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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Kalmageddon's Avatar

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    Default Crossbow sniper build, can it be done effectively?

    In a month I'll be making a character for a Rise of the Runelords campaign and I've been asked to provide a ranged character, because everyone else is either melee or support focused.

    My first tought was to make an archer but I immediately got bored of it, plus I'm not a fan of the unrealistic arrow spam, so I started to instead think about a crossbowman build. Unfortunately, I'm not as familiar with Pathfinder as I am with 3.5 and what little crossbow related feats I could find seem lackluster compared to just using a bow.

    I'm looking for advice on how to build an effective long range crossbow sniper, one shot, one kill kind of guy, possibily able to function as a scout, so skilled in stealth and survival.
    Any advice? All official sources should be available and the GM is not against minor fixes and homebrewing, though I would prefer to stick to official sources to avoid possibile balance issues or complaints from other players.
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    DwarfClericGuy

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    Default Re: Crossbow sniper build, can it be done effectively?

    One shot one kill style snipers are lamentably unsupported, but the Gunslinger archetype Bolt Ace lets crossbowmen at least function. Otherwise, the DSP third party class Marksman can do Crossbow sniper relatively well.
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    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Crossbow sniper build, can it be done effectively?

    You may be interested in the Bolt Ace archetype for gunslinger.
    Dead Shot deed may be useful for "one shot, one kill" type of build.

    I haven't played it myself yet so I cannot comment more. You may be interested in great Gunslinger guide by N. Jolly for build advice. Good luck!

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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Crossbow sniper build, can it be done effectively?

    Seconding Bolt Ace. Also, Slayer with X-bow feats could get the one-shot, one kill, effect once he gets access to Assassinate at 10th level.

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    MonkGuy

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    Default Re: Crossbow sniper build, can it be done effectively?

    Bolt Ace is in my opinion the only competitive crossbow build that doesn't involve serious cheese.

    That said, I'd see if you can have your GM tweak the archetype a little. Bolt Ace still gains firearm proficiency, Gunsmith and a battered firearm at level 1, which seems like an oversight when you take the flavour into account. I'd suggest changing the proficiency to all crossbows and switching Gunsmith with Rapid Reload or something similar.

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    Kalmageddon's Avatar

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    Default Re: Crossbow sniper build, can it be done effectively?

    As far as I can see, the Bolt Ace is still a fairly close range class, with abilities needing to be within the first range increment to work and others focusing on avoiding AoO while firing and reloading in melee... Sooo really not what I was looking for.

    Isn't there something for real long range sharpshooting? Maybe something that lets you make sneak attacks at long range or maybe automatically crit or something. Anything to at least get the feeling of a precise and deadly shot instead of just another annoying projectile that any enemy above CR 3 will hardly notice...
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    MonkGuy

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    Default Re: Crossbow sniper build, can it be done effectively?

    The reason people are suggesting bolt ace is the 5th level ability to add dex to damage with crossbows - without a source of extra damage to compete with strength on composite bows, the crossbow is not an effective alternative.

    If you want a single 'big hit' then I'd consider the Vital Strike chain and making your crossbow as large as possible. I think the end result might be underwhelming though - ranged weapons tend to rely on volley attacks rather than a single massive strike.

    There are items and tactics (Fire Sight and smoke stick for example) that let you gain sneak attack with at long range, but again SA benefits most from making lots of attacks.
    Last edited by Kudaku; 2015-01-18 at 06:53 PM.

  8. - Top - End - #8
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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Crossbow sniper build, can it be done effectively?

    Snipers Goggles let you SA at any range.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Crossbow sniper build, can it be done effectively?

    *Fairly Close range* class...at what distance do you want to fight?


    The Bolt ace can sharp shoot at 80' during the lower Levels(ordinary light crossbow); at 160' once a +1 distance light crossbow is available.

    Starting at Level 9(with crossbow mastery and crossbow Training(Heavy crossbow), they can sharp shoot at 240' range(+1 distance heavy crossbow).

