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The SRD says about Arrows that

An arrow used as a melee weapon is treated as a light improvised weapon (-4 penalty on attack rolls) and deals damage as a dagger of its size (critical multiplier ×2). Arrows come in a leather quiver that holds 20 arrows. An arrow that hits its target is destroyed; one that misses has a 50% chance of being destroyed or lost.

Is an arrow that's successfully used as an improvised melee weapon destroyed?

"Seriously? Who Cares?"
I'm buying gear for a level 6 solo campaign character who's not a spellcaster, and EL 6 is when creatures start to get weird... and sometimes incorporeal. Rather than putzing around with ghostblight (CAd 122), ghostoil (AE 34), ghostwall shellac (Du 90), or whatever I figured I'd just buy an arrow made of serren1 (BE 38) for 80 gp 5 cp and stab ghosts with it--y'know, if the ghost has it coming.2 I want something reusable rather than throwing cash at an alchemist after every ghost battle for capsules, vials, or paints, and the level 6 Wealth by Level is stretched pretty thin after the +1 valorous greatsword. So, yeah, alternatives to this strategy are acceptable, but preface them with an opinion about the question.

  1. A single arrow of adamantine (DMG 283) for 60 gp 5 cp wouldn't be bad either.
  2. Ghosts always have it coming.
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1 Answer 1


There is no reason to assume that the quoted statement about arrows breaking pertains only to ranged attacks. If you hit someone with an arrow, it breaks. If you miss, there's a 50% chance that it breaks.

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And if the arrow is used as an improvised melee weapon, and the attacker fails to hit his foe, does the arrow have a 50% chance of being lost or destroyed? –  Hey I Can Chan May 26 at 12:09
@HeyICanChan Arrows are really fragile compared to daggers. Imagine smashing a thin wooden dowel with a flake of steel attached to the end into someone's shield or the rock wall behind their head. Surviving 50% of misses could be considered generous... –  SevenSidedDie May 26 at 19:02
@SevenSidedDie I wish I could, like, actually see that. Be down at the archery range and watch the arrows shatter into splinters upon hitting their targets. That'd be awesome. "Be careful with those arrows, kids," the range manager would says. "Tap 'em on the ground too hard and POP right in your hands!" –  Hey I Can Chan May 26 at 22:24
@HeyICanChan The "compared to daggers" part is pivotal. :) Arrows shot into a archery target aren't meeting armour, rocks, and trees, nor need to be pulled out of same before they can be reused, which is why D&D has them break or simply get completely lost at some point between hitting something besides the target and retrieving (not necessarily on impact). Meanwhile, stabbing someone with what's effectively a really fragile and poorly-constructed dagger is liable to make it break for different reasons that just happen to maybe justify the same 50% lossage rate. –  SevenSidedDie May 26 at 22:29
@SevenSidedDie So you're saying An arrow that hits its target doesn't mean an actual, for-reals archery target? That's... interesting, and, seriously, maybe warrants an answer to this question. –  Hey I Can Chan May 27 at 13:26

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