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It is clear that Snatch Arrows works on non-siege firearms such as automatic energy fire from a Laser Rifle or regular bullets from a Maxim M1910.

It is also clear that Throw Back Arrows does not work on bullets from the latter, as the feat specifies that bullets are not ranged ammunition (which is weird, and seems to contradict the equipment section, but it's what it says).

Throw Back Arrows does not address, however, whether other, non-bullet, firearm-based attacks capturable via Snatch Arrows are supposed to never be considered ammunition. How does this work? Furthermore, if it did work, would the Automatic weapon quality still apply to the attack as used by the throwing-back creature?

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    \$\begingroup\$ How do you catch laser rifle fire? \$\endgroup\$ – Adeptus Jul 31 '17 at 0:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Or a shaped-charge round for that matter... \$\endgroup\$ – Shalvenay Jul 31 '17 at 1:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Adeptus 1) RAW catching it definitely works 2) like so. Although I'm possibly hoping to feed X-Laser rounds to a party member so they can use it a little more like this \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Jul 31 '17 at 5:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ I have proposed a rules-as-written for this question, because you ask about the logical interaction of game rules under very strict reading, even if it leads to absurd situations. \$\endgroup\$ – Baskakov_Dmitriy Jul 31 '17 at 7:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hmm... I don't know about the suggestion to add the RAW tag. While I do prefer that sort of answer in general, I don't think this question is running into anything likely to elicit objection due to 'absurdity' or anything like that. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Jul 31 '17 at 7:18
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Technological ranged weapons, for the most part (cf. flare gun), just don't use ammunition as the game uses the term. Instead, such weapons have a Capacity entry that describes "the maximum number of charges the weapon can hold." Such charges aren't usually ammunition at all but more akin to a magic wand's charges, and—no matter how cool it would be—a creature can't employ the feat Snatch Arrows to grab from the air an arc pistol's bolt about to hit him anymore than he could grasp a ray launched at him by the spell scorching ray (or a similar spell with an instantaneous duration). Such things are neither weapons nor ammunition.

That is, after such effects have done what the game says they do, they've no further existence. Seriously, were, for example, arc pistol bolts actual ammunition, they'd follow the ammunition rules so a missed attack would mean a 50% chance of the arc pistol's bolt not being destroyed, and, were it not destroyed, someone could find that stray arc pistol bolt, pick it up, shove it back into an arc pistol, and fire it again. (I totally get that one dude's awesome power is another dude's laughable cartoon physics, but, really, were this the case, imagine the number of discarded blaster bolts littering the Star Wars à la Pathfinder universe!)

(If it's any help, I tend to think of such effects as energy objects. That is, stuff like a scorching ray spell's ray or an arc pistol's bolt aren't creatures because they lack Charisma scores making them, by default, objects, and, "[w]hen an object’s hit points reach 0, it’s ruined." Specific trumps general causes these energy objects to do whatever the game says they specifically do then these energy objects are automatically ruined by the general rule because they've, essentially, 0 hp. Like I said, I don't know if that's any help, but from a rules perspective it helps me rationalize why, for example, scorching ray spell rays that miss aren't scattered around the countryside.)

The feat Deflect Arrows allows the creature, once per round, take no damage from one attack made with a ranged weapon against the creature; the ranged weapon can't be unusually massive. The feat Snatch Arrows allows the creature that takes no damage from a ranged attack due to the feat Deflect Arrows to catch an incoming weapon and either make a ranged attack against the attacker with that caught weapon or keep the caught weapon. The feat Throw Back Arrows expands the Snatch Arrows feat's hurl-back-at-the-attacker mandate from weapons to ammunition and provides examples that exclude firearm bullets.

Thus, for example, the feat Deflect Arrows can be used to avoid damage from an arc pistol's bolt, but the feat Snatch Arrows can't be used to snatch from the air and tuck away for later an arc pistol bolt, nor does the feat Throw Back Arrows allow a creature to hurl the arc pistol bolt back at the attacker! The arc pistol's bolt is neither ammunition nor a ranged weapon but the effect of having depleted one charge from the arc pistol's capacity.

