Author: NapazTrix — Last Updated: 1st May 2021
This handbook follows the same colour coding scheme which is common among other handbooks or builds guides for Pathfinder. To help with those that have difficulty with colours there is also a “star” rating, with 1 being the lowest and 4 being the highest. If any word is colour coded then it is referencing those ratings, though in the case of blue text with underlines they are hyperlinks to the specific word’s rules or reference page.
- Red: Bad. These are normally the worst parts of a feature or parts you should not focus on.
- Orange: Ok. Features that function but are not generally outstanding.
- Green: Good. Reasonably applicable and can work in many situations.
- Blue: Fantastic. Parts you will love having or should try your best to maintain.
The Archer is the prime ranged damage-per-round (DPR) class of FFd20, fighting alongside the Gunner for the top seat of ranged martial classes. While bows and arrows do not go against touch AC they generally have higher damage output due to feats and features that allow for multiple attacks. One of the main strengths of the Archer is that of their Called Shots mechanic, which is slightly altered from the Pathfinder optional system, which this guide will focus mainly on using.
While this guide is centred on Called Shots, it is readily usable for a normal Archer-user, as well as the archetypes of the class.
Archer Class Features
Hit Points: d8 hit points is alright for a ranged class that will be far from opponents, though not overly feasible for melee-focused Archers.
Base Attack Bonus: 3/4 BAB is one step below max and is compensated for with many of the Archer’s class features, they also have Archer Training to count their level as BAB for feats so it is hardly a drawback.
Saves: Good Ref saves, but being Dex heavy, their other saves will be very low.
Proficiencies: Has access to all non-exotic bows/xbows, and light armour. Due to high Dex, the armour is not much of an issue, though melee options do suffer. You have access to your main weapons, but the best ones are locked behind exotic.
Skills: 6+int skill ranks with access to a few class skills. Doesn’t encompass any particular skill-build though, not a great face or roguish monkey.
Archery Style: Free feats at 1st, 5th, 10th to improve their archery.
Aim: Grants insight bonuses to a few skills, but mainly to atk/dmg rolls, opens access to called shot. Starts terribly as a move action, though can be done as a move or swift at 7th which makes it something to use every fight.
Hawkeye: The bonus to perception isn’t great, but increasing the range of bows/xbows allows you to fire from farther away has some use. Not amazing unless you’re in a game that has large battlefields, almost useless in dungeon crawls. Is good enough to keep your perception on par if you don’t build heavy into Wis though.
Archer Talents: Generally on-par or exceeds Feat’s power.
Evasion: With good Ref saves, focus on Dex, Evasion is an amazing feature. Becomes improved at 11th.
Agile Archer: Makes the Archer rely only on Dex at 3rd. The power of the class.
Expert Archer: +1 atk/dmg with bows/xbows for every 4 archer levels. Stacking more bonuses.
Called Shot: The class really comes all together at 5th, when this feature comes online. Can take a small penalty to attack to inflict debuffs on enemies, this penalty can be reduced later on and can even become a bonus for some options.
Fast Movement: Lets you get into position to hunker down, with light armour it is never reduced.
Uncanny Dodge: Keeps the main stat of the Archer alive in ambushes, not as useful on a ranged martial but is great when it is relevant. Becomes improved at 17th.
Quick Shot: -2 to atk rolls for 1 more attack? Sign me up.
Heavy Pull: Counting a bow/xbow as 1 size larger? Whose kidney do I need to sell for this?
Safe Shot: Frees up a feat from Point Blank Master, especially when weapon spec is off the table, but maybe a bit late for some builds at 9th.
Ranged Cleave: With all the damage/shots you can output, this can proc often in larger encounters.
Take Aim: At level 13, you’re bound to have 24+ Dex, easily 7+ enemies you can double your Aim bonus against, and at that point, it’s a swift so again you can use this easily in combat.
Evasive Archer: +2 dodge isn’t a lot, but with Uncanny Dodge it is hard to lose. Becomes +4 at 17th.
Critical Aim: Bonuses to Crit Range are always welcome, and this stacks after Imp Crit/Keen. Your ranged weapons are also bound to be x3 to x5.
Racking Critical: Combined with Critical Aim, this allows the Archer to even better debilitate his foes. Removing DR and Hardness at 15th applies to almost any enemy at this CR.
Volley: Essentially Great Cleave but with your bow in a 30ft range. At 17th level, you’re bound to have 6 or more attacks, so this is only really useful in a large encounter or if you’re needing to hit with your full BAB, though 4 of your attacks are already full BAB, so it’s to ignore the -4 you’re taking from Rapid and Quick Shot.
