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As per the SRD, "A returning weapon flies through the air back to the creature that threw it. It returns to the thrower just before the creature’s next turn", so before the thrower's next turn, the weapon is just lying there.

What happens if someone snatches it from the ground/body it's on (or a monk uses Snatch Arrow) and throws it to someone else? Does it return to the original thrower? Does it return to the new one? does it do both (first the original and then the new one, both in their respective turns)?

EDIT:
Step 1) A throws the weapon at B
Step 2) B Snatches it
Step 3) B throws it at C

RAW is clear without step 3. Don't forget Step 3. My question specifically includes Step 3, and it's not an optional part of the question.

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Does anyone know how this worked in earlier editions? Or are returning weapons a 3.x thing? –  GMJoe May 18 '12 at 4:48
    
ok here is a side question, due to a certain angle my guy is going for through the use of magic items and feats he would be able to throw people and they would be counted as having the returning quality so how does this work? –  b300mussolini Apr 4 '13 at 3:43
    
@b300mussolini I'm don't think a thrown person would qualify as a projectile weapon for the purposes of Snatch Arrow and the like. Could you give more info on the items or feats, or are they homebrew? –  Yandros Apr 4 '13 at 14:38

4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The weapon is not "just lying there" for a turn. It says in the description of Returning:

Catching a returning weapon when it comes back is a free action. If the character can’t catch it, or if the character has moved since throwing it, the weapon drops to the ground in the square from which it was thrown.

Thus, the weapon is still in the air until the beginning of the thrower's turn.

It's seems a bit odd, but by RAW, it seems like if someone uses Snatch Arrows on your Returning weapon, then your weapon still returns to you on your turn. I can't find anything in the rules that says that a Snatched weapon does not apply the normal Returning rules, and the Returning rules don't mention people being able to grab the weapon. However, it makes the most sense (to me, at least) that if a Returning weapon is Snatched, it remains with the Snatcher.

EDIT:

To clarify, based on your edit, I'd say the following would happen, based on the RAW: A throws the weapon at B. B Snatches it. On Bs turn, he throws it at C. On As turn, the weapon returns to A. On Bs turn, the weapon returns to B.

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I guess whether the weapon is in the air or not is just a matter of interpretation, I read it as "it stays where it is until your next turn, then it flies back to where you threw it from". Also, I know that by RAW snatching a returning weapon isn't enough to keep it, but if the snatcher throws it... that's what this question is about. –  Yandros Apr 9 '12 at 0:54
    
Ah, I misread your question, then. I can see how that would be a sticky rules situation. My reading of the RAW leads me to think that the following would happen: A throws the weapon at B. B Snatches it. On Bs turn, he throws it at C. On As turn, the weapon returns to A. On Bs turn, the weapon returns to B. It's weird, but that's what the RAW seems to say. –  DuckTapeAl Apr 9 '12 at 5:36

Sounds good to me, and I've seen that exact situation happen in the several of the DnD novels, so...possibly if your DM wants to yes. Though activating the returning ability requires a command word to be spoken/thought/whispered as thrown, and since it's magic is activated at the time of the catching, it's not likely it would communicate the command word to the grabber. So if he threw it somewhere else, it wouldn't activate the effect so it would return to where it's effect was last activated.

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Why the downvote? This answer introduces new information to the discussion - the command word that everyone else forgot to mention! –  Vorac Dec 7 '12 at 10:42
2  
Probably because it's use-activated, not command-word activated. –  Lincoded Mar 8 '13 at 1:23

When you throw a returning weapon (considering that a game round is equal to 6 real-time seconds), wheter it hits or not, it returns immediately to the thrower. I guess that if someone grabs it in mid-air there could be 2 eventuallities (however this is my opinion): -1-The weapon tries to return to the thrower and the grabber must succes a Reflex(?) check or loose the weapon. -2-The weapon recognizes the grabber as its new owner. After all it doesn't have a real intelligence and it can't recognize a person. However I'd opt for the first case.

If the grabber throws the weapon at another target the weapon should return in the hands of the "grabber" because the weapon's peculiarity is that it returns in the hands of the one who threw it last. For example Tom, friend of Bill, gently throws a returning javelin to his fellow so that Bill can use it to blast a nasty kobold. Bill grabs the javelin and throws it to the kobold. After the javelin hit the poor kobold it returns in the hands of Bill because it was Bill who threw the javelin to the kobold and not Tom.

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See the edit on the question. –  Yandros Apr 9 '12 at 12:38
    
Oops I'm sorry. I misunderstood the question because of foreign language problems. –  Vamsi Mizzrym Apr 9 '12 at 13:22

To use the specific wording above, it is considered to be flying through the air, so I imagine there would have to be a snatch arrow check or some sort of touch attack to snatch it. If taken from the air, then possession/ownership of the object would change to the new possessor. What would make it difficult is if someone/thing grabs it on the way back, in which case you would have to determine how far it would have moved in the time since it was used to attack until the individual in question who wants to steal it acts (effectively wasting an action on what is likely one of many of the object)

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See the edit on the question. –  Yandros Apr 9 '12 at 12:38
    
I stand by that the person who snatches it becomes the new owner. In step three, provided nobody steals it in mid-air again, it would return to its new owner as the one who would be activating the ability. EDIT: What you may do is have the old owner make a contested attack roll with the new one when he next turn comes around to see if it can squirm its way out of the new owner's hand to come back and if whoever wins is the current owner for all intents and purposes. –  CatLord Apr 9 '12 at 13:00

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