So I'm wanting to make an archer. I plan on taking the Deadeye Bowman trait to make it so improved precise isn't as important.
But I'm wanting some outside suggestions on which to do.
For all of these I plan on starting with 1 level of Primal Hunter Barbarian.
Which do you think would be the best one to choose?
Barb/zen archer has an obvious alignment issue. If that's not going to be a problem in your game, it's very viable. Point Blank Master at character level 4 and trick shot at level 12 make you almost always able to make archery the answer to a combat problem.
Champion Spirit Medium has the most options when archery isn't the answer though. Their dash of spellcasting, the champion spirit free exotic weapon and of course the ability to drop 'Champion' means that they can do other stuff. This is probably the one I'd choose.
Personally I don't think a 1 level dip in barbarian is useful. Not even the Primal Hunter (though I'm unclear about whether their version of rage keeps the normal strength and con bonus while raging, as well as gaining a +2 to ranged attacks).
Zen Archer is strong for getting a lot of your feats quickly, but it's flurry ends up largely wasted if you multiclass. Still you can take Rapid Shot and Manyshot to make up for it.
I'm a big fan of Ranger or Inquisitor to build an archer.
Barbarian is less useful for an archer. You must get an Adaptive bow to make the strength buff work, and you can't get Furious on a ranged weapon (which is the big payoff for a 1-level dip). Urban Barbarian does give you the option of raging for Dex instead of Str, so that's helpful. (I'm not familiar with the Primal Hunter.) But if you want to be able to combine any barbarian with Zen Archer, you have to take all your Zen Archer levels first, then take your barbarian levels.
For the rest of it, it honestly depends on what you want to do with your character and what level you are building for.
If you're only thinking of damage, I've done a level by level breakdown of Zen Archer and Weapon Master Fighter. At lower levels, Zen Archer does the most damage. Around levels 4-6, Weapon Master fighter starts to pulls ahead, and it gets further and further ahead through level 12.
With the new Dedicated Adversary feat, the favored enemy bonus of the ranger is available to everyone. (I actually like doing a Brawler level and using Martial Flexibility to learn Dedicated Adversary as a move action--your GM might not allow that, though.)
But while they all make perfectly effective archers, Ranger, Inquisitor, Eldritch Archer Magus, Zen Archer, and Fighter are all completely different characters with different abilities. I'd focus more on what you want your character to do when you're not shooting, then choose your build around that.
Just to throw it out there, an urban barb is a fine archer because they can add mod to dex or strength. Add to that they have full BAB and they work pretty well, not the best but worthy. If you grab a scimitar you could switch hit based off one attribute if you wanted to. So don't discount the barb or barb dips.
Primal hunter keeps the str and con bonuses as well as getting a +2 to ranged attack rolls. So it's +2 to attack and damage for a 1 lv dip. Plus getting the the nice HP for level 1.
Ilsurian archer Ranger gets half his FE bonus against everyone, so at lv5 it's a +2 to attack and damage to everything and you have a mount and lots of sills.
Mutation Warrior fighter gets the feats fast and gets a fairly long duration of either +2 damage or +2 to hit. As well as getting weapon training at lv5 for the +1 to attack and damage and no skills
Weapon master fighter gets weapon training faster still no skills
Zen Archer this one gets an extra attack when spending ki, but has no other class attack or damage boosters.
Champion Spirit Medium this has lower bab than the others, but has good damage boost per arrow and at lv6 gets a free extra attack.
Molthuni arsenal chaplain Warpriest gets lots of feats and weapon training like a fighter and can fervor for divine favor for damage, it also has the lower bab though and no skills.
Zen Archer is my favorite Archer build in Pathfinder, if for nothing else that it lets you ignore prerequisites for bonus feats and it gets point blank master before anyone else can. Also, if you GM is nice they'll let you use Reflexive Shot and Point Blank Master serve as a prerequisite for Improved Snap Shot (I personally would). An archer who doesn't provoke and can threaten out to 15' is hilarious.
|Melvin the Mediocre|
The first levels of zen archer is pretty rough, you probably can't afford a decent bow, and most of what makes your build uber doesn't kick in until 2nd or 3rd level. From level 3 - 8 its pretty uber. I can't comment after that as I multiclassed to sorc 1 and arcane archer. (Which has also been really fun for an all wisdom based build.)
Personally I chose Zen Archer with 3 levels of Weapon Master Fighter. Then I increased the weapon training by 2 with Gloves of Dueling. I also chose Qinggong for the ability to cast Barkskin. The drawback is you delay access to the Ki Leech Qinggong ability which considering the # of attack dice you are rolling at that level may as well read unlimited Ki.
Barb meshes just fine with Zen in the game I'm going to be playing it in. If it wouldn't I wouldn't have put it as one of my options.
It seems like everyone is suggesting going Zen for an archer, but the reason I've seen is the better will save and the early entry for a few feats. Is that really all it takes?
What would you chose if zen wasn't an option?
ranger/monk multiclass is good. zen archer plus infiltrator/divine tracker for archetypes. lots of feats (regular plus bonus class) w ability to bypass prerequisites, bow flurry, monk saves, access to war priest blessings from divine tracker, buff powers from infiltrator, good AC w or without armor, rangers spells, bonus archery feats from zen archer and favored enemy. I run him with clustered shot and the reckless aim feat, nobility and good blessings for uber to-hit and damage, but snapshot w air domain or pb master also viable to make the bow act like a melee weapon.