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# So do I ever not Rapid Shot (and other archery questions)

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So I just made my first ever archer, a human fighter (no archetype) with Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot and Rapid Shot at first level. I played up a tier in my first PFS game with him, and did pretty well. But there were a few bad fights where I just couldn't hit the broad side of a barn and one of the other players commented that I shouldn't be rapid shotting so much since the enemies had cover. (It was actually due to the fact they they had cover and I couldn't roll higher than about a 9 to save my life. My dice are another story.)

But that got me thinking: When should I be using rapid shot and when should I just take a single shot? That's realtively easy to figure out, but I've also got other questions. But first, Rapid Shot:

So I created a spreadsheet to give myself a handy chart of when the expected damage of a Rapid Shot would be higher than taking a single shot. Turns out they are even when Rapid Shot forces you to roll a 19+ to hit and taking one shot is unambiguously better when you could hit on an 18+ or Rapid Shot on a 20. So, the vast majority of the time, rapid shot is a big winner.

The spreadsheet is here. It's a pretty simple chart, but suggested improvements are welcome. I intended to use it as a reference in games, but really, there are only very limited situations when Rapid Shot is worse than taking a single shot, so I haven't actually used it yet.

Spoiler:

Out of curiosity, I calculated the probability of hitting at least 1 arrow with a Rapid Shot based on the probability of 1 arrow hitting. Again, Rapid Shot has a higher probability of hitting 1 arrow until you need to roll exactly 20 with Rapid Shot but 18+ without it.

So, my other questions about how to play an archer are:

* What order should I get my feats? I already have Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot and Rapid Shot (yay human fighter.) Should I get Weapon Focus first, or Deadly Aim? I'm tempted to go for the latter since I'm doing as well as the level 3 PCs on damage when they aren't standing in front of me giving the bad guys cover, and weapon focus isn't enough to negate that. But I'm not sure.

* Should I hold off on buying a magic bow until I can afford to go with something like a mighty composite bow (+6 strength rating) and put Adaptive on it when I enchant it to +1? That will give me a lot more flexibility, but the way the Pathfinder Society rules go, I won't have enough fame to get that until some time during my 4th level. Is the extra point of damage for a couple levels worth the loss of flexibility down the road? (The adaptive enchant allows you to use a composite bow at any strength rating up to its max at no penalty. I think it only lets you go down, not up, though, so if I have 16 str and a +3 bow then get bull's strength I get no benefit, but if I have a +6 adaptive bow and get Bull's Strength I go up from +3 to +5 damage.)

* How valuable is the Snapshot line of feats? I can count the number of times I've seen GM run monsters eat an AoO. Admittedly I haven't been playing long, and I would probably be able to get an initial AoO off since nobody expects an archer to make AoOs. Or is this more about limiting the other side's options than getting in extra attacks? Are there other feats more useful than these?

* Any suggestions on avoiding LOS/cover issues? Most Pathfinder Society scenarios I've seen have focused on indoor combat and restricted spaces. Do I just grin and bear it until 5th level when I can get Point Blank Master? (And remind people to "please not stand in front of the guy with the bow! He would totally make a called shot on your bum if it weren't for the rules against pvp." Seriously, I've had people go "I can't get all the way there, so I'll just move forward, then over 1 space... right in front of the archer, so another meleer can... not make it all the way to the bad guys either.)

* Arrows: Blunt arrows do bludgeoning damage just as if they were normal arrows? That sounds too good to be true. And should I just be buying cold iron arrows and weapon blanches for max flexibility?

What other tricks of the trade do I not realize I'm missing?

Indeed, Rapid Shot is basically always an improvement. An unfortunately large portion of the population is pretty bad at statistics, and it comes out in advice like "don't Rapid Shot!" On your questions:

1)It is really up to you. You'll only have to live with it for a level, after all. Deadly Aim is probably "better," but at such low level the roll of the die makes things swingy enough that you can't really be sure if it will take one or two shots to take down an enemy regardless. Personally, I prefer consistency, and that is what Weapon Focus brings.

2)Not totally familiar with PFS (or UE enhancements, for that matter), but from what you have said I would go with "wait." Low level adventures tend to be cakewalks, as well as going by quickly. If you only have to wait until 4th level, I think it will be much of a problem.

3)It depends. I don't consider basic Snap Shot to be that great, but Improved Snap Shot + Combat Reflexes can really cut through a hoard of mooks (or at least soften them up). For an AP I'd say I'm not a fan, simply because by the time you have Improved Snap Shot enemies tend to have enough reach to get around it. However, I have been told PFS is heavy on medium sized humanoids, so it will probably get more use there. As a human fighter I'd probably take it, just because your pile of feats makes it less of an investment comparatively.

4)Tell people not to be crumby at tactics. Otherwise, Improved Precise Shot is really your only choice, and that requires level 11 unless you are a Ranger. If this is a problem I'd actually rescind my recommendation of Snap Shot, as even soft cover prevents AoO.