Ranged Defense: A nice-to-have, but at level 19 you’re more than likely packing some DR yourself or from an ally. The immediate parry-riposte of arrows/bolts shot at you are nice, but it won’t come up much and your swift actions are being used in other features.
Aim Mastery: A standard action shot, at 19th level you’re looking at a DC of 10+9+10 (29) or more against a kill/unconscious/paralyze move. Can only be done once to a target, but if it works, it is amazing.
Master Archer: Auto-confirm critical threats and increase the multiplier by 1, an amazing capstone with no limitations. The negation of disarming is a nice cherry on top.
Ambusher: Excels in closer-range (30ft) and use of traps. Not so good as you can be targeted easier, and the traps can take some setup. Heavy use of tangling shot is required to keep enemies at bay, or allies to block paths to you. The 2x-3x Dex on damage is amazing however and can be very worth the hassle. Link.
Arcane Archer: Adds in a dependence on Wis, but you have the ability points to spare. Essentially replaces Aim and Called Shot with an arcane pool. The trade-off is mostly even and is a solid choice, though you will lack most Talents eventually at 15th they can add up to 3x their WIS to damage rolls. Link.
Battlefield Minstrel: Bard hybrid and makes you a Dex, Con, and Cha dependent. Loses Archery Styles and Called Shot for more buffs to the team. If you’re more for buffs and debuffs this is a solid choice, or if you want to be able to give MP to allies. Link.
Blackarrow: Lose Hawkeye and gain more talent options. No real downside, except the Orc FCB, and plenty of the talents have ample use (No, You Don’t! – Hindering Shot). If you want the talents, this is a no-brainer. Link.
Bowgunner: Trade out Dex for Str, which is kind of a bad option due to AC/Ref saves. The speciality ammo is nice, especially piercing to overcome armour bonuses. Overall, for flavour, it’s cool and functional, but compared to base Archer it doesn’t keep up unless the speciality ammo is coming into play often. Link.
Dwarven Crossbowyer: Focuses on crossbows and overcoming AC. Replaces Called Shot for a bonus on skills and atk/dmg rolls when underground or in a stone structure. Without rapid reload for free, this archetype suffers from a feat tax to keep up with base Archer damage, and the removal of Aim and Called Shots removes some of the big parts of Archer. If you’re mostly dungeon-delving into caves this becomes a Good option. Link.
Hawkeye: Adds a Con dependence, though this is the best ability to require. Replaces Aim and Called Shots for 2 more talent trees to pick as well as Archer talents. Though now it uses Stamina to replicate some Called Shot effects, the biggest draw is Rapid Fire Shot for up to 3 more attacks albeit with no precision damage and 1/2 Dex damage. Best used in campaigns where you have shorter encounters or smaller dungeons, where this becomes a Fantastic option. Link.
Heaven Piercer: Has a single-target Aim, and can make a single attack much stronger. If this stacked with Vital Strike it’d easily be a Fantastic option. As it stands, it’s a side-along to Vital Strike that could be much stronger due to multiplying the aim bonuses. Loses quick shot and volley, with the whole design being to add more damage and dice. Sadly, it focuses really heavily on a single target and loses a lot of power in larger encounters, the action requirement of 2 standards for an attack also means you’re waiting more to hit a target, and is only 1/day, meaning the main part of this archetype is the Arrow Artillery for -1 atk and +1d6/2d6 damage, which makes up for the lack of 1 extra shot. Link.
Hunter: Trade out Aim, Talents, and Called Shot for an animal companion. Companions are always nice, and this is a full-progression dog. Companions can be built to be devastating machines, so it’s hard to say how effective this can end up being, as you’re splitting your Archer power with your dog. Link.
Serpent Archer: Replaces Aim with snakes to fire at your enemies to inflict poison, can also empower your snakes. Trades out Archery Style for more snake focus. Due to poisons falling off at higher levels, this is only viable at low levels. If your campaign is never reaching level 6 or higher than this is an Ok option. Link.
Sniper: Great for distance shooting and using Overwatch Style feat tree. If you know you’re going to be in wide and open areas, or will fight many spellcasters and you want to interrupt their spellcasting, this is a solid choice. If you’re doing a dungeon crawl, you’re more relegated to just overcoming spellcasting in which case this becomes a Good option. Link.
Yabbleshammy Archer: Gains a mount and focuses on mounted archery. Loses out on Aim and Called Shot, but can work without it due to the mount. Hypello don’t have the best FCB however. Link.
Zen Archer: Trades out Aim and Called Shot for a combo system. Works well enough, though can require more setup. As a bonus, it starts with the whole kit at level 1. Link.
