Ways to sneak attack (in order to study target) with my nature fang druid archer


Hello everybody :)

I am actually playing a nature fang druid archer (eagle domain) and really having a blast playing it ^^. I do 0 summoning, since it's banned in our game (for pnj's too, so instead I can convert my spells like a cleric to healings, still an upgrade for a basic druid having healing spells slower than cleric)

So he's actually level 5 and I need ways to sneak attack for 2 reasons:

* Well having extra damage is always good.
* But I am trying to study targets with immediate actions instead of move action, and sneaking targets allows this. At level 5, this grants +2 to hit/dmg/Dc of spells and skills.

So I was looking for some help to find ways to deny dex to Ac to ennemies with area control spells in order to do some stuff like that: lets consider this case : 3 ennemies close to each others:

- No surprise round (btw can we use an immediate action to study in the surprise round if we sneak? I guess not because you do not have a swift action in surprise round by default right?)
- I am acting last because I rolled by initiative.
- I study one target with a move action and get +2 att/dmg/DC of spells + I cast a spell with a standard action (Here help me find which spell can deny them their Ac, something like frost floor? So they spend Accrobatics skills to stay on feet? something that can pin them? Paralyze?Making them flee or run, which denies dex to AC without run feat etc?)
- At my next turn, I do a full attack and I shoot 2 arrows. The first arrow with sneak kills it's target, and now I continue on another target at range, but I want it to be denied too in order to study him with an immediate action by sneaking attacking him. This way he will also have more chances to stay denied thanks to the +2DC of the study.
(- and If I can not study 2 targets in the same round because of immediate actions working like swift actions and we have only 1 per round, I still want to be able to full attack next round and study again with immediate thanks to a sneak attacking condition).

So with having acces to lv 1,2,3 druid spells, do you see anything that can fit this strategy? Is magic items needed? Or specific feats? My druid is half elf so no darkvision only LowLightVision btw just in case and he has acces to fly as 3rd domain spell.

His feats are:
1:Point Blank Shot
1:Half elf exotic proficiency: horn bow
3:Precise Shot
4:slayer talent: ranger style: archery: rapid shot
5:Weapon Focus long bow (if we find a good strategy, I might take accomplished sneak attacker) Any useful improving study target feats? There might be one, but a nature fang can only study 1 target unlike the slayer that can study more target at the same time.
(then at 6: slayer talent: ranger style: improve precise shot or many shot not decied yet)

Any idea is welcome, thanks!

The ashen path spell and fog spells or smoke works, but requires setup. There are some decent druid fog or cloud spells.

Sneak attack and range isn't an easy combo in PF1 though. Generally it requires setup and/or move actions to hide.

No strategy is going to be better than spending an action to study.

You will never have enough sneak attack dice to justify all the set up involved. Most strategies will at the very least consume one standard action.

Probably the best choice is to get Fey Spell Lore for invisibility to set up.

Grand Lodge

I got fog cutting lines. With the eagle domain my family was about to cast obscuring mist from a ioun stone. It was the best option I came up with. With high initiative and stealth made the first target was easy. I would stone discus for a full attack in a surprise round.

You can also blind using spells.

I don't know how helpful my ideas are. If I were a level 5 Druid, I'd probably focus on either focus on spellcasting or being a Druidzilla. If I were a Sneak Attacking archer, I'd go with something else, like take 2 levels in Ninja for Vanishing Trick to disappear and use Stealth to hide somewhere, then use the Rogue Talent False Attacker to stay hidden while shooting. I might take 3 levels in Bard with the Flame Dancer Archetype that allows you and your allies to see through smoke, then cast Fog Cloud or get an Eversmoking Bottle. If you dip a level in Magus with the Greensting Slayer Archetype, you can increase your Sneak Attack Damage with a point from your Arcane Pool, and you can use a Wand of Greater Invisibility to lock in your Sneak Attack Damage. You are a Half Elf, though. If you took the Arcane Training Alternate Racial Trait, you can already use a Wand of Greater Invisibility, or any other Wizard or Sorcerer Wand for that matter. You should look through the Wizard and Sorcerer Spell lists and see if there's anything you want and get it somehow.

To lock in Sneak Attack Damage, I have something for you: the Mudball [/b] Spell Blinds opponents as a Ranged Touch Attack. When you are Blinded, you get no Dex Mod to AC, and you get your Sneak Attack Damage. It's a level 1 Spell.

Shadowmind creates Darkness for the target only, affecting even Darkvision.

