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    Default [3.5] Archer w/o Precise Shot? A Factotum Dilemma

    So I'm working on a pure Factotum build (no multiclassing, no PrCs). I've mostly got him figured out Levels 1-20, including skills and equipment, but late in the game I find myself tweaking his feats again. (Btw, before I go any further, Font of Inspiration is not allowed. Neither are Flaws, and even if they were, none of them fit his personality.)

    The character concept is a Factotum who thinks of himself as a Ranger; besides the tricky adaptability that comes with the Factotum class, his focuses are archery, stealth, nature, and piety.

    His feats are: Track, Point Blank Shot, Rapid Shot, Darkstalker, Woodland Archer, True Believer, Knowledge Devotion

    I find myself left without Precise Shot as one of my seven feats. This seems strange to me, as I've seldom ever seen an archer build without it, but I can argue why every feat he has is more important to him than Precise Shot:

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    Point Blank Shot: Well, obviously I can't give this up in favor of Precise Shot. If I gave this up, I wouldn't be able to take Precise Shot!

    Track: A kinda weak feat, but how can he possibly respect himself as a Ranger without it? Besides, I don't want all of his feats to be in Archery; he's supposed to be adaptable, not a one-trick pony.

    Darkstalker: Like I said, not all of his feats are in archery. And I said Stealth is one of his focuses. And this has been called "the number one feat in any area, for any skillmonkey build."

    Rapid Shot: Being able to shoot an extra arrow every round is a lot more important than Precise Shot, right?

    At this point I'll interject that Precise Shot is really just a +4/+0 attack bonus (attack/damage) for an archer. And it's situational -- there are many times when you have a valid target to shoot who's not in a melee -- so, to keep things simple, I'm going to call it, on average, a +2/+0 bonus. This is for comparison with the character's remaining three feats.

    Woodland Archer: The first function of this feat is another situational +4/+0 bonus to attacks. It applies for the rest of the turn, any time an attack misses. That means it will apply most often to targets that are hardest to hit, which is just when the bonus is needed. But it also means it's useless for the last attack in the round if all the others have hit ... Overall, considering just the first function of Woodland Archer, I'd say it's not quite as good as Precise Shot. (Maybe another +2/+0, effectively.) But then it has two more useful functions! A nice anti-concealment trick, and an ability that makes the character a mobile sniper. The latter is particularly appealing, since the character isn't particularly durable (but is terribly stealthy), and sniping/attrition is the only way he'll ever be able to win a tough fight if he somehow gets separated from his party.

    True Believer (Ehlonna): Combined with a decent investment in Raptor Arrows (MIC), this feat gives all my attacks +2/+9 average bonuses. Yeah. It may cost 18k-24k gold, but this is still a great feat. As icing on the cake, it also lets me get some good Druid-y battlefield control spells out of the very affordable Ehlonna's Seed Pouch item. And get a +2 on one save 1/day.

    Knowledge Devotion: This is not one of those Factotums who maxxes out every Knowledge skill and makes this feat the center of his build. Mostly he will just have 1 rank in each Knowledge skill. But still, high intelligence means this is still raking in some decent bonuses; +2/+2, perhaps, or up to +3/+3 at high levels. Or boosted up to +5/+5 when he burns a Cunning Knowledge on it, 1/day per category of creature, to "nova" an encounter. I think these bonuses are better than Precise Shot. Besides, unlike Precise Shot or True Believer or Woodland Archer, this feat's bonuses apply when the character switches over to melee, too.


    Keep in mind that this character can often add more Fighter-list feats to himself -- but only one at a time -- using the Heroics spell, which he will probably prepare every day from Level 5 onward, and which eventually the party casters will have Eternal Wands of. This can get him Precise Shot, but I'd generally rather spend it on Improved Critical (longbow), or Manyshot, or something like that. (Or something not related to archery.)

    With all this in mind:
    • am I making any dumb mistakes here? in not taking Precise Shot, or otherwise?
    • are there any more really superb feats for this character concept, that I'm just missing?
    • are there any good ways to pick up Track besides actually spending a feat on it or taking a level of Ranger? I know about Mask of the Tiger in the MIC, but he won't be able to afford it until Level 6 or so, and anyway it feels "fake" and vulnerable to have such an important ability depend on a magic item. Any other loopholes?
    • what order should he take his feats? Is Knowledge Devotion good enough to take early, or should it be saved for a Level 18 sort of "capstone"? Is Woodland Archer's accuracy effect important enough to take it at Level 9, or can it wait until a later level?
    • the character wants to have a lot of cool magic items. His budget is pretty tight, even though I surprisingly haven't upgraded his weapons to super-high levels. But is it worth it to find 10k gp somewhere (... I don't know where!) to add Precise to one of his bows?
    Last edited by Draz74; 2008-12-16 at 12:31 AM.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Archer w/o Precise Shot? A Factotum Dilemma

    The Precise (+1, MIC) weapon ability removes the need for Precise Shot.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Archer w/o Precise Shot? A Factotum Dilemma

    Except a +1 enchantment may often be worth more than a feat.

