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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    Default Scouts (and archery in general)

    Pointless preamble - So, I'm DMing for a player who wants to use an archer. Problem is, he's getting horribly frustrated with the total dearth of good archery options out there. It just doesn't fit in to the WotC officially-supported set of four roles (Arcane, Divine, Skills, and Person-With-Pointy-Sticks). There's a few good options out there for Throwing weapons, but hardly any for crossbows and bows. And the stuff that does exist is often substantially sub-par (OotBI anybody?)

    Actual Question 1 - How do you guys feel about archery in D&D? Is it a viable option in a world of Crusaders and Frenzied Berserkers and Lockdown 2.0? Or is it an atrophied extra limb, useful as a backup when your sword-and-board can't get in range but otherwise to be ignored?

    Actual Question 2 - How do you guys feel about the Scout class? What are your general thoughts on it - overpowered, underpowered, can-be-good-if-you-optimize-well? Is Skirmish a valid play style? Can the class stand up to aggressive powergaming? Is it too pigeonholed in one combat style? Do you like it, love it, hate it?

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    Default Re: Scouts (and archery in general)

    1 - I think it can be if you do it right. It really depends on how optimised the game is, but I've seen it used effectively in fairly high powered games.

    2 - The Scout is powerful at low levels, solid at medium levels and quickly wanes at high levels unless you have ways of getting more attacks with skirmish.

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    Default Re: Scouts (and archery in general)

    Scout 4/Ranger 16 with swift hunter (CSco) and Greater Manyshot (XPH) can actually do quite a bit. Get someone who can control terrain, and just shoot things. There are some very solid spells in the SpC too!

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    Default Re: Scouts (and archery in general)

    1)archery is great option if you dont want to charge then attack with out doing much else or be the guy in robes. Bow damage is bad at low level till you get a cm bow then you are doing the same damage as you had a longsword. Also with special arrows(depending on what books avalible) you can add in a cool factor.

    2)nice to run around the enemy shooting arrows with skirmish. But could be handicaped if you get in a tight spot.
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    Default Re: Scouts (and archery in general)

    I don't know anything about the scout class but, I think that archery can be useful if used correctly. As everything else it has both positive and negative points.

    The ability to hit your enemies at at distance without them being able to get near you is quite effective in my opinion, and when combined with one or two strong melee fighters ranged combat can provide excellent support. Then there are enchanted arrows and the possibility of poisoning arrows. This will enhance the support build.

    However, close range combat is the archer's greatest weakness. Which is why you should always come up with a back up plan if that happens. Also, enclosed areas make archery harder. Most of the time the party will be ahead of you blocking any clean shots.

    Currently, I am using a character that specializes in ranged combat with a longbow. At least for me archery has proved very useful. For close combat I duel wield short swords. The build I use is mainly a support character but he can fight if he needs to and quite well too.

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    Default Re: Scouts (and archery in general)

    At the moment, I have a satyr ranger, who's doing pretty good for himself. Things get too close, there's always headbutt, five-foot step, then blast away. Plus the DR doesn't hurt one bit. I'd say find something with a natural attack that they don't need hands for, but with less RHD/LA. It opens a lot of opportunities. Precise shot is a must, of course, and improved precise shot is useful if your allies keep getting in the way.
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    Default Re: Scouts (and archery in general)

    Scout is a great class. It really is. Especially if you multiclass rogue and pick up the Swift Ambusher feat. Sure, the two classes share most of the same weaknesses, so you don't really cover any of those, but it does open up what I'll call "conditional awesomeness." You won't be good in all situations, in fact, you'll be quite useless in some (one word: skeletons), but when you do get a fistful of d6s, you can put almost everyone to shame.

    There are ways to break scout, primarily various means to achieve a skirmishing full attack, but hey, there are ways to break everything in 3.5. [hyperbole]Sure, the CharOp boards haven't gotten around to figuring out how to shatter the rules with a multiclassed monk/CW samurai/healer, but I'm sure one of these days they'll do it.[/hyperbole]

    Archery in general, though, is a sticky issue. My reaction is highly subjective... I love archery, but I love it because of the feel, the RP value. I HATE HATE HATE HATE what WotC has done with archery. Bowmen (totally badass bowmen) have been a part of legend/myth/fantasy practically since the weapon was invented, and they should get WAY more credit than they do.

