Zen Shadow Archer (3.5e Prestige Class)

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Zen Shadow Archer[edit]

The greatest shot is the one that is never seen or heard loosed until it hits its target
—Valios Shadowstrung, Elf Zen Shadow Archer

The Guild of Zen Shadow Archers is known all through the world. Their numbers are few and so nobody knows the stealthy and deadly members of this secret liege. Their specialty is to sneak near an enemy silently, and to kill him from a safe distance. They seem to be moving shadows, as sometimes not even an arrow is found in the corpses of their victims. In fact, they are linked to the shadows and use their abilities to form them as they wish.

To become part of this elite group you must have deadly accurate aim and must be willing to completely devote yourself to becoming a Zen Shadow Archer. But to become a successful Zen Shadow Archer the training is rigorous, challenging and even life threatening, but the rewards of becoming one of the best archers out there are well worth the effort.

Becoming a Zen Shadow Archer[edit]

Most Zen Shadow archers are rangers or other characters who feel a particular connection to the sky, shadows and their bow, usually from a epiphany experienced through flight during combat or in the darkness.

To qualify to become a Zen Shadow archer, a character must fulfill all the following criteria.

Entry Requirements
Alignment: Any
Base Attack Bonus: +3.
Race: Any.
Skills: Hide 8 ranks, Spot 8 ranks, Move Silently 8 ranks.
Feats: Far shot, Point blank Shot, Precise Shot, Rapid Shot.
Special: Must have once experienced flight, whether from the effect of a fly spell or some other source.
Table: The <-class name->

Hit Die: d10

Level Base
Attack Bonus
Saving Throws Special
Fort Ref Will
1st +1 +2 +0 +0 Flyboy, Enhance Arrow +1, Hide in plain sight
2nd +2 +3 +0 +0 Double Shot, Darkvision, Dexterous saves, Bonus Feats/Spells per Day
3rd +3 +3 +1 +1 Enhance Arrow +2, Arrow of Shadows, Uncanny Dodge
4th +4 +4 +1 +1 Flyby Attack, Improved Precise Shot, Improved Critical (bow), Bonus Feats/Spells per Day
5th +5 +4 +1 +1 Enhance Arrow +3, Phasing Arrow, Shadow jump 200 ft
6th +6 +5 +2 +2 Ranged Death Attack, Bonus Feats/Spells per Day
7th +7 +5 +2 +2 Triple Shot, Enhance Arrow +4
8th +8 +6 +2 +2 Seeker Arrow, Death From Above, Bonus Feats/Spells per Day
9th +9 +6 +3 +3 Enhance Arrow +5, Sniping +20
10th +10 +7 +3 +3 Tetra Shot, Hail of Arrows, Bonus Feats/Spells per Day
11th +11 +7 +3 +3 Shadow jump 250 ft.
12th +12 +8 +4 +4 Enhance Arrow +6, Shadow jump 300 ft.
13th +13 +8 +4 +4 Shadow jump 350 ft
14th +14 +9 +4 +4 Enhance Arrow +7, Shadow jump 400 ft
15th +15 +9 +5 +5 Enhance Arrow +8, Hail of Seeking Death

Class Skills (6 + Int modifier per level)
Balance (Dex), Climb (Str), Craft (all skills taken individually) (Int), Concentration (Con), Hide (Dex), Jump (Str), Search (Int), Spellcraft (Int), Spot (Wis).

Class Features[edit]

All the following are the class features of the Zen Shadow archer prestige class.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Zen Shadow archers are proficient with the the shortbow (normal and composite) and the longbow (normal and composite) if they were not already.

Bonus Feats/Spells per Day At 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th and 10th level, the archer gains new spells per day as if he had also gained a level in an arcane or divine spellcasting class he belonged to before adding the prestige class. He does not, however, gain any other benefit a character of that class would have gained, except for an increased effective level of spellcasting. If a character had more than one arcane spellcasting class before becoming an archer, he must decide to which class he adds the new level for purposes of determining spells per day. Alternatively, the archer may choose to take a bonus feat for which he meets the prerequisites instead of a new spellcaster level.

Flyboy (Ex): At 1st level, the archer gains wings that grant him a fly speed equal to his base speed multiplied by 1.5, with clumsy maneuverability (if the character already has a previously existing fly speed that is superior to this value, use that speed and maneuverability instead. This speed increases by 10 feet every two levels thereafter, and the character’s maneuverability increases at the same rate (by one step every two levels). If the character’s maneuverability reaches perfect, this ceases to increase. The size and appearance of the wings are generally irrelevant as far as game mechanics goes, though you can make the wings whatever style you wish (within the discretion of the DM) and any character who wishes to wear armor must first have it adjusted.