    Both the Initial range(80') and the increased range(240') are actually far more than the effective range of normal gunslingers(20' or 40' in lower Levels; 40'/80' at higher Levels)

    Of course, you're free to shoot at longer ranges, but don't enjoy the ability to target Touch AC in such cases.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    Example:

    1/-2-elf (Bolt Ace) Gunslinger

    15 PB:

    10 STR 18 DEX 12 CON 8 INT 14 WIS 10 CHA

    Alternate Racial traits: Dual-minded(+2 will save; replaces Adaptability)

    Traits: Reactionary(+2 initiative), Indomitable Faith(+1 will save)

    Use Human FCB(+1/4 Grit)

    1st: Deeds(Sharp Shoot, Vigilant loading, Gunslinger's dodge), Grit, Gunsmith; (Gunsmithing), Point Blank Shot
    2nd: Nimble +1
    3rd: Deeds(Gunslinger Initiative, Pistol-Whip, Shooter's Resolve); Precise Shot
    4th: Deadly Aim, +1 DEX
    5th: Crossbow Training(Light Crossbow); Rapid Reload(Light Crossbow)
    6th: Nimble +2
    7th: Deeds(Dead Shot, Targeting, Distracting Shot); Rapid Shot
    8th: Improved Critical(Light Crossbow), +1 DEX
    9th: Crossbow Training(Heavy Crossbow); Crossbow Mastery (Retrain Improved Critical to Heavy Crossbow)
    10th: Nimble +3
    11th: Deeds(Bleeding Wound, Vigilant Shooter, Inexplicable Reload); Signature Deed(Sharp Shoot)
    12th: Exotic Weapon Proficiency(Double Crossbow), +1 DEX
    13th: Crossbow Training(Double crossbow); Weapon Focus(Double Crossbow) (Retrain Improved Critical to Double Crossbow)
    14th: Nimble +4
    15th: Deeds(Evasive, Slinger's luck, Pinning Shot); Snap Shot
    16th: Improved Snap Shot, +1 DEX
    17th: Crossbow Training(Hand crossbow); Combat Reflexes
    18th: Nimble +5
    19th: Deeds(Cheat Death, Death's Shot, Stunning Shot); Ability Focus(Stunning Shot)
    20th: True Grit(Stunning Shot, Sharp Shoot), +1 DEX; Greater Snap Shot (Retrain Signature Deed to Stunning Shot)


    At 1st lvl, you can target Touch AC by paying 1 Grit at 80' range.
    At 4th lvl, with a +1 light crossbow, you can shoot a single bolt for 1d8+5 damage - nothing special, unfortunately.
    At 5th lvl, you shoot for 1d8+9, or 1d8+10 if you have a Dex-boosting item.
    At 7th lvl, you can perform the dead shot deed; full-round Action for 1 attack; two attack rolls, if one threatens a critical, the entire attack is a critical threat; deals 2d8+10/11 damage

    Crossbows have 19-20/x2 crits, 19-20/x3 with crossbow Training, 17-20/x3 with improved critical/Keen and crossbow Training, 17-20/x4 with improved critical/keen, crossbow Training and bracers of falcon's aim.


    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Reloading Double Crossbows:

    It may be the case that some People argue that the Double Crossbow is a *trap* Option because it is difficult to reload.

    Fear not! RAW is on your side.

    Quote Originally Posted by Double Crossbow
    This heavy weapon fires a pair of iron-tipped bolts with a single squeeze of the trigger.
    Benefit: Make one attack roll. If the attack hits, the target takes damage from both bolts. Critical hits, sneak attack damage, and other precision-based damage only apply to the first bolt.

    Drawback: Due to its size and weight, you take a 4 penalty on your attack roll if youre proficient with it, or 8 if youre not.

    Load: Loading one bolt is a standard action; the Rapid Reload feat reduces this to a move action. Crossbow Mastery allows you to reload both bolts as a single move action.
    So...you can shoot two bolts with one attack, akin to Manyshot.

    You can reload a single bolt as Standard Action;
    If you have Rapid Reload(Double Crossbow), you can reload a single bolt as move action.
    If you have Crossbow Mastery, you can reload both bolts as move action.

