Maximising single arrow archer damage


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I am trying to build a character that is focused to do the most possible damage with a a single arrow. Everything is allowed, even mythic, and 3pp but GM might want to check first. How would you build such a character?
Is there a way to increase the dice damage of an hornbow permanently, like impact does for melee weapons?

Dark Archive

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Cast gravity bow on a horn bow, vital strike chain of feats


Name Violation wrote:
Cast gravity bow on a horn bow, vital strike chain of feats

I knew of gravity bow, but it's not permanent and wastes a standard action (if I can cast it at all). I tried to find a way to enchant the bow to permanently increase weapon damage die by one size, I could swear I saw it somewhere, but I did not find anything.

What about static bonuses? Ranger, Fighter, zen archer monk, any idea?


A class that can cast named bullet. So ranger or Inquisitor.

Despite best efforts, you're never going to have amazing damage on a single arrow, though named bullet and greater named bullet will do a good job.

It also happens that ranger and inquisitor can do a great job of shooting a lot of arrows that add up to considerable damage so they have options to do either.

For a character starting at level 1 it could be useful to start as a zen archer monk and go to level 3 so you can be strength and wisdom based. It has a lot of front loaded archery stuff, and then multiclass into inquisitor.


you might want to consider some of the following:

- overwatch style feat tree (style, tactician and vortex) , might not work with vital strike, depend how you read the rules, but let you ready 4 ranged attacks(at you max bab bonus, unlike muti shot archer who sometimes miss the last arrows they shoot for low bab) .which trigger can all be, when i call out the shot: "1" "2" "3" "4". trigger doesn't have to be based on some1 else's action. (and you can talk out of turn)

- setting true strike spell before will give +20 to hit, which is great for shooting at max distance (which without far-shot give -18 to hit).

- 2 levels in Ashiftah witch while taking the flight hex will grant you a great action economy by heaving a standard action free to shoot (or cast true strike, if you find a way to add to spell list) swift action to use the flight hex to cast feather fall on self and move action to vanish and 5 ft if needed.

- if you go the ranger path (or can get ranger spells) the bow spirit spell will allow you to have a bow (which uses your feats like vital strike) shoot along you (swift action to direct it but it has it's own action economy) potentially doubling whatever else you might end up with this thread.

just to add.
unless you really work hard at it ,it is much easier to just nab a lightning gun and use that to deal 10d12 ( i like to think at it as ~20d6) electricity damage as a touch attack with a standard action. i had a (2 Ashiftah\ rest unchained rogue) character that used the above vanish trick to ranged touch attack 10d12 + sneak attack.(he also had the minor magic rogue talent for acid splash - in case electricity immune came up)

Sovereign Court

Trisagon wrote:
What about static bonuses? Ranger, Fighter, zen archer monk, any idea?

What exactly are you trying to do.

Does it have to be a single arrow? Or are we talking about a single 'shot'?
In the case of the former, Arrow Eruption might be something to look into, in the case of the latter Double Crossbow might be something to look into.

Other things would be:
Conductive and Explosive Missile Alchemist discovery for example.
Vital Strike chain as mentioned already.
Inquisitor with Named Bullet and Bane.
Medium(Champion) 1/Fighter(Weapon Master) 3 with Gloves of Dueling, Spirit-Bonded Armor, and the Spirit Focus feat is +6 to hit and +8 to damage that gets multiplied by everything. Dip into a divine caster for Greater Weapon of the Chosen to fish for crits along with Aspect of the Falcon. Vital Strike chain and Deadly Aim/Point Blank Shot/Weapon Specialization it for more damage.


using 3PP stuff, look into Trailblazer's Fighter and Expert Weapon Proficiency, which allows you to increase the damage dice of a weapon (up to 3d8), then mythic Vital Strike feats and mythic Deadly Aim. Everything else is going to be gravy, but that will get you to your highest output I believe.

or for a silly interpretation, Barbarian Titan Mauler throwing a single huge arrow with two-handed thrower (if your read it as allowing you to throw such a weapon with the attack action), full-stat boosts into Str and then Vital strike, etc...I think throwing the arrow counts as an improvised weapon, which should mean you can use relevant style feats to further boost the damage of the arrow.

Sovereign Court

yukongil wrote:

using 3PP stuff...

or for a silly interpretation, Barbarian Titan Mauler throwing a single huge arrow with two-handed thrower

Hm, would 3PP include 3.5 material? I seem to remember something about a mountain top hurler that throws trees...

<research>
Hulking Hurler/War Hulk Centuar, with a 100 ton arrow maybe? So like 1000 d6 using 3.5 rules.


Named bullet also works with a magus via spell blending - spell combat makes the action economy healthier, 1 (major) arrow per round > 1 per 2 rounds.

Or anyone with the hunter spell list can cast (greater) named bullet at a reasonable character level. That's hunters and fey trickster mesmerists - inquisitors and similar get it later. Sorcerers and wizards of course get named bullet at a similar character level and you're probably not much concerned with BAB here, they may be an option.

