Can a Magus have fun with a crossbow?


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion


So, everyone agrees that the crossbow isn't the best weapon there is. But can a magus use it effectively combining some features of the crossbow and the class?

1) For a starlit span magus that can only spellstricke within the first range increment, the crossbow has the best accurate range. A shortbow only has 60ft and a longbow has the volley trait - so if you don't MC into Fighter for point-blank stance it is bad for spellstrike. Crossbow gives accurate spellstrike range of up to 120ft!

2) By level 2 you seem to be able to get 2 attacks going before needing to reload. First, your Spellstrike Shot and the second one via Force Fang. Force Fang says it replaces all weapon statistics and basically only uses the weapons reach or range. You don't Strike with the weapon so the crossbow doesn't need to be reloaded. And Force Fang is one action so at high levels you can fire up to 3 force shots.

So, our sniper magus can spellstrike with a heavy crossbow from 120ft on the first turn, then follow up with 1 to 3 bolt(s) of force at the same range on turn 2! And then either take a break to reload or switch to spells or a melee weapon or whatever.

Maybe still not optimal but a unique way to get around reloading. And with casting Shield befor the Strike for Arcane Cascade or MCing (Ranger) for crossbow goodies, the first Spellstrike can even hit harder.


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Magus action economy is tight as is. The advantage of Starlit Span is that it can turret, using a Spellstrike and recharging it every turn. With a crossbow you need an action to reload, which gets rid of that advantage. Maybe with a Repeating Crossbow? But you don't get any extra damage from Arcane Cascade at range so you don't really need the stance at all.

For your big hit first round then ditch the weapon...maybe?


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

You could like... Spellstrike Force Fang on turn 1 and then reload shoot reload on turn 2 then have spellstrike up again for turn 3. That's not terrible and probably only one attack behind an archer.

Gets a little rough if the fight goes much longer though before you gain access to Refocus 2.


After the initial burst round you'd likely spend 2 actions to recharge Spellstrike and the crossbow, maybe use the 3rd to reposition or Hide or create a diversion so your next Spellstrike is more accurate


Guntermench wrote:
Magus action economy is tight as is. The advantage of Starlit Span is that it can turret, using a Spellstrike and recharging it every turn. With a crossbow you need an action to reload, which gets rid of that advantage. Maybe with a Repeating Crossbow?

At level 1 yes, you would have the problem that you always have to reload. But at level 1 switching weapons is easier since runes aren't a thing yet.

Guntermench wrote:
But you don't get any extra damage from Arcane Cascade at range so you don't really need the stance at all.

Right, I forgot that while writing the post. 8)


Gungus. Wild west wizard when wacky guns and gears releases. Action economy be damned. Gungus


I would wait for Guns and Gears to make this kind of concept. It was said that gunslinger was going to recieve a magical spec, so either gunslinger multiclassed or magus multiclassed by then will probably work miles better than what you can currently do.

Also, if they ever print a feat that reloads and recharges spellstrike in 1 action I could see crossbow starlit being decent (I don't discard that with G&G they just add more support to reload weapons outside Gunslinger).


I can't say that it would be a good build (you could also use guns for this) but if you get a familiar with independent and manual dexterity your DM might let you have it reload your weapon once per turn, which could fix the action economy problem.


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Ganigumo wrote:
I can't say that it would be a good build (you could also use guns for this) but if you get a familiar with independent and manual dexterity your DM might let you have it reload your weapon once per turn, which could fix the action economy problem.

There's a thread about familiars recently which established that to reload a crossbow one must be holding the crossbow. The passing back and forth of the crossbow would kill any saved actions.

Unlike 3.X/PF1, PF2 has nixed combinations which allow repeated extra actions via familiars. You can get an occasional extra action with preparation, but given how easy it is to get a familiar, one shouldn't expect much IMO.

Two hand crossbows may work long enough, but Doubling Rings don't work on those so it could get expensive (though I'd be surprised if the gun book doesn't have a variant of Doubling Rings which tackles dual-wielding ranged weapons).
You could perhaps use switch-hit to melee after a strong opening, but that could lead to money issues too (and sort of defeat taking that Hybrid).

So the answer to the OP is, you can have fun with crossbows, yes; you just can't get serious with them.


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The Repeating Hand Crossbow seems like it would work fine for magus, since they usually don't strike more than five times in an encounter.

Of course, using them means investing a lot of feats just to do the same thing as a bow, so it's still not ideal. Hopefully Guns and Gears will feature repeating weapons that are more easily accessible.


Goodham wrote:
Of course, using them means investing a lot of feats just to do the same thing as a bow, so it's still not ideal.

You'd really only need 1 feat: Unconventional Weaponry. If you aren't human, it's 2 feats from the Drow Shootist archetype.

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