    It's a multi-layered issue. Basically, everything WotC could've done wrong, they did do wrong when it comes to archery.

    First, while I know that by higher levels the base damage of your weapon generally stops meaning all that much, the bows really should be stronger than they are in that respect. I don't mean to start knife vs. greatsword round two here, but I'd like to see at least a 1d8 shortbow and 1d12 longbow. Also, there should be a wider variety of arrow types and they should have a greater impact on damage values and effects.

    Out of the core base classes, only two of them seem to actually be intended to be able to serve as dedicated archers: fighter and ranger... and they don't do it very well. The fighter's weaknesses are well documented, the ranger's fighting styles mature far too slowly. Arguably rogues fit into this category as well, but it's much harder to get a ranged sneak attack than a melee sneak attack. There should've been a real archer class in core. Heck, I would've settled for a real archer class ANYWHERE. Scout comes close, very close, but it doesn't get longbow proficiency. That just stinks.

    I might, might be able to forgive the lack of a proper archer base class if they had been able to produce a proper archer PrC. Not only did we not get success, we didn't even get a halfway-decent try. There are more prestige classes for throwing weapons than actual honest-to-goodness ranged weapons. Heck, there are at least as many prestige classes for circumventing the paladin's code as there are for honest to goodness ranged weapons. Arcane archer SHOULD have been awesome, but instead we got the mess that we got. Unless I'm overlooking something, Order of the Bow Initiate is their only other attempt... and while I personally think it's sorta halfway decent, it really should be better.

    So the classes aren't built for archery... the weapons aren't built for archery... at least they got the feats right, right?

    Wrong. Archery basically gets one feat tree, and not a particularly exciting one at that. While splatbooks can ease the pain a little, they spend much more time adding options to the classes that already have tons of options than they do helping along the ailing archer.

    Even the magical enhancements listed for ranged weapons aren't as good as the enhancements for melee weapons.

    WotC finally got around to addressing the power discrepancy between casters and melee classes with Tome of Battle, but it doesn't have a single thing that aids ranged combat between its covers. You can bet that there won't be any Tome of Battle II: Book of the Nine Arrows. They don't seem to be interested at all in helping archers, nor do I expect they ever will be interested.

    I will say one, and only one thing in favor of WotC's treatment of archers: The Quiver of Ehlonna is pretty cool.

    From the look of the released information, sneak attacks with the bow won't even be possible in 4.0. Just one more blow to an already crippled martial discipline.
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    Default Re: Scouts (and archery in general)

    Swift Hunter Scout/Rangers of varying degrees are good because you get more skill points than pure ranger, you get the scout Skirmish damage, and you can hit things you normally wouldn't be able to hit with precision damage if you pick Favored Enemy: Undead or Construct or whatever. Scout5/Ranger15, Scout4/Ranger16, Scout3/Ranger17 are all good.

    Swift Ambusher Scout/Rogue is good for, as Ascension said, the fistful of d6's you hit people with.

    Overall, though, archery is useful in that you can stay out of melee and fire away, and tthere's some fun stuff you can do (my favorite is a volley of Exploding Knockback arrows, just for the coolness factor). But, mostly, it's underwhelming.

    EDIT: And if you know a few of the tricks to it and are willing to optimize, you can whip out vast numbers of arrows at people. I think the record at lvl 20 is 60 arrows with a fighter/warblade archer.
    Last edited by dyslexicfaser; 2008-03-15 at 01:09 AM.
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    Default Re: Scouts (and archery in general)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ascension View Post
    {snip}
    Yeah, that's basically what I was feeling. Really, archery in D&D only has two advantages that I can think of - {a} that you can mix and match enchantments and materials on bows as well as arrows (meaning you can fire a cold iron arrow at the demon and a silver one at the devil on the same turn, or fire a +1 flaming frost arrow out of your +1 acid shock bow), and {b} that you're marginally less likely to take damage.

    {a} is pretty cool, granted, but {b} just doesn't work in a normal party. Chances are, even in lighter armor, your archer character is going to be one of the best tanks of the group, and unless everyone else is playing a melee char you're going to see front-line action in most encounters because, let's face it, that's probably what your party NEEDS. Standing back and firing is only a valid strategy if you've got the DPR to really lay down the smack, but you don't. At your best you can keep up with the melee types, but rare is the archer build who has any serious damage advantage over the guys on the front line. So {b} exists, but there's absolutely no mechanical motivation other than pure selfishness to use it that way. Gah.

