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This came up in game the other night.

The player has a +1 bow of cold (+1d6 cold damage) he also has some magic and specialty arrows like Alchemists arrow (+1d4 fire damage).

I know that if someone has a bow that is +1 and an arrow that is +2 they do not stack to +3 but rather use the higher bonus (+2).

The question becomes, in this case do both the magical effects take place? The 1d6 cold damage from the bow in addition to the 1d4 fire damage dealt by the alchemist arrow? Or do these effects not stack?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Possible duplicate of Do effects granting extra dice stack? \$\endgroup\$ – A_S00 Jan 19 '18 at 21:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @A_S00 No, not really: it would be entirely plausible for projectile weapons and magic ammunition to have separate, special rules that contradict the rules talked about in the answers to that question. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jan 19 '18 at 22:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Fair 'nuff, VTC retracted. File above comment under "related" instead. \$\endgroup\$ – A_S00 Jan 19 '18 at 23:08
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Yes, magic from the arrow and the bow combine, and stack as long as they are different.

You can see this in the description of the various special properties themselves:

Flaming [...] Bows, crossbows, and slings so crafted bestow the fire energy upon their ammunition.

Flaming Burst [...] Bows, crossbows, and slings so crafted bestow the fire energy upon their ammunition.

Frost [...] Bows, crossbows, and slings so crafted bestow the cold energy upon their ammunition.

And so on.

Not every special property says this: dancing doesn’t (which makes sense since it is melee-only), defending doesn’t (since the only thing it does is change the weapon’s enhancement bonus, which already gets transferred to the ammunition by default), but pretty much every special property where it makes sense, has this line.

It’s so common, in fact, that I would treat any case that neglected to mention it but where it would make sense as an error, and assume that could be transferred as well. I would also ignore the fact that the rules call out bows, crossbows, and slings; in the case of some other kind of projectile weapon, I would allow that too. Really, it should just have been a general rule, but for some reason they didn’t do it that way. Perhaps they were worried about a defending bow draining a +5 arrow of its enhancement and gaining AC? Should have just called out defending as an exception there, in my opinion, but oh well.

Same source bonuses still don’t stack, however. If you shoot a flaming arrow from a flaming bow, the +1d6 fire damage from the one instance of flaming (say, the bow’s) does not stack with the other instance of flaming (the arrow’s, in this case). Likewise, bonuses of the same type don’t stack: this is spelled out explicitly for enhancement bonuses, but it’s still true for other bonuses. So if two different properties gave, say, sacred bonuses to damage, found on the bow and on the arrow, the final bonus would be the larger of the two.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is true, though it's an unfortunate effect of the otherwise useful stacking rules. No extra damage by using a flaming arrow from a flaming bow (adding fire to fire), but you get extra dice by adding chilling to flaming, which from a certain point of view should counteract each other. \$\endgroup\$ – Chemus Jan 21 '18 at 16:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Chemus I mean, fire-and-ice themed attacks seen reasonable to me. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jan 21 '18 at 16:35

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