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I have some weird questions about the magical properties of bows and the magical properties of arrows (or correct ammunition) and how they get used together.

Most of what I am quoting comes from the Magic Weapons rule page.

Magic weapons

A magic weapon is enhanced to strike more truly and deliver more damage. Magic weapons have enhancement bonuses ranging from +1 to +5. They apply these bonuses to both attack and damage rolls when used in combat. All magic weapons are also masterwork weapons, but their masterwork bonuses on attack rolls do not stack with their enhancement bonuses on attack rolls.

Some magic weapons have special abilities. Special abilities count as additional bonuses for determining the market value of the item, but do not modify attack or damage bonuses (except where specifically noted). A single weapon cannot have a modified bonus (enhancement bonus plus special ability bonus equivalents, including those from character abilities and spells) higher than +10. A weapon with a special ability must also have at least a +1 enhancement bonus. Weapons cannot possess the same special ability more than once.

Now, its clear that enhancement values of bows and arrows are mutually exclusive, you take the best of the two.

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.

It is also clear that alignment of the bow is granted to the arrow.

Similarly, ammunition fired from a projectile weapon with an alignment gains the alignment of that projectile weapon.

Finally, we know that certain properties of the bow are also applied to the arrow, and this was harder to track down, but is located at the bottom of the ranged weapon chart.

3 Projectile weapons with this ability bestow this power upon their ammunition.

Now I finally get into the meat of what I want to ask.

Adaptive is marked as "Only bows can have this ability (composite only for adaptive)."

An adaptive bow responds to the strength of its wielder, acting as a bow with a strength rating equal to its wielder’s Strength bonus. The wielder can fire it with a lesser Strength bonus (and cause less damage) if desired.

So its a weapon property that can change the damage of an arrow but doesn't actually transfer to the arrow. It is also a cost instead of a bonus.

Now lets look at Seeking, which is a +1 bonus with no notes. As such the property isn't transferred to the arrow, but just like adaptive it has an effect.

This special ability can only be placed on ranged weapons. A seeking weapon veers toward its target, negating any miss chances that would otherwise apply, such as from concealment. The wielder still has to aim the weapon at the right square. Arrows mistakenly shot into an empty space, for example, do not veer and hit invisible enemies, even if they are nearby.

So adaptive and seeking are both able to change how arrows work without actually being transferred to the arrow.

Now lets take our well known elemental damage boosts of flaming, shocking, corrosive, and frost; as well as their greater burst ones. They each are +1/+2 bonus costs and can be placed on either the bow or arrow.

So lets have a +5 seeking holy longbow which is equal to a +8 weapon. Lets have +1 flaming shocking frost arrows which are equal to a +4 weapon. The end result should be a +10 arrow which is +5 holy flaming shocking frost arrow, which manages to benefit from seeking as its not transferred to the bow, correct?

Again we use our +5 seeking holy longbow. This time we have +1 flaming bust shocking burst arrows which are a +5 weapon. What should the final resulting arrow be?

So the final questions are, when you end up with greater than +10, how is it decided what properties are to take effect, or specifically what should happen? Also, the properties that ONLY affect the bow and are not transferred, are not counted towards the arrows properties?

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I believe this is answered on the FAQ:

Weapon Bonuses: Can weapon special abilities (such as bane) or class abilities (such as a paladin's divine bond) allow you to exceed the +5 enhancement bonus limit and the +10 bonus-equivalent limitation?

For the enhancement bonus limitation, it depends on the specific effect or ability that's altering the weapon.

Bane: This allows the weapon to exceed the +5 limit, but only against the designated creature type. For example, a +5 dragon-bane longsword is normally a +5 weapon, but has a +7 enhancement bonus against dragons and deals +2d6 points of damage against dragons.

Paladin: The divine bond ability says "These [enhancement] bonuses can be added to the weapon, stacking with existing weapon bonuses to a maximum of +5." That means if a paladin has a +5 longsword, she can't use her divine bond to increate the enhancement bonus to +6 or higher (but she could use her bonuses to add abilities such as flaming to the weapon).

The +10 bonus-equivalent limitation is a hard cap for all weapons; you can't exceed that even with class abilities or other unusual abilities.

Since +10 is a hard-cap, any futher enhacements or special abilities should take no effect. In other words, there is no greater than +10, it stops at +10.

Projectile weapons with this ability bestow this power upon their ammunition.

This text is there so we don't have to use bows as melee weapons in order to benefit from that special ability. This does not mean the special ability is transfered to the arrows, but that arrows fired from that bow gain that effect.

For reference, here are three different threads at paizo's messageboards discussing this exact topic (there are no developer comments though):

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Let me see if I get that last bit right, if I have +5 holy bane bow (=+8) and have +1 shocking burst flaming burst frost burst arrows (=+7), the arrow fired would be +5 holy bane shocking burst flaming burst frost burst arrows but still be considered a +7 equivalent bonus because thats what the arrow was? \$\endgroup\$ – Fering Jun 7 '17 at 10:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, that is how i understand it. That interpretation removes any question on which effect should apply and which shouldnt. But i will look up futher to see if more evidence shows up. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Jun 7 '17 at 10:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ That is wonderful, but then again you are paying for it heavily, but still \$\endgroup\$ – Fering Jun 7 '17 at 11:01

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