If your particular build could do with some more unique gameplay against the base class or its archetypes, the following archetypes can be picked alongside one another as they do not replace the same class features of Archer. Usability is dubious for these specific combinations, however, as deeper testing would be required, but the following list is all of the combinations possible.
Ambusher / Hawkeye
Arcane Archer / Blackarrow1
Arcane Archer / Dwarven Crossbowyer
Battlefield Minstrel / Heaven Piercer
Blackarrow / Bowgunner (Half-Breed only)
Blackarrow / Hawkeye
Blackarrow / Heaven Piercer
Blackarrow / Sniper1
Blackarrow / Zen Archer
Bowgunner / Heaven Piercer
Bowgunner / Yabbleshammy Archer (Half-Breed only)
Hawkeye / Sniper
Heaven Piercer / Serpent Archer
Sniper / Zen Archer
- These are possible on your GM’s stance on if optional features make two archetypes incompatible or not is an open question. Viladin has stated these are fine, but your GM may say otherwise.
Due to a specific class feature that appears at 3rd level, the Archer can be single-ability-dependent (SAD), giving them free rein on their ability scores.
Str: Keep this at 10, you will not need strength except for carrying capacity and not taking penalties. If going crossbows you can dump to 7 unless you’re a bowgunner.
Dex: AC, Attack, Damage, Reflex saves, debuff DCs, class features uses/day, Acrobatics and Stealth checks.
Con: Not overly required as you’re a far-backline, can help with poor Fort saves though.
Int: Only useful for skill ranks and knowledge rolls against foes. 13 is required for Combat Expertise. Can lower this to bump up Wis where needed if you want to put your ASI at 4th into this instead.
Wis: Only useful for Will saves. Can also boost Perception, though the class gains bonuses to that via Aim and Hawkeye so it is generally covered. Can aid in Sense Motive but that is normally high enough with the skill point in it per level unless you face a lot of feints. Boosts Survival, but that is mostly campaign specific. Not suggested to drump this below 10 as you don’t want negatives in a saving throw, put your ASI into it at 4th or gain an item if you’re running 15pb.
Cha: Only useful for face skills. You can leave this at 10 if you want some ability to be within RP discussions, or you can dump to 7 if you don’t care for them.
Archer Ability Score Distribution
|25 Point Buy||20 Point Buy||15 Point Buy||Elite Array|
|Str: 10||Str: 10||Str: 10||Str: 10|
|Dex: 18||Dex: 18||Dex: 18||Dex: 15|
|Con: 14||Con: 12||Con: 10||Con: 14|
|Int: 13||Int: 13||Int: 13||Int: 13|
|Wis: 10||Wis: 10||Wis: 9||Wis: 12|
|Cha: 10||Cha: 8||Cha: 7||Cha: 8|
Most any race with a Dex bonus can be a proficient Archer, so I will only note a few to keep an eye on.
Where possible, you do not need an overload of HP as a ranged class, nor skills as you lack a lot of Class Skills, so pick up the alternative racial FCB of +1/3 bonus to the archer’s Aim bonus for attack and damage rolls. Races that add +1/4 to atk/dmg are less potent as you’ll eventually Aim at all enemies. If you’re playing a longer game, or higher-level, ignore the +1/2 to crit confirmation as at 20th you auto-succeed those. Smaller races are advised against since we’re going for higher-damage bows and they will drop the number of die by 1-2 depending on size stacking.
Amalj’aa: Picking the Zun heritage gives you +2 DEX and WIS, -2 STR, and Handle Animal. They have 60ft darkvision and pump up perception by +2. They can also add +1/3 to aim bonuses from FCB.
Au Ra: Raen gains +2 DEX and CHA, -2 CON. This race gains 60ft darkvision as well as Orc Ferocity. Picking Prehensile Tail also allows for easy item access while both your hands are occupied, like having a potion ready to use. They can also add +1/3 to aim bonuses from FCB.
Genome: Gain +2 DEX and INT, -2 CHA. Starts with a Dextrous Tail to hold/draw small items like a potion as a swift action. With Ignorant Upbringing they also gain Weapon Focus. They lack darkvision and only add distance to their bows/xbow as an FCB.
Half-Breed (Ask GM): Combine Elvaan and Mithra, making an Elthra or Mithraan.
– Choose +2 DEX. Defense trait: Cat’s Luck. Feat and skill trait: Martial Background. Magical trait: N/A. Movement trait: Sprinter. Offense trait: Ferocity/Ancestral Arms (Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Orc Hornbow)). Other traits: Archer + 1 other. Senses trait: Darkvision (60ft). Weakness trait: N/A.
