Archery Rogue - Can It Be Done?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


I know it can be done, but could a viable build exist for a bow-or-crossbow rogue (as compared to, say, a two-weapon-fighting or spring-attacking rogue)?

The problem I am of course encountering is how to trigger sneak attacks past the surprise round and first round of combat. Generating concealment and hiding is an option, but not a very good one since full attacks and rapid shots are right out if I have to spend a move action to hide each round.

I am sure this idea is not a new one... has anyone given much thought to this before? What is the general consensus on the "ranged rogue"?


You end up hiding and moving one round, attacking from range the next. My wife ran an assassin, and this was her MO. She was allergic to melee combat until she got a wounding rapier AND a poison dagger :P

It is certainly doable, and generally affords less risk to the character, but it does halve your damage output.

Some of that could be mitigated by using a heavy crossbow, using Vital Strike, and having Crossbow Mastery to reload as a free action, but it still will be less than a rapid/multi/full attack + Deadly Aim + SA. I would go with the bow and just live with the knowledge that you will do less damage, but hopefully you will also TAKE less.

Silver Crusade

If you find a way to do it let me know. Ranged attacks can not be flanking so you don't get your sneek attack damage past the first round. Only melee attacks can be flanking with some one on the other side of you.

As a DM I don't see me allowing a feat or any ability to do this as it wold up set game balance. But thats more up to your DM.


Rake wrote:

I know it can be done, but could a viable build exist for a bow-or-crossbow rogue (as compared to, say, a two-weapon-fighting or spring-attacking rogue)?

The problem I am of course encountering is how to trigger sneak attacks past the surprise round and first round of combat. Generating concealment and hiding is an option, but not a very good one since full attacks and rapid shots are right out if I have to spend a move action to hide each round.

I am sure this idea is not a new one... has anyone given much thought to this before? What is the general consensus on the "ranged rogue"?

Without getting into a whole "look at my character" thing, the simple answer is hell yes. Especially if you take 4 fighter levels at some point, which are very, very worth it.

In 3.5, I managed to create the most deadly character our group had seen in a while, and he was a fighter/rogue crossbowman. I ran him through RotRL, and it was crazy. By the end of it, it got to the point where I wouldn't even bother sneak attacking any more.

And he was done by the book in a middle-of-the-road fantasy game, with no third party splatbooks. Just WotC Core with the PF Campaign Setting and Pathfinder players guide for that campaign (for crossbow mastery and big game hunter, specifically). Otherwise, he was just all archer feats, imp. critical, etc. Levels of fighter let him specialize, and he flip flopped between the two until 4th level, then road rogue all the way out.

So, yes, you can do it, and it is fun and effective.

Brandon


Mirror, Mirror wrote:
Some of that could be mitigated by using a heavy crossbow, using Vital Strike, and having Crossbow Mastery to reload as a free action, but it still will be less than a rapid/multi/full attack + Deadly Aim + SA. I would go with the bow and just live with the knowledge that you will do less damage, but hopefully you will also TAKE less.

Not bad... so: what is the best, cheapest, easiest, most reliable way for a rogue to generate concealment and cover with which to hide in (using Pathfinder material - no 3.5 splat)?


I played a reasonably successful ranger/rogue through Shackled City (using Pathfinder rules.) It was definitely slow-going early on, but rose up the power curve in later levels. I believe a big part of that however, was due to a large party size and being low on the totem pole for choice items, buffs, etc.

If your party can set you up to leave enemies flat-footed (blind, stun, etc.) then you can go with traditional archery build options. Rapid shot away.

The route I went requires the DM to allow stealth to be used in combat, and for there to be some terrain that will get you concealment or cover on a regular basis. I eventually took Shadowdancer levels, which would have helped earlier if I had a real plan for this guy from the beginning. Darvision and Hide in Plain Sight means you can pull off scouting duty in dungeons, and also gives much more opportunities to use stealth in combat. Improved Precise Shot helps tremendously when you're shooting from/through concealment.