What sort of character level are you looking at here? Just L20, or does it need to be played from level 1?


I really think that Inquisitor, Ranger, or Magus are the best bets.

They will be playable from level 1, they will be able to fulfill the "single arrow" routine eventually when the spell becomes available, and up to that point they have class features to help them deal damage with multiple arrows or in the case of the magus, using other spells to deal some burst damage. Though magus doesn't have as great of options for ranged spell strike assuming you choose eldritch archer. Although myrmadarch might actually work assuming you want to be primarily melee but at higher levels occasionally whip out a bow to make a massive attack. Stack named bullet with a ranged attack spell you cast through your bow and you could really have something.

Taking 3 levels of zen archer monk will just make you good at archery in general, but combines really well with any other wisdom based classes like Inquisitor or Wapriest. Although wapriest doesn't get access to named bullet, so it's not going to do a lot of damage on a single attack.


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Half-Elf nvestigator with an Inspired Shortbow.

Deadly Aim obviously.

Half Elf FCB adds +1/4 to Inspiration rolls.

Studied combat adds +1/2 level to-hit and damage

Studied Strike adds (1/2 level -1)d6 damage.

url=https://www.d20pfsrd.com/feats/combat-feats/focused-shot-combat/]FOCUSE D SHOT[/url] adds INT to damage.

INSPIRED WEAPON adds double your Inspiration roll to damage (when combined with the Combat Inspiration talent).

Amazing Inspiration changes Inspiration to 1d8, Tenacious Inspiration allows you to roll twice and take the better result.

Takes a little while to come online, but at level 9 when you get Combat Inspiration you're at 1d6 (shortbow) +4 (Deadly Aim) +4 (Studied combat) +3d6 (Studied Strike) + (1d8+2)×2 (Inspired Weapon) +INT (Focused Shot) plus whatever else you can think of.

By level 13 you get Tenacious Inspiration (roll twice take the higher on Inspiration rolls) and your FCB gets to +3. At this point you're rolling 2d8 pick the highest (average 5.8) and add 3 for Inspiration, and adding double that number to damage (~+17.6 damage per shot), your Studied Combat is +6 to-hit/damage and Studied Strike is +5d6.

I'm sure there are more ways to optimize it, but it's pretty good.

(Aso you're still way better off doing more than 1 shot, but at 1 shot per round you can make that shot count.)


Ranger gets Named Bullet and Instant Enemy at level 11... Divine Tracker can get you some Blessings to play with... VMC Cleric can get you Domain powers, Spontaneous Casting, and Channel...

Shadow Lodge

I did a similar idea as a tiefling ranger (divine tracker). My goal was to be able to assassinate people from long distance with one shot. Vital strike (imp, greater), devastating strike, deadly aim, stacked all my favored enemy into human (using instant enemy for going after other targets), gravity bow, and named bullet.
We played all the way to 20 in that campaign. This character also gained mythic 1, and she took the mythic vital strike feat, which is the single largest damage bonus you will get for this build.

I had no problem spending my time to set up a shot, that was kinda the point for me. Climb up to the top of a building and shoot someone from 4 blocks away (limitless range (mythic) + distance enchantment for range increments of 1,100ft). She also used phantom arrows (they disappear after hitting, leaving no evidence behind).

So she'd take a single shot at +40 to hit, which automatically threatened a crit. Damage = 12deadly aim + 6str +5enhancement +10 favored enemy. Multiplied by 4 with mythic vital strike. +6 for devastating strike.

That is (8d6+138)x3 because it probably confirmed the crit, +20(named bullet) +2d6bane +1d6holy. For an average damage of 528.

Note that without mythic vital strike, that average drops to only 97 damage (so yeah, it pretty much only was good because of mythic).


(3pp)Spheres of Might has a sphere dedicated to this sort of thing called the Sniper Sphere.


Divine Tracker Ranger VMC Cleric is a go-to NPC for me... Ranger stuff, with a little love from Warpriest and Cleric... the Spontaneous Casting from VMC Cleric means you never have to prepare healing spells, opening up your very limited casting... Blessings and Domain Powers further reduce your need to use up your limited spells... Channel actually becomes a super neat tool that Rangers never otherwise have access to... full BAB/6+Int skills/Ranger Combat Style feats/two good saves... makes for a d@mn near perfect NPC/cohort... also, completely playable as a PC...


Oh for thise not familiar with it, the MORTAL USHER prestige class adds damage to single shots while increasing your class abilities.

I don't know if it's the best option, but it's something to consider.

Sovereign Court

Oh, and Sanguine Angel can use Str to attack with bows if they want, which helps them be less MAD. Since Composite Bows allow Str to damage.

The Exchange

Tiefling Rogue (underground chemist) 4 / Alchemist (Vivisectionist) X

Basic Shenanigan - Take "bomber" as your second level rogue talent. You do damage with bombs equal to your sneak attack damage, and can deal sneak attack damage with splash weapons. The vivisectionist sneak attack damage stacks with the rogue's. Make alchemist your favored class and take the alternate FCB (+1/2 point to bomb damage). Take the "explosive missile" discovery. Have Deadly Aim. Using a hornbow, at 9th level, you'll do 2d6 (weapon) + 5d6 (sneak) + 5d6 (bomb) + 2 (FCB) + 4 (deadly aim) + Int mod + Str Mod + Enhancement.