– This combination gives you +2 DEX with no penalties, reroll one reflex saving throw a day, weapon focus for your orc hornbow, +10 to charge/run/withdraw speed, the ability to use the best bow, +1 hp per level and + 1/3 aim bonuses from FCB, and darkvision for 60ft.
– While you’re missing out on a prehensile tail for extra items, the max +4 DEX, 120ft darkvision, and natural weapons of other options, you basically have no negatives against you with this set up. It is up to personal preference if you would prefer this or the higher-end traits. Mithra may beat it out due to the +1 from a higher DEX onto atk/dmg/ac/reflex/feature DCs/feature uses but in the long run a +1/3 to aim grants +6 at level 18, debates can be had either way.
Hume: Humes are almost always a solid choice. You can take Alchemically Enhanced for +3 Dex since a -2 against poisons won’t come up much as a ranged class, though this does remove the bonus feat. The bonus feat, if you keep it, is great and will have an option listed in the feat section. Sadly they lack darkvision and their FCB is for normal atk/dmg and not for aim.
Lamia: Gain +2 DEX and CHA, -2 STR. Lamia can attack and trip with their tails, giving an Archer a melee option when they generally lack one. They can trade out low-light vision for darkvision. However, the downside of the tail is that they cannot have magical items on the foot slot. They can also add +1/3 to aim bonuses from FCB.
Mithra: Picking the Cheetara heritage gives you the only +4 DEX race option, with -2 STR and CON. The additional dex is probably enough to warrant not having darkvision, which can be fixed with spells/money, or lacking an amazing FCB. Their FCB is just the +1/2 confirm critical, which at 20th is negated, it can be nice but not the best.
Varg: Picking Light Build gives you +2 DEX and WIS, -2 CHA. The race has a bite, allowing for a melee option, and scent to pick up targets within 30ft. Picking Midnight Eyes gives you the only race that can reach 120ft darkvision naturally, allowing you to shoot further without penalty at nighttime or in caves. The race lacks an FCB, but the darkvision can make up for that depending on the campaign.
Viera: Gains +2 DEX and WIS, -2 CON. Picking the variant heritage fanow swaps the penalty to STR. The only race to naturally gain proficiency with Greatbows and Orc Hornbows. They only get low-light vision, and their FCB isn’t too good. It is a weird fight between Viera and Hume since the feat replaces their proficiency, it’s down more to the other features that will suit your playstyle. They can trade out their hunter racial trait, since Archers already gain stealth and survival as class skills, for misted bows which give them bow of the viera 1/day, this is great for levels before 8 when you get the heavy pull class feature. Since it changes the effective damage of your weapon it won’t stack but it essentially means you’ll have heavy pull earlier than usual for a fight or a few a day depending on how long it takes.
Some of the listed traits may be from campaign settings, if so ask your GM if they allow those. Remember you can only have 1 of each type of trait (1 social, 1 faith) and trait bonuses do not stack.
Acrobat (Social): +1 to acrobatics and only a -2 to climb faster. Nice if you’re building to shoot from treetops.
Called (Faith): Once per day reroll on a natural 1 for attacks, nice to have.
Chance Savior (Campaign, campaign setting): +2 initiative means you get to killing quicker.
Deadeye Bowman (Religion, campaign setting): Ignoring a single target for soft cover. (If you’re level 5 or higher and are using the feat guide, this is a Bad option)
Fate’s Favored (Faith): Great if you know your party composition during creation and if they have any luck bonuses.
Indomitable Faith (Faith): Bumping up that low Will.
Reactionary (Combat): +2 initiative means you get to killing quicker.
Resilient (Combat): Bumping up that low Fort.
Unshackled (Faith): +1 Escape Artist and Class Skill. Amazing to help in getting out of grapples. (If you pick this, Escape Artist is a Fantastic skill option.)
You gain 6+int skills per level, so you can easily pick from this list as around 3-4 skills are Fantastic options.
Acrobatics (Dex): Helps to manoeuvre the battlefield, goes off your highest ability score too.
Bluff (Cha): You lack the other face skills, so unless you’re picking up feats or effects that increase those this isn’t too important.
Climb (Str): Climb to more advantageous heights. Best used with Snipers.
Craft (Int): Situational on your build.
Heal (Wis): Generally, you’ll have someone else in the party take this, if you have spare points it can be useful.
Knowledge (geography) (Int): Good for learning about monster strengths/weaknesses/abilities, plus can help for map navigation.
Knowledge (nature) (Int): Good for learning about monster strengths/weaknesses/abilities, sometimes used in place of survival at GM discretion.
