View Full Version : Is it possible to make an effective sniper? (PF/3.5)

2011-01-16, 03:01 PM
Whenever I try to make a sniper 80% of the encounters start near each other because of stealth or cover. And even the ones that don't don't need a specialist sniper because a normal ranged guy would work fine or most likely better.

edit: And by sniper I mean more than just taking rapid shot. I mean long long range shots, probably with sneak attack involved. Or death attack or bleed.

2011-01-16, 03:06 PM
It's possible to make a mechanically effective sniper, yes- easier in 3.5 than PF-only material, at least until you get more things like the Spell Compendium Ranger spells. Whether it's worth doing is another question; D&D is generally focused on relatively short encounter ranges, to the point where you are fairly unlikely to start a battle outside of one standard range increment, let alone the extended ranges that a sniper-build can get.

2011-01-16, 03:19 PM
I don't know about sneak attack or death attack, since those usually require you to be within 30 feet.

Also, you have to keep in mind that a sniper is a very, very specialized position. The reason combats aren't sniper-oriented is because a sniper-oriented fight isn't much good for anyone except the spellcasters and you.

Perhaps you should sit on the idea, I suspect one day a campaign that it works for will come up.

2011-01-16, 03:23 PM
Well you see your "sniper" is actually a hulking hurler with far shot and +1 distance moons...

2011-01-16, 03:30 PM
One of the problems is that you have to build the party around the sniper. They have to be willing to wait while you (or they) scout for your target, be patient while you find your perch and line up your shot, then deal with the consequences of "OK, now the two enemy groups are reeeeally far away from each other, so now what?" Also, dungeons are pretty much right out.

Furthermore, in your mind, is a sniper just someone who can shoot a dude from really far away, or do we have to get into the whole "one shot, one kill" sort of thing? Because that second one is hard, at least beyond the very earliest levels. Volley archery is pretty much the best way for archery to be effective in 3.5.

2011-01-16, 03:38 PM
You might just need to adapt your definition of 'sniper' to the ranges and locales your group and campaign are willing to deal with. The general idea being to shoot targets before they see you coming and split before their mates figure out what happened, a straight-up rogue or assassin might fit the flavor without having to camp out a mile away.

Alternately, play in a game where the group has to make the sorts of plans where a sniper can play a role without necessarily stepping on anyone else's toes.

2011-01-16, 03:46 PM
...I'm not sure how effective it is, but there is a "Sniper (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/classes/core-classes/rogue#TOC-Sniper)" Archetype for the Rogue in Pathfinder. It gets Sneak attack at further ranges (probably not the distances you want, but eventually it gets pretty nifty) and though you'd be waiting a long time the capstone is a fort save vs death as long as you get your sneak attack damage, which you can make at up to 90 feet away at that point.

Amusingly it can even be doubled up with the Scout Archetype for someone who can sneak attack at a pretty good distance simply by running around like a dofus.

2011-01-16, 03:47 PM
I play a halfling ranger in one campaign and my intention was to build a sniper-like guy. We play PF only. Right in the start I dropped spells and animal companion for +10 speed and some unuseable/rarely useable special feature. Some sessions later I realized i didn't snipe anyone and that i'm doing very little damage. I had a talk with the DM and we created a few more sniper oriented sprecial features. We added ranged sneak attack (progression 1., 4., 8...) up to 50 feet while hidden, and we added aiming as a possibility (while aiming and hidden sneak attack doesn't have range):

Hold Breath:
In order to improve your aim you can take a full-round action to take a deep breath and to stabilize your ranged weapon. You must declare who is the target and in your next round you get a +2 circumstance bonus on your attack roll. If you have more than one attack, the bonus only applies to your first attack. While aiming you cannot move nor take 5-foot steps. If you recieve any damage while aiming your aim goes awry and you lose your round.

2011-01-16, 03:48 PM
My friends and I actually just homebrewed a sniper class that we think works pretty well. I need to polish it up with some other homebrews we made before I post it here, but I'll link you to it once it's up if you're interested. I think it avoids some of the obstacles already mentioned of camping really far away from your targets and limiting yourself to outdoor settings.

2011-01-16, 03:56 PM
I got help making a pretty decent sniper a little while back:
Might be worth taking a look at if you want to know what options you have as a sniper.