5)Yep. I usually reserve them for various Sap Master tricks, but they can also be nice for skeletons and other DR/Bludgeoning creatures. And yes, one of the big advantages is keeping a sack of cheap special material arrows just in case. I'd also recommend common bane types, holy arrows, and a few elemental types for regeneration. Not having to waste +Xs on your main weapon is one of the many advantages of being an archer.

Other than that, it seems like you have it pretty much covered. Good luck, and good adventuring!

Yes, always Rapid Shot. And you're correct on Deadly Aim. I'm in a high power gestalt (play two classes, get the best from each) game at high levels and discovered that my damage per shot was SO high that Deadly Aim's attack penalty was hurting me more than the damage bonus helped, and asked the DM to retrain it. If you've got good strength, a decent enhancement, gravity bow, maybe some source of bonus damage like weapon specialization... oftentimes you're better off not spending a feat on Deadly Aim. In general, it's better at lower levels and should be dumped at level ~ 8-16, depending on how fast you manage to scale up your damage per shot. In my experience, at least.

1. Keep in mind, one of the Fighter's class features is being able to throw away low level feats every 4th level to get higher level ones he could not have previously qualified for. Use this. For example, at level 4... you can take Weapon Specialization. But then there's Point Blank Master, which is awesome but requires WS. Guess you just have to tough it out one more level, eh? Nope! Drop an earlier feat and pick it up right then and there! You have the big 3, so you're pretty set. Just as long as you have Weapon Focus and [expendable feat] before level 4, you'll be good. Also keep in mind, nothing is stopping you from say... taking Deadly Aim, swapping it out at 4, getting it back at 5, swapping it out for another new shiny at 8 and getting it back at 9... Just for example.

2. You might want to do this. Didn't know Adaptive capped at the bow's max, that's kind of annoying. Life could be rough till you get the +1 adaptive bow, though. Consider getting some oils of magic weapon as a backup till then. Of course, level 6-7 (I'd get Manyshot first, but your call) brings Clustered Shots feat, after which point DR is nary a problem at all.

3. Basic Snap Shot is crap, IMO. Improved Snap Shot is what makes the line work (Greater sucks, skip it unless you have nothing better to take), but isn't an option till level 9. So if you're doing Snap Shot line, might want to use the swap out deal at Fighter 8 to pick up both Snap Shot and Combat Reflexes, then next level up you can just get Improved Snap Shot and be all set up. I think Improved Snap Shot is worthwhile to help protect the mages, as you'll probably be in the back near them and this provides a 15 ft halo of protection. To really be useful, you want to add in the Pin Down feat, which requires BAB +11. That's a really sticky point for feats, though, as Improved Precise Shot is BAB +11 and a must have. Other feats are also becoming available at 11-12 range, so you'd most likely be getting Pin Down at level 12, possibly via a swap-out. I realize PFS ends at 12, so you may not want to bother with the Snap Shot line, it starts getting good right when the game ends.

4. You can get PBM at 4. :) The -4 for soft cover will be something you just have to grin and bear till 11, sadly. That's the worst part of fighter archers - no means of getting IPS early. When possible, try to move off to the left or right side a bit and get an angle where the shot doesn't pass through an ally's square.

5. Yes. Lots of cold iron arrows, lots of bludgeoning. Any other special arrows that PFS allows? Any that are cheap are usually worth stocking some of.

Check how PFS rules bucklers for an archer. It's been pretty heavily debated whether the wording means you just get the buckler's AC bonus 24/7 along with no attack penalty, or simply avoid the attack penalty and only get the AC bonus on rounds not shooting. Obviously, former case is ideal, but even the latter means walking around with a 15 gp piece of metal strapped to your arm is +1 AC against attacks before you can act and is worth using.

Do they allow alchemical silver arrows? If so, is it possible to make your blunt arrows silver? That way you can deal silver and bludgeoning damage without the damage penalty.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Hey, look, I used Rapid Shot to post!

Bonus content: The adaptive ability doesn't have a limit; it adapts to the user's Str. The user can choose a lower Str, if desired, too.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
StreamOfTheSky wrote:
1. Keep in mind, one of the Fighter's class features is being able to throw away low level feats every 4th level to get higher level ones he could not have previously qualified for. Use this. For example, at level 4... you can take Weapon Specialization. But then there's Point Blank Master, which is awesome but requires WS. Guess you just have to tough it out one more level, eh? Nope! Drop an earlier feat and pick it up right then and there! You have the big 3, so you're pretty set. Just as long as you have Weapon Focus and [expendable feat] before level 4, you'll be good. Also keep in mind, nothing is stopping you from say... taking Deadly Aim, swapping it out at 4, getting it back at 5, swapping it out for another new shiny at 8 and getting it back at 9... Just for example.

Note that fighters can only swap out bonus feats. If you take Deadly Aim at 5th level, it isn't as a fighter bonus feat, so you can't swap it later.

Rapid shot is -2 to hit. This means -10% hit chance. However, a second chance with the desire of 'at least 1 hit' is going to always be better than a single 10% more likely shot.