Perception (Wis): Always useful, no matter the build, the class also gets bonuses to this skill.
Profession (Wis): Reliant on the campaign, generally not useful.
Ride (Dex): Unless you’re building for a mounted archer, or take an archetype that focuses on this, you’ll only really want this as a backup or for utilizing a flying mount.
Sense Motive (Wis): While you’re not a face, this is useful to avoid feints and other features.
Stealth (Dex): Get into position for ambushes. Some archetypes also improve sniping. Best used with Snipers.
Survival (Wis): You don’t need a lot of points in this skill as the DCs are generally low unless you’re in a heavily survival-based campaign.
Swim (Str): Swimming doesn’t come up very often in play, maybe once every 10 sessions or so. If your campaign is more aquatic-based this is of higher importance.
Feats & Talents
Archery Style (AS):
- 1st – Deadly Aim, Far Shot, Focused Shot, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Rapid Reload, and Rapid Shot.
- 5th – Crossbow Mastery, Expert Sniper, Improved Precise Shot, Parting Shot, and Manyshot.
- 10th – Master Sniper, Pinpoint Targeting, and Shot on the Run.
Point Blank Shot: Generally not a great feat, but is a pre-requisite for most ranged feats. Adds +1 atk/dmg within 30ft, but you will want to be much further from your enemies.
Deadly Aim: Take a -1 penalty on attacks for +2 on damage rolls with your ranged attacks. Increases by -1/+2 at every 4 BAB. With the number of attacks you get as an Archer, this is a must-have. The penalty to attack rolls is negligible as you will have more than enough bonus to attacks to hit anything that isn’t a boss.
Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Orc Hornbow): A bullet we need to bite to gain access to the best bows. Isn’t too bad if you’re a Hume who can spend their bonus feat on it, or are a Viera who gains proficiency with the Orc Hornbow. Is the difference of 1d6-2d6 damage per hit depending on size stacking.
Weapon Focus (Orc Hornbow): Just a basic +1 to attack rolls, helps to offset the penalities you will take but isn’t the end-all-be-all for the build. At low levels, you aren’t able to take many feats so think of this as a stepping stone for later.
Precise Shot: Without this, you take a -4 to ranged attack rolls against a target engaged in melee combat. Pretty much a necessity for accuracy, you’re going to be taking penalties elsewhere, so removing a -4 is a major boost. If early levels are full of combat, or you have terrible initiative (which will be hard being Dex), this may be a 1st level pick.
Rapid Shot: Adds into your multitude of attacks. Imposes a -2 on all attack rolls, but an extra attack is worth it, and again you are going to have a high attack bonus anyways. Can always choose to not use it if you have difficulties hitting enemies.
Improved Precise Shot: This is amazing for a ranged attacker, or if you face plenty of enemies with blur effects at lower levels which FFd20 has more of than PF. You ignore anything less than total cover, which includes partial cover, soft cover, and the like. No longer care that allies are in your way, or if you want to hit a caster at the back of the opponents. You also ignore anything with less than total concealment which is anything you can see, so unless the target is invisible or out of sight or has a total-concealment-like ability. You ignore blur and similar effects, and depending on your GM ruling it can also negate displacement, but it is safer to assume it does not since it is total-concealment-like and grants the same miss chance of invisibility. Combine with the seeking weapon special ability for maximum effect.
Combat Expertise: Unless you have some melee capabilities, this feat is useless. It allows you to trade melee attack bonus for AC. It is just a pre-requisite to gain Improved Called Shot later on in the build.
Manyshot: Essentially an extra attack that follows your first shot, if the first misses so does this. You apply all but precision damage, so your Dex modifier is still included along with any bow enchantments or class features. Has no negatives applied, no reason to not pick this up. Requires Point Blank Shot and Rapid Shot along with BAB 6, so will take some time till you can get it at level 9.
Shot on the Run: This feat lets you move your full speed and make 1 shot at any point. Useful if you want to move between two pieces of cover and still make attacks. If you’re a one-shot build this is a bit better but since it’s a single ranged attack and not a standard action or attack action you are locked out of a few options like vital strike. Normally picked up from your archery style for lack of a better option at level 10.
Improved Called Shot: One feat for +2 on attack rolls when making called shots. Can stack with the talent of the same name for a total of +4 as ruled by Viladin. Since we’re using other feats that impose penalities, this alleviates some of the issues you may face. You even gain a bonus with some of the called shot options like arm or chest.
Clustered Shots: Calculate DR against your attacks only once during a full attack. As you get into higher levels this pays off even more so, with enemies getting up to and even over 20 DR in FFd20. On the rare occasion where you are in a game with the massive damage optional rule this can even kill enemies outright if they fail a DC 15 Fort save, however, this becomes impossible to inflict at higher levels.
