent wands and move on to more.  This ranged weapon isn't just one weapon that you can fire off at will, reload, and fire again, awand-slinger is a full class build made for DPS. You will be spending a lot of gold and a ton of magic to pull off this mage-canon ability, but if you can do it correctly it is the most fun you can have as a magic user bar none, and if you're in a party with a ranger or other archer type character you will constantly be stepping on their toes and remain in an open rivalry against them for damage output and field control.

My favorite way to play with wands is to build an Artificer and spend some gold buying up bandoleers and bracelets that help stow items. Using these compartments to hide as many wands as you can afford will keep your hands full of ranged death for every combat the party encounters. A good starter choice would be wands of paralysis and magic missile. With magic missle you are able to hit multiple opponents within your sight or a single opponent multiple times, all within 120 feet. The three darts which erupt from the wand upon casting does a negligible 1d4 +1 worth of force damage. each level of the spell you will gain 1 extra dart,and hammering an enemy with 4d4 can be the extra edge necessary in early levels.  If anyone comes within 60 feet of you then paralyze them with your other wand.

Of course there are a ton of other wands, so if magic missile isn't your style you have options. Want to rain fire upon your opponents? Wand of Fireball. Do a bad Emperor Palpatine impression witha wand of Lightning Bolt. Graduate to level 9 and begin experimenting with staves, the wand for the big kids.

Weapon Stats

  • magic missile, 3 darts of light 1d4 +1 each Damage

  • Force Damage 

  • 120 foot range 

  • +1 Dart for each level of spell

Why is it cool

  • Have you ever wanted to play a cool western gunslinger archetype, but can't fit it into your groups High Fantasy setting? Wands are cool 

  • Wands allow you to live out those wizard fights you always thought would come from D&D. 

  • Damage. Per. Second.

7. Rod of Many Wands

 

Wonder why this Rod looks nothing like the Rod described? Yeah, us too.

Look, I'm not gonna toy around with you, I used the last entry to prepare you for this one.  I think I've proved even a bad wand can be good when charged properly and used by a skilled battle tactician. Now, take a trip back to the long forgotten age of Dungeons and Dragons 3.5, and feast your eyes on the Rod of Many Wands. This staff is as thin as any other, and looks like a typical wizard's accessory, wrapped in leather from the bottom towards the middle and constructed of steel it feels like a mace when held from the handle. Upon further investigation you will notice that the head of this wonder is twice that of its tail and has three slots roughly the width of a typical wand.

That's right, folks, the Rod of Many Wands does exactly what it says on the package. Holding three wands at the big end allowing the wielder to fire off three wands at the same time. Taking a full round action to load (just never unload it), and a full round action to speak the Draconic command phrase (3.5 was ridiculous) all wands loaded into the chamber will fire off simultaneously, draining as many charges from the wands as there are wands in the staff. In other words, if all three chambers are filled, then all three wands will lose three charges.

Weapons Stats

  • 3.5 Edition, Dungeons & Dragons, Complete Mage pg. 128 

  • Cost 25,000GP (Empty) 

  • It's damage output depends on what is in the chamber

Why is it Cool?

  • It's a staff of multiple wands. If wands are cool that makes this 3 times as cool. 

  • 3.5 Edition is dumb, like playing modded Morrowind with console commands. This is a peak 3.5 Edition weapon, and dang is it a lot of fun. 

  • Like the version of D&D it is from the Rod of Many Wands is archaic and obtuse; Maybe not worth the time or money it takes to proficiently understand, but damn is it some of the most fun you can have.

6. Sling of Seeking

Anyone else upset by how ripped this reptile goblin is? Even if that isn't a magic sling we could be in trouble.

This sling from the ancient days of 1st Edition packs a punch by upping the accuracy of its user to untold heights. Used by Ellisime, the elven queen of Suldanessellar, this enchanted strip of leather, a glorified belt with a cup, has  higher damage rates than any normal sling. There were said to be enhanced versions of this enchanted rock thrower that needed no ammunition, allowing the wielder to pummel their enemies with pebbles for a seemingly infinite amount of time.

