View Full Version : Marksman [3.5e Base Class] Critique Desired

2012-07-14, 04:59 PM
A Bit of Introduction
I hope to be starting up some D&D again with a group that managed to play shortly, but in thinking about it I realized that "oh, my character got his skull crushed by a hammer last game". In thinking about what sort of character I might take on now, I considered briefly working to make some sort of range-focused rogue, but the 30ft. limit prevents that from being anything I'd ever like it to be.
So I decided to have a go at making a dedicated long-range archer.

The Marksman, as I hope the details below convey, is supposed to serve mainly in the capacity of an extra combatant, but with somewhat of a support focus due to their ability to take out very specific targets in the middle of their actions, while not having to immediately respond to melee concerns.
This is their ideal encounter, of course, and in an ambush or a dungeon they would be much less effective, though (I'm hoping, but may be wrong) still viable.

Critique is highly desired. I'm proud of how it's looking, but inexperienced with class creation and balancing. Some of my key concerns are:

I may have given it too much power. This should only manifest if the player and party plan carefully, and encounters aren't too restrictive, but it could be too much in those favorable situations.
There are several dead levels, and the class feels slightly weak on versatility. The skillshots give some, but not a great deal. I'd love ways to increase the flexibility that don't compromise the aesthetic, or increase the power of the class too far.
The Focus skill may read a little clumsily. I'm a fan of what it's trying to achieve - if that isn't more powerful than I realize I'd like it to stay - but writing it out with the existing mechanics was odd.

Also, I want to note that in making this I did learn that there are other Marksman classes out there. Of the ones I saw, none seemed to have quite the feel that this class does, to me. More of a damage dealing focus than a support one (though, to note, I did mean for the Marksman to also be able to function as a damage dealer when desired). I didn't take any of my ideas from them, though I did read through them to see if/how they incorporated ideas I already had.

So, without any further ado, the Marksman:

About the Marksman
Marksmen are masters of the bow, and those with the sharpest of eyes. They may have different backgrounds, but all of them are hunters, killers, and in any battle the god that chooses who lives, and who is smote. They are calculating, careful, and can be assured to have a plan to kill everyone they meet.

Marksmen may adventure for typical reasons, desiring fortune or fame, or righting some wrong, but a key element in the Marksman's will to journey is self-improvement. Their use of the bow is in art, and one they tend to at least be very vested in, if not outright proud of.

A Marksman is a master of the bow, and is highly adept at using the environment to their advantage. They rarely excel in close quarters combat, but their ability to fire off strikingly accurate shots at great ranges may make this irrelevant, and if it does not their skill in hiding and slipping back into the shadows between their attacks will.

Marksmen are very dedicated to their art, and it is one that requires patience and self-control, making the class more attractive to those who lean toward the lawful side of the Law-Chaos axes. At the same time, many Marksmen develop a feeling of connection with their targets as they study them, and are often drawn away from the extremes of the Good-Evil axis by the nature of seeing this connection.

As many Marksmen first start out as hunters of the forest, they have a tendency to revere Ehlonna, or Obad-Hai. Their focus on the self, however, may make their skills unimportant to their choice of deity, instead often falling along racial or alignment lines, or simply having no deity they worship.

Marksmen often begin as hunters, who then focus intensely on their use and skill with the bow, though they may also find their start as a warrior of some kind who favors the bow over other weapons. The Marksman may then develop their skill on their own, which is not uncommon, but in the small amount of community that exists between these like-skilled tradesmen there is a somewhat honored tradition of mentoring beginning Marksmen.
However, with the variety of beliefs held by different Marksmen, this mentoring might not be what would expect, and may manifest as a patient teacher just as much as a sworn enemy, or a silent watcher there to aid the aspiring Marksman in a time of great need.
Most Marksmen will at least see others of the art as fellows, or kindred souls, and there may be several Marksman's Guilds in the world that would happy welcome anyone of the arching trade, though they aren't likely to be terribly overt.

Elves, though often chaotic, may at least dabble in Marksmanship, if only as an extension of being hunters and being fit for the skillset. Humans fairly frequently take to the art, for the frequency bows find use in combat and hunting, and the commonality of lawful alignments. Half-elves, halflings, and gnomes may find themselves fairly suited to the dexterity of the role, so aren't infrequent Marksmen either. Dwarves and goblins may have some that take to the bow so dedicatedly, but their usual environments make Marksmen less impressive.
The savage races aren't precluded from Marksmanship, but the practice is often discouraged as cowardly, save for a few determined souls that brutally demonstrate their usefulness.

Other Classes:
Marksmen frequently get along with Rangers and Rogues, finding their hunting nature and preference for stealth and care right at home with the philosophies of those classes. They tend to connect well with Monks and Druids philosophically, being focused on self-improvement like Monks are, and feeling connected to the predators and prey of the natural world.
Marksmen are more likely to appreciate a Fighter's presence in a battle than they are to agree with their style, and may feel similarly of Paladin's, finding their presence "louder" than it should be. Bards are also likely to be a little too loud for their wants, though the noise does draw away from attention, and talking may distract a foe long enough for their shot to be lined up perfectly.
Spellcasting is somewhat foreign to a Marksman, but the skills and power of Sorcerers and Wizards are sure to be respected.

Marksmen are a party's insurance, their ace in the hole, even their guardian angel if a negotiation turns sour or a foe needs to struck down before they make their next attack. A Marksman carefully chooses their shots to hamper the enemy, confuse their efforts to organize, and to counter those same efforts by any opposing archers or Marksmen. They may keep their distance from the fray, but their eye and bow make them seem like they are closer than anyone.