If you dip a level in Living Monolith, you can Enlarge Person as a Swift Action. You'd have to carry around a quiver of large arrows: drop them as a Free Action; Enlarge as a Swift Action, pick them back up as a move action, then Shoot one as a Standard Action. That's not Sneak Attack, but it's an extra 1d6 Damage. You can still gain a level as a Spellcaster with a level in Living Monolith. I think I'd have to recommend against sacrificing caster levels to gain effectiveness as a Sneak Attacker.

Thanks guys for some of your ideas. I do not intend to multiclass. Neither rely on one shot trick like invisibility (greater invisibility is another debate)

@Scott Wilhelm:
What are the light conditions for me as a LowLightVision Half elf to apply sneak attack to a player hit by Shadowmind? Increasing darkness by one step might not be enough right? I am not sure to understand all lights mechanics there for this spell.

The mudball is a good idea but the ennemy can wash it off by either suceeding a reflex saving of 16 for free (11+3(wis)+2(study)) or use a standard action. I need an ally to do that and act before the target to guarantee a sneak attack I guess.

@Secret Wizard:
My druid does not have 13 cha, no wild empathy features or AnimalC via domains. Didn't bother with social skills. He's a monster hunter type of guy.

This implies some way to see through fog right? I only know the goz mask but do not have enough money right now.
I do want some way (maybe not that reliable because of the DC of the spell) but an easy way for the character to enable this.

I looked at the spell lv 2 : Winter Grasp:

Winter Grasp spell:

[PFS Legal] Winter Grasp
Source Ultimate Wilderness pg. 237, People of the North pg. 26
School conjuration (creation) [cold, water]; Level druid 2, hunter 2, shaman 2, witch 2
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S, M/DF (ground glass)
Range medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Area 20-ft.-radius spread
Duration 1 round/level
Saving Throw none; Spell Resistance no
Ice encrusts the ground, radiating supernatural cold and making it hard for creatures to maintain their balance. This icy ground is treated as normal ice, forcing creatures to spend 2 squares of movement to enter an icy square and increasing the DC of Acrobatics checks in the area by 5. A creature that begins its turn in the affected area takes 1d6 points of cold damage and takes a –2 penalty on saving throws against spells with the cold descriptor for 1 round.

Combined with:
Acrobatics / Cross uneven ground wrote:

Cross Narrow Surfaces/Uneven Ground

First, you can use Acrobatics to move on narrow surfaces and uneven ground without falling. A successful check allows you to move at half speed across such surfaces—only one check is needed per round. Use the following table to determine the base DC, which is then modified by the Acrobatics skill modifiers noted below. While you are using Acrobatics in this way, you are considered flat-footed and lose your Dexterity bonus to your AC (if any). If you take damage while using Acrobatics, you must immediately make another Acrobatics check at the same DC to avoid falling or being knocked prone.

This should allow me to sneak attack everybody that tries to move until their next turn right?

Caveat: Doesn't work if they don't move I guess, and -4 to hit if they fail their check. The DC won't be that high so I hope they will succeed.
But even if they go out of the icy floor, they are still denied until their next turn right?

edit: I am not sure if WinterGrasp is enough when I read Sleet Storms description:

SleetStorm wrote:
Driving sleet blocks all sight (even darkvision) within it and causes the ground in the area to be icy. A creature can walk within or through the area of sleet at half normal speed with a DC 10 Acrobatics check. Failure means it can't move in that round, while failure by 5 or more means it falls (see the Acrobatics skill for details)The sleet extinguishes torches and small fires.

Winter grasp increases Acrobatics DC's by 5 but it doesn't say which ones... While Sleet storm is more precise. Is Sleet Storm just more severe than default by saying they do not move if they fail ?

What happens if someone fails it's accrobatics save on WinterGrasp, nothing because it says nothing? IS the text in Sleet storm the default rule : 'while failure by 5 or more means it falls (see the Acrobatics skill for details)' Because I can not see this in Acrobatics skill details.

Or Fog spells + Goz Mask I suppose? (Not enough money to afford that item right now).

I saw once if I remember a spell being able to 'pin' opponents as per the grab rules. This would work lovely.

I wonder if I shouldn't take persistant spell metamagic at lv 7 for those strategies.

The ashen path spell lets you (and possibly others) see thru fog & similar.

Winter's grasp doesn't force an acrobatics check, it only makes any existing one harder. It won't make someone flat-footed on otherwise safe ground. Ice slick or sleet storm comes closer, but placement so that enemies can't get out of the area before your next attack could be tricky.

Nice suggestion for ashen path, thanks :)

If they go out of the area it's not relevant because they are still denied their Dex to CA since they used this acrobatics skill to get out, so I will have 1 round opportunity to sneak/study them right?


