How to make a good firearm sniper ?


I've already played a gunslinger Musket Master and actually it was one of my favorite character ever.

I now have to make an other character and I want to return to the gunslinger, but with a different approach. I thought I'd play a Pistolero but my GM doesn't want to allow advanced firearms and I don't really see a Pistolero without a revolver.

Fair enough.

So I thought I could play some sort of prowler expert in long range shooting, waiting the perfect moment to pull a devastating shot etc.

Perhaps he would have been a profesional monster hunter, or a hitman. With his parents dead he would have spent his early years in a orphanage, until a mysterious stranger adopted him and raised him into a strict way of life, before teaching him the art of patience and endurance before shooting into something that people with money want dead.

My issue is that I don't have any idea on how to pull a proper build for this. There's the natural Dead Shot deed at level 7 that somehow allows you to do this but it's still happening each round.

Aren't there any rule that allows you to prepare your shot for a / several round(s) to make all the damages at once, or perhaps something that allows you to wait to get a guaranteed crit threat ? Or firearms alternate rules that allows you for custom firearms (just like with the crossbows) ?

Be a Gun Chemist, as they can only shoot one piece of Alchemical Ordnance each round.

Since you are only shooting once per round, look into the Vital Strike feats.

Pistolero: If you have Rapid Reload and use Alchemical Cartridges you reload a pistol as a free action, so you can get your full BAB or (as rediculous as it sounds) Rapid Fire the single shot pistol. But this requires a free hand to reload.

It is possible to use both Rapid Fire and TWF together but it requires extra consideration. The main hand should use a multi-shot weapon. A pepperbox would be best since you can load all 6 barrels as a free action. To reload that pistol you'll need to drop the pistol in your off hand. If you happen to fight opponents with pistols you can just use single shot pistols for the off hand and drop them after firing. You can actually just use a single shot pistol in your main hand and drop the off hand pistol every round and still use both off hand and rapid fire since all 3 of your first shots will have the same penalty (-2 and -2 total -4) you fire the off hand first and drop it as a free action. Just avoid taking improved two weapon fighting until you get 2 shadowshooting or shadowcrafted pistols.

Why not a Rogue?

The main idea is using sneak attack at range. This requires a bit if equipment. To really make this idea work you NEED sniper's goggles. And you also need a way to make yourself undetectable.

The classic way to snipe is to be in a lot of cover/concealment and use stealth to hide. You end up taking 1 shot with sneak attack this way and then you need to move to use stealth to hide again so you can sneak attack the next round. So you spend a lot of resources on getting 1 sneak attack each round.

You can spend 1 feat, 1 rogue talent and a talent to pick up Minor Magic for Light, Eclipse Magic to make it into darkness, and Magical Lineage so you can actually cast it. Now you can turn dim light into darkness. If you're opponent can't see you, they are flat footed to you. Darkness can act like a poor man's invisibility.

Even better is if you spend some money on a Goz Mask and either a horn of fog or an eversmoking bottle which are even better than invisibility since it physically blocks true seeing and very few creatures see through fog/smoke. Some creatures do, so have a backup plan.

Personally I'd start with a bow or sling at early levels and pick up a gun once you can afford to buy a shadowcrafted musket. That way you don't need to mess around with reloading feats or making ammo. You can also transform it into any ranged 2 handed weapon as a standard action so you can make it into one of the heavier firearms if you want to. including ones with spread if you need area of effect damage. That also means you can hold off on picking up firearms until you can afford to waste a rogue talent on it, and pick up valuable feats to boost your ranged attacks in the early levels instead.

Just don't forget the sniper's goggles. Until you get them you are going to need to close to 30' to get sneak attack damage. Once you have them plus a way to become 'invisible' you can make full round attacks and get sneak attack damage on every shot. If you can get an advanced firearm (which a shadowcrafted weapon can become) you'll be able to do sneak attacks with touch ac at absurd ranges.

Talking about ranges, if you advance your magic to cast 1st level spells Snowball will let you do ranged touch spells 3 times a day that you can sneak attack with. It is a decent stop gap till you can get the equipment together for long ranged snipping. Since you can only do 1 snowball per round anyways, you might as well just use stealth to hide instead of setting up darkness or fog/smoke.

If you are going to be a Rogue, you might want to consider Slayer.

Ranger Combat Style feats for Rapid Shot and Parting Shot.

Use a Decoy Ring to turn invisible when you Withdraw. Use Parting Shot to make a ranged attack during your Withdraw. Instant Sneak Attack. The Fast Getaway Rogue Talent can help set this up, as well.

The Slayer gets Assassinate @ level 10... which is exactly what you are looking for.

I second Slayer as well. If you're going to be going for snipy goodness, don't forget to pump your Stealth up and you can make this really stellar with minimal feat investment. Stealth Focus + Hellcat Stealth is all you really need, but if you want to really crank it up, get Fast Stealth and Ledgewalker.

Thank you all for answering !

So, gun chemist looks really fun. It doesn't really fit the type of character I want to make but I keep it for an other one as I really like the idea.

About the Rogue, it looks like it may work but given how the GM sees firearms in his universe, acquiring a gun of any sort would be a quest in itself. That would require me to get the gunsmithing feat. Which would also require tons of RP around it.