Weapon Stats

  • 1st Edition, Legend

  • Boosts Damage, Accuracy

  • Infinite Ammunition

Why is it Cool?

  • It's as old as the game itself

  • Featured in the Baldur's Gate II line of video games. 

  • Its compact and easy to hide. 

  • Infinite Ammo Cheat!

5. Elven Court Bow

 

Honestly there is really nothing cooler than a ranger with a bad bow using her magic to invoke the spirits of the forest.

This bow has the draw and curve of an artisan weapon, used by the Elven Court of Cormanthyr for millennia this ancient weapon was mostly ceremonial in practice. Made of finely polished yew and covered in intricate elvish engravings this brilliant artifact was passed down every half-century to an elf who accomplished great quests for the Court. The bowstring had a seemingly perfect pull, giving off an effervescent shine as if it had been woven from spun gold, and when it was drawn it is said to sing a crystalline hum of a benevolent heavenly choir.

In the middle 12th century of Dalereckoning a human, by the name of Yin Pon, wrested an elven prince from danger and was gifted the Bow of the Court. When Yin Pon traveled to Baldur's Gate the bow was lost to time. Which makes it easy for a DM to slide into their world, or gives a player of the Baldur's Gate II PC games an opportunity to find this rare legend of elvish craft artistry.

Weapon Stats

  • +3 Longbow, player gets +3 to Attack and Damage with Elven Bow of the Court 

  • 1d8 Piercing Damage

  • Increases wielders accuracy. 

  • Valued at 2,500 GP 

  • 2nd Edition

Why is it Cool?

  • Another 2nd Edition Classic that can easily be slotted into a current game. 

  • Has good open ended Lore. It isn't THE preferred weapon of a legendary hero, but a ceremonial piece important to a people. 

  • A +3 magic weapon is nothing to laugh at. That is a power puncher that any mook or henchperson should fear.

4. Bow of Black Archer

Simple, elegant, civilized; a weapon of a different age.

Originally the possession of the elven deity Shevarash, this unremarkable bow was lost when he was captured by the drow. With a body as black as a starless, moonless night in the middle of a haunted wood, this weapon comes with a laundry load of baggage. You'd call it cursed, if that wasn't a specific in-game term, for its incessant whispering of revenge. This bow insists on the decimation of ALL drow.

Three Hundred Years after Shevarrash was executed by the drow a young elf took on the task of finding this lost artifact of the god of revenge and hatred of dark elves. Traveling to the Underdark Valaderion killed every dark elf he encountered.  on his way back to the surface after recovering the bow of Black Archer, he met and eventually fell in love with a drow. Upon returning the weapon to a shrine of Shevarrash, the ranger was struck down by the angry god for consorting with the elves of the Underdark. If you only learn one thing from this article learn this: Don't Cross A God Of Revenge & Hatred. Seven centuries later the bow was taken up by Salariel, high priestess of the temple of Shevarrash in a battle against an army of drow.

Weapon Stats   

  • +1 magic Weapon, +1 to Attack and Damage

  • 1d8 Piercing Damage 

  • whispers of revenge against dark elves 

  • If Drow come within 60 feet of the bow, then the whispers become frequent and angry

  • Weapon Of Legacy, must perform 3 Rituals to unlock all Legacy abilities 

  • 12 Weapon of Legacy Abilities, ignores damage reduction; grants darkvision’ longstrider as a 5th Level Spell, +5 to Hide and Move Silently etc.

  • Has Wielder Requirements (wielder can not be Drow, 2 Ranks Hide, Base Attack Bonus +3 etc.)

Why is it Cool?

  • Evil, revenge weapon. Every list like this needs one. 

  • Good (Bad) History. Lost weapons with a past are cool. 

  • The Weapon of Legacy abilities.

3. Protector of the Dryads

Make sure the bard stays away from this one. We have to pass through the forest, and can't have it's protectors angered with us.

