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I just wanted to take a different approach to the archer and came up with a crossbow variant.
I like to denote page references in this format: if it is on page 200 of the Player's Handbook, then I would type [PH 200] next to the reference.
Class/Feats Player's Handbook (I & II) [PH / PHII] Complete Adventurer [CA] Complete Scoundrel [CS] Races Of The Wild [RW]
Preferred Equipment (If you want some of the extra gewgaws that help compliment this build, these books, in addition to those previously listed, had some good choices for me.) Drow Of The Underdark [DotU] Dungeon Master's Guide [DMG] Magic Item Compendium [MIC] Complete Arcane [CAr] Tome Of Magic [ToM] Arms And Equipment Guide [AEG]
Game Rule Components
While this build is not very crowd control friendly, it does allow you to control range in most cases while allowing skirmish/SA attacks w/ your xbow from up to 60 ft. It also gets 2 favored enemies which are then vulnerable to your skirmish damage thanks to the Swift Hunter [CS 81] feat. I like undead and constructs, but I've played a few underdark campaigns so if that was the case I would replace constructs with abberations. Also, using the hide ability to shoot and hide will make this class much more useful, so max out your hide.
I can't think of any items other than a light xbow that are absolutely necessary to the build, but here are a few ideas that I think will help strengthen the build.
Collar Of Umbral Metamorphosis [ToM 156/161] (constant) 22k GP - This is one of my favorite items for any stealth build. It grants a character the Dark template (hence the double page reference). Dark
-+10 ft. all move speeds -Darkvision 60 ft. -HiPS (AWESOME!!!) -Superior Low Light Vision -Resist Cold 10 -+8 Hide / +6 MS
Bracers Of Murder [DotU 98] 8k GP - Helps you land your SA and raises the minimum SA damage.
-+2 profane bonus to attack and damage vs. flat-footed targets -Reroll 1s on SA dice. (Very neat!)
Gnomish Xbow Sight [AEG 36] 150 GP - Reduces range penalties by 2 increments (mounts on xbow).
Clouting (+3) [CAr 143] "Knock 'em back or knock 'em down!" - On striking, target has to make a Fort (DC 19) save or be knocked back 10 ft. and have to make another Fort (DC 19) save or be stunned for 1 round. If they can't move 10 ft., they fall prone. Perfect for range control and messing up casters.
Deadly Precision (+2) [CAd 127] Nice and simple. - +2d6 SA
Nimbleness (+1) [MIC 13] - +1 Max. Dex / -2 Check penalty - Awesome when combined with mithral [DMG 284]. This build relies on high Dex., So it's good to have armor that lets you use it.
Ghost Ward (+1) [MIC 11] - Adds armors enhancement bonus to your touch AC. Good for defending against rays and similar attacks.
Starting Ability Scores (Before Racial Adjustments): DEX is god with this build... everything else is built to flavor.
Race (Templates): Human (a must for bonus feat!)