I ended up ranger10/rogue4/shadowdancer2, utilizing Vital Strike, Deadly Aim, Sneak Attack, (and Favored Enemy when applicable) to fire off one good shot per round. Fast Stealth and Favored Terrains helped me stay mobile while keeping a great stealth modifier. When the opportunity arose, I'd let off a full attack on a flat-footed enemy and rack up some really nice damage (even without Rapid Shot.)

I had relatively mediocre stats (we rolled, and I rolled ... poorly, at least compared to the melee beasts) and wasn't a top tier combatant in our group. (Fighter with ridic stats and barbarian stole that show.) But I was able to hit soft targets while the melee was tied up, and Slow Reactions (rogue talent) helped at times for the melee to get in on big creatures with reach. Readied Vital Strike shots from stealth does a number on disrupting casters too.


Rake wrote:
Not bad... so: what is the best, cheapest, easiest, most reliable way for a rogue to generate concealment and cover with which to hide in (using Pathfinder material - no 3.5 splat)?

Possibly a Ring of Invisibility for 20,000 gold or a other magical item that could allow you to enter a state or place an enemy in a state where they do not gain their dexterity-to-armor, hopefully allowing you to Sneak Attack from 30 feet with impunity.

I'd also suggest Spring Attack so you can move, fire an arrow (or a volley if you can find a mechanics way of doing so) and then move again, so the enemy must either always be running after you to do any real damage or so you can take cover behind the Party Tank(s), run out, shoot, and then run behind another high AC or Spell-Resistance-Heavy meatshield er party member.

Perhaps a Helm of Illusions, allowing you to set up an illusory double or some other bluff that makes the enemy turn their backs to you or otherwise lose interest in the 'skinny looking guy with the bow' so you can use their distraction to your advantage. Alteratives are Arrows of Blinding, making the enemy Cower, Helpless (paralyzed, bound ir asleep) or Stunned.

Given your focus on ranged combat, I'd recommend weapons that can either inflict the above status effects via unique magical enhancements or failing that, the good old tried-and-true Poison as you Crafting skill. Sucker the good-aligned by taking a few ranks in Heal and using Bluff to come across as a man (or woman) of medicine who carries poison with them to know what sort of antidotes to create to counter them and to identify potential murderers, and you'll be in like flynn with the Guards in no time .... and can fleece them to your heart's desire.

Sleep Arrows would be your beginning opening shot, since you can shoot a target at low levels and odds are on your side to make them fall asleep so you can then walk up and coup-de-grace them, or failing that a Spell Storing Shortbow or Repeating Crossbow so you can slip something nasty into the BBEG with a ranged melee attack. Couple a spell with a poison for some stacking fun. Couple a Baleful Polymorph Spell with Drow Poison-coated arrow or bolt and take the snoring sheep that was once the High Cleric threatening to flay your genitals off with your own intestines off back up to the surface, shear it just to put the boot in and then toss it to the authorities and their anti-magic special prisoner cell.

Alternatively Poison just stacks on it's own, increasing the number of throws an Enemy must make and also the DC to save against the poison. Pelt the enemy with enough arrows/bolts coated with Cenitpede or Wasp venom and you'll not only drop their dexterity down to 0 but also will have chipped away at their AC for the other party-members who are going in for the melee or for the casters who are trying to pull off a Touch Attack or Ranged Touch Attack.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

If I remember correctly there were some skill tricks in complete scoundrel that were helpful for this. There is also the possibility of a homebrew feat that my group used that allowed you to feint at a penalty at a distance of up to 30ft (penalty scaled with the distance).


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Improve use magic device and cast grease with a wand under your enemies. Tanglefoot bags (although I think these are BS).

I'm not sure if it changed in 3.5, and it's not cheap, but in the long run buy a ring of blinking! You won't regret it. It's even better than a ring of invisibility. While blinking your attacks are sneak attacks.

Source:
When an attacker is using blink itself, it has a 20% miss chance (because it sometimes finds itself ethereal when its attack strikes home). This miss chance also does not interfere with the attacker's sneak attacks. In fact, a blinking attacker strikes as an invisible creature, and its foes are denied Dexterity bonus (if any) to Armor Class and that makes sneak attacks possible. If the blinking attacker's target can see ethereal opponents, that foe retains Dexterity bonus (if any) to Armor Class and cannot be sneak attacked unless flat-footed or flanked. Because a blinking attacker's "invisibility" is actually etherealness, blindsight does not allow a foe to retain its Dexterity bonus against the attacker, and blindsight does not reduce the miss chance for attacks against the blinking combatant.

