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The elven greatbow is normally considered a +2 composite longbow, but in the hands of an elf it becomes a +5 unerring accuracy longbow (+11 total upgrade) with other special properties.

Now, while we all agree that the price for any upgrade must be multiplied ×10 compared to the normal formula (upgrade2 × 2000) since it falls under the epic rules due to its price, I'm not sure how much would I need to pay to further upgrade it.
For example, say I want to add a +1 to the bow, so that it becomes +3 (or +6 in the hands of an elf), would I need to pay the price to bring it from +11 to +12 (460,000) or from +2 to +3 (10,000×10=100,000, as per the epic magic items rules)?

On second thought, would this be actually a valid upgrade? Unlike a bane weapon, which states that the enhancement bonus increases by +2 (so it doesn't matter what is the starting enhancement bonus), here it says it becomes a +5 bow, would that mean that any upgrade I put on the bow get overwritten when wielded by an elf?

I'd like to be as RAW as possible here.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Another consideration to take into account is that in order to improve an item you (whoever is actually doing the work) have to meet the prerequisites of creating the item to begin with. 1 of the prerequisites for this item is "craft epic arms and armor" (CL 23) with 28 ranks in spellcraft & knowledge arcana (min level 25). Outside of deities how many people exist with those abilities in your game world? so IF you're able to find one, supply & demand will dictate a larger increase in the price (or require some other service). \$\endgroup\$ – Ben-Jamin Sep 17 '16 at 22:09
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+5, unerring accuracy, keen = +12 = 12²×20,000gp
adaptive = 1,000gp
masterwork composite longbow = 400gp
total: 2,881,400gp

This is very close to the elven greatbow's actual price of 2,900,400gp. (Maybe the extra 19,000gp is an ad hoc price for adaptive, since that didn't exist yet as a modular weapon ability when the Epic Level Handbook was published.)

So it sure looks like it's priced as a +12 weapon, with no discount for the fact that it's only usable by elves. Which means that further incrementing the enhancement bonus increases the price by (13²−12²)×20,000gp = 500,000gp.

You're not going to find any more explicit RAW than this. In general, the rules for specific (i.e. non-modular) magic weapons and armor just don't say how much of the item's price is enhancement-equivalent (and thus scales quadratically with upgrades) vs how much is a flat price.

On a tangential note, unerring accuracy is suboptimal. You can get mostly the same benefit from seeking + bloodseeking (Complete Warrior), for a price of +2 rather than +6.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I wish I got to decide its properties... Just because it costs more than a +12 weapon it doesn't make it a +12 weapon. Maybe it's priced as a +2 weapon with a 2mil fixed price special property. Specific armors and weapons always cost more than their enhancement level but the price for upgrading it takes in account only the upgrade level, not the price (as if the special property is a fixed price upgrade), the total upgrade can be deduced usually. \$\endgroup\$ – valepu Sep 12 '16 at 7:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ This case is particular because of the condition during which the properties are active, quite like a bane weapon which is a +1 enhancement but on certain conditions adds +2 to your weapon enhancement bonus \$\endgroup\$ – valepu Sep 12 '16 at 7:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also it doesn't say it's "keen" but that the arrows it fires are keen, that doesn't mean the bow itself Is keen, which while we can argue if it can be put on a bow or not (i usually allow it on projectiles but not on bows), it doesn't say in the property that the bow transfers the property to the arrows, unlike fiery or other enhancements. So it's a special kind of "keen" \$\endgroup\$ – valepu Sep 12 '16 at 7:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ General comment: in most rpgs, One pays for the most expensive effect, and may or may not a discount for restricted usage, depending on if the restriction applies to everyone or not. In the case of this weapon, the restriction only exists for people other than the intended owner, in which case this is an advantage. Theft protection, if you will. Since it is still partly useful to non-elves, the only-usable-by discount doesn't apply. There is a lot of add-hoc in the existing magic items. Of course, because it is add-hoc, you can use the same ad-hoc rules for making variants. \$\endgroup\$ – nijineko Sep 13 '16 at 14:44
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In the end I think I got it: it's the other way around.

It's not a +2 longbow that becomes a +11 weapon in the hands of an elf, it's a +11 longbow with special properties that gets downgraded to +2 when wielded by a non elf, so any upgrade in it will follow the +11 progression.

I can't really consider the keen property as added to the bow trough the normal enhancement. While it can be argued whether or not keen can be applied to a bow (i allow it on projectiles but not on bows), it doesn't say in the special property that it transfers its effects to the ammunitions so the elven greatbow has a special kind of keen which is not the normal upgrade (hence it has to be a specific weapon property), on top of that if it just had the keen property I think it would've been worded differently

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