The dryads of the Gulthmere Forest created this magical weapon for a great hero. A group of loggers threatened to destroy the forest, but when they cut down the largest oak it spurred Hannable the White to slay this camp of orcish lumberjacks. Thus the rest of the wood was saved, as well as the dryads themselves. This +2 Second Edition weapon later made its way into the possession of the assassin Marek. The Protector of Dryads would later appear in the Baldur's Gate PC game from Bioware.

Weapon Stats

  • +2 magical shortbow, +2 Attack +2 Damage   

  • 1d6 Piercing Damage

  • 2 Handed Weapon 

  • 4,500 GP

Why is it Cool? 

  •  It exists in virtual space rather than theater of the mind 

  • also known as Eagle Bow 

  • Strongest shortbow in Baldur's Gate

2. Taulmaril (Heartseeker)

*Stares in Brood*   *doofy cat face*

We've arrived at the obligatory mention of everyone's favorite angst boy. There couldn't be a list of great weapons from D&D without mentioning Drizzt Do'Urden or his legendary arsenal, and this one is no different. A keen bow from the Forgotten Realms immortalized in text by the fantasy writer R.A. Salvatore, Taulmaril is the magic bow originally carried by Cait-Brie,. Friend, and later wife, of the famed Drow.

Taulmaril, otherwise known as the Heartseeker, was a +3 longbow of impeccably polished wood.  It is said that the bow was made so well by its elven craftsman that not even stone could scratch it. Regis, of the Companions of the Hall, found the bow in a gap between stones in Mithral Hall, and it was later gifted to Drizzt Do'Urden upon Cait-Brie's death in 1370 Dalereckoning.

Weapon Stats

  • +3 Magic Longbow

  • 1d8 Piercing Damage

  • +3 Damage, +3 Attack

  • Keen, lowers critical threat range for Attack rolls

  • 3.5 Edition

Why is it Cool?

  • Nothing beats +3

  • KEEN KEEN KEEN. Taking your critical threat range from 18-20 to 15-20. 

  • Easily translatable to 5e 

  • Owned by Drizzt Do'Urden, the coolest guy to ever be a part of D&D

1. Javelin of Lightning

Hey, kid, you ever thrown a lightning bolt?

How can I justify placing a javelin over a +3 bow wielded by the most famous D&D character of all time? Well, friends and readers, best is a matter of opinion, and I thought I'd send y'all off with something cool you can use in your next play session. The Javelin of Lightning does the best thing any magic weapon in the game can do, and that is precisely what it says on the packaging.

Speaking a command word as the javelin leaves the character's arm will transform the weapon into a bolt of lightning. Traveling at a range of up to 120 feet the lightning would affect anything in its path. Upon piercing the target the javelin would form back into itself, delivering a destructive amount of lightning damage to the enemy. The great wyrm emerald dragon Raulothim, of the island of Axard, was known to wield one of these breathtaking weapons.

Weapon Stats

  • Piercing, Lightning 

  • 1d6

  • Lightning Bolt, 3rd Level Evocation Spell 

  • 100 Feet Long 5 Feet Wide

  • Dex Saving Throw For Half Damage

  • 4d6 Lightning Damage

Why is it Cool?

  • It is a javelin that turns into lightning 

  • Lightning Bolt is a cool spell that can wreck a line of mooks 

  • have you ever taken 4d6 damage? That is a ton of damage

There you have it, folks, Ten of the Best Ranged Weapons in all of D&D, you might have to try to finagle some numbers to get them all in your game this weekend, but you should be able to make it work.

The history of this game goes back so far in both its real world age and in the age of the Realm that finding everything would be a monumental task. The beauty of this game is that you are encouraged to create your own magic weapons, and build out your own epic stories.

The greatest moment in a player's gaming should be 5 years after your first character has been put away for good, and seeing as a new player for your old GM finds a weapon of legend from that long dead character's adventure.

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Chris arrived fully formed on this earth 5 years ago when a sentient star exploded over the swamps near Texas' Gulf Coast. Enjoys laughter & controlled chaos
Gamer Since: 1994
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Pokemon Sword
Top 3 Favorite Games:The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Psychonauts
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