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/rg/20040224a


The best way to do this is to realize that the sneak attack is the gravy, not the meal.

Build a strong, dextrous character with the usual archery feats (Point blank, precise, rapid shot) and get deadly aim as fast as possible.

If you can do this, then you'll be able to alternate between sneak and shoot and taking full attacks, depending on circumstances.

--------------------------------------------------------------
That said, there were some questions earlier, so the two best core ways to get sneak attack is to pick up improved initiative and to buy a bunch of smokesticks.

And, if you're creating a rogue acher from scratch, think carefully about darkvision. If you're out in the darkness, you're sneak attacking.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

I would personally consider it like this: doing sneak attack damage less often is a fair tradeoff for staying out of harm's way most of the time. I realize many will disagree.

But I would design a ranged rogue as a scout-like character--someone who is EXTREMELY stealthy, someone who does a great job taking care of the party OUT of combat with his perception and other abilities. Their combat damage output would be secondary to everything else (but when they do set up a proper snipe it will be devastating), but they would still be an effective, well-used, appreciated character who always has something to do. If a big nasty melee comes down and the front fighters get hurt, the rogue can scamper in (hiding if possible, or tumbling to avoid AOOs) to get to the meleers and pour a cure potion down their throat, not having taken any damage yet because he's been staying out of the way.

But if you don't like that--rkraus's suggestion toward Deadly Aim is a great idea.

Remember also that some of the higher archery feats are nasty in other ways--frex, Improved Precise Shot doesn't add to damage, but it will help you hit a target you otherwise may well miss to begin with. Some damage is better than none.

Another option would be to look at the Arcane Trickster. A Rogue/Arcanist works well as a ranged build to begin with, and both being able to cast stuff like Invisibility AND using the PrC's Impromptu Sneak Attack would be able to help you, to an extent, keep your sneak attack output higher than you otherwise might expect. "Heya! It's just me!" *TWANG* *thud*


Pump up your initiative. Getting a full attack against nearby flatfooted targets that haven't acted yet with a sneak attack on each in the first round can make a huge difference.


Rake wrote:
Mirror, Mirror wrote:
Some of that could be mitigated by using a heavy crossbow, using Vital Strike, and having Crossbow Mastery to reload as a free action, but it still will be less than a rapid/multi/full attack + Deadly Aim + SA. I would go with the bow and just live with the knowledge that you will do less damage, but hopefully you will also TAKE less.
Not bad... so: what is the best, cheapest, easiest, most reliable way for a rogue to generate concealment and cover with which to hide in (using Pathfinder material - no 3.5 splat)?

Wand of Invisibility, to start. Or just dive for the nearest cover to no longer be in line of sight, then make a stealth check to fire from around the corner. There is some dispute, but that tactic should work, even RAW.

Dark Archive RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

Get a spell-storing bow and a wand of blindness/deafness. It's probably not all that effective, but on the rare chance that you fight something with a crappy Fort save, your first shot will blind them and then it's pure sneak attack from then on!


Rake wrote:


I am sure this idea is not a new one... has anyone given much thought to this before? What is the general consensus on the "ranged rogue"?

The first solution is to realize that you're not going solo. A greater invisibility spell will do, but a tiny hut is actually the best and it's lower level assuming your targets aren't mobile.

What is the rest of the party like?

If you can get someone that's willing to spend round 1 giving you a buff/spell then you are more than viable.

If you can't, take leadership or get an item that will do it for you.

The real questions here are:

What do you want out of the character?

Why archer? Why Rogue?

What does each mean to you?

-James

The Exchange

Rake wrote:

I know it can be done, but could a viable build exist for a bow-or-crossbow rogue (as compared to, say, a two-weapon-fighting or spring-attacking rogue)?

