Strongest low level Archery build


Advice


I am looking for the Best race & class / Archetype for a level 2 - 5 character for a low levelvet game.

BONUS IF GOOD DPR AND SKILLS / UTILITY


By best I mean shines good at those levels


Probably gotta be the zen archer for low levels. Front loads you a ton of useful feats. https://www.d20pfsrd.com/classes/core-classes/monk/archetypes/paizo-monk-ar chetypes/zen-archer/


Seconding the Zen Archer. They pretty much swim in bonus feats at early levels and can get everything vital by level 3.

And is the character supposed to start out at level 2 and end at level 5?


Personally I think the Fighter (no archetype) is a better all around character than a Zen Archer. Less skills, but doesn't need to pump his wisdom like a monk would. Being able to focus on just str/dex is better. Also weapon specialization at 4th level is a timely boost to damage. The Zen Archer is in trouble if it gets caught in melee combat, the Fighter should still have a decent AC and be fine in melee.

The Zen Archer has to be an old style monk, and can't use flurry in melee. In the 2-5 range that is more of a concern than it will be at later levels. Though point blank mastery does help.

Ranger is a good early archer too. If you ignore spellcasting you can leave your wis at 10 and shove more points into str/dex. Eventually you can reclaim your spellcasting with a headband.


I recommend

Half Orc, uses an Orc Hornbow
1Fighter 1: Precise Shot
2F1Ranger1: Freebooter's Bane, other Ranger stuff, can use a Wand of Gravity Bow
3F1R1Bard1: Rapid Shot, Flame Dancer
4F1R1B2
5F1R1B3: Song of Fiery Gaze, Multishot

This gives you and your allies the ability to see through fire and smoke. So what you do next is get yourself an Eversmoking Bottle. The Smoke covers a huge area and makes everybody Blind except for you and your allies, that is. They lose their Dex Mods to AC. Your whole party enjoys a 50% Miss Chance. Your Arrows do 2d6 Normally, but you can buff them with Gravity Bow so they do 3d6. So we have lots of extremely damaging arrows raining down on your victims that do lots of Damage targeting Flatfooted AC.

If your campaign continues, you should start taking levels in stuff that gives you Sneak Attack Damage since your opponents are all Blinded -> no Dex Mod to AC-> you always get Sneak Attack Damage. Dip, dip, dip! Take a level in Snakebite Striker Brawler. Take a level in Ninja. Take a level in Vivisectionist Alchemist. Take Accomplished Sneak Attacker!


Zen Archer is far more front-loaded than other archery builds. Your game is ending right before Manyshot comes online, which is a huge issue for more traditional archery builds but the Zen Archer is flurrying anyways and doesn't care.


Arachnofiend wrote:
Zen Archer is far more front-loaded than other archery builds. Your game is ending right before Manyshot comes online, which is a huge issue for more traditional archery builds but the Zen Archer is flurrying anyways and doesn't care.

Actually, I made a mistake. Manyshot is not available to my archer by level 5. It requires a BAB of +6. But even so, it seems hard to dismiss my archer as less front-loaded than a Zen Archer.

Zen Archer Arrows don't do more than 1d8 by level 5.
Flurry of Arrows don't get higher than 2 shots/round by level 5.
My archers arrows do 2d6 full time and can be buffed to 3d6
My archer reaches level 5 with a +4 BAB. Zen Archers have a BAB +3 at level 5. Most of the levels 1-4, my archer is higher than a Zen's.

Although....

The Zen Archer ability to do unarmed strike damage with their arrows suggests to me that they can do that even with arrows that normally do not inflict Damage, including Marker Dye Arrows, which target opponents as Ranged Touch Attacks.

My build at level 5 lets the PC and the allies target Flatfooted AC. Touch is usually better than Flatfooted, but my character bestows this on Allies.

My build doesn't have Weapon Specialization, but Freebooter's Bane grants +1 Attack and Damage to the archer and his allies.


Scott Wilhelm wrote:


My archer reaches level 5 with a +4 BAB. Zen Archers have a BAB +3 at level 5.

On any round the Zen Archer uses Flurry the Zen will have a BAB equal to his monk level instead of his normal BAB. So technically he's one better than your build at level 5.

The Zen Archer does start to become hampered by Flurry about the time other builds get manyshot. The only way for them to keep up is to pick up Rapid Shot and Multishot themselves and only Flurry when they want to dump ki points into extra shots.


Vital strike.


boltace?


Scott Wilhelm wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
Zen Archer is far more front-loaded than other archery builds. Your game is ending right before Manyshot comes online, which is a huge issue for more traditional archery builds but the Zen Archer is flurrying anyways and doesn't care.

Actually, I made a mistake. Manyshot is not available to my archer by level 5. It requires a BAB of +6. But even so, it seems hard to dismiss my archer as less front-loaded than a Zen Archer.

Zen Archer Arrows don't do more than 1d8 by level 5.
Flurry of Arrows don't get higher than 2 shots/round by level 5.
My archers arrows do 2d6 full time and can be buffed to 3d6
My archer reaches level 5 with a +4 BAB. Zen Archers have a BAB +3 at level 5. Most of the levels 1-4, my archer is higher than a Zen's.

