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Can a monk use their Deflect Missiles feature to catch an Arcane Archer fighter's Arcane Shot and then throw it back with the Arcane Shot magic still in use?

I looked at Arcane Shot and it doesn't say anything (from what I can tell) about it losing its magic after its shot. Its seventh level Magic Arrow feature (which makes nonmagical arrows magical for the purposes of overcoming resistance/immunity) says that it loses its magic after it hits or misses, but Arcane Shot doesn't say anything like that.

In summary, is there something I'm missing?

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It depends on which Arcane Shot option is used

Even if you catch the arrow, the attack is still a hit as it must be in order to know if it reduces the damage to 0.

Banishing Arrow

  • If you deflect the arrow (even if you catch it), you are still hit and must make the save.

Beguiling Arrow

  • If you deflect the arrow (even if you catch it), you are still hit and must make the save. To catch the arrow, you must also reduce any extra damage from the attack (the psychic damage) to 0.

Bursting Arrow

  • If you deflect the arrow (even if you catch it), you are still hit and the force damage is taken.

Enfeebling Arrow

  • If you deflect the arrow (even if you catch it), you are still hit and must make the save. To catch the arrow, you must also reduce any extra damage from the attack (the necrotic damage) to 0.

Grasping Arrow

  • If you deflect the arrow (even if you catch it), you are still hit and the speed reduction and additional damage on movement takes effect. To catch the arrow, you must also reduce any extra damage from the attack (the poison damage) to 0.

Piercing Arrow

  • This option no longer hits the target (it merely does damage as if it hits), so you cannot use Deflect Missles.

Seeking Arrow

  • This option no longer hits the target (it merely does damage as if it hits), so you cannot use Deflect Missiles.

Shadow Arrow

  • If you deflect the arrow (even if you catch it), you are still hit and must make the save. To catch the arrow, you must also reduce any extra damage from the attack (the psychic damage) to 0.

Throwing it back

Since the attack hits, the magic from the arrow has already been used so if you throw it back, it is a mundane arrow again. In all Arcane Shot options, the magic is released on a hit (language such as "temporarily" and "detonates"). There is no reason to assume the effect persists after the hit.

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The Arcane Shot description says

You decide to use the option when the arrow hits a creature, unless the option doesn’t involve an attack roll.

This means that the Arcane Shot can be "detonated" when it hits you.


The Deflect Missile says

Starting at 3rd level, you can use your reaction to deflect or catch the missile when you are hit by a ranged weapon attack.

When the timing of a reaction is not specified, the trigger resolves first.

This can only mean:

  1. The arrow hits
  2. Arcane Shot declared and resolved
  3. Deflect Missile declared and resolved

Remember that you can only catch it if you reduce the damage to 0. If the Arcane Shot is detonated, the extra damage must also be reduced to 0 for you to throw it back.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This was my answer too, but I'm waiting on a question I've just asked about whether catching the arrow negates the attack hitting. I see it as no, but I'm just double checking from other people. \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Apr 6 '18 at 13:16
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On XGtE pg. 28:

You decide to use the option when the arrow hits a creature (emphasis mine)

So to answer the question of whether or not a monk can deflect an arcane shot back to the archer and cause the extra damage associated with arcane shot, the answer is no, since the archer chooses to apply arcane shot when the shot itself hits.

This at least seems to also imply that if an arrow doesn't hit a creature, it may not have been an arcane shot in the first place.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Now I wonder whether if the monk successfully redirect the attack and hit, can the Archer use its ability? \$\endgroup\$ – Vylix Apr 6 '18 at 3:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ The rules would seem to suggest so, but I wish they were more specific. \$\endgroup\$ – Simon H. Apr 6 '18 at 4:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ Except that Deflect Missiles can only happen if the arrow hits, and it is caught if the damage is reduced to 0. So the arcane shot does happen, and the question is whether (if caught) it persists long enough to be returned as still being an arcane shot. \$\endgroup\$ – Phil Boncer Apr 6 '18 at 4:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PhilBoncer Given that when one is throwing it back, one is using a Monk class skill, not the arcane archer's fighter class skill, I don't understand how there is any question of the AA feature being active on the return throw if damage was reduced to zero. It's the monk's class feature that is now active. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Apr 6 '18 at 13:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ I probably agree. I was just clarifying the answer, since it was in error about whether the Arcane Archer's arrow hit or not. \$\endgroup\$ – Phil Boncer Apr 6 '18 at 15:25
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Here is my issue with whether it hits you or not. Sure the arrow technically hits you by beating your AC as a monk. However, the monk catches the arrow. So the arrow does not "HIT" you. Tip touches person resulting in damage being done, resulting in activation of the magical effects of the arrow. I believe that if you were to reduce the damage from the base arrow damage (1D6 or 1D8 plus mod) then the Monk catches the arrow resulting in the arrow NOT actually 'hitting' you. This would need to be something either the Devs need to clarify or be ruled by the DM. Arcane archer needs a buff anyways to the amount of times you can use arcane shot from a lousy 2 shots for lvl 3 to lvl 20.

Anyway the way that I see it, if the arrow is caught, not activation and the potential of it being thrown back at you resulting in damage to the user. HOWEVER, if the arrow does even 1 damage to the monk, arrow activates.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hello and welcome! Please take the tour as an introduction to the site. In 5e being hit is a defined game term that is not to be read as the normal english use of "hit" so you can prpose this as a houserule by explaining your experience with this change. As it is though this unfortunately appears to be an incorrect interpretation of 5e rules. Regardless, thank you for contributing and trying to help strangers! \$\endgroup\$ – Sdjz Nov 22 '18 at 8:30

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