2011-01-16, 03:59 PM
The way you get long-range sneak attack is with Sniper's Shot (Spell Compendium, page 194). That spell is on the Sorcerer/Wizard, Assassin, and Ranger spell lists. Of those, Ranger is the best bet for ranged combat. You can gain sneak attack temporarily via spell, or through feats (Martial Study (shadow hand) + Martial Stance (Assassin's Stance)); then you can boost it with items such as a Rogue's Vest (Magic Item Compendium). The most important piece of equipment is your composite bow, made for whatever STR bonus you have, enhanced with splitting (Champions of Ruin) to double your shots.

Here's an archer build I came up with a while back, intended to get more archery-related feats in a mostly spellcasting build; it's got something for everybody. (Note: The cheesy bonus feat swap may be RAW legal, but I recommend it only if you want to antagonize your DM.)

Race: Wood Elf (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/elf.htm#woodElf) (+2 DEX, +2 STR, -2 CON, -2 INT; Favored Class: Ranger). Alignment: within 1 step of Chaotic Good. You'll need to join the Order of the Shooting Star (see Champions of Valor). This build requires DEX 17 by the time you get to level 6 for Dead Eye, and DEX 19 later if you pick up Improved Precise Shot.

Cloistered Cleric 1 of Solonor Thelandira. Domains: Knowledge, War, Elf; gain Weapon Focus (longbow) and Point Blank Shot feats as granted powers. Level 1 feat: Precise Shot. Should pick up 1+ ranks in Knowledge (arcana) and 4 ranks in Knowledge (religion).
Mystic Ranger 1 (Ranger variant in Dragon # 336, page 105). Gain wild empathy, Track feat. Should pick up 5 ranks in Survival.
Cloistered Cleric 2. Level 3 feat: Far Shot.
Cloistered Cleric 3.
Mystic Ranger 2. Take Arcane Hunter ACF (Complete Mage, page 32) to get Favored Enemy: Arcanists. Gain 3 more ranks in Survival to get 8 total ranks.
Seeker of the Misty Isle (Complete Divine, page 61) 1. Gain Travel as bonus domain; convert this to Travel Devotion (Complete Champion, page 62) feat. Level 6 feat: Dead Eye (Dragon Compendium, page 95): add DEX bonus to arrow damage within 30'.
Mystic Ranger 3. Choose combat style: archery; this grants the Rapid Shot feat.
Mystic Ranger 4. Gain Endurance as a bonus feat.
Seeker of the Misty Isle 2. You'll now have BAB 6. Level 9 feat: Manyshot.
Seeker of the Misty Isle 3.
Seeker of the Misty Isle 4. Do the Dark Chaos Shuffle (Fiendish Codex I, pages 92 & 95) to swap Track and Endurance for

Sword of the Arcane Order feat (Champions of Valor, page 34): cast Wizard arcane spells in Ranger spell slots; and
Holy Warrior reserve feat (Complete Champion, page 60): add level of highest reserved War spell to weapon damage.
You'll now have Cleric 7 spellcasting, BAB 8, and can cast Ranger/Wizard spells at levels 0-2.
If you want to spread on the cheese sauce, this is where you would do the Dark Chaos Shuffle with the 4 Elf bonus feats
Weapon Proficiency: Elves receive the Martial Weapon Proficiency feats for the longsword, rapier, longbow (including composite longbow), and shortbow (including composite shortbow) as bonus feats. and pick up Extend Spell, Persistent Spell, Divine Metamagic (Persistent Spell), and Extra Turning; persist Divine Power to keep your BAB up all day.

At this point you qualify to enter Arcane Archer, or you can continue with Seeker of the Misty Isle for more Cleric spellcasting plus other benefits of that PrC.

With Divine Power you'll be at BAB 11.
You'll add (DEX mod +1) to attacks, and (with a composite longbow) (STR mod +4) to damage. (The +1 is from Weapon Focus; the +4 is from Holy Warrior.)
Within 30' you'll add an additional +1 to attacks, and (DEX mod + 1) to damage. (The +1 is from Point Blank Shot; the DEX mod is from Dead Eye.)
You'll have 10 useful feats (or 14 with the cheesy sauce added), without flaws. If at some point you think you've got enough skill ranks in the various Knowledges, you can convert Knowledge domain to Knowledge Devotion for bonuses to attack and damage against the corresponding creature types.