Although....

The Zen Archer ability to do unarmed strike damage with their arrows suggests to me that they can do that even with arrows that normally do not inflict Damage, including Marker Dye Arrows, which target opponents as Ranged Touch Attacks.

My build at level 5 lets the PC and the allies target Flatfooted AC. Touch is usually better than Flatfooted, but my character bestows this on Allies.

My build doesn't have Weapon Specialization, but Freebooter's Bane grants +1 Attack and Damage to the archer and his allies.

Your build is reliant on two magic items that take up more than half of a character's WBL at five. You can pretty easily afford the Wand of Gravity Bow, but the Eversmoking Bottle is likely out of reach until the very last level of the campaign.

The Zen Archer is about as good as it's ever going to get at level two, and doesn't fall off until after the OP's campaign is over. Feating into Hornbow proficiency isn't even a big deal either, since you don't need Rapid Shot and you can take Precise Shot as a bonus feat.

If this campaign went beyond the very early levels I would probably not recommend the Zen Archer, because as I said Manyshot is just far stronger than Flurry is. But it isn't, so I won't.


Perfect Tommy wrote:
Vital strike.

It is fair to say that Vital Strike favors my character build much more than Zen Archers'. My character is using an Orc Hornbow that does 2d6, and when she uses Vital Strike it goes up to 4d6, and this would stack with Gravity Bow which would make it 3d6 or 6d6 when used with Vital Strike.

The problem here is that you need a BAB of +6 to use Vital Strike, same as with Manyshot.

Another thing to bear in mind is that there is no reason why you can't combine both ideas: take my Half Orc with a Hornbow and make her a Zen Archer.


Meirril wrote:
On any round the Zen Archer uses Flurry the Zen will have a BAB equal to his monk level instead of his normal BAB. So technically he's one better than your build at level 5.

Monks' BAB when using Flurry of Blows is +3/+3. Monks' BAB is +3.

My character's BAB is +4. When using Rapid Shot it's +2/+2.

Arachnofiend wrote:
you can take Precise Shot as a bonus feat.

And that is an something to bear in mind, too. I haven't seen your build specifics, but if Zen Archers are taking Precise Shot as a Bonus Feat, they aren't taking Point Blank Shot necessarily. My character is taking Point Blank Shot, so his attack bonuses compared with Zen Archers' might better be described as +5 or +3/+3, with a +1 Damage on top of the already superior Damage I described. In addition, my character's Ranger level is in Freebooter, so she can get an additional +1 Attack and Damage, which she gives to the whole party, not just herself.

The base damage of my build is higher than most Zen Archers'.

Which is better is a matter of taste, seems like, but my point is that I'm offering a lovely build, and Zen Archer is not clearly better. Honestly, I was feeling like my ideas were being dismissed out-of-hand, and that made me a little rankled.

Arachnofiend wrote:
Your build is reliant on two magic items that take up more than half of a character's WBL at five. You can pretty easily afford the Wand of Gravity Bow, but the Eversmoking Bottle is likely out of reach until the very last level of the campaign.

True, but the benefit is considerable: Total Concealment for the whole party, and almost guaranteed Sneak Attack Damage for everyone in the party that gets it. In Pathfinder Society, that would make almost any encounter a cake-walk-curb-stomp. That being said, my build does assume a campaign with a high availability of magic items.

Also, the player could just use a Horn of Fog for 2000gp and achieve pretty much the same effect. I guess that if your GM were looking for excuses to rule your character out of existence, he could say that "The fog obscures all sight, including darkvision, beyond 5 feet.... Creatures farther away have total concealment (50% miss chance, and the attacker can’t use sight to locate the target)." is not technically the same as being Blinded, so the SAD would not automatically apply. But in that case, a Bard can also use a Wand of Pyrotechnics, which specifically does Blind opponents.

Arachnofiend wrote:
Feating into Hornbow proficiency isn't even a big deal

Nor would be a big deal to make your Zen Archer a Half Orc and give her a Hornbow.

Something else to bear in mind is that my build features have a lot of things that aid the whole party, not just herself.


I agree with others that Zen archer is probably the winner. But I'll offer something that that is effective at low levels for similar reasons. The Bard archetype arrow song minstrel, they get precise shot for free at 2nd level and can ignore soft cover if they're using a bardic performance. Unfortunately, spellstrike doesn't come online until 6th level. But you could always take a dip in Eldritch Archer (at 3rd level) to benefit from it earlier.

Just an alternative if Zen archer doesn't appeal to you.


If the campaign ends at level 5, then Manyshot and Vital Strike are off the table.

Also, strictly as written Orc Hornbows just become martial weapons to Half-orcs, so Zen Archers don't actually get proficiency with them (obviously you might have a lenient GM, but technically you'd have to choose Exotic Weapon Proficiency to use one).

