Archery Madness


Silver Crusade

Um... I want to build a maniac. :)
And I need your help. I've always been more into flavor than into function, and I'm not all that experienced in the ways of Pathfinder. I have a level 4 Cavalier, and that's it. So I'm hoping I could tell you guys what I had in mind, and you can tell me if that's plausible.

I want to build a martial archer. I want an archer who's obsessed with archery. No spells or magics of any kind, so no Arcane Archer. He would be utterly obsessed with honing his skills. And it has to be about skill and marksmanship prowess. If somebody can help him in a fight by increasing his focus or something, that's cool. Even some sort of magic items at higher levels could be conceived. But for the most part, he would just be a one-track-mind martial maniac of archery.

I even wanted to have him scar himself every time he misses his target by a great margin - a small cut on his forearms to remind himself to be better next time, so I'm talking sheer dedication here. Imagine those fanatical WW2 snipers who think about nothing but their next target - that's what I'm shooting for. Pun intended. :) A fantasy sharpshooter of the highest caliber. Legolas on steroids. Hawkeye and Green Arrow rolled into one.

It's okay for him to be a one-trick pony. He doesn't need anything else, no armor, no protection, no spells, no melee weapons, nothing. Everything should be dedicated to the mastery of archery. He won't be the guy you call to have a pleasant time on your adventure, but he's the one you call when you absolutely and positively need to have something stuffed with arrows as soon and as often as possible.

So, do you guys have any suggestions? Which path should I take? Which feats should I use? What's the best way to go?
Thanks in advance!

Scarab Sages

Zen Archer or Ranger are the best options. Zen Archer is the stronger of the two IMO.

Silver Crusade

I just recently heard about that class, but the idea of it is definitely growing on me... The monks might not be thrilled with the notion of intentional self-harming though, probably not even for the purpose of self-improvement, so maybe I'll skip that part in my background. :)

But the more I think about it, the more sense this choice makes. Ranger is a bit too "communes with animals, tracks foes through woods" for my needs.
My archer needs no distractions. :)

If you're looking to make a character that is solely focused on martial prowess that's pretty much what a fighter is. You could go with the archer or weapon master archetype or a regular fighter depending on which one suits you the most.

As far as effectiveness in combat a Ranger, Zen Archer or Fighter will generally be pretty close, each having their own advantages or disadvantages.

Self-flagellation and ritual flesh burning are actual real-world monastic traditions. If your zen archer was obsessed with bodily perfection through the medium of archery (or rather perfection of archery through bodily perfection) having the cuts as a reminder of current imperfection would fit fairly well. It'd be the same as wearing a wool shirt or whipping oneself for immoral thoughts/actions just in this case the moral being failed was martial perfection.

Scarab Sages

A Zen Archer worshiper of Zon Kuthon seems perfect for this. There are monasteries in Nidal, after all.

Silver Crusade

Thanks for the awesome suggestions, guys!
Just Googled Zon Kuthon, he might be a bit dark for my purposes, but I'm definitely leaning towards Zen Archer.
Fighter Archer also seems very useful, I'll have to toy around with numbers a bit to see strengths and weaknesses of both.

Craft (bows) might be appropriate for those odd occasions when you need to make your own bow and arrows. Also, a maxed-out Perception (though I guess most PCs do this anyway.

zen archer seems very fitting to me, i've had these same character thoughts myself. monks are all about the quest for perfection after all - hes looking for the path to spiritual enlightenment through experiencing the perfect bow shot - that one moment of pure nirvana where all the stars align, relentless practise and extreme talent come together as the arrow describes a perfect arc and strikes exactly where it was envisioned to.

maybe what hes looking for doesnt exist, because no matter how well he shoots that feeling remains elusive. maybe it just drives him to train ever harder, or maybe he is subject to huge mood swings and self-doubt - the self harm comes at his low points.

he might be a one trick pony, but that doesnt mean he needs to be one dimensional!

self harm might be a touchy subject with some other players though, so i'd tread carefully with that.