Also, we're talking about known results, not expected predictions. You know your roll. And while you may not know the AC, you could easily track your rolls and have the GM let you know how many shots would have hit should it have been a single shot. That could help your argument.

Or you know, just say "I rapid shot because MATH!"

You should rapid shot *unless* you need an 18 or above to hit. This is assuming a x3 crit bow with no STR rating.

I've been messing with archer builds lately, and I'm starting to question the value of deadly aim compared to other damage boosting feats.

Weapon Specialization = +2 damage, no attack penalty
Focused Shot = Add your Int bonus if you're inside 30 ft, no attack penalty. (My fighters always a have at least a +1 for the extra skill ranks)
Vital Strike = roll your weapon damage twice before adding bonuses, no attack penalty (This is typically used by melee fighters, but I don't see any restriction vs. ranged attacks)

And my new favorite:
Clustered Shots = total the damage of all the arrows you fire in a single round together before applying damage reduction

Manyshot has no penalty, it's just pure extra damage. It sucks for a rogue archer (who sucks anyway), but for someone with a hgih str, bonus damage, etc... it can be a lot. If your arrows do 12 damage on average, that's +12 damage per round most rounds.
Manyshot makes you really hate people w/ deflect arrows, though. :)

I love clustered shots, but unless DR is really common in your game, I think getting manyshot first is better. Both become available at the same level.

Focused Shot and Vital Strike are not relevant, as you cannot full attack with them. So they'd have to surpass rapid shot to be worth taking, which of course they don't.
Weapon Specialization is a fighter-only deal, so if it's better than deadly aim, that's not too surprising. And it has actual pre-reqs.

I know this post is really old, but I see an error in the spreadsheet. The B side of the chart is slightly higher than it should be over the course of the entire chart. Doing quick math, the only time rolling a single shot is better than rapid shooting is when the target requires rolling an 18 (exact) to hit (0.15 | 0.10)

Ten cents worth, in no particular order:

* If I don't have Improved Precise Shot (read: most or all of your lifespan in PFS if you're not a ranger), it's much better to move go around a -4 soft cover penalty and then take a Vital Strike shot at your full attack bonus for 2d8+(whatever), than it is to full-attack Rapid Shot through the concealment at -6/-6 for 2x(d8+whatever). So, in that fairly common situation, Vital Strike is a good investment (and even better when you run into constructs).

* I like Quick Draw. I think it's one of the best, if not the best, combat feats in the game. And almost nobody takes it.

* Don't buy a crummy STR=0 bow at first level. Walk around with a pair of javelins like ski-poles and Rapid Shot double-throw them. (Remember what I said about Quick Draw? Very handy here for subsequent rounds. Quickdraw two more javelins and throw both again!)

* Don't buy any bow that isn't masterwork.

* You don't need a magic bow; you need magic ammunition.

* Intelligent monsters love to sunder bows, because archers are delicious. So....

* Have a melee weapon. Have several. I recommend a cold-iron bardiche and a silver morningstar. -- Never be useless when denied your primary gimmick. Don't be a one-trick pony in PFS, because table composition is highly variable.

* If your STR is 14+, Power Attack is a more important feat than Deadly Aim. (It paves the way to Improved Bull Rush, when can aid you greatly in the "sardine fights" which develop in buildings, fog-fights, and summon-into-party. IBR...speaking of other awesome feats nobody ever takes.)

* Train pets to fetch the weapons you drop (as when prior to quickdrawing something else).

* Get your will save up. Enemy caster sees a dude with a bow who doesn't have pointy ears, he knows there's an easy mark for Glitterdust.

"Aww... Look at the pretty sparkles! They're so *beautiful*!"

Wow, thugsalot sure has some opinions on a bow.

Anyway, deadly aim is basically always worth it as well! It is pretty great and your damage will be higher overall. The cool thing with deadly aim is that it is better when something is harder to hit AND when they are easier to hit! There is basically a tiny middle where it isn't better.

A magic bow makes your arrows magical, so you don't need magical ammo at all really! It might be worth it to carry some ghost touch arrows around though, even though they are expensive incorporeal things SUCK so it is nice to be able to hurt them.

The last note I have is that special material for your arrows is great! Cold iron arrows are basically the same price, and are very helpful for going through a common dr. Also don't forget about blunt arrows! Amazing for when you are fighting something like an ooze, and they are cheap too

Beyond the first few levels, there's really no reason why all your standard arrows shouldn't be cold iron AND silver-blanched. The cost is negligible for the benefits. Who needs knowledge checks? Just hit them with everything at once.

It is also useful to carry some adamantium arrows (once again weapon blanch is significantly cheaper) and blunt arrows in case you run into something particulary tough or resistant to piercing. Slashing is the only really hard DR to overcome with a bow.

The reason you may want to swap out Deadly Aim at highest levels is that 12 hits quite hard, but not as hard as getting another two hits in instead of missing with numbers six and seven.

Until then you'll happily be hitting like a bloody truck, but if you're really optimizing on damage then yes, eventually you may want to drop it.