Snap Shot: This allows you to threaten within 5ft with your ranged weapon, so you can attack of opportunity with it but not provoke yourself when you do so. Can be useful if an enemy tries a CMB against you or attempts to cast a spell. A nice feat to fill a gap, but not overly required.
Improved Initiative: Bumping up your already high initiative with a +4. This is almost always a good pick, but since you are SAD for Dex it isn’t imperative. If you’re facing a lot of Dex heavy enemies, or just want to show off, you can take this earlier but you will delay your full build.
Toughness: Add +3 to your HP, or your HD if you have more than 3. Can be nice to close the gap between other martial, or if your GM likes to spread out his encounters to counter each member correctly. Not needed for your build direly, but is always nice to aid a glass cannon.
Example levelling guide:
- 1st: Deadly Aim. – You have a great atk bonus, so more damage is good.
- AS 1: Point Blank Shot. – Not amazing, but a pre-requisite for most ranged feats.
- Hume (or Viera’s racial): Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Orc Hornbow). – For the best bow. (Delay progression by 1 to obtain this)
- Talent 2: Combat Trick – Weapon Focus (Orc Hornbow). +1 to attack rolls, solid.
- 3rd: Precise Shot. – Ignoring the -4 for shooting into melee, good if you can wait for 3rd, if not, swap this with Deadly Aim.
- Talent 4: Grounding Shot. – Ignores prone disadvantages, freeing up your team to trip enemies. The extra damage is the cherry on top.
- 5th: Rapid Shot. – Extra attack at highest BAB, -2 to all attacks. All-day, every day.
- AS 5: Improved Precise Shot. – Ignoring less than total cover/concealment, amazing at 5th.
- Talent 6: Improved Called Shot. – Reduce penalty of called shots by 2 (no penalty for arms, chest, or legs).
- 7th: Combat Expertise. – Pre-req for Improved Called Shot.
- Talent 8: Hobbling Shot. – A free action to reduce movement by 1/2. No questions asked.
- 9th: Manyshot. – First opportunity to get this, aside from archery style, worth it for an extra arrow on the first attack, applies all but precision damage.
- AS 10: Shot on the Run. – No outstanding option at this level.
- Talent 10: Marauder’s Step. – Basically a free move action for when you want to full attack in range or a better position.
- 11th: Improved Called Shot. – +2 on attack rolls when making called shots, stacks with the Talent of the same name (making it +2 total for arms, chest, and legs).
- Talent 12: Tangling Shot. – Entangle for combining with your 1/2 speed.
- 13th: Clustered Shots. – Apply DR only once during a full attack, if using massive damage rules this increases in power.
- Talent 14: Threatening Shot. – Get some flanking bonuses going.
- 15th: Snap Shot. – Threatening with your bow in 5ft. Can work great if you snuck in Combat Reflexes.
- Talent 16: Weak Spot. – At this point, AC can become inflated so for-sure hits are a must.
- 17th: Improved Initiative. – Never too late to bump up that initiative.
- Talent 18: Surprise Shift. – Repositioning mostly.
- 19th: Toughness. – Instant 19 hp.
- Talent 20: Secondary Target. – Useful when the higher ACs are keeping an Archer down.
The main attacks you should be doing when you hit level 5 are Called Shots. While these impose a penalty on attack rolls, you can mitigate these with talents and feats (+2 at 6th, +4 at 11th). Unlike Pathfinder, the Archer of FFd20 can replace any attack with a Called Shot without the need for feats. Many effects only require you to hit, making these almost unavoidable debuffs.
In order you should start a fight with: Foot > Leg 1 and 2 > Arm > Hand > Head. Change up as needed or if you feel you won’t be able to hit. If a caster is giving you trouble, Aim for the Neck then Eye, then Neck until you crit.
Arm (-2): Inflict a -2 on attack rolls, ability checks, or skill checks with that arm, or send a flying creature hurtling to the floor. Crits inflict Dex and Str damage. This should always be inflicted on an enemy.
Chest (-2): -2 to skills involving the chest like acrobatics and climb. Crits deal Con damage and fatigue. – Unless you can crit often, this isn’t overly necessary unless the enemy likes to manoeuvre around your allies.
Ear (-10): Deafen 1 round, -2 perception checks, permanent if all ears are hit. Crit deafens for 2d6 minutes and staggers for 1 round. – Great against spellcasters or enemies benefiting from sound-based effects.
