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    PirateGuy

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    Default DM trying to help a player with an archer build

    I'm running a campaign and a few of us have recently gotten back to D&D after many years away. As a consequence one of the guys really had no idea how to build a viable archer to take to 20 and beyond. He initially started out wanting to be melee and then switched to archer at level 5.

    I'm a bit worried that because of other very strong characters this guy could have issues from 10 onwards and may feel a bit useless a lot of the time.

    For story reasons we've been in a bit of a holding pattern recently and I'm planning on allowing this character to be "fixed" a little to help the game progress and let this guy have more fun with his PC.

    Current Stats at rogue 4/fighter 3
    Str 10
    Dex 20
    Con 12
    Int 16
    Wis 10
    Cha 16

    Feats
    Point Blank Shot
    Rapid Shot
    Weapon Focus Longbow
    Precise Shot
    Weapon Finesse

    I'm quite happy to allow this guy to redo his last 3 (fighter) levels and choose his feats again if it helps create a more viable archer for later levels. He was taking fighter class levels in lieu of a PRC anyway. Other than this problem the rest of the campaign is running well and all the other characters are quite optimized but balancing for him alone would be very problematic.

    So does anyone have any suggestions about a class this guy could move into starting at level 5? We're pretty combat heavy so that's very important but if it retained some rogue abilities that could help too.

    Any advice is greatly appreciated :)
    Last edited by Koreapsu; 2012-10-24 at 04:24 AM.

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    Default Re: DM trying to help a player with an archer build

    Well, if you want to Retcon some of his levels...

    Scout3/Ranger4 with the feat Swift Hunter from Complete Scoundrel makes for a decent archer. Even better if you can come up with a way of moving 10' without blowing your Move Action. There's a couple of ways to manage it, including Improved/Greater Manyshot (which allows precision-based damage on all shots fired in a volley).

    Basically, Scout gets a sneak-attack-like ability called Skirmish which triggers when he moves more than 10', Swift Hunter allows you to apply precision-based damage to your Favored Enemies, even if normally immune, and lets Scout and Ranger stack for Skirmish progression.

    In all, not a bad archer build. And Scout has Trapfinding, so he's still a perfectly valid skillmonkey as well. In fact, a better one than his current build, since both Scout and Ranger have 6+int skill points, he doesn't take the skill point dive, and skill selection dive, by hitting Fighter.
    Last edited by ShneekeyTheLost; 2012-10-24 at 05:09 AM.
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    Default Re: DM trying to help a player with an archer build

    Thanks,

    I don't mind changing the fighter levels and a few feats but not the rogue levels, and he's pretty keen on them too.

    Your suggestion is worth a look though. Hopefully I'll get a few suggestions here and I'll be able to present him with options.

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    Default Re: DM trying to help a player with an archer build

    Quote Originally Posted by Koreapsu View Post
    Thanks,

    I don't mind changing the fighter levels and a few feats but not the rogue levels, and he's pretty keen on them too.

    Your suggestion is worth a look though. Hopefully I'll get a few suggestions here and I'll be able to present him with options.
    Eh, Scout is basically Rogue with the serial numbers filed off and some Ranger flavor thrown in for kicks. Less Party Face, more "BOOM! HEADSHOT!". Oh, and Trackless Step, for what it is worth.

    Go look up the class in Complete Adventurer. You'd be surprised how different they aren't.
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    Default Re: DM trying to help a player with an archer build

    The Scout can be described as the Rogue of the Forest.
    Pretty much the same skill sets, except to the likes of Bluff/Diplomacy.
    They have 8 skillpoints a level like the Rogue (unless this has been errata'd since my copy of CA was printed).
    They get Fast Movement.
    Their Skirmish not only give extra d6 to damage, but a bonus to AC as well (+5 at level 20).
    And yeah... That's about that.


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    Default Re: DM trying to help a player with an archer build

    I'll second Scout/Ranger with Swift Hunter because it is awesome.
    The other Archer-Build I know is:
    Cleric 20. Domains: Elf and Archery if I recollect. Feat he would take: Zen Archery and getting his 18 Dex into 18 Wis. Making it dex 12.
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    Default Re: DM trying to help a player with an archer build

    Quote Originally Posted by ShneekeyTheLost View Post
    Eh, Scout is basically Rogue with the serial numbers filed off and some Ranger flavor thrown in for kicks. Less Party Face, more "BOOM! HEADSHOT!". Oh, and Trackless Step, for what it is worth.

