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Inspired by Can I use deflect missile if I get an ally to shoot me? and Can a monk catch and throw an Arcane Archer's active Arcane Shot back at them with Deflect Missiles?, can a (friendly) Arcane Archer choose not to activate their Arcane Shot when it hits their ally, but then activate it when it hits the new target?

Once per turn when you fire an arrow from a shortbow or longbow as part of the Attack action, you can apply one of your Arcane Shot options to that arrow. You decide to use the option when the arrow hits a creature, unless the option doesn’t involve an attack roll.

Emphasis mine.

So in this scenario, Monica the Monk runs on ahead, in a position where she can see Edwin the enemy mage. Archie the Archer does not have line of sight to the enemy caster. He fires his arrow at Monica the Monk, who uses her reaction to deflect it successfully.

If you catch a missile in this way, you can spend 1 ki point to make a ranged attack with the weapon or piece of ammunition you just caught, as part of the same reaction.

Let's say the arrow (thrown as an attack by Monica the Monk) now hits Edwin the enemy mage; can Archie the Arcane Archer then activate the Arcane Shot to try and affect Edwin the enemy mage with it?

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RAW, it seems this works.

This works as written, but is almost certainly not intended and is an abuse of language. You have emphasized the key portion of the Arcane Shot ability:

You decide to use the option when the arrow hits a creature.

Notably, it does not say "when the attack hits". It explicitly mentions the arrow, rather than an attack, hitting the creature.

It isn't happening in my games.

If I'm the DM, this isn't happening. To me, it seems totally obvious that this is an unintended outcome of using "arrow" instead of "attack". I'm ruling against this if it happens while I am the DM.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Why do you feel this is "abuse"/mistake, and not a cool trick, intentionally allowed to be possible? \$\endgroup\$ – WakiNadiVellir Dec 2 '20 at 13:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ The language of "the arrow hits" is inconsistent with how most abilities are worded. I think if this combo was intentionally put into the game, it would just be explained. I find it hard to believe that they had a single monk ability in mind when writing the features for the fighter, and then left that combo as an easter egg for us to find. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Dec 2 '20 at 13:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ Does a deflected arrow count as hit? \$\endgroup\$ – Aguinaldo Silvestre Dec 2 '20 at 15:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ What about the "Rule of Cool?" This seems pretty situational and hard to regularly abuse, while also being Legolas + Gimli Heroics. \$\endgroup\$ – Dave Dec 2 '20 at 19:09
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No

The arcane archer's Arcane Shot ability reads in part:

Once per turn, when you fire an arrow [...] you can apply one of your Arcane Shot options to that arrow. You decide to use the option when the arrow hits a creature, unless the option doesn't involve an attack roll.

The archer must decide to use the shots when it hits a creature. Importantly, while the general description of the ability says "hits a creature," all the Arcane Shot Options (save for Piercing Arrow and Seeking Arrow) say "The creature hit by the arrow..." and not some form of "When the arrow hits..."

This means they are more specific in their wording than the general description is and the scope of when they may be activated is limited to as soon as the archer hits the target it is shooting at.

The monk's Deflect Missile ability reads in part:

you can use your reaction to deflect or catch the missile when you are hit by a ranged weapon attack.

The Arcane Archer is hitting the Monk and therefore the monk becomes "the creature hit by the arrow."

The combat rules for 5e are based around the fundamental concept of making one attack and hitting one target. If a spell/feature does does not adhere to this rule, that exception is very explicitly called out.

Because the Monk's Deflect Missile feature lacks text stating something to the effect of "any sort of magical effect on the caught projectile is maintained for the Monk's attack", the Archer must therefore decide whether or not to use its Arcane Shot at the point when the Monk is hit.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The arcane archer’s attack hit the monk—but the feature doesn’t say “attack,” it says “arrow.” The monk’s attack (sort of) is still with the same arrow that “you fired.” I see no reason why it being a separate attack makes any kind of a difference here. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 4 '20 at 4:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kryan Well, it says "as part of the attack action" so I'll disagree with you there. Resolving the hit against the monk is step 3 of the attack action. Since the monk's attack is done with a separate reaction, not part of the fighter's attack action, it exists entirely outside of the resolved hit. Besides, the shots in question also refer to "the target" but the fighter never targets the creature the monk is (re)attacking. \$\endgroup\$ – Rykara Dec 4 '20 at 5:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rykara Ah, yeah, that’s fair. Still gonna allow it in my games. If you edit your answer (perhaps to include that), I can reverse my vote. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 4 '20 at 5:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kryan to be fair, I do think it's an awesome and cinematic idea that I would maybe allow at my table with some homebrew tweak (perhaps a check of some sort). \$\endgroup\$ – Rykara Dec 4 '20 at 6:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Considering the numerous failure modes already built into the deflect-your-ally maneuver, I wouldn’t want to add more. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 4 '20 at 12:40
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No

Once deflected, the arrow belongs to the monk, not the archer, and the monk doesn’t have the ability.