Enhance Arrow (Su): At 1st level, every nonmagical arrow a archer nocks and lets fly becomes magical, gaining a +1 enhancement bonus. Unlike magic weapons created by normal means, the archer need not spend experience points or gold pieces to accomplish this task. However, an archer’s magic arrows only function for him. For every two levels the character advances past 1st level in the prestige class, the magic arrows he creates gain +1 greater potency (+1 at 1st level, +2 at 3rd level, +3 at 5th level, +4 at 7th level, and +5 at 9th level etc..).

Hide in Plain Sight (Su): A Zen Shadow Archer can use the hide skill even while being observed. As long as she is within 10 feet of some sort of shadow, a Zen Shadow Archer can hide herself from view in the open without anything to actually hide behind. She, cannot however, hide in her own shadow.

Double Shot (Ex): When he takes flight, the archer may hold the shaft of his bow with his feet and loose with both hands, allowing him to loosemultiple arrows at the same time as a full attack action. Because firing in this manner compromises his accuracy, he attacks a 5-foot square instead of specific opponent. This attack is equivalent to attacking with two separate arrows, each dealing normal damage. For example, if a 2nd level archer with a mighty (+4) composite longbow normally deals 1d8+5 damage, his double shot would deal 2d8+10 damage. Enchantments from the bow count for both arrows. A creature caught in this deadly barrage automatically takes damage because no attack roll is required; on the other hand, they are allowed a Reflex save (DC 10 + archer’s class level + Dexterity modifier) for half damage.

Dexterous Saves: Starting at 2nd level, a Zen Shadow Archer gains his Dex Mod to all his saves.

Darkvision (Su): Starting at 2nd level, a Zen Shadow Archer can see in the dark as though she were permanently under the effect of a darkvision spell.

Flyby Attack: By fourth level, a archer has become accustomed to the wings on his back. He gains Flyby Attack as a bonus feat, allowing him to take a move action and another standard action during any point in the move.

Triple Shot (Ex): At 6th level, the archer may add a third arrow to the barrage from his double shot ability.

Death From Above (Ex): In lieu of his regular attacks, once per day a archer of 8th level or higher can loose an arrow at each and every target within range, to a maximum of one target for every archer level he has earned. Each attack uses the archer’s primary attack bonus, and each enemy may only be targeted by a single arrow. Despite the implications of its name, this ability can be executed when the archer is grounded as well as in flight.

Tetra Shot (Ex): At 10th level, the archer may add a fourth arrow to the barrage from his double shot ability

Arrow of Shadows (Sp): As the Zen Shadow Archer is able to form shadows, he can create an arrow made of pure shadow, which is invisible for everyone except him, so the attack is inevadable. The Zen Shadow Archer forms such an arrow as a free action. The arrow is dealt like a sneak attack, even if a sneak attack wouldn't be possible. However, creatures being immune to sneak attacks (such as constructs) are also immune to the special forces of an Arrow of Shadows, nevertheless they are considered flat-footed. Against them it's treated like a normal arrow. The Arrow of Shadows has to be used within the next round, otherwise the arrow dilutes. The Zen Shadow Archer can use his own shadow to form one. For each level of Zen Shadow Archer he can create one Arrow of Shadows per day. (so 3 on lvl 3, 6 on lvl 6, 9 on lvl 9, etc..)

Shadow Jump (Su): At 6th level, a Zen Shadow Archer gains the ability to travel between shadows as if by means of a Dimension Door spell. The magical transport must begin and end in an area of shadowy illumination. A Zen Shadow Archer can jump up to a total of 200 feet each day in this way; this may be a single jump of 200 feet or two jumps of 100 feet each, or some other combination (with increments of 10 feet minimum). The distance a Zen Shadow Archer can jump each day increases by 50 feet (for 250 feet at level 11, 300 feet at level 12, 350 feet at level 13 and 400 feet at level 14).

Improved Precise Shot (Sp): The Zen Shadow Archer gains the Improved Precise Shot feat.

Ranged Death Attack (Ex): Continuing his career as Sniper, the Zen Shadow Archer knows the body well enough that he can fire an arrow to the deadliest spots. The Zen Shadow Archer has to observe his victim for 3 rounds before the attack. While studying the victim, the Zen Shadow Archer can undertake other actions so long as his attention stays focused on the target and the target does not detect the Zen Shadow Archer or recognize the Zen Shadow Archer as an enemy. If the victim of such an attack fails a Fortitude save (DC 10 + the Zen Shadow Archer's class level + Dex modifier) against the kill effect, she dies. If the saving throw fails against the paralysis effect, the victim is rendered helpless and unable to act for 1d6 rounds plus 1 round per level of the Zen Shadow Archer. If the victim’s saving throw succeeds, the attack is just a normal sneak attack. Once the Zen Shadow Archer has completed the 3 rounds of study, he must make the death attack within the next 3 rounds. If a death attack is attempted and fails (the victim makes her save) or if the assassin does not launch the attack within 3 rounds of completing the study, 3 new rounds of study are required before he can attempt another death attack.