Weapon mastery fighter, he gets a lot of damage done with his prefered weapon.

Shot on the run is for noobs, get vital strike, wind stance, lightning stance, Umbral spell and it's chain, then grab a 1 dip in any class with arcane mark.

Be a fetchling

Run around with extremely high concealment and hit people with sneak attacks.

That's just my 10 cents

The basic zen archer build (and a lot of explanations concerning gear, feat alternatives and the like) can be found here:
Zen and the Art of Monk Maintenance
I don't agree on all points with Porpentine (Clustered Shots) and there are one or two (only!) mechanical faults, but it is a very, very solid and helpful guide.

I played my Zen Archer (Rakhir the Red) from level 15 to level 19.

His feats:
(HB = Human Bonus, ZA = Zen Archer, MB = Monk Bonus)

1stHB Skill Focus: Perception
1stZA Perfect Strike (16/day: roll 3d20 for attack roll once a round)
1st Improved Initiative
1stMB Improved Unarmed Strike
1stMB Precise Shot
2ndMB Point Blank Shot
2ndZA Weapon Focus: Longbow
3rdZA Point Blank Master (no AoO while threatened)
3rd Deadly Aim (-4/+8, FoB: -5/+10)
5th Great Fortitude
6thMB Improved Precise Shot
6thZA Weapon Specialization: Longbow
7th Big Game Hunter
8thHB Skill Focus: Acrobatics
9th Vital Strike
10thMB Improved Critical: Longbow
11th Defensive Combat Training
13th Critical Focus
14thMB Dodge
15th Improved Vital Strike
16thHB Skill Focus: Sense Motive
17th Stunning Fist (Ex, Fort DC 29)
18thMB Snatch Arrows
19th Defiant Luck

If you are interested in very different approach, consider a Weapon Master Fighter using Heavy Crossbow who has a number of different critical feats.

The Heavy Crossbow is less MAD and so your Dex will be higher (and thus you will hit more), the damage dice is better and you get weapon training (taking away a fair amount of the advantage in strength bonus damage a composite bow has if not all of it) and the crit range is better meaning you can focus on Critical Feats at mid to high level. From Level 3 onwards you will have the same rate of fire as a composite bow. Oh, and the range is better not that that will matter often.


1: Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Rapid Reload;
2: Rapid Shot;
3: Crossbow Mastery;
4: Deadly Aim;
5: Weapon Focus;
6: Weapon Specialization;
7: Iron Will;
8: Improved Critical;
9: Greater Weapon Focus;
10: Improved Initiative;
11: Improved Precise Shot;
12: Greater Weapon Specialization;
13: Critical Focus;
14 Staggering Critical;
15: Blinding Critical;
16: Feat;
17: Stunning Critical;
18: Feat;
19: Feat;
20 Critical Mastery.

Krky77 wrote:

Thanks for the awesome suggestions, guys!

Just Googled Zon Kuthon, he might be a bit dark for my purposes, but I'm definitely leaning towards Zen Archer.
Fighter Archer also seems very useful, I'll have to toy around with numbers a bit to see strengths and weaknesses of both.

The actual "Archer" archetype of fighter is really weak, and it gives up weapon training, which really impacts your damage output in the long run.

Weapon Master is a nice archetype for a character focused on one weapon, but any fighter archetype that doesn't trade out weapon training is decent choice. (If you're going high-dex build, Lore Warden is a nice choice: you trade out medium and heavy armor for knowledge skills, which is a decent way to represent studying how best to kill different kinds of critters, if that fits the concept.)

After the Advanced Class Guide comes out, you could look at the Slayer class. That has some of the feel you're talking about, but I'm not sure if the actual mechanics of the class would fit what you're after. The Assassin prestige class is another possibility.

Also, check out the trick arrows in the Elves of Golarion book. There are also a couple of archery-specific feats for elves, like Stabbing Shot from the Advanced Players Guide.

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