Starting Racial Traits: Bonus Feat / Extra Skill Points
|Saving Throws||Feats|| Class
|1st||Scout 1||+0||+0||+2||+0||Point Blank Shot / Rapid Reload(Lt Xbow)||Skirmish +1d6 , trapfinding||---|
|2nd||Scout 2||+1||+0||+3||+0||---||Battle Fortitude +1, Uncanny Dodge||---|
|3rd||Scout 2, Fighter 1||+2||+2||+3||+0||Weapon Focus(Lt Xbow) / Precise Shot||---||---|
|4th||Scout 3, Fighter 1||+3||+3||+3||+1||---||Fast Movement +10 ft., Skirmish +1d6/+1 AC, Trackless Step||---|
|5th||Scout 3, Fighter 2||+4||+4||+3||+1||Xbow Sniper [PHII 77]||---||Xbow Sniper adds 1/2 DEX mod to xbow dmg and can use skirm/SA out to 60ft.|
|6th||Scout 3, Fighter 2, Rogue 1||+4||+4||+5||+1||Swift Ambusher [CS 81]||SA +1d6||Rogue levels stack to calculate skirmish bonus!|
|7th||Scout 3, Fighter 2, Rogue 1, Ranger 1||+5||+6||+7||+1||Track (Class feat)||Wild Emp. and 1st FavEn||For the FavEn on this build pick things normally immune to SA to help improve versatility|
|8th||Sct3,Ftr2,Rog1,Rgr2||+6||+7||+8||+1||Rapid Shot (Combat Style)||Obviously you're an archer so the combat style is a no-brainer.||---|
|9th||Sct3,Ftr2,Rog2,Rgr2||+7||+7||+9||+1||Swift Hunter [CS 81]||Evasion, Skirmish jumps to +2d6 / +2 AC||Swift hunter makes your Sct and Rgr levels stack for both Skirmish and FavEn so you get your 2nd FavEn here, too.|
|10th||Sct3,Ftr2,Rog3,Rgr2||+8||+8||+9||+2||---||SA +2d6, Trap sense +1||---|
|11th||Sct3,Ftr2,Rog4,Rgr2||+9||+8||+10||+2||---||Skirmish +3d6 / +2 AC, Improved Uncanny Dodge||---|
|12th||Sct3,Ftr2,Rog5,Rgr2||+9||+8||+10||+2||Improved Skirmish [CS 78]||SA +3d6||Improved Skirmish makes your Skirmish get an additional +2d6 / +2 AC if you move 20 ft. instead of 10|
|13th||Sct3,Ftr2,Rog6,Rgr2||+10||+9||+11||+3||---||Skirmish +3d6 / +3 AC, Trap sense +2||---|
|15th||Sct3,Ftr2,Rog8,Rgr2||+12||+9||+12||+3||Able Sniper [RW 148]||Skirmish +4d6 / +3 AC,||Rog+Sct stack for IUD / Able sniper gives a +2 bonus to ranged attack rolls made from > 30ft. and grants a +4 to the hide check to hide after firing|
|16th||Sct3,Ftr2,Rog9,Rgr2||+12||+10||+12||+4||---||SA +5d6, Trap Sense +3||---|
|17th||Sct3,Ftr2,Rog10,Rgr2||+13||+10||+13||+4||---||Skirmish +4d6 / +4 AC, Special Ability||For the special ability, I would choose either opportunist or improved evasion or use the bonus feat for iron will to fix the awful will save on this build|
|18th||Sct3,Ftr2,Rog11,Rgr2||+14||+10||+13||+4||Woodland Archer [RW 154]||SA +6d6||Main thing on Woodland Archer is the Moving Sniper ability; allows you to snipe, move, then make hide check for sniping.|
|19th||Sct3,Ftr2,Rog12,Rgr2||+15||+11||+14||+5||---||Skirmish +5d6 / +4 AC, Trap Sense +4||---|
|20th||Sct3,Ftr2,Rog13,Rgr2||+15||+11||+14||+5||---||SA +7d6, Special Ability||Special Ability again (see lvl 17)|
Anything to improve Hide or your move speed makes this build better. The only thing I didn't really research was the rogue's special abilities. I know some of the supplements have alternatives for this, but I didn't remember seeing anything that would particularly help this build. If anybody can think of things please post them here or email me at email@example.com
So we have, without items, SA +7d6, Skirmish +5d6 / +4 AC (or +7d6 / +6 AC with improved), and a 40 ft. move speed. Skirmish and SA are available out to 60 ft. and if you're more than 30 ft. away you get a +2 to attack rolls. Factoring in some of the items I mentioned above, you could add another 2d6 to SA and +10 ft. movement. Couple that with the clouting weapon ability and you should be able to hold at least a couple opponents out of melee for a while.
<- Take it to the next level ->
I also made a point to level this build so it never qualifies for multiclassing XP penalties.
<- conditions of when this build works ->
<- If needed, tricks for the DM (provided they allow this build) to keep the abuse to a minimum. ->
I would consider dropping a feat and using that plus the 2 Rog special abilities for dodge, mobility, shot on the run but I wasn't sure what to drop.
EDIT: Able Sniper would be the only thing I could part with I think. I mainly took it to get the +4 on sniping hide rolls but I think being able to use moving sniper with shot on the run could make some interesting encounters.