Eye (-10): Grants allies concealment for 1 round, -2 perception checks, if no eyes remain they are blinded for 1 round. Crits make the eye unusable for 1d4 minutes. – Can be great against Cyclopes or humanoids with 2 eyes.
Hand (-5): -2 to atk/dmg/ability and skill checks with that hands, stacks with arm penalty (-4 total). Also -4 against disarm and drops their weapon on fumbles. Crits deal Dex damage and drop items in hands. – After hitting the arm, move onto this next.
Head (-5): Sickened for 1d4 rounds (-2 atk/dmg/save/skills/ability checks). Crits deal Int, Wis, or Cha damage and stagger for 1d4 rounds. – Combined with Arm and Hand to impose more penalties on attack rolls (-6 total)
Heart (-10): Does nothing unless it’s a crit, at which point it causes exhaustion and 1d4 Con bleed, killing the target unless they are regenerated or healed for the damage of the attack. – After you’ve hit all other parts, you can try for this, but the requirement of a crit lowers its normal capabilities.
Leg (-2): Lower speed by 10 per leg, or 5 if they have more than 2. Crit deals Dex damage and knocks prone. – Hit both legs to reduce by 10 and combine with Foot shots to stop charges and runs. Great to start off a fight, allowing your allies to move in before the enemy can get close.
Foot (-5): Cannot charge/run for 1d4 rounds. Crits deal Dex damage and Immobilized. – Hit one foot and you’re good. Stops pouncers.
Neck (-10): 20% spell failure and command-word items. Crits deal 1d6 bleed and save or become unable to speak. – Shuts down casters, whose lower ACs will make this relatively easy to hit.
Vitals (-5): Sickened for 1d4 rounds (-2 atk/dmg/save/skills/ability checks), and cannot charge/run. Crits deal Con damage and make them nauseated then sickened. – Statuses may be better than Head if the target doesn’t rely on those ability scores.
As an Archer you will want to stick to bows, as with exotic options you will deal much higher damage, crossbows also come with the drawback of requiring rapid reload. If you take the Dwarven Crossbowmen archetype, crossbows are a lot more competitive.
Hornbow, Orc (Exotic): The Orc Hornbow is the highest damaging bow outside of any campaign setting, at 2d6/x3 and 80ft range increments. While it is an exotic bow, a feat or race selection fixes that and puts you on par, and later on, higher damage than a Gunner. Becomes a 3d6 at level 8, pay dirt.
Greatbow (Exotic): One of the longest range bows, sitting at 1d10/x3 and 120ft range increments. Better used for the Sniper archetype. Since it is an exotic bow you’re normally better off with the Hornbow.
Longbow (Martial): Suitable as a weapon for the basic Archer, though far from peak performance. You start with proficiency, though it only has 1d8/x3 and 100ft range increments.
Any Composite Bow: These are all traps, as an FFd20 Archer you never need or gain benefit from STR since Agile Archer allows you to choose either STR or DEX as your damage ability modifier.
Hand Crossbow: Lowest damage and range, not a good choice.
Heavy Crossbow: 1d10/x2 with 120ft range increments. Almost comparable to the Greatbow, if not for needing Rapid Reload to use your move action to reload. Best used when building for Vital Strike. If you are a Dwarven Crossbowyer you can lower the loading time by 1 step at 7th which stacks with rapid reload, making this a free reload, allowing you to full attack with it.
Repeating Heavy Crossbow (Exotic): 1d10/19-20×2 with 120ft range increments. Can fire 5 shots until you need a full-round to reload. You’re better off with Rapid Reload (than Exotic Weapon Proficiency) at higher levels, though early-game can see this being a better fit. Due to the wording and naming conventions used, it is debatable if Rapid Reload even works with this weapon and subsequently the level 7 ability of the Dwarven Crossbowyer. If your GM allows it, it will beat out the heavy crossbow with a higher crit range if not for needing another feat to have proficiency.
When it comes to ammunition, when possible you should be buying Durable arrows, which allow you to retrieve them if they miss or hit. At higher levels, and when you have the money, you should invest in arrows of each DR type in this order:
20 Durable Adamantine (1,220 gil), 20 Durable Cold Iron (40 gil), 20 Durable Alchemical Silver (60 gil). If you know you’re going up against incorporeal foes you should buy a set of 50 Durable Alchemical Silver Ghost Touch arrows (8,502 gil). You can find more info on the Arrows Page.
Leather: With the amount of Dex you’re packing, you don’t want anything else except for this. At later levels, where your Dex far exceeds +6 you’re better off with Bracers of Armor.
Haramaki: If your GM allows eastern armour, this is the best pick. +1 AC, no max Dex. Pick this over Leather if allowed and stick with it. This frees up your wrist slot. If you get to the point you want that extra 2 AC max of Bracers you can make the swap.