Assuming you are in sneak attack range.

Advanced Shenanigans - There's tons of damage-boosting alchemist extracts and discoveries. Including Spell Knowledge, which gets you access to wizard spells.

Mythic Vital Strike is still going to be the best, but this is kinda fun.


YMMV with the above. Explosive Missile says the alchemist infuses the projectile "with the power of his bomb," but as a vivisectionist, he traded out that class feature, so his bomb does 0 damage (or maybe 2 because of the FCB but you don't really have the class feature to improve).

My bad. I misread your summary as saying the bomber talent let you sneak attack with splash weapons, but that's the 4th level underground chemist ability. Bomber is giving you bombs.

The Exchange

dr. kekyll wrote:

YMMV with the above. Explosive Missile says the alchemist infuses the projectile "with the power of his bomb," but as a vivisectionist, he traded out that class feature, so his bomb does 0 damage (or maybe 2 because of the FCB but you don't really have the class feature to improve).

My bad. I misread your summary as saying the bomber talent let you sneak attack with splash weapons, but that's the 4th level underground chemist ability. Bomber is giving you bombs.

Yeah, you can pull off the "double-sneak damage bomb" by going Underground Chemist 4 / any class with full sneak damage. (Including staying as a rogue, but that route gets you the least damage-dealing boosters.)

I left it open-ended on purpose, but vivisectionist stacks with a lot of other alchemist archetypes as well. If you went with an half-orc Grenadier (instead of tiefling) you could still get the alternate FCB and wouldn't have to spend a feat for the Hornbow. You'd also get to add 1d6 or so from infusing the arrow with an alchemical item. Or be an Inspired Chemist and use some of MrCharisma's tricks above for a full investigator with a shortbow (instead of hornbow). Or all three archetypes!


if your also looking at 3pp that the gm might approve the Yabusama is a fairly balanced ranged samurai that is focused on one shot per round high damage.
among the things he get is using the challenge ability in range attacks (instead of melee) & many class abilities that specifically work with other ranged attacks\abilities as long as he only attacks once per round. like the ability to add dex to damage and increase the base damage of the arrow shot -which again specifically called out to work with other abilities that attack once per round (such as vital strike).
in a way this answer the "increase the damage of a hornbow". the OP asked for.


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Elf, half-elf (Ancestral Arms*), or human (Martial Weapon Proficiency*) brawler (snakebite striker) 1/sorcerer (Draconic** or Orc bloodline) 4/arcane trickster 6/arcane archer 2/arcane trickster +4/arcane archer +1/sorcerer +2 with Magical Knack (Wizard), Accomplished Sneak Attacker (to qualify for arcane trickster), Intensified Spell, Maximize Spell, and Quicken Spell.

Quickened true strike + Imbue Intensified, Maximized acidic spray into an arrow + Impromptu Sneak Attack + Surprise Spells = arrow damage +7d6 Sneak Attack (arrow) + 1d6 [cold, electricity, or fire] + 140 acid (affects target and a 60 ft line; save for half) +7d6 Sneak Attack (spell) + 70 acid next round on a failed save (save negates).

*- longbow or short bow
*- black, copper, or green


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To increase the damage of a hornbow: buy Large arrows for a hornbow, put down Large arrows, increase size via enlarge person* or other effect (mountain druid 12 using wild shape to become a Large giant for 12 hours, for example), pick up arrows to use while character is Large size. This gets around the automatic resizing of carried gear/resumption of original size when leaving possession issue.

*- juggernaut's pauldrons effectively allows a character to benefit from enlarge person all day (apart from having to reactivate the effect every 5 minutes)


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On further consideration, a better character path would be elf, half-elf (Ancestral Arms*), or human (Martial Weapon Proficiency*) brawler (snakebite striker) 1/arcanist (blood arcanist**) 4/arcane trickster 6/arcane archer 2/arcanist +1/arcane trickster +4/arcane archer +1/arcanist +1.

Brw 1 - Magical Knack (Arcanist), one other trait; Point Blank Shot
Arc 2 - Precise Shot
Arc 4 - Accomplished Sneak Attacker
AT 2- Intensified Spell
AT 4- Reach Spell (spells like shocking grasp and vampiric touch can be cast as ranged touch attacks)
AT 6- Weapon Focus*
AA 2- Quicken Spell
Arc 5- Arcanist Exploit (Metamixing***)
AT 7- Extra Arcanist Exploit (Quick Study***)
AT 9- Maximize Spell
AA 3- Expanded Preparation or Improved Initiative

*- longbow or shortbow
**- Draconic (Black, Copper, or Green) or Orc bloodline
***- switch the order, if desired