    Go look up the class in Complete Adventurer. You'd be surprised how different they aren't.


    Alrighty, so how would the rest of the progression go in your opinion?

    Sounds like an option he could go for.

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    Default Re: DM trying to help a player with an archer build

    You could have him switch from fighter to ranger: get rapid shot as bonus feat, plenty of skill points, easy access to ranger spells (through wands), favored enemy, no loss of BAB (compared with scout), and some outdoorsy class abilities.

    In general though, to be a viable archer rogue is very hard due to the 30' range requirement of sneak attack, and that you can't flank an opponent with ranged weapons.

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    Default Re: DM trying to help a player with an archer build

    Quote Originally Posted by ShneekeyTheLost View Post
    Eh, Scout is basically Rogue with the serial numbers filed off
    I don't know why but this amused me greatly

    Soulbow is also an option - the cool part is that you don't need to know or allow any other psionics for it to work. You can just fluff them as "Spirit Arrows" instead, and rain death at range from your empty hands.
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    Default Re: DM trying to help a player with an archer build

    You should probably check out this thing JaronK built.

    Alternatively, for a ToB approach, the custom disciplines of Falling Star, Iron Rain, or True Arrow might be your friends, leading into Thousand-Arrow Archer or Eaglewing Striker. With a quick refluff, even Black Rain might be a good idea. This would involve being a swordsage, though.


    Alternatively alternatively, dipping Targeteer Fighter 2 and taking the Dead-Eye feat gets you dex to damage twice within 30', which is most of that crossbow build up there in a nutshell, and if you really wanted to go all out, thrown weapons instead of archery nets you Master Thrower's Palm and Sneaky Shot abilities, which gives you double attacks (as well as taking advantage of TWF and Rapid Shot at the same time) and auto-sneak-attack, as outlined here.

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    Default Re: DM trying to help a player with an archer build

    Quote Originally Posted by Koreapsu View Post
    Alrighty, so how would the rest of the progression go in your opinion?

    Sounds like an option he could go for.
    3 levels of Scout, everything else in Ranger. Take Swift Hunter (Complete Scoundrel), Improved Skirmish (Complete Scoundrel), and Greater Manyshot. Add standard archery feats to taste. Pick various crit-immune favored enemies so Skirmish doesn't get negated against them.

    Alternatively, take Travel Devotion (Complete Champion) instead of Greater Manyshot. This is actually better in my opinion, but if you want to be good in more than one fight per day it requires either a 1 level dip in cleric (or other source of Turn/Rebuke Undead) or taking the feat multiple times. That means you either lose a bunch of feats or have to accept a game mechanical choice that might not fit the character's fluff. Then again, it's only 1 level and there are a ton of deities to choose from; if there's any deity that seems appealing to him you could say he's got just enough faith to have learned the basic rites without making it the center of his life.
    Last edited by Douglas; 2012-10-24 at 10:16 AM.
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    Default Re: DM trying to help a player with an archer build

    He needs more fighter levels and a much higher strength to do the most damage. That is unless he can get a reliable sneak attack trigger to use round after round. Rogues fail to SA and rogues miss. A lot. A low strength rogue is even farther behind because even his damage per hit, the only thing he has going for him, isn't spectacular. If you don't mind semi-cheese then a fighter build can pick up ranged weapon mastery (PHB2) and improved rapid shot (CW) and take off as a very powerful archer. Partly from the damage per hit, sure, but mainly from hitting so often when others miss. If everyone else is very strong and/or optimizes well then it goes from semi-cheese to perfectly acceptable.

    Swift hunter always struck me as a needlessly complicated way just to hit par. Sure you put a lot of optimization into it to get its tricks to work, but that doesn't mean it's spectacular. The above semi-cheese involves many fewer optimization tricks yet is head and shoulders above it in damage. What swift hunter is good for is if you want a skillmonkey too because it gets a lot of skills.