… when you (the archer) fire an arrow ... you (also the archer) can apply ...

... you (the monk, so not the archer) ... make a ranged attack with the weapon or piece of ammunition you just caught ...

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    \$\begingroup\$ Ownership of the arrow is not required for the arcane archer's ability to be triggerable though. \$\endgroup\$ – AncientSwordRage Dec 2 '20 at 20:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Anc The Deflect Missile ability says "you can use your reaction to deflect or catch the missile when you are hit by a ranged weapon attack. At that point, the arcane archer has attacked and hit the monk. If the archer wanted to use Arcane Shot, it would have to be done at this point. Either way, the monk is now holding an arrow and can choose to use it to make a ranged attack of their own. The archer is not firing the arrow a second time, nor is the monk's hit the archer's hit. \$\endgroup\$ – Rykara Dec 2 '20 at 20:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ryk the arcane archer's allowed to activate the ability "when the arrow hits a creature" nothing stipulates how that hit happens. There's no limitation on when in the turn they can or can't activate the ability. \$\endgroup\$ – AncientSwordRage Dec 2 '20 at 20:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AncientSwordRage so after the arrow hits (and damages) the monk, the monk on its turn can pull it out and use it as an improvised weapon and the arcane archer can trigger when that hits? Or when the next creature in the chain hits. Or when anyone uses that arrow from now on? If not, why not? Only the timing is different. \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M Dec 2 '20 at 21:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @dalem no one is pulling the arrow out of anywhere. Its the same arrow on the same turn (the arcane archer's) I think that all that matters. \$\endgroup\$ – AncientSwordRage Dec 2 '20 at 21:05
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Arcane Shot Options can only be used while you are firing an arrow

The Arcane Shot feature states:

when you fire an arrow from a shortbow or longbow as part of the Attack action, you can apply one of your Arcane Shot options to that arrow. You decide to use the option when the arrow hits

We can interpret this either as "triggers" or as "conditions". When I say "trigger" I mean a singular event that allows a subsequent option. "Conditions" as I am using the word refers to a state of affairs during which an option can be used.

Using the trigger interpretation there are two events described in the text. The first event is "when you fire an arrow from a shortbow or longbow as part of the Attack action" while the second event is "when the arrow hits". If we consider these as isolated events then you could use an arcane shot option with Deflect Missiles. You have fired an arrow as part of the attack action and when the monk makes her attack the arrow does hit.

The problem with this interpretation is that it doesn't define when the first trigger ends except when the arrow hits. Without defining an end every arrow you fire would qualify for the second trigger in perpetuity. The simplest exploit with this is to get around the "as part of the Attack Action" clause. The Arcane Archer spends a couple of turns firing arrows into the air. She then collects the arrows and later, when she readies an attack, she uses them as a reaction. When they hit they satisfy the second trigger and so she uses an arcane shot option with them.

This is, however, obviously not how the feature was intended to function. It is ridiculous to imagine that any arrow that has ever been fired as a part of your attack action can trigger Arcane Shot at a later time. Here is where the "conditions" interpretation becomes relevant.

Instead of viewing "when you fire an arrow" as an instantaneous event we can think of it as a process. "When" and "While" can sometimes be used synonymously so if we interpret the sentence as "while firing an arrow" we understand that the condition must continually be satisfied for its consequences to activate.

Using this interpretation it is clear that the deflected arrow could not benefit from Arcane Shot. Once the arrow hits the monk you are no longer "firing an arrow as part of the Attack action" The fact that you previously fired that arrow is as irrelevant to the monk's attack as it would be to your readied action if you saved arrows for later.

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    \$\begingroup\$ While I don't disagree with you about the likely intent, that seems very much to be an unsupported (educated) guess. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Dec 3 '20 at 2:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ "You have two uses of this ability, and you regain all expended uses of it when you finish a short or long rest." \$\endgroup\$ – Akixkisu Dec 3 '20 at 16:55
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No, you can't use Arcane Shot after the arrow is deflected

Looking at the requirement for this ability:

Once per turn when you fire an arrow from a shortbow or longbow, you can apply one of your Arcane Shot options to that arrow. You decide to use the option when the arrow hits a creature, unless the option doesn’t involve an attack roll.

  • Requirement = You fire an arrow. (You being the Arcane archer)

The Archer attacks and hits the Monk, not the enemy creature, by this time the Monk decides to use the Deflect Missiles ability. To resolve this ability, the damage is dealt to the Monk, thereby ending the Archers attack action.

Next, when Monks Deflect Missiles is resolved, the Monk is allowed to the expend one ki and make an attack action (if the damage is reduced to zero). When the Monk then attacks the enemy creature, it is now the Monk's attack action that are being resolved, not the Archers.

As the arrow is now fired by the Monk using his hand and not a shortbow or longbow, none of the original requirements for Arcane shot are being met.

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