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If including mythic, then I'd recommend half-elf (using the elf FCB to add +1 to the arcane reservoir with each arcanist level) with the Orc bloodline above and add the following mythic progression (assuming a mythic tier is added each even level):

Tier 1- Mythic Path (Archmage); Archmage Arcana (Wild Arcana), Champion's Strike (Distant Barrage); Mythic Spellcasting; Dual Path (Champion)
Tier 2- Mythic Weapon Training (Bows) to gain proficiency in orc hornbow (and later apply Weapon Focus to all bows)
Tier 3- Crafting Mastery because making your own magic items (like an adaptive orc hornbow, bracers of archery, sniper's goggles, etc.) is great; Mythic Spell Lore to learn even more mythic spells
Tier 4- Unstoppable Shot to shoot around corners and through creatures
Tier 5- Component Freedom, Energy Conversion; Extra Path Ability
Tier 6- Channel Power
Tier 7- Limitless Range; Weapon Focus (Mythic)
Tier 8- Enduring Armor
Tier 9- Mirror Dodge; Extra Mythic Power
Tier 10- Legendary Item, Longevity, or Perfect Preparation

Mythic heroism active. Quickened true strike (Mythic true strike will also bypass all DR) + Imbue Intensified, Maximized Mythic cone of cold using Channel Power into an arrow + Impromptu Sneak Attack + Surprise Spells = 2d6 orc hornbow + Str bonus +5 enhancement (or +4 enhancement and +2d6 anarchic, axiomatic, holy, or unholy with Mythic greater magic weapon) +4 morale from Mythic heroism +7d6 Sneak Attack (arrow) + 1d6 [cold, electricity, or fire] + 330 cold (can be changed to acid, electricity, or fire with Energy Conversion; affects target and a 60 ft cone, save for half) +7d6 Sneak Attack (spell).


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If you're firing off one shot you'll likely have a move action. Freebooter ranger may work for you. Bonus to hit and damage group wide and stacks with bards... with no limit on use.

Dark Archive

Dragonchess Player wrote:

On further consideration, a better character path would be elf, half-elf (Ancestral Arms*), or human (Martial Weapon Proficiency*) brawler (snakebite striker) 1/arcanist (blood arcanist**) 4/arcane trickster 6/arcane archer 2/arcanist +1/arcane trickster +4/arcane archer +1/arcanist +1.

Brw 1 - Magical Knack (Arcanist), one other trait; Point Blank Shot
Arc 2 - Precise Shot
Arc 4 - Accomplished Sneak Attacker
AT 2- Intensified Spell
AT 4- Reach Spell (spells like shocking grasp and vampiric touch can be cast as ranged touch attacks)
AT 6- Weapon Focus*
AA 2- Quicken Spell
Arc 5- Arcanist Exploit (Metamixing***)
AT 7- Extra Arcanist Exploit (Quick Study***)
AT 9- Maximize Spell
AA 3- Expanded Preparation or Improved Initiative

*- longbow or shortbow
**- Draconic (Black, Copper, or Green) or Orc bloodline
***- switch the order, if desired

Why not grab hornbow prof with the half elf racial, or take the alt human racial for any 2 martial or exotic weapon profs and grab hornbow that way?


Trisagon wrote:
I am trying to build a character that is focused to do the most possible damage with a a single arrow.... How would you build such a character?

I like Alchemists: exploding arrows are cool.

I consider Precise Shot to be essential, so I would always start off as a Human or a Fighter.

Trisagon wrote:
Everything is allowed, even mythic, and 3pp but GM might want to check first.

I'm not really familiar with 3rd party stuff, my advice won't include that initially, not because I think it's bad, but because I don't know much.

Trisagon wrote:
Is there a way to increase the dice damage of an hornbow permanently, like impact does for melee weapons?

So, I like Half Orcs and Half Elves. Half Elves can get proficiency with the Orc Hornbow as an Alternate Racial Trait called Ancestral Arms.

Even 1 level in Ranger or something will allow you to use any Wand, and I do like Gravity Bow, which has been mentioned. As a Half Elf with the Arcane Training Alternate Racial Trait, you can use the Magic Wands of any one Arcane spellcasting class. Gravity Bow is also a Wizard Spell.

I also like Enlarge Person. A problem with EP is that even though your arrows grow with you, they shrink again after they are loosed from the bow and leave your person. Mark Seifter devised a solution: you carry around a quiver of Size Large Arrows. You Drop them as a Free Action. You Enlarge, then pick them back up as a Move Action.

Another problem with Enlarge Person is it has a Full Round Casting Time. Alchemists can Enlarge as a Standard Action. Alchemists who worship Uragothoa and take the Potion Glutton Feat can Enlarge (and do just about anything!) as a Swift Action (This was made illegal, but just for Pathfinder Society Play, afaIk.). Living Monoliths can Enlarge as a Swift Action, requiring only a 1 level dip in the Prestige Class. Living Monolith pre-requires the Iron Will Feat--not a terrible Feat anyway: Will Saves are the most important Saves--and the Endurance Feat, which you can get via a Half-Orc Alternate Racial Trait. Endurance is also a nice Feat. It lets you sleep in Medium Armor without waking up Fatigued. Still another way to get Enlarge Person as a Swift Action would be to dip a level in Shifter with the Swarm Shifter Archetype. This adds a very different flavor to your character, of course.

