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In what scenario, aside from a ranged sunder Combat Maneuver, would having an adamantine arrow be useful?

Weapons fashioned from adamantine have a natural ability to bypass hardness when sundering weapons or attacking objects, ignoring hardness less than 20.

Yes I know that adamantine works very good for sundering, but I do not plan on taking the fighter archtype archer to gain the CM ranged sunder.

I also know that ranged attacks suffer 50% damage reduction to objects.

So since it is most useful when sundering, which I wont be doing, when would it be useful to bypass hardness under 20?

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Use adamantine arrows to bypass appropriate damage reduction

As you've noted, the primary purpose of the special material adamantine seems to be damaging objects, yet adamantine arrows are typically a lousy choice for, for example, destroying a dungeon wall. But that's not all the material's good for. The universal monster ability damage reduction says

Some monsters are vulnerable to piercing, bludgeoning, or slashing damage. Others are vulnerable to certain materials, such as adamantine, alchemical silver, or cold-forged iron. Attacks from weapons that are not of the correct type or made of the correct material have their damage reduced, although a high enhancement bonus can overcome some forms of damage reduction.

An archer will want a batch of adamantine arrows if, for example, confronted with a gemstone gargoyle or a creature that's the subject of the spell stoneskin. While some archers bypass DR/X (adamantine) using a bow with an enhancement bonus of +4 or better, not all archers are fortunate enough to have such a weapon.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh, works on stone skin, thats good to know \$\endgroup\$ – Fering Jun 30 '16 at 17:48
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Some creatures have damage reduction which can only be pierced by adamantine weapons. One example is the flesh golem which has "DR 5/adamantine".

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I had not realized that there were creatures with DR/A, which does explain the +4 enhancement on your weapon. d20pfsrd.com/gamemastering/… \$\endgroup\$ – Fering Jun 30 '16 at 17:30
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As others have pointed out, the primary purpose of Adamantine weapons is to overcome DR X/Adamantine.

Regardless, there are plenty of examples where a melee attack is not suitable for damaging an object, and a ranged attack is needed. Because the damage is halved, the hardness of a material can reduce your damage by such a significant amount, so overcoming hardness can be very important.

There are plenty of examples where a ranged attack on an object would be a good move.

DM: "You are spotted as you approach the castle. The chains designed to raise the drawbridge pull taut, and the drawbridge starts to rise."

The melee players all start to work out their running speed and long jump distance, trying to work out if they can get inside the castle before the drawbridge raises too far. The archer simply looses an arrow at the chain, causing the drawbridge to fall back down.

You only rarely need adamantine arrows. But when you need them, they can be game changing. Keep a few one you at all times.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Until the others told me, I had not realized that there were creatures with it. Normally archers would not be trying to damage objects either, but you are correct. There will be a time when arrows are the right course of action on an object. \$\endgroup\$ – Fering Jul 1 '16 at 2:47

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