The problem I am of course encountering is how to trigger sneak attacks past the surprise round and first round of combat. Generating concealment and hiding is an option, but not a very good one since full attacks and rapid shots are right out if I have to spend a move action to hide each round.

I am sure this idea is not a new one... has anyone given much thought to this before? What is the general consensus on the "ranged rogue"?

I'd say early on, you're going to want to carry around a Wand of Grease and have max ranks in UMD. It lasts for 1 minute, and anybody on it who moves is flat-footed and thus subject to sneak attack.

You may even just take a couple levels of sorcerer and/or the magic rogue talents in order to be able to get this effect off, at least until you're able to get yourself a Ring of Invisibility or some other reliable method of concealment/invisibility.

Regardless, you can expect to deal less damage than your TWF rogue cousins, but I think it's something that can be a decent contributor to the group.

Liberty's Edge

w0nkothesane wrote:

Regardless, you can expect to deal less damage than your TWF rogue cousins, but I think it's something that can be a decent contributor to the group.

Agreed, the goal of an RPG is NOT to see who can do the most damage in a round. Offset your slightly less damage output (and honesty who cares about this) with a range of useful non-combat abilities and skills. Then again if your adventure consist of [fight-heal-fight-heal-fight-heal], oh there's a story you say, like I care let's get back to [fight-heal-fight-heal-fight-heal] then the skill laden character may end up being of no real use. Then again I'm a DM with a rule of no more than 1-2 combats in any 4 hour role-playing session AND they should chew up no more than 45 mins each unless absolutely required by the story - not that I tell my players that :)

So in short if your goal is to make an Archer based around the character class Rogue (very Robin Hood) then the answer is yes, nothing in the rules will stop you. If you are making the character for mechanical/statistic reasons then it'll be an iffy choice.

S.


HalfOrcHeavyMetal wrote:

<snip>

I'd also suggest Spring Attack so you can move, fire an arrow (or a volley if you can find a mechanics way of doing so) and then move again, so the enemy must either always be running after you to do any real damage or so you can take cover behind the Party Tank(s), run out, shoot, and then run behind another high AC or Spell-Resistance-Heavy meatshield er party member.
<snip>

Shot on the Run is the feat you'll be wanting then as Spring Attack only works for melee attacks.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

drsparnum wrote:

Improve use magic device and cast grease with a wand under your enemies. Tanglefoot bags (although I think these are BS).

I'm not sure if it changed in 3.5, and it's not cheap, but in the long run buy a ring of blinking! You won't regret it. It's even better than a ring of invisibility. While blinking your attacks are sneak attacks.

Source:
When an attacker is using blink itself, it has a 20% miss chance (because it sometimes finds itself ethereal when its attack strikes home). This miss chance also does not interfere with the attacker's sneak attacks. In fact, a blinking attacker strikes as an invisible creature, and its foes are denied Dexterity bonus (if any) to Armor Class and that makes sneak attacks possible. If the blinking attacker's target can see ethereal opponents, that foe retains Dexterity bonus (if any) to Armor Class and cannot be sneak attacked unless flat-footed or flanked. Because a blinking attacker's "invisibility" is actually etherealness, blindsight does not allow a foe to retain its Dexterity bonus against the attacker, and blindsight does not reduce the miss chance for attacks against the blinking combatant.

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/rg/20040224a

Blink changed so you can't do that anymore. Greater invisibility, on the other hand, means nearly unlimited sneak attacks.


Stefan Hill wrote:

So in short if your goal is to make an Archer based around the character class Rogue (very Robin Hood) then the answer is yes, nothing in the rules will stop you. If you are making the character for mechanical/statistic reasons then it'll be an iffy choice.

S.

Honestly, I'd say Robin Hood is more of a ranger then anything else. He didn't actually burgle houses and pick pockets to steal from the rich ;p


Rake wrote:

I know it can be done, but could a viable build exist for a bow-or-crossbow rogue (as compared to, say, a two-weapon-fighting or spring-attacking rogue)?

The problem I am of course encountering is how to trigger sneak attacks past the surprise round and first round of combat. Generating concealment and hiding is an option, but not a very good one since full attacks and rapid shots are right out if I have to spend a move action to hide each round.