    Despite this weapon text, double crossbows do not negate the benefit of Crossbow mastery:

    Quote Originally Posted by Crossbow Mastery
    -Snip-
    Benefit: The time required for you to reload any type of crossbow is reduced to a free action, regardless of the type of crossbow used. You can fire a crossbow as many times in a full attack action as you could attack if you were using a bow.
    Is the Double crossbow a *type of crossbow* ? - YES

    As such, you can reload it as a free Action. You can always choose to reload a single bolt as Standard Action, or choose to load two bolts as move Action...but nothing stops you from using the Crossbow Mastery feat to reload it as a free Action.
    Last edited by Abrasis Mindlef; 2015-01-19 at 08:30 AM.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Crossbow sniper build, can it be done effectively?

    Having played the first part of the RotR campaign, I would suggest against focusing on extremely long range. Like most published Pathfinder adventures, you will rarely get the opportunity to start an encounter at more than 100 ft. distance.

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    DwarfClericGuy

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    Default Re: Crossbow sniper build, can it be done effectively?

    Bracer's of falcon's aim don't stack with keen.
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  12. - Top - End - #12
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Crossbow sniper build, can it be done effectively?

    Bracers of Falcon's Aim do not stack with Improved Critical/Keen as far as expanding the THREAT RANGE is concerned.

    An ordinary crossbow has 19-20 crit range, and x2 crit Multiplier.
    Bracers of Falcon's aim change that to 19-20/x3.

    Crossbow Training changes that to 19-20/x4.

    Improved Critical or Keen changes the threat range from 19-20(the unmodified value, which happens to be identical to the value after Aspect of the Falcon was applied) to 17-20.

    The relevant part of Bracers is the increase in Critical multiplier.

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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Crossbow sniper build, can it be done effectively?

    I am thinking maybe some flavour of inquisitor rogue.

    Sneak attack with sniper goggles. Grab some of the rogue talents for better sniping (think it reduces the DC for staying hidden)

    Then I think Inquisitor can make your crossbow a bane crossbow.
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    Milo - I know what you are thinking Ork, has he fired 5 shots or 6, well as this is a wand of scorching ray, the most powerful second level wand in the world. What you have to ask your self is "Do I feel Lucky", well do you, Punk.
    Galkin - Erm Milo, wands have 50 charges not 6.
    Milo - NEATO !!
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    Default Re: Crossbow sniper build, can it be done effectively?

    Ask your GM if he will allow you to Power Attack with a ranged weapon? Call it Called Shot instead if you want, make the requirement for Dex instead of Strength. It's not as if you're going to break the game with that, but it'll certainly go a long way towards helping you function in your intended role.
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    DwarfClericGuy

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    Default Re: Crossbow sniper build, can it be done effectively?

    Thats already a thing, yo

    Unless you mean 3.5 Power attack with the ****ty ratio and BAB cap. But if your GM can add one and one and spots the touch attack mechanics, they might crack up and/or throw the core book at you.
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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Crossbow sniper build, can it be done effectively?

    Only problem with your crossbow mastery shenanigans is that in the description of double crossbow it specifically states that crossbow mastery allows you to load both bolts as a move action, thereby destroying your build.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Crossbow sniper build, can it be done effectively?

    Quote Originally Posted by Abrasis Mindlef
    Is the Double crossbow a *type of crossbow* ? - YES

    As such, you can reload it as a free Action. You can always choose to reload a single bolt as Standard Action, or choose to load two bolts as move Action...but nothing stops you from using the Crossbow Mastery feat to reload it as a free Action.
    Nothing, even the double weapon text, removes the benefits of the Crossbow Mastery feat. The Option to reload two bolts as one move Action is certainly possible, but it is not the only way to reload a double crossbow.

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Crossbow sniper build, can it be done effectively?

    Another option is to use the Path of War base classes to gain access to the Solar Wind Discipline. Depending on the class chosen (all have a way of getting access) you can build an effective crossbowman and lay down some serious hurt between boosts and strikes.


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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Crossbow sniper build, can it be done effectively?