    You might do it the rogue way with grease but even then every time he moves to a new target he needs another grease which means the tactic still does much less damage overall. Rogues don't really take off until greater invisibility or a ring of blinking. Even greater invis burns a round while blink has a 20% miss chance. The only rogue I know of that's more effective than a fighter, maybe or maybe not a IRS+RWM fighter, is a pixie rogue archer for its all day greater invis and other nice abilities. The only drawback with that is that he won't even get touched for a long time and then boom, 1 shot dead before he can heal. Still if he can be untouchable long enough it could be worth it.
    Last edited by ericgrau; 2012-10-24 at 01:22 PM.
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    Default Re: DM trying to help a player with an archer build

    Quote Originally Posted by Gwendol View Post
    You could have him switch from fighter to ranger: get rapid shot as bonus feat, plenty of skill points, easy access to ranger spells (through wands), favored enemy, no loss of BAB (compared with scout), and some outdoorsy class abilities.

    In general though, to be a viable archer rogue is very hard due to the 30' range requirement of sneak attack, and that you can't flank an opponent with ranged weapons.
    Crossbow sniper says no. :/ Granted crossbows are not the ideal archer items, but eh, that extra 30 feet is the difference between being in the AOE of a now very pissed off wizard and fighters, or not being in it and laughing at the very PO'd wizard if he was dumb enough to not plan a contingency spell for his contingency spell.

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    Default Re: DM trying to help a player with an archer build

    How about Swift Ambusher and Swift Hunter ?
    1 level Rogue
    1 level Ranger
    and 18 levels of Scout?

    Progresses Sneak attack, Favored enemies and Skirmish at the same time ! pretty cool.
    I suggest in addition Expeditious Dodge, mobility, Shot on the Run chain and improved skirmish as a base tactic
    Rejakor corrected me. Please ignore this suggestion, I was mistaken :)
    Last edited by ZaSeroulIs; 2012-10-24 at 01:39 PM.

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    Default Re: DM trying to help a player with an archer build

    ericgrau - it's trivial to get dex to damage with ranged weapons, which offsets the lack of damage issues. Also i'm not really getting the whole Improved Rapid Shot/Ranged Weapon Mastery thing - you mean IRS gives an extra attack at no penalty for the feat chain of PBS-RS-IRS, and RWM gives +2 to hit and +2 to damage? Not exactly... cheese-related..

    If he wants to make a crossbow sniper, check out JaronK's thing. The key part is targeteer fighter 2, the dead-eye feat, and the crossbow sniper feat - the rest is just trimming (oh, and hand crossbow focus to get free action reloading to full attack with a crossbow). You don't even need crossbow sniper really, deadeye and targeteer still work without it, just from closer range.

    Other than that, Hank's bow, splitting, composite bows(although not so much with the anemic str score), goggles of foe finding, all that stuff.


    People go Swift Hunter, swift hunter, omg swift hunter, a lot, but honestly it's not that amazing. A volley archer does more damage, and swift hunters have to make even less choices than the average archer (because they are constantly moving away from anything that might threaten them) so it's a recipe for boredom.

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    Default Re: DM trying to help a player with an archer build

    Progresses Sneak attack
    Doesn't actually do what you're saying it does.

    Also Shot on the Run is a waste of a feat, as is any form of dodge and mobility.

    The feat you are looking for is called Greater Manyshot.

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    Default Re: DM trying to help a player with an archer build

    IRS + RWM is an effective +4 to hit and +2 damage. Because come on when do you not use RS? This is 30-40% more damage. That is not small. It doesn't infinite loop the universe into collapsing, but it's plenty to overshadow. Or plenty to catch up, if your'e being overshadowed. I know people tend to ignore hits from attack bonus and only look at damage per hit, but they really shouldn't.

    Add that to medium BAB and the difference in number of hits is huge. Enough to throw away all that bonus damage you worked so hard to get and more because your attacks keep missing, assuming you even managed a trigger if it's a rogue.

    Fine pick up dex to damage too if it's worth the trouble for +2 to +3 damage. But don't ignore attack bonus. Agreed that volley archers do more damage, though a big chunk of that is IRS+RWM.
    Last edited by ericgrau; 2012-10-24 at 02:15 PM.
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    Default Re: DM trying to help a player with an archer build

    Typically from what i've seen archers don't really have huge trouble missing.