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    Default Re: Scouts (and archery in general)

    Archer base damage sucks. But there are ways around that. And a proper Archer build can get some crazy good chance to hit.

    Archer builds I like:

    Ranger/Beastmaster 1/Woodland Rider or something-Mounted Archery, and have your mount run people down too.

    Scout 4/Ranger 16-Swift Ambusher, Greater Manyshot, or ways to move full attack.

    Rogue 19/Fighter Rogue 1-SA, all the way. take feats that help SA. Take Mage slayer and Pierce Magical concealment, use a ring of blinking. SA full attack every round against 95% of foes.

    Zen Archery feat or something Wisdom for ranged to hit.

    Str governs damage, Wisdom governs spells, Dex to hit, now down to two stats to pump.

    Ranger 20-Zen Archery, Pump Str and Wisdom. Better casting, more damage on shots. Perfect. Make sure you use the Spell Compendium.

    Paladin 20-Zen Archery, Full Plate, Mounted Archery from your Mount, and Sanctified or something that changes Cha abilities to Wisdom too.

    Just regular old Fighter, but take Zen Archery, pump Wis and Str, Decent Con, Combat Focus feats from PHB II, get the Full Fighter line up of feats for your bow, including the Masteries from PHB II. Now you can full attack with your bow with no penalty while being grappled, you do pretty good damage. Focus on Full attacking with Rapid Shot, Haste, and anything else you can get. Take some of the so many good archery feats out there.

    Feats-Splatbooks are a must, what else is new.

    PrCs- /cry. Nothing.

    Items- A bow of +1 Splitting, whatever else, have Greater Magic Weapon cast on it. Arrows of +1 followed by one other enchant. Have 10 of everything and a Quiver of Elhonna. Bane Arrows are your friend, followed by Bursts of each type, use especially against anything that might be weak (Red Dragon? Have an Ice Arrow. In the Snow, Fire Arrow. It's like specializing in UMD, except you attack it to an arrow ad you have high BAB instead of using touch attacks.)

    Power level- Obviously none of these is full caster good, but they can take most things of their CR. And by doing enough damage at higher levels, even things with DR, though DR can be a sticking point since many archer build specialize in always full attacking for lots of little damage that adds up.
    Last edited by Chosen_of_Vecna; 2008-03-15 at 01:48 AM.

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    Default Re: Scouts (and archery in general)

    A scout can do decent damage, and has skills to boot. However, He gets REALLY boring and repetitive in combat. All you do is Greater Manyshot...every...single...round.

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    Default Re: Scouts (and archery in general)

    The feat's called Zen Archery, Chosen of Vecna. Most ranged builds will want to pump Dex anyway since most won't have heavy armor, but yeah, it can actually turn a paladin into an archer. Now if only you could smite with a bow...
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    Default Re: Scouts (and archery in general)

    How much is the splitting enhancement?
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    Default Re: Scouts (and archery in general)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ascension View Post
    The feat's called Zen Archery, Chosen of Vecna. Most ranged builds will want to pump Dex anyway since most won't have heavy armor, but yeah, it can actually turn a paladin into an archer. Now if only you could smite with a bow...
    Thanks, edited.

    But the point is that:

    1) It helps if you choose a partial spellcaster.

    2) You are an Archer, you actually have the option of staying far away from danger and not worrying about your AC.

    3) Some Full-Plate classes can actually use that, and not feel like they are wasting Dex.

    4) Sometimes Will saves is a more important defense then AC, especially for an archer.

    5) Did I mention you are an Archer? Stay far away.

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    Default Re: Scouts (and archery in general)

    There's a feat that'll let you smite with ranged attacks, but really you ought to be able to do it normally.

    I agree, it's kind of a neglected style. On the other hand, it's inherently better than crossbow-using or thrown weapons (the first is simply an inferior bow, the second has problems with high weapons costs, since you need several weapons all enchanted with Returning). Its main advantage over melee is that you can make a full attack, every round. Doesn't matter if the enemy moved, doesn't matter if your target died halfway through, you can keep on shooting. (If they charge you, you've got problems.)

