Exactly as it says on the tin, a thrown weapon is a weapon thrown by hand … as, say, opposed to a projectile shot from some other kind of ranged weapon.
This category covers both improvised ranged weapons - since virtually anything that can be lifted (potentially including an opponent) can be thrown at someone with an attempt to harm - and those weapons designed to be thrown at people.
An indicative list of weapons designed for throwing would include:
- Hand Grenade1
- Throwing axe - including the francisca and various forms of hatchet and tomohawk.
- Throwing knife - a specially designed form of knife but still rarely as effective as in the movies.
- Shuriken and similar thrown weapons.
Some of these can be used for melee as well with varying degrees of effect.
Throwing weapons occupy an extremely variable part of any culture's armoury - many Classical cultures (such as the Greeks and Romans) used them extensively, as did all pre-bow cultures and a few others2. Others including most medieval Europeans, tended to marginalise them.
In general a thrown weapon is short ranged and heavy, meaning that few shots can be carried and these are delivered at relatively low velocity and close range. This makes them less than ideal armament for missile troops but many using cultures - such as the Romans, Franks and Alexandrian Greeks - issued them to medium and heavy infantry who were expected to deploy them either to disrupt an enemy charge or to soften an enemy force up for their own assault.
Game and Story Use
- It should be re-emphasised that thrown weapons are either bulky or relatively ineffective - most RPGs make throwing knives far deadlier than they are in reality.