Class Details

Class Features|
Vital Shot Damage

Bonus Feat, Into Shadow, Deadeye|

Focus, Skillshot: Vital Strike|


Bonus Feat|

Skillshot: Interrupting Strike|



Bonus Feat, Skillshot: Crippling Strike|



Skillshot: Death Strike|

Bonus Feat|

Hide in Plain Sight|

Skillshot: Improved Vital Strike|


Bonus Feat|




Bonus Feat; Steady Hands, Sharp Eyes|


Game Rule Information
Abilities: Dexterity and Wisdom are the key abilities for a Marksman, both increasing their accuracy, improving a portion of their most important skills, and providing other advantages like increasing the DC to save against their abilities, or increasing their armor class. Strength and Intelligence can also be important for a Marksman, increasing the damage their shots can deal and enabling them to better move around an environment, or just giving them more skills to utilize.
Alignment: Any.
Hit Die: d6

Class Skills
Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Hide (Dex), Heal (Wis), Jump (Str), Knowledge(architecture) (Int), Knowledge(geography) (Int), Knowledge(nature) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Profession (Int), Spot (Wis), Survival (Wis), Swim (Str), Tumble (Dex), Use Magical Device (Cha), Use Rope (Dex).
Skill points at each level: (6 + Int Modifier) * (3 + Class Level)

Class Features
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: a Marksman is proficient with the longbow, the composite longbow, the shortbow, the composite shortbow, the heavy crossbow, the light crossbow, the heavy repeating crossbow, the light repeating crossbow, and the hand crossbow, as well as the dagger, the kukri, the sap, and the short sword. Marksmen are proficient with light armor, but not with shields.

Marksman Bonus Feats: At level 1, and every 4th level, a Marksman may choose one of the following bonus feats: Far Shot, Precise Shot, Improved Precise Shot, Improved Critical, Rapid Reload, Stealthy, Self Sufficient, Endurance, Die Hard, Weapon Focus, Weapon Specialization, Greater Weapon Focus, or Greater Weapon Specialization. When selecting these bonus feats Marksmen may ignore the prerequisites Point Blank Shot and Fighter level X.

Into Shadow (Ex.): When sniping using a projectile weapon, a Marksman gains a bonus to hide again after shooting equal to his class level.

Deadeye (Ex.): When using a projectile weapon, and attacking from a distance of 30 ft. or greater, a Marksman adds his Wisdom Modifier to attack rolls.

Focus (Ex.): Starting at level 2, while using the Hide skill, and wielding a projectile weapon, a Marksman may choose a target to focus on. Focusing on a target is a free action, and progresses much like a readied action. Once a target has been chosen, the Marksman is studying that target, and every move action or combat action that they devote to studying the target results in the target being considered "more studied".
If the Marksman stops studying the target for any reason whatever level of "studied" it was at is reduced to zero. A Marksman stops studying a target if he takes any action that requires he give up hiding from the target or is detected by the target, or that he stops wielding his weapon, or that sufficiently draws away his attention from the target. Staying focused in distracting situations requires a Concentration check, as in spellcasting.

Skillshot (Ex.): While a Marksman is focused on a target, they may choose to make a Skillshot as if it were a readied action, and they may make different ones depending on how long they have studied the target is. A Skillshot ends the Marksman's focus, and may only be made as the attack that ends their focus.
Vital Strike: At level 2 and above, 2 actions of studying allow a marksman to take a high damage shot, dealing extra damage equal to (1d6 * Class Level / 2). If this shot hits as a critical, the extra damage is not multiplied. This attack can only be used against targets with discernible anatomies that are susceptible to critical hits.
Interrupting Strike: At level 5 and above, 3 actions of studying allow a marksman to perform a stunning attack. If this attack hits, the target takes normal damage, and must make a Fortitude saving throw DC (10 + 1/2 Class Level + Wisdom Modifier) or be stunned for 1 round.
Crippling Strike: At level 8 and above, 4 actions of studying allow a Marksman to plan a painful shot, causing the victim to take normal damage, and 1d4 points of ability damage to one ability of the Marksman's choice.
Death Strike: At level 11 and above, 6 actions of studying allow a Marksman to line up a deadly shot, dealing normal damage to the target and threatening immediate death if the target fails a Fortitude saving throw DC (10 + 1/2 Class Level + Wisdom Modifier).
Improved Vital Strike: At level 14 and above, a Marksman may use Vital Strike to full effect even against targets immune to critical hits.

Camouflage (Ex.): At level 7, a Marksman gains the ability to use the Hide skill in any sort of natural terrain without requiring cover or concealment.

Hide in Plain Sight (Ex.): At level 13, a Marksman is able to use the Hide skill even while being observed as long as they are within 5ft. of a shadow, but not including their own shadow.

Ghost (Ex.): At level 17, when a Marksman uses the Hide skill they also become imperceptible to detection by Blindsense, Tremorsense, and similar abilities that would otherwise avoid using direct sight to notice the Marksman. Detecting them then requires a Spot check, with a +5 bonus to the roll.

Steady Hands, Sharp Eyes (Ex.): At level 20, a Marksman's skill allows him to split his focus and react even more quickly. As a consequence, he may choose two targets to study when he is focusing. Both must meet the normal requirements, and be no more than 60ft. apart from one another.