So, with an Orc Hornbow, Enlarge Person, and Gravity Bow, your arrows will inflict 4d6 Damage. Since you want to shoot 1 arrow at a time, I recommend Vital Strike Feats and the Devastating Strike Feat. With V.S, I.V.S, and G.V.S., the Damage/Arrow goes up from 4d6-> 8d6 -> 12d6, and Devastating Strike adds +6 Damage.

So Alchemist. For an Alchemist archer, I love the Grenadier Archetype. At level 2, Grenadiers get to add an Alchemal Weapon such as Alchemist Fire, Lamp Oil, or Acid as a Move Action, leaving your Standard Action to shoot with Vital Strike Feats. The Explosive Missile Discovery lets you attach Bombs to your Arrows and shoot them as a Standard Action.

So, what's this look like?

Half Elf, Ancestral Arms, Arcane Training
1Fighter1: Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, BAB+1

With Arcane Training, you can use your Wand of Gravity Bow, and make your 2d6 Arrows do 3d6.

2F1Shifter1: Vermin Aspect (Enlarge Person), BAB+2

Now you can do your Enlarge Person Trick, and your arrows do 4d6.

3F1S1Alchemist1: Bombs 1d6, Mutagens, Extracts, Throw Anything, Brew Potion, Deadly Aim
4F1S1A2: Alchemal Weapon, Discovery, Precise Bombs, BAB+3

Now you can add a flask of Alchemist Fire or something, and your arrows do 5d6, one of those d6s being Fire Damage or something.

5F1S1A3: Bombs 2d6, Feat, BAB+4
6F1S1A4: Explosive Missile, BAB+5

Now your arrows do 7d6 Damage: 4d6 from the 2-Size-bumped Orc' Arrows, 1d6 from Alchemal Weapon, and 2d6 of Bomb Damage.

7F2S1A4: Vital Strike, Feat, BAB+6

Vital Strike won't double the Bomb or Alchemal Weapon damage, of course, but the base Damage of the arrows jumps from 4d6 to 8D6, with 3d6 of Bombs and Alchemist Fire for 11d6 Damage/Arrow. Meanwhile, there are 2 Feats and a Discovery I left open.

From here I guess you could just keep taking levels in Alchemist gaining 1d6 Bomb Damage every other level, starting with level 8. And you have a lot of other ways to add on to this character.

Another variant you could go with would be to use Marker Dye Arrows. They do no Damage on their own, but they still explode, and they hit as Ranged Touch Attacks.

Dark Archive

@scott can a swarm wield weapons?

Vermin Aspect (Su)
As a swift action, a swarm shifter can transform into a swarm of vermin.


Belafon wrote:

Tiefling Rogue (underground chemist) 4 / Alchemist (Vivisectionist) X

Basic Shenanigan - Take "bomber" as your second level rogue talent. You do damage with bombs equal to your sneak attack damage, and can deal sneak attack damage with splash weapons. The vivisectionist sneak attack damage stacks with the rogue's. Make alchemist your favored class and take the alternate FCB (+1/2 point to bomb damage). Take the "explosive missile" discovery. Have Deadly Aim. Using a hornbow, at 9th level, you'll do 2d6 (weapon) + 5d6 (sneak) + 5d6 (bomb) + 2 (FCB) + 4 (deadly aim) + Int mod + Str Mod + Enhancement.

That's f+@#ing Brilliant!

Belafon wrote:
Assuming you are in sneak attack range.

Well, how about be a Ninja instead of a Rogue, and then you can use Ninja Vanishing Trick to turn Invisible. In the first Round of Combat, you turn Invisible and then use Stealth as a Move Action to find a hidy hole. Then on subsequent rounds you shoot while Invisible, locking in your Sneak Attack Damage. Normally, you need to make a Stealth Check at a -20 to stay Invisible, but you could take the False Attacker Rogue Talent to allow you to make a simple Bluff Check as an Immediate Action, and if either the Bluff or the Stealth succeeds, you stay in Stealth.

Another thing you could do is dip 3 levels in Bard with the Flame Dancer Archetype. Song of Fiery Gaze lets you and all your allies see through fire and smoke. So then you get yourself an Eversmoking Bottle.

Belafon wrote:
Mythic Vital Strike is still going to be the best, but this is kinda fun.

This character can still take Vital Strike Feats.


Name Violation wrote:

@scott can a swarm wield weapons?

Vermin Aspect (Su)
As a swift action, a swarm shifter can transform into a swarm of vermin.

I think so: I don't see any rule that says that Polymorphing into a Swarm makes you lose your ability to use normal gear. But,

Polymorph wrote:
When you cast a polymorph spell that changes you into a creature of the animal, dragon, elemental, magical beast, plant, or vermin type, all of your gear melds into your body.

