Can incendiary arrows be put out again after being ignited and later be re-ignited?

Their description doesn't mention anything about it, so we're kinda at a loss.


1 Answer 1


The PFSRD entry for Ammunition (Bow/Crossbow): Arrow/Bolt, Incendiary, which you linked to, says:

A metal cage behind this arrow's point contains flammable material.


Once lit, the arrow burns for 2 rounds.

The weapons table also tells us that incendiary arrows cost 10 gp (per stack of 20), or 10 times the price of common arrows. Clearly, then, either the flammable material, and/or the "metal cage" it's contained in, must be pretty expensive.*

Alas, the SRD doesn't specify what the "flammable material" actually is, so we can't tell how much it costs on its own, what it would take to extinguish it, or how easy it would be to replenish once consumed. Also, while the metal cage is presumably fairly fireproof, it's not obvious whether the rest of the arrow (and, in particular, the shaft) is too.

Thus, going strictly by the rules, it would seem that you cannot put out incendiary arrows (except perhaps by magic), and you cannot re-ignite them once they've burned out, either. (A burned-out incendiary arrow is presumably just an expensive ordinary arrow with a -1 to attack rolls.)

That said, I don't find such a ruling very appealing, as it seems to be reading rather strong affirmative conclusions (in particular, that the arrows cannot by put out by any mundane means) out of nothing more than the absence of a statement to the contrary in a very brief item entry. Instead, if I were the DM, I'd probably rule that:

  1. As the rules make no mention of putting out incendiary arrows, and as it makes sense that they should not be easy to extinguish (for one thing, they don't go out when fired; and the rules don't say anything about them being unusable in rain), I'd rule that this can only be done by magical means, or by fully immersing the arrowheads in a non-flammable substance such as water. You can't just blow them out like a candle.

    (Even the immersion part is arguable, since the rules don't actually say that the arrows cannot burn underwater. But since the burning substance is only described as "flammable", but not magical or alchemical, I'd be inclined to say that it acts like ordinary fire, and thus cannot burn without air. Technically, I suppose full immersion in a flammable liquid like oil should work too; but then your oil should catch fire, and would presumably re-ignite the arrows if it was still burning when you pulled them out, anyway.)

  2. If you did manage to somehow extinguish an incendiary arrow within one round of it being lit, I'd say that you'd end up with a half-burned incendiary arrow that could be re-lit, but would only burn for one round (and, if extinguished again, couldn't be re-lit a second time). You cannot usefully re-light arrows that had less than a round of burn time left when extinguished.

  3. In case the players want to recycle burned-out or extinguished incendiary arrows, I'd rule that they can be repaired using the Craft (Bows) skill, as per the Repair Item rules (adjusted as appropriate if using some alternative crafting rules). Effectively, I'd be treating such arrows as if they were broken, except that they don't suffer any penalty beyond the -1 to attack that they already have.

*) Clearly, the incendiary arrows in Pathfinder are something much fancier than what I'd think of when I hear the term — basically, an ordinary arrow with a wad of oil- or resin-soaked plant fiber (flax, hemp, etc.) tied around the shaft just below the arrowhead, to be lit and then quickly fired before the shaft burns through. Also, curiously, while the Pathfinder arrow does a small amount of fire damage to creatures, and can even make them catch fire on a crit, the SRD entry seem to make no mention whatsoever of what I'd consider the primary use of fire arrows in real life: setting buildings on fire in a siege situation.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Full immersion in a combustible liquid will work for putting out a lit...thing, provided the liquid is below its flash point. (Remember that combustion only takes place in the gas phase.) Good points otherwise though, so +1 \$\endgroup\$
    – Shalvenay
    Dec 28, 2015 at 5:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan: No, I haven't. I don't actually DM or even play Pathfinder actively, so I've really only got the SRD to go on. If you (or someone else) have a copy, it would be interesting to see if it provides any relevant extra information. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 28, 2015 at 7:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Our GM ruled that the flammable substance inside is to be treated like thermite: Once ignited, it burns for two rounds and that's it. Thank you very much for this detailled explanation \$\endgroup\$
    – user23707
    Dec 28, 2015 at 12:53
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Ranged Tactics Toolbox doesn't say anything more about those arrows or the new ammunition types in general (all the others are only as expendable as normal ammunition, being different head shapes and suchlike). \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Dec 28, 2015 at 16:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ In case the OP doesn't know, it might be worthwhile adding the general rule on ammo here (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.) \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Dec 28, 2015 at 16:52

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