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Can I recover a single arrow?

This is the third meta question relating to this main site question (see also here and here), but it has popped back into the reopen queue several times now (five times to be precise), so I'm coming to meta, hopefully to permanently settle this question's status.

I'll keep it short, I closed it as a duplicate, and I'll provide an explanation in an answer below. But of course, answers providing other solutions are welcome.

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This question should remain closed as a duplicate.

Question A: Can I recover a single arrow?

Question B: Is ammunition recoverable and reusable?

I voted to close this question as a duplicate of Is ammunition recoverable and reusable?. Let's check the duplicate criteria.

Criterion 1:

  • It's the same question, or Question A is already covered obviously as a subset of Question B. "Obvious" here means I can tell at a glance that Question A would be covered by Question B.

Firing and attempting to recover one arrow is obviously covered as a subset of the more general question "Is ammunition recoverable and reusable?"

Criterion 2:

  • Question B has an obvious answer to Question A. "Obvious" here means I get a straightforward answer without hard searching — a couple of sentences buried in the middle of a post, or an answer which only sort of implies an answer to Question A, doesn't count as obvious.

The highest scoring (and accepted) answer to Question B provides a direct answer to Question A, first by quoting and summarizing the relevant rules, then providing several examples of how those rules are applied in play, including providing the scenario of Question A as an example:

For example, if we fire 7 arrows during the fight, we can recover half of 7, which is 3.5, rounded down, which is 3 arrow recovered. If we only fire a single arrow, we can recover half of 1, which 0.5, rounded down, which is 0 arrows recovered.1

Additionally, the rest of the answers contain similar rulings based on the relevant rules and further guidance that is directly applicable to Question A.

Criterion 3:

  • There isn't a strong, compelling reason to cover Question A alone, separately from Question B. (If the above bullet points are met, this rarely happens.)

There is not. It remained closed through five reopen reviews spanning two and a half years before it collected four reopen votes, which allowed me to reopen and switch the close reason over to duplicate. The question is a duplicate, and is adequately addressed by numerous good answers on the linked question.


1 A note for transparency: In September 2021 I revised the accepted answer to more thoroughly explain the relevant rules and cover a couple of examples, including the example that explicitly covers the scenario of Question A.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I want to note something you mentioned as potentially problematic. You said: "which allowed me to reopen and switch the close reason over to duplicate" Its not a great practice to be using reopen votes only so that you can close it again. Mods will sometimes do that to change the close reason but the way you've done it kind of overrides the 4 reopen votes that were already there. Not really a problem in this scenario but not something you should be doing regularly. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin Mod
    Commented Nov 16, 2022 at 23:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree. I considered this a special case, and it is not something I would condone as general practice. I’d considered just flagging for you guys to do something, I’ll just do that next time instead. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 16, 2022 at 23:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think my only issue is with C, and that one could argue that firing one arrow before trying to recover is enough of an edge-case that it does benefit from a standalone answer... however as you noted, you edited in a number of example including this edge-case into someone else's answer. I'm not overly keen on that as a rule, but it does help here. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 17:33
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I think this is not an easy case, which is why it has popped back so often

The particular issue (and if I recall right, I ended up to vote reopen due to it) here is that the general answer does not discuss the special problem you run into with a single arrow.

The general answer has a rule that says, you recover half your ammunition, round down, which for a single arrow is you always recover 0. Case closed.

However, that is not a satisfactory answer for the single arrow case if you look at what the rule portrays, p. 146 PHB:

At the end of the battle, you can recover half your expended ammunition by taking a minute to search the battlefield.

The intend is clearly that you get back half your ammunition. In the case of many arrows, the being off by one does not really register. But with a single arrow, you would expect that over many combats in which you shoot a single arrow, you would be able to recover it about half the time. The rounding rule obliterates this outcome, and you recover no ammunition whatsoever.

This problem surfaces especially for a single arrow, and I think deserves separate treatment. I do not think that the answer of just following the rounding rule in this special case is obvious. I can easily see making a special exception ruling in this case as the DM.

So the criteria for dupe-closing are

  • Is the question obviously covered by the other question? Yes, a recovering a single arrow is obviously covered by a question about recovering ammunition.

  • Is the question already answered in an obvious way by the dupe target? Yes, in a technical sense. I do not think it does answer the OPs underlying issue however, that the arrow would be always unrecoverable. The current form removed this, as far as I can see from the history, due to efforts of the OP to keep his question open, but it seems clearly to be his motivation.

  • Is there a strong reason to cover the question alone? I think there is, because this special case leads to an unsatisfactory outcome using the general answer. Saying the general answer covers this point is just suppressing a discussion and explanation about how to handle the incongruence that happens in particular with a single arrow.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The form of the question we have now is a bit of an XY problem, which reading through the revision history should make quite clear. The issue is, OP’s problem X was not really on topic. RCT’s answer does present a good frame challenge to an on-topic question, but it was never what OP actually seemed to be trying to ask. If the question we had was related to the balance implications of allowing single arrow recovery, or about how to reconcile the counterintuitiveness of the RAW, I’d think we’d have a workable question…….. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 10:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ ……But I don’t think OP was interested in those things as much as they were interested in blogging about their disagreement with RAW. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 10:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Read through the two metas about “actual problems” I linked in the question. Those questions were asked because OP specifically did not want to ask about the “actual problem” you talk about in your third bullet point. We tried to get to the good question you’re seeing buried in there. But sometimes the question we have isn’t the question we want it to be. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 10:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov, In case they really just want to ask about the mechanical rule for this, I agree the question should remain closed, because that is fully covered by the linked duplicate question. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 10:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ I dont think the mechanical rule was what they wanted to ask, but what they did want to ask wasn’t on topic, so here we are, unfortunately. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 10:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Given it wouldn't be typical to have a second identical question about the single arrow case, there might be merit to letting this question escape from the circumstances under which it was originally answered, if we find there is merit in answering it separately. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 11:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener I think RCT’s answer is probably going to be a decent answer to whatever adjacent question we might consider revising to, or would only need minor rearranging. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 12:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well like, it could be exactly the same question with no changes, just reopened. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 15:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GroodytheHobgoblin I'm inclined to think that between points two and point three I'd agree with Thomas that this should be closed. I agree with you that the answer is 'unsatisfying,' but it's not like we get to decide what goes into print or errata here; dissatisfaction here is like dissatisfaction with the fact that a level 5 paladin who multiclasses into a 5 paladin/1ranger loses a spell slot level. OP may not like the result but it isn't going to change shy of an official printing. If they asked for house rules that worked for people as an alternative, it would be different. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 20, 2022 at 18:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TheFallen0ne I think Akixkisu found a smart way to re-post the underlying issue as a separate question. I agree that this question under discussion here, in the form it is in, should remain closed. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 20, 2022 at 18:23

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