    It's also worth mentioning that the soulbow makes a pretty good archer character. The Soulknife is underpowered, and Wizards tacitly acknowledged this by making the soulbow a ranged soulknife, plus bonus feats every two levels. Its main feature, though, is that it has Wis to damage. Take Zen Archery, and suddenly Wisdom is all you need. Equality with the melee people who only need Strength. Huzzah.

    Also, Races of Stone has the Cragtop Archer, and while that's not actually a very good prestige class in a party situation, it makes for a killer sniper; with Far Shot and a composite longbow enchanted with the Distance property, you can shoot people from about a mile away. And hit. Not much use in a party because you generally don't start that far away from your enemy, but it's still nifty.
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    Default Re: Scouts (and archery in general)

    You *can* smite with a bow. Ranged Smite is available if you are an elf paladin.

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    Default Re: Scouts (and archery in general)

    Well, my D&D archer experience is all from a rogue/scout, so I had to stay within 30' to use my special abilities. I guess with a paladin or ranger you can afford to stay far far away.

    Oh, and I just remembered there's a highland archer PrC of some sort in either Races of Stone or Complete Adventurer, but all its class abilities are essentially worthless unless you're always on high ground.

    EDIT: Ninja'd.
    Last edited by Ascension; 2008-03-15 at 01:52 AM.
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    Default Re: Scouts (and archery in general)

    Quote Originally Posted by The_Snark View Post
    Also, Races of Stone has the Cragtop Archer, and while that's not actually a very good prestige class in a party situation, it makes for a killer sniper; with Far Shot and a composite longbow enchanted with the Distance property, you can shoot people from about a mile away. And hit. Not much use in a party because you generally don't start that far away from your enemy, but it's still nifty.
    This could be a very interesting encounter. Three cragtop archers, splitting, rapid shot and manyshot, all fire on an adventuring group trying to get to the mountain the archers are on.

    Also, I just did the math for splitting, manyshot, rapidshot ranger 20. 112 damage/round, with something like shock, that becomes 160/round. That's with a +1 splitting, shocking composite longbow and str. 14. With all the gold you get by 20th, I'm sure you could get a lot more damage involved.
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    Default Re: Scouts (and archery in general)

    Quote Originally Posted by Admiral Squish View Post
    Also, I just did the math for splitting, manyshot, rapidshot ranger 20. 112 damage/round, with something like shock, that becomes 160/round. That's with a +1 splitting, shocking composite longbow and str. 14. With all the gold you get by 20th, I'm sure you could get a lot more damage involved.
    Rapid shot and Many shot have mostly no way of being used in the same round.

    (Celerity, Belt of Battle, and White Raven Tactics is about all I can think of.)

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    Default Re: Scouts (and archery in general)

    Ways to build a solid Archer:
    -Swift Hunter
    -Warblade/Swordsage (easy to be effective at extreme ranges since the power comes from maneuvers; take one level of Cragtop Archer and fire from 2000' away with Dancing/Raging Mongoose enhanced volleys, and eventually The Time Stands Still For You)
    -Cleric
    -Artificer
    -Factotum (Manyshot many times/turn - goes nicely with either pimped out damage or Swift Hunterish builds)
    -Psionics (make for decent snipers with Fell Shot and Psionic Shot)

    I suppose you can build an alright Gish Archer too; 2-level dip in Arcane Archer with full casting can do all sorts of funny stuff.

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    Archery is "okay". It really has maybe 4 problems.

    1. Gold Expense. An archer need a ton of different arrows. Arrows of different materials. Arrows of different enhancements. And your bow needed enhancements. +3 for seeking... Booo. And if you chose throwing weapons, all the cost go on 1 item. Good Luck getting your DM to drop a decent one of those.

    2. Feat, Spell, etc Expense. You need a make more than a few choices to be a decent archer. Choices that don't help much in...

    3. Ranged means no Melee. There is little melee to ranged transparency in D&D outside of BAB. A ranged character is only half decent a melee unless he has special spells or feats to get up to decency. Sucks to lose 10 to attack when switching weapons.

    4. Misleading numbers. Sure you can full attack the enemy almost all day since they rarely are out of range. But if a melee character ever gets to full attack the foe, you look bad.

