I've got a question about the Arcane Archer's Piercing Arrow ability (Xanathar's Guide to Everything).

From what I can read, the arrow effect of being able to pierce through objects without harming them seems almost identical to the 3.5e weapon enchantment "brilliant" property (the D&D version I'm coming off of). With this enchantment, your enchanted arrow could go through armor, walls, etc. without being stopped, however it dealt no damage to undead.

Is the Arcane Archer's arrow the same? Can it damage undead? Also, can it damage constructs, or do those count as objects for this kind of effect?


Yes, Piercing Arrow can damage undead and constructs

The text from the ability states:

The arrow passes harmlessly through objects, ignoring cover. Each creature in that line must make a Dexterity saving throw. On a failed save... [stuff about damage]

Undead and Constructs are creatures, not objects. Thus, Undead and Constructs would have to make a Dex saving throw like any other creature.

There are many spells and abilities which specifically state that they don't affect Undead or Constructs. If this ability were meant to be one it (probably) would have said as much.

While the description of this ability may seem similar to brilliant weapons, they are fundamentally different. Many things in dnd5e are similar to but work slightly differently than game features in previous versions, so drawing lines of comparison across versions usually ends up being a trap. In general in dnd5e the ability (or spell) does what it says it does without respect to what previous iterations may have done..

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    \$\begingroup\$ It may help to highlight the section on Undead and Constructs being creatures not objects. That's the focal point of Noelle B's misunderstanding. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jun 5 '18 at 18:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't know anything about monsters or other kinds of DM stuff in 5e, I was just trying to see if I could "port" my old 3.5e character, who was a fighter/sorcerer with brilliant arrows. Is there a kind of damage that's like Brilliant from 3.5e? \$\endgroup\$ – Noelle B Jun 5 '18 at 18:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NoelleB That might make a good stack question on it's own. Off the top of my head there is "radiant" damage type, which is like holy/divine and generally does bonus damage to undead. If you are asking if there are brilliant arrows than no, but your DM could easily homebrew/port them. \$\endgroup\$ – GreySage Jun 5 '18 at 18:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NoelleB While I appreciate the accepted checkmark, it is usually a good idea to wait for a while before accepting an answer to encourage more answers. \$\endgroup\$ – GreySage Jun 5 '18 at 18:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GreySage I added that as its own question at rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/123929/… \$\endgroup\$ – Noelle B Jun 5 '18 at 19:12

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