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I have a player asking about how Explosive Missile works. They are looking at a build that combines Fighter (With Archer variant) combined with levels of Alchemist. There's been some discussion over how this ability works.

The first theory is that this ability simply extends the reach of the bomb with the bows range. It remains a ranged touch attack, the bow damage is ignored, and the bomb triggers on impact.

The second theory is that the bomb is sort of an enhancement on the arrow. The bow attack functions on normal and on impact, triggers the attached payload. Additionally, in this scenario would a miss result in a scatter? What happens to the bomb on a miss?

In an example case, lets say a Fighter[Archer] 2 / Alchemist 4 is using this ability to deliver a normal alchemist bomb against 3 goblins standing in a row at a distance of 30 feet. How does this attack resolve?

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

You roll to hit with the bow as normal. You are trading the touch attack for range and for weapon damage and doubling up with archery feats.

The ability you link is very clear that there is no explosion on a miss. Splash is as usual.

Just reread the ability. It's a bomb enhancement on the missile, bomb plus missile damage, no explosion on miss. It's all spelled out.

Benefit: As a standard action, the alchemist can infuse a single arrow, crossbow bolt, or one-handed firearm bullet with the power of his bomb, load the ammunition, and shoot the ranged weapon. He must be proficient with the weapon in order to accomplish this. When the infused ammunition hits its target, it deals damage normally and detonates as if the alchemist had thrown the bomb at the target. If the explosive missile misses, it does not detonate.

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Also, for the sake of useless completeness, I'd add that it is possible to aim at a grid intersection or square (AC 5), so there may be an explosion even when not hitting a creature, however, this must be intentional. –  kravaros Jul 21 '13 at 12:27
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