I am sure this idea is not a new one... has anyone given much thought to this before? What is the general consensus on the "ranged rogue"?

I'm dealing with this problem in my game; that is, one of the other players has a ranged rogue. Now, he's built for ranged combat, so he can sling out some damage just with regular ranged attacks, but like a flanking rogue, the ranged rogue needs help - from his allies. More help than a melee rogue, unfortunately.

Now, you might ask, why would they 'waste' their actions providing Greater Invisibility, Greater Feint, and similar things to get the rogue ranged sneak attacks? Freaking huge damage output. A ranged character can usually full attack - with multishot and rapid shot. Add Deadly Aim and Sneak Attack damage into the picture, and it isn't pretty. This requires enlightened teamwork; for one spell, the wizard can boost the rogue's damage output for the whole fight by a HELL of a lot.

That said, though, you have to wait until 7th level or so for it all to come together, which is a long haul. Up to that point you just have to live with the fact that you're an archer and that Pathfinder has made ranged combat lots better than in 3.5. You won't out-damage the TWF melee rogue, but at least you're not hanging out in melee combat getting cut to ribbons.


As others have said, party compostion is importatnt. A Monk's stunning fist is a ranged rogue's best friend. It wouldnt even be considered a "dead action" by the players that might complain about a wizard using greater invisibility on the rogue.

Also, if your using 3.5 books, check out PHB2. The feat Crossbow sniper lets you sneak attack from 60ft away(among other bonuses).

Liberty's Edge

ProfessorCirno wrote:
Stefan Hill wrote:

So in short if your goal is to make an Archer based around the character class Rogue (very Robin Hood) then the answer is yes, nothing in the rules will stop you. If you are making the character for mechanical/statistic reasons then it'll be an iffy choice.

S.

Honestly, I'd say Robin Hood is more of a ranger then anything else. He didn't actually burgle houses and pick pockets to steal from the rich ;p

How many spells you ever read/seen Robin ever cast...

Or did he never get past level 3 or perhaps level 5 if he wasn't the wisest fish in the barrel?

:)


Rake wrote:
I am sure this idea is not a new one... has anyone given much thought to this before? What is the general consensus on the "ranged rogue"?

I've got a player in my campaign that is running with a ranged rogue. While I was unwilling to allow a feat that simply granted ranged sneak attacks (due to balance issues), I was more than willing to work with the player to find a solution that would allow his ranged rogue archer to be viable and still gain sneak attacks in specific situations.

---------------------------------------------
Roguish Archery
You are adept at taking advantage of your allies flanking tactics.
Prerequisites: Base Attack Bonus of +2, Ability to Sneak Attack, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot

If your opponent is within 30 ft and flanked by your allies, you may attempt a Sneak Attack with a +2 circumstance bonus to attack. If there are circumstances that would hinder a Sneak Attack, such as the opponent having concealment or an immunity to the Sneak Attack, then you may not make a Sneak Attack. However, in such an occurrence you still gain +2 on attacks against the flanked opponent.
----------------------------------------------

Keep in mind I'm using the Pathfinder system but not the campaign setting. So, your mileage may vary.

like_a_god


Darkness spell + Darkvision for yourself can often result in blind enemies, which can open up sneak attacks at range.

Glitterdust can also blind a number of enemies for a little bit so you can pull off sneak attacks at range.

Sufficient spellcasting levels to gain Improved Inisibility can help too. Rogue + levels of wizard or sorcerer + arcane archer and/or arcane trickster can pull this off. e.g. Rogue 7/wizard 2/arcane archer 2/arcane trickster X would eventually get Imp Invisibility with significant sneak attack. Or just barreling for arcane trickster as rogue 3/wizard 3 would get Imp Invisibility much sooner. This actually makes for a pretty nasty ranged sneak attack build against enemies who can't see invisibility.

Unfortunately, I can't think of many non-magical ways to consistently get ranged sneak attacks, short of sniping.


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As has been noted, blink's been nerfed, you want Gtr Invis.

There are a few conditions that make opponents flat-footed:

1- Blinded: Blindness; Tiefling (Darkness 1/day + Darkvision); Blindness/Deafness (as above); Sniping etc. Included in this is Gtr Invis, this really is the most consistent means for a ranged rogue.