I found Force Spikes that can hurl X spikes per level and you can pin one target if you send 5 spikes to it. (3 can grapple, 1 can entangle).
Quite funny spell actually. Plus it's force damage, so tt can really hurts ghosts, shadows etc...
nvm 3rd party

Any hold spell (animal for druid, or persons for others) can also do the trick. Not sure though it's worth it to hit an already disabled opponent... (expect if it's a great threat that can recover quickly)

You're only flat-footed 'while using Acrobatics in this way'. Once the enemies are out of the area they're no longer doing so, so unless you can quicken the spell (which you're not doing at 5th character level) you can't necessarily sneak attack them this way at all.

Hmm you are right ice slick is too tiny with its 5 feet radius to maintain someone inside even if they fall prone at initial save, but the sleet storm with a 40-ft. radius and 20 ft. high should be more than enough to keep many opponents inside since they would need a a base movespeed of 80ft to get out in one round if starting at the center.

So in this case where they will finish their turn in the area after using their acrobatic skills to move half speed, will they stay denied their dex to AC?

Metux wrote:

@Scott Wilhelm:

What are the light conditions for me as a LowLightVision Half elf to apply sneak attack to a player hit by Shadowmind?

Shadowmind doesn't make it dark for you, only on your target. You are attacking their mind to make them think and suffer as if it were darker than it really is.

Metux wrote:
Increasing darkness by one step might not be enough right? I am not sure to understand all lights mechanics there for this spell.

Right. This spell has a limited utility.

Metux wrote:
The mudball is a good idea but the ennemy can wash it off by either suceeding a reflex saving of 16 for free (11+3(wis)+2(study)) or use a standard action. I need an ally to do that and act before the target to guarantee a sneak attack I guess.

Yeah, but then they lose their whole round, pretty much. That's not bad for a level 1 Spell.

There is the Ranged Feint Feat.

Metux wrote:
I am acting last because I rolled by initiative.

That seems like a problem: Stop losing Initiative! Sneak Attack with an Arrow is literally what winning Initiative is for! Take Improved Initiative, then take Additional Traits and make one of your new Traits Reactionary. That will give you a additional +6 on your Initiative. When you act before your opponent in the first round, they are Flatfooted, and you get your Sneak Attack Damage.

It is strange that you're losing initiative despite trying to be stealthy. That seems weird. But I'd point out that Sneak Attack is only an extra 3.5 average damage on one hit. As you pointed out, studying someone means they are at a -2 to save against your spells. Druids can do very well at debuffing and battlefield control, arguably better than just being an archer with some backup spells.

@Scott and JiaYou

Initiative case:
I said that it was a specific case, I do not always loose initiative of course, but surprise is not always there because you know... we have this loud clanky dwarf warrior ^^. W/e I proposed this scenario in order to not talk about surprise rounds and one round of sneak granted by initiative.

My druid is a pure archer with a horn bow and every ranger's ranged style feats and 9levels of druid spells, so nothing to be shy about. Sneak is not only +3.5dmg , it's +2att and +5.5 because of study target + 0 to X dex to AC denied.
So it's a really huge boost actually when you shoot 2 arrows


I have an ally that is lv 4 shaman and lv 1 inqusitor, and realised we can do this combo in one turn together, I cast daylight and he casts fear of the sun = voilà, anyone failing it's DC is blinded for 1 round. It's quite effective as a way to control to get 1 'safe' turn for the team, but it doesn't last long for me to sneak/study because for next turns they are just dazzled. Still a good combo I guess.

Looking for other stuff like that :). We also have a wizard in the team but he's really focused on fire evocation spells.

Ashen Path is a communal spell. It doesn't have the communal flag, but in the description you can split the duration. If you have a chance to prepare for a fight at all it's a super good combo with any did the fog spells as avr pointed out. Also if you can have someone else casting the fog spell of Ashen Path the it gets even better. It's better than the combo you listed because it doesn't really on any saves. You do need to be close enough to each other to share the benefits of Ashen path though when you cast the spell.

Look at the Smokestick alchemical reagents rules for makinging fog that doesn't go away once your blaster sets to work.

Clearly helpful part of the post: Druids get Burst of Radiance as a second-level spell, so that would probably be more effective than the Daylight/Fear the Sun combo (especially since it's your save DCs that get raised by Studied Target). Also, you can study a target literally ANY TIME (even in social settings, like giving someone a -2 to Sense Motive against your Bluff check or Intimidate). Combat doesn't start until someone does something attack-y. If you're "losing initiative" because you're going last in the surprise round, you should be telling your party members that they not attack until YOU give the signal. But I'd ultimately argue you're better off firing off a Burst of Radiance than an arrow in the surprise round.