    It's not that hard to make a decent archer if you DM doesn't purposely hold you back. I tend to like Swifter Hunters, near full rangers, and rogue mixes.
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    One level of Cragtop Archer doesn't really do much for you; it helps your Spot checks at that distance, and not much else. You need three levels before you start increasing your range, ideally four.

    Warblade and Swordsage are iffy great for archers; no strike can be made with a ranged weapon, with the exception of Time Stands Still, and not many boosts apply to them either; the two you mentioned, plus a few Shadow Hand boosts like Cloak of Deception, are about it. You'd have to rely on that plus counters. At anything other than the higher levels, you really don't have anything offensive, though I guess you could make do with feats until then. Decent, but a ranger using the Spell Compendium can probably do about as well.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Snark View Post
    One level of Cragtop Archer doesn't really do much for you; it helps your Spot checks at that distance, and not much else. You need three levels before you start increasing your range, ideally four.
    It also drops Range Increment-penalties to half, which means you'll actually be able to reliably hit at a distance, not just shoot (and of course, knowing what you're shooting at helps, so the Spot-check penalty isn't bad either).

    Quote Originally Posted by The_Snark View Post
    Warblade and Swordsage are iffy great for archers; no strike can be made with a ranged weapon, with the exception of Time Stands Still, and not many boosts apply to them either; the two you mentioned, plus a few Shadow Hand boosts like Cloak of Deception, are about it. You'd have to rely on that plus counters. At anything other than the higher levels, you really don't have anything offensive, though I guess you could make do with feats until then. Decent, but a ranger using the Spell Compendium can probably do about as well.
    Dancing Mongoose can be attained level 9-11 and at those levels tends to be a superb addition to a volley. Before that, I suppose you're better off playing in melee with your strikes or being just a Fighter-archer with defensive maneuvers (saving throws, Sudden Leap, Counter Charge, Wall of Blades (you do have an Elvencraft Bow, after all), etc.). Of course, they get much better once Time Stands Still becomes available. But yea, they're pretty interesting to play; I can attest to that having played one, and they'll really shine later on.

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    Hmmm, so it does. Didn't notice that part of the Cragtop Archer.

    Dancing Mongoose is okay, but it's 1 extra attack, useable once; warblades only get to recover their maneuvers after melee attacks or after taking a standard action to do nothing, and swordsages will be using Adaptive Style as usual. But if you're forgoing a full attack to recover, you've just lost three attacks. At higher levels, I imagine it does get better, but you've still only got those three offensive maneuvers. The defenses are nice, though, that's an advantage over a fighter or ranger. Downside is that you'll need to multiclass or be an elf to be proficient with the bow.

    You might be able to make an interesting hybrid of archer and melee fighter using Tome of Battle, now that I think of it; take those three maneuvers and a fair number of ranged feats (Point Blank Shot and Rapid Shot; more if you like), and use strikes to keep up in melee. Nice and versatile.

    Also, just noticed that ranged weapons are valid choices for Weapon Supremacy. Means you can shoot enemies while grappling.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Snark View Post
    Hmmm, so it does. Didn't notice that part of the Cragtop Archer.

    Dancing Mongoose is okay, but it's 1 extra attack, useable once; warblades only get to recover their maneuvers after melee attacks or after taking a standard action to do nothing, and swordsages will be using Adaptive Style as usual. But if you're forgoing a full attack to recover, you've just lost three attacks. At higher levels, I imagine it does get better, but you've still only got those three offensive maneuvers. The defenses are nice, though, that's an advantage over a fighter or ranger. Downside is that you'll need to multiclass or be an elf to be proficient with the bow.
    That's all true. One thing though, instead of either, you can also burn a feat on Exotic Weapon Proficiency: Greatbow, which you'll probably want anyways if you're going for extreme ranges (base increment of 130' and that gets 1.5x with Far Shot). My personal preferred method is using those Fighter ACFs from Dragon, Targeteer or Exoticist; Targeteer gets 2 Exotic Ranged Weapon Proficiencies and one Martial Ranged Weapon, while Exoticist gives you 4 Exotic Weapon Proficiencies for your Martial Proficiencies. That gets you Greatbow-proficiency essentially for free. Amusingly enough Crusader has full Martial Weapon Proficiencies (including Bows), but since it doesn't get Tiger Claw OR Diamond Mind, I suppose it's out of the question.

