True Archer (3.5e Class)
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Many classes can be archers... fighters, rangers, and clerics all do well, but none are as dedicated as the true archer. His dedication pays off, enabling him to exceed the archery skills of his kin.
Making a True Archer
True Archers fight at a distance, out of range and out of mind... until the arrows start flying. An true archer can focus on the single powerful shot, or perform a volley of arrows to darken the skies. His support fire quickly wears away the enemy before they can even get close.
Abilities: Dexterity is the most important ability of the true archer, who needs to hit and hit often, many times at penalties due to rapid shot or distance. Wisdom can suffice for the Zen True Archer (Complete Warrior), but he will lose out of the AC bonus Dexterity provides, for the true archer is soft and should not be in melee. Strength is important for any bow build, allowing additional damage, a problem bows often face. Constitution is less important than most characters as you will have distance, but still good for the day you are caught in the claws of your enemy. Intelligence can make the true archer skillful, and provides good synergy with Knowledge Devotion (Complete Champion).
Races: Races with dexterity bonuses benefit best, though even a strength focused true archer can succeed. Elves, Goliaths, Humans, and Half-Elves are the ones most likely to become true archers.
Starting Gold: 5d6 ×10 gp (125 gp).
|1st||+1||+0||+2||+2||Bonus Feat, Archery Style|
|3rd||+3||+1||+3||+3||Bonus Feat, Eagle Eyes +1|
|5th||+5||+1||+4||+4||Improved Archery Style, Bonus Feat|
|6th||+6/+1||+2||+5||+5||Eagle Eyes +2|
|9th||+9/+4||+3||+6||+6||Bonus Feat, Eagle Eyes +3|
|10th||+10/+5||+3||+7||+7||Greater Archery Style|
|11th||+11/+6/+1||+3||+7||+7||Elemental Shot 1/day, Bonus Feat|
|12th||+12/+7/+2||+4||+8||+8||Eagle Eyes +4|
|13th||+13/+8/+3||+4||+8||+8||Elemental Shot 2/day, Safe Shooting, Bonus Feat|
|15th||+15/+10/+5||+5||+9||+9||Bonus Feat, Archery Style Supremacy, Elemental Shot 3/day, Eagle Eyes +5|
|17th||+17/+12/+7/+2||+5||+10||+10||Elemental Shot 4/day, Bonus Feat|
|18th||+18/+13/+8/+3||+6||+11||+11||Golden Arrow 1/day, Eagle eyes +6|
|19th||+19/+14/+9/+4||+6||+11||+11||Elemental Shot 5/day, Bonus Feat|
|20th||+20/+15/+10/+5||+6||+12||+12||Final Archery Style|
Class Skills (6 + Int modifier per level, ×4 at 1st level)
All of the following are class features of the True Archer.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: True Archers are proficient with all simple weapons, and all martial and a single exotic ranged weapon of their choice. True Archers are proficient with light armor, but not with shields.
Bonus Feats: At 1st level and every 2 levels thereafter, a true archer can choose a bonus feat. This feat may be selected from the list of fighter bonus feats. In addition, true archer levels count as fighter levels for the purpose of feat pre-requisites, and stack with actual fighter levels. The typical true archer invests in fighter bonus feats related to his style of archery.
Archery Style (Ex): At 1st level an true archer chooses one of two styles of archery, the Volley True Archer who fights through sheer number of arrows rather than pure damage, or the Sniper True Archer who fights through the single, strong, devastating shot, usually under safety of cover. Once this choice is made, it effects the progression of all further archery style benefits.
At 1st level the Volley True Archer gains the Rapid Shot feat, even if he does not qualify for it. The Sniper True Archer instead gains Darkstalker feat from Lords of Madness (Pg. 179), enabling him to hide from creature's alternate senses.
Evasion (Ex): At 2nd level and higher, an true archer can avoid even magical and unusual attacks with great agility. If he makes a successful Reflex saving throw against an attack that normally deals half damage on a successful save, he instead takes no damage. Evasion can be used only if the true archer is wearing light armor or no armor. A helpless true archer does not gain the benefit of evasion.
Eagle Eyes (Ex): At 3rd level the true archer's senses enable superior shooting. He gains a +1 competence bonus to ranged attack rolls. Every 3 levels afterward, he gains an additional +1 to attack.
Improved Archery Style (Ex): At 5th level an true archer's archery style advances. A Volley True Archer gains Manyshot as a bonus feat. A Sniper True Archer instead gains Power Shot, which behaves as Power Attack for ranged attacks. Likewise, it qualifies as Power Attack for future pre-requisites.
Improved Evasion (Ex): At 9th level an true archer becomes even more difficult to hit with magic and other attacks. This ability works like evasion, except that while the true archer still takes no damage on a successful Reflex saving throw against attacks henceforth he henceforth takes only half damage on a failed save. A helpless true archer does not gain the benefit of improved evasion.
Greater Archery Style (Ex): At 10th level an true archer's archery style advances once more. A Volley True Archer gains Improved Rapid Shot (Complete Warrior, Pg. 101). A Sniper True Archer instead gets the ability to retain cover easier when sniping. He only takes a -10 penalty to hide checks after an attack instead of -20.