And I'm not sure I like the way you're looking at Sneak Attack, because it's not +2 attack, +5.5 damage, it's just +5.5 damage. You have to make the hit before you get to apply your Studied Target bonuses as an immediate action, so you only get the damage boost. At level 7 you can study as a swift action, but then you only get the damage boost to your first arrow if you fire a full volley (so again, only +3.5 damage). You're thinking about how to get Studied Target for the DC boosts after the fact, when I'd flip it. You need to be studying the target first, then using a battlefield control spell against their essentially weakened saves, or studying the target first and then just attacking with either your Hornbow, a 1d6+5 Produce Flame (that actually does more damage at this level), or a 5d6 Snowball (and the latter against touch ACs). Feel free to ignore that last part but you're a 9th level caster. Never forget that.

Don't just look at ways of you getting an extra 3.5 damage if it means you're ignoring ways of giving all your allies (including the dwarf with clanky armor) benefits. If you entangle your opponents, you personally may not get an extra 3.5 damage but you may enable an ally to land an extra hit will end up doing more than 3.5 extra damage. I'd argue that Sneak Attack is just a nifty little addition for the Nature Fang; it definitely isn't something to orient your entire build around, especially if you're going ranged.

You don't get a swift action study until level 9. Sneak attack is mostly a way to quickly study a target while still doing something useful.

baggageboy wrote:
You don't get a swift action study until level 9. Sneak attack is mostly a way to quickly study a target while still doing something useful.

Duh, you're technically right...although I'm sure someone has argued that RAW, since it says Nature Fangs get the Studied Target class feature, that means they get exactly what it says for Slayers, with the exception of not being able to study multiple targets. Anyway, neither here nor there.

I agree about it mostly a way to quickly study a target, which is why I'd argue a Produce Flame targeting touch AC is a more effective (and much less feat-intensive) way of doing so.

Nature fangs get a limited kind of study target:
You can only study 1 target at a time, so you can't use the study target feat to reduces the number to increase the bonus (or study many targets before the fight starts), and you get swift action study at 9 instead of 7.

I think that you are right JiaYou for the +2 hit on the immediate study, it doesn't work, you only get the damage bonus.

Otherwise the hornbow I have is an Adaptive horn bow +2 so better than those spell expect snowball that I already use against big armored guys (really easy to hit especially once studied as a move action + hawkeye as a swift action, point blank shot : +13 hit and 5D6+3 snowball vs touch Ac is awesome ^^).

You also have a point for study before combat, I just couldn't do it because of a dungeon with many doors (have any idea how to do that? with a mirror? does it count) and no reliable way to see through at the moment, but definitively doing study on every npc I check just in case I need a skill check against him.

What immediate action study on sneak attacks trully allows me is to set a full attack with the study bonus (sneak is less relevant at this moment) on the second round with the possibility to use my switft action to get a +2 hit on first arrow with hawkeye (and +3 hit on the many shot double's arrow attack next level).

I was looking to a way to deny dex to AC, like with ashen path + sleet storm style,in order to take targets down 1 per 1 (while also slowing them and I need the DC bonus because I only have 16 wisdom) by keeping the study target bonus as much as I can (the attack bonus is really critical in my game because the ennemies are kinda more beefy than usual).

I am the main source of damage in my team and I cannot do only control because I have invested 0 ressources to improve it (not my role, I got teammates than can help there) otherwise I totally agree again with you of the fact that 1 action can enable others to allies and remove to ennemies and the whole battle is just about action numbers and quality of those actions. That's the reason why I focus them down 1 per 1 but also in mind that if I can control a few at the same time, it's the cherry on top of the cake ^^.

Ahhhhhh, so you're having to juggle quite a few roles....that does make things very tricky. I'm very curious about your other party members though...for instance, if you're in a dungeon and not wilderness exploration, you could probably prebuff your allies with Bull's Strength or Cat's Grace to add to their melee effectiveness.

If you want to do a significant amount of Sneak Attack damage as a Nature Fang Druid without sacrificing Druid levels, you would need VMC Rogue. This consumes 5 feats, but you get:

3rd level: Get Trapfinding -- good if you run up against magical traps often. Since you are level 5 already, you will need to retrainn something to get this.
7th level: Get Sneak +1d6, and it improves another +1d6 every 4 levels thereafter (to +4d6 at 9th level -- you will have total +5d6, just 1d6 behind a Slayer).
11th level: Get Evasion -- not bad, except for being late.
15th level: Get Uncanny Dodge -- not bad, except for being really late.
19th level: Get Improved Uncanny Dodge -- not bad, except for being really late.


Getting more sneak attack is not the purpose. The purpose is to do w/e damage sneak attack in order to immediate study the target essentialy.

If I really wanted to pump sneak attack, I would just go accomplished sneak attacker as a feat and not trade other crucial feats.

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