    Specific beats general. Double crossbow text specifically states it doesn't work the way you think it does.

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    Default Re: Crossbow sniper build, can it be done effectively?

    Well, the weapon description of Double crossbow describes one *Option* for reloading a Double Crossbow, contingent on some prerequisites.

    a) you can reload a single bolt as Standard Action
    b) With the Rapid Reload feat, you can reload a single bolt as a move Action.
    c) Crossbow Mastery allows you reload two bolts as a move Action.

    Allows to is not Forces you to.
    You could reload a single bolt, even if you have Crossbow mastery, if you want.

    Crossbow Mastery, however, adds a fourth Option:
    d) Reload any crossbow as free Action.

    This extra Option does not invalidate or replace any other Options to reload a (double) crossbow.

    Just as you can choose to load a single bolt if you have crossbow mastery, even if you can reload two bolts at once with a move Action, you can choose to reload the double crossbow as a free Action using the benefit of Crossbow Mastery.


    Alternatively, if your DM decides to rule otherwise or consider this interaction a gray area, you can always choose to use a Minotaur Double Crossbow instead, which has no specific Interaction with Crossbow Mastery(and can thus be reloaded as free Action per Crossbow Mastery, as normal), and has a lower attack Penalty to boot!


    Facing this alternative, I suppose many DMs will reconsider and allow you to use a normal Double Crossbow instead(at least you have a -4 attack Penalty instead of a -2 Penalty here...)
    Last edited by Abrasis Mindlef; 2015-01-19 at 10:28 AM.

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    Default Re: Crossbow sniper build, can it be done effectively?

    Abrasis, all I'll say is that if you get your GM to swallow that interpretation more power to you.

    OT: I second a Bolt Ace/Slayer kinda build.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
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    Default Re: Crossbow sniper build, can it be done effectively?

    By the way, you can also go for Marksman from Dreamscarred Press for that concept if you're not against psionics.
    Go for Shroud archetype, Sniper style and you can have quire a good crossbowman (compared to alternative ideas, of course)
    That may be combined with other options, I may think about the build later if I have time

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    DwarfClericGuy

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    Default Re: Crossbow sniper build, can it be done effectively?

    Quote Originally Posted by kalasulmar View Post
    Only problem with your crossbow mastery shenanigans is that in the description of double crossbow it specifically states that crossbow mastery allows you to load both bolts as a move action, thereby destroying your build.
    ...huh, that's pretty clever, I never realised that.
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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Crossbow sniper build, can it be done effectively?

    I'm helping a player work through a very similar build and I've tried a few in the past. Here's what I can share:

    Option 1 - The Traditional Rogue Sniper
    This is the option that is hardest to pull off, especially at long range. You'll be looking a single attack per round (at the most), so this is one of the rare instances where you might look at the Vital Strike feat. You need to plan on either a) re-entering stealth every round, b) use the sniping rules or c) feinting the target every round. Options for re-entering stealth each round usually require some multi-classing so plan for those. The sniping rules are actually ok if you can find ways to mitigate the -20 penalty to your Stealth check. Halflings with the Swift as Shadow trait can reduce the penalty by 10, the Rogue advanced talent Snipers Eye sets the base penalty at -10. There may be other options, I haven't checked lately. My player is going to pick up Improved Feint ASAP and give that a try. If you want sneak attack damage from more than 30 feet away make sure you pick up those Sniper's Goggles asap or ask your GM to hand wave that penalty away.

    Option 2 - The Ninja Way aka Smokey no jitsu
    Similar to the Rogue method, only you abuse smoke bombs combined with some method of allowing yourself to see through the smoke yourself. At higher levels you pick up Vanishing Trick and Invisible Blade and just abuse that ability (while keeping the bombs in reserve). This method winds up not being too bad in actual practice.

    Option 3 - The Grenadier Alchemist
    This is my favorite method and just requires some refluff. At level 2 you can use the Alchemical Weapon ability granted by the archetype and at level 4 pick up Explosive Missile for a better version. Since you're using Bombs you get to add your Intelligence Modifier to your damage, and with the right race you can boost that damage even more through Favored Class bonuses. Now you're sniping with a single big, explosive hit that adds additional effects based bomb and admixture effects. You've also got a great chasis for being stealthy.

