I just want to build a solid 3.5 archer! Plz help!!!

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Hey all,

So last night we started a seven man campaign. I wanted to go archer because, A) we have a monolith of close combat guys and zero ranged fighters or spellcasters, and B) the idea of the archer is badass. After hours of research I decided to take my first level in Ranger. The problem I'm having is that I don't know where to go. I've read the Archery Handbook again and again, I've invested another four hours in KSB Snow Owl's Archer Builds and I've considered the idea of a Swift Hunter and read that handbook. I don't think I want to do Swift Hunter though. KSB's builds seem really solid, except that for 3.5 he doesn't really explain what's going on and I'm kinda slow to the whole character building/cross-classing thing.

So can someone please please please help me build an archer who does max damage and maybe shoots from mid-ranges (we spend a lot of time in dungeons, so ridiculous range is not important). 

So far:

Human (worshiping Corellon Larthian for bow proficiency)

Str - 16
Dex - 17
Con - 15
Int - 11
Wis - 14
Cha - 11

Feats: PB Shot and Precise Shot


All 3.5 material is allowed and I could use spells from Spell Compendium (to get "Hunters Mercy" for example which allows instant crit). I should mention that I've played four campaigns before but never cross-classed or prestiged. So if you can help me, please try and explain things the best you can. That's where KSB lost me :/

Thanks so much in advance!

Note: I'm not opposed to taking the Skirmish route, I just don't understand it and so that's detering me.
 
I think a lot of things when thinking of an archer. You can go a sneaky route, an anti-spellcaster route (this can be done by using arcane archer+antimagic field centering it on the spellcaster, then shot him to death), an spellcaster-archer combining your spells with your archery skills (Arrow Mind, Smiting spell+Combust, True Strike, etc), a psionic-archer (Greater Psionic Shot, Fell Shot, Call Weaponry, Expansion, etc.), a divine archer (I don't know much about them, but I know they exist :P), an arcerficer (Craft your own powerful weapons, give them the Bane property when you are aware what are you going to face), an initiator archer (IIRC you have to ask your DM  or a regular archer not based on sneaking or magic - something like figher 20-.

 
worshiping Corellon Larthian for bow proficiency


I didn't get how "worshiping" corellon larthian gave you bow proficiency.

Also you can get bow proficiency by other means (still don't know why you are looking for proficiency when the ranger has proficiency with it): Bracers of archery Lesser/Greater lets you treat any bow as if you have Proficiency with it
OK well I'm not all that familiar with archer builds but firstly, if your party is low on spellcasters, it might be worth considering a blaster-type build such as a Warlock, an Incarnate or a "standard" caster (or manifester) specialising in ray spells. Those can be built to have the same function as a "true" archer but with a bit more utility.

I should also note that it's not necessary to have a deity with your chosen favoured weapon unless you're a Cleric with the War domain.

I noticed the Archer Handbook talks about Incarnum builds a fair bit on the first page, which I like. Magic of Incarnum has a bunch of interesting stuff for Chaotic Incarnates, the most obvious being Incarnate Avatar. If you're Chaotic, you get a bonus to ranged attack rolls. Even if you don't dip Incarnate it might be worth taking Shape Soulmeld to get this (but only if you can get some essentia from somewhere). The Sighting Gloves give you a bonus on ranged damage. A 2-level Incarnate dip will let you shape three soulmelds, bind one to your crown chakra, and put 2 points of essentia in them (though you lose 1 BAB).

The Scout Incarnate build in the handbook uses Indigo Strike to boost the damage of Skirmish, which lets you add damage anyway so long as you move 10ft during your turn. However this can't be used with Rapid Shot (since that requires a full action) or Manyshot (which explicitly states you only get one lot of bonus damage) so taking Ranger and Scout is a bit pointless UNLESS you take the Swift Hunter feat, which I hear is awesome.

If you want to take Scout, Shot on the Run is a great feat to have, but you need Dodge and Mobility. Instead, however, you can take Midnight Dodge (from MoI) which has synergy with Incarnate levels. Dragon Devotee (from Races of the Dragon) is a good way to boost your skirmish damage faster and will get you into Unseen Seer (Complete Mage) for another boost. This will hurt your BAB, but something like a Scout 9/Incarnate 2/Dragon Devotee 5/Unseen Seer 4 would net you +6d6/+2 AC. Only +13 BAB, but lots of other AB bonuses (+2 Str, Incarnate Avatar, etc). Would need more hashing out, though.