    There are so many incidental bonuses to hit in archery that you tend to pick up a bunch without even trying.

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    Default Re: DM trying to help a player with an archer build

    More hits > less hits no matter how many hits you already have.

    They hit most of the time. Hitting all the time comes to about 30% more hits than hitting most of the time, which means 30% more damage from attack bonus alone. Not even including damage bonuses which add even more at early levels.

    It makes an even bigger difference once you get secondary and terciary attacks. 30% more damage is likely a low estimate. It probably stays at +40% at low levels from the extra damage and +40% at high levels from the attacks with penalties. Even if your primary attack hits on a 2 an extra hit is an extra hit as now your penalized attacks are hitting as well.

    Boredom is an issue, yes, with or without swift hunter. Besides ways to get skills without losing BAB, I've had success with carrying a billion utility magic items (like any mundane character could) and funky arrows. Bane, strange metal types, ghost touch, etc. At low level even special arrows like sleep arrows are viable, as is drow poison. Even if they pass the low DC save it still does regular damage, and when they fail it's wonderful. Once you crank up your attack bonus if you have feats leftover you can grab tricky feats like ranged disarm if the types of foes you face allows it.
    Last edited by ericgrau; 2012-10-24 at 02:30 PM.
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    Default Re: DM trying to help a player with an archer build

    You could just go Fighter, or Ranger, or really any full BAB class and get Hank's Energy bow

    Solves the damage issue (you can power attack with it), good damage. Get all the relevant feats (rapid shot, precise shot, point blank shot).

    Actually...

    Go Sneak attack fighter/Assassin.
    Sneak attack fighter is a fighter variant which doesn't get bonus feats but gets sneak attack as rogue. (you can find it in the srd)
    You don't need that many feats to be an archer, anyway.

    With pure sneak attack fighter you won't be super optimized, but it's pretty straightforward, you can get good sneak attack damage, and when you can't activate it you can still Rapid shot for some decent damage (assuming you get that Energy bow).

    There is an Assassin spell which lets you sneak attack from further away than 30 feet, it might be useful
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    Default Re: DM trying to help a player with an archer build

    Yeah, but except against very high AC enemies, I don't see archers miss much. Like, maybe their tertiary attack (although I haven't played that many games that get to 16 BAB, so maybe it changes after that) misses 30 to 40% of the time, but other than that, they're missing maybe 1, at worst 2, attacks out of a 10 attack full attack... also unless a monster is specifically an AC monster most monsters have very low AC... Most archers usually start with at least a 16 in dex, and often are full BAB and then there's all these stupid magic items that give piddly bonuses to archery... I should probably run the math on this, as I haven't, but just my anecdotal evidence doesn't have archers missing anywhere near as much as non wraithstrike melee do.

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    Default Re: DM trying to help a player with an archer build

    They do miss: http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showp...26&postcount=5
    One way or another you need to get more attack bonus. If not through feats, then list the sources for his use rather than assuming he already has them. He may or may not have access to certain buffs or items, too, so it's good to ask about.
    Last edited by ericgrau; 2012-10-24 at 03:45 PM.
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    Default Re: DM trying to help a player with an archer build

    I'm posting briefly because I'm between classes, and I'll come edit this later to expand what I'm saying, but I would highly recommend allowing either/or the Zen Archer monk from Pathfinder and many of the archery feats found in Pathfinder, especially Clustered Shot and Deadly Aim.

    EDIT: So, the Zen Archer's deal is that it lets the Monk use its bonus feats for Archery related abilities, as well as letting the Monk flurry with arrows instead of fists/monk weapons. It also lets the Monk (at level 3, I think) use Wisdom to hit instead of Dexterity. A level 6 Zen Archer can have basically all of the worthwhile archery feats. It also can justify ignoring Dexterity, reducing the normal MAD of Monks. I understand that this is probably not a choice you're going with, given that it's a character retool.

    The two feats I mentioned are great for archers. Clustered Shot allows you to total your damage for a full attack before DR is applied, meaning that the archer is free to go nuts on multiple attacks in a round. Deadly Aim is Power Attack for archers. Highly recommended.
    Last edited by RFLS; 2012-10-24 at 05:15 PM.
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    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: DM trying to help a player with an archer build

    Well, take level 7.

