3e SRD:Weapon Categories
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Weapons are grouped into several interlocking sets of categories. These categories pertain to what skill is needed to be proficient in their use (simple, martial, and exotic), usefulness in close combat (melee) or at a distance (ranged, which includes both thrown and projectile), and weapon size (Tiny, Small, Medium-size, and Large).
If a character uses a weapon with which the character is not proficient, the character suffers a -4 penalty on attack rolls.
Melee and Ranged Weapons
Melee weapons are used for making melee attacks, though some of them can be thrown as well. Ranged weapons are thrown weapons or projectile weapons that are not effective in melee. Apply a character's Strength bonus to damage dealt by thrown weapons but not to damage dealt by projectile weapons (except for mighty composite shortbows or longbows).
Tiny, Small, Medium-Size, and Large Weapons
The size of a weapon compared to a character's size determines whether for the character the weapon is light, one-handed, two-handed, or too large to use.
If the weapon's size category is smaller than the character's, then the weapon is light for that character. Light weapons are easier to use in the off hand, and they can be used while grappling. A light weapon can be used in one hand. There is no special bonus when using such a weapon in two hands.
If the weapon's size category is the same as a character's, then the weapon is one-handed for that character. If a one-handed melee weapon is used two-handed, apply one and a half times the character's Strength bonus to damage (provided the character has a bonus).
Thrown weapons can only be thrown one-handed, and a character's Strength bonus is added to the damage.
If the weapon's size category is one step larger than a character's, then the weapon is two-handed for that character. A two-handed melee weapon can be used effectively in two hands, and when damage is dealt with it, add one and a half times the character's Strength bonus to damage (provided the character has a bonus).
Thrown weapons can only be thrown one-handed. A character can throw a thrown weapon with one hand even if it would be two-handed for you due to the character's size, but doing so counts as a full-round action because the weapon is bulkier and harder to handle than most thrown weapons. Add the character's Strength bonus to damage.
A character can use a two-handed projectile weapon (such as a bow or a crossbow) effectively in two hands. If the character has a penalty for low Strength, apply it to damage rolls when you use a bow or a sling. Add no Strength bonus to damage with a projectile weapon unless the weapon is a mighty composite shortbow or longbow.
Too Large to Use
If the weapon's size category is two or more steps larger than a character's own, the weapon is too large for the character to use.
An unarmed strike is two size categories smaller than the character using it.
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