Basically there are a few ways of going with this. You can be a Scout or a Ranger (or both it seems) and you can optionally add some Psionic, Magical or Incarnum flavour. I don't want to recommend any one thing, it depends what takes your fancy.
The Scout Incarnate build in the handbook uses Indigo Strike to boost the damage of Skirmish, which lets you add damage anyway so long as you move 10ft during your turn. However this can't be used with Rapid Shot (since that requires a full action) or Manyshot (which explicitly states you only get one lot of bonus damage) so taking Ranger and Scout is a bit pointless UNLESS you take the Swift Hunter feat, which I hear is awesome.

That's kind of the point of Greater Manyshot.

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Thanks everyone.

I now realize worshiping a god for bow proficiency isn't neccessary. In KSB he says you should, but I think it's for a different reason.

These are all great build ideas, but I really don't want to Skirmish I've decided. For roleplaying sake, running around within 30ft of an enemy seems pretty ridiculous, regardless of how effective it could be.

With that in mind, maybe someone could give me better guidance for an archer that shoots outside of 30ft? That would be awesome! If not, I think I'll continue down the archer route and try to figure out my own build, even if it totally sucks.

Thanks again for all your posts!

 
All of the options I gave you can shoot outside of 30 ft. Even the sneaker, by taking some levels of assassin, wizard or ranger. Tell me in what build are you interested and i'll give you some ideas
That's kind of the point of Greater Manyshot.

Ah yes, I didn't read it at the time 'cos I was using the SRD for reference and it was under Psionic feats. Yeah, Greater Manyshot is good but you do need to invest a lot of feats into it, and you can't get it until you have a +6 BAB (with one or more Scout levels that means you're L7+).


For roleplaying sake, running around within 30ft of an enemy seems pretty ridiculous, regardless of how effective it could be.

With a melee-heavy team, your mates should be able to keep you safe. The Order of the Bow Initiate (Complete Warrior) is also a great PrC for Scouts and gives them Close Combat Shot at 2nd level and with Shot on the Run you needn't be within 30ft, though you'd still need to be near. However, you're right that being within 30ft is generally a disadvantage for an archer. I think you probably want to go with what the Archer Handbook calls "Tactical Range".

Regardless, it would still help if you had an idea what you're interested in. Do you want a "pure" archer, an arcane or divine archer, a psionic archer or maybe an incarnum archer?

A fairly simple Psionic build would be take dip a Psionic class or take Wild Talent to get access to Psionic feats, then take Psionic Shot and Psionic Meditation. This will let you make a single attack each round with a big damage bonus (well, it's a move action to recharge your damage bonus, essentially).

As I said, I like Incarnum, but there aren't many PrCs. If you were willing to change to a Dwarf, you could feasibly go into Ironsoul Forgemaster. You can take a buckler to get the advantage of Shield Bond (elemental damage resistance) and nothing about Weapon Bond says it can't be used with a bow (you get a bonus to damage, and can Daze foes - at range). Sighting Gloves can be used until you get Weapon Bond, and if you got the Hands bind you could forgoe Precise Shot (though Imp Precise Shot looks pretty nice). At low levels you could even use Dissolving Spittle instead of a bow (though I think an Incarnate/Scout might work best for this).

One thing to note is that if you're taking Ranger purely for the combat style (e.g. Ranger 2), you might be better off just with Fighter, since you get the bonus feats anyway. Something along the lines of Incarnate 2/Fighter 2/Warblade or Crusader 1/Ironsoul Forgemaster 10 might work (Warblade or Crusader to give you some maneouvre access - there are a few which work with ranged attacks, and some good counters).
The 'worship a god of archery' is needed for the standard cleric -archer build, where you Persist the Divine Spells, become a rabidly good damage dealing archer...and have all the clerical spell goodies on top of it.

===Aelryinth
Fighter vs Warblade analysis http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19573526/Analyzing_the_Fighter_vs_The_Warblade The Lockdown F/20 iconic build http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19856162/A_little_Lock_build_for_you
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