, and

Swarm Shifter wrote:
a swarm shifter can transform into a swarm of vermin.

So, it is fair to say that this character would need to drop his bow and his arrows before Enlarging, and take 2 Move Actions to recover them. That's a problem,

but

Swarm Shifter wrote:
She must still attack a target as normal, even if occupying the same space as her target.

It would be a hell of a thing if you are required to make normal attacks but also can't make normal attacks.

Still, it might be better to go with Living Monolith or Alchemist-with-Potion Glutton.


So, another option I was thinking would be Arcane Archer. Arcane Archers can Imbue their Arrows with Spells, and that can come out to lots of Damage. The traditional way to become an Arcane Archer would be something like 6 levels in Fighter, a level in Wizard, and then the rest in AA. Another thought I had would be 1 level in Fighter, 5 levels in Wizard, then levels in Eldritch Knight and/or Living Monolith until your BAB gets up to +6, then Arcane Archer. I've never been super excited about any of my builds, but I think this would be a very powerful character.


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Name Violation wrote:
Dragonchess Player wrote:

On further consideration, a better character path would be elf, half-elf (Ancestral Arms*), or human (Martial Weapon Proficiency*) brawler (snakebite striker) 1/arcanist (blood arcanist**) 4/arcane trickster 6/arcane archer 2/arcanist +1/arcane trickster +4/arcane archer +1/arcanist +1.

Brw 1 - Magical Knack (Arcanist), one other trait; Point Blank Shot
Arc 2 - Precise Shot
Arc 4 - Accomplished Sneak Attacker
AT 2- Intensified Spell
AT 4- Reach Spell (spells like shocking grasp and vampiric touch can be cast as ranged touch attacks)
AT 6- Weapon Focus*
AA 2- Quicken Spell
Arc 5- Arcanist Exploit (Metamixing***)
AT 7- Extra Arcanist Exploit (Quick Study***)
AT 9- Maximize Spell
AA 3- Expanded Preparation or Improved Initiative

*- longbow or shortbow
**- Draconic (Black, Copper, or Green) or Orc bloodline
***- switch the order, if desired

Why not grab hornbow prof with the half elf racial, or take the alt human racial for any 2 martial or exotic weapon profs and grab hornbow that way?

Mainly because arcane archer requires Weapon Focus with longbow or shortbow. The progression above is to qualify for arcane trickster and arcane archer as quickly as possible.

You could substitute Exotic Proficiency in place of Reach Spell, but you lose out on casting Intensified Reach shocking grasp (up to 10d6 ranged touch) as a 3rd level spell or Reach vampiric touch as a ranged touch 4th level spell. The progression above is not primarily an archer, but it can do a massive amount of damage on a single shot a few times per day.

Anyway, the difference between a composite longbow (1d8) and an orc hornbow (2d6) is 2.5 base damage on average. When you're adding +7d6 Sneak Attack and Intensified, Maximized spell damage (also with Sneak Attack), that 2.5 average damage is not much.


Scott Wilhelm wrote:
So, another option I was thinking would be Arcane Archer. Arcane Archers can Imbue their Arrows with Spells, and that can come out to lots of Damage. The traditional way to become an Arcane Archer would be something like 6 levels in Fighter, a level in Wizard, and then the rest in AA. Another thought I had would be 1 level in Fighter, 5 levels in Wizard, then levels in Eldritch Knight and/or Living Monolith until your BAB gets up to +6, then Arcane Archer. I've never been super excited about any of my builds, but I think this would be a very powerful character.

Yeah, I build them with EK these days unless I plan to cast more often than fire my bow (cause that 1 extra casting progression level lost at EK1 hurts if casting is your primary shtick). I wouldn't put more than 4 levels into Arcane Archer. Nothing past AA4 is really worth giving up more spellcasting. More levels of EK gives you both BAB and spellcasting, so that or more of your spellcasting class for class features are probably better options. This lets you get slightly better BAB (so one more iterative attack) and cast higher level spells than either a Magus or Bard, though both of those classes have other advantages that help level the magic archer playing field depending on what exactly you want to do.

To the OP, since you're trying to maximize single arrow damage, you could also do this with 1 level of Crossblooded Sorcerer for the Orc and one of the Dragon arcanas. Then pick your prefered Wizard spec (admixture for the ability to change energy types on the fly; foresight for never being surprised, an init bonus, and an interesting pre-roll ability; or teleportation for that sweet, sweet, swift-action dimension door-like ability) or stick with Sorcerer since losing a spell known of each level sucks but doesn't really affect your ability to shoot fireball arrows (and you lose one fewer caster levels). Because you only need one arrow (at nearly full BAB) to hit per round, hitting is less of an issue than keeping your DCs and your caster level which will be at least -3 up so you don't lose too much damage. The Magical Knack trait will fix some of that with a +2 and the rest can be made up with various combinations of feats.