    And yea, you also get White Raven Tactics as a Warblade on level 5, which is definitely a worthy method of using your turns. Also, that Weapon Supremacy is friggin' awesome idea. I want to make a Warblade 16/Fighter 4 now and pick up Weapon Supremacy on level 20. And shoot people with a friggin' Greatbow in melee.
    Last edited by Eldariel; 2008-03-15 at 05:31 AM.

  26. - Top - End - #26
    Orc in the Playground
     
    RangerGuy

    Join Date
    May 2007

    Default Re: Scouts (and archery in general)

    If you're going to go with a ToB class as part of an archery build, I'd definitely go for swordsage. You can then take Zen Archery and pump WIS for both your AC and archery attack bonues, and strength for damage and melee. With a 2-hander you can skip weapon finesse and get more mileage out of it than you would have if you needed a high dexterity.

    I'd probably take 4 levels of Ranger right off the bat so as to be able to take 2nd level maneuvers when you first get swordsage, then a second level of swordsage, and alternate Ranger and swordsage levels after that until reaching the desired level in each class. If I were emphasizing primarily archery, I'd probably go swordsage 8/Ranger 12 as the final goal.

  27. - Top - End - #27
    Pixie in the Playground
    Join Date
    Nov 2007

    Default Re: Scouts (and archery in general)

    I think it was mentioned, but look at the soul bow. You wont have as high BAB like ranger would, but you do get some nice features. Notablity the ability to fire even when threatened.

    I had a player run a soul bow thri-keen. It was actually pretty nasty. Use 2 weapon fighting or multi attack, id have to look to remmeber which feat it was exactly... and it was getting in the area of 6 attacks if i remember right (three from irative, then since you only need one hand to shoot an arrow and he has 3 extra hands...). then once you add in the abilitity to place alot of magic type effects on your arrows, youd start getting some high damage.

  28. - Top - End - #28
    Colossus in the Playground
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Finland
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    Male

    Default Re: Scouts (and archery in general)

    Quote Originally Posted by Diamondeye View Post
    If you're going to go with a ToB class as part of an archery build, I'd definitely go for swordsage. You can then take Zen Archery and pump WIS for both your AC and archery attack bonues, and strength for damage and melee. With a 2-hander you can skip weapon finesse and get more mileage out of it than you would have if you needed a high dexterity.

    I'd probably take 4 levels of Ranger right off the bat so as to be able to take 2nd level maneuvers when you first get swordsage, then a second level of swordsage, and alternate Ranger and swordsage levels after that until reaching the desired level in each class. If I were emphasizing primarily archery, I'd probably go swordsage 8/Ranger 12 as the final goal.
    Worth noting though that Warblade-levels qualify you for Ranged Weapon Mastery, which is generally a worthy feat for builds that plan on shooting huge hails of arrows at long ranges.

    Also, Dex goes to AC anyways, and that's without a feat. All the Zen Archery-build does is enable use of save-requiring maneuvers, but generally you'll be just fine just not giving them saving throws.
    Last edited by Eldariel; 2008-03-15 at 02:17 PM.

  29. - Top - End - #29
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Talya's Avatar

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    Jan 2007
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    Icy Evil Canadia
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    Female

    Default Re: Scouts (and archery in general)

    I like this build, Diamondeye.

    I'm thinking, Goliath Swordsage/Ranger with Zen Archery and a large composite greatbow...
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  30. - Top - End - #30
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Planetar

    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    London, England.

    Default Re: Scouts (and archery in general)

    If you're playing in a core-only game, archery is quite a viable build. Just go with a Ranger. You get all the feats you need, you get some skills and spells on the side, and unlike the fighter and barbarian you get to full attack every turn without getting full attacked back. Once you get Improved Precise Shot, you don't even need to move.

    And for non-core, there are all the options above.

    The main problem is, as mentioned, the total lack of interesting PrCs. You'd think with all those splatbooks, there'd be a few somewhere . . .

    - Saph
    I'm the author of the Alex Verus series of urban fantasy novels. Fated is the first, and the final book in the series, Risen, is out as of December 2021. For updates, check my blog!

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