    Avg 18, max 25 AC.

    Prospective Archer 1 is an elf because elves are cool. He has 18 dex, and a BAB of 6, because he dipped rogue. He's wielding a +2 Composite Longbow, because he's a cool kid, and he's got Bracers of Archery +1, because he is an archer. He's also got some nifty Gloves of Dexterity +2, making his Dex 20. So, adding all that up, that's +5 dex +6 BAB +2 bow +1 bracers = +14 to hit. With PBS and RS, that's +13 to hit.

    Which is less than I thought it would be, so you possibly have a point.. or i'm missing some bonus to-hit somewhere. I mean, there could be a cleric buff for another +3, and a bard for another +3 as well, which would be entering auto-hit territory, and I don't really play archers so I haven't looked at MiC or anything for gear for them.

    Still, I guess that's worth spending a feat or two on.

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    Default Re: DM trying to help a player with an archer build

    Great help so far guys.

    Our next session is 10 days away so I'll be going over all of this and trying to give him some options.

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    Default Re: DM trying to help a player with an archer build

    Silly idea #34

    Have not only the bow be magical, but the arrows as well. Then combine those with poisons. Not the same types of magics and poisons of course, but if you can work out the costs you could make even Hawkeye jealous of the range of utility/damaging arrows your archer has.

    Of course, that would be very silly and very expensive.
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    Default Re: DM trying to help a player with an archer build

    Quote Originally Posted by VanIsleKnight View Post
    Silly idea #34

    Have not only the bow be magical, but the arrows as well. Then combine those with poisons. Not the same types of magics and poisons of course, but if you can work out the costs you could make even Hawkeye jealous of the range of utility/damaging arrows your archer has.

    Of course, that would be very silly and very expensive.
    Not actually very silly if you can get Raptor Arrows, as they are reusable, and IIRC auto-return too. Grab a few of them and stuff various enchantments on and you have a nice powerhouse. (Put the always-on abilities on the bow, of course, and the situational abilities on the arrows.)
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  28. - Top - End - #28
    Barbarian in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jan 2012

    Default Re: DM trying to help a player with an archer build

    If you go the skirmish route, pick up travel devotion. Couple it with nightsticks and ranks in UMD for a couple of more shots of TD a day.

  29. - Top - End - #29
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    gorfnab's Avatar

    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Minot, ND
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: DM trying to help a player with an archer build

    Here is a basic Swift Hunter Archer build. Also there is this guide: The Swift Hunter's Handbook

    1. Scout - Point Blank Shot
    2. Scout
    3. Scout - Precise Shot
    4. Ranger - Arcane Hunter ACF, B: Track
    5. Scout - B: Swift Hunter
    6. Scout - Nemesis, Darkstalker, Dead Eye or *Combat Reflexes
    7. Ranger - B: Rapid Shot
    8. Ranger - B: Endurance
    9. Ranger - Distracting Attack ACF, Sword of the Arcane Order or *Ranged Threat (or any of the other feats not taken at level 6)
    10. Ranger
    11. Ranger - B: Manyshot
    12. Ranger - Greater Manyshot
    13. Ranger
    14. Ranger - Spell Reflection ACF
    15. Ranger - Practiced Spellcaster
    16. Ranger - B: Improved Precise Shot
    17. Ranger
    18. Ranger - Improved Skirmish
    19. Ranger
    20. Ranger

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Banned
     
    SolithKnightGuy

    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Sydnah, Australia
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: DM trying to help a player with an archer build

    Swift Hunter is kind of easy and works alright. That's why people like to use it. It has a bit of a hiccup unless you dip cleric for travel devotion, or are starting at a high enough level for Greater Manyshot, though.

    Other kinds of archers are for the people who want to tool around with their character a bit more - either messing around with stealth mechanics (rogue based archer) or crazy feats like Ranged Sunder (Fighter based archer).

    Both the rogue and fighter based archer do comparable or better damage than the swift hunter, they just require a bit more knowledge of feats and such. So it depends on what kind of playstyle you want to do.

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