    I'm not sure, but I think going w/o precise shot may be doable. It all depends on what happens in combat, really. So maybe, maybe not.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Archer w/o Precise Shot? A Factotum Dilemma

    Track doesn't seem needed. As DM of the Rings said, If the DM needs you to find something, you'll find it. You can instead rely on spellcasting, like "locate X".
    Last edited by Shades of Gray; 2008-12-15 at 10:21 PM.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Archer w/o Precise Shot? A Factotum Dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by Shades of gray View Post
    Track doesn't seem needed. As DM of the Rings said, If the DM needs you to find something, you'll find it. You can instead rely on spellcasting, like "locate X".
    I second this. Yet one more shovel full of dirt on the Ranger.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Archer w/o Precise Shot? A Factotum Dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by ericgrau View Post
    Except a +1 enchantment may often be worth more than a feat.

    I'm not sure, but I think going w/o precise shot may be doable. It all depends on what happens in combat, really. So maybe, maybe not.
    Everything depends on what happens in the game. Your track feat might never be called upon for example, or you may never have a reason to be stealthy.

    Keep in mind though, the class doesn't have full BAB progression so a -4 to hit when shooting into melee could be a problem.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Archer w/o Precise Shot? A Factotum Dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by Innis Cabal View Post
    I second this. Yet one more shovel full of dirt on the Ranger.
    And divination. And all of the knowledge skills. And survival. And then there's the situational abilities that never come up b/c the DM wasn't sure anyone would be prepared for them. Skills in general get shafted pretty hard. Poor ranger? Poor rogue. Yay, I roll my disable device again. Whoopee. Oh wait, I failed. I die.
    Last edited by ericgrau; 2008-12-15 at 10:42 PM.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Archer w/o Precise Shot? A Factotum Dilemma

    Originaly Posted by ericgrau
    And divination. And all of the knowledge skills. And survival. And then there's the situational abilities that never come up b/c the DM wasn't sure anyone would be prepared for them. Skills in general get shafted pretty hard. Poor ranger? Poor rogue. Yay, I roll my disable device again. Whoopee. Oh wait, I failed. I die.
    Sad, but true.. Also see bard: diplomacy: if you need to buy something or work out a contract for the game, the DM will let the deal get done some way.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Archer w/o Precise Shot? A Factotum Dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by ericgrau View Post
    And divination. And all of the knowledge skills. And survival. And then there's the situational abilities that never come up b/c the DM wasn't sure anyone would be prepared for them. Skills in general get shafted pretty hard. Poor ranger? Poor rogue. Yay, I roll my disable device again. Whoopee. Oh wait, I failed. I die.
    A DM who makes traps that are simple "roll Search" and "roll Disable Device" shouldn't really be using traps at all. But actually, Knowledges and Divinations have huge implications if players just use them - there's no DM fiat when it comes to identifying monsters or locating something, or indeed, asking divinities. Divination is more of the problem than the victim since it allows you to completely negate the need for many skills (of course, MacGuffin is usually warded against Divination, so that's where skills get to shine).

    But I wouldn't say it's a problem for Rogues. As long as they're imaginative, they can make use of practically all their skills constantly (unless the game is pure hack'n'slash, and even then, many of them have combat implications). The fact that they have access to Use Magic Device, Sleight of Hand, Hide/Move Silently, Spot/Listen and the social skills pretty much guarantees that you can make use for them.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Archer w/o Precise Shot? A Factotum Dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by Iku Rex View Post
    The Precise (+1, MIC) weapon ability removes the need for Precise Shot.
    Oh, right, I meant to have a whole question on this very issue. Editing it into the original post.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Archer w/o Precise Shot? A Factotum Dilemma

    Are there any good ways to pick up Track besides actually spending a feat on it or taking a level of Ranger? I know about Mask of the Tiger in the MIC, but he won't be able to afford it until Level 6 or so, and anyway it feels "fake" and vulnerable to have such an important ability depend on a magic item. Any other loopholes?
    Werewolves and werebears get the Track feat for free, along with other goodness.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Archer w/o Precise Shot? A Factotum Dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by Harp View Post
    Werewolves and werebears get the Track feat for free, along with other goodness.
    Huh ... good, this is the sort of thing I'm looking for. I don't think I'll take this option, but are there any spells (Bite of the WereX) that can do this same trick?
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    Default Re: [3.5] Archer w/o Precise Shot? A Factotum Dilemma

    Also on the Subject of Track - all Track does is let you use the Survival skill (which is Wis based) to follow tracks...which is normally done with Search. Search is Int based. You're a Factotum. Use Search, it will be better. You can still have Survival ranks for the skill's other uses, but your Search check will be much, much better to increase.
    Last edited by Grynning; 2008-12-16 at 01:39 AM.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Archer w/o Precise Shot? A Factotum Dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by Grynning View Post
    Also on the Subject of Track - all Track does is let you use the Survival skill (which is Wis based) to follow tracks...which is normally done with Search. Search is Int based. You're a Factotum. Use Search, it will be better. You can still have Survival ranks for the skill's other uses, but your Search check will be much, much better to increase.
    Yes, this character is great at Searching. But I'm not aware of anywhere that it says Search can replace Survival + Track.