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Scott Wilhelm wrote:
So, another option I was thinking would be Arcane Archer. Arcane Archers can Imbue their Arrows with Spells, and that can come out to lots of Damage. The traditional way to become an Arcane Archer would be something like 6 levels in Fighter, a level in Wizard, and then the rest in AA. Another thought I had would be 1 level in Fighter, 5 levels in Wizard, then levels in Eldritch Knight and/or Living Monolith until your BAB gets up to +6, then Arcane Archer. I've never been super excited about any of my builds, but I think this would be a very powerful character.

may delay it a bit, but 1 level of War Priest and the Air Blessing takes away the penalty for range increment of any ranged attack (while also letting you ignore AoO from making ranged attacks). Coupled with Seeking Arrow or Phase Arrow and the mythic champion ability Limitless Range, you can hit anyone on the planet you know about!


i would like to point out one major problem with any one shot per round build - the 'Deflect Arrows' feat can be a real buzz killer. (also the similar feats like 'missile shield' and 'cut from the air chain')

-"i can deal a godzilion damage with only one arrow"
-'im a first level monk and guess what i go for free?..."


I wonder if a touch of Bolt Ace would help? You're only doing one shot and the best way to maximize damage is guarentee hits.


Cavall wrote:
I wonder if a touch of Bolt Ace would help? You're only doing one shot and the best way to maximize damage is guarentee hits.

bolt ace suffer from the fact he didn't get 'the get out of deadly aim touch nurf' along the normal gunslingers. something a lot of players iv seen playing bolt ace seem to miss.

(deadly aim doesn't work with touch attacks. guns specifically call out to work with it. but bolt ace didn't get that, although a lot of gm wave it in anyway)


zza ni wrote:

i would like to point out one major problem with any one shot per round build - the 'Deflect Arrows' feat can be a real buzz killer. (also the similar feats like 'missile shield' and 'cut from the air chain')

-"i can deal a godzilion damage with only one arrow"
-'im a first level monk and guess what i go for free?..."

in a mythic game a while back, one of the players was a zen archer. We were squaring off against some evil muckiddy muck foot soldiers, who all had missile shield. Instead of focusing on one, or kicking them in the head, he instead spread his five or so shots a round among five or so baddies. For. Four. Turn. In. A. Row.

After the third round of doing absolutely nothing, I finally turned to him and asked if he was messing with us, to which he just kind of laughed and then declared he was doing it again. After the game, he said he didn't notice they were blocking his arrows with their shields, to which we asked, didn't he find it odd that he wasn't rolling damage?


Well, to throw this in there....

What about a Slayer with the sniper archetype? you add your level in damage with sniping attacks, can use studied target and deadly aim, and add sneak att within the first range increment (not limited to 30ft with the sniping att). Depending on level that can add up.


zza ni wrote:

i would like to point out one major problem with any one shot per round build - the 'Deflect Arrows' feat can be a real buzz killer. (also the similar feats like 'missile shield' and 'cut from the air chain')

-"i can deal a godzilion damage with only one arrow"
-'im a first level monk and guess what i go for free?..."

I was just looking at Deflect Arrows. It's not just Monks who can get it. It's just a Combat Feat that only prerequires a Dex of 13. Fighters can get it as a Bonus Feat, too.

So, it's important that your characters are not 1-trick ponies. If you fire multiple arrows that do less damage, you are more vulnerable to DR. If you are dedicated archer, what happens when you are in melee or if a high-level Ninja just steals your bow, or an NPC build around Sundering gets to you in melee?

The build I posted on this thread actually has unspecified Feats and Discoveries that can be used to diversify the character. He has Arcane Training, so he could use a Wand of Scorching Ray instead of a Bow. One of the variants discussed was the use of Ninja Vanishing Trick to turn invisible to lock in Sneak Attack Damage: that probably means your level 1 Monk would not "be aware of the attack."

Still: pretty sneaky, sis!


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If you want a strong archer AND a strong blaster-caster, then go ganzi (Weaponplay oddity*) arcanist (blood arcanist**) 6/eldritch knight 3/arcane archer 4/eldritch knight +7 to end with BAB +17 and spell progression as an arcanist 18. The only "issue" is that the racial +2 Con, -2 Int, and +2 Cha aren't "optimal" for a Dex/Int character.

Arc 1- Magical Knack (Arcanist), trait; Point Blank Shot
Arc 3- Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Orc Hornbow)
Arc 5- Arcanist Exploit (Metamixing); Precise Shot
EK 1- Intensified Spell, Weapon Focus (Longbow)***
EK 3- Rapid Shot***
AA 2- Maximize Spell***
AA 4- Quicken Spell
EK 5- Manyshot***
EK 7- (feat)***
EK 9- (feat)***

*-"always proficient with all simple and martial weapons, and they can qualify for feats normally available only to fighters (such as Weapon Specialization) even if they don’t have any fighter class levels"
**- Orc bloodline
***- switch the order of these feats, if desired (as long as Weapon Focus is taken by arcanist 6/eldritch knight 3 to qualify for arcane archer when BAB hits +6)


Dwarftr wrote:

Well, to throw this in there....

