3.5 Ranged Waepons and Ammunition - We've been doing it wrong (I think)

Greenfield

Adventurer
I was reading through the DMG while researching another topic when I came across something unexpected.

According to the DMG, page 221 under Ranged Weapons and Ammunition.. well read it yourself.

3.5DMG pp221 said:
Ranged Weapons and Ammunition: The enhancement bonus from a ranged weapon does not stack with the enhancement bonus from ammunition. Only the higher of the two enhancement bonuses applies.
Ammunition fired from a projectile weapon with an enhancement bonus of +1 or higher is treated as a magic weapon for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction. For example, a sling stone hurled from a +1 sling is treated as a magic weapon. Similarly, ammunition fired from a projectile weapon with an alignment (such as a +1 holy longbow or a masterwork crossbow under the effect of the align weapon spell) gains the alignment of that projectile weapon (in addition to any alignment it may already have). For example, a +1 unholy arrow fired from a +2 anarchic shortbow would be both evil-aligned and chaos-aligned (the former from its own unholy special ability, the latter from the shortbow).
If I'm reading that right (the highlighted part) then a +whatever bow, sling etc. gets its enhancement bonus to the attack roll, but not to the damage. Damage enhancements have to come from the ammunition.

I'd often wondered why anyone would make magic arrows, since adding magic to a bow costs the same as adding magic to 50 arrows, but now it makes sense.

If someone can find where the rules say I'm wrong, please share. This kind of turns archery on its head.
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
srd said:
Magic weapons have enhancement bonuses ranging from +1 to +5. They apply these bonuses to both attack and damage rolls when used in combat.
Nothing about the sub-section on ammunition changes the basic rule for magic weapons. A magic bow applies its enhancement bonus to attack and damage rolls when used in combat.

Fifty attacks is the expected life of a magic weapon, from the time you create it to the time you find a new one. If you have a choice between creating a magic bow, or fifty magic arrows, then it's not inherently better to do one than the other. The arrows have the benefit that you can share them between different people, in case you need magic weapons in order to deal damage, but you don't have enough magic bows and swords to go around. A magic bow has the benefit that you can potentially improve its enhancement bonus later on, which will save you some money in the long run.

One of the unintended aspects of 3.x was the degree to which characters would hyper-specialize, to the point that a ranger could only use a bow and a barbarian could only use a greatsword. Barbarians were supposed to pull out a bow when the situation called for it, even though they "only" had 12 or 14 Dexterity; and the ranger was expected to lend them some magic arrows, if the situation called for it. That sort of gameplay still holds, if you stick to fighting things of your own level or lower. (The fact that you can punch way higher than your level, if you do choose to hyper-specialize, is somewhat of an aberration.)
 

Len

Prodigal Member
The point of the highlighted sentence is that non-magical ammunition becomes magical when fired from a magic weapon, which can affect damage reduction (e.g. "DR 5/magic"). If the ammo was already magical, that sentence is moot. As Saelorn said, it doesn't change the normal rule for magic weapons.
 

Greenfield

Adventurer
The preceding text says that the ranged weapon shares it's enhancement bonus. It doesn't specify that it does, or doesn't, share the damage part.

The highlighted section, however, seems to make it clear that it shares with the ammunition specifically for purposes of bypassing DR. That kind of implies that it doesn't share it for any other purpose. I mean, why include the paragraph if it's already covered by the general rule on enhancements?

Now Len referenced the general rule on magic weapons. Len, can you cite that rule, with a specific focus on how it treats ranged weapons and ammunition? Remembering that the ammunition isn't really the same item as the magic bow/sling/whatever that fired it?

I'm not trying to be argumentative or aggressive, by the way, I'm just trying to find the place in the rules where it says that I'm wrong.
 

Len

Prodigal Member
The preceding text says that the ranged weapon shares it's enhancement bonus. It doesn't specify that it does, or doesn't, share the damage part.
Nor does it specify the attack part. The enhancement bonus applies to both attack and damage, as specified further up on the same page.

The highlighted section, however, seems to make it clear that it shares with the ammunition specifically for purposes of bypassing DR. That kind of implies that it doesn't share it for any other purpose. I mean, why include the paragraph if it's already covered by the general rule on enhancements?
No, I don't think it implies that at all. It's giving an additional rule on top of any other rules that might apply.

As for why, the purpose is not to give a rule about magical ammunition's damage bonus. It's giving a rule for NON-magical ammunition: Any ammunition fired from a magical weapon is magical, even if the ammunition wasn't magical beforehand. And it's not talking about the attack bonus or the damage bonus, it's about bypassing DR.

Now Len referenced the general rule on magic weapons. Len, can you cite that rule, with a specific focus on how it treats ranged weapons and ammunition?
You quoted it yourself:
DMG p.221 said:
The enhancement bonus from a ranged weapon does not stack with the enhancement bonus from ammunition. Only the higher of the two enhancement bonuses applies.
So for example if a magic bow has a +1 enhancement bonus and a magic arrow has a +2 enhancement bonus, the higher of the two applies, which is +2. As stated earlier on the page, the enhancement bonus applies to both attack and damage. Neither one nor the other is singled out.

(Hypersmurf, where are you?)
 

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