    If it could, rangers would just use that. They often have decent INT scores (at least, mine do, since my rangers tend to dump CON and CHA), and they get Search as a class skill, too.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Archer w/o Precise Shot? A Factotum Dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by Draz74 View Post
    Yes, this character is great at Searching. But I'm not aware of anywhere that it says Search can replace Survival + Track.

    If it could, rangers would just use that. They often have decent INT scores (at least, mine do, since my rangers tend to dump CON and CHA), and they get Search as a class skill, too.
    Well, it doesn't specifically say "you can follow tracks" with Search. However, one of the examples on the DC chart for Search is "Find a footprint." Also, common sense dictates that if you're good at looking for details you could figure out how to follow somebody's trail.

    I guess my logic boils down to this: Imagine you have a party where no one has the Track feat or is trained in survival, and for some reason you don't have any appropriate divinations available (it's conceivable). What would you have the party members roll to find someone's trail? I imagine it would be...Search.

    Edit: Also, if you really don't want to take the Precise Shot feat, but you're worried about the -4, just bite the bullet and get a Precise weapon. It's only a +1 enhancement, you can still cram +8 more worth of special abilities onto your bow (remember the mages can GMW any enhancement bonus you need onto it).
    Last edited by Grynning; 2008-12-16 at 02:46 AM.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Archer w/o Precise Shot? A Factotum Dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by Draz74 View Post
    Huh ... good, this is the sort of thing I'm looking for. I don't think I'll take this option, but are there any spells (Bite of the WereX) that can do this same trick?
    You're pretty lucky I was aware of that offhand, and I think that's about the only non-item solution you could get for adding Track without burning a feat or a level. I have only one other possible avenue for you to explore and I already know you're not going to love it.

    Depending on the type of your character you can use Alter Self to turn into other things for a few hours at a time (a wand charge would last you three hours). Unfortunately, the rules of Alter Self are strict in the sense that you can only turn into Humanoids (and this does not include Monstrous Humanoids) and creatures of your type. Unfortunately, there are very few Humanoids.

    The relevance of this is that Alter Self also grants you any innate skill bonuses and feats said creature would normally have. So, if you find a Humanoid that gets the Track feat for free then you can use this spell to give yourself the Track feat for a few hours.

    If your base creature is a type other than Humanoid (but especially so if its a Monstrous Humanoid), you will probably have more options.

    At the end of the day, I think you're probably better off without Track. Best of luck though.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Archer w/o Precise Shot? A Factotum Dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by SRD
    A successful Search check can find a footprint or similar sign of a creature’s passage, but it won’t let you find or follow a trail.
    And while we're at it,

    Quote Originally Posted by SRD
    Normal: Without this feat, you can use the Survival skill to find tracks, but you can follow them only if the DC for the task is 10 or lower. Alternatively, you can use the Search skill to find a footprint or similar sign of a creature’s passage using the DCs given above, but you can’t use Search to follow tracks, even if someone else has already found them.
    So, there's that, then.

    I'd imagine the best way to get the Track feat without using the Track feat is to get a pet. A dog, riding dog, or wolf has the Track feat and the scent ability natively, so dump a bunch of ranks into handle Animal and get him to do it for you. You can either take the Wild Companion feat (which kinda defeats the whole purpose, but nevermind), or just buy them from your local store, or use Wild Empathy to pick up strays when you go into a town. Is there a way for Factotums to pick up Wild Empathy? (It's a thing, and Factotums are the best at doing things)

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    Default Re: [3.5] Archer w/o Precise Shot? A Factotum Dilemma

    Quote Originally Posted by Fishy View Post
    I'd imagine the best way to get the Track feat without using the Track feat is to get a pet. A dog, riding dog, or wolf has the Track feat and the scent ability natively, so dump a bunch of ranks into handle Animal and get him to do it for you. You can either take the Wild Companion feat (which kinda defeats the whole purpose, but nevermind), or just buy them from your local store, or use Wild Empathy to pick up strays when you go into a town. Is there a way for Factotums to pick up Wild Empathy? (It's a thing, and Factotums are the best at doing things)
    Huh ... somehow I'd forgotten that riding dogs got Track as a bonus feat. That ... just might work. If only there was a way for this character to summon a critter like this, just in case his died or something ... like if the Mount spell could summon a riding dog rather than a horse.

    As far as Wild Empathy goes, no, he can't get it, except through Cunning Brilliance at levels 19-20. And then, it's only 1 minute/day. But at least it's something. Until then, he'll have to rely on Handle Animal skill (and Factotums are best at doing skills!). But I wasn't planning to spend very many ranks on Handle Animal ... but I guess I could, if it will save me a feat.

    Unfortunately, web-only content is out as a general rule, so I probably can't just take Wild Cohort instead of Track.

    If I do end up skipping Track in favor of letting a dog do it for me, what feat should I get instead? Precise Shot, or is there something better?
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