What about a Slayer with the sniper archetype? you add your level in damage with sniping attacks, can use studied target and deadly aim, and add sneak att within the first range increment (not limited to 30ft with the sniping att). Depending on level that can add up.

I actually had a whole reply typed up earlier about just being a Slayer or Nature Fang Druid, and using Assassinate... apparently it didn't post, or I didn't post it. Lol.


Also, I absolutely STACK my generic enemy NPC's with Cut/Smash From the Air... some of my favorite feats in the game... especially for NPC's... and the Bonded Mind teamwork feat, but that's not for this discussion...

Just a stupid melee mook? Might as well be a Fighter... might as well have Weapon Training (not like it's going to change the outcome of anything for these guys)... I will even use Martial Focus on classes without Weapon Training to get Cut/Smash From the Air... might as well take advantage of Combat Reflexes to chop missiles out of the sky...

Honestly, Combat Reflexes is such a guarantee for my characters and NPC's... using Cut/Smash From the Air gives me a reason to pick up Power Attack. Lol.

I normally avoid anything that has a penalty to attack, regardless of whatever extra damage may come from it... I would rather hit every time and do an average amount of damage, rather than do massive damage IF a hit occurs...

And how else to you possibly combat archers from just destroying $#!+...?

It is absolutely awesome asking the party's archer (ZAM-3/Inquisitor-16) what their rolls where for each arrow... AoO are made at your highest BAB, regardless of how many you take... chop, chop, chop... I'm still alive!!! That is a lot of fun as an NPC enemy... we all know they get ran over more often than not... it's nice to have a trick that works every once in while... stick around for an extra round... make the party think twice...


The best part of those feats is they work for the guy beside you too.


Cavall wrote:
The best part of those feats is they work for the guy beside you too.

For sure.

I am usually that guy, chopping arrows out of the air for those around... I consider it my duty as a big dumb fighter... it's the least I can do, don't worry it.

It is, or can be, surprising when the enemy does it...


But, to maximize damage... it's probably magic... magic is always the answer...

With the right combination, you can probably find a way to imbue an arrow with a no save spell that is worse than death from hp damage alone... or just lots of hp damage... whatever you want... magic is cool like that...

Maybe an Eldritch Archer/Hexcrafter Magus VMC Witch with Slumber Hex arrows? Slumber Hex can be boring effective... so can archery... sleep arrows... not damage, but down and out...


VoodistMonk wrote:
Maybe an Eldritch Archer/Hexcrafter Magus [bVMC Witch[/b] with Slumber Hex arrows? Slumber Hex can be boring effective... so can archery... sleep arrows... not damage, but down and out...

What does VMC Witch get you there? You already have Hexes as a Hexcrafter ...?


MrCharisma wrote:
VoodistMonk wrote:
Maybe an Eldritch Archer/Hexcrafter Magus [bVMC Witch[/b] with Slumber Hex arrows? Slumber Hex can be boring effective... so can archery... sleep arrows... not damage, but down and out...
What does VMC Witch get you there? You already have Hexes as a Hexcrafter ...?

If I VMC'd Witch and Hexcrafter, I'd be a White Haired Witch, that gets that Hair Attack instead of Hexes.


Scott Wilhelm wrote:
MrCharisma wrote:
VoodistMonk wrote:
Maybe an Eldritch Archer/Hexcrafter Magus [bVMC Witch[/b] with Slumber Hex arrows? Slumber Hex can be boring effective... so can archery... sleep arrows... not damage, but down and out...
What does VMC Witch get you there? You already have Hexes as a Hexcrafter ...?
If I VMC'd Witch and Hexcrafter, I'd be a White Haired Witch, that gets that Hair Attack instead of Hexes.

VMC Witch (or for that matter VMC anything) doesn't let you choose an archetype, so this doesn't work.

With respect to Warpriest using the Vital Strike feat chain with any ranged weapon as Sacred Weapon:

Level∙∙∙∙∙∙∙Base Damage∙∙∙∙∙∙Gravity Bow or Enlarge + Pick Up Large Arrows Damage
1∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙1d6∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙1d8
6∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙1d8∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙2d6
6+VS∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙2d8∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙4d6
12∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙1d10∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙2d8
12+IVS∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙3d10∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙6d8
18∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙2d6∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙3d6
18+GVS∙∙∙∙∙∙∙8d6∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙12d6
20∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙2d8∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙3d8
20+GVS∙∙∙∙∙∙∙8d8∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙∙12d8

(*)Or a Fighter who keeps Weapon Training and gets Advanced Weapon Training (Focused Weapon), although in this case the levels at which the feats are gained will be at least 7 for Vital Strike and possibly as early as 11 and 16 for Improved Vital Strike and Greater Vital Strike, respectively.

Yes, I know you can use Option-Space on a Mac or ALT+0160 on Windows to get a Non-Breaking Space that does (almost) the same thing as the dots while being invisible, but then if you have to copy and paste the table later, it converts into normal spaces, which throws off the spacing.

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