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Weapon and Armor Proficiency
Gunslingers are proficient with all simple and martial weapons, and with all crossbows. They are proficient with all light armor.
This replaces the weapon and armor proficiency Gunslingers normally receive.
Replacing firearm proficiency with the exotic crossbows gives interesting options for the Bolt Ace. Hand and the Repeaters give a few options, even if the Repeaters are largely unnecessary. Launching, Crank, and Underwater give 'tricks' or overcome terrain. Double Crossbow cannot be abused with Inexplicable Reload since it still takes a swift action to reload both bolts, making the regular Crossbows better DPR options.
Crossbow Training (Ex)
Starting at 1st level, a bolt ace can select one specific type of crossbow, such as hand crossbow or heavy crossbow. She gains a bonus on damage rolls equal to her Dexterity modifier with that crossbow. Furthermore, when she scores a critical hit with that type of crossbow, her critical modifier increases by 1 (a x2 becomes a x3, for example). Every 4 levels thereafter, she can pick a different type of crossbow, gaining the bonus damage and increased critical multiplier with that type of crossbow as well.
This ability replaces Gunsmith and Gun Training.
I applied the Guns Everywhere option for Gunslingers since having a free firearm and firearm crafting capability does not make sense. Crossbows are still weaker weapons than firearms, so I think this is a good trade off. This is a huge boon for starting Bolt Aces and those taking a dip to be crossbow enthusiasts. A bow archer will in general still have higher damage, but a Bolt Ace will crit more often and be less MAD.
A bolt ace regains grit when she scores a critical hit or deals a killing blow with any kind of crossbow. In Grit feats bought apply their effects for crossbows instead of firearms. This ability modifies the grit class feature.
I thought I would make it explicit that Grit feats work for the Bolt Ace, to provide extra options. Most of the feats will work just replacing 'firearms' for 'crossbows.' Deft Shootist is largely covered by new deeds, which I am fine with. Named Bullet still requires Gunsmithing and I am okay losing out on that feat for Bolt Ace usage. Maybe make an alternative feat. Secret Stash Deed would also still not be usable, but doesn't overcome an issue that is as big for crossbows as it is for firearms.
A bolt ace can perform the following deeds with a crossbow instead of a firearm: gunslinger initiative, pistol-whip, dead shot, targeting, bleeding wound, death's shot, and stunning shot.
The bolt thrower swaps the following deeds.
Sharp Shoot (Ex) At 1st level, a bolt ace can resolve an attack against touch AC instead of normal AC when firing a crossbow at a target within its first range increment. Performing this deed costs 1 grit point.
This deed replaces deadeye.
Vigilant Loading (Ex): At 1st level, as long as a bolt ace has at least 1 grit point, she does not provoke attacks of opportunity when loading a crossbow.
This deed replaces quick clear.
Shooter's Resolve (Ex): At 3rd level, a bolt ace can spend 1 grit point when making a crossbow attack as a standard action and ignore the effects of concealment (though not total concealment) and cover (other than total cover) against that shot.
This deed replaces utility shot.
Distracting Shot (Ex): At 7th level, a bolt ace can spend 1 grit point and choose to miss a target that she could normally attack within her range with a crossbow attack. When she does, the target loses its Dexterity bonus to AC (if any) for 1 round.
This deed replaces startling shot.
Vigilant Shooter (Ex): At 11th level, as long as a bolt ace spends 1 grit point when she does so, she does not provoke attacks of opportunity when firing a crossbow.
This deed replaces expert loading.
Inexplicable Reload (Ex): At 11th level, loading a crossbow becomes unthinking and automatic for a bolt ace. As long as she has at least 1 grit point, she always starts each round of combat (even a surprise round) with her crossbow loaded. Also the amount of time needed to reload a crossbow decreases by one step: a standard action becomes a move action, a move action becomes a swift action, a swift action becomes a free action, and a free action becomes not an action.
This deed replaces lightning reload.
Pinning Shot (Ex): At 15th level, the bolt ace can spend 1 grit point while shooting a crossbow and attempt to pin down its target with the bolt. If the crossbow attack hits, it pins the target to a nearby object, to a wall, or to the ground, entangling and staggering the target. While pinned by the bolt, the target cannot move out of its space until it takes a standard action to free itself from the pinning bolt, except by means of teleportation.
This deed replaces menacing shot.
I made no additional changes to the already changed deeds. Personally, I think Vigilant Loading and Vigilant Shooter could already be covered by Deft Shootist, but it is nice not to need two other feats first. How firearms and the Bolt Ace target touch AC easily is not a big like of mine, but I was keeping this a minor revision as close as possible to what seems to be the intention behind Bolt Ace.
Interesting! The original Bolt Ace did have some holes in it, and this patches them nicely! I like how Sharp Shoot is nerfed to only the first range increment (not really a problem with crossbows, since that's at least 80 ft.), especially once Signature Deed becomes available.
The one thing I'd personally change: Move Crossbow Training up a few levels. Getting Dex to damage on a ranged weapon is insanely rare; to my knowledge, only the Gunslinger gets access to that. The relative lack of damage bonuses on ranged weapons is what balances them against melee weapons, since archers have to constantly choose between Dex for accuracy and Str for damage. On melee weapons, I have less of a problem with easy Dex to damage (like Unchained Rogue, or even just putting it in Weapon Finesse), but ranged weapons already have the benefit of being ranged.
Put it this way: A one-level dip for Dex to damage with any one crossbow? Any Ranger, Hunter, or even Alchemist build I make would almost automatically go for that, and I don't like level-dipping. The regular Gunslinger and Bolt Ace both get it all the way up at 5th level for a reason.
I agree with Arbalester, Crossbow Training is the jewel in the Bolt Ace archetype and if it's available with a single level dip then the archetype is much less attractive. That said, dealing only 1D8 damage for four levels and then suddenly jumping to 1D8+5 is frustrating and rather abrupt.
I'd suggest stealing the model from the duelist's Canny Defense, but adapting it to the crossbow: A Bolt Ace adds 1 point of Dexterity bonus (if any) per level of Bolt Ace to damage dealt with crossbows.
That way it's a small but scaling bonus to damage for low level bolt aces, but less attractive to grab with a one-level dip.
Thank you for the feedback! My apologies for not noticing sooner.
With thought, I do agree about the Dexterity to damage output. Limiting it to the Bolt Ace's Dexterity modifier or level, whichever is less will feel better about the class without needing to push it back as it is with Gunslinger. I really think Gunslinger needs a nice feature beyond Deeds at first level and a +1 bonus to damage is a good compromise, even if at level 1 it is not as good Gunsmith it still is comparable enough in early level to be worthwhile. Most Bolt Aces will have the bonus catch up by level 6, assuming maximum 20 Dexterity and +2 Dexterity item at around level 4 or 5. After that the level should slowly pull ahead.
Crossbow Training (Ex) [b]
Starting at 1st level, a bolt ace can select one specific type of crossbow, such as hand crossbow or heavy crossbow. She gains a bonus on damage rolls with that crossbow equal to her Dexterity modifier or level, whichever is lower. Furthermore, when she scores a critical hit with that type of crossbow, her critical modifier increases by 1 (a x2 becomes a x3, for example). Every 4 levels thereafter, she can pick a different type of crossbow, gaining the bonus damage and increased critical multiplier with that type of crossbow as well.
This ability replaces [b]Gunsmith and Gun Training.