Elemental Shot (Su): The true archer begins to grasp energy beyond that of normal people, using their inner ki, force of will, or hidden magical talents to bring elemental fury to their arrows. At 11th level the true archer may, as a free action that is part of an attack, imbue an arrow with either fire, cold, electric, or acid damage. All the damage the arrow normally does instead becomes the appropriate elemental damage, plus an additional +5d6 in elemental damage. He may do this 1/day and an additional time per day every 2 levels afterwards. The player must declare that he is using this ability prior to rolling the attack. A failed attack still uses up the Elemental Shot.
Safe Shooting (Ex): At 13th level and beyond, an true archer may fire even in the midsts of melee. The true archer no longer provokes attacks of opportunity for firing in melee.
Archery Style Supremacy (Ex): At 15th level an true archer's archery reaches the best of his kind. A Volley True Archer gains the ability to rain arrows from the sky, the arrow splitting into many mid-flight. As a standard action he may target a 20 ft. radius area and deal his normal damage, with a Reflex save DC 10 + 1/2 class level + Dex (or other applicable to-hit modifier) for half. A Sniper True Archer likewise gains a similar power, but instead attacks in a 120 ft. line, striking all opponents within the line with a Reflex save DC 10 + 1/2 class level + Dex (or other applicable to-hit modifier) for half.
Golden Arrow (Su): At 18th level, the true archer's ability to strike at his opponents is uncanny. As long as the true archer targets the correct square, he will hit. 1/day, he may choose one of his attacks as his Golden Arrow, which strikes without fail. He must choose his golden arrow before he makes the attack roll.
Final Archery Style (Ex): At 20th level an true archer's archery style exceeds all others. Regardless of which style he has chosen, he may select one of the following two abilities. He may increase his critical hit range by +1 (thus a longbow would be 19-20/x3, and a crossbow 18-20/x2). This increase stacks with Improved Critical and Keen effects. Alternatively he may increase the critical multiplier by one (giving a longbow x4 critical, or a crossbow, x3). This increase represents his keen ability to place his shots just right to make it more likely to hit a vital organ, or strike with that much extra force.
Epic True Archer
|21st||Eagle Eyes +7|
|22nd||Elemental Shot 6/day|
|24th||Eagle Eyes +8|
|26th||Golden Arrow 2/day, Elemental Shot 7/day|
|27th||Eagle Eyes +9|
|30th||Elemental Shot 8/day, Eagle Eyes +10|
6 + Int modifier skill points per level.
Elemental Shot: The number of times an elemental shot can be performed increases once four three levels in epic levels.
Golden Arrow: The number of times a golden arrow can be performed increases once every eight levels in epic levels.
Eagle Eyes: The bonus from Eagle Eyes increases once every three levels in epic levels.
Human True Archer Starting Package
Skill Selection: Pick a number of skills equal to 6 + Int modifier.
Feat: Weapon Focus Longbow.
Bonus Feats: Zen Archery, Point Blank Shot.
Gear: Leather Armor, Backpack, 60 Arrows.
Gold: 35 gp.
Playing a True Archer
Religion: True Archers have no particular focus on religion, but as an true archer may very well be a hunter, nature based gods often works well with the true archer.
Other Classes: The bow-dedicated fighter and the ranger bow respect the true archer to the dedication to their art. An true archer always appreciates a good meat shield as well, he does not survive well in melee and should avoid it at all costs. Casters stand in rank with him and can provide good battlefield control while the true archer rains death from afar.
Combat: If the true archer can avoid melee combat, he does. Where most non-magic using classes perish against a flying enemy who is out of range, the true archer has no such problems. Only the threat of a grappler or disarming fighter phases them.
Advancement: Ranger classes often work well with the true archer, as do fighter and rogue classes for a more martial, or sneaky bent.
True Archers in the World
|“||Our arrows will darken the skies!||”|
|—I. Cebium, Human True Archer|
True Archers are hunters and soldiers alike. The best way to survive a battle after all is to ensure the enemy falls before he even reaches you.
Daily Life: True Archers are almost impossible to distinguish from Fighters or Rangers, depending on their style, and thus follow ranks with their two fellow classes.
Notables: They say a certain green-garbed former noble was a killer with the bow and arrow.
Organizations: True Archers who organize are likely soldiers in the army. In there they provide ranged combat services which destroy large tight-knit phalanxes of enemy troops.
NPC Reactions: As before, true archers get confused with fighters and rangers, and likewise are treated as such by the ignorant populace.
True Archer Lore
Characters with ranks in Knowledge Local can research True Archers to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.
|10||True Archers are master of the ranged weapon, focusing on it even more than a mere fighter or ranger.|
|15||The true archer has an incredible shot, and can fire at things with uncanny accuracy, be they snipers or if they rain arrows in volley shots.|
|20||True Archers gain special powers, enabling them to fire in vast areas, shoot elemental arrows, and strike harder than normal.|
|30||People who recieve this level of success can gain insight on specific true archers, their achievements, and last known location.|
True Archers in the Game
True Archers are often secondary fighters, but with a little optimization and a set of spell storing arrows, they can become dangerous battlefield controllers, quasi-mages from ranges even casters fail at.
Adaptation: A more modern setting can adept all things dealing with crossbows to guns. The class holds with guns as well, and may change its name to Gunner instead.
Sample Encounter: The PCs must assault the Castle of Darkness, but they catch wind of their deadly true archers lined up en masse. A frontal assault is suicide, but how will they make it past the arrows raining from the heavens?
EL whatever: 10.