    Option 4 - Multi-Classing
    If you want to ignore the bonus die classes you could probably put together somebody who does a lot of damage with some clever multi-classing. As has already been pointed out, Bolt Ace 5 is a great foundation to work with. Fighter (Crossbowman) has some decent abilities, though they'd be better if you were Gestalting than on their own. Adding on Slayer for Studied Target mechanics is great too.

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    Default Re: Crossbow sniper build, can it be done effectively?

    To add to Nightbringer's great suggestions, the Inquisitor is pretty nice with a crossbow too. Judgment, (Greater) Bane and Litany of Vengeance/Righteousness give your shots plenty of bonus damage.

    Also, one way to get the "one big shot" flavor people have been wanting is to refluff Clustered Shots. You still use your iteratives as a delivery mechanism, but because the damage from the attacks is added up before calculating things like DR and massive damage rules, you can simply refluff it as a particularly debilitating hit.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
    Quote Originally Posted by gogogome View Post
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    Default Re: Crossbow sniper build, can it be done effectively?

    How about a Bolt Ace/Rogue Multiclass? Could it work?
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    Default Re: Crossbow sniper build, can it be done effectively?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kalmageddon View Post
    How about a Bolt Ace/Rogue Multiclass? Could it work?
    Sure. You'll delay getting sneak attack until level 6 as you should probably go Bolt Ace 5 for that lovely Dex to Damage bonus. The annoyance will be that ranged sneak attacks only work within 30 feet unless you buy those Sniper's Goggles.

    Look at my suggestions for the Rogue build. You'll want some method of reliably entering stealth mode so you can get that extra sneak attack damage. When you can't sneak attack you should probably focus on getting as many shots off as you can.

    There will be other builds that can get more damage off per shot, but you don't have to go with a 100% optimized build all the time. Bolt Ace / Rogue should be a fun build overall.

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    Default Re: Crossbow sniper build, can it be done effectively?

    One drawback to ranged sneak attack builds is that Fogcutting Lenses and Sniper Goggles take up the same slot. If your GM does not allow you to combine these items, there are two strategies you can use:

    - Ask your DM to let you wear a Goz Mask from ISWG instead of the Fogcutting Lenses. The mask takes up the head slot rather than the eyes and lets you see through fog and smoke.

    - If that option is too expensive or setting-specific, you can also play an Ifrit - one of their racial feats, Firesight, lets them see through smoke, and they have good stats for a rogue or ninja (+2 Dex, +2 Cha, -2 Wis.) With that you can simply pick up the Sniper Goggles and not worry about using an item to see through fog or smoke.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
    Quote Originally Posted by gogogome View Post
    Cheers to Psyren the MVP "naysayer".
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    Default Re: Crossbow sniper build, can it be done effectively?

    Sounds good as far as class and magical item goes.
    What about feats? I did a bit of research and these caught my attention:

    Deadly Aim sounds mandatory and could be good even outside of firing a single massive shot.

    Improved Precise Shot also sounds good, given that as I am further away from my target the chances of obstructions getting in the way increase.

    Prone Shooter is one of the few feats I could find that seems to be made for this build.

    Aside from the obvious Quick Reload, is there anything else I'm missing?
    Last edited by Kalmageddon; 2015-01-23 at 11:47 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zyzzyva View Post
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    Default Re: Crossbow sniper build, can it be done effectively?

    Point Blank Shot & Precise Shot are basic requirements for ranged builds. You want Rapid Reload so you can get your reload speed down to a free action if possible, allowing for iterative attacks.

    If you can get free action reloading, Rapid Shot is a good feat to have.

    If you go with the Sniping or Feinting techniques you'll only have a single attack per round. With those builds it might be worth investing in a decent Int score so you can use Focused Shot. Adding your Int and your Dex to a single shot is nice, particularly if it is a sneak attack as well.

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