In the end, maybe I could just create an archetype ? I've never done it but I guess that with some help I could create something that would perform as good as the musket master in an other style, yet not overperform.

Come up with a way to get True Strike if you can. Ignores concealment and that "extra" +20 comes in handy for shooting beyond range increments.

My Alchemist looks forward to tossing bombs 100ft with "only" a +14 vs Touch AC.

If the GM is really against the idea, maybe you should just avoid firearms and go with something else ranged? There are tons of archery builds that don't get ranged touch attacks but DPS wise they out perform firearms except in the most extreme cases.

You could even go with a Magus: Eldritch Archer build to basically get the character you described in the OP. Instead of using a firearm you use a bow + magic which will let you hit hard if you build for it.

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If you have your heart set on a long-range pistol-wielder, then myrmidarch magus might be worth a look: You have to wait until 4th level to get Ranged Spellstrike, but 1) you still have normal Spellstrike for melee as well and 2) you gain Weapon Training (and thus qualify for Advanced Weapon Training options). A samsaran with Mystic Past Life (to add some additional spells like heroism to your spell list without needing to use a magus arcana on Spell Blending; or to gain some bard or witch spells not on the wizard spell list like cure light wounds) might make sense; the +2 Wis bonus will also help if want to take Amateur Gunslinger.

The magus seems like an option to consider ! I've also been wanting a Magus for a while so it's maybe the occasion.

What level are you starting at, what level would you like to come online at, and at what level will the campaign end at?

A long-range firearm sniper would require some levels to come online, especially since firearms doesn't exactly shine outside their first range increment.

And what does "Sniper" mean to you? It's much easier to make a long-range firearm sniper who just fires multiple times, than one that depends on one shot.

Yep knowing whether you want extreme range or as close to 1 shot 1 kill would help a lot in giving suggestions.

Ex: Far Shot would help a lot with range penalties. The distance property would double the range. A Far-Reaching Sight would let you target touch AC from max range.

To help with stealth + move , Beneficial Bandolier would help to reload without needing feats or paper cartridges. Shadowdhooting would also help. Sniping & Sniping Greater increase Sneak Atk range (although it doesn't stack); the greater version gives +10 competence to stealth to stay hidden after sniping.

For pistolero, the Gun Twirling feat let's you put away a 1-h gun as a free action if you have quick draw. So reloading should be much easier. Or maybe a few lvs of Juggler Bard.

Meirril wrote:

Why not a Rogue?

The main idea is using sneak attack at range. This requires a bit if equipment.… you also need a way to make yourself undetectable.

Yeah, once you got that going on, you are making Ranged Touch Attacks vs. Flatfooted AC that locks in your Sneak Attack Damage! Just try saying that out loud without an evil grin splitting open your face!

I like the Ninja Vanishing Trick. Take Rapid Reload so you can Reload as a Move Action. Vanish As a Swift Action, then shoot as a Standard Action!

That's an expensive tactic: Ninja don't get lots of Ki Points, and Rogues that get a Ki Pool get even less iirc. A Ninja can stretch out his Ki by Vanishing then using Stealth to find a proper hiding place to snipe from. If he takes the Rogue Talent False Attacker, he gets a free Bluff Check. If the Bluff Check succeeds, the target thinks the shot came from somewhere else, and no additional Stealth Check (at a -20!) is required.

There is an advance Ninja Trick that lets you use Greater Invisibility instead of just Vanishing you can take at higher level.

Another Rogue Talent a Ninja could take is Underhanded Trick, which gives you the Improved Dirty Trick Feat even if you don't meet the prerequisites. You can use Dirty Tricks to make your Opponent Blind. And if you are fighting someone with Blindsight, well then you can play another Dirty Trick and make him Deaf, too!

Another tactic I've been wanting to try is to take 3 levels in Bard with the Flame Dance Archetype. Then get yourself an Eversmoking Bottle. The smoke from an Eversmoking Bottle "completely obscures vision." In otherwords everyone is Blinded. But not you nor your allies: the Flame Dancer Bardic Performance lets you and your allies see through smoke and flame like nothing. Some people argue that the Eversmoking Bottle produces Smoke, not smoke, and Smoke does not "completely obscure vision," but only provides Concealment. Check with your GM. If he is one of Them, instead of getting an Eversmoking Bottle, get a Wand of Pyrotechnics, which you can use in much the same way: Pyrotechnics is a Bard Spell.

Meirril wrote:
If the GM is really against the idea, maybe you should just avoid firearms and go with something else ranged? There are tons of archery builds that don't get ranged touch attacks but DPS wise they out perform firearms except in the most extreme cases.


It was my initial intention to use the ideas I just talked about as an Orc with a Hornbow or dip a level in Arcanist and make my Ranged Touch Attacks with Cantrips or get a Wand of Scorching Ray. Another way to do it would to just be a Half Elf and take that magic apprentice alternative racial trait that gives you like a 1/2 level in the Arcane Spellcasting Class of your Choice and use the Wand of Scorching Ray that way.

applecat144 wrote:
About the Rogue, it looks like it may work but given how the GM sees firearms in his universe, acquiring a gun of any sort would be a quest in itself. That would require me to get the gunsmithing feat. Which would also require tons of RP around it.

Maybe make your first level a level in Gunslinger, then take your levels in Ninja/Rogue/Bard or whatever.

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