Finally, no matter what, if a creature uses the feat Snatch Arrows to snatch ammunition launched from a weapon with the special weapon quality automatic, the creature that snatches that ammunition won't benefit from the special weapon quality automatic unless the ammunition itself—rather than the weapon that propelled it—possesses that special weapon quality.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually, the game does not "define" ammunition anywhere, or at least Google didn't find that definition. Those lists that you link to may simply be incomplete. But yes, it is all up to the rays being or not being called "ammunition". \$\endgroup\$ – Baskakov_Dmitriy Jul 31 '17 at 14:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Baskakov_Dmitriy Search in Weapons for the string Projectile weapons use ammunition and you'll find the game's definition of ammunition. My apologies for not linking to the definition more precisely, but d20PFSRD doesn't seem to allow it. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jul 31 '17 at 14:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ So a tech weapons Capacity is supposed to replace the Ammunition other projectile weapons have? It would have been good of them to mention somewhere that these weapons don't have ammo :/ Still, while the rules don't actually seem to anywhere say or imply these tech firearms are immune to "projectile weapons use ammunition" this is probably what is intended. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Jul 31 '17 at 16:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @thedarkwanderer I'm gravitating toward the opinion that, y'know, in life just about everything could be clearer. ;-) But, yeah, while tech weapons "are treated as projectile weapons for the purpose of determining their maximum range," they apparently aren't treated like projectile weapons for anything else, including—unless specified otherwise—using ammunition. (I know it's no consolation, but I, too, totally wanted folks hurling blaster bolts and scorching rays back at their foes with the feat Throw Back Arrows. Alas.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jul 31 '17 at 16:55
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You most likely cannot apply automatic fire with Throw Back Arrows feat, but X-laser beam still does the same if thrown back

At first, I want to state that those responsible for writing these rules are going to be officially awarded a Malkavian Embrace. Now, to your question.

the feat specifies that bullets are not ranged ammunition

They are ranged ammunition, the feat Throw Back Arrows specifies with which types of ranged ammunition it works and with which it doesn't. The feat is silent on keeping any special types of the attack -- just that it deals full damage, also adding your Strength modifier (for throwing the laser beam especially strongly). I would rule that it does, though, as it is stated as dealing full damage of the projectile, and I would say that special modifiers are a part of that full damage.

And there is an important part:

When using the Snatch Arrows feat, you can throw a caught piece of ranged ammunition

Which, as I understand it, implies "one piece of ranged ammunition", read further to get more evidence for "one piece".

What goes to automatic weapons in general:

Automatic: This weapon can act as a semi-automatic weapon (see below), or it can fire a burst of shots with a single pull of the trigger to attack all creatures in a line. This line starts from any corner of the wielder’s space and extends to the limit of the weapon’s range or until it strikes a barrier it cannot penetrate. When using an automatic weapon to attack all creatures in a line, the wielder makes a separate attack roll against each creature in the line. Each creature in the line can be attacked with only one shot from each burst. Each attack roll takes a -2 penalty, and its damage cannot be modified by precision damage or damage-increasing feats such as Vital Strike. Effects that grant concealment, such as fog or smoke, or the blur, invisibility, or mirror image spells, do not affect an automatic weapon’s line attack. Roll to confirm each attack roll that threatens a critical hit separately. A single burst with an automatic weapon consumes 10 charges. When taking a full-attack action with an automatic weapon, the wielder can fire as many bursts in a round as he has attacks, provided he has enough charges to make all of the attacks.

I would read it as you catching the one piece of ammunition shot at you, and then possibly "throwing" it back, just as Yoda did. However, note that an X-laser fires differently, achieving the effects of automatic fire without actually automatically firing (thus no penalties):

When making an attack with an x-laser, make a single attack roll and compare that result to the ACs of all creatures in a line extending out to the weapon’s maximum range. This weapon damages all targets with an AC equal to or lower than the attack roll.

So, you can catch one ray and damage everyone whose touch AC is lower than your (presumably new) attack roll. Sounds cool!

What goes to automatic laser weapons like the Laser Rifle, presumably, you cannot apply automatic fire, as you only catch one of the rays (the one aimed at you), and automatic fire is not a single strong beam penetrating everything, it is a burst of shots, each shot separately aimed at each target (which is the fact that implies the penalty).