Improved Critical (Ex): The Zen Shadow Archer receives the Improved Critical (bow) feat. The threat range for short bows is increased by +1 (thus making 19-20 / x3). This ability stacks with the Feat "Improved Critical".

Hail of Arrows (Su): On the summit of his power, the Zen Shadow Archer can now shoot many arrows in a cone, so he can hit different enemies, or bigger enemies even multiple times. The Zen Shadow Archer can, five times per day, plus one additional time per day every other level after the 10th level, use his or her bow to fire one single arrow and launch a volley of arrows in a cone. Every enemy within a 60 ft. cone is dealt 2d6 damage (+1d6 for each size class above Medium) from flying arrows, Reflex save for half damage. For example, let's say a Zen Shadow Archer was engaged in combat with a Human, an Aboleth, and a Roc. If the Zen Shadow Archer used her Hail of Arrows ability, with all three creatures in the cone, the Human (size Medium) would take 2d6 damage, the Aboleth would take 2d6+2d6 damage (size Huge), and the Roc would take 2d6+3d6 damage (size Gargantuan).

Phasing Arrow (Sp): The Zen Shadow Archer now can form an arrow out of the shadows, which is hardly consistent, though deadly. This arrow will pass every kind of material barrier.The Zen Shadow Archer can launch a Phasing Arrow as a standard action (shooting the arrow inclusive) thrice per day. The arrow will pass every non-magical barrier, thus negating bonuses from cover, concealment and even from armors and shields. A normal attack roll is necessary. For each 3 levels of Zen Shadow Archer he can create one phasing arrow per day (so 3 on lvl 5, 4 on lvl 8, 5 on level 11 and 6 on level 14)

Seeker Arrow (Sp): At 4th level, a Zen Shadow archer can launch an arrow twice per day at a target known to her within range, and the arrow travels to the target, even around corners. Only an unavoidable obstacle or the limit of the arrow’s range prevents the arrow’s flight. This ability negates cover and concealment modifiers, but otherwise the attack is rolled normally. Using this ability is a standard action (and shooting the arrow is part of the action).

Hail of Seeking Death (Su): Upon reaching the pinnacle of his true power, the Zen Shadow archer can enter a state of Zen. Upon entering this state of Zen, the archer can use his bow to shoot 10 additional arrows per an attack.

Campaign Information[edit]

Playing a Zen Shadow Archer[edit]

Combat: A Zen Shadow archer is terrific long-range support character. While in flight, he is usually out of reach, and his double shot ability gives him a potent offensive weapon as well. On the ground, he is marginally less effective, losing a great deal of his potency and essentially becoming just another archer.

Advancement: Rangers make the most effective Zen shadow archers with their natural affinity for archery and limited selection of divine spellcasting. Due to their bonus feats and high base attack bonus, fighters can become Zen shadow archers rather quickly and gain a valuable asset in the ability to fly. Characters with a level in wizard can turn to the arcane archer prestige class as well, combining the two into a potent machine of long-range damage.

Resources: Zen Shadow archers are loners; Though they are loners there does exist a council that can summon all of the shadow archers in time of need but, nary does this happen. But since most of them are rangers, they often keep their own networks of contacts amongst the many avian species of the world.

Zen Shadows in the World[edit]

<-Some quote from a character of this class->

Zen Shadows are scouts and small party fighters, the ultimate reconnaissance and support unit.

NPC Reactions: NPC reactions toward Zen shadow archers vary depending on the character. If they are a helpful ranger, then they will usually receive the respect they are due. If they are bloodthirsty, then reaction will likely be a bit more negative. Many are more self-conscious than their reputation warrants, however, and will attempt to hide the wings under heavy cloaks.

Zen Shadow Archer Lore[edit]

Characters with ranks in Knowledge(Local) can research Zen Shadow Archer to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.

DC Result
11 Zen Shadow archers are archers that have gained wings and can travel through shadows.
16 They are most dangerous in the air; letting an opposing flying archer take off is a big mistake..
21 Their most dangerous techniques involved holding a bow with their feet, allowing them to loose multiple arrows at the same time..
40 Information on specific flying archers, their whereabouts and backgrounds..

Zen Shadows in the Game[edit]

As outlined they are use as scouts in a larger fighting force.

Adaptation: No campaign specifics easy to adapt

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