The Archer has a few items specifically designed for them to use, though many general magical items also benefit them greatly.
As an Archer, the enhancement bonus on your bow is always going to be a good option, though some special abilities will come in handy.
Distance (+1): Useful only if you know you’re going to be in open fields or large battlefields, almost useless in dungeons. Link.
Seeking (+1): An amazingly cheap option to avoid miss chance/concealment, can get really early on in the build. Link.
Elemental (+1): If you’re wanting even more dice of damage, you can go to a +1 bow then add all 8 elements to your bow, giving you +8d6 damage on each hit. The damage looks enticing, but it’s 1d6 of each element, meaning that the higher your level the more enemies will have a multitude of elemental resistances, and a basic 5 resistance pretty much nullifies this. Against enemies that lack ER, these enchantments are amazingly powerful. The 2 most common elements are Fire and Holy, both in creatures being resistant or weak to. If your campaign features a lot of bosses, elementals, flans, and dragons, this becomes a Bad option.
Endless Ammunition (+2): If you’re using special-material arrows, this is useless, unless your GM rules that it can replicate the materials of the arrows nocked. Even then, with durable arrows, this is way too expensive for the effect unless you face a lot of enemies that deliberately destroy your arrows or you forget to pick them up. Link.
Phase Locking (+2): If your GM throws a lot of enemies that can teleport, shut him down. Link.
There’s not a lot of options for an Archer with magic armour, you’re better off just getting an enhancement bonus or sticking to bracers of armour.
Spell Resistance (+2, +3, +4, +5): Don’t, it’s a trap. This SR will rarely help you unless you fight enemies much weaker than you. Link.
Ring of Freedom of Movement: No terrain-based effects will impair you, or any CMBs. Link.
Ring of Regeneration: Something everyone wants, “regeneration” 1. Regrow yourself, but you can still die as it only functions while you’re alive. Link.
Belt of Incredible Dexterity (Belt): Your main item as an Archer, boosts your SAD stat. Link.
Boots of Speed (Feet): Free action for 10/rounds, at your leisure, of haste. Frees up your caster’s actions. Link.
Cloak of Resistance (Shoulder): Basic item for any adventurer. Link.
Efficient Quiver (—): Useful if your GM is a stickler for how you’re carrying so many arrows, or if you need more carry capacity for arrows and bows. Link.
Fran’s Bracers, Greater (Wrist): A no-brainer pick, +2 competence bonus to atk and +1 dmg with your bow. If you’re not proficient with the Orc Hornbow, both versions give that proficiency instead of the bonus. Link.
Muleback Cords (Shoulders): If you feel you need more carry capacity, these give that and more. They’re so cheap you can add them on top of any other shoulder item for only 1,500 gil. Link.
Pearly White Spindle (Ioun Stone): A “cheaper” option for “regeneration”. It’s nice-to-have but it takes such a long time it’s more for out of combat scenarios, it’s also, again, really just fast healing. Link.
Sabin’s Monk Tunic (Body): If you have spare money lying around and are wearing bracers of armor, this is good for +1 AC and CMD. Link.
Sprint Shoes (Feet): The improved initiative feat and +30ft movement speed, always nice to get a feat without spending one. Link.
There are not too many spells that benefit the Archer that are feasibly used with Permanency, unless your GM allows for spells outside of the normal PF confines (noted in brackets). Permanency also carries the risk of being permanently dispelled, wasting the money invested. A few of these are personal spells, so if your GM allows you to use scrolls to emulate the permanency steps then go for it.
Darkvision: Useful for races that lack this naturally. Though it is probably just better just being cast because of the price, or just get goggles. Link.
See Invisibility: Useful for mid-high level play where invisible creatures pop up more often. Link.
Shield (Ask GM): +4 shield AC, when you will never be using a shield, great option. Link.
Temper (Ask GM): +2 untyped bonus to damage and shaken on crits. Nice-to-have but only after you obtain the cheaper options for damage improvements. Link.
True Seeing (Ask GM): Negates a lot of enemies’ defences. Link.
Wall Climb (Ask GM): Helps with climbing builds, for treetop attacks. Link.
Weapon of Awe (Ask GM): +2 sacred bonus to damage rolls and shaken on crits. Nice-to-have but only after you obtain the cheaper options for damage improvements. Link.
Multiclassing and Prestige Classes
A dip into a casting class whose personal spells or otherwise syncs up well with your build could also be a good choice so that using wands is an easy option. This includes spells like Shield and Darkvision. Though many can be handled by your party members or magic items.