Scott makes an interesting recommendation that I think is slightly better dealt with this way:

Be a Half-Elf, choose Ancestral Arms for Hornbow proficiency, and then choose Arcane Training to give yourself one caster level in Wizard for the purpose of using scrolls and wands. NOW you can use a Wand of Gravity Bow with no problem and no need to multiclass. You give up a few skill points or hit points but that's a reasonable tradeoff.

My backup character (currently at level 3) in Curse of the Crimson Throne is going to be a Ranger with those alternate racial traits.


Scott, I like flame bards, although the Oracle build that does the same is probably better.

But the issue with them is that you grant your party the ability to see through smoke. But your gm is fully within his rights to apply the smoke environmental condition to your party.


Half-orc
Racial Trait: Sacred Tattoo
character traits: Fate's Favored, (any)
01 Barbarian [Savage Technologist], Extra Rage

-- That archetype rages for STR + DEX (instead of CON). If you're an archer, you're basically getting Gloves of Dueling and Iron Will at 1st-level without spending a dime. You also don't suck in melee. Throw javelins or use a sling at 1st because you can't afford an Adaptive bow yet.

For the rest of the low-level build, see my posts here. (This topic is a well-covered one.)


Perfect Tommy wrote:
Scott, I like flame bards, although the Oracle build that does the same is probably better.

Tell me about your Oracle.

Perfect Tommy wrote:
But the issue with them is that you grant your party the ability to see through smoke. But your gm is fully within his rights to apply the smoke environmental condition to your party.

What concern do you have about smoke apart from being able to see through it?


"A character who breathes heavy smoke must make a Fortitude save each round (DC 15, +1 per previous check) or spend that round choking and coughing. A character who chokes for 2 consecutive rounds takes 1d6 points of nonlethal damage. Smoke obscures vision, giving concealment (20% miss chance) to characters within it."

Jim's character works great, but you have to make sure you'll be able to buy the Adaptive Bow. Otherwise, I think a Half-Orc Warpriest is more reliable, since Divine Favor will give you the same +2 to attack and damage and will last for more total rounds than rage will. On the other hand, two fewer skill points per level and a 20ft slower movement speed.


Archers don't care what their base move is. If you aren't doing a full attack things have gone horribly wrong.


Hahahaha, very true. I just figured it was worth noting.


Could also build a halfling slinger.


JiaYou wrote:
Jim's character works great, but you have to make sure you'll be able to buy the Adaptive Bow.
*All* strength-rated bows are too expensive for a 1st-level character (unless they blow traits for greater-than-starting money...which sucks); a +1/adaptive hornbow should be in your budget by no later than 4th unless your GM is treasure-starving you.
Quote:
Otherwise, I think a Half-Orc Warpriest is more reliable, since Divine Favor will give you the same +2 to attack and damage.

And you can segue straight into warpriest at 2nd after SavTech (advisable, I suppose, over fighter, since the character will not make it to gloves of dueling). At 3rd, pick up Additional Traits for Magical Knack and Deadeye Bowman. -- Since this character is for low-level, he's not going to get off that many spells per day, ever, so he might as well just swift-fervor buff, move-guzzle a potion (ability granted by archetype stacking Drunken Brute; see below), and free-action rage in the first round.

Then you're stacking DF and rage. (Your will save will also be stupid good for an archer).

5th-level build would be Barb1/Warp4 or Barb1/Warp2/xyz2(probably fighter, but whatever suits your fancy). I would probably do the later, unless your GM isn't puritanical when it comes to unlimbering supernatural abilities (such as Sacred Weapon) that are not duplicating spells while raging.

Do NOT be a 5th-level Warpriest in a campaign not going beyond 5th, because you'll just lose BAB at 5th, but stop short of being able to afford those gloves to pump Weapon Training (if you went Arsenal Chaplain archetypre). You'll also be stuck with Warpriest's crappy class skills (i.e., Barbarian grants Perception).

~ ~ ~

STR: 14
DEX+ 17 (or 19*)
CON: 14 (Half-orc, 20pt-buy 15,14,14,14,12,7 array)
INT: 12 (or 7*)
WIS: 14
CHA: 7

(*Not advisable unless you're satisfied with only 1 skill/level as a half-orc after 1st.)

Racial Trait: Sacred Tattoo
character traits: Fate's Favored, Berserker of the Society

01 Barbarian [Savage Technologist][Drunken Brute], Extra Rage (15 rounds/day)
02 Wapriest1 [Core][Weapon Focus:Longbow], 1st Spells
03 Wapriest2 [Fervor], Additional Traits [Magical Knack:Wapriest, Deadeye Bowman]
04 Warpriest3 FEAT(c), DEX>18
05 Warpriest4 [Sacred Weapon +1], FEAT(g)

...for pure archery, take Point-Blank Shot and Rapid Shot at 4th/5th. (You will not need Precise Shot with Deadeye Bowman, and your attack bonus is ridiculous anyway.)

Equipment at 5th: +1/Adaptive orc hornbow, Mithral breastplate (if finances permit, otherwise quilted cloth), MW cold-iron bardiche, silver morningstar, buckler

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