2- Cowering: With 3.5 you could make an Avenging Executioner/Ghost-Faced Killer build that did this mercilessly; in Core PF you're left with relying on casters to help you (Cause Fear, Necromancy spells).

3- Paralyzed: Again, get your party caster to memorize Hold Person/Monster. I'll put the lowly Sleep spell in here, Coup de Grace + Sneak Attack = XP.

4- Pinned: Obvious.

5- Stunned: Monks are your friends.

6- Off Balance: Grease; 1st lvl spell, 750 gp for a wand. This should suffice where you know your opponent is gonna move. For archers/casters don't bother, it doesn't work unless they move.

Tailor your feats/magic items to create these conditions and you're laughing.

The most effective ranged rogue hands down is the Arcane Trickster. Take the Illusion school as your specialty and when it counts you're invisible. Enemies that have See Invis. or Blindsight then need more condition based tactics.

Hope that helps :)


Stefan Hill wrote:
ProfessorCirno wrote:
Stefan Hill wrote:

So in short if your goal is to make an Archer based around the character class Rogue (very Robin Hood) then the answer is yes, nothing in the rules will stop you. If you are making the character for mechanical/statistic reasons then it'll be an iffy choice.

S.

Honestly, I'd say Robin Hood is more of a ranger then anything else. He didn't actually burgle houses and pick pockets to steal from the rich ;p

How many spells you ever read/seen Robin ever cast...

Or did he never get past level 3 or perhaps level 5 if he wasn't the wisest fish in the barrel?

:)

Just as many times he would sneak behind someone and backstab them for sneak attack damage ;p

Sczarni

As has been said above, "Yes, you can make a viable Archery Rogue"

For stats, I'd prioritize Dex>Str>Con>Int>Wis/Cha. Your Skills will suffer a bit from a dedicated skillmonkey rogue, but with 8+int, favored class, and Human (you're playing a Human, right? if not...why not?)

Forget about crossbows...even with Deadly Aim and magical boosts, you can't beat regular old Str to Damage on the composite Shortbow, and as one of the few martial weapons you have available, there's no reason not to use it.

Feats, go for the archery route whole-hog, and use your rogue talents to fill in for the extra bits you'll miss. With Weapon Training, Combat Rogue, and Bleeding Attack, by 6th level, you'll be looking at 6 feats (1 short of a fighter of equal level) and capable of ticking off 3 extra damage/round on anyone you do manage to land a sneak attack on.

Until you can either Hide in Plain Sight (via Shadowdancer), or have access to Greater Invisibility, you are going to need regular old Invisibility and single attacks. Here, Shot on the Run, Vital Strike, and Sneak Attack REALLY come into their own. Ping, there goes 2d6+str+magic+sneak attack while you dance in and out of threat range.

If you get good at that, you can irritate the baddies enough that they come after you...in that case, lead them to traps, like next to somewhere your big bad melee buddy can reach them, or away from the rest of the party. Don't be afraid to call in close air support danger-close, either (ie, Fireballs and Lightning bolts with you in the affected area. Mages love doing that, I've found.)

Finally, don't neglect your melee skills, either. With a single rogue talent (Finesse Rogue), and possibly a single feat (Two Weapon Fighting), you can turn from "hit and move annoyance" to "blender on two legs" in a pinch. My rogue (straight Human rogue, went from 1-16 all the way through Second Darkness, never died once) went the other way, and it worked great. From early on, he was all about high AC and melee damage, until we got to the baddies that could squish him in 1 shot. That's when he grabbed some archery feats (around 11th / 12th lvl, IIRC) and started stapling bad guys to the walls.

Alternatively, in 3.5, with Crossbow Sniper, Rapid Shot, Rapid Reload, and good Dex, you can perforate baddies with impunity. Combine with Telling Blow and a Keen weapon, and you're throwing regular d8's with decent bonuses to damage, and every confirmed crit is also a sneak attack, so long as you're within 60'. Get a ruler, keep it on the board, and you just have to get within that magic foot of table space to really make someone's day go to heck.

-t

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