Thanks you for that mind-breaking exercise, it is now 95% that I will play a Monk with Throw Back Arrows if I ever get a chance of playing at that setting.

Can the X-laser ray be considered ammunition?

This is a hard question, but if it is not, even if you deflect it with your hand using the Deflect Arrows feat (as it is "a ranged weapon attack", you can do it), and then snatch the ray for future use with the Snatch Arrows feat, you cannot activate Throw Back Arrows feat, as it only works on "caught piece of ranged ammunition", doesn't work with bullets (but very vaguely defines the class of ammo that it works with, so if we want to talk absurd here, we can).

But what is ammunition? Here is the definition:

Ammunition: Projectile weapons use ammunition: arrows (for bows), bolts (for crossbows), darts (for blowguns), or sling bullets (for slings and halfling sling staves). When using a bow, a character can draw ammunition as a free action; crossbows and slings require an action for reloading (as noted in their descriptions). Generally speaking, ammunition that hits its target is destroyed or rendered useless, while ammunition that misses has a 50% chance of being destroyed or lost. Although they are thrown weapons, shuriken are treated as ammunition for the purposes of drawing them, crafting masterwork or otherwise special versions of them, and what happens to them after they are thrown.

It doesn't list bullets. However, the "Firearms" page has the word "ammunition" repeated 19 times.

So, can we actually say that there is a precise definition of what is ammunition? Unlikely.

One could say that laser beam is not a projectile, and laser rifle is not a projectile weapon.

The we have such an entry on the Technological Weapons page:

Range: This lists the weapon’s range increment; no listing is given for melee weapons that cannot be thrown. Unless otherwise noted, all firearms in this chapter are treated as projectile weapons for the purpose of determining their maximum range.

Are the laser weapons firearms? Yes, many of them have a special entry "exotic (firearms)". This argument, however, can be deflected with the statement that their "projectileness" only applies for "determining their maximum range".

X-laser is listed as "exotic (heavy weaponry)", not as a firearm, so it is possible to claim that it does not count. Or not.

There is some interesting FAQ about the Snatch Arrows combat feat, though:

Update: If the attack is deflected, not only does the target take no damage, but any other effects (ability drain, negative levels, harmful conditions, and so on) associated with that attack do not occur. If the deflected attack is a touch spell or other effect that requires “holding the charge,” the charge is not expended. For example, if a ghoul’s claw attack is deflected, the target is not subject to the ghoul’s paralysis ability from the attack. If a shocking grasp touch attack is deflected, the attacker is still “holding the charge.”

So, if one claims that the laser weapons function on charges (well, they are), we can treat the "charge" as if it would not even be activated.

Then it is possible to claim that as soon as "you don’t take a penalty for throwing a weapon that isn’t designed to be thrown", it will just fire normally now.

However, we have actually came to the point when the wording seems to be ambiguous enough for one single answer to be non-existent.

Using "logic" doesn't help here

Even though catching a ray of X-laser and throwing it back may sound stupidly, we are already talking about Star Wars-esque Fantasy here, and it can be considered cool in this setting. Or not -- up to your taste.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The only technological weapon that even mentions ammunition/ammo is the Flare Gun. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Jul 31 '17 at 11:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowKras Does it mean that other weapons do not fire ammunition? Well, to begin with, what is ammunition? Where is it defined? \$\endgroup\$ – Baskakov_Dmitriy Jul 31 '17 at 14:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Baskarov A lot of technological weapons are exceptions to the rules. Some will fire drills, others will fire beams of energy, or beams of gravitron. But none, other than the flare gun, mention using ammunition or even have a track of ammunition used. They all have an energy source that is expended on use. None is a thrown weapon, or fire ammunition at their target. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Jul 31 '17 at 14:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowKras Indeed, it does define ammunition as "arrows (for bows), bolts (for crossbows), darts (for blowguns), or sling bullets (for slings and halfling sling staves)". No bullets mentioned. Does it mean that bullets are not ammunition? If it does, why are they listed as ammunition? \$\endgroup\$ – Baskakov_Dmitriy Jul 31 '17 at 14:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ Lack of synonyms has plagued the game since its inception. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jul 31 '17 at 15:08

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