Looking for feedback on a Dwarven Zen Archer Monk build.


Hey, all. I'm building a Dwarven Zen Archer Monk, and I'd like feedback on what I've got so far and any suggestions.

We're using a stat array of [18, 16, 14, 12, 12, 10] before racial modifiers. In general, all Paizo published Pathfinder material is allowed, though anything that seems questionable may get vetoed. I'll be joining the campaign at level 7 with by the table wealth by level (23,500 gp).

As a house rule, I get one Profession, Craft, or Perform skill that gets ranks equal to my character level without having to spend my normal skill points.

Still working on the specific details, but essentially my character grew up in the River Kingdoms (as that's where the campaign takes place) as a hunter. At some point not terribly long ago, a dragon showed up and ravaged the city, killing nearly everyone. Now, my character is trying to track down and slay the dragon, as well as protect other cities along his travels from any other dragons that show up.

Archetypes and Favored Class Bonus
Zen Archer Monk with the Qinggong archetype to take Barkskin in place of Wholeness of Body. Favored class bonuses will go to HP.

Ability Scores
Str 16
Dex 13 (12, +1 level 4 attribute increase)
Con 14 (12, +2 racial)
Int 14
Wis 20 (18, +2 racial)
Cha 8 (10, -2 racial

Dwarf with the following alternate racial traits:
Lorekeeper (+2 racial bonus to Knowledge History checks about Dwarves and their enemies. Replaces Greed.)
Wyrmscourged (+1 bonus to attack rolls, +2 dodge bonus to AC, +2 bonus to saves vs. Dragons and their abilities. +2 to Knowledge Arcana when identifying dragons. Replaces Defensive Training, Hatred, and Stonecunning.)

Regional: Glory of Old (+1 trait bonus to saves vs. spells, SLAs, and poisons)
Magic: Mathematical Prodigy (+1 trait bonus on Knowledge Arcana and Engineering checks, Knowledge Arcana becomes a class skill)

(* designates an automatic bonus feat, @ designates a selected bonus feat)

1 Steel Soul
1* Improved Unarmed Strike
1* Perfect Strike
1@ Precise Shot
2* Weapon Focus (Composite Longbow)
2@ Point Blank Shot
3 Deep Sight
3* Point Blank Master
5 Deadly Aim
6* Weapon Specialization (Composite Longbow)
6@ Improved Precise Shot
7 Monkey Style

The following feats are my plan past 7:
9 Dragonheart
10@ Pinpoint Targetting
11 Clustered Shots
13 Quicken Spell Like Ability (Barkskin)
14@ Far Shot
15 Dimensional Agility
17 ?
18@ ?
19 ?

4+Int gives 6 per level.

At level 7 (42 ranks to spend):
Acrobatics (7 ranks)
Climb (5 ranks, required for Monkey Style)
Knowledge Arcana (5 ranks)
Knowledge History (1 rank)
Knowledge Religion (1 rank)
Perception (7 ranks)
Sense Motive (7 ranks)
Stealth (7 ranks)
Survival (1 rank)
Swim (1 rank)
Craft Bows (max ranks, free due to house rule)

Magic Items
Budget: 23,500gp

+1 adaptive composite longbow (3133.33gp, bow itself crafted myself)
Headband of Inspired Wisdom +2 (4000gp)
Eyes of the Eagle (2500gp)
Cloak of Resistance +2 (4000gp)
Belt of Giant Strength +2 (4000gp)
Bracers of Falcon's Aim (4000gp)

That leaves 1866.67gp left over to buy mundane traveling gear and start saving for the next magical item.

I'd like to c ur base CON a 14+2 for more health but that isn't a must. INT is where I I would make that trade. If u absolutely want to keep ur number of skill ranks then put ur favored class into skill point. U wod have same hp and same skill points but net a +1 fort save and virtually no loss from ur INt drop except a language.

Second thing is I would not increase ur dex at level 4. I'd go wisdom. It affects practically everything at that point.

Yeah, I would generally prefer not to sink the increase into Dex, but 13 Dex is a requirement to pick up Deadly Aim, which is rather important. So either I put the 14 from the stat array there, or I bump it once from leveling.

ZZTRaider wrote:
Yeah, I would generally prefer not to sink the increase into Dex, but 13 Dex is a requirement to pick up Deadly Aim, which is rather important. So either I put the 14 from the stat array there, or I bump it once from leveling.

That is true. It's a solid build. Only the equipment is left to debate and I'm not the guy to help with that.

Shadow Lodge

Why do you take Monkey Style? IIRC you can't use a bow prone, which defeats the purpose of Monkey Style.

Monkey Style adds my Wisdom modifier to Acrobatics and lets me make a DC20 Acrobatics check (which I'll almost always pass) to stand up as a swift action that does not provoke.

That's really the point -- it lets me stand up without eating a hit and then full attack (since you're right, I can't use a bow while prone).

Scarab Sages

A few things:

Deadly Aim is usually not worth it. While Zen Archers overcome many of the Monks core problems(MAD, Unable to Flurry due to need to move, etc...), they retain one of them which is the lack of an accuracy boost. If you can hit something with DA on, then the extra damage is nice, but that damage is made up by your lower to-hit bonus iterative hitting. Having a higher dex is good for more AC, Reflexes saves, and initiative, but don't kill yourself for a 13 just to get deadly aim.

I'm not sure why you are taking monkey style and dragonheart. If there are a lot of dragons in your game dragonheart is ok, but it's not worth a feat imo, especially when you already have great saves. Monkey style is good for fighting while prone in melee, but it doesn't apply to ranged attacks. As a Zen Archer you should NEVER make melee attacks.

Clustered shots is vital for piercing DR, I would take it ASAP. Pinpoint targeting really isn't worth it until you can use it combined with Ki Focus bow to make sure a Quivering Palm shot hits. I'd take Improved Critical instead so you still have it if something happens to the bracers.

Speaking of Ki Focus bow, Stunning Fist and Elemental fist will work on your arrows once you get that ability. Since you are still a monk, you get the enhanced uses per day, so its well worth taking at high level.

Lose slowfall for Barkskin
High jump is nice but situational, soon as you get a jump score that makes actually "high" jumps viable most folks can fly you can trade it for Ki stand (stand as a swift/ burn a Ki point to not provoke)
Trade wholeness of body for Gaseous form

Monkey style is nice but frankly not worth the feat slot when you could be using it to grab something else. I would suggest the above trade for Ki stand and using the open feat slot for Big game hunter a +1 to hit/+2 to damage on any target that is large or larger, which any dragon worth your attention will fit.
This would also free up 10 skill points and let you drop a few points on your Int in order to get a little better Con so when said dragon gets pissed it wont drop you in one round.

Dragonheart is also nice but your racial ability with wyrmscarred, blessings of the old and Steel soul gives you a +5 to the same saves Dragonheart gives you. getting it up to +6 just means you only fail on a 2 rather than a 3 due to having perfect monk saves, decent dex, +5 from dwarf stuff. You would be better served grabbing something else, best option would be moving Clustered shot down the priority list and taking it at L9 so as to allow you to laugh at DR that much sooner.

The Zam i have grabbed reckless aim but really that one is